Thursday, September 27, 2012

Wedding quilt finished!

It's been a long haul, but I'm excited to finally be able to say that my brother's wedding quilt is finished! And the best part is, I finished it with a week to spare before the big day. You can imagine my sigh of relief when that final stitch went into the binding and the last thread was cut. Whew!
This was an interesting quilt to make in that the bulk of my time and energy was spent on the quilting itself, rather than the piecing. I spent very little time at all on piecing since it's a whole cloth quilt (my first!). The front was made from three pieces, with the widest piece placed in the center. The only time I felt really frustrated with the piecing process was when I couldn't get the print to line up properly on one of the pieces. In the end, it wasn't off by much and I don't know that it's noticeable to the untrained eye.
The quilting itself took several weeks. I spent pretty much every day during Master W.'s nap and some evening time quilting, quilting, quilting until my pregnant belly started to get sore from sitting in front of my sewing machine for too long. That sounds like a lot of time each day! Really, though, it was probably two or maybe three hours max each day, four or five days a week. The finished quilt measures 60x70", the perfect size for the newlyweds to snuggle under while watching a movie or favorite TV show.
Looking at the front, I'm incredibly proud of how the geometric quilting turned out. My brother and (almost) sister-in-law found inspiration in this gorgeous long-armed quilt made by Krista at Spotted Stones that I had shown them and had asked that I do the same kind of quilting on their quilt. The geometric lines are clean and modern, and fit their sense of personal style perfectly.
The back is where I found myself most challenged. I have a long way to go before I can say that I've mastered setting the proper tension when quilting, as you can see in the photo below. It's not terrible, but nowhere near as neat and tidy as I would have preferred. I'm hoping that the first washing will make some of my little mistakes less noticeable, and also that my brother and his fiancee will love it anyway. I suppose that if I'd been able to use the same color thread on both sides, then the mistakes wouldn't have been as noticeable. But given that I think the quilt looks best with the green stitching on top and gray on the bottom, I'm just going to have to be happy with the way it turned out.
I hope you don't mind me sharing a bit of the ups-and-downs of making this quilt. I'd love to show off lots of gorgeous "perfect quilt" shots. But handmade isn't perfect. And learning isn't perfect. But love is. And this quilt has a lot of love in it. So that makes it perfect, right?
My brother and future sister-in-law have excellent taste in fabric, by the way. Here's what they chose for the quilt:

  • Birch Organics' Mod Basics in Abacus Green for the top of the quilt
  • Robert Kaufman's Pure Organic in Steel for the back and binding

  • Special thanks to Rachel of Stitched in Color and Elizabeth of Seams French, two incredibly talented quilters who answered my quilty questions and offered up advice that helped guide me in the right direction when planning out this quilt. I highly encourage you to take a moment to check out their blogs. Not only are these ladies super talented, but they are very kind and generous with their time and talents.
    You can find this project linked up at:

    30 comments:

    1. Michelle! I say it again, AMAZING work. They will treasure it! I'm so impressed and I forgot to say... Have the best birthday! It's so wonderful that you were able to get it done not only before the wedding but also before you're birthday :) now you can just have a fantastic birthday and enjoy! As you should.

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      1. Thank you, thank you, thank you Robyn! :) I'm really happy that I was able to finish it a few days early and I'm very pleased with how it turned out. :)

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      2. I also wanted to say that I've noticed the backs of my 'hired out' long arm machine quilting quilts coming back with a very similar look now and then... I think you have something to the 'it would be much easier with the same thread on both top and bottom'. I mean when you think about it, it would be extremely difficult to get the EXACT same thread weight on top and bottom when using different colors which in turn will effect tension. no matter, I looks wonderful!

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      3. It makes me feel a lot better to read that, Robyn. I've only hired out once for a long arm (Miss C.'s bed quilt) and the thread colors were so close that I didn't notice anything like this.

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    2. Hi Michelle. The quilt looks wonderful. I love the contemporary graphic stitching design you have used. It's very suitable to the fabrics. Regarding the back of the quilt: it is almost impossible to get the tension of the threads perfect, so using similarly coloured fabrics and threads front and back is one of the only ways to solve it. However, as is the case with your wedding quilt, the choice of fabrics is often more essential to the design then a few stitches that are not perfect. No one will ever really notice, and you are absolutely right in that the quilt is perfect, regardless. Congrats! An amazing job! Your brother and almost sister-in-law will be very happy with it. I'm looking forward to seeing your next project!

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      1. Hi Elizabeth! Thank you so much for your wonderful compliments, and especially for your thoughts on the back of the quilt. I haven't been doing this long enough to really know what exactly I'm doing wrong or right, so it's so nice to hear that from you.

        As to the next quilt, I can't wait to cut into the stack of fabrics I chose for my son's transportation-themed quilt. I have a very special paper-pieced block (my first attempt at paper piecing) that I've designed just for him, and I can't wait to give it a test run soon (my machine is out for a tune-up this week, so all I can really do is cut fabric for a test block).

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    3. Congrats on the beautiful finish! I really love that lime green with the charcoal. :) I think that with the solid dark backing it would have been nearly impossible to hide all of the little green "flecks" of thread that showed up from the front (which actually don't bother me at all in this case as they reveal the quilting pattern). Using clear monofilament thread on the front with the gray thread on the back would be another way to quilt this and prevent the thread showing through.

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      1. Thank you for your sweet compliments, Jenelle! I never would have thought to use a monofilament thread for the front. Is it easy to work with? And does it hold up well like a cotton or polyester thread? I'll definitely keep that in mind for future projects that call for two very different colored threads.

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    4. The whole quilt is beautiful, and the geometric quilting sets it off nicely! Kudos on a job well done!

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      1. Thank you, Shannon! And thank you for stopping by! :)

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    5. I love whole cloth quilts too. I think they look very elegant. The quilting has turned out quite well.

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      1. Thanks for stopping by, Rachel. And thank you for your sweet comment. Overall, I'm very happy with how it turned out. And it's a relief in many ways to hear that others in the quilting community like the finished result too. :)

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    6. Your quilt has turned out beautifully. As others have noted above, tension is often tricky between the front and the back of the quilt. A good wash and dry will give it that crinkly look which hides a multitude of mistakes (or 'unplanned design choices'!), and those blips of colour on the back are just the mark of an object that has been hand made with love.

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      1. Thank you! I'm definitely going to give it a wash today or tomorrow – and I'm thinking you're right about the crinkliness hiding a multitude of sins. :) And you're right about how our little mistakes are simply signs that the things we make are made with love. :)

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    7. Gorgeous quilt! So modern! Your quilting looks amazing! Im sure it will be so loved - and really no one else looks that closely at the quilting as we do ourselves, so if there are any little less-than-perfects I don't think it'd be noticed.It looks so beautiful in all those pictures, can only imagine how lovely it is in person!

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      1. Thank you, Kristy! :) Sometimes I have to remind myself of that very thing - we are often so critical of our own work that we forget that non-quilters will never see the flaws that we notice on our own work. I'm so glad you like how it turned out! :)

        P.S. I hopped over to your awesome blog. Your house block is amazing. And now I'm a follower! :)

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    8. Wow, I am so impressed. It is absolutely amazing! This is #1 reason why I should learn to FMQ. Really, this is my favorite FMQ look ever. The texture is so gorgeous and this quilt will last for years and years, being wholecloth and so heavily quilted. Much respect!

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      1. Thank you, Rachel! I have long admired your work, so your sweet comment means the world to me!

        And you don't need to FMQ - I did it all with a walking foot! :) (That is still something I want to learn how to do, too, though.)

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    9. Very nice! I'd like to try a whole cloth quilt sometime :) Pinning yours to keep as inspiration!

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      1. You should try it! I would definitely do it again, there is so much room for creativity with your quilting when you make one. Thanks for pinning it and for visiting! :)

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    10. This is so so pretty! You did a wonderful job, and I think the back looks just fine. I think you're about to start a wholecloth revival with this gorgeous quilt!

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      1. Thank you, Kristan! Your compliment was so sweet and very much appreciated!

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    11. Great job on a beautiful quilt! Honestly, I reckon you are the only one who will notice the flecks of colour on the backing. I totally want to try one of these now- such a great way to practise FMQ.

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      1. Thank you! And while I know this quilting could be done free-motion, I actually just used my walking foot. So, even those of us too chicken to FMQ (myself included!) can pull this one off! LOL Thanks for stopping by!

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    12. It is beautiful! Those fabrics are gorgeous and I think the quilting looks great! I agree that handmade isn't perfect but your quilt really is wonderful.

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      1. Thank you, Beth, for your sweet comment and for stopping by! :)

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    13. Love the quilting on this piece. You did a wonderful job. It's also nice to hear others are as scared of FMQ as I am and that something this beautiful (and wonderfully done as well) was accomplished on a walking foot. I've also got to agree with one of the commenters above, you've got me hooked. I think a wholecloth quilt is on the horizon for me. Thanks for the inspiration. :)

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      1. Thank you! I hope you try it out - it was fun doing something so different and new. And I agree with you, it is nice to know I'm not the only one who is completely fearful of FMQ and that there are ways to add uniqueness to your quilts with just the use of a walking foot. :)

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    14. This quilt is really gorgeous! I'm about to start making a wedding quilt for my cousin, and I'll run into the same troubles as you, I'm sure. :) But I know if mine looks HALF as good as yours, my cousin will squeal with excitement. :)
      Great job!
      And I know what you mean about the pregnant belly. My boy is 6 months old, now, but my last couple of months pregnant, I had to have my sewing machine on the kitchen island so I could stand and sew rather than sit. My aching belly just couldn't take it! :)

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      1. Thank you for your sweet comment, Melissa! Your cousin is going to be so lucky to receive a quilt you've made for her - it really is my new favorite wedding gift. I'm sure your quilt will be absolutely gorgeous.

        As to quilting with a big belly, I never thought to sew standing up! I may have to try that one! :) Thanks for stopping by!

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