First the reveal, then the story...
More quilt stats:
Pattern: "Radiant Suns" by Cara Gulati
Made and quilted by: ME!
Started April 2019, finished May 2019
(Wait, really? I did this in a month? Well, about two....)
Okay, now the whole story...since this post is a link-up entry post, I thought putting the important stuff first would be a good idea. Those of you who read my blog regularly know that's not the norm!
So a little over a year ago, when I left my fancy lab job, I knew about this Pantone color of the year quilt challenge. It was a great idea, but I was just getting my feet wet with this not working thing and wasn't sure what the budget would allow. Also, challenges weren't much in my wheelhouse and I wasn't sure I could accomplish anything in that time frame. I mean, I could, but challenge-worthy? Maybe not. (Then again, thinking back, I remember creating my elecrophoresis quilt in just a few weeks because I had to...hmmm...)
Anyways, when I saw the info at the No Hats in the House blog this year, I thought to myself that this might be doable. But maybe not. I'd just done a bunch of challenges with Project Quilting. Did I want to do more? I had proven a short deadline was no big deal. But I just wasn't sure this was for me. So I kinda put it out of my head.
Until one night. Lounging on the couch. It hit me. THIS quilt. A couple of friends have made it and I made a few blocks for an exchange for one of those friends. So I knew I could do the block. Could I complete a whole quilt?
The next day I had free (because about a month after leaving my fancy job, you'll remember I took a not-fancy one - that has turned out to be pretty fun and not stressful!), I was off shopping for fabric. I went into the store hoping to find a gradient of corals in solids.
But I found that second from the top fabric that had coral dots in it and then the solid coral was not far away and I was IN. I spent a few hours roaming the store...back and forth between the sale area and all the different displays of fabrics until I finally had these. Some I like more than others, but they fit the color scheme that was determined by that first fabric.
There are two missing here, but that's okay. You get the idea.
This quilt requires template cutting. Yuck. There are acrylic templates available, but that would also have required me to purchase a tiny rotary cutter. That seems like a lot of cash to dole out for stuff I won't use much...or just once... So I decided to make freezer paper templates, iron them on, pin those on (because freezer paper only sticks so well when you manipulate it a lot) and cut with a scissors.
I worried how well this might work until I got to this point. This is how we cut out clothing when we sew. I watched my mom do this countless times while making me girly dresses for Easter and Christmas as a child. (Dresses that, as a tomboy, I detested!) Well, this should work just fine.
It took a few sessions and my thumb had a tingle from holding the scissors and cutting through four layers at a time, but I finally had all the pieces cut. At least for round one...I decided after making the first 44 blocks I wanted a bigger quilt, so I cut out 22 more sets!
Then it was time to figure out a layout. This was a daunting task for me, as I like things to be matchy-matchy and organized. This was going to be anything but! But I tackled it one afternoon (and was a bit sore from all the stretching and reaching the following day!) and had the pieces all mixed and matched...
...and, after seeing the photo on my phone, I was in love. I wasn't sure this was all going to come together like I wanted, but seeing the smaller big-picture photo sealed the deal. I carefully picked up every set and pinned them together and prepared to sew.
The curves aren't all that bad. And the pattern is very forgiving (the blocks are made oversize and you trim them down afterwards). But I was still nervous.
I got better as I went. And found the inner curves to be a lot harder than the outer curves. At the start I was laying out blocks in groups of four to see how they looked. This collage shows the first few. This process was not without help...
Many of the cats visited, but Gabby having a little bath is probably the best help offered!
Once the blocks were made, the layout of said blocks was the next hurdle. Again with the matchy-matchy brain fighting me, I finally just made the time one afternoon and got them ready.
I started with the circles, trying to keep all the fabrics as random as possible...
...and then started moving things. I wanted to keep some of the circles whole, but not quite this organized. This pattern just doesn't want to be that organized!
I ended up here. I had two extra blocks (and surprisingly little furbaby help with this step!) and hurried to pick it up before help actually arrived. I put a pin in the top of every single block to make sure my orientation remained the same. You see, the circles that remained are strategically positioned so my matchy-matchy self can handle this. But it also appears there are layers and such going on.
Sewing the blocks into rows and rows into a top took a while, but not as long as other quilts. Because there were no points, other than block corners, to match! Yay!
But I was playing thread chicken...
...I made it. I had more, but this playing thread chicken seems to be a thing this year. (Perhaps because I'm sewing more?)
Next it was on to the actual quilting. I ordered a bunch of thread colors, thinking I would quilt each part of each block in a matching color. But when I finally got it onto the longarm, I chickened out some. I wasn't sure how to quilt this. And I had a variegated coral/red thread that I wondered if it would look good throughout. (That thread was a whole other struggle, being a different type and weight than I usually use. Thankfully that turned out to be mostly a non-issue!)
Finally I decided to do a different motif (part of the original plan) in just the variegated thread (not part of the original plan) in each fabric. This made it easier to do a whole pass and not have to either change thread colors a lot, or unroll and reroll the quilt a bunch of times.
I can't believe I have only one photo of the quilt on the longarm - and that's the last pass!
I was having a lot of fun by this time. I mean, I was getting sick of it, but the machine was behaving well (for the most part) and I was only struggling with my pebbles looking like something better than tight loops.
Before the quilt and batting were off the floor - at the start - this step also had some help...
...Emma loves a warm snuggle!
Also, because I didn't have enough time to quilt this in one day, and instead worked on it over three days, I had some less than helpful help...
...I'm pretty sure this was the doing of Freddie. He chewed a corner off the batting, then took a nap on the top. He stretched the quilt out enough that I ended up with a small pucker on the back. The top was also stretched out, but I was able to smooth that and quilt it out. The back I couldn't see, so I ended up with a little pucker.
With a back this busy, it took me a while to find it just for the photo. I'm pretty sure finding it again will also be a struggle, so I'm not going to worry about it. What's done is done. (And at this point, it was D.O.N.E quilting!) And this photo gives you a nice idea of what I bought for the back.
Want to see some of the quilting?
Of course you do!
The solid turquoise got either the swirl feather or paisleys, depending on what else was nearby and my mood at that moment. Some of the motifs are harder to see, but in general I am happy with all of them.
But I found myself, at the last pass, playing thread chicken again...
This was a 2000 yard spool. This is how much I had at the end of the quilt. I was freaking out the last few blocks, but made it. I struggled to not sew faster (stitch regulator was off - machine works so much better with it off!) because I knew that was NOT going to stretch the thread, just make my stitches ugly and long!
I was so glad to finish. I surely didn't want to leave the quilt on the longarm another three days while I waited for more thread to arrive!
You may have noticed in the last pass photo the back doesn't match what I showed where the pucker happened. Well. I bought the back before I decided how large the top would be. And the back WAS large enough. Just not largER enough to work for my longarm. So I purchased some extra coral (not the solid, as I'd hoped, but this will work) and added that to either end. My plan was to use that for binding.
And I did!
This project was full of stops and starts. Between having to work, the hubby wanting to do stuff with me and other necessities like sleeping and eating, I worked a bit here and a bit there. But with a deadline, I was diligent about not getting sidetracked by too many squirrels.
A few days later, I got the binding sewn down - at least the machine-sewn side.
I used up a bit more of the variegated thread, knowing I'll probably have little use for it again. I didn't run out, but truth be told, there was a wonkily wound longarm bobbin that I used, too. So technically there was more thread left than I shared, but I wasn't able to make that wonky bobbin work for longarming.
And then, a few days later, I had procrastinated enough, so I cranked up the Gilmore Girls on Netflix and started binding. I've seen all the shows when they aired on regular TV, so it's a good thing to "watch" while I bind because I know who is who and kinda what is going on...so I can look at the quilt instead of getting distracted looking at the show!
Last but not least, I sewed a label on just two nights ago. I'm lazy about labeling quilts that I will keep, but since this was a challenge piece, I figured it should get a label. (Also, I made and labelled two other quilts, so while I had the supplies out and my labeling mojo rolling...)
I asked the hubby to help me get a photo the first day it did not rain in about the last 2 months and he was kind enough to do so...
...here she is again. "Twirly" as named by the friends who made it first. You can see bits of sunshine peeking through my enormous maple trees and my hostas making a fresh start in front of the house. Normally I crop out excess foliage and such, but this just made me so happy to have the sunshine, I left it there. (Some folks were threatening to build an ark, while the farmers were getting more and more agitated about their inability to plow and plant...)
And one last cat photo...
Freddie doesn't photograph well, on account of being all black, but he sure does do cute stuff. There were some skinny strings of fabric that happened along the way, during cutting, and he found a few hanging out of the bin. He helped himself, as he does with all things, and had a little fun under the ironing board that day. This cat is such a character, he never fails to get me to laugh. And then he turns on his biggest purr and goofy big-eyed face like he can't believe he did anything at all.
With that, I am off to officially enter my quilt into the challenge.
And finish laundry.
And fight with my printer.
And go to a wedding rehearsal.
(Tomorrow is the wedding. As all bridesmaids before me, I get to wear the ugliest dress on earth.)