Sunday, December 7, 2008

Design process

Zach is born in the summer and I start thinking baby quilt, but I never did make one for his brother, Luke, so I should make a big brother quilt too. Send them both at the same time and avoid any sibling rivalry issues.

Luke likes orange. A lot. His favorite color adorns the walls of his room. That's my inspiration. Now what? Lots of thinking, rejecting of ideas, buying of orange fabric -- which is easy to do without having any idea what you are going to do with all that orange fabric except "make a quilt."

Reading through some blogs I saw this great maverick stars quilt on Marit's blog. The maverick stars would be perfect for a little boy. And in orange too! A sign for sure.

I started sketching ideas and then scaling them back. If you're going to make two quilts and send them before the baby is in college, it's best to keep the plans realistic.

A little while later, I stumbled on more maverick stars in other blogs, such as this one on Be*mused.

Sketch of original plan.

Originally, I was going to make half the stars orange with a navy background and the other half navy with an orange background, divided diagonally through the quilt with blocks that were half and half on the diagonal.

Uh, what happened to making the plan realistic? Right. Scale back the number of blocks. Make some test blocks. Discover that your blocks are 9 inches instead of 6 inches, because 3x3=9 not 6. Make some 6-inch blocks now, and some 12-inch blocks and some more 9-inch blocks. And some rectangular blocks because it would be pretty cool to have extra long tails on some of these stars.

A maverick star block.

If you're interested in making these easy, fun stars, Bonnie Hunter of Quiltville has instructions here.

Now, how to set them?

Sketch of layout that would have required calculating lots of seam allowances.

Graph paper and rulers (to measure the various block sizes) and lots of scribbles later, I decided to just slap the stars up on the design wall, arrange them into something pleasing,

Pleasing to me block arrangement.

and then attempt to fill the space in between with the leftover orange fabrics that I'd cut into 3 1/2-inch and 4 1/2-inch strips to make the stars.

Adding strips to fill the space between blocks.

Several partial seams later and a bit of reverse sewing here and there, and I'd managed to fill the space around the blocks and make a very orange quilt. Although I was a little wild with the blocks and layout, I am still very much an anal retentive perfectionist so I squared up the piecing as I went along to make sure the top would be flat.

Finished top (48"x74"). The color's off. Maybe all that orange was too much for my camera.

Navy binding done. Batting bought. Backing material sitting out for a few weeks now. What is it about backing that makes me want to procrastinate? I have two big pieces of orange fabric that I just need to cut to the right size and sew together (one seam), and I keep putting it off. Maybe the thought that what follows is basting the layers together and machine quilting, and that's just not my favorite part of the process.

Meanwhile, I have a baby quilt to plan for Zach.

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