So sick of this quilt

After over three years, my son’s long wait is over – I finished his Oceans quilt.

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There are many hours of happy sewing on this quilt.  I really loved the process of putting the many blocks together.  Paper piecing became a favorite activity.  I’m in awe of Janeen Van Niekerk and Linda Hibbert’s abilities to design the block patterns.  The jigsaw puzzle aspect of getting the blocks to fit together was fun.

But I am so, so sick of this quilt.  I can barely look at it, folded up on the sewing pile.  I don’t want to see blue batik fabric again for a very, very long time, to the point that I may cover bury it under some yellow and orange yardage.

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It isn’t like I didn’t sew a lot of other things in between Ocean bouts.  That’s why it took three years!  But for the last few months, even when I was working some other project, I couldn’t escape it.  Either a nagging little voice in my head said I needed to get back to it, or a large nagging voice standing next to me in the form of my younger son declared that I obviously didn’t love him since I hadn’t finished his quilt.  (He is good with the guilt, that boy!)  Pulling fabric for other quilts, surfing quilts on Pinterest and blogs, working on little sewing projects or knitting lace – I felt like I was neglecting a duty the whole time.

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But now it is done!  I’m free again!

If I ignore all the other unfinished WIPs . . .

But at least they don’t have a representative family member to harangue me about them.

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And, it turned out just as I pictured it in my head, and more importantly, how my son pictured it in his head.

We chose fabrics that lightened from bottom to top, like the ocean does from deep to shore.  I quilted it in two ways – individual outlining and details for the creatures, and wavy water lines to suggest waves for the background.  I changed thread colors (when I remembered) from deep navy to a lighter blue as I progressed up as well.

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Even a potential disaster turned into a plus.  When I washed and dried it to bring out the crinkles, I forgot to put a color catcher sheet in, and the dark red fabric pieces bled just a little.  It didn’t really show in most areas unless you look really closely, but around the mouth of the shark, the white jaw got a little bit of a red stain.  My son and I agreed that it made it look even more vicious, the little suggestion of bloody teeth.  He’d actually asked me once to embroider on some blood, so he was really happy about it.

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This quilt is going to get used a lot.  It may not survive all the washings for very long, and I know for a fact that a dog is likely to sleep on it while its boy sleeps under it.  But however long or short its life, this quilt is going to be well used and well loved, which is the point of it all, right?

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Angel fish

I completed the last paper pieced block for my younger son’s Ocean quilt today.  It is a fairly simple double angelfish block from Silver Linings.

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I added a little more fabric to the top and bottom to elongate the block.  I went ahead and added some more of the sand fabric to the crab block from earlier to make it bigger as well.

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This isn’t a great picture – the lower section isn’t as dark as it looks.  I couldn’t get far enough away to squeeze it all into the picture without screwing up the lighting.

I’ve rearranged the blocks yet again since this picture to put all the beach blocks in the top row.  And there will likely be more adjustments as I pull it all together.

As you can see, I’ve started to add some of the sashing fabric – the plan is to have dark sashing at the bottom for the deep sea, medium blues in the middle and light blues at the top for the shallows. But this is going to mean a trip to the fabric store as I don’t have enough of the medium or light batiks.

Luckily spring break just started for me, so there will be lots of time for fabric stores and quilting projects!  My sewing goal for the week is to get this quilt top fully put together and get one of the pinned sandwiches in my WIP pile to a fully finished quilt.

Sharp teeth

More progress on the Oceans quilt for my younger son!

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I got the dolphins block finished last week. I made some color choices that didn’t work out that well, making the dolphin on the right a little hard to see against the background, but I’m hoping quilting will help with that. And he liked it, which is the main thing.

Apparently I got so caught up in it that I forgot to take progress pics. Assume it looked pretty much like the pictures from the block I started next – cutting out the pattern pieces and then sewing various pieces of batik and marbled fabric to them:

This next block has sharp teeth!

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I’ve been using different blues for the watery background for each block.  I cut it too close this time and at the end had to piece together small scraps to make slightly larger scraps.  And even then I had to make one sliver of ocean from pieces that had the waves going in the wrong direction.  Frustrating, but I wasn’t about to start over at that point!

The pic on the right below is all I had left to put on the final small pieces.  I also snuck in a bit of another dark blue in small places where I didn’t think it would be noticeable.

The next to last step last step is trimming each piece to with a quarter inch seam allowance.  It takes a while with so many pieces.  As I trim I lay them out in the general arrangement in which they’ll be sewn to make it easier to find each piece as I need it.

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And the final result – a fierce denizen of the deep:

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This block was designed by the same person who did the Oceans block of the month quilt that the dolphins came from but it wasn’t part of that QAL.  But he really wanted a shark, so I added this one from her designs on Craftsy.

I think the quilt needs just one more block and then I can start putting them all together.

The arrangement so far, though it may change again:

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Fast fish

A relatively fast finish anyway.  The previous block in this Oceans series took me over a year from start to finish, so the three days this blue fin tuna took is lightning in comparison.

I showed in the last post how some of the sections have a lot of very tiny pieces – here’s another example:

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In contrast, there were some big swaths of background water that made me worried the blue was going to run out.  In the end I had only very small bits left.  Everything remaining is in this picture – it was a tense finish to see if there would be enough!

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The tuna, in contrast, didn’t take a lot of any particular fabric.  I especially liked this one – it looks like fish scales to me.

The completed sections, awaiting trimming and attaching:

And block five, the September 2015 block, is done!

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Next up, an octopus.

Catching up – message in a bottle

Quite some time ago, I started block four of Quilt Art Designs’ Oceans block of the month.  It was the April 2015 block, so catching up is a bit of an understatement.

I was at least organized when I put it away, plastic baggies and labels and all the needed fabric, so it wasn’t hard to start in where I’d left off.

Paper pieced sewing is all about very precise sewing lines – I swear I stick exactly to those lines, so why do I still end up with joins that are sometimes just slightly off?  It remains a mystery to me.

Lots and lots of little angles in this block.  My seams became very dense in the center, making the back rather a mess of seams and threads and bits of paper.  Removing the paper is my least favorite part of this type of quilting. So tedious getting out the little bits under the seams.  But the interesting blocks it makes possible are worth the effort.

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And so many little slivers of scrap!

The final result, a hopeful message sent out to roam the sea:

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It joins its three siblings, awaiting more arrivals.

I’m not doing all nine of the available blocks – just two more from this series really appeal to me.  Next up is a blue fin tuna.

The fabric is chosen and the pattern is prepared, so I’m hopeful this block won’t wait more than a year.

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Update 6/18 – the blue fin tuna is done and you can see it here.

Night sky

A while back my attention was caught by a project on the Wombat Quilts blog.  I was exploring paper pieced blocks and she has great patterns for lots of different stars.  She was making orange and blue star blocks at the time. I followed along with some of them, making pretty similar stars, though mine were gray and yellow rather than orange because I love gray and yellow. I kept the dark blue background idea because what other color would a night sky be?

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I used the blocks as foundation sewing practice and also as an excuse to buy lots of different fabrics. (Didn’t really NEED an excuse, but it is handy when rationalizing buying yet more stuff to squeeze into the craft room.)Night sky stars quilt in progress image

And then, as is typical, some other shiny project caught my eye and I moved on.  The stack of stars sat on my UFO shelf and waited, gradually moving towards the bottom of the pile.

Then I came across this Starry Night quilt on Pinterest, which reminded me of those neglected stars and also solved the problem of not having made enough of them for a full quilt.  I just needed hills!  And a moon!

The moon was a bit of a trial and error process, emphasis on the error part.  First, with my limited curve skills and a patchwork of printer paper I drew a crescent moon outline to use as a piecing pattern, I made this moon.

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Then I stared at it for a couple days, pretty much hating it more and more.  The center circle was too small, the points curved in too much, and then there were the puckered seams.  Some slicing was definitely called for.

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Not perfect, but much improved!

Now I’m at the fun stage where I’m just filling in the gaps.  Lots of slashing and random switching of directions.  If you look at the original inspiration quilt, she did a lot of paper pieced blocks and has a huge variety of squares.  That was never going to happen with mine.  So much precision!  I never would have finished.  I’m taking a more improv, crazy quilt approach, which is fun, messy, and leads to the occasional weirdly skinny bits of fabric, but it fits the picture in my mind, and I am liking the results.

image imageI cut a bunch of strips that vary between 1 1/2 and 3 inches wide, dumped them in a pile to rummage through. and now I just sit at the machine, sewing and trimming and turning and ironing, and gradually the night sky is turning dark blue.  As are my floor, sewing and cutting tables, but hey, creativity can be messy!

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The hills are going to take a bit of shopping.  I don’t have a lot of dark greens.  Luckily, I know a few fabric stores in the neighborhood.