Sunday, March 8, 2015

Red, White, Blue Lightening Streak Quilt

When my son was graduating from homeschool last spring, I told him I'd sew a  new quilt for him to use on his dorm bed. Alas, the summer was so busy with numerous graduation details, such as formalizing the homeschool highschool transcript, and preparing for college for two kids, that I never started the quilt. Thus, my son took his star quilt to college. Every time I walked by his room and saw his empty bed, devoid of even a quilt, I was quite sad.  Then when my son came home for Thanksgiving and Christmas, he kept dragging his quilt back and forth between home and college. That might not seem like much, but he has lots of stuff to pack and the quilt is just one more thing. I was determined to sew the new quilt for college, so the star quilt could stay home.
We agreed on a pattern my son liked last summer. He likes rather intricate designs, which tend to be my nemesis. I found a quilt pattern which had lots of energy and movement, yet looked quite easy. I showed it to my son and he liked it a lot.  In November I bought all my fabrics and supplies at Suzie's Quilt Shop, partly because JoAnns and Hancock did not have any of the solid red, white and blue fabrics I needed. I was rather surprised by that, so Suzie got my business! It turned out to be a win/win, because Suzie is quite friendly and I found out she attends the church where my next door neighbor pastors!
After Thanksgiving I started rotary cutting the strips I would need. They look quite even, thanks to my new handy gadget which I blogged about here.  Here they look quite patriotic...

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although here I began to think I might be making a candy cane quilt! It was early December!

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Finally all my strips were cut and sewn together. That's when I began to get nervous!

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The cutting of triangles with bias edges, and joining those bias edges made me so nervous, that I broke my rule of no chemicals and I used a bit of stabilizer to help. For more on that story, read this.

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Cutting the stripes into triangles went amazingly well. However I somehow got confused flipping my ruler to cut the proper size triangle so they came out larger. I reasoned that perhaps they could easily be squared after joining them to the candy cane triangles. At least I hoped so, because my shoulder was killing me from all of the rotary cutting and I didn't want to rotary cut anymore. Furthermore  my brand new blade was already dull. Read more about that and how I fixed it here. When I went to the next step, I saw that my biggest trouble was matching the angles. I carefully ripped this out and tried again...  

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...this time carefully measuring and pinning...

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I pinned and sewed all of these together...then I suddenly fell sick. The day before I got sick I had picked up my son at college to come home for Christmas. I had felt so well and had so much fun! The next day while quilting I simply wore out...and started coughing, coughing, coughing. Thus began a long bout with a massive coughing cold, which at some point became bronchitis. My coughing meds put me to sleep so well, that I slept through most of Christmas.      

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I had done some Christmas shopping long before Christmas for everyone, but this quilt was my son's main Christmas present. The day before Christmas I had my son haul all the gift bags and tissue paper upstairs to where I store the presents. I sat on a stool and barely endured stuffing gift bags and tagging them, I felt so awful. By then I was on a z-pack but it wasn't kicking in as quickly as it had in the past. Also I felt so many gifts were missing but I had no recollection of where they could possibly be. However I found this gorgeous box to present the quilt pieces I had so far accomplished. This is what  my son opened on Christmas Day.

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In January I started feeling about 50% better.  I sat and carefully marked and pinned pieces. That was a couple of months ago so now I don't remember the details I had meant to share about pinning these pieces...

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Finally February came and I was about 75% better. Here are all of the blocks finally  laid out! However this is for a twin quilt and my son has an extra long twin bed! 
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I had bits and pieces of blocks left over. Let's see...hmmm. I found this extra completed block. That is what I had planned for the extra long twin. Just two more blocks are needed. Do I have enough bits and pieces to make them?

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Oh no! I am short two bits to finish the blocks. My side was still quite sore from all the coughing in December and January. I did not feel like rotary cutting and sewing strips and cutting triangles, but I had to finish this quilt and I was near the end.

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Here is a trial run to measure how much more I would need for the borders. 

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How about the joining of these two borders on the angled seam? If I had tried to do that it could never happen!

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Now that I had the borders done and the quilt sandwich made I determined to thread baste the quilt, even though I had a fusible batting in the quilt sandwich. Read about my decision here

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For the hand quilting I decided to feature the zig zag. I stitched it in white in the seamlines of the red and white zig zags. Then I repeated it in blue in the field of blue. It's subtle but is quilt nice. By then I ran out of time. I was determined to conquer, and I'm glad I did, because I can't believe how busy I've been since!

 I finished the final stitch minutes before I left the house to bring my son home for Spring Break. I laid the quilt on his bed for him to see when he came home. I felt sort of bad about the quilt. I have a few puckers where places did not match, so I set them where he would have his pillows. Also everything shrunk from all the quilting! Oh well. I'm exhausted, and I know this will be used a lot as a cover while sleeping. Also he sits on his bed a lot at home, so I assume he does the same at college. I'm sure this will be worn out by the end of college years and will have been thrown into the laundry a few times. The laundry process alone will likely shrink the fabric a bit, which is fine with me. I love the old fashioned look when 100% cotton quilts pucker after the laundry. That might hide my own puckering mistakes! 

I had hoped to sew a boat pillow, which I thought would be a fun reference to "Lake Bob" outside his dorm window by his bed. Alas, he is not interested in the pillow. However he is interested in duffel bags. Our interpretation of duffel bags are two different things. I planned on making drawstring two-dimensional duffel bags. Easy! He actually prefers tote bags that are three dimensional. They were a first for me and returned with him to college tonight. He loves them! Stay tuned for details on those...

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