Another very overdue finish to share with you, but I promised that I would eventually get around it. It’s the first quilt top I ever made: Boo Davis’ Chatter Box quilt from her book, Dare to be Square.
Boo has a very scrappy approach to quilting, which is great for people who have stashes, but not so much for people lacking a stash. I decided to start with a fat quarter bundle (Kona Fields of Iris, by Robert Kaufman), and see how many blocks I could make out each piece (and this is the point at which I wish I’d taken notes, as there are smaller blocks on the edges). I then counted my blocks, and played around with layouts until I had a rectangle, and best of all, I didn’t have to waste any. This resulted in a larger quilt than the pattern suggests – 83” x 87” as opposed to 60” x 72” – which makes it almost a perfect size for our spare bed, which is a full.
I feel like it took me forever to make this. I began this in January 2013, and finished piecing the top in April. Now, it wouldn’t take nearly as long to get it done, but it does take a while to get used to quilting, when you come from a garment construction background, and haven’t made anything more challenging than a four piece stuffed toy in three years. I then let it sit around for seven months while I searched for quilter, and thus, I found Mandy.
This was such a great exercise in “things you should never do while quilting”; actually, that first six months of quilting was. I was worried about the amount of cat and dog that might be on the quilt top, so I put in the wash as soon as I finished it, before putting it out of the way, where tiny paws couldn’t get to it. The washing wasn’t a complete disaster, but ironing it out was a bigger pain than I can possibly describe. It sat for seven months in what my English relatives call the “airing cupboard,” and I believe most other people refer to as “the cupboard that contains the water heater.” Somehow, when I pulled it out to post it, it had developed a few brown spots. I asked Mandy whether I should I wash it, and was strongly advised against washing unquilted tops for any reason. Oops! At least my first wash didn’t warp the fabric too badly.
I got this in the mail, and then realized that I’d forgotten to send any batting along, so I decided to buy some from Mandy. She uses Dream Blend, which is not something I’d ever considered buying, as I have a preference for natural fibers. I was worried that I’d end up regretting going down this path, but it’s so wonderfully warm that I really can’t complain.
Mandy returned the quilt to me in March, because I sent her my Kite Flight top shortly after and told her to send them back together if that suited her better than posting them individually.
I’m so delighted with what she’s done. I really wanted to break up the blockiness of this a little, and the combination of straight lines in the white spaces, and very flowing fill in the purples, helps to create create interest and adds another dimension to the quilt.
As per usual, it sat around for a while before I got around to trimming and binding, but I’ve had it finished since June, but there were a few challenges that came up that made photographing it something of a problem. First, we had to deal with the staining. I don’t know why I let myself get talked in to this, but someone, (thanks Nick!) thought that carpet cleaner was the best thing to get rid of these. Why? We had so many other options, but I seem to remember him saying he’d used it on clothing previously, and it wasn’t a problem.
Well, I think that’s the last time I let Nick talk me in to anything quilt related. I joke. He’s very good at all the non-quilt related aspects of quilting. It might work fine on some clothes, but it will strip the color from your quilting cottons, even when they’re washed. The worst bit was that the color from the backing, which is a lot stronger than much of what’s on the top, leaked through almost immediately, staining everything. I forget how we got rid of the excess dye. I think we used chlorine free bleach on the white, and did a bit of praying over some of the lighter purples. We did a decent job of saving this, but the color in some areas is a little patchy thanks to the carpet cleaner episode.
After that, it seemed to get washed, and I would iron it out, ready to be photographed, and Nick would find some excuse why it needed to come out of its box, be used, which would restart the cycle of washing and ironing. It happened three or four times, which in retrospect doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough. Well, this is it; I’m never ironing this quilt again – and I don’t believe for a second that Nick is as incapable of doing this as he claims.
As you can see, it came out for photos a few times, starting in October when Nick and I had some pictures taken. I’ll save you the ones of us being all couple-y, but there’s one that seems fit for public consumption. This photo comes courtesy of Wildlee Photography.
We were hoping to do the rest of the pictures that afternoon, but it was just one of those days where everything went wrong, and by the time we were done with the photographer, we’d lost the light.
We did try night photos on another occasion, but Nick wasn’t too impressed with how they were coming out (the relentless wind didn’t do anything to help either), but we managed to get a couple of useable pictures. We dragged it out again yesterday, and managed to get enough photos to make this post interesting.
You know I like to show you back of the quilt where you can see Mandy’s wonderful work much more clearly, so here it is in all its splotchy glory:
Now, my Chatterbox, which is actually Nick’s Chatterbox now, as I thought it fitting to gift it to him as he gave me both the sewing machine and the book, can live on the spare bed, go through the washer and dryer as needed, but did I mention that I’m not ironing this thing again?
And I had to throw in a couple of outtakes, because for some reason I like other people’s quilt shoot throwaways, and therefore you might enjoy mine, right?
Pieced with: Aurifil 50wt.
Quilted by: Mandy Leins.
Quilted with: So Fine, by Superior Threads.
Batting: Dream Blend.