Sunday, October 27, 2013

BQF: "You & I" Color-Change Quilt

Hi & Welcome! If you've stopped by from BQF/Blogger's Quilt Festival, thank you! My name is Heather, aka The Reader, aka Learning-as-I-Go, depending on where you bump into me around the web. I've been quilting for only a handful of years (since 2010), though have only been using a machine for a year now (since August 2012). In the year since I bought my machine I have finished a baby quilt, a bed quilt for each of my three sons, a Christmas tree skirt, Christmas stockings, place mats, assorted other small projects, a quilt top for my bed (which will be long arm quilted by someone else), and now this quilt for my husband.

Most of my projects are completely original designs, imagined by me then drawn up in EQ7 software, then machine pieced, appliqued (if needed), and quilted all on my little Janome Magnolia 7318. I fit quilting in & around my life --- I'm a homeschooling mom to three boys, ages 16, 12 and 8 --- but then, who doesn't?! Quilting is my sanity saver, hobby, favorite pass time, creative outlet, etc.

Enough about me, though; on to my Blogger's Quilt Festival entry quilt! I entered this quilt in the Bed Quilt Category; voting runs November 1 - 7, so be sure and go back and vote for my quilt next week if you enjoy this post :)
You & I: The Q-H Bond
 blue-to-red color change quilt
twin sized, original design
machine pieced, machine (domestic) quilted

This quilt, titled "You & I: The Q-H Bond" was a gift for my husband. Just as I finished the quilt for our youngest son, we found out that we will soon move back to the United States after six years of living in Brazil. Unfortunately, my husband will have to travel back & forth, back & forth, back & forth, spending two weeks in the US and then two weeks in Brazil, until the transition is complete and the replacement is properly trained. This schedule could last up to a full year, though we hope not.

Immediately, I wanted to make him a quilt. He'll be renting a room from friends, and I felt very strongly that his home away from home should have its own quilt, so he could sleep under something I made, could feel that he has a little piece of me, of us, with him even while he's away. Sappy, I know. I can't help it.

Then I obsessed. For ages. This quilt needed to be perfect. Stunning. Masculine. Something he would *LOVE* and not just like okay. Finally I enlisted his help, and he said he'd like a quilt that "faded from blue to red."  Egads. Does he not realize how much purple is between red & blue on the color wheel?! How would I make that masculine???? I was not thrilled.

I headed to a little quilt shop and wandered for ages looking for just the right "masculine purple" fabric. Ha! I think the shop owner thought I was nuts, but I did finally find it --- a Ricky Tims Rhapsodie Coloree in red/blue. Perfect! From there I found the rest, choosing to go light blue to red-orange. The YLI variegated thread to quilt with was the perfect extra touch.

the fabrics & thread

Next up, size. The quilt would not be landing on a bed once it came home to our permanent home, so I didn't want it to be truly full sized, but it did need to be big enough to sleep under. Hmmmm. I measured a bed of the right size and based my measurements on that, tweaking the EQ7 design until I got a quilt the right size, using only the fabric amounts I had purchased (one yard of each color) as now back in Brazil I couldn't buy more. Tweak, tweak, tweak. This is when I'm very glad I draw my own patterns/designs. The end result is a quilt that fits a twin sized bed perfectly, even though he'll be sleeping on a full sized bed, so that we can use it for a couch throw later.

the EQ7 drawing; my road map for piecing the quilt
Border chain fades from light, medium, dark, medium, light;
1 strand in blues, the other in the reds, traveling around the quilt

I chose an elongated chain for the border, as a stylized DNA strand; one side blues, the other reds, to represent him & me, me & him, "you & I," intertwining our lives, as "two become one" in marriage. And because he's a chemist, who once upon a time wrote me a poem that likened him & me, me & him, "you & I" to a basic molecular bond, the C-H bond, the building block of life. Only we were the Q-H bond. Such is what happens when chemists decide to write poetry, but it was sweet, we were young, and I still treasure that imagery and wanted to honor it by including it in this quilt for him.

the quilt top, ready for the border

Piecing the border, as genius an idea as it was, gave me fits. I always forget to pay attention to things like placement and what-not, and with these little bits I chain pieced, assembly-line assembled, and then discovered that one block per side is mirror-image of the rest, which means I ripped out a LOT of seams. Seventeen total in this quilt, all of those in the border. Egads. You can see below where I pieced one wrong; I made a lot of these sorts of mistakes on the 1st side of the border.

oops. Notice that the "red" is sewn on wrong on the corners
that 4-patch unit had to be taken off, then taken apart and resewn in reverse
before being reattached correctly. Oops.
Still, lessons learned on the first side means fewer mistakes on the other three sides. I kept working, payed close attention through the rest of the quilt assembly, and within a few more days, the border was done & on, ready for quilting.
and now, with the border on, but not trimmed yet

For the back, recycled denim, made from various bits & pieces of discarded jeans once worn by each member of our family.

the back, fading from dark to light as it moves top to bottom
completely pieced from our old jeans
A ripped knee, with a bit of purple fabric behind like a reverse patch. Half a pocket, by his request. Fading dark to light to mimic the color change of the front.

ripped "knee" detail, with reverse applique patch

half a pocket, by his request

Jeans, because we're frugal. Denim, because he wanted to leave out the batting as it will be summer in Brazil when he begins his travel schedule, and because I feared just cotton would be too thin without any batting at all. Our jeans, so that he can carry each one of us with him and be tangibly reminded of home, every single night. Like I said, I'm sappy. I can't help it.

the quilting, from the back -- vertical double-helix lines throughout the quilt,
with over-sized double helix lines following the colored chain of the border, in both directions
Backing and top both ready to go, I pin basted and quilted on my little Janome; vertical double-helix strands, running every 3.5" or so, in the color-change thread on front and a blue-to-white variegated King Tut in the bobbin. DNA, his & mine, mine & his, intertwined. Holding the quilt together, as together we support, encourage, hold up, and hold together each other and our family.

close-up of the double helix quilting on the front

I left the border intentionally plain, per his request. I did follow the colored chain and quilt over that to stabilize the border some, but the black is left empty for contrast. The label was printed on fabric, then machine appliqued, and the binding was done by machine.

the label, created in Word, printed on fabric, machine appliqued
(the same blue from the lightest side; color is off in the photo)

I hope you love this quilt as much as I do. It's my favorite quilt so far; I really think it's my best yet. I hope you agree!


  1. More sweet than sappy - and a great idea! It turned out very masculine and very cool. Great job!

  2. Ok, this is awesome. :) I love how much of you guys went into it, and you were very successful at making a striking masculine fade-to quilt!

  3. Your rainbow quilt is stunning. I think that you were very clever (and sentimental) to back it with the jeans.

  4. Wow, Heather -- I love-love-LOVE all the symbolism that you managed to pack into this one work of art! (Stuff like that really "sings" to this Madame Metaphor, y'know?) Very well done!!! <3