Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Finished!!! The Diary Quilt.....

I am super excited to reveal the finished, quilted, totally amazingly DONE Diary Quilt, my longest-running project ever.

I started the blocks for this quilt way way way back in 2010, when I very first started quilting. These were the first blocks I worked on, after the infamous "first block ever" that I made for a friend, the same dear friend who did the custom quilting on this for me.

As I made my way through the blocks, I interrupted myself with all the other projects you see on the blog -- a quilt for each of my three boys, and for my husband. A baby quilt for a new niece. Lap quilts for my mom and sister, and for ourselves. A wall hanging for my grandparents, based on their blocks from this quilt, my Diary Quilt. And in between all of the interruptions, I kept working on the Diary Quilt, adding setting triangles to the blocks so I could turn them on point; finally I got them into rows, finished the top, and on an August 2013 visit to the US, I mailed it off to my dear, dear friend (and professional long arm quilter) for her to custom quilt for me.

I knew I was nowhere near the skill level for what I desired for this quilt, and I knew she would do an amazing job. She did. It's done. Home. Back to me. Finished, and on my bed, just as I envisioned it from day one.

All I can really say is Wow! Wow, wow, wow, wow, wow!

I had seen a few sneak peeks from my quilter.....

...but that didn't stop the tears from flowing when I opened the box and saw my quilt all done for the first time...

...and again when I saw it on the bed, like it was just meant to be there all along.....

The view of the back is even more stunning, as you can really see all that beautiful quilting. Amazing!!! Thanks again, "Mrs. So & So" -- makes me cry all over again writing this! 

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Underwater Trip

No, *I* didn't go underwater! but my menfolk did! My husband and oldest son took Scuba lessons this past summer, as a 16th birthday gift for my oldest son (and a lifelong dream of my husband's). Then we went on a family dream beach vacation, which included a scuba dive for the two new divers.

They plan to do this again and again and again, I'm told, so I thought a fun underwater themed quilt would be a good idea for a summery couch throw; I like to have a blanket to snuggle with on the couch, even in the summer, because often the air conditioning (now that we have that again!) is too cold for me. And I like, no, love, having my quilts around in the living room, so I figure, the more, the  merrier. Also, we're building a house which will have three separate couch areas --- a downstairs living room, an upstairs media room and an upstairs game room. We'll need lots of quilts to cover all of those!

I bought the fabric for this quilt with no pattern or idea in mind, which means I just bought 1 yard of each fabric and figured I'd make it work. As I bought 10 or 11 different fabrics (I ended up using 9 of them), this was plenty of yardage for a throw-sized quilt (and then some...). 

Underwater Trip -- quilted & bound, hanging over the back of the sofa
Searching the internet for ideas, I found a tutorial for a strip-pieced Trip Around the World quilt, and I knew instantly that was the one. Underwater Trip! yes!

Quiltville's Strip Pieced Trip Around The World Tutorial was fantastically easy to follow, and while the example is done with 5 fabrics (so that you get a repeat of the circle) she does give instructions for a 9 fabric version (yay!) which is what I did, and it worked beautifully. I toyed with adding a few extra strips so that the red circle would be complete, but in the end I chose not to. I had chosen the placement of the red based on the outer corners, without figuring in whether the larger circle would finish up or not; since I used the red binding, though, I think it is fine.

I managed to get this entire quilt top done in a weekend, while juggling all the home duties and three boys while my husband was out of town. It really goes together just that fast! Then I quilted it in concentric circles in a dark blue thread, using my walking foot. I did not start with the very very center circles, but started by following the inner red circle. Then I quilted outwards from there, and when the quilt was done, then I went back in to do the tiny circles in the center.

the back, which really shows off the quilting
Here are photos of the process, from strip sets, to one quarter assembled, to the 4 quarters laid out waiting for those middle strips to be added, to finished quilt top & back.....
4 strip sets; then you sew into loops, subcut, open, and sew into panels
one panel, on my "sewing table" (aka, dining table) and yes, the machine I used for the whole thing

the 4 panels, ready for the middle strips to be added 
the top, all assembled, after I ripped out the middle strip and scooted it over;
it's important to line up that 1st central circle, especially if using a high contrast color as I did. Oops.

the back, debuting fabric placements 

 If you've ever wanted to do a Trip Around the World, I highly recommend the tutorial over at Quiltville. She's got a similar tutorial for a Scrappy Trip Around the World, as well, if that is more your style. This quilt went together so very fast, I could easily do this over and over again.

Next up, working on some Mug Rugs for a swap, still working on an improv Christmas quilt, and planning some home decor items.....not sure what quilt I'll get to next, but having fun with smaller projects in the meantime!