Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fish Quilt:The Process Part 1

You're probably going to get sick of hearing about the fish quilt, but it consumed my life for a while, so it will consume my blog accordingly. I want to outline the quilt making process for those of you that are unfamiliar with it.


Step 1: Planning


Substep A: Decide to make a quilt/Choose a pattern
When we heard that friends of ours were having a baby, my mother suggested to me that we make a baby quilt. I agreed and we started thinking. Now, making a baby quilt for a known baby means you have 9 months, and since most couples don't announce until the 3 month mark, in reality 9 months is down to 6 months. Add to that some gathering of ideas, some hemming and hawing, and some reconnaissance work to find out colour schemes, and all of a sudden it was the end of August, and the baby is coming at the beginning of December. We were headed to my grandparents for the weekend and gave ourselves an ultimatum of the end of the weekend to choose a pattern. Once we got to gramma's we got right to work flipping through quilt books, quilt magazines, quilt patterns, and the internet. Finally we found a picture of a quilt we liked called "Swimmies" by Lisa Boyer. It was settled. This would be the quilt we would make.


Substep B: Choose Fabrics
There are two advantages to having a gramma, and a mom who quilt. The first is knowledge. You can always ask them questions when you get stuck or don't know. The second is a supplies. Chances are if you don't have something, they will. This is how we got started on our quilt. Gramma started pulling out bins and boxes and containers and drawers full of fabric, and we started picking out the fabrics we liked. It seemed like a never ending supply of fabric. Once we had picked out our pile of fabric we began sorting them, trying to decide which ones looked good together. This is where my mom and I differ from my gramma. She is very good a colour choices. We chose to get a little support in this area by looking at the picture we had found online. All of the fabric for the fish and the outer border, as well as the backing came from my gramma's stash(Thanks Gramma!). We went to the fabric store for the background and the inner border. (Quilt Making Tip #1: Find a gramma, or a friend with a good fabric stash, and good advice.) When you buy fabric it's a good idea to figure out how much you will need and buy a little extra. I didn't do so well in this department. It was pretty close for a while, and since we had gone to the states to buy the fabric, we didn't want to have to go back.


This is all of the scrap we had left from the background.
For reference that largest piece is 26" long at the longest
 point and 6" wide.




Step 2: Piecing
Substep A: Practice
Because we were making the quilt from a picture and not a pattern, we did a practice run. I drew up an exact copy of what the block would look like, based on the proportions from the picture(yes I did blow up the picture and hold my ruler up to the computer screen), Gramma got out her scrap fabric, and we got to work. Although it was a little tricky, we came out with a practice block after not too much time or too much trouble. (Quilt Making Tip #2: Do your own practice block.)


Substep B: Create the quilt top
This is it. All that planning and practice is for this moment. You take those nice pieces of fabric, chop them up and sew them back together. For us this was also the most frustrating part of the process. The practice block had gone so nicely at gramma's, but at home, we couldn't get it to work(see QMT #2). We spend a frustrating Sunday afternoon and couldn't even finish one block. When we finally did finish we decided the best way to go about things was to do each section of the fish for all of the blocks(all the tails, all the fins, etc.) rather than each fish one at a time, because otherwise we would forget how we did it each time. We used a process called paper-piecing, which is pretty much what it sounds like. Along with stitching the fabric you use a piece of paper to help make the correct angles, etc. Once it is stitched you rip the paper off. It also uses more material than you might think(see photo above). Once each fish was made, we sewed them together in rows, with spacing pieces in between, and then each of the rows together. We also pieced the border with 3.5"x1.5" strips from Gramma's stash. The inner and outer border got sewed around the outside, and we were done.


This was the quilt top completely put together.
(Sorry about the Blackberry quality photo)
That's the end of part 1 of the process. I started writing this a long time ago and am just now finishing (partly due to procrastination, but we'll blame it mostly on my computer cord breaking). Hopefully I won't take so long in putting up the second part.

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