What a Bunch of Squares – Quilt Top

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Now that my final exam is over and done with (happy dance!), I’m excited to get back to sewing!!!

In my last post, I showed you some quilt blocks I’ve been working on (the pattern is “What a Bunch of Squares”, found in Denyse Schmidt’s first book). I didn’t mention it before, but I’ve been working on that same quilt since August (though not continuously), and I am so ready to finish this thing up!

Slowly but surely, I finished up all the quilt blocks last month. The blocks themselves weren’t that difficult to put together, really. In fact, if anyone’s looking for a good beginner’s quilt pattern, I’d say this is it. The squares are nice and big (measuring at 17.5″ squared), and the wonky pattern takes the pressure off making perfect measurements with your pieces. And because I used a solid white color for the border, I wasn’t super worried about matching up each corner perfectly. Although, I am getting a lot better at it with each quilt I make. Take a look at all the pinning that takes place to ensure the seams match perfectly.

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I think the part that took me the longest was deciding the order in which to place each square. I probably spent close to an hour with the pieces laid out on the floor, arranging and rearranging until I was happy with the layout of the colors and shapes. Then I spent the last two nights in my sewing room, stitching the blocks together until the quilt-top was complete. After the final press, I dragged it to our bedroom to lay it out on the bed and take a look at the final piece.

I really love the overall effect of the quilt in our room – I think it really brightens up the space. The only thing I would maybe change is the layout of some of the colors. You can’t see it in the photo above, but something that I noticed immediately is that there’s too much green in the bottom right corner, and the whole right column has the same purple color scheme. This is something that I look out for while placing the order of the blocks (I try and distribute the same colors, shapes, and direction of patterns evenly throughout the quilt top, to make it look “even”, more or less). I considered ripping apart the 4th row and rearranging two of the blocks, but quickly decided against it and try to “embrace” this small imperfection (although, it’s much less noticable in the pictures, which makes me think no one will ever notice but me).

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Does anyone else tend to do this with their projects? I find that as soon as I finish a project (or a big step of a project), I immediately start to pick apart every detail and convince myself it’s not perfect. But, if I wait long enough, I’ll look back at what I made and end up really liking the finished product. I did the same thing with my basketweave quilt I finished last summer. I really didn’t care for the placement of blocks at the time I finished – but a year later, it’s one of my favorite things I’ve ever made.

In the end – I’ve decided to go with it and call it complete! I’m sending this quilt top off to the long-arm quilter again. I really want to start quilting on my own this year, but I think I should start learning with a smaller quilt first. I would probably lose my patience with this queen-sized quilt, so I’m sending it off! I can’t wait to show you the completed quilt later this spring.

xo, Amanda

P.S. These little pups are too much, I can’t help myself. They’re not allowed in my sewing room, so they just stand at the doorway and supervise. :P

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(all photos taken by me with my Canon Rebel SL1 or iPhone5)

On my Sewing Table, Lately…

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As usual, school is taking a lot more free time out of my day than anticipated. It’s a shorter semester, so I’m working hard to just make it through each week. Good news is – I’m halfway done with the semester already, and once the weather finally warms up I’ll be free to do more fun things on my list!

One of those things being quality time in my sewing room! Yup, I finally finished setting up the place, and although it’s not completely organized and tidy yet, I decided to get right to it and begin working on a project I left undone last summer (before we packed up the house and moved). I mean, if I only have a few precious moments in my day, what’s a better way to spend it – sewing or cleaning? Kind of a no-brainer.

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I’m so so excited about this quilt. It’s a pattern from Denyse Schmidt Quilts book (the first sewing book I purchased!) and it’s one I’ve wanted to make for a while now. I love how graphic the squares are. And even though the quilt is made from an actual pattern, the squares are still very improvisational, which I find very therapuetic to put together.

The colors I chose are a lot brighter than something I would normally pick, but I’m really happy with how they’ve turned out so far! I think they’ll really brighten up our bedroom – just in time for spring.

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Anyway, I can’t wait to show you the finished quilt! I’ll share more details once it’s completed, but in the meantime, I wanted to show you some close-up shots of a couple of my favorite squares.

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I’ll be back later this week to show you another (therapy) project I’m working on – knitting!! :) Perfect for all this cold weather we’ve been seeing lately. Although – I can’t believe this picture was just taken a week and a half ago – we’re enjoying temperatures in the 70′s and even 80′s this week!! Crazy!

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Baby Quilt for Kelsey Ann

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Last spring, when my brother and sister-in-law announced they were expecting a baby, I knew immediately that I would be making little him or her a baby quilt. Even before they had announced the sex, I decided I wanted to make a simple patchwork blanket that would be sturdy enough and big enough for the child to grow into as they got older.

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So as soon as they announced it was a girl, I got to digging through my bins of fabric to see what I had on hand. I’m happy to say that every square I used for this quilt was from fabric that I already owned!

I was heavily influenced by some of the patchwork quilts that Rita from Red Pepper Quilts has made (like here and here). I am so in love with the mix of floral and gingham!! It’s fresh and modern, but the combination is one I think will last the test of time.

It looks like the pattern I used for the quilt is no longer available to purchase (though I did find a pin to the pattern here). However, there are tons of basic patchwork patterns out there if you Google search, and it wouldn’t be that difficult to come up with your own pattern for such a simple quilt like this. I used the pattern as a reference, but really, after determining the size of each square and final dimensions, I didn’t really have to follow the directions that closely. Just for reference, I cut out 4″x4″ squares, and the final dimensions of the quilt were roughly 55″x55″ (perfect for a throw-size quilt).

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I had several fat quarters of vintage bedsheets that I had ordered a while back from Etsy that were perfect – a little retro and cutesy, and all in bright colors. I then added some basic stripes and gingham in different sizes and scales. I particularly love how the large scale gingham pops out from the design. For the binding, I knew I wanted to use either black and white stripe or gingham, and luckily, I had just enough black gingham leftover for the bias binding.

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Mixing the fabrics together was so fun. Although it took me a while to place the layout, it was a good creative challenge and I’m really happy with the result. Picking out the backing was probably the most difficult, because I knew I wanted to use a solid – something that would complement the colors on front, but not be too “matchy-matchy”. I ended up using this fuschia color – I believe the exact color is Kona Cotton Hibiscus. I love how it’s a perfect mix between pink and purple, in case either one ends up being baby Kelsey’s favorite color someday. :)

Like my last quilt, I sent the quilt top off to a long-arm quilter to take care of the quilting and binding. I wanted to keep the quilting lines very simple, and asked for her to shadow the seam lines on either side by about 1/2″. I love the grid work lines that show up on the back, and also how it highlights the pattern of each square on the top.

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And lastly, I added a label to the back of the quilt. I kept it simple and stiched out Kelsey’s initals, her birth date, and my initials. My embroidery is not the best, but I think it’s important to label quilts so that later generations in our family can trace back who the quilt belonged to and when it was made.

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And finally – here are some pictures of my gorgeous niece at Thanksgiving, modeling the quilt as a playmat. Kelsey’s already grown up so much since these photos were taken! Doesn’t she make the cutest faces? And those pajamas… adorable!! Her sleepwear is more fashionable than some of my fanciest clothes!! ;)

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I miss those little cheeks so much!

Until our next FaceTime date, Miss Kelsey – xoxo