Saturday, September 22, 2012

The kindergarten quilt - the whole story!

I'm relieved to tell you Miss P and her mom liked the quilt!  ["wiping forehead with arm" relief]  and here's how it came about.

Miss P wasn't going to start kindergarten until she was almost 6 because of the birthday cut off being 2 weeks earlier than her birthday.  But I started talking to her about her kindergarten quilt early to involve her and let her know it was coming ... just like kindergarten.

She wanted a unicorn.  Now mind you, she won't get another bed quilt from me until she is 12!!  I was worried about unicorns 'lasting that long'!!  But then I thought, if it's too baby-ish in 7 years, she can just blame it on Nana!  My daughter actually took her kindergarten quilt to camp with her as a counselor!!

Next problem, I started looking around for unicorn fabric.  Nada!!  My DD and DGD do this to me ALL THE TIME!  They are months, if not years, ahead or behind the trend of fabric design.  Trust me - 2013 will be the year of the unicorn!!!  It's happened before.  I call to your attention which year the "Cat in the Hat" fabric came out again ... it was the year after DD asked me for a "Cat in the Hat" quilt!!

I put a notice out on Stashbusters that I needed unicorn fabric desperately!  And one gal responded and said she had a pillow panel and sent it along with a companion fabric that saved me!!  That companion fabric is the middle of the backing.

I saw a cute rail fence pattern with the rails zig-zagging across the quilt in colors.  Loved it!  It's a pattern, even though I didn't purchase it, I'm sure there is alot of information there that would have been helpful to me. Picture Cheech and Chong saying, "Pattern?? We don't need no stinking pattern!!!"  That's me on a mission!

I figured 6 inch blocks and the size I wanted and drew on graph paper [old school, I know]  what I thought would work, and then started going thru the stash to find pinks, blues, greens, reds, oranges, yellows and purples.  It was so-o much fun!!  Of course, you think you have holes in your stash.  I bought some more oranges, yellows and purples, borrowed some from friends, and dug deeper and found more. Pulling out the scraps was the easiest part - I have plenty of them!!  I needed white on white fabric for the 3rd log on every block - WOW is not a staple in my stash.  Found a polka dot WOW at JoAnn's and bought 'plenty'  HA, or so I thought!  I never was very good at math.

This summer when C&L came for their vacation on the coast, C saw the quilt plan, she loved it and she dug right in to my scraps and we made a smaller one for her granddaughter too! We went to the LQS on Fat Quarter Tuesday [$2 FQs] and purchased more assorted colors that we needed and some WOW for C - cuz my 'plenty' of WOW was now running out.  And I thought I would have enough for some on the back!!

On foggy days we would set up on one of the dining room tables and sew away - just like the old days when we were neighbors!  But then I discovered heavily patterned quilts and watching 8 hours of the Olympics wile sewing don't go together!!  Yep, I got a section turned around - and there was a mistake in the color order ... right smack dab in the middle, of course!!  But years and years of experience ripping saved me!!  I ripped out the switched blocks 'doughnut style' and after checking, double checking and triple checking ... sewed them back in correctly.  The top was officially done!

For the back I had the unicorn fabric [thanks to a stashbuster sister] some blue fabric and some fabric showing a Jack Russell type dog chewing on a sandal.  It looked just like Tonka, my DD's Jack Russell and I'd been saving it for years for a quilt for one of the kids.  I showed C how I was going to put it together and she vetoed it!!  No giant 4-patch for this quilt!  So I came up with this symmetrical design, which C approved.

Beginning of August I spray basted the quilt - the September deadline was hanging over me - and I started quilting in the ditch with my walking foot.  My Janome has a perfect quilting stitch - it takes a divot stitch ^ on the left of the ditch; a straight stitch; then a divot stitch on the right side of the ditch.  I like it because it anchors those seam allowances and makes me feel it's sturdier.

Sturdy is good because quilts are used to death at my DD's house - just the way I want them to be!  So it has to be strong enough for 7 years of washing and wearing!!  It needed more stitching. So I free motion quilted following the 'stairsteps' of color - Jill Schumacher style.  Well, needless to say, I won't be showing Jill my stitches anytime!!  The quilt was way too big for a beginner at this to get a good grip on the quilt and keep it steady ... but 90% passable will have to do.  Most of the time I sewed in the middle of the middle log - I say most of the time, cuz I kept getting lost in there!!  Never mind, keep quilting!!

I ended up with a gigantic quilt that I had 'alligator wrestled' thru the harp of my DSM - twice!  It was a fight to the end!  But I wasn't happy - it was just too big - floor to floor on a twin size bed.  My DH put his finger on it - saying, "She's such a little gal, she won't be able to even carry that quilt!"  I had to make it smaller - I never said I was very bright!!  Someone else might have figured this out BEFORE alligator wrestling it thru the DSM harp!!!  BUT, of course, I had that symmetrical back to deal with too.  No two ways about it, I had to remove a row and a column - from each side!!  But once I took a big breath and started cutting ... well, it felt right!  And the quilt ended up being a perfect size for her twin bed.  That 12" really made a difference.  Now I had to rip that Jack Russell fabric off the back in case I wanted to add it to Mr M's next quilt.  I had used it all - and I wanted those scraps to reuse!!  Obsessive, I know!

At the beginning of the process I had suggested to Miss P that since I couldn't find unicorn fabrics; maybe she could draw one for me.  So NOW she called to tell me she had a unicorn for me - and boy did she!!  It melted my heart!!  It was so cute and so detailed, well, even though the quilt was 'finished' I had to add it.

I blew up the drawing at the copy store and found fabrics I liked in my stash.  The background of the block was perfect - there was no turquoise in the quilt, so this wouldn't blend with the rail fence blocks areoung it.  And it had different words for 'Nana's written on it.  Perfect!! I wonder-undered the parts and ironed it all back together.  Then I hand embroidered the face; arms and legs; blanket stitched the pieces down, appliqued it on the front of the quilt; machine free-hand quilted it in place.  She'll never know it was added at the last minute!!  I put it low enough on the quilt that she could make her bed [a Nana is ever hopeful that they will make their beds someday, right???] and the unicorn would be showing under the pillow.

So - ta-da!!  The new improved Kindergarten quilt!!  Incorporating her drawing into it was so-o much fun.  I hope to do that with each kindergarten quilt I make.

Oh - I forgot my favorite part!!  My conversation with Miss P after her first nap under the quilt.

Miss P:  You know, Nana, I told you you didn't have to include the little girl on the unicorn.
Me:  I know, but she was so-o cute I just had to!  Did you notice that on her dress there is a "P" for Miss P??? [hoping to distract her from the fact that I don't follow edicts!!]
Miss P:  Sigh.  And there are not just unicorns on the back.
Me:  I know - there are castles, wizards, and dragons with the unicorns. I couldn't find just unicorn fabric and I had to use all that fabric because I needed it that size.
Miss P:  Unicorns and dragons are not friends.
Me:  They're not???
Miss P:  Dragons forget and they 'fire' the unicorns.  So unicorns don't like them.
Me:  Oh.  Well, the dragon is pretty far away from the unicorn, I'm sure they'll be okay!
Miss P:  sigh!!!!

Oh dear, just what I need.  Someone else to tell me what's wrong with my quilts!!!  LOL!

1 comment:

slrquilts said...

I love it. What a great Nana you are. Sue