I never thought that.
But I have been asking anyone who'll listen, "Really? It's May? How can it be May already?"
No excuses. Maybe a short explanation. I was working on so many secret family projects that I couldn't post for a while. Once they were finished and gifted, I was a bit burned out. Throw in some travels (which upset any semblance of routine here), the ease of Instagram (where I have been posting) and there you have it ~ blog neglect. I recently got my mojo back and decided to update here with a few posts and then return to regularly scheduled programming. Ok, let's go!
Last year while I was down in Texas, visiting Molly, she was complaining about her husband constantly appropriating her beloved college quilt for TV viewing. Always on the alert for possible Christmas gift ideas, I mentally jumped right on that! Upon my return, I immediately pulled out Sujata Shah's's book, Cultural Fusion Quilts. If you recall, I wrote a post on this book for her blog tour and my enthusiasm at the time wasn't just a favor to a friend. It's a great book full of ideas for quick and 'full of life' quilts.
My son-in-law is a tennis player so I decided to go with that theme. With so many novelty sports fabrics available these days, I was startled to find that these three prints were about the only tennis fabrics out there. My big challenge was finding compatible fabrics to tone down that neon ~ no small feat! I tried to mostly pull from the stash and once I had a decent selection, I returned to the book to find a block pattern that could handle the large, bold prints.
I settled on the Windmills quilt pattern from the book and made a few blocks in the recommended 7" size but thought they looked a bit clunky with so many of my small scale prints. One of the great things about Sujata's method is that the block directions lend themselves easily to fine-tuning a project size. After making a few smaller test blocks, it was obvious that 6" blocks would work better and the design wall was quickly covered with them. Luckily, I was able to find some compatible fabric in the stash with enough yardage for the borders.
I had to use some of this text print of Australian locations since my son-in-law is from Sydney. (And he did notice it within minutes of opening the gift!)
I was then faced with quilting decisions. I think I need to make a large sign for the sewing room wall that says PRACTICE YOUR MACHINE QUILTING! because I never think of this until I'm staring at a quilt top with a gift deadline. The top always looks so wonderful (Don't they? Nothing like a newly finished top!) and then I'm reminded that, just like I forgot to lose those 5 lbs last month, I also forgot that I meant to practice machine quilting. Now what?
If you're inexperienced in free motion quilting, I think the easiest way to machine quilt is to do something simple that is straight-line-ish. I first stitched all of the horizontal and vertical seams in the ditch, effectively outlining the blocks. Then I stared at the design for a while until I could see an easy but complementary solution for anchoring the block interiors. Working from side to side (the shortest distance), I echoed the blade edges in 'freehand' line, working diagonally from block corner to block corner. Here's a (very) quick sketch to illustrate.
I used a neutral gray thread, but illustrated the stitched rows in red and green to differentiate them from each other. If you click on the quilt photo just above the illustration, you can see how it looks on the quilt. (A few of the block rows were quilted in corner to corner 'petals', but then I experimented by adding that center square on some of them. Fancy!) Since the blocks were pieced in free-form style, there was no need to be fussy about the quilting design. Just like the windmill blades, some are fat, some are thin. Nothing fancy but I did feel the quilting complemented the block design. (Note to self: PRACTICE YOUR MACHINE QUILTING!)
This and my first Cultural Fusion quilt were both gift deadline quilts yet a pleasure to work on, though that doesn't mean it wasn't a dash to the finish. In my rush to get it wrapped before the kids' arrival, the best color capture photo was this quick, draped-on-the-couch shot. I kept the quilt a secret so it was a nice surprise for everyone on Christmas morning!