Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Charity handprint quilt #3:The Very Hungry Caterpillar [aka problem child]

This is the final post of three handprint quilts I created this past month for my twyns' preschool auction. You can see quilt #1 (A Tiny Seedhere and quilt #2 (Brown Bear, Brown Bear) here.

Finished size (binding completed post-pic) 74 " wide by 80 " high
Well let me start this post by saying after all the work I did, of which you are about to read, I've decided to enter the 'butterfly block' design in a block contest! Please go vote for it here, if you please! You can vote once a day for the whole month of May. If you browse the other entries you will see what a novice I still am, and that will make you feel better about following me in my journey to quilter stardom, since you knew me "when."

Now, back to quilt story/tutorial. And there is no usual TwynMawrMom "Quick & Dirty" points on this tutorial, because everything was Slow & Painful on this one!! But this is so I could iron it out for you, my sewing friends, so that it will quick & easy for you, hopefully. [hee hee, nervous laugh...]

Start with design & pattern: 24 students, (that's 12 butterflies):
Ohhhhhh....this quilt. I thought I had chosen a pattern for it, then I wasn't happy, then I wanted to incorporate the Eric Carle fabric panels I had purchased, then my daughter was playing around with them...and then we came up with butterflies. But no pattern. So I created my own. And it took a few [i.e. many many] tries! When creating your own pattern you have to constantly stop and adjust and assess at every turn. It takes a lot longer, and you are filled with doubt most of the time.

So, like I said, we saw this butterfly panel and decided it would be the perfect size to match up with a pieced butterfly, using the hands as the inside of each wing.

Because I wanted to make butterflies and add the stem, I had to both trim the original 8 x 8 handprint blocks 1/2 inch on the inside (palm) side and adjust the seam allowances around in the HST's. I will adjust the pattern for you my reader accordingly so you can keep 1/4" seam allowances.

I also decided (upon quilting expert friend evaluation via text pics), that the butterfly should have symmetrical wings, duh! So I ripped out the bottom butterfly shown on the bottom of this pic, and came up with the design on the top. It's hard to see in this pic, but it features red on the bottom, then orange, then yellow, blue, and finally, violet.

Since my HST's generally come out small, I gave myself a little wiggle room in the solid blocks, which are the white central rectangle in the upper row of each butterfly, and the red center squares in the bottom row. 

Just to be safe I also assembled each butterfly separately rather than "assembly row" style, so that I could make sure they had an internal harmony/match-up of points before assembling the quilt as a whole and encountering size/matching issues there. 

That's what sashing and borders are for!  Although I had some trouble with that, too...

By block number 5 of 12, I finally figured out that I wanted to piece it by doing the inner butterfly, the bottom two red blocks, then add the yellow-orange-red outer border, then piece the whole top row on. Another negative to starting your own pattern and not caring how the math/seam allowances worked out!!! 7 more to go...

So I was able to start piecing all the red rows together, the yellow/orange side panels onto the handprints, then the top row. Assembly-line style! I show you this piecing process illustrated in the following photos. I opened up and ironed most seams whenever possible to help flatten out all the points. See the pretty butterfly effect on the wrong side of the fabric? Quilter porn.


Don't forget to add the grosgrain ribbon "V" as antennae in between the top and middle 'rows'. Alternatively you could use a stitch in the final quilting or a type of applique.


And..... here's the block you've been waiting for! Sorry to make you read about all my design issues. But I'm hoping it will encourage you to create your own! (pssst...get some graph paper.)

Since indeed the final block is quite large, I think you could also make a great pillow out of one block for a family member or teacher. Just sayin'.

Final top assembly: 
It was hard to resist adding green to these butterflies to balance out the color, but I knew the quilt as a whole would balance more nicely, just as the first one did, if I saved the green for the negative spaces. It also served to tie all three of these quilts together thematically.

I struggled with how to complete the quilt top:

Staggered with the butterfly in the middle? 

Green in the negative spaces?

Eric Carle filler fabric in the negative spaces?

In the end I came up with no negative space at all, and utilized the entire center Eric Carle fabric panel of The Very Hungry Caterpillar story: 

Again I measured the 'butterfly rows' against the middle panel, and it did not work out exactly. I added more green sashing to help, but it is still a little 'off', where I added a second green row to the center panel. It would have been better if I had trimmed the butterflies more to match the inner panel. But the green is nice to tie it all together.

Now onto quilting: Using the Longarm for the first time!
After I finished piecing the top together and realized it covered my entire queen-size bed, I made a call to Steve's to rent the longarm for the first time. If you recall I took the 'certification' class back in January and had a great time, so for some reason I thought that meant I could get this thing quilted in 2 hours time.

Hahahahaha....except that it took an hour for me to re-learn how to load it properly onto the frame. But this is why Steve's gives first-timers the first two hours free. You're going to have a learning curve. 

Robert was so great and was helping me every ten minutes. There was even some tweaking he needed to do to the machine, and once I got going, since I went with a random "butterfly flying" type design, I was actually done in about two hours. 
No I was not planning on a random design but then again, I AM random...
Oh, and there was that other little hiccup, where I cut the batting the wrong length and needed to hand sew a bit more on to finish off the whole thing...

See how the fuzzy off-white stuff has ended while the quilt top goes on? Yeah, that's not good.
But overall I have to say amidst moments of complete panic that I just destroyed this quilt, I had moments where I felt really proud and happy that I honored my own creative voice. I chose a variegated (rainbow) thread and just went for it.

Finishing up: photo shooting, binding, labeling:
I picked up the kids and had just enough sunlight to photo the quilts before (hoping to) finish them off that night and hand them into the kids' school the next morning. I wanted them done. The time was now. 

So who knew photographing a quilt was a whole other skill!?! 

The kids helped quite a bit....riiiiight....
Trimmed the batting and evened out the backing so that it was even all around the quilt. Folded over twice (for the self-binding method I mentioned in my earlier posts here and here) and pinned in place to machine sew around the edges.

Added the final label at 12:30 am. 

Then mama slept. 

And now it has only been a week, but I kinda miss those buggers hanging around the last few weeks...

Thanks for reading! Please comment below or email me at twynmawrmom [at] gmail [dot] com if you have any questions about the pattern or process whatsoever! 

I'll let you know how they do at auction! 

[Unless they go for $20 each, then you'll know why you didn't hear about it ever again...]

Don't forget to vote for my block here
(in MAY!)

1 comment:

  1. Absolutely love this quilt! What an imagination you have! T


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