It’s been a rather busy week here in Gotham for this crafty scavenger, but at least I finished the blue quilt top.  It also has a destination, though not a particular home yet: I’m giving it to my son’s school to help raise money.  To date I’ve made three quilts for the school, one of which was bought by a dear friend so I know it is used.  Here’s another one I made for the school, which sold for $100:

This is one of my favorites.  There was enough fabric left that I made two more very much like it, which we gave to one of my husband’s colleagues when his twin daughters were born.   Anyway, back to the blues.  So I had made 42 9-patch squares that looked a little like this:

The question was what to do with them.  They could just be sewed together, or attached with joining fabric.  I decided to use up some of my vast stash of blue fabrics so I cut enough blue squares to encircle (or in this case, ensquare?) each patch.  With my trusty rotary cutter and handy cutting pad I cut out 672 blue squares.  Sixteen blue squares would then border each colorful patch, to create a predominantly blue quilt.  Next step: sew the blue squares together into rows.

A row of three blue squares are sewn to the top and bottom, then rows of five are sewn to each side.

I used several different hues of blue.  Now the question was how to arrange the 42 blocks into a reasonably pleasing pattern.

At this point the materials have outgrown my ironing board and table top surfaces, so I carry them into my son’s room and lay them on the floor, trying different variations to see what works

and spend a lot of time kvetching about it before setting it aside for the day.  The cutting, sewing and pressing that comes before this stage is very workman-like; I just keep reeling them off.  But this stage isn’t so clear-cut.  Many quilt designs are essentially different arrangements of one basic block pattern (remember log cabin and flying geese?).  The nine-patch is one such basic block.  It can take awhile for a pleasing pattern to emerge.  My camera often helps a lot at this stage;  the small camera screen reduces it to a simple geometric visual of light and dark color.  A decision comes, and next day I sew together seven rows of six blocks each.

You still there?  Good, I like perseverance.  As rows are sewn, seams are pressed with an iron and edges trimmed to line up.  All rows are sewn together until it is one finished quilt top.

As each row is sewed, the seam on the underside is pressed to the one side. This improves the appearance of the quilt top and makes it easier to sew when adjoining the top to filling and backing.

The word quilt refers to two things: the item itself, which is essentially a blanket with a design, and the process itself of sewing three layers (top, fill and backing) together.  I have tried to “quilt” the layers together with straight and more decorative stitches, but this is a skill that eludes me.  I mostly affix my layers with yarn, a technique known as hand-tying.

For the fill, or middle layer, I’m using what was my son’s fitted twin sheet.  I cut off the elastic and seams.  I am happy to finally use this — it has waited patiently in the closet after many rejections due to its weight and dark stripes.  I think it will make a nice weight to what I see most likely as a boy’s bed quilt, and the stripes won’t show through the darker colors.  For the backing I will use one of my Salvation Army specials:

King size Calvin Klein Home flat sheet bought at Salvation Army for less than five bucks.

And here’s where I stop because one of my sons got home from school and it was time to clear out of his room.  I am not wandering too far from my modest machine this weekend, so I’m hoping to knock this off so I can return to My First Commission (MFC).