Quilt Finish: You Learn
“I recommend getting your heart trampled on to anyone. Yeah. Oh yeah. I recommend walking around naked in your living room. Mmm, yeah. Swallow it down–what a jagged little pill! It feels so good, swimming in your stomach. Wait until the dust settles.” If there’s anyone that knows about Truth Tea it is the ever-honest, Alanis Morissette. That’s probably how I came about it with such ease, listening to her original and subsequent records ad nauseam. You live, You Learn, ain’t that the truth!? Well, the truth about this quilt is that it’s been finished for about two months, and I’m just now getting around to showing it to you. Sucker for a slacker?
This finished quilt uses my Jagged Little Pill quilt block and I’m calling it You Learn, the song from which those lyrics come. I’m also calling it that because of all the new things I did with this quilt. I designed the Jagged Little Pill quilt block last year as a participant in Blossom Heart Quilts’s The Bee Hive series. I really wanted to create a quilt block that had a strong graphic structure singularly, but when combined with other blocks became something else entirely. Tick that one off the list! As I mentioned in my previous post about the block, the concept of a jagged little pill was also playing heavily on my brain. Things of beauty can be born out of places of pain–I know a lot of you can feel me on that one.
But I’m not just Molli from the block, y’all. As soon as I started constructing the top, I knew I wanted to try my hand at trapunto with this quilt. Yeah, because You Oughta Know I have so much experience with trapunto! Like I’ve said before, it’s just fabric right, what could possibly go wrong? I found me a YouTube video and went about attaching various types of layered waddings to the jagged little pill portions of the back of the quilt top. I used a variety of wadding scraps I had on Hand in My Pocket so I could see what worked best (cotton, not so much; wool poly, Perfect!) I definitely learned how to be more effective with materials, and to be more careful with my scissors when cutting the excess wadding away. It’s Ironic then, because you can imagine I know a lot about filling up a few holes!
Just because I couldn’t let in any normalcy with this quilt, I went out and bought 180 more basting pins, and I’m pretty sure I used them all! I had some shifting issues on the last quilt I FMQ-ed myself, so I was resolved not to let that happen again. The backing is assembled from two prints from one of my all-time favourite collections, Jeni Baker’s, Color Me Retro. It was released during my first year of quilting, so I bought all of it. Times three. Funny (and true story), this was one of the last quilts I pin-basted right before we had our hardwood floors replaced. You know I was digging those pins in deep!
Then it was time for the quilting, and this is when I knew All I Really Wanted was to use my Aurifil Brillo metallic thread. It’s not readily available in the US, but just like some good Mary Jane, Ms. Midge has got me hooked up! I wanted to accentuate the trapunto as much as I could, so I quilted organic cross hatches in all of the white sections with Brillo 800 (Silver) on the front, and Aurifil 2740 (Dark Cobalt) in my bobbin for the back. Using such contrasting threads in both style and colour from the front to the back caused some tension issues, but I was already Head Over Feet committed. A small adjustment here and there though, all was Forgiven, and the angels started to sing!
That was until I noticed some black oil-like marks appearing on the quilt top as I was straight-line quilting with my walking foot. Oh no, no, no, no! I couldn’t even begin to fathom what was happening, or what I was going to do about it. I’m certainly Not the Doctor when it comes to sewing machines, but I quickly ascertained that my walking foot was leaving an occasional black oil spot. You see, in 2.5 years, I’ve hardly ever used the walking foot, so it was still super lubed up. Plus, the trapunto’s puffiness was bunching up inside the foot and acting as a cotton bud cleaning it out. This is not the type of full service I needed!
Rest assured, after a little help from the Glitterati, I got every last mark out using Orange Power stain lifter. I even managed to do my arm exercises at the same time with all the smoothing, twisting, dabbing, and blotting required. Right Through You, indeed. So you can now consider me a bonafide quilt restorer as well. Mmm hmmm. Is there nothing these hands can’t do? (Oh, Mr. President!)
So you’d think that would be enough. Wake Up sister-girlfriend, it was time to throw the whole hog in the pan and let it sizzle! I knew all along this quilt would have white binding. After completing the quilting with the Aurifil Brillo 800 (Silver), though, I didn’t like the idea of the the silver-quilted white fabric being a different tone to the stark-white binding. Time to create my own textile then, what else!? So I grabbed my binding and just started sewing lines upon lines of silver thread across it, creating the same organic cross-hatch texture that I had made with the quilting. I’ve never seen this done before, so I adore how it creates a unique finishing detail. Oh, and there’s my trademark glitter flecked binding, of course. Of course!
I immediately threw it in the washing machine, and then tumble dried the hell out of it. I was searching for the kind of crinkle you get when you’ve spent the past two hours flat-ironing your hair, and then you go outside to see storm clouds. (Been there, done that!) I also wanted to see if the Brillo thread could handle the heat. It certainly didn’t snap, and just sparkled on like nobody’s business. It has a Twilight-vampire-like quality, you don’t see it sparkle until the light catches it just right. Or it’s ready to eat you.
And, well that’s that. You can see I’ve learned a lot in one quilt. There are several techniques I’ll carry forward here, and others I’ll improve on along the way. If you are keen to try out the Jagged Little Pill block at Your House, check out the #jaggedlittlepillblock on Instagram for inspiration, head to Blossom Heart Quilts today, or I’ll be posting the full tutorial here in the next few days. It’ll then live on in the Tutorials page for easy access! Thanks for joining me on this very thorough account of my quilt, You Learn.