Quilt Finish: Strawberry Hotcakes
I had a pretty clear vision for this quilt project. I wanted to make two quilts at the same time, nearly identical, from simple patchwork for two, close work colleagues that recently went on paternity leave. And they needed to be done within two weeks. Oh. I had been hoarding my Noteworthy fabric for years, so it was the obvious choice as the base fabric bundle. However, it just felt so Meghan-Trainor-pastel. That’s not an insult, rather a pretty apt description of a safe, predictable, and expected colour scheme for a baby quilt. Safe. Predictable. Expected. Not really three words that are usually used to describe lil’ ole me! I needed to turn up the volume, while keeping the treble dial in the traditional lane.
So I drifted through my stash, back in time to find the ever reliable Notting Hill by Joel Dewberry. It is the fabric range that keeps on giving, and in my opinion, his best work ever! I started throwing in pieces from the magenta colour way, and it was exactly the look I wanted. It lifted the pink to a sharper tone, and picked up the tangerine detailing found in many of the Noteworthy prints. I was even surprised that the cream found in both ranges (manufactured by Moda and Free Spirit) was perfectly complimentary. On Instagram I coined the hashtag #whennottinghillmetnoteworthy inspired by one of my favourite movies! (“I’ll have what she’s having!”) Basically, these two fabric ranges combined to provide just the sweet edge I was looking to create. Kismet!
For each quilt, I decided to make 12.5″ patchwork blocks, with sixteen 3.5″ squares in each. This meant I needed to make sixteen patchwork blocks (4 x 4) to make a square 48″ quilt top. I set about cutting approximately the same number of 3.5″ x 13″ strips from eighteen different fabrics. I cut up all of the fabric needed for both quilts. The idea being that I sew four strips together along the longest edge, and then cross cut four sections from each strip set. I made each strip 13″ long, because you know, it’s a half inch longer than the 12.5″ block, so that’s more than enough. I thought I was being so smart (keep reading).
Um. If anyone was able to follow along with the above (I know, explaining math via words is hard!) you might have noticed my faulty logic. You can’t very well cut four 3.5″ strips from fabric that is 13″ long. You’d need at least 14″ to do that! (3.5+3.5+3.5+3.5=14) You might say that I had a mild rage session upon discovering my error. Every strip set was cut out! No fabric left! Design disaster! My friends Angie and Kristy talked me off the ledge. In the infamous words of Tim Gunn, “This is a make it work moment.” How’d he get so smart?
So having 13″ to work with, meant I was able to cut out three 3.5″ strip sets and one that was 2.25″. (I forfeited 0.25″ to ensure the edges were squared up). So while I could have just made the quilts smaller, I would have wasted that extra 2.25″ strip set. Instead, I decided to break up all that patchwork with a Molli-Sparkles-pink border (otherwise known as Art Gallery Pure Elements in Raspberry Rose), and then use that extra 2.25″ strip set to carry the patchwork beyond the border. I cut the border out at 1.75″, so when combined with the 2.25″ strip set, it gives an overall dimension of 3.5″ (3″ finished) like every other patchwork square in the quilt. Basically–again excuse all the math jargon–I just wanted the borders to be at the same ratio as the rest of the quilt to create harmony and balance. How’s that for explaining my process?!
Once the quilt tops were done, I was happy again! Design disaster? Not at all! Accidents have a funny way of making you think creatively outside of the box. I’m so glad that my funny math happened, just so I could stretch those creative wings, even the tiniest of bits, in what was otherwise just a patchwork (although, still lovely!) quilt. For the backing, I had just enough (and I’m talking inches to spare) of the Noteworthy bucket list fabric to use on both quilts. Thanks Grandma Sparkles for picking that yardage up for me ages ago!
Due to my time constraints, I stitched in the ditch for the quilting, using 50 weight Aurifil #2600 Dove. It all but disappears everywhere except the Molli-Sparkles-pink border. I thought about doing a thread change out there, but really, I didn’t think the babies (ya know, vomit and poop) would really mind. I went back and forth about the binding. Machine or hand-stitch? Ninety percent of the time I hand-stitch my bindings, so you’re preaching to the converted. However, baby quilt, washing, time, my own needed practice, convinced me to go the machine route this time around. Surprising even myself, it worked out really well! It looks neat, crisp, and so close to the edge I can hardly stand it!
These were also the first new quilts I was able to gift with my labels sewn into them. Woop, woop! Look at me, being all professional now. :::hair flick::: The labels have care instructions on the reverse, but I made sure to wash both prior to gifting. Good quality fabric rarely runs, but I wanted to make sure. Plus, they got all crinkly, with a slight vintage vibe after washing, which totally made me get all sentimental about them. Quilt making is so much fun! I never would have thought I’d find my groove with quilt making, but here I am!
Both quilts were very well received by their recipients, with comments about how they were too nice to be used. Isn’t that always the case!? So that’s that. Two quilts, two weeks, design disaster turned into opportunity. I tell you all of this so you know that the Molli Sparkles quilt studio is rarely perfect. Instead it is a constant quick-change act, and I hope you realise you can do the same! A friend of mine said these quilts reminded him of Strawberry Shortcake, but I think they’re more akin to Strawberry Hotcakes! Hot, hot, hot!