Happy New Year!

So, after my birthday post the plan was to post more regularly – even weekly! – but we all know how that turned out. Five months later (give or take a few days), I am back! I could argue that autumn is very busy at school, life happens, etc., but that is true of everyone I encounter. In all honesty, every time I thought of posting, I also thought of everything involved: taking photos, uploading and preparing photos, writing in an engaging and entertaining, yet informative, manner, my enthusiasm waned and it was easier to sit back with a glass of wine to watch Wallander (the Toronto Public Library has the DVDs, for the locals! It’s in Swedish, for which I have no facility, so I have to pay attention to the subtitles!)

I digress. I have quite a backlog of garments to blog about, which I will, in due course, but I decided to start the new year with a quilt. Inspiration struck, as it often does, at a time when I could do nothing about it. In this case, it was a Sunday afternoon. If I had wanted supplies from any shop other than a quilt shop, I would have been fine. I have found that quilt shops tend not to be open when inspiration strikes.

So, on Sunday, 14 December, 2014, I decided that I had to make a quilt for my aunt and uncle. I had made quilts for Mum, my parents, my Auntie B, my nephews, and my cousin’s son. I decided that I had to make one for them because I saw this pattern online:

Fancy fox by Elizabeth Hartman

Fancy fox by Elizabeth Hartman

The surname of my aunt and uncle is Fox, so it was destiny! Happily, it was adorable and I wanted to make it for them. But it was Sunday! What to do? I could have downloaded the PDF pattern, but what was the point? I had no fabric suitable for a couples quilt: by this, I mean fabric that could be both masculine and feminine. Oh, the agony! I had to wait until after work on Monday, leaving at my ministry mandated 15 minutes after school ended, to hightail it to Sew Sisters to fulfill my duties to both family and inspiration. I did not find the fabric I had considered originally, after poring over the shop’s website, but I found these:

Fabrics for Fancy foxes

Fabrics for Fancy foxes. As it turns out, I used neither the stripes (too difficult to match properly) nor the grey geometric (too close to the grey background).

Cognizant of my looming deadline (my flight on 23 December), I devised a plan: cut on Monday, piece the blocks on Tuesday and Wednesday, assemble the quilt on Thursday, pin baste and quilt in the ditch on Friday, quilt on Saturday, launder on Sunday and purchase all other Christmas presents and pack on Monday. The advantage of Sunday closings is that it allows one time to reflect: initially, I was going to make the lap quilt (42 adorable fox blocks to make), but over the course of the day, I revised this plan to the baby quilt, which had just 20 blocks. This was a wise decision! If you have ever made an Elizabeth Hartman quilt, you know that there are many pieces to cut and assemble (in this quilt, 242!). I took photos of the assembly of my practice blocks:

Eye units

Eye units

Nose units

Nose units

Ear units

Ear units

Units are go!

Units are go!

It's almost a face...

It’s almost a face…

Getting to the point...

Getting to the point…

Point taken and understood!

Point taken and understood!

Adorable fox faces! Truth be told, I hate the colour. These were my practice blocks.

Adorable fox faces! Truth be told, I hate the colour. These were my practice blocks.

This quilt pattern is fantastic for chain piecing. I made all 20 blocks at the same time. By this, I mean that I sewed all 20 eye units, nose units and ear units. Then, I sewed 20 eye/cheek units, 20 foreheads, and finished the points on the nose. I finally attached the ear units to the completed face units. I met my goal of piecing the blocks in two nights, working 4,5 hours each evening after work. Then, it came to arranging the blocks into a quilt.

Plotting the fox blocks. I agonize over these things; there must be balance of colour and pattern!

Plotting the fox blocks. I agonize over these things; there must be balance of colour and pattern!

I arrived, finally, after many variations, at having each row start and end with the same block. I favour a balance of colour and pattern when I assemble a quilt. In this one, I used five different patterns, each in two colours, with four colours (pink, yellow, blue, green) in all. I had more pink and yellow blocks, which made things difficult in my original iterations ( I tried for matching opposites, such as corners and position in the quilt top). What you see above is a compromise of my original intentions. I did not have enough blocks (it requires a square number, such as 9 or 25) to fulfill those intentions. However, it works. Intentions must adapt, at times, after all. I am very happy with the quilt as it turned out.

9 hours of ditch stitching later, the faces are defined!

9 hours of ditch stitching later, the faces are defined!

So, I met every goal. I worked at least four hours every night to get Fancy foxes finished! Then, I arrived at the quilting. I like stitching in the ditch. It defines the piecing, and I do it on every quilt that I make. It is, however, time consuming and annoying to do. Threads must be buried, the seams are short, the walking foot does not move around the piecing but for the pivoting one forces it to do. It took me nine hours to ditch stitch these foxes! I thought that I would be done Friday night. HA HA on me. I only stitched the stabilization lines that night, opting instead for wine and Wallander. I spent nine (9) hours on Saturday doing the rest!

I then experimented with filling the negative space (the grey areas on the quilt). The easy way would have been t0 do meandering loops, my usual method. Why would I do that when I have always wanted to use pebbles?

First corner pebbled. This took 100m of thread, so I had to make an emergency dash for five more spools.

First corner pebbled. This took 100m of thread, so I had to make an emergency dash for five more spools.

Three hours (and 100m of thread) later, I had a corner of the quilt pebbled. It defines the faces beautifully, but there is such a lot of grey to fill! Thank goodness Fabricland is open on Sundays, as I was able to buy several more spools of thread to finish. Why is it that the perfectly matching thread is only ever available on the 100m spools, rather than the 250m ones? I got my pebbles done in 10 hours of quilting on Sunday, 21 December. On Monday morning, I bound the quilt and went shopping for everyone else.

10 ours of pebbling and it is done!

Bound and laundered!

I have to mention the backing. I love, love, love the backing! It is gorgeous! At Sew Sisters, the owner helped me choose a backing and I thank her for doing so. It is just wonderful.

Backing fabric: Indelible by Katarina Roccella: Time is deer. I love these clocks!

Backing fabric: Indelible by Katarina Roccella: Time is deer in Ember. I love these clocks!

Close up of quilt backing. I think these clocks are gorgeous!

Close up of quilt backing. I think these clocks are gorgeous!

The fabrics on the quilt top were part of a different fabric line, but this fabric is incredible. Katarina Roccella is a fabric designer that I am watching with anticipation. I did finish in time for my flight on 23 December. I can set and meet goals, which is a learning skill on the Ontario report card. Yay me! Happy New Year to all!

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