Sunday, May 29, 2016

2016 Graduation Custom Quilt

A few months ago, I was asked to make a quilt for a student who was graduating High School in May.  After our brief discussion, in the hallways of the high school, my client (Heather) and I decided to meet at Starbucks to review design and fabric options.

Heather wanted to have a quilt that could be signed at the graduation party, but could also be used as a lap-quilt.  Heather had some digital pictures to incorporate into the quilt.  The colors picked were the school colors: orange and black.  I also used some white and grey so it wouldn't look like a Halloween themed quilt.

We decided on a modern quilt pattern called Floating Squares, by Missouri Star Quilt Company (MSQC).  I am a subscriber to the MSQC BLOCK magazine, which is full of wonderful patterns for many kinds of quilts and other projects.  I especially love that each magazine pattern also has a published video tutorial on YouTube.  I don't know about you, but I am a visual learner.  I love videos!  Here is the video tutorial for the quilt:

After reviewing the pattern and video, we decided to make the front of the quilt with "floating" white squares and the background to be iron grey.  I added bits of orange and black to the front as well.  The entire front of the quilt was constructed with Robert Kaufman Kona solid fabrics.  The colors were White, Black, Kumquat and Iron.  The top of the quilt came together quicker than I had imagined!  I did a bunch of chain piecing, while laying it out on portions of my cutting table. 

As I mentioned before, Heather provided some digital pictures of her nephew and late brother to incorporate into the quilt.  I originally thought I would insert the pictures into the front of the quilt, but the symmetry of the "Floating Squares" would have been compromised.  I decided to improvise the back, while utilizing both pictures.  Instead of using strictly solids, we chose to incorporate fabrics that personified the High School Mascot - The Pirates.  Here are the 2 fabrics we decided upon:

Riley Blake - Raven
Riley Blake - Blackbeard's Skull

I'm afraid I bought the end of the bolt of the orange raven print.  I hope they come out with a similar design.  As you may know - many fabric companies will not reprint a design once it sells out.  The black fabric with white skull and crossbones was fun to work with because it is non-directional and the design is simple.  I also used the orange fabric as the binding for the entire quilt.

The design for the back of the quilt was improvised with the knowledge that the focal point would be 2 photos in a large block.  The provided pictures were extremely special because Heather's brother had recently passed away.  They were fortunate to have these very recent pictures taken as a part of Heather's Nephew's Senior pictures.  The design of the back utilized most of the procured fabric, while reserving a small portion of the orange fabric for the binding.

Once I had the front and back assembled, I took the quilt (and some Quilter's Dream batting) to my friends house.  I rented me some long-arm time so I could quilt the front and back together.  I used a free-motion pattern, which complimented the front of the quilt.  Before I quilted the pattern, I practiced on my sketch pad.  Practicing on a sketch pad helps with muscle memory and can ease the translation to the quilt.  Here is an example of the free-motion quilting pattern I used:

If you haven't used a long-arm quilting machine before, I highly recommend you give one a try!  This process definitely speeds up the quilting process and the quilting results are better than can be produced on a domestic machine.  I would love to have the space for one of my own long-arm machines and table!  Someday!

I gave myself 6 weeks to assemble, quilt and bind.  I could have probably finished it in less time, but I gave myself more time so I could also keep up with the incoming Etsy orders as well.  I was pleased with the finished product and more importantly - so was Heather and her Nephew!

If you would like to design your own quilt - Just let me know!  I would love to help you!

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