Friday, July 5, 2013

Skilled Sailor

I've been letting an idea roll around in the back of my head for months.  A friend had asked for a wall hanging that was "pirate-y" and maybe had some blue.  It took me more than a little time to work out exactly how I would put these things together and still make something that wasn't over-the-top pirate-inspired and still captured both what he asked for and what I think our relationship is about.

That's right, I think personal quilts say something about my relationship with someone.  You make think it's crazy.  I think it just makes sense.  Why would I make you something that doesn't speak to who we are?  That's just silly.  Besides, little quilts are required to make up for their size by having a super-big meaning.  So, this one does.   Not that long ago, my friend had some upheaval in his life.  Big changes that he has weathered quite well.  I wanted to capture some of that.  Thank goodness Urban Threads had the perfect thing.  This was the foundation of the project.  I'd been collecting the fabrics for almost half the time I spent thinking about it.  These are what I finally came up with.  If I hadn't decided to dive into this project, there likely would have been more.  (Don't get too attached to the fabric on the far left.  It never made the final cut.)
I sat down with Electric Quilt and attempted to start with the size of the embroidery and create a great little wall-hanging.  I agonized for what seemed like forever.  How many rounds should I add?  Nine-patch or four-patch.  What about the friendship star?  What colors?  (That's pretty much how that mostly gold colored fabric didn't make it in.)  Ultimately, this is what I decided on.  I had EQ print it out for me and upstairs I ran to get cutting.  The pattern is rather ambitious, if you don't like making little 3" x 3" blocks.  I figured it would be worth it for a small quilt.
While the embroidery was being done, I was merrily cutting and piecing all those little, nine-patch blocks.  I did grit my teeth through the friendship stars.  They're one of my favorite blocks, but the fussiness of the half-square-triangle block annoys my urge to get on with the sewing.
I kept adding the borders until it met the requirements of my pattern.  I changed things up a little from the initial design, but I don't think it affected the outcome negatively.  Truthfully, I wish I'd used the tan print for the second small border instead of the solid. 
This quilt really challenged my thinking about the quilting.  Everything from thread color to design.  I decided that with such a small quilt, I really should quilt from the center out.  I'm really glad I did this.  I think it made all the difference in how the quilt finished.  I used a coordinating thread for both the tan and the blue strips. 

First, I quilted all the tan with a very small, all-over meander.  I think it really brought the embroidery out of hiding on that solid background.  I also quilted over the 9-patch blocks with a simple cross-hatch and made sure I quilted the background of the friendship stars to make them really pop.
The blue strips were quilted with small swirls and waves in blue thread.  I may have matched the thread too well.  Sometimes, I would lose track of where I'd been.
Skilled Sailor (finished size 24" x 26.5") is ready to go home.  I hope I captured everything he wanted and managed to make a statement along the way.

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