Quilt for Z – Part I

I’m making a quilt for my boyfriend Z for our two-year anniversary (hopefully – I think I can finish it in time).  I wanted to make him something really special.  I decided on a nautical and patriotic theme for him, to appeal to his interests. I also wanted something that would be masculine, not childish.  I think I’ve succeeded on the latter point, even though I’ve used all prints, as it my wont.  Everything is blue, red, and grey, so I think I’ve chosen my palate well.

I’ve always loved the Storms at Sea pattern, and it matched my theme.  I used the pattern from the “Quilt-Lovers’ Favorites” book published by Better Homes and Gardens (Volume 1). I had some nautical prints and lots of star prints, so that was my starting point.  As I mentioned, I chose dark blues, light blues, greys, and reds. Storms at Sea requires soooo many pieces.  569 pieces, to be exact.  I thought it would take me forever to cut them all, but I managed it in a couple of weeks.  I was really pleased with myself. Here are some of the pieces:

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Each Storm at Sea block involves a ton of pieces.  There are small squares (in this case, composed of a small red square surrounded by four light blue triangles and then four larger dark blue triangles), larger squares (same color combinations), and diamonds in dark blue with grey triangles on all four sides to create a rectangle.

The instructions for the Storms at Sea pattern from “Quilt-Lovers Favorites” (Volume 1) had pieces lettered A-H.  I started with A, B, and C, which is the large square surrounded by triangles and then surrounded by a second set of triangles.  The book recommended sewing triangles on opposite sides, then ironing, then sewing the other triangles, and repeat.   I followed that.  It worked pretty well.

I had several different prints (duh, because it’s me) so I laid everything out to get the right distribution of prints.

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Here I’ve sewn the triangles to opposite sides, per instructions from the book:

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Squares with the first set of triangles sewn on:

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Completed squares:

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There were sixteen larger squares.  Then I made the 25 smaller squares, using the same method.

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I hid all the pieces from Z.  Normally I tell him everything about all of my projects (and, I suspect, he listens politely like I do when he starts talking about Fantasy Football) but in this case I’m trying to keep it a secret.  So far I’ve managed to keep the secret for two months.

The last part of the blocks was the rectangles, composed of diamonds and triangles.  I followed the same steps as before.

Diamonds:

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I thought I had a picture of what one block looks like, all laid out, but I do not, so a picture of all the blocks assembled together will have to suffice.

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I do have these pictures.  I don’t know why I took a picture of the backs, but I did, so  you get to see them:

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I made a mistake with the diamonds.  The rectangles composed of the diamonds plus triangles came out longer than the length of the large squares.  I’m not sure why.  I doubt I measured them wrong because I traced off of the pattern in the book, so probably it’s a matter of seam allowance.  I didn’t realize the problem at the time.  The way the blocks are assembled is piecemeal, so I would end up with a rectangle and a small square and then a rectangle and a large square and sew them together, but then the one rectangle would hang off the edge.  (I don’t know if that’s clear – it’s hard to explain.  If you look at the directions in the quilting book, you’ll see what I mean.)  If I’d known, I could have made more of an effort to center them or – better yet – used the large squares as a template and lopped off both ends of the rectangle so that it matched the length of the squares.  However, hindsight is 20/20, and I didn’t realize it until it was too late.  As you can see, my diamonds are not centered.  The point is cut off at one end.

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Now that the whole quilt is assembled it’s not hugely noticeable, and I doubt Z will hold it against me.

Here’s another picture of all the Storms at Sea blocks pieced together.  I think you can really see the pattern from this angle.  It looks great, doesn’t it?  I’m so enamored of the pattern, even though it takes so much work to cut all of those pieces.

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I wanted the quilt to be bigger, so I added borders.  First, a solid border:

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I chose solid blues to match with my color scheme and also to maintain my nautical feel.

I added a blocked border – you can’t see that well in the picture, but the prints are all nautical: anchors on a white background, whales on a blue background (see below), and anchor/ship stuff on a red background – ship stuff being the technical term, obviously.  I’d used the red fabric for some of my center red squares in the Storms at Sea patches.  Finally I added a big blue border that matches the backing fabric.

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I assembled the quilt at my parents’ house, because they have the magical ping pong table and I have nothing but a floor.  (Quilting at my parents’ house makes quilting in my tiny city apartment feel pathetic and cramped.)  I laid my backing fabric on the ping pong table, then adding the batting, smoothing both layers as best I could:

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I added my top layer and then trimmed the excess.

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Lastly, I basted everything and pinned the edges.  (The picture above shows some of the basting but I’m not sure how clear it is.)

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Normally, I like to sew the edges down while at my parents’ house, but I was a little pressed for time, so I took it back to my apartment and sewed the edges there, mourning the lack of my mother’s dining room table as I sewed at my desk and the quilt bunched up against the wall.  One day I’ll have a house and I can sew at my own dining room table!  (I hope.)  In the meantime, I have to make do.

I’ve already started on the quilting, but I think that’ll be a post for another day.  This post ended up being pretty long.

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