Magnum Opus: “What So Proudly We Hail” Part I

Hello habibis!  Happy second Sunday of Advent.  In honor of this, the second week of Advent, I finally bring you the first glimpse of my magnum opus!  It’s called “What so proudly we hail.”  (For my non-American readers, this is a modification of a line in the “Star Spangled Banner.”)

I decided to make another quilt for Z, for our third anniversary.  (Last year I made him this Storm at Sea quilt.)  I got the idea months ago, when Janice Jamison came to speak to my quilt guild.  She showed us pictures of the American flag-themed quilts she makes for veterans.  I’d love to make a Quilt of Valor one day, but in the meantime I’m making mine for someone closer to home.  Z is not a veteran but he is very patriotic and proud and I knew he would love this quilt.  (I actually got the idea to make the American flag pillow for Z’s grandpa after I decided to make this quilt.)

I could have shown it to you while I worked on it – Z doesn’t read my blog – but I really don’t like to share presents before I gift them.  Z and I just celebrated our anniversary, so now I can post his quilt.

In anticipation of the quilt, I picked up some red, white, and blue fat quarters and a yard of a white on white print when I was fabric shopping with my mom back in spring ago.  Here’s some of the fabric (with a few others thrown in for the flag pillow).

I started with math!  I knew I wanted to enter this quilt in my guild’s quilt show next year, and they have size requirements of 96″ long by 90″ wide.  Since I knew I wanted my flag to be horizontal, not vertical, that meant that my size limit was 90″ wide.  I did my calculations and decided that my stripes should be 4″ long by 85″ wide.  (I used the same website as I had for Z’s grandpa’s pillow.)  My original plan for the blue section of the flag was to piece it with whatever blue fabric I had, but I had plenty of blue fabric in the right shades (thanks to my previous purchases).  I didn’t need to do a patchwork found-fabric kind of thing for the blue section, so I decided instead to do 4″ long stripes of the blue as well.  The blue is approx. 35″ wide and the red and white are approx. 50″ wide.  (I do think a random patchwork look for the blue fabric would be really cool, and perhaps I’ll do that on a future quilt.)

I sewed my stripes together to make this lovely flag.  The piecing went quickly!  I used safety pins and little pieces of paper with numbers on them to make sure I kept the prints in the order I wanted.  (I messed this up making the pillow for Z’s grandpa – I switched two of the red stripes and it’s not as balanced as I wanted it to be, but oh well.  I didn’t notice until he was holding it in his lap, and that was far far too late to fix it.)

I paper clipped pieces of paper with numbers on them to keep my rows in order.

I wanted to add borders.  First I used this red and white print and added a narrow border.  This print is actually leftover from the train quilt I made my grandpa some five years ago.  I must have bought yards and yards of this print and I still have scraps of it lying around.  I periodically use them in other projects.  I thought it was perfect for this: a print to set off the flag, but a simple one that wouldn’t be distracting.

With the narrow border I had hit the width limit for the quilt show, so the rest of my borders went only on the top and bottom.  I added a narrow white border and a narrow blue border, just to give the eye a break from the wide red and white stripes.

I wanted more space for quilting so then I added two more 4″ long white stripes and one more 4″ long red to the top and bottom.  (It looks so weird to say 4″ long, doesn’t it?)  Then my quilt top was ready!

So, here’s my take away from this: making an American flag quilt is easy IF you do simple quilting.  The  cutting and piecing went so quickly.

Tomorrow I’ll show you the rest of the quilt assembly and start talking about the quilting.


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