Friday, February 3, 2023

Quick(ish) Finish

Started December 31, 2022 -- finished February 1, 2023
Pieced, machine quilted, bound!
Ready to be washed.
And I love it (which means it will be so hard to part with it)!!

I gave you a glimpse of the top a couple weeks ago but I'll review what I did here today and how it achieved one of my goals for the year (already?).

On December 31, I spent an entire afternoon tidying up my very messy box of 
2 1/2" scrap strips sorting out strips that were less than 12" long to cut up into squares for the 2 1/2" scrap squares box.  Daydreaming along, I started to consider making a "jelly roll" quilt -- you know sew the strips together end-to-end for a couple miles and then -- just "google" it.  
Then I recalled a pattern -- Sakura Sun -- which has been on my "I want to make that" list for a couple years.  It's a free pattern on the RJR Fabrics website designed by Linda Fitch.
Upon reading through the pattern instructions, it calls for three different strip lengths all under 12" -- perfect use for that growing pile of short strips.

Time to make a color plan!
The aspect of the pattern that first caught my eye was the way the colors bled down the length of the quilt.  So to achieve that, I decided to use the warm colors down the middle of the quilt and the cool colors down each side.  When I sorted out cools and warms, there was twice as much green as blue or purple and lots more cool prints than warm prints. 

The resulting strategy was to "muckle up" (old Mary Ellen Hopkins term) the warm colors down the middle, with greens down both sides bleeding into blues on the right and purples on the left.  All the strips in each band are the same length and the pattern calls for ten sets of the three different bands.  So every set began with purple, then green, then warm colors, green again and ending with blue.  The sets with seven pieces have three warm color prints in the middle and the sets with six pieces have two warm color prints.
After setting the top together, I went back and added an eleventh set of bands.

I stacked the strips for each band from left to right without being fussy about "matching" or "coordinating" the prints -- the quicker this step is done, the more random the results! 
After piecing and pressing the bands, I put them on the design wall as they came off the ironing board -- no fiddling at this point.  When I walked away from the design wall and turned around to look at the layout, I gasped!!  This was so much better than I imagined!!
I did fiddle a bit to move the reds to the top and bottom of the quilt and concentrate the yellows in the middle but I didn't necessarily need to do that.

TIP: I forgot to do this until I realized the quilt top was skewing to one side --
I stitched the bands into pairs, pressed the seams to one side and then began to stitch the pairs into fours -- my mistake at this stage was I always started at the blue end.
To eliminate the skewing, I needed to switch and start at the purple end to join the rest of the bands.
Does that make sense?

Also, the bands are a bit random in their finished length -- part of the reason for that is there are varying numbers of seams.  So a band with seven strips will be shorted than a band with five strips because there are more seams -- not because you are a "bad" piecer!! 

Once the top was finished it was time to figure out a backing.  Of course, I didn't find any piece large enough so I pulled four colorful prints that have some common colors and were all florals.  Here they are laying on the quilt top (on the design wall) to make sure my calculations are good.
Nothing more frustrating than piecing a backing and having it short!!
As I layered it with batting (a Frankenbat made from three leftover pieces), I considered whether random lines zigzagging down the quilt would emphasize the color flow. It just took a few chalk lines drawn across the quilt to convince me it was a good idea.

I drew the first line down the length of the center of the quilt, stitched it and then used my straight line quilting guide tool to achieve the random spacing as I worked out to the sides from the center. 
It's not apparent in this photo, but I also changed thread colors as I progressed -- yellow down the middle, a variegated pink/red on either side of the center, then a variegated green down through the green prints, finishing up with a variegated blue thread on the right and variegated purple on the left. 
 I played two rounds of "thread chicken" running out of both the blue and the purple threads with just a few inches left to quilt.  After another cuppa' to calm me down, I was able to think and estimate how many more lines I could get from the remaining thread.  I spaced those lines further apart.  
Then I came back in and added lines with a thread color that blended with what I had already used.   Could you tell if I had not point it out?
As I finished the quilting, I started thinking about the binding.  All my auditioned ideas weren't working -- black, rainbow strip . . . .    But then I had a "clever" moment, dove back into the 2 1/2" strip box and made a scrappy binding that changed colors to (almost) match the edges of the quilt -- blue on the right, green and warm colors on the top and bottom, purple on the left!!
The "goals" reached?
I used a pattern from my "want to make" list!
I used about 6 yards of my stash, leftover batting, and thread I had on hand!
I finished the quilt in a timely fashion!
(My kids don't appreciate the favor I'm doing them using up some of the stash!?!)

My version is 53" by 66" -- did I say I love it!
An easy, cheerful, and quick make during the gray months of winter here in NE Ohio.
I have another simple quilt in the works using the shortest strips from the same stash box!
Hope you are able to do some satisfying stitching this weekend.

P.S. -- here's a link to a "jelly roll 1600" quilt I did out of my stash a few years ago that you might also find inspiring!  After re-reading it, I'm wondering if I followed through on making a charity quilt from every shelf of fabric in my stash that year -- guess I have to go back and read more posts?!?  Plus there's a great (I think) tip on managing the assembly of this style of quilt top.



  1. This is a beauty!! I love the random look-- so scrappy and wonderful--nice work hugs, Julierose

  2. What a great quilt and a good way to use odd sized strips! Happy stitching!