I loved every. single. second. of making this thing. I love how it’s so bold and graphic.
It’s a lap quilt made from the Feathers quilt pattern by Alison Glass and Nydia Kehnle. I met Nydia briefly at Sewing Summit 2012 and followed her on Instagram. She and I I have such a similar design aesthetic: graphic and geeky.
There are tons of quilt alongs and sew alongs out there in internet-land, where lots of folks make something from the same pattern and share their progress and thoughts along the way. I don’t often participate, because I try to keep focused with my own handmade to-do list. But I couldn’t help but be involved with the Feathers QAL after seeing Nydia’s blue version of the Feathers quilt on Instagram. I had no choice but to make one.
I ordered the Sunset Kona Cotton Solids Fat Quarter Bundle and 5 yards of Kona Cotton in Pepper from the Fat Quarter Shop. My plan: make this quilt in all-solids using blues and purples, with a pepper black background.
I googled for a sunset photo for color inspiration. Turns out the Kona Solids Sunset colorstory is true to life! I printed the Feathers Pattern Block Map, shaded it with a pencil, cut out the areas to be filled with color with a utility craft knife, then placed it on top of the fabrics to try to come up with my color combination. I ended up bringing in some Kona Charcoal to transition the colors to black.
I printed another copy of the block map, this time using it as a coloring page. Really, how flippin’ cool is it that I get a coloring page with a quilt pattern?
Following the pattern, I cut all the fabrics to size.
I paired the fabrics with their corresponding templates, organized them with clips, put my coloring page on display, and I was ready to sew.
The pattern uses the foundation paper piecing quilting method, something really new to me. I’ve only ever made one other paper-pieced project: a small pincushion. I was a little nervous to make such a large project with a technique not familiar to me, but all I did was follow the directions and I was just fine. This was my very first block. It was so easy and it looks so good. I knew I was hooked.
Here’s the first set of “A” blocks. I’m totally digging these colors. That block map was SO helpful in making the color choices.
Here’s the “B” blocks…
… “C” and “D” blocks…
… “E” and “F” blocks…
… and “G” and “H” blocks.
Then it was time for a little bit more complicated block. By the way, is there such a thing as a sexy quilt block?
“I” and “J” blocks – done. Love!
Then on to “K” and “L”…
… then the “M” blocks. Oops, there was a spot or two that I needed to figure out how to fix. See the gaps on the fourth stripe down on the left two blocks? I’m not sure how it happened, but I had to be tired from this block-making frenzy. I made all of these blocks in the span of two days. Once I started, it was really hard to stop, even for lunch and dinner breaks!
The first little gap ended up not being an issue since it was covered up in the seam allowance at the end. The other one, however, extended more than 1/4″ from the edge. So I ended up stitching another little black fabric scrap over it. It worked out pretty well. I can’t even find where it is in the finished quilt top.
And the last blocks complete: the “N” blocks.
Now there’s some pretty scraps: from paper piecing trimming and quilt block trimming. I ended up saving the larger pieces for who-knows-what. If anyone has a cool project for some scraps, please let me know!
After all that, you’re left with some uber-valuable quilt trading cards. In paper piecing, you basically sew fabric onto paper, so these are all paper-backed at this point.
I pinned all of them to my design wall, added the long black sashing strips, and said “Tomorrow I’m going to sew you up real good.” I sat and stared at this thing for quite awhile. I absolutely love this design. It got a lot of Instagram love
Now to stitch all these parts together. I sewed the quilt block columns together, following the stitching lines on the paper, then pressed open those seams.
I thought I’d try out glue basting for the super-long sashing seams. When I’ve stitched really long seams in the past, they tend to leave little puckers every so often. I DID NOT want this to happen with this piece of art. After seeing Cristy Fincher’s glue basting technique, I thought this was the perfect time to finally try it. Using glue (instead of pins) seems kinda weird to do when you’re sewing, but wow, it works SO WELL. There were lots and lots of comments on this Instagram post. The key to making this work is the fine tip that attaches to the glue container. I got mine from Cristy
Whoa. I am now an official fan of glue basting. Those are 70″ seams with nary a pucker. And I flew through those seams. I ran a small line of glue near the edge, heat set with a dry iron, stitched on the paper on the line, and pressed the seams toward the sash.
And now the home stretch: turn this baby over and peel off all that paper. This was the least fun step for me, but I got through it fast because I wanted to see the finished product.
All I need to do now is choose a backing, get some batting, and actually quilt it together. But I just can’t decide how to quilt this thing, and I don’t want to rush it. I enjoy piecing quilt tops together, but not the actual quilting part (since I’m not very good at it yet). I don’t know, I’ll have to ponder on this a little while.
UPDATE: I finished this quilt! Check out my post: Feathers Quilt
In the meantime, if you’d like to see all the other projects folks are making, take a peek at the Feathers Quilt Along on Nydia’s website.
Here are some maker’s notes for my sewing journal:
- I ran out of the paper piecing thread, so I had to switch to a regular all-purpose black thread at the end.
- Solid fabrics – No worries about right/wrong side, or directional prints! This was especially nice for this project, since they are so important in paper piecing.
- Paper piecing thread – This special thread is strong, yet fine, and kept my seams intact as I peeled off the foundation paper.
- Juki sewing machine – Lots of short seams and starts/stops can be tedious and frustrating while sewing. But they were made fluid with my Juki’s knee bar presser-foot lift, auto thread cutter, and super-fast speed.
- Paper piecing tools – These tools made this project fun and easy: small cutting board, good rotary cutter, postcard, add-a-quarter ruler, 1×12 ruler, and a finger presser.
- Overall – Sewing on lines drawn on paper made this a no-brainer and relaxing project. If a sewing project is on the complicated side, I find it distracting to have music playing. But I enjoyed music while making this quilt – a little U2, Madonna, Gwen Stefani, and Steve Miller. Sheesh, I totally forgot how much I love “With Or Without You”!
Changes for the next quilt I make:
- Buy two spools of thread, not just one.