Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Adalyn's Quilt

I finished the last of the quilting on Monday evening, June 9th, about 6 p.m. Talk about getting down to the wire! Before Ivan and I left the next day, Tina and I put together our package that included lots of adorable baby clothes, along with the quilt, and sent it merrily on its way to California. Jon and Nat received the package the next Monday and they filmed their opening the box and all the goodies, then put together a really cute video. Don't you just love technology?!

Because I'm determined to do a better job of documenting things like this, be forewarned this is a photo-heavy, looooong post. So if you'd rather, just skip to the end to see the finished product :)

Y'all know that Jon and Nat decided to go with a science and math theme in the nursery. Initially they wanted a yellow-white-gray-black color scheme. Hmmmm, how do you make a math and/or science themed quilt in those colors?!

Spoiler alert: I ended up going with my very first design idea! That's not to say I didn't agonize over a number of different designs for months, but I kept going back to my original idea.

So what was it? Here's my very crude, initial, hand-drawn sketch, that elicited a rather tepid response from Ivan when I showed it to him.
And it didn't fare much better when I sent this picture to a couple of others.

Which left me thinking that maybe it really wasn't a good idea at all. 

And yet it incorporated the colors they wanted AND fit the science theme. I should also back up and explain that I had Jon and Nat look at my Pinterest quilt board where I've pinned ideas for inspiration, to get an idea of their style. I also googled math and science quilts and sent those links to them. Their taste clearly leaned toward the more modern quilts with clean lines, and quilts with large, singular graphics. So the concept of a large microscope and the metamorphosis of a butterfly seemed ideal.

In the end I had two main contenders: the butterfly quilt and a cool carbon molecule that kind of resembled a soccer ball. I decided if they were having a girl, I'd go with the butterfly and if it was a boy I'd go with the carbon molecule. We all know how the story ends.

Now I'll be the first to admit I'm not an artist and the drawing does not convey my concept very well, so I guess a tepid response was to be expected. And I wasn't really happy with how busy it seemed, but wasn't sure what to do about it. Then Ivan pointed out that with little ones we don't go into the entire story of metamorphosis; we simply tell them "a caterpillar becomes a butterfly". That was just the tip I needed! Removing the eggs and the pupa left the design much cleaner. Perfect!

And as bad as my drawing was, it didn't matter because I wasn't planning to draw it freehand anyway. A few online searches and I'd found some great photos that took the guesswork out of the equation.
I taped a large piece of paper to the wall of the garage, and arranged our projector the right distance away to get things the size I wanted. The butterfly is obviously a little oversized, but I figured I could claim artistic license. To be honest, the making of this quilt involved more than a little artistic license!
master pattern

Since I couldn't find a caterpillar that fit the curve of my microscope, my SIL came to the rescue and drew a nice, fat, juicy caterpillar for me. Yay for artistic sister-in-laws!

I didn't have the fabric I needed to start the quilt while still in Argentina, so that was the first thing on my agenda when we got to the states. Oh, and meanwhile Nat had decided to veer away from the black and gray and go more toward a yellow-white-purple color scheme. Which I thought would make it easier. Wrong! I knew fabric lines, like fashion or home decor, have color fads. And apparently yellow and purple is not a popular color combo these days because I could not find a single solitary purple and yellow print. Not.A.One. So Adalyn's quilt has a lot of solids and tone-on-tone prints but that's it.

And finding the right purples? Oh my goodness. Jon sent me the Pantone app for my iPhone with the colors they really liked. [Which is a WONDERFUL tool, if any of you need to color match something!] So at each fabric store I'd whip out my phone, pull up their purple swatches and... nada. I finally found an acceptable purple (a very subtle tone-on-tone) at Lolly's in Shipshewana. It's a deeper shade but the right hue.

And before you ask, Yes!, there really are purple microscopes. Seeing this on Amazon brought back fond memories of my first microscope. Which I finally got rid of just before we moved to Argentina. It had a lot of sentimental value which is why I held onto it for so long. I had so much fun with that microscope while growing up. I remember going through a stage when I spent all my allowance buying prepared slides with really fun things to look at under the scope.

This was almost completely hand appliquéd, which I really enjoy. The microscope went super fast. The butterfly required more work, trying to figure out the best way to go about it. In the end I did reverse appliqué but cheated a bit by using a glue stick to help keep the black 'seams' in place while hand-sewing the different colors behind (the glue washes out).
The caterpillar was a nightmare, but that was all my own fault. I was suffering from a severe case of DMD and ended up sewing three different caterpillars before I was okay with it. And I'd have done a fourth if I'd had time.
I used the trapunto technique on the caterpillar and the front wing of the butterfly to give it more dimension. The caterpillar is quite "fat and juicy"! 

Once all the appliqué was done I took the top to the fabric store and 'auditioned' various fabrics for the border. SIL Sharon, Tina and I unanimously chose the yellow print with a kind of batik look to it.

I knew I wouldn't have time to quilt it too, because we were going out west for a few weeks. So I found a lady who does hand quilting and hired her. She did a nice job, but didn't exactly do what I asked. Ivan and Tina marked the quilt with a continuous double helix around the border, and with various math symbols and numbers on the main body of the quilt. I asked her to do a meandering stitch around the symbols. While she quilted the border as marked, for some reason she ignored the symbols and numbers entirely and just did a very loose meandering stitch on the main body. And she didn't get it done until Friday, June 6th! I was rather frustrated, but what can you do? ¡Es lo que hay!

Since I was determined to have math symbols and numbers (plus her meandering was so loose there were large unquilted sections), I spent our last few days quilting like mad (even quilted during the ordination council that Saturday!) and, like I said, finished at 6 p.m. on Monday June 9th. You can definitely tell a difference between my not-so-small stitches and the quilter's teeny tiny ones, but I'm okay with that.

I held my breath while washing and drying it, because although I'd pre-washed all the fabrics, there's no guarantee there won't be any bleeding... especially with all that black. This is a quilt I hope Adalyn will love and use for a long time. The black is a Kona solid, and I've always been very happy with that line, and I wasn't disappointed this time either. I did throw in a couple of those sheets that are supposed to absorb any bleeding that occurs in the wash, and whether that helped or not I don't know, but it came out looking great. Whew!

I really liked it, and so did Ivan and Tina, but would Jon and Nat?
Yes, they did! See Nat's smiling face as she holds up the quilt? That smile made me do the happy dance :) 

And now we can hardly wait to see Adalyn wrapped up in it. She's due around the 12th of August, so we don't have too long to wait!


The Bug said...

I LOVE it! Adalyn will always treasure it I'm sure...

P.S. I enjoyed reading about the process.

Mari said...

It turned out great! I'm so impressed by the way you can plan and make a quilt.
Can't wait to see her in it!

rita said...

Yes, the process and the final result--amazing!
What are those sheets that help avoid bleeding?

Anonymous said...

Wow, what a process, but the quilt turned out great! I'm sure Adalyn will enjoy it for many years to come :)