I finished the quilt! It took a while. My wee grandson is almost 5 months old and fortunately just now ready to curl up under it!
I decided on the size (36 x 48 inches) and worked out the math for the stripes and inner rectangle that would hold the animals, finding inspiration from this quilt and this one. Then it was a matter of sketching each of the twenty 5-inch squares to find the right combination of animals.
Making the Applique Squares
I use HeatnBond for all of my applique work. It’s such a wonderful invention! It comes in a roll that I can sketch or trace directly on to. Then I cut the pieces out leaving a bit of extra space all round and lightly iron the shiny side directly to the WRONG SIDE of my chosen bits of fabric. I did this for each and every component of every animal, except for eyes that I knew would be too small to zigzag in place. I also did all of the blue squares that would be their backgrounds. To avoid confusion, each animal collection got paper-clipped together, then each small bit precisely cut.
The right side of the cut fabric now faced up and the wrong side had a peelable piece of paper still attached. Here’s the wrong side of one of the blue background squares. I removed the backing from each animal piece but left it attached to the blue backgrounds so that as I ironed the animal parts in place, each background did not become glued to the ironing board!
Here’s all 20. They are ironed on to their backgrounds but have no zigzag stitching holding them permanently in place yet and no additional touches such as eyes, whiskers, limb outlines, etc.
Each piece had to be zigzagged but before I did, I peeled off the backing from each blue square. Otherwise it’d be a royal pain peeling it off around all the zigzagging.
I have always been one to tie off my thread ends on the back, even though it will be ironed in place. It’s my obsessive nature, I guess. I pull the top threads through with the back (not sharp) edge of a seam ripper and knot them.
Next were the embroidery embellishments. When it came to eyes, I penciled them on, used a fabric marker to fill them in, then embroidered them (any spaces in the embroidery go unnoticed with the black beneath).
Here they all are again, positioned in their final spots and ready to go!
Putting the quilt together
I’m not going to go in to the details of putting together the rest of the quilt. I’ll just say that it is well worth your time when using fabric strips to:
- use the classic carpenter’s rule: measure twice, cut once
- review very carefully how you want the strips to go together – which ones are short, long, wide or narrow, which direction you want any patterns to face (my multicoloured animals are all looking toward the centre), which seams you want sewn first to keep seam lines consistent throughout
- ensure that every stitched line is straight and every corner is right-angled
- press open the seams of each strip so that the next join lies flat at the crossover
Adding the animal squares: the same general rules apply. I laid everything out and made sure I was happy with it before starting the first square. I then sewed the squares across the top followed by the squares down the left edge. Then it was a simple matter of taking my time and filling everything in, aligning as I went.
You can buy batting by the metre (or yard) or you can buy it in precut packages. If it’s folded, it’s really lumpy but can be ironed on medium heat using a cotton cloth over top.
When joining the layers, I had to THINK! That matting has to be BETWEEN the back and front when turned right side out. The quick first thought is to put it between the layers as you sew… but this is incorrect!! Instead, the matting is put down FIRST, then the quilt BACK down SECOND with its RIGHT SIDE UP, then the quilt FRONT down LAST with its RIGHT SIDE DOWN.
I always leave a generous amount of extra batting because I find it pulls in as I sew; the excess will be trimmed. I also pencil the stitching line to ensure that it is parallel to my other seams since the batting can pull it askew. Once done, it got turned right side out and the opening hand-stitched shut. Then I carefully stitched along the edges of the inner strips to provide some additional quilting. In the second photo below, I’ve folded it over partway to show the multicoloured back side of the quilt.
I have always loved producing applique projects. They are time consuming and take a lot of patience, but are wonderful to work on when deadlines don’t loom… small sections can be picked up and completed in little snatches of time.