Monday, October 31, 2016

Blue Ernie Stash Dash Quilt

Well, this is a nice October surprise, my Blue Ernie Stash Dash Quilt is finished and it took less than two weeks which is a pretty good record for a quilt this size.  What was even more surprising was how the quilt was made and quilted; a good example of happenstance.

It started with my current quilting phase revolving around Ernie quilts and 2.5" strips.  I saw the Indigo Stripe quilt by Karin Jordan in Love Patchwork & Quilting, Issue #38; it's the blue quilt on the left side of the cover which made me think of the black, blue and light Cotton + Steel prints in my stash.

The Indigo Stripe quilt uses 12 fat quarters and yardage of a solid white fabric.  Each of the fat quarter are cut in 2.5" strips and in varying lengths and then sewn together.   The quilt is constructed in individual rows with the solid white fabric added intermittently.  I loved the blues and using strips, however, not a big fan of using solid white fabric on my quilts, I rather use low volume prints plus I wanted a more improvised look.  Also, I wanted to use the octopus, tiger, swallow and flower prints but without cutting them in strips.  I came up with the idea of sewing a series of strips like a jelly roll race but not as long which is why I call this quilt a Dash.  (Tidbits on how the blocks were made are at the end of this post).

As I mentioned earlier, Blue Ernie was a happenstance quilt, wasn't sure how I was going to make it, changing and improvising as I sewed the blocks and laid them out and just loving how it turned out.  Even more surprising was how I quilted it which came to me while I was making the quilt.  As mentioned in my previous posts, I have not been happy with my Juki 2010Q when it comes to straight line quilting and I really wanted to quilt Blue Ernie the same way the Indigo Stripe was quilted.  Divine inspiration came to me and I decided to do QAYG (Quilting As You Go) for each panel row on my Elna 7200 Quilters Dream which had been idling because of the new Juki and it turned out beautiful.  I'm glad I thought of this before the top was sewn together.  (Tidbits on my QAYG process are at the end of this post.)  So another surprise was that I may have solved my quilting woes by doing more QAYG, which I haven't in the past because of my impatience in wanting to see the completed top, and now piecing with the Juki and quilting with the Elna, my dream team.  

This is my third quilt in the Ernie Series and it measures 64"x 80"--another surprise, it wasn't suppose to be this big, I miscalculated.  All of the fabrics were from my stash, no new fabrics were purchased, batting scraps were used (yay!) and I had yardage of a gray print in my stash for the backing which, for once,  I didn't deliberate or had qualms on using.

And just a shout out for my furry friend Ernie, the American Farm Tiger and Quilt Czar, who belongs to Mary Etherington and the inspiration for our quilts, you're going to need to bless this quilt too, after all the blue tiger print has your essence.

And Now the Tidbits

I'm using the word "tidbits" to describe the information that I share and first of all want to disclaim myself from any mistakes or injuries you may suffer from making this quilt and what I'm providing is not a how to tutorial but just information to give you an idea of how I made this quilt.
  • The color range of the fabrics were blacks, navy blues, royal blues, periwinkle blue, light and dark grays and modern low volume lights.
  • Thankful for my Sizzix Big Shot Pro Die-Cutter, affectionately referred to as Princess Die-Cutter, I cut 120 2-1/2" x 20"-22" strips (depending on the size of your fat quarters or the full length of your strips cut in half); there were at least two of the same prints and sometimes four in this count. Thirteen of the strips were cut in half, measuring around 10", again not an exact measurement.   I  also used one half yard of the octopus print and three fat quarters of the blue tiger, swallow and floral prints. 
  • The strips were divided into 26 piles of  four strips plus one half strips.  Like a jelly roll race, I sewed the four strips together (short ends) and the half strip was sewn either at the beginning or at the end to ensure the strips are offset and then folded the long strip in half and sew together either from the top or bottom.  One the end is cut, I had strip sets measuring approximately 4-1/2" x 22"which I did not trim.
  • Once these strip sets were sewn, I then sewed two strip sets together, making sure I did not sew the strips made from the same strip set together which created a strip set of four rows measuring 8-1/2" x 22", approximately, again I did not trim them.  The strips were ironed the same way, going up.  Once this was done, I had 26 strip sets of four rows.
  • Cutting was as follows:  6 strip sets were trimmed 8-1/2" x 16-1/2" and the remaining 20 strip sets were trimmed 1 piece 8-1/2" x 12-1/2" and the other one 8-1/2" square.  Because my strip sets were around 22"-24" long, I made interesting trims which gave the blocks the improvised look but did not trim it where the fabric would have been less than 1" at the end.  FYI, I saved the trimmings for another quilt.
  • I cut the focus yardage as follows:  (4) 8-1/2" x 16-1/2" pieces were cut from the octopus print and (4) 8-1/2" squares were cut from the fat quarter prints.
  • There are 10 rows in this quilt and each row has (1) 8-1/2" x 16-1/2" block, (2) 8-1/2" x 12-1/2" blocks and (3) 8-1/2" squares, making the width of the quilt 64-1/2" wide.
  • When I laid out the blocks, I looked for matching blocks that had at least one of the strips with the same print in the same location to create a wonder as to how this quilt was made.  And when I could not find a match, I inserted one of the plain blocks.  Sometimes the match was from the top or bottom, not always on the side. Ideally, the strips nested together but when they didn't, I just re-ironed one of the blocks in the other direction.  After each row was sewn, I ironed the blocks in alternating directions so the seams would nest together.
  • Once the strip set rows were sewn, I sewed two rows together creating a panel measuring 16-1/2 x 64-1/2" which gave me five panels rows in this quilt. I was ready for QAYG.  The method I like is quilting the top and batting together first.  I cut my batting strips at least 1" wider than the panel rows on all sides.

  • After all the panel rows were all quilted and trimmed, I then sewed the rows together, the seams are pressed open. FYI: pressing the seams open exposes the top fabric and if your backing is light, you will see the open seams through the backing.
  • The idea behind this QAYG method is because the top and batting are already quilted together, the backing when added only needs to be quilted minimally which I did where the panels rows were joined; the photo below was taken before I quilted between the octopus and kitty strips.
  • Additional quilting lines was done on the diagonal in eight places, like the Indigo Stripe quilt to ensure the backing was attached to the top/batting.
I really enjoyed making this quilt and amazed at how everything turned out, especially the quilting.  I hope the tidbits were enough to give you an idea of how this quilt was made.  It's a great way to use the stash and already thinking of making another one with my Tula Pink stash.  Hope you make a Stash Dash quilt too, believe me it's fun.

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