Saturday, February 2, 2013

This Is A Boy Fest

A friend of mine just had a baby boy, so I made another tractor quilt.  I think I like sewing better in the summer.  This one seemed to take me 100 years and was kind of hanging over my head. 

I also insisted on doing the quilt as you go method AGAIN and I'm still not happy  with it, as I'll explain.

I like to do applique because it allows for more fun baby like things on the quilt.  Traditional quilting is also nice, but for babies, I like to put things for them to look at. 

For a long time, I did fish quilts:

But I got kind of tired of them because they take a lot of different fabrics and it's a lot of cutting and ironing.  This was one of my most favorite quilts that I ever have done.  I think the multi colored sashing between is what seals the deal for me on this one.
I think I'm just about tired of tractors too.
So, if you don't really care about sewing or what went into this, I'll show you the finished product and then you can go on your merry way.  Otherwise, keep reading and I'll show why I still don't like quilt as you go.

When it comes to baby quilts, I like bright colors.  Most parents don't use them in cribs anymore anyway, so they are great for putting on the floor for tummy time and then as they get older, for naps and stuff.

I eliminated one of the tractors that I used in the first quilt because it was cute and rounded but didn't really fit with the style of the other trucks and tractors here. 

This is such a boy quilt, isn't it??

Because I was doing the quilt as you go method, I didn't have to use the same backing for each square.  I thought it would be fun to do rainbow colors on the back. 
You can also see some of the quilting that I did.
Ok, so farewell to you if you're not interested in the details and feel free to leave a comment!

Now, down to business. 

I love the concept of quilt as you go:  you can quilt your individual squares without having to wrestle the whole quilt through your machine at once.  And I have tried the wrestle your whole quilt at once method and wrestle doesn't even begin to describe the torture that ensues.  I don't know how people do it.  I practically climbed inside my machine to make it work and it still came out like crap.

My mother had a Handiquilter quilting system for a while, but I never liked the way it worked. I very successfully quilted several large quilts with it, but I swore the entire time that there had to be a better way and I never liked using it.  Eventually, I lost the battle and let her sell it.

The alternatives to using the quilt as you go method or trying to quilt your whole quilt on your regular sewing machine are to either tie it or send it to be professionally quilted.

For years, I tied every quilt that I made.  It's more homemade looking and certainly simpler than quilting, and it gets the job done.  I didn't screw that method up too often.   But I like the idea of doing fun quilting patterns, so this is why I started trying to find ways to quilt.

I just can't stomach paying someone a lot of money to quilt a quilt I sewed and will be giving away.  I feel like I should be able to do it myself or not have it done.  Or maybe I'm too cheap.

Oh of course, there is another way.  Hand quilting.  The old fashioned way. True quilters would probably tell you that is the only way you can call it a "quilt".  These are the same women who sit around reenacting the minutmen and militia, I bet.  But I am not about to sit down and go all Betsy Ross and start quilting by the fire each night.

So, back to quilt as you go.

The first time I did it, I had a blast with each square.  Then I went to put the squares together and realized there were all these ends to deal with and lots of lumps and bumps.  I wasn't sure how to sew it together without making a total mess.  So I ended up handsewing a lot of it as you can see by the pins here:

I also realize as I look at it now that I put sashing between each square on the back and front of that one.  I quilted it separately from the squares.  It allowed for more fun quilting, but really made putting it together a nightmare.
So, just like with the Handiquilter, I  kept saying there really has to be a better way.
This time, I watched a few more youtube videos.  Things started to make a lot more sense.  I didn't do sashing between the back squares, just on the front.  That meant that my back material was as large as the front square plus the sashing.   Much easier to deal with.
I stitched in the ditch around each square, where the sashing met the white square on the front.  You can see on the back here, there's a nice frame around each tractor.

I was happy with that part.
The part I wasn't happy about was this:
I still had to do way too much overlapping and folding and finagling to make it come together.  On the front, I sewed in the ditch where the square came together.  You can see on the back how it looks.  It makes for a folded edge which I really don't like at all.
So still, I say there has to be a better way.
Now, at the time, I forgot that some of the quilt as you go videos suggest using a decorative stitch when putting the squares together so it's not so obvious that there is a fold on the back.  This would actually also help it to lay flatter.  I did a large wavy stitch once with something that I did and I bet that would work well.
I also should not have used different colors on the back.  If this was all the same fabric, especially in a busy print, it would probably not be so obvious.  I would also use matching thread.  That was impossible with my rainbow theme once I started putting the rows together.
What I want is perfection and what I get is my lack of precision and that's what drives me crazy.  Most people wouldn't care or notice but it drives me crazy. 
And my mother is wringing her hands right now, wishing she could just undo one thing and redo it so it would be just right.   I wonder where I get it....
I wish I was so precise that I could sew on the top and have the EXACT same straight line on the back, but there are more variables than I want to deal with, so the result is what you see above!
Now she's shaking her head, mumbling that I just don't have enough patience.
I don't think I've given up on quilt as you go quite yet. I think I will try one more with a busy print on the back and the wavy stitch I mentioned.  If that's not satisfactory, then it's back to tieing quilts again.
I was also very lazy with the quilting of this one.  I outlined some of the vehicles but other parts were more difficult than I felt like dealing with.  I did make every tire have this little stitch, and I really think that looks cute.
I love the material I used for the tires.  Black can be so hard to use when quilting and I thought this was just perfect.  Not too much and the dots make it look tire like to me.
My all time favorite part of this and each of the tractor quilts that I made is definitely this tractor.

I love it in every color, but especially in red.  I noticed on another tractor quilt, I quilted little puffs of smoke coming out of the smokestack but I was in too much of a hurry to bother this time.  I also changed the roof to match the tractor body, which I did not do in the first one.  I can't decide which I like better.
So, the moral of this story is that I will make another quilt in the quilt as you go style and see if I can finally nail it. 
Linking up here  and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here and here


  1. fish -I love it!

  2. The fish is my favorite, but the tractors came out really cute. I do like the rainbow colors on the back. I was thinking of the folds on the back and how much L-ster would have died to have all those little folds to grab and pick at and play with. Haha.

    1. I know, that's why I'm not such a fan of them!!

  3. I'm still wringing my hands!!! haha
    Your Mother

  4. Wow girl impressive!!! I love your tractor quilt, appliquéing is soooooo time consuming!! I'm a quilter myself and have yet to finish a quilt with appliqué. I'm all done with it, I just need to stitch around the appliqué and there is so much to do.

    I've done the sew as you go method and it's really a great method. I used it on a jean quilt which worked perfectly since I was only doing straight lines and not having to worry about a design.

    You are very talented and I think it takes another quilter to truly appreciate another quilters work!!!

    Nice job!!!

  5. So adorable! I would love for you to share this or any of your great ideas at the link party going on now (and every Saturday through Tuesday) at 'Or so she says ...' Also, don't miss the Sweethearts Giveaway starting on Monday with over $2,000 in prizes. Hope to see you there!

  6. hi. i'm following the "aloha friday" blog hop. i would love for you to visit my blog and follow if you like it.

    new follower bev


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