Monday, December 5, 2016

Ethan's Graduation Quilt

I've lost track of how many Finish-Along lists my brother's high school graduation quilt has adorned, but it is at long last finished. When my son caught sight of the year on this quilt, he began to heckle me about how five years have passed. Sometimes having your kid know math isn't all it's cracked up to be, I tell you! In fairness, I also considered it about time to wrap this one up, given that my brother has graduated from high school and college, earned his Masters, got a job, and bought a house. He isn't married yet; at least there's that! Speaking of, eligible single ladies... Just kidding. Perhaps, he doesn't want me to refer a bunch of bachelorettes to his Facebook page. Then again, he might! Enough trying to play matchmaker for my brother, let's talk quilting.
I used two different blocks composed of stitch and flip triangles to make a design that looks complex, but is very basic piecing. I extended the blocks into the border for better continuity. The Central Indian mascot in the center is raw edge appliqué using Steam-A-Seam II Lite by The Warm Company. For the tiniest white dots, I employed Jacquard opaque white textile paint. I'm not sure who created, or owns the rights to the logo, but I won't be selling graduation quilts or entering this in shows.
The letters are letter jacket letters that never would have all fit on a coat. The are accompanying pins, but I'm going to let my brother put those on, as I don't want to lose them. I used Kona white with a red and black batik.
Deciding on free-motion quilting designs, and building up the technical skills and confidence to accomplish my desired designs, is what delayed completion of this quilt the longest. However, I'm very satisfied with how my chosen motifs worked. On the black, I used a Baptiste Fan design I learned in a Frieda Anderson free-motion class. For the white, I wanted to mimic the feather in the Indian's headband. Jenny K. Lyon of Quilt Skipper has a fantastic fern tutorial that provided much-needed guidance in making non-frilly feathers. In the red sections, I used Dot-to-Dot Quilting techniques by marking 1/2" and 1" from the corner with a Sewline Air Erasable Fabric Pen and going from corner to dot to corner to the remaining dot and back to the beginning. I tied off each time, which was mighty tedious, but feasible using Clover Self-Threading Needles. To keep the lines straight, I used what I learned from Quilting With Rulers on a Home Machine and a ruler foot. I used my Bernina 750 for the quilitng, and because Bernina will invalidate your warranty if you use their longarm ruler foot on a domestic machine, I cannot confirm or deny that this is what I did. I will tell you that I tried the Westalee ruler foot, but the 750 hated it. I used the mid-shank, as advised by Westalee, but if you adjusted the pressure foot pressure low enough to have the foot ride over the seams instead of getting stuck on even the most subtle of seams and hammering multiple stitches in one spot, it consistently broke the top thread. I'll never admit using the longarm ruler foot #96, but I'll say that if a person did, it wouldn't have the nightmarish tension problems attempting to use the Westalee foot on this machine did. Bernina has just released the Adjustable Ruler Foot #72 for domestic machines, which would be my suggestion if you already have one of their machines and want to do ruer work. Here's a comparison of the Bernina #96 foot and the Westalee mis-shank foot. The Westalee is the one with the knob. In the picture on the left, you can see how the angle of the Westalee foot is much more restrictive in terms of visibility and ruler positioning. I found it necessary to adjust the Westalee foot to its highest position, where it was obstructed from further movement, as it came into contact with a metal outcropping (right picture and right foot).
In all cases, it is imperative to not lift the presser foot with needle down. This can cause a collision that might do unspeakable things to your machine.
I used 50 wt Aurifil #2250, 4241, and 2024 for the piecing, quilting, and binding.
 Thanks for joining me today and allowing me to share this long-awaited finish.
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  1. WOW!! The colors are just amazing, the quilting so perfect with the piecing and the overall flow really fantastic (all those extending triangles, just the best idea ever)! I will steal it for sure!! :) Thanks for sharing!

  2. Well worth the wait I would say! I love how you extended the red corners in to the border! Your brother must be very happy or will be very happy! The quilting sounds like it was a nightmare! But it came out just gorgeous!

  3. Beautiful quilting and thanks for sharing all the information! I recently bought a new foot for FMQ on my vintage Singer and need to adjust the pressure.

  4. Congratulations on the finish, Afton! It looks great and I can understand waiting on your free motion skills to get to a point you were confident enough (although I'm guessing your brother would love the quilt either way). I especially like how you extended the piecing into the borders. :)

  5. A stunning quilt and will be loved for ever Im sure. Thanks for the great tutorial on how you built this quilt so much to learn here will have to come back and reread it again to soak it all in. Your special effort to extend the red in to the borders makes this very special. A real sisterly love Cheers Glenda

  6. Beautiful project! Great memories shared.

  7. Afton that is one of the best school quilts I've seen! Love how you incorporated the letters - fantastic idea! Thank you so much for sharing this on Midweek Makers

  8. Congratulations on an impressive finish! Wow! The detail you put into it is just stunning. I'm sure your brother will be thrilled with it, despite the wait :)

  9. This quilt is beautiful!! It's an amazing finish!! I'm sure your brother loves it!!

  10. Beautiful quilting, Afton !! I think your brother loves this stunning quilt!!
    Thank you for sharing this on Quilter's Monday Linky Party.

  11. Looks great and i love the quilting! Thanks so much for linking up at AmyScrapSpot!

  12. Great finish. The black and red is so striking. I'm sure he'll love it. Thanks for linking up with TGIFF hosted @ Anja Quilts.

  13. What a gorgeous quilt Afton. With so many graduations at this time of the year it's a wonderful gift to give. I'm saving all my tshirts and school uniforms from my kids and will do this once they graduate from high school. Thanks so much for linking up to Thriving on Thursdays last week. I'm featuring your post at tomorrow's party.

    Anne @ Domesblissity

  14. Hello Afton,
    Great quilt, and truly blokey colours! It's hilarious it has taken so long, and I'm sure your brother doesn't care less. In fact, it's probably better that you waited until he had his own house.
    Thank you for linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!
    Love, Muv

  15. This is stupendous, and I love how your flavor of talking comes through in the writing, especially when talking about the technical side of things. You are wonderful, and so glad to have you in the quilting universe. Did he earn all those letters? That's pretty amazing, too. But most of all, congratulations to you for finishing a long-awaited goal and doing such great work (as usual). Merry Christmas!