Sunday, 24 August 2014

Go Wild!

I call this quilt "Go Wild!" 
Originally it was supposed to have been two separate quilts, or at least two. I started with the flowered fabric which, if you look carefully, has lions, tigers and leopards. I had plans for that fabric. 
Then I found the panel that featured 6 different African animals (Mystery doesn't qualify...) and added the striped fabric as I felt it was a good match for the panel. Then, as I was mulling it over, I recalled that I had a couple of animal print charm packs.
Then I tried to figure out how I could fit them all into the same quilt. I finally decided to use 12 inch squares of the flowered fabric alternating with the animals from the panel. Unfortunately, not only were they not 12 inches square (something more like 11-1/4"), but they weren't true to grain. So I added the striped borders on the tops and left sides of each square to square them up to the right size. If I'd added them on all four sides, the border would have ended up being only about 3/8" wide and the difference in width to square them up would have been more obvious. 
Since I was using the charm squares as a border, I needed to make the quilt top measurements before the border evenly divisible by 9" (or 4-1/2", the finished size of a charm square), so that it would come out even. So I added a strip of 3" squares to the top and bottom of the quilt. These squares are the flowered fabric alternating with the print from the border of the African animals panel. I also had to make some charm squares from the flowered fabric as I didn't have quite enough for the border with the two animal print charm packs I had. 
The final border was of the striped fabric. This is the first time I mitred the border. It really wasn't that difficult. I used my 45 degree triangle ruler to cut it. 
I wasn't sure what I was going to use for a backing - something that went with the theme of the quilt. I looked around my local quilt shop - they were having a 30% off sale - and couldn't decide on what I felt was right. I considered a waterfall fabric - very pretty, but it wasn't quite what I wanted. Then I remembered that I had seen a piece of tiger print minky in their remnants, and I decided to give minky a try. That was another first for me. I dashed into the store 10 minutes before closing on the final day of the sale and got this minky fabric. They keep their minky in the basement, so that's why I only saw a remnant of the tiger print in the main part of the store. They also had a leopard print, which would have worked as well, but I decided to go with the tiger. 
I did some online research on using minky. Some people had had disastrous results, and refused to ever try it again. I did speak to one of the staff at Sparrow Studioz and they just confirmed what I found on the internet - that  you must load it with the stretch running crosswise, not lengthwise. We also did some pinning, which we normally don't do on the long arm. But minky is slippery compared to cotton and the batting doesn't want to stay in place. 
Also in my research I found the recommendation to prewash your cottons, including the batting as minky doesn't shrink. So the cotton needs to be preshrunk in order to avoid problems when you do wash the quilt later. As I had charm squares as part of this quilt, and I wasn't going to wash them individually, and I had already started the quilt top before I decided to use minky, I just finished the quilt top and prewashed the whole thing. I didn't have my batting yet, so couldn't prewash it. However, I did have some polyester fibrefill batting at home and decided to go with that, since it wouldn't need prewashing. One of the things about minky is that it's quite heavy compared to cotton and I didn't want a quilt that I felt was weighing me down. So the polyester fibrefill was a better option as it weighs much less than cotton batting. 
After quilting it successfully on the long arm (I can't remember the name of the pattern, but it's leaves and twisting vines and the staff member assisting me said that was the first time she knew of that that pattern was being used), I had to decide on a binding. I had more of the flowered fabric, but felt that a self-binding using the minky backing would give it a better look.
Before I even had a chance to stitch the binding, the quilt was cat tested. 
And approved. Both cats had a liking for it. 
I'll be honest: when I was first laying the pieces out and deciding what was going where, I wasn't really sure if I liked it. But it's grown on me and I love it now. I might have to fight with the cats for possession of it, however.