Last week marked the end of the second round of the Itty Bitty Beginner Swap. This time everyone was assigned to make a mini quilt for their swap partner. Based on the likes and dislikes I was given from my partner, I chose the Swoon quilt block by Thimbleblossoms, pink as the central fabric color, and some bright green to kick it off. I was a little apprehensive about my color choices as I cut out the pieces because it's a bit outside my comfort zone. When the top was all sewn together, though, I started to like it more, and the dark pink binding really brought it all together and finished it off nicely.
I learned a lot about making quilts. Even though I've made a couple before, I'm a bit rusty. Plus, the pattern I chose has a lot more seams to manage. There are some spots that are a bit bulky because I pressed the seams the wrong way. On the plus side, I got to use my flannel design board for the first time. It really helped by keeping me organized and allowed me to see what the block would look like. When it came to the binding, I really wanted to make sure it looked professional, so I went looking for the perfect tutorial. The one I found, which you can read here, is well-written and clear, with good pictures as well. It's the best one I've seen, and explains how to bind a quilt where the beginning/end is impossible to find.
Here are a few closeups of the quilting. I gave machine quilting a couple attempts, but it was a complete failure. So I did the whole thing by hand, using two strands of embroidery floss. I used matching pink and orange to make it mostly invisible, though it does add a nice bit of texture.
For the back, I made a free-handed embroidered label with my name, the year, and the place I live. The label is pieced onto some orange fabric and then the last bit of the green fabric. I spent quite a bit of time centering the front and the back so that the label would be right in the center of the quilting stitches. It turned out nicely.
I folded the mini and wrapped it in tissue paper. The extras I included in the package are a quilting book, a notebook I made from an empty plastic food bag, a skein of purple Perle cotton, and a disappearing ink pen for fabric marking. I sent the mini and the other goodies off last Friday and eagerly awaited my partners reaction to the pattern and color selection. Most quilting patterns I've seen have white as the "background" color, but I chose to make mine orange, pulling it from one of the flowers in the pink print. My partner mentioned that the mini would hang on a wall painted chartreuse, so I decided to include that in the color scheme, though perhaps more than I should have. I figured that anyone who would paint a wall chartreuse was pretty adventurous with color, though I still had my doubts. I got more and more nervous as the days went by, which wasn't helped by the weekend making it take longer to arrive. Well, she received it yesterday and she loved it (phew!).
It was such a fun mini quilt to make. I want to give the pattern another go with other color combinations and make a larger quilt with it. I definitely need more practice on aligning seams. It was my first time doing flying geese blocks and, I must say, they are quite a bit of fun to do.
But I must move on to the rest of the swap. Take a look at what I got from my swap partner. She chose aqua fabric as the main theme and included some shades and prints that really pop. As soon as I unwrapped it I could tell that it's well made by experienced hands. The seams match up at the corners (which is not always easy) and the machine quilting is neat and even. I love that she chose gray as the background. It really kicks off the aqua. She also included a set of notecards, some glittery clips, and chocolates, which aren't in the picture because they were eaten up faster than you can say "free motion quilting."
I've designated one wall in my sewing space as the "swap wall" where this will hang. At the moment it's a bit lonely, being the first decorative swap item I've gotten, but I know it won't be the last. I've already joined the Around The World Swap that will conclude sometime in October (if you know of any other sewing or embroidery swaps that will be starting soon, please let me know). Until then, I'll just be in my sewing space admiring this little mini, and dreaming up more.
I'm so excited about the start of a collection that connects me to other makers and quilters from near and far. It's such a neat thing to imagine something I made hanging on someone else's wall, and just as exciting to think that someone made this beautiful thing just for me. Have you been involved in a swap recently? What is it like for you to exchange a handmade item with another person you've never met?