Having a couple small quilt projects under my belt, I decided it was time to start making gifts. Christmas was coming and I thought my great nephews Trevor and Jake might need quilts. In August, a fish quilt pattern popped up on my Quilt a Day calendar. Trevor was into all things Nemo at that point, so this was a natural.
It looked easy, so I started buying fabric. Once I had my fabric per the pattern, I started to really look at the instructions. It looked to me like there was an enormous amount of waste in the pattern, and that I almost had enough to do two quilts! So I purchased a little more fabric and set out to make two fish quilts.
It turns out this was not as easy as I anticipated. Once more, this turned out to be a learning experience (as almost all quilts are for me). I learned:
- Looks can be deceiving. While this pattern had no curves, and no “rows” of blocks that had to line up, there were still many challenges that I had not experienced before. Size matters, and none of my fish were the same size. Triangles are not as easy to sew as squares (certainly not the way I sewed this quilt together).
- When the pattern tells you to cut triangles in a very specific way there is probably a reason. Turns out the reason there was a lot of “fabric waste” was so that your triangles didn’t all have bias edges. I was probably not ready for bias edges, and I struggled a lot with sewing all those stretchy triangles together. And by a lot, I mean a whole lot. My fish came out much smaller than the pattern called for, partially because those bias edges caused me so much trouble. And trying to feed the thin corners of a triangle into the feed dogs was just a nightmare. Ugh.
- Quarter inch seams matter. This was where I started to notice that all my blocks came out smaller than they should, and I couldn’t blame it all on bias edges. My quarter inch seam was more of a “rotund quarter” than a “scant quarter”. This would be problematic for me for some time.
- Patterns can have errors. Despite everyone’s best intentions and proofreading, mistakes do happen. This pattern asked me to cut out strips that were longer than my width of fabric. It also had the wrong number of strips to cut in one case. Not huge problems to overcome, but I now read every pattern through and plan my cutting before I buy my fabric. Because sometimes, just sometimes, when you go back to the fabric store to get more of the same fabric… it’s gone. Ack!
- Bias binding (unlike bias triangles) is fun! I love the diagonal stripe on these bindings, and it wasn’t hard at all.
- I love using minky for backing. So soft! Mmmmmmmminky!
I ended up making the second quilt with cornerstones, because I didn’t quite have enough border fabric for two quilts. I like that the two quilts are not identical. But even then, you can’t give two brothers the same quilt. So for Christmas Trevor got the quilt with the dark background and the light background quilt had to wait until my good friend Hadley had a baby in February. She, father Adam, and their adorable little girl Bennett were the recipients of the second fish quilt. Jake was just going to have to wait for his quilt. Don’t worry, he got mini Lego Star Wars figures for Christmas and was pretty happy with those.
Oh… and the fish eyes. They were a project all on their own! I hadn’t planned to enter the world of applique, so I found some dark green iron-on fabric and cut out circles (not easy either) for the eyes. I ironed them on and my longarmer was kind enough to stitch them down for me. Thanks Karen!