I stumbled across this adorable baby quilt by Sew Fresh Quilts and could not shake it from my mind. It was just so cute! Not long after seeing the quilt I ended up with an Andover Fabric by Jane Dixon in the Water Garden Collection, and I really wanted to figure out how to use it in this particular quilt. I liked the idea of foxes and raccoons popping out of what looked like different layers of grass to me.
But because I had a single background fabric, it meant that I didn’t really need to cut out a zillion triangles and then piece them back together. That was kind of okay with me because I had already made a 60 degree triangle quilt. Instead I wanted it to look like the foxes and raccoons were placed such that there was minimal pattern break in the original fabric. I mean why should I make anything easy… right?
That meant figuring out how often the fabric repeated, and where I could cut so that when I sewed the rows back together I would be sewing together edges of the same color. With a little bit of trial and error, I managed to locate where in the fabric repeat I should begin cutting, so that the cuts fell where they would be least noticed. I also wanted an extra row of the lightest color at the top, and an extra row of the darkest at the bottom. No pressure.
Once I had my background strips, I cut out the triangles for the foxes and raccoons. The only real change I made was to the racoon tail, which I wanted to be striped like a real raccoon tail. I played with it for a bit and managed to make one that was still the same size proportionally. Then came the hardest part, figuring out where to make the 60 degree cuts in the background strips, so that everything lined up after seam allowances. You can see my notes in the one picture, but at this point even I don’t understand them any more. Fortunately they made sense at the time.
Once all the math and repeats and planning and making life difficult was done, the sewing together took no time at all. Yay! Then I decided to quilt it myself. I was going to do just straight line quilting. But my friend Susan convinced me that each animal should have two lines of “echo” quilting, one inside and one around the perimeter. I thought it sounded cool and started quilting. All I can say is that it’s a good thing this quilt is small. Because I’ve never turned something around so many times! It was exhausting! I finished it off with two inch straight line quilting that stopped at each perimeter echo line. I was burying knots for hours. I was so relieved when it was all done! But also so pleased. It was the first quilt that I quilted that wasn’t stitch in the ditch.
But then, the saga of the eyes began. This took longer than the rest of the project combined! Initially I purchased felt circles and appliqued them on by hand. When it was all done, I threw the quilt in the wash to get the blue quilting marks (and dog hair) off. The felt circles shrank like there was no tomorrow. It looked awful. My applique stitches which were neither straight, nor consistent, stuck out at various angles and make the raccoons look deranged or at the very least like they had bloodshot eyes. I tried to be okay with them, I really did, but in the end they had to go. I was so disgusted with them that I didn’t even take a picture, just grabbed the seam ripper and they were unceremoniously removed. So what was plan B? I had black and white fabric and some Ricky Tim’s Stable Stuff so I made my own eyes. I used the Stable Stuff to create the circle shape, and then basically made upside down yo-yos. It took forever, especially since I failed to prewash my fabric the first time. What was I thinking? Grrrrr. At least I figured that out before I got too far. But after many months of messing around with eyes, they are finally done.
This is the second smallest quilt I’ve done and yet it took longer than any other project I’ve done. There were too many learning experiences to even begin to list, mostly because I chose to make life difficult for myself. But I love the finished quilt and it’s the one I use to ward off a chill while watching TV. I’m happy to have my own quilt, that I made from start to finish!