January 30, 2015

Whew! It’s been awhile. I was gone for quilt shows back to back… first a guild show in Modesto, then home one day and on the road to Road. Road to California in SoCal is a quilt show and conference on steroids. What fun to be there and experience the excitement and positive energy of 35,000 quilters gathered in one spot to enjoy their common interest. On the way home I visited the fabulous Cathy for our annual schmooze.

Before I left for Modesto I was able to finish the super secret piecing project, which I can now reveal!

Last fall, my super smart nephew Stephen, just finishing his master’s at Stanford, expressed that he would like to give his treasured girlfriend a quilt, something on an oceanic theme, since in her studies she does things like get on a cutter and sail to Antarctica with other students to do research on the waters and sea life there.

Fish quilts. I’ve seen tons of them, I admire them, but to be honest they are not in my wheelhouse. My brain was spinning. But this kid is the nicest guy in the world and never asked me for anything in his life, so I was determined to make it work. Instead of literal fish or sharks or other watery fauna, I tried to think of ocean-related patterns. At first I thought of Storm at Sea, but I get kind of seasick looking at Storm at Sea. Then I thought, Storm at Sea is based on Ocean Waves, and I like Ocean Waves! I pitched the design and coloration to Stephen, who approved it enthusiastically.

I knew I would be seeing Tammy, the dyemistress of Always Unique Hand-Dyed Fabrics, at my next show, so I pitched that type of fabric. I felt that the use of hand dyes would bring the quilt more toward the modern aesthetic for this young ‘un. Again, a hearty approval.

The Always Unique booth

I found the perfect tutorial to make the quilt in exactly the size needed… queen size. Yes people I said queen size. I was putting on my big-girl panties for this one. Thank you *so much* Janet Wickell for posting the Free Ocean Waves Quilt Pattern on about.com.

I read the pattern, studied the pattern, double checked the pattern, made a list. Invaded Tammy’s booth, picked out the colors I liked, secured the fabric for the project. My buddy Alicia the Batty Lady was at the show too. She’s a Wonderfil rep, so I asked her what thread I could use for general piecing. (The DMC I use is too light for sewing a bed quilt.) Alicia led me right to the Tutti.

The Batty Lady booth

Okay, got the pattern, got the fabric, got the thread. When I got home I took a deep breath and started cutting squares.

It was right about this time that Stephen emailed to say that he would somehow like to help with the quilt, if there was a way he could do it without any trips to the emergency room. I was flabbergasted and very pleased. How many computer science grad students want to help with a sewing project? He came down to the house, and I set him and the DH up with marking stations. They sat and marked squares to be sewn into half-square triangles, whilst visiting with Grandpa from back east who just happened to be visiting at the same time. Whew. That was some weekend.

So now I’m making half-square triangle units by the hundreds. There are to be exact 800 of them in the quilt. I did say 800 in case your eyes didn’t believe it. Dana and I sat and marked again one night, and I finally got them all sewn, cut apart, pressed, and trimmed to accurate size.

Stephen wants to help some more. Awesome! I threw a block party. I sewed a sample block, set up a couple of my booth tables in the living room, laid out all the units and triangles, and told them to have at it. They laid out (18) 20-inch blocks on top of taped-together cardboard, with pieces of ancient humongo sketch paper that had been behind my desk for 15 years in between. Now I could pick up the blocks and move them upstairs to the studio.

The beloved nephew.

The boys hard at work in the salt mines.

The fabric is so beautiful.

The background fabric is not actually white… it’s a very pale misty grey, which I thought was oceany. Now I commenced a period of applying the seat of the pants to the seat of the chair, sewing a block or a block and a half a day, until hallalujah! they were all done and pressed. Dana and I laid them out on the floor.

It only took one more day to sew the blocks into a quilt top, 80 x 100, and it was ready to go to the quilter.

After consulting with my friends, I took it to Barbara Heno in Gilroy, California. Stephen and I chose a panto called Waterworld to go with the watery theme. Barbara had the quilt done for me in just a few days, and it came out exactly how I wanted, with big overall swirls and eddies.

I bound it in the same mist grey to give it a more modern-y look.

Barbara doesn’t have a website but if you’d like contact info, just shoot me an email.

I left for Modesto with Dana in charge of the quilt transfer. Stephen came that night and took it away, very pleased with his super secret surprise.

Along with the quilt went a small bottle of Synthrapol that Tammy gave me for the initial washing.

Sigh. I did it ya’ll. I, the appliqué enthusiast and specialist who makes wall quilts, I pieced a queen size Ocean Waves quilt. Boom!

Next time, back to appliqué and the critter who popped into my head and wouldn’t go away.

Cheers,
Kay
By Kay Mackenzie

Comments

7 Responses to “The super secret piecing project”

  1. Loris Mills on January 30th, 2015 4:35 pm

    What a fun story and a gorgeous quilt! Great choice for the design. Hard to miss with that beautiful fabric. Ask Tammy if they should throw in some Color Catchers with the first washing. I’d be curious to know if it would work along with the Synthrapol.
    Lovely work and such a sweet surprise for dear Girlfriend :-)

  2. Sandy A in St. Louis on January 30th, 2015 6:09 pm

    Lordy, that is GORGEOUS! Thank you for sharing this story and quilt with us. I love the ocean waves block and now that I have seen yours have added this quilt to my “must make” list!

  3. Sheila on January 31st, 2015 10:49 am

    It’s brain-wracking but, stepping outside our comfort zones and having something turn out great is sew rewarding! A wonderful quilt for a great reason – Way to Go, Kay!

  4. Cathy Perlmutter on January 31st, 2015 10:49 am

    Kay, that is so incredibly GORGEOUS, I don’t even have words! And the intoxicating colors are very much YOU! I think you should do more piecing?! I love the shots of other vendors’ booths, too. Congratulations on another masterpiece! I’m also struck by the family resemblance of your boys!

  5. Robin Waggoner on January 31st, 2015 5:33 pm

    You go girl!! Great work and a job well done!

  6. Helen LeBrett on February 2nd, 2015 10:57 pm

    What a project!!! It looks lovely: I love the colors and the hand dyed fabric (I think I’ve bought from her too), and I’m impressed with the size!!! Thank goodness you got some help, though I’m sure you still thought it might never come to an end!! Good for you for plowing through and finishing!!! Hugs, H in Healdsburg

  7. Sandy on February 3rd, 2015 11:36 pm

    Good job, Kay! And the quilting is perfect!

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