I had to wait until my partner received this to post about it in order to not spoil the surprise… but it arrived and she’s opened it, so here you go!
Back in August, I saw signups were open for the Schnitzel & Boo Mini Quilt Swap, Round Four. It’s a very popular swap – in total, 1,008 people signed up worldwide, this round! I’d never signed up for a quilt swap before, but I’d read some about them, and what tags to watch for on Instagram to find them. It’s set up Secret Santa style – rather than being paired up, the person I made a quilt for was not necessarily the person making a quilt for me. Everybody filled out a questionnaire at signup with their interests/likes/dislikes, so there was some information to go on, and the quilt guidelines were that it could be as small as 6″x6″, and as large as 24″x24″ (but did not have to be square). Extra goodies were optional – not required – but they sounded like fun to include (as you can see in the above photo)!
Some quilters only posted sneak peeks – bits of their quilt, but never the whole thing at a time, while others (like myself) posted photos of the entire thing. I loved the social part of it on Instagram – looking at everybody’s quilts using the tag #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap, as well as getting feedback or suggestions from other quilters, especially since a lot of us had stepped outside of our comfort zone for this swap! I was one of the ones to post photos of my entire quilt in various stages, though
I know some of my friends and family had trouble grasping that I was making this quilt to mail away to a stranger, but it’s not like I got most of the way done and then got surprised with the idea. I’ve known since I started designing it that it wasn’t for keeps… although I’m pretty sure I need to make one for myself, now! To be honest, though, right at the end it was a little harder to let go of than I had expected!
Please click on this photo to view it full size!
I’d fallen in love with the La Passacaglia quilt pattern, which is English Paper Piecing… which also means entirely hand stitching. I actually enjoy hand work, since I can take it with me anywhere. The information I got on my partner indicated that she tended more towards modern quilt patterns over traditional, and she liked bright colors, and solids. I stumbled a little picking out a pattern and fabrics because she listed that she doesn’t care for floral fabrics, which I tend towards, but decided to make a rosette from the La Passacaglia quilt pattern in a color wheel scheme. While we were on vacation at the cabin, I spent way too much time looking at quilty goodness online and on Instagram, and ordering fabric online for my quilt once I decided that the little quilt shop in Deer Park didn’t have anything that appealed (I’d already checked out my local quilt shops at home). The advantage of online quilt shops (other than the discount they were offering for people participating in this swap) was that they offered “fat quarter bundles” of coordinating fabrics. For the colors, I bought 3 different fat quarter bundles (Pie Making Day, Rainbow Stash Building Fat Quarter Bundle, and Kona Cotton Designer Palette Summer Patchwork City by Elizabeth Hartman) as well as one bundle of just the newsprint-style fabric for the background (Word Up – Blogger Bundle)… and then I fell in love with some kitty fabric (Purrfectly Happy by Lizzy House) I’d come across on Instagram. I also picked up the La Passacaglia Paper Pieces Small Pack, and the clear acrylic templates that worked beautifully for fussy-cutting… especially after I put some double-stick tape on the backs so they’d quit slipping while I used the rotary cutter around them!! I used at least a little bit of nearly every fabric in the fat quarter bundles, and since it was only a couple pieces cut from each fabric, I still have loads left over to make a mini quilt for myself!
I discovered that a piece of foam poster board and little pins worked great for arranging fabric colors, and used that to keep my quilt organized as I planned out each ring of the pattern. I completely assembled the colored pieces (as well as the newsprint you see in the middle areas), and then appliqued the rosette onto a square background. Because I can never make anything easy when it comes to picking out fabric colors (buying everything at once would really be smarter than trying to figure out the background, binding, and backing after the main piece is at least half finished), I ended up going with a solid backing so that the quilting would be visible on the back, and a cream-on-gray print (Reel Time The End) that would frame the quilt nicely that I picked up at Gee-Gees in Yelm.
The quilting didn’t quite go as planned… I had such a hard time figuring out how I wanted to quilt it (other than the obvious – not by hand!) Originally I’d thought about doing straight lines going to a point in the middle, star-like, but then I saw the mini on Instagram that Bonnie (@lilymozelledesigns) was working on, and stole her idea for quilting in the ditch – stitching oh-so-carefully on top of the seams between the quilt pieces, which makes the pieces puff nicely and emphasizes their shape while not making the quilting terribly obvious on the front of the quilt. I had a mishap or two when I started out, as I’d wanted to use a fun variegated thread I’d found, but the ever-changing colors of the thread meant that the top thread rarely-if-ever matched the bobbin thread, and I could not get the tension adjusted just right so the threads wouldn’t show through the opposite side. Thankfully, this was on some scrap fabric for a test run! I ended up using the same light gray thread to quilt it as I’d used to piece it, which ended up working out pretty well!
After the quilting came the binding, which included corner pockets to slip a bar or dowel into in order to hang the quilt on the wall. I’d come across the idea on Instagram (I don’t recall who, unfortunately, though I know it isn’t a new thing), and I found a great tutorial by Sara at Heirloom Creations for doing the math on the pocket size. Since I designed the quilt without a specific “up” – all the kitties are facing the center, as is the general direction of the newsprint backing – I put corner pockets in all four corners so that my partner can decide which direction is “up” or even change it around if she wants. I’ve done the binding on the half-dozen or so quilts, mug rugs, etc that I’ve made in the past, but I still looked online for binding tutorials, and found a couple of great ones at Craftsy.com – one on general binding including doing the corners, as well as another on joining the ends of the binding pieces so you don’t have a lump where your binding started and stopped.
I got the tag idea originally from Marthe (@thesistyuglers), and found some more information from Erick Wolfmeyer Quilts for the same style of quilt label. I’d also found some great tips online for ironing fabric to freezer paper (two sheets, actually, to make it stiff enough), and then running it through an injket printer to get your design on the fabric. Set the ink with heat from an iron, and as long as the fabric isn’t going to get washed a lot, voila! To make the edges straight and the corners crisp, I made a tag-shaped paper piece from some tag board, and ironed the edges of the fabric label around it (ironed the living daylights out of them, actually). Remove the paper piece oh-so-carefully, iron some more, and baste the edges… and it stays nice and pretty while you pin and applique it to the back of the quilt!
I’m thrilled that I was able to finish my quilt a week before the shipping deadline, so I had the time to take it up to show it off to my mom and her husband, show it off to the ladies at Gee-Gee’s Quilting in Yelm, who had requested I take it back in finished for them to see since I was dragging the top with me to find binding fabric (totally made my day), and then just this past Saturday, drove up to see my grandma after I got off of work so I could show it off to her! I really enjoy getting to show off things I’ve sewn to my mom and my grandma, especially since they both sew (or used to).
The Extra Goodies
This post is already forever long, so what the heck… I’ve been working on this since August, so it deserves a long post, right?? The questionnaire we all had to fill out to sign up for the swap had a spot to list extra info – hobbies, or things we’d like as extras if our partner felt so inclined.
The first extra (and the only one that I actually made rather than bought) was a dumpling pouch that you may have already seen on one of my Weekend Works In Progress posts. The pattern is by Michelle Patterns and is fairly easy to make. I enjoyed doing some hexies in colors from the mini quilt, lined with some of the newsprint fabric. I’d run some twill tape through my printer (held to paper with double-stick tape) to print the quilt swap label I sewed into it. You can see the variegated thread in the photo outlining the hexagons that I’d hoped to use for the quilting on my mini quilt.
My partner liked “Starbucks Place Mugs”, and since I live near the Starbucks capitol of the world, I just had to get her the Pike Place Market exclusive of the “You Are Here Collection” mugs, especially as she lives in Wisconsin. I’d hoped to head up to Seattle with my mom one weekend, but ended up too sick to go… Luckily, she was willing to stand in line at the Pike Place Starbucks for over 20 minutes to pick up the mug for my partner (as well as one for me, I love the artwork style on those mugs!) and a Pike Place exclusive Starbucks card, too. Starbucks also makes “Seattle” and “Washington” mugs that you can buy all over the state, but the Pike Place mugs can only be bought at that one store… so it was too good to pass up!
I also found some ribbon with little cameras on it (photography interest) and some duct tape with vintages trailers on it (vintage trailers being another one of her interests), and some “Emergency Chocolate.” I picked up the card that I included at a quilt shop that was (sadly) closing down for good in Orting as the owners were retiring, that said “In Seattle, you haven’t had enough coffee until you can thread a sewing machine while it’s running” 🙂
And by the way? Clover Wonder Clips? If you do any sewing at all and haven’t tried them… do. I bought a small pack for my partner, and a jumbo pack for myself. They work great to hold thick layers without shifting, and were fabulous for holding the binding in place while I hand-stitched the binding onto the back of the quilt. When I’ve used pins in the past for that stage, my arms and legs usually end up all scratched up and looking like I tried to snuggle an angry kitten.
Wrapping It All Up
I had fun making everything pretty to unwrap… and then when I was boxing everything up, I slipped the wrapped package into a gallon ziplock in case there is a mishap while en route! I don’t want to chance the quilt getting wet or soiled! While fighting off some panic that my partner wouldn’t like the quilt, I also wrote up a letter to go with the swap, got it boxed up into a flat rate box, and sent it on it’s way on Monday! The support from several people in this swap on Instagram were a huge help when the panic would start… And this is oh-so-true when it comes to making things… especially for other people!
The Creative Process:
1. This is awesome
2. This is tricky
3. This is shit
4. I am shit
5. This might be ok
6. This is awesome
And the response!
I, literally, almost cried when I opened this @mdruddy85 ! I was having a no good, rotten day and then I stopped on the way home from work to pick up your package at the post office 😍 you are so very talented, and thoughtful. The mini is just perfection (she even included cats and Wisconsin) and all the extras are just what I would have chosen for myself. I love it all! And the lovely letter you included (an actual letter, people. When was the last time you had one of those?) was so sweet. Thanks a million! #schnitzelandboominiquiltswap #quiltersofawesome #makeaquiltmakeafriend
I’m so glad she likes it! I’ve received an adorable mini quilt as well from @sewuberstitch, and hope to do a post on it sometime this weekend. So, what’s the next swap and where do I sign up? 🙂