Monday, June 2, 2014

Turtle Love in Appliqué

 The progress on my latest quilt commission has been minimally featured on this blog, so I'm giving it some attention now! But then I really need to get off the computer and get back to binding this guy. Guess what? Another t-shirt quilt! Surprise, surprise. It's nothing new that I wish for quilt projects that don't involve t-shirts but, dammit, it's just such a good way to clean out the closet and save all that clothing that we just can't get rid of. 

This quilt is of a more somber note -- it is a memorial quilt for a boy named Alex, who died too young from bone cancer. We are preserving all his clothing in this quilt, to live on the bed in his former room and be a comforting source of warmth for the family he left behind. I feel honored to be able to create a project like this for his loved ones. 

First thing first, I wanted it to be as happy as possible and be something that an 11-year old boy would find fun. I was so tickled when I found out that Alex loved turtles because turtles have always been my favorite animal. The one request that his mother had, was that she wanted a pouch somewhere on the quilt that she could put his blankie in. That triggered the idea for a big turtle in the middle with a zippered shell that she could use. I started by sketching my turtle on craft paper. When I finally was happy with that design, I took to the mind-bending task of breaking down sections into separate appliqué pieces and figuring out the order of how everything would be sewn.

 Starting with the shell, I cut a piece of fabric the full size and then broke down my kraft paper pattern into each shell segment, using them as cutting templates. Here I recruited the help of some fabric spray adhesive (I love fabric spray adhesive) to place each chunk. It helped that some pieces overlapped each other so that I had wiggle room for adjustments and knew that each edge would get well-secured.

 Then I powered through some intensive satin stitch work on my home machine. This was great fun because of the small scale. My biggest problem with quilting is how large everything gets, and wrangling foot after foot of fabric through the machine can get tiresome. Not to mention, I only have so much space in my studio. So it was nice to get to work on something little :)

 All the other pieces were treated in a similar manner, with the exception of the bottom of the shell, where the zipper went. Can you see it? I would've loved to hand-turn the body of the turtle with a traditional, invisible appliqué stitch, but time wouldn't allow for that. And it was pretty nice to get this whole project done within 2 days, especially since I've hardly any experience with appliqué, I kinda surprised myself with my ability to put this together! I used yarn french knots for the pupils and a sliver of Ariel's hair (from a Little Mermaid bedsheet) for the mouth. I'm totally thrilled with the results and feel like I achieved exactly the look I was going for.

Here I am, getting the quilt quilted on a long-arm quilting machine. And as soon as I finish the binding, I will get full shots of the completed quilt up in this blog! Can't wait to share this with Alex's family and all of you!

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