Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Courthouse Steps Finished

Courthouse Steps
59" Square
For retiring co-worker Jean B.
Courthouse Steps Blocks
Original Quilt Design
Top from stash

I finished Courthouse Steps late Tuesday night, and gave it to retiring co-worker Jean B. today.  Jean is a paralegal, so I chose the Courthouse Steps block.  Jean uses a little ruler when she writes, so the bottoms of her letters are straight.  To imitate that straightness, I chose a horizontal layout of mostly light and mostly dark blocks. The contrasting centers create interest and draw the eye horizontally across the quilt, as well.

Although I didn't know what Jean's favorite colors were, blue and white were the colors in my head.  Jean's former daughter-in-law Jennifer has a few business cards on display on the office bulletin board, so I gave Jennifer a call to check on colors.  Blues, especially denim and country blues, are Jean's colors in her living room.  Wonderful news!

I pulled a bunch of blues from my stash, along with two identical bundles of cream on cream fat quarters.  To simplify and speed up the process, I limited each block to one light and one dark fabric.  As a result, I was able to make the quilt in one week, start to finish.

For more photos and details, please read on.

EQ Sketch.  Originally I wanted to make mostly dark blocks.

Organized Chaos Map for mostly dark blocks plan

Organized Chaos piles of blue and white fabrics

Design notes

Overnight I decided I wanted to do mostly light blocks.
EQ Sketch for mostly light blocks plan

Organized Chaos map for mostly light blocks plan

Piles had to be adjusted slightly for the new plan.

Design notes
I took some time figuring out how to get the most from the fat quarters.  Five cuts of 2" plus one 3.5" cut were needed for each block.

First mostly light block

First mostly dark block

Blocks laid out on design wall

Horizontal rows sewn together

My original plan was to do machine quilting, starting with the center row, adding a row and quilting it after joining...repeating until the quilt was put together.  I had plenty of scrap batting to do the job.  I went to Joann's to pick up a 36" ruler to cut the backing, as well as a package of batting for another project, using 50% off coupons for both items.  However, when I got to checkout, my coupons were good only on fabric!  The cashier was kind enough to give me 40% off on the ruler, which left me with just a few dollars in my quilting account, so I passed on the batting.

I had heard lately that Aqua Net hairspray could be used as basting spray, so I picked up a tall can last week.  For just a few dollars, it's a great savings over the $13 cans of 505 that I buy at the quilt shop, and I figured I could machine quilt more often.  I experimented with the Aqua Net, but it didn't work, no matter how many ways I tried.  What a bummer.  I made a decision to go ahead and finish the quilt pillowcase style.  To do so, I needed a bag of batting--which I didn't buy at Joann's a few hours prior.  Joann's was closed by that time, so I had to wait till after work the next day.  Arghhh!  In a hurry to finish the quilt, I was also bummed out that I wouldn't be able to take the batting out of the bag and let it breathe for 24 hours before sewing.  Oh, well...

Quilt top sewn together
I finished the quilt pillowcase style and tied with embroidery floss.

Completed quilt

Jean loves her quilt, and she actually cried when I gave it to her.

Enjoy retirement, Jean!

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