Monday, July 20, 2015

Elephant Parade

Look out! Look out!
It's elephants on parade
Here they come!
Hippety hoppety
They're here and there
Yes, elephants everywhere

Look out! Look out!
They're walking around the bed
On their head
Clippity cloppity
Arrayed in braid
Yes, elephants on parade

What'll I do?
What'll I do?
What an unusual view

I can stand the sight of worms
And look at microscopic germs
But technicolor pachyderms is really too much for me!

–Pink Elephants on Parade,
Music and lyrics by Oliver Wallace and Ned Washington

I thought I'd lead with cuteness. I am pleased to introduce my newest nephew, Baby Firefly. Adorable, no? He's such a mellow, sweet, happy little dude.

And now for the backstory. Because there always is one. In the top left corner is my cute sister, Jill, a.k.a Jilly Beans, and her family. Beginning in the 12:00 position and rotating clockwise, we have Lizard Boy, Firefly, Toad, Cricket and Mr. Jilly Beans.

When Jill announced that she was expecting, of course I put a baby quilt in the queue, right behind Christine's Flower Garden {BTW, Christine still lives in her own home, is in church every Sunday and turns 101 in just two months!}, Friendship Garden and Thoroughly Modern Lily. Jill and her husband decided not to find out the gender of the baby, so I planned to make a smaller version of Friendship Garden because I still had a bundle of half-square triangles sitting about and a multi-colored quilt would be great for either a boy or a girl. Those first two quilts in the line-up, the signature quilt and the triangle quilt, were fast to the finish {nothing like a deadline to keep you on target}, but it took me almost six months to finish the lily quilt. That was kind of fortuitous, because Lorna over at Sew Fresh Quilts started an absolutely adorable and completely irresistible quilt along about a month before Firefly was born and since I didn't finish the lily quilt until after he was born, I then knew the gender and decided that an elephant quilt was in order.

Lorna did her quilt in solids. I loved the uniformity; the mama elephants have dark bodies with light ears and the baby elephants have light bodies with dark ears. I decided to use batiks in my quilt but tried to stay true to the original design by using darker fabrics for the bodies of the mama elephants and lighter fabrics for the ears, and vice-versa for the babies. Each elephant is unique. There are 49 different batiks and I quilted each elephant with a different design in the "headdress" and "blanket." I think this is my favorite quilting.

A birdie with a yellow bill hopped upon the window sill. Cocked his shining eye and said: “Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepy-head!”
–Robert Louis Stevenson

I loved making these birds and they were fun to quilt too. I pretty much can't do a quilt without doing a few swirls in it.

Inspired by the way that Geta quilts her hexagons, I gave it a go in these octagonal flowers. Lane frequently uses leaf designs in his quilts, so I tried that too. And, of course, pebbling is all the rage these days, so that's how I did the centers. All art is derivative.

Slow and steady wins the race, right? This quilt took about 2½ months, start to finish as my only project. I was on a deadline for this, too, or it might have been longer. Work takes up so much time and gets in the way of my real life a lot. In any case, I love this little turtle! I used the shell fabric in another quilt and it was fabulous there too.

And this little frog is adorable! Lorna put together such an cute quilt pattern. It was so fun to make and the top went together really quickly.

While I was working on this quilt, the foot pedal on my machine broke. As it so happened, it was a Tuesday night. The tension was also really off on my machine and Wednesdays are service pick-up days for the quilt shop I got my machine from. I called to see how long the wait was {minimum is 1 week and I've waited 3 weeks before} and they told me it was a week. So I dropped Grace off first thing on Wednesday morning. And then I went a little over-board with the embroidered quilt label. It was OK that I did, because it was 2½ weeks before Grace was ship shape and back in working order. {They couldn't fix the foot pedal, though, so I ordered a new one and it was here in just a week. Just a bit ironic, don't you think?} I've been using Fabri-Solvy self-adhesive stabilizer for embroidery lately. It is pretty fantastic. You run it through your printer, cut it to size, peel it off the paper backing, stick it to your fabric, stitch and when you're done, it washes away.

I have a number of pieces of batting hanging about which are too large to throw away and too small to use in a quilt, so I did something I haven't tried before. I pieced the batting. Vicki over at Sew Inspired talked about doing that once on a very large quilt, so I asked her about her technique. She told me how to do it by hand and also by machine, but warned me that sometimes when you do it by machine one side gets stretched a little bit. Not wanting to take any chances I joined three strips of batting together by hand to make a piece large enough for the quilt. It took forever. I may or may not try it by machine next time.

It is a very old tradition, dating back to 2010, to use satin blanket binding and minky or ultra cuddle on a baby quilt. This was no exception. I found a pretty silver sating binding that matched the grey background. And I bought a flat-fold remnant of extremely soft ultra cuddle for the back. You can see a peek of it in the photo with the quilt label above.

I suppose that about does it in the way of talking about this quilt. I would like to welcome the handful of folks who have started following my blog lately. I haven't done much in the way of posting since I started working full-time about a year ago. Nevertheless, welcome, and I hope I keep you at least a little bit entertained. Like with this super cute photo of Grasshopper and LadyBug with their new cousin. I can remember when they were that little and hardly believe I have two full-fledged teenagers.

LadyBug loves to hold the babies. I think that is awesome! And I think more cuteness is the perfect bookend for this post.

Today's post brought to you by:
Sew Fresh Quilts