The Riley Blake Challenge was posted and I pretty quickly got a vision of somewhat improv-pieced triangles lined up on a grey background, with a piano-key strip up one side. After looking several times online for the fabrics I needed, and only finding it sold by the bolt, I put the shopping aside.
Then, about a week later, while visiting my mother, I decided to buckle down and make an order. Remembering where I had bought fabric for last year’s challenge, I decided to try The Fat Quarter Shop to pick out what I needed. I had gotten as far as filling my cart and checking out, before I had a sudden sinking feeling. I realized I had purchased Michael Miller Fabric–Not Riley Blake!
Budget spent, I decided not to be daunted and to carry on, nonetheless. I figured that I would still try to finish and enter anyway. I had intended to make a lap quilt, but shortly after getting started, my Littlest Mac asked me to make him a quilt. Well, twist my rubber arm, I now had a recipient for this little project, which made it even more exciting for me. The little guy’s birthday was just around the corner, just before the deadline.
I sketched out a rough idea of the plan I had in mind and got this show on the road: I knew I was going to make a huge triangle for this design, so I needed to crazy piece the aqua fabrics and a few solids, since we only had fat eighths. I used Jacquie Gering’s quick crazy piecing method to build a “made fabric” that I could cut into the giant triangle.
Then, I cut into the remaining precious fat 1/8ths, making the triangles that would be placed side by side, upping the challenge to myself by using gently curved piecing. I contoured each with a contrasting fabric. Then then I got to work on the piano keys.
I really didn’t give myself much leeway in terms of the background fabric I purchased, because I initially thought I was going to make a much smaller quilt, so I knew I had to be really stingy with it. I had to lay things out before cutting and keep my fingers crossed that I wouldn’t make any mistakes.
I used a very Sherri-Lynn Wood piecing method to put the piano keys together–cut with no ruler and just piece and see what comes of it. It was liberating to just cut and sew freely!
Then I had to start putting the elements of the design together, making sure things would line up. I wanted the triangles to overlap into the piano key strip, but I wanted to piece them, so I took full advantage of my new love interest: Glue! I fussed a bit with the placement and pressed in 1/4 inch seams, glue basted, sewed on the pressed line, trimmed and Bob was my delightfully neat and accurate uncle! This really helped me to get the streamlined look I was going for.
Once I got the lap quilt looking awesome, this project started to politely suggest that it yearned to become a full-sized twin quilt to adorn my son’s bed. My plan A was to keep it smallish to get a finish for the contest, but my practical side kept thinking LittleMac 2 would get the most use out of a full-sized quilt. And so, I needed to come up with a wee extension plan. With no time to wait for an international order to get an exact match of fabric, I delved into my stash, and produced a slightly darker grey. To avoid making it look like a mistake, I added bars of colour, randomly piecing the teensy bit of remaining scarlet from the fat eighths.
With the top together, and the calendar thumbing its nose at me, I began the daunting task of pinbasting this ginormous creature together on my kitchen floor. The issue with the surface I had chosen was that the basting had to be a one-shot deal. There was no way on earth I would ever get away with leaving a partially basted quilt on MY kitchen floor. For some strange reason, the littlemacs (my kids) can’t keep their jam, maple syrup, milk, corn flakes, or spaghetti sauce off of every surface in their vicinity. I was just not willing to take a chance with this quilt. Plus, the little one hadn’t seen it yet, and I wanted to surprise him.
Lucky for me, Kirkules popped by to keep me company after a hard day’s work. It was into the wee hours of the morning, when he passed out right beside me after having offered to take a few action shots.
I really thought it was sweet of him and had to take a few shots of him, mumbling in his sleep, but I had to shoo him away when he started looking like he was ready cuddle up into the quilt! That just would not do! My plan to make quick work of it was foiled when I ran out of pins and had to thread-baste about 1/3 of the quilt! I crawled into bed by 2 AM, pooped yet excited to begin quilting!
The next day, I started in on the quilting. Using Liz, with her teensy throat space, I wore the quilt as a pashmina for a few days in a row and really used my arms to wrangle it around. I straight-line quilted it with a walking foot as a base and thought I would do some free motion work, here and there where there was opportunity.
I learned a few things about what happens when there is too much pressure on a walking foot, and that diagonal lines can mess things up, if you get a bit too relaxed. Overall, though, I was really pleased with the effect of the blend of the two quilting styles. This project really reminds me why I admire the work of good straight-line quilters: It is so frickin’ hard to do!!!
As music is a very important influence in our home, and we are particularly fond of classic rock, it was not hard to think of a title for this quilt. I was looking at quotes about “rockstars”, given the Riley Blake Challenge, and I found myself drawn to a quote by Freddie Mercury, “I won’t be a rockstar. I will be a legend.” This quote was perfect in a few ways. It speaks to my thoughts about my son’s future–He will make waves and he will be memorable, without a doubt. But it served as a double meaning to me, as I am working on improving my craft and hopefully leaving a lasting impression behind for those who stumble across my quilts in years to come. I used a cursive FMQ to write out the quote, and threw in some stars and marbles, and a few triangles. Sooooo satisfying!
I finished the quilt on time for the Riley Blake deadline, so my two biggest monkeys and I had fun staking out hot shooting spots, climbing to attach things here and there, and giggling at some of their funny posing ideas.
After a speedy photo shoot, I submitted the quilt and then took a bit of extra time to attach a label to gift it to our little birthday boy. He woke up, one fine morning bundled up under his new quilt, and his electric smile told me that he was quite pleased with the result!