Saturday, April 12, 2008

Travel-themed Happy Hour Quilt

I was motivated to start (and finish) my second project as a housewarming gift for one of our very best friends who recently purchased his first home. I had seen several messages in the blogisphere about the relative ease and happiness with the final results of the patterns from the Happy Hour book by Atkinson Designs. (AmandaJean at Crazy Mom Quilts raves about it all the time and has posted some beautiful quilts that she's made from the book.)

I actually started a quilt using batik fabrics in primary rainbow colors, mostly because I was eager to try out the Disappearing Nine Patch technique seen here. In fact, I grossly overestimated how much fabric I'd need and I probably cut enough squares to make a king-sized quilt.

However, I was in JoAnn's one day and came across a new line of fabrics featuring a travel theme (I think it's a M'Liss Rae collection). I was inspired to start over from scratch because our friend had decided on decorating his living room with a travel theme, highlighting photos and collections from his many travels around the country and around the world.

I was originally going to make the pattern featured on the cover of the book, but the travel collection featured a lot of large prints, and I was nervous to cut them up and piece them back together again, knowing they'd never match up. So, I switched to the Triple Treat patter from the same book ... similar technique and look, but it keeps the large cuts intact (and, as an added bonus, calls for less cutting and piecing!).

One of the reasons I'm proud of this quilt is because only about 50% of the fabrics are from the collection; for the other pieces, I chose solids and other patterns from the wall. It's easy to make a whole quilt out of a single collection that you like, but there's something satisfying in selecting things yourself that all work together so nicely. Making it even sweeter, the copper and green colors I selected match his living room furniture perfectly ... which he purchased after I bought all the fabrics!

I promise I was going to try to traditionally baste and bind this quilt, but I ran out of time. So, the night before we were to gift it, I sewed the pieces right sides together and flipped it out, same as I did with the Brick Path quilt. I then sewed a 2" border around all four edges, giving the illusion of a border, before "echo quilting" 1/4" on either side of every vertical and horizontal seam. Not sure if you'll be able to see it in the picture, but it resulted in a nice checkerboard pattern on the back.

Ready to be gifted!

Our friend loved his present, and I was very happy with the way it came out. Making it even more special was the fact that we gave it to him at a time when he really needed some help from his friends. I think (hope) it gave him some comfort. It may not be display-ready, but it certainly is cuddle-worthy. My wife tried to convince me to keep it, but I wouldn't give in.

Now what to do with all of those Disappearing Nine Patch blocks??

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