Slow Stitching Design Monday: FrankenWhiggish Rose and Amish Baby Updates

I haven't linked up with Slow Stitching Sunday in awhile because I felt like I was spinning my wheels and had no progress to report.  However, somehow I managed to get all 36 yellow petals stitched to the 36 coral petals, so yesterday I starched and pressed my brown fabric, traced off 36 petals, and pinned the first four units together so they are ready to stitch on the go.

I noticed a big improvement from the first yellow petal to the last, and I think that repeating the same applique shape over and over this way is going to be better in the long run  for acquiring and improving skills than if I were to complete one block at a time in its entirety.  The yellow petals gave me a lot of practice with slight outer curves and outside points, and now with the coral petals (the fabric is not so hyper bright in real life!) I'll have the slight outer curve and outside points again, along with a tighter outer curve and inside points to work on.  Also, once I get the rhythm of it down, I don't have to think about what I'm doing very much; it just becomes about developing and reinforcing the muscle memory -- very relaxing. 

I did stitch the first block in its entirety, though, to make sure I liked the fabric and shape combinations I put together.  The reason I call this the FrankenWhiggish Rose is that I hobbled several different applique patterns together Frankenstein style in order to create an applique project that incorporated all of the basic shapes and challenges I would need to learn before I could tackle more advanced needle turn applique projects: Inside and outside curves, inside and outside points/corners, skinny bias stems, circles, reverse applique, stuffed berries, and broderie perse for the ring of little rosebuds around the center of the block:

Completed Test Block for FrankenWhiggish Rose

This is for my FrankenWhiggish Rose quilt, which may or may not end up looking anything like this design:
My Current Plan for FrankenWhiggish Rose, Subject to Change

After completing the test block, I imported a photo of the finished block so I could use it to design the quilt in EQ7 software.  Unfortunately, after cutting out all of the dark brown petals, I see that I do not have enough of that fabric left to do 36 reverse appliqued tulips, plus the skinny sashing lattice and the border blocks.  Yikes!  Fortunately I have the manufacturer and pattern information from the selvedge, but I wasn't able to locate it online.  Hopefully the LQS where I purchased the fabric a few months ago will have more left on the bolt.  I do NOT want to change this design!

Amish Baby 54-40 Or Fight
Meanwhile, the Amish Baby 54-40 or Fight quilt is getting its borders sewn on today.  UPS should be delivering the black batting I ordered sometime today.  I also need to make a decision about which Minky Cuddle backing I'm going to use:
Minky Cuddle Zebra Print

Minky Cuddle Dalmatian Print

Minky Cuddle Zebra Print

I've decided that this is a "infant brain stimulating quilt," so I'll be using a high contrast black and white plush fabric for the backing.  I'm leaning towards the cute little zebras, as long as the black batting doesn't threaten to show through the white Minky background.  If show through is going to be an issue, I'll go with the Dalmatian or zebra fabric instead.  Although another consideration with the white plush backing fabric is how dirty and grungy it will get over time.  The baby's mom isn't going to be able to wash a predominantly black quilt with even a color safe bleach product, and I have used pale pink Minky backing for a baby quilt in the past and was dismayed by how it took on a decidedly icky gray cast over time (that would be the Zombie quilt for Princess Petunia).  Hmmm...

Well, I have a sick kid home with me today, spewing flu virus all over the house.  I think I will wrap him up in blankets in the studio and we can watch some classic cartoons while I work on quilt borders.  Hopefully I can take care of Lars and help him feel better without catching the flu myself, because I don't have time to be sick this week!  I'm linking up with Slow Stitching Sunday at Kathy's Quilts and Design Wall Monday at Patchwork Times.

Happy Monday and Happy Stitching!

Amish Baby 54-40 Or Fight is Sashed and Ready For Borders

Sashed and Ready for Borders...  Maybe
As you can see, I managed to get the blocks sashed and assembled for my Amish Baby 54-40 Or Fight quilt top this week.  I love the design, and I'm mostly happy with the accuracy of my piecing: 

...However, I made the mistake of cutting all of my sashing strips to EXACTLY 12.5", which is what every block SHOULD have measured upon completion, and then easing the sashing to fit those blocks that finished slightly skimpier.  My blocks were all within 1/8" to 1/16" of the 12.5" ideal, but that little bit of easing coupled with the finagling I did to get all of my teal points so sharp and perfect, created just the slightest ripple along the outer edge of my sashing.  So now I have to clear off my big work table, take the quilt top down off the design wall, and do some measurements to determine whether I need to take any of the sashing apart and restitch it, or if I can correct for the ripple and steam iron everything flat again after I add the borders.  I do know enough to measure the length and width through the CENTER of the quilt top for the borders.  Maybe I can just straighten the outer edges, square the corners, add the borders and it will be fine? 

Next decision: Batting, backing fabric, and binding.  I've heard of black quilt batting made especially for black or dark colored quilts like this one, but never used them before.  Supposedly they help the dark colors maintain their saturated appearance over the life of the quilt, without white batting fibers working their way through the quilt top.  Looking online, I found two possibilities: Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 Cotton Polyester batting, which is supposed to be just like their regular 80/20 Premium batting except that it is black, or Quilter's Dream Midnight Dreams Black 100% Polyester "Select Loft" batting.  Midnight Dreams is supposed to be just like the Select Loft Quilter's Dream poly batting. 

Now, in the past, I've used Minky cuddle fleece for backing fabric and prepackaged wide sating binding on my baby quilts, and the parents and babies-toddlers-preschoolers have literally loved those quilts to death.  Clearly it's a winning combination.  For past quilts, I've just used a thin 100% cotton batting since the Minky fleece adds an additional layer of bulk and warmth, and I want the finished quilt to be drapable and very snuggly.  But I don't see anywhere that I can buy a thin 100% cotton batting in black, and I'm not as opposed to some poly content since Minky cuddle fleece is also a polyester fabric, as is the satin binding.  I did prewash and preshrink all of the fabrics in this quilt top to avoid the problem of a finished quilt where the top fabrics shrink and the batting and backing fabrics do not.  However, I want to use the thinnest, least bulky black batting that I can find.  If any of you have any direct experience with Hobbs 80/20 versus Quilter's Dream Poly Select Loft, please let me know in the comments which you would recommend for this project and why.  I don't think my LQS stocks black battings, so I may just have to order some of each online and experiment with samples in person.

I'm linking up with Finish It Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts and Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict.  Happy Stitching!
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