Saturday, April 18, 2020

hold tight quilt

It’s finally finished!!! Last summer, I was tossing around the idea of making a rainbow quilt for Mae when I stumbled across this Hold Tight quilt pattern on Instagram. I immediately knew that I wanted to make one for Mae with rainbow-hued balloons!

I spent hours selecting colors of Kona Cotton fabric to create the transparency effect of the balloons and the rainbow gradient. I mapped out the colors in PowerPoint with overlapping transparent shapes to try to get the colors and values right. It doesn’t exactly match my design (even 340 colors of Kona Cotton weren’t enough to capture the range of orangey-pinks I wanted), but I love how it turned out.

Choosing colors was quite challenging using only online color swatches! I ordered a big stack of fabrics from CaliQuiltCo on Etsy, and only swapped out a few with additional fabrics purchased from Jo-Ann. I ended up with balloons in azalea, carnation, melon (also used for binding), peach, school bus, highlight, sour apple, cypress, breakers, spa, thistle, and magenta. The overlapping shapes are camellia (melon + peach), melon (carnation + peach), cheddar (school bus + highlight), limelight (peach + sour apple), pool (cypress + breakers), Niagara (breakers + spa), and wisteria (thistle + magenta). Phew. That’s 18 colors in case you were counting. Oh, and white. Lots of white. 19 colors.

As with many of my projects, the supplies sat dormant for a bit while I mentally prepared myself. In January, I steeled myself for the challenge of making my first bed-sized quilt. I sized up the shapes about 10% and added an extra column of squares to the left side of the pattern to make the quilt about 68” wide (good for a twin sized bed). I made a couple test squares and encountered a slight issue, which was quickly resolved by Sharon, the pattern author (very responsive). Then I started cranking out squares. Press, pin, sew, repeat. I finished piecing the quilt top in late February. I added white borders to the top and bottom to lengthen the quilt.

While piecing the quilt, I spent lots of time considering what to use for the fabric on the back. I was debating between a striped pink backing or something more fun, and I just could not stop thinking about this Michael Miller “Children At Play” Balloons fabric. The colors coordinated nicely with my quilt top, and the whimsical little bunnies and girls holding the balloons were just perfect for the theme. Plus, from far away it just looks like polka dots, so the pattern isn’t too distracting.

I knew that actually quilting this on my machine would be nearly impossible and wouldn’t turn out as neat as I wanted, so I handed it off to a long-arm quilter, Judy from Fine Finishes Longarm Quilting. This was my first time using a long-arm service and I am SO glad that I did. I chose white Glide thread, Hobbs 80/20 bleached batting, and a repeating cloud pattern (inspired by similar pattern I saw on another Hold Tight quilt on Instagram). The stitching looks so good! I picked up the quilt from Judy after about 4 weeks. (Don’t judge me for violating our stay-at-home order. I put way too much time into this project to let it languish, just hours away from completion.)

For the finishing touches, I hand-stitched the balloon strings in gray #8 DMC perle cotton embroidery thread. (They are hard to see in the photos, but they add a fun detail up close.) I also added a little corner tag, similar to the one I put on Mae’s baby quilt.

Finally, I machine-bound the edges with more Kona Cotton. I finished the binding this morning, and was so excited to share that I had to photograph and write this TODAY! Mae is THRILLED that her quilt is finally finished. She’s been asking about it non-stop. As soon as I finished taking photos outside, she ran upstairs to try it out on her bed. Now she’s fast asleep, snuggled up under a beautiful quilt made with my love (tons), blood (only a few pin pricks), sweat (dang, my craft room gets hot), but surprisingly no tears (my projects usually involve at least one melt down). So happy with this finished quilt!!!

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