In case you’re wondering, that’s the number of 1.5″ square blocks that are in my Mario quilt. Yes…almost 4,000 teeny little blocks sewn together along with sashing and borders and backing and general craziness.
There were some hellish moments along the way but in end, I think you’ll all agree, it was worth it. Honestly I’m getting a little teary over it.
Just as a reminder for all those interested, this is part of a QAL that I ran on the blog here and you can find a link to all of the posts in the header under Quilt Alongs. Feel free to start at any time! It’s not going anywhere. My quilt was made with Michael Miller’s Cotton Couture provided for me by The Fat Quarter Shop (thanks Kimberly!) and with Pellon’s stick-n-wash stabilizer and rayon batting (thanks Erin!).
Each block is made from 18 x 18 1.5″ squares. And as usual, I completely underestimated the amount of work it would take to make a quilt from 12 of these blocks. On a side note though, I think you still have plenty of time to throw together a single block as a Christmas gift and make a pillow. 😉 You can do it! The mushroom blocks are particularly popular.
I know a lot of people were curious about how I was going to quilt this. And I made a decision fairly early on to do an all over meander/stipple quilting. I used a multi colored grey 50 weight thread from Aurifil, #4670 to blend in with the many colors of the quilt. As you can see, it nicely disappears from view, allowing you to see fabulous characters of the quilt.
I used a text keyboard print for the binding that I thought perfectly suited the nature of this quilt. I think that it is by timeless treasures and I found that at fabric.com (but don’t hold me to that…I buy a lot of fabric and can’t always remember where I get it!) I of course didn’t have quite enough fabric for the binding so I threw in a scrap of Free Spirit fabric that I had used on the back to finish it up. I love that scrappy bindings are allowed 😉
The backing was pieced from one yard cuts I had in my stash. I didn’t want to buy any more fabric! I think I turned the top two fabrics of the backing the wrong way and so it ended up short. I made a mad dash to see what extra fabric I had with me at Quilt camp and threw on the rest of the solid black and blue to make up the difference. But I actually really like it now. (At the time, I *may* have been freaking out)
So…conclusions: The good, the bad and the ugly.
I really liked using the Pellon stick – n – wash to help me keep this many blocks straight and aligned. I know my strengths and weaknesses and these helped. It’s not the perfect solution but it’s the best that I’ve found yet. Sometimes the stabilizer was difficult to wash off, leaving a bit of residue (I knew that would wash off with the first washing in the machine but the first rinse was a hand rinse). Plus with the wash n dry, the blocks were pretty crisp after air drying….definitely a new challenge when I went to quilt it.
And let’s talk about those 3,888 blocks. That means that is a seam on all four sides of each block. I’m thinking that there were at least 7776 seams spread out every inch. What am I saying other than large numbers? That’s pretty difficult to quilt over as it turns out. I wasn’t able to press those seams open which would definitely help in this case. But let’s just say I broke 4 needles quilting this thing and it’s NOT my best quilting ever. Quite possibly the worst. But it’s done and it blends in and it’s washed and so soft now!
Also, getting all 12 blocks to be the same size was a challenge. I did square up a couple of blocks, but then thought I could get away with stretching the blocks to size (those 18 seams per side make a difference in “stretchiness”) But as it turned out, the blocks stretched well in one direction and not the other. So major panic attacks were being had late at night at Quilt camp when I was basting it and trying to get it straight. I was pretty much ready throw the whole thing out. No joke.
But the beauty of quilts is that they are made to be lived under…not laying totally flat all the time stretched out on a floor. Once it was quilted, bound, hand sewn, and washed this quilt was a thing of beauty. Well at least I could finally see the beauty.
And I’m really proud of it. I’m proud of all of you who have made one as well. They are truly labors of love. I know that there are many more in the works and lots of pillows. But here is a glimpse at some of the other finished quilts so far from the QAL. Just amazing. Thank you for sharing this journey with me!!