Monday, June 7, 2021

Twin Peaks

It seems hard to believe that I made my last quilt over a year ago...and yet, the blog archives don't lie. I do tend to pursue my hobby in seasons though. Sometimes literally matching activities to the weather (feels good to hunker down with a craft in the winter), but more often, I just get totally obsessed with something for a while, and then utterly neglect it for months (or forever) thereafter. So I suppose it's not shocking that I went through a dry quilting spell after last Spring's big boom. 

I am what I'm unofficially dubbing an "occasion" quilter- calling myself out of semi (and accidental) retirement when there's something special to make. And WHAT, I ask you, is more special than a dear friend having TWIN BABIES?! Well, pretty much nothing. That's what. When our friends shared that they were expecting a boy and a girl this Summer, I knew I wanted to make something just the special-ist for these two impending bundles of joy. If I had been as smart as I am thoughtful (jokkkkke)- I would have started them a long time ago...but as per always, my ambition out paces my capacity, so that's how I found myself with exactly 10 days to work with from pattern purchase to baby shower unwrapping. It was...aggressive. But there's just about nothing I adore than more creating something for someone I love, so this was a double dose of YES for me. 

But before we dive into the behind-the-seams details, let's just bask in the sunshine-y reveal for a moment:

Aren't they the sweetest?! (The quilts and the nearly invisible but audibly whiny quilt models).

"My arms are tired! It's hottttt...."
"Hold them up higher and just keep running, ladies, I have a VISION!"

The quilts fraternal twins- just like the future recipients. I wanted to do two of the same pattern with some subtle differences to make it fun. The pattern is designed to be a bit improv-based, so it made it easy and fun to play around with the piecing and proportions to give them both their own style.

So that's the cliff's notes (crib sheet?) version of these babies...but for those of you hungry for the play by play, here's the full story:

  • Quilt Pattern: NightSky Quilt by SkyClad Quilts. I had it saved on my IG favs forever, and thought this would be a fun pattern to try for these babies. (it helps that it's really only sized for crib quilts...but I'm sure it could be adjusted if you wanted to make it happen for a larger size). I knew almost nothing about the nursery decor etc. but I knew the mom wasn't overly traditional or tied to typical gender colors etc, so I thought something inspired by nature (if it's not obvious, the pattern is supposed to represent a sunset over the mountains) with bright colors would be perfect. The official version includes a moon and some embroidered stars which are lovely- but seemed a bit out of my skillset (I've never done embroidery or applique) and a stretch for my timeline. Plus- not to cop-out here, but I honestly looked at my quilts in the end stages and preferred a slightly more abstract version, so I nixed the extra details. Practicality and aesthetic win.
  • Fabric: All solids- mostly JoAnn's basics with a Kona Cotton thrown in there to be fancy. This is my first quilt made with all solids, so that was a fun little challenge. Even though in a way it's much easier than print mixing, I still wanted to nail the color range, so I pulled out allllllll the bolts to find my favs. A scant hour later, we had the winners. (I'm not exaggerating or complaining about spending the better part of an afternoon agonizing over nearly identical swatch shades, because choosing fabric might be my favorite stage of quilting. Although...I kind of say that about every stage. Except the fighting-with-my-machine's-tension stage. THAT- to use a parenting parallel- is like the "toddlerhood" of quilting, i.e. a necessary evil on your way to much more enjoyable times.)

lovvvvve a good ombre.
  • Backing design: Kept this sooooo simple, by choosing to go with a single fabric on the back. (I tend to get a little wild with my quilts sometimes, making the back just as intricate as the front). I had some really adorable options for the back, but eventually landed on two colorways (pink and blue, naturally) ofTriangles Keepsake Calico Cotton Fabric. I love how they pulled out different colors from the front, made the quilts unique from each other and mimicked the angles on the front. The print was busy enough to not need any other piecing detail, and it hid my quilting stitches well. So basically...exactly what I needed.


  • Quilting design: This was another first for me- varying the quilting pattern within each fabric piece. Normally I just do some version of straight lines throughout the quilt- either at a set distance or a varying widths (without a longarm I can't get too fancy). But for this one I wanted to try mimicking the shape/direction of each shape, so I did horizonal lines for the sky, diagonal lines matching the angles of the "mountains" and a simple sunburst design in the middle. I graduated the straight lines spacing from wide to narrow depending on the size/placement of the piece, to give a sense of depth. The quilting part might be the hardest part for me (it's definitely the most time consuming) but there is nothing better than seeing a project transform from pile of fabric to "real" quilt as it gets those puffy, crinkly shapes. 

  • Timeline: As I mentioned, I set myself up with a bit of a hard deadline on this one. I bought the fabric on Tuesday May 25, and had to have them wrapped up in the car by noon on Friday June 4. I kept track of my time, just because I think it's interesting to know what really goes into making a quilt (it always feels like a lot. And guess what! It is!) All told, I estimate I spent about 20 hours on these. Some parts are more efficient when you're doing two of the same thing (I was always faster on the second one because I had my process figured out better) but some parts just take what they take. I split the work up over 6 days, which translates to around 3 hours per day (or more accurate: 3 hours per late night). Not a sustainable hobby for the long term (I think with those kind of hours it's really more of a part time job) but fun to immerse myself in it for a short burst.
  • Media of choice while I worked: Real Housewives (NYC and Beverly Hills). I accept no judgement on this. These quilts will be infused with the wisdom and class of generations of women, poured in through my ear bud osmosis. (I also made it thorugh the full season of The Queen's Gambit, so my brain iddn't totally atrophy).


  • Final thoughts: I don't know if it's arrogant to be this proud of something I made...but, dang I sure am proud. I think quilts are a little bit like kids in that way- it's not really about all the awesome stuff I did to make them turn out's more of a gratefulness and appreciation for beauty and learning (ok- with a little dash of acknowledgement for all the awesome stuff I did to make them turn out well). I don't know if I adore the process or the end result more...but I do know I want to start on another quilt pretty much immediately, so if any of my friends want to have a baby (or two), call me!


All Sources/Details:

Pattern: NightSky Quilt
Finshed size: Roughly 44" x 48
Total Time spent: 20 hours (for both)
Fabric: JoAnn's & Kona Cotton solids, Triangles Keepsake Calico Cotton Fabric
Custom name tags: Mission Market Co. (I used my last two, so it's time to reorder!)
Binding: Cluck Cluck Sew machine binding tutorial, using two 3yd packs of double fold bias tape.
Batting: Warm Company Warm & White Cotton Batting, pre-cut crib size: 45"x60".


P.S. See more quilty goodness: here on the blog, or on IG via #bowdenismsews

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