Friday, October 28, 2011

Crazy Eights for Audrey

Audrey loves the sunshine! Audrey's birthday is in August but her quilt has been done for quite some time now.  In fact hers was the first quilt I made in this project of the birthday quilts for "The Girls".

Living in the Northeastern US means we get only 3 months a year when the weather is considered mild enough to go to the beach in a bathing suit.  We actually have four seasons; almost winter, winter, still winter, and road construction!  This is a challenge for a sun worshiper such as Audrey.  I remember that she would be the first one to don a bathing suit and slather on the baby oil (yes baby oil!) in hopes of soaking in the first rays of sun in the spring (that's "still winter" for you non-NH folks).  She would also be the one on the ski lift with her face pointed upward to catch a bit of the winter sun during a day on the slopes.

When I started the birthday quilt project I didn't have any idea that I would be blogging about them.  Fortunately, I took pictures as I went along thinking I would add to my scrapbook for all my quilts.  Now that I've figured out how easy it is to blog, I don't know if I'll ever get them into that scrapbook.

I first came up with this combination of fabrics based off the fish print seen in the photo on the left.  It was cute but somehow didn't say Audrey to me.  I thought it looked rather childish and while Audrey is a fun person she is certainly not a child.

It had potential but I decided to keep looking.  This combo is tucked away in the "ideas" folder.

During the inspiration phase of Audrey's quilt I had to go on a business trip to the west coast.  Luckily, I was able to combine my return flight with a stop over in Boise ID to visit Mary.  Ever the gracious hostess, Mary had planned several activities for us to do while I was there.  The main one was a "float" down the Boise river.  A story for another time but it was an adventure I will never forget!

The day after our adventures on the river I asked Mary if she could take me to a local quilt shop.  That's where I found this perfect, vibrant, sunny, floral fabric for Audrey’s quilt.  It was the inspiration for the color choices along with the last fat quarter of this deep pink they had in the store.

With the main fabric selected I brainstormed with my sister on which pattern to use.  (You'll probably notice throughout my posts that I regularly use my sister as a sounding board for my quilting projects!)  She had recently finished a summer wall hanging with a beach theme that included appliques of a pail, bathing suits, flip flops, umbrella, etc.  I wanted something that would work on the beach as a blanket for sunbathing so too much applique wouldn't do.  And anything too traditional wouldn't reflect Audrey's sunny side.  Luckily Dutchy had also just finished a baby quilt using the Crazy Eights Pattern.  I decided to try combining elements of both the crazy eights block and applique blocks to create a fun quilt for Audrey. 

Here's the audition for the rest of the fabrics which all came from my stash.  Every time I walked into my sewing room and saw these colors they made me smile.  Let's hope they do the same for Audrey.

Once I had decided on the final fabrics I chose a white background to use for the applique pieces.  This was my first attempt at hand applique so I also chose large patterns.  More on that further down.

Cutting and sewing the blocks was a breeze. The colors were such fun to work with.  Unfortunately, I don't have any pictures of that part of the process but by the magic of digital photographs I was able to crop out a
single block to show you. 

Notice it only has 6 pieces.  The pattern name comes from the fact that you use 8 fat quarters to make the whole quilt.  I know, I was confused at first too.  Basically, using the 8 colors gives you more options than just using 6 fat quarters and 6 squares. 

In general, the idea behind the Crazy 8 pattern is that by rotating the completed blocks you come up with a scrappy look that appears to not be blocks at all.  This is where my design wall was a huge help.  I left the blocks on the wall for a couple of weeks and kept rearranging them whenever I went in for another look.  I'll bet I would still be able to give one or two of them another twist if they were still there today. 

Finally, I settled on an arrangement I liked and sewed them together before I changed my mind again!  Here's a peek at the center of the finished quilt.

So bright and cheery - just like Audrey!
 The applique blocks came out pretty good for my first try.  The motifs were fun and big enough to keep me out of trouble!

Appliques for the corners

For the back I chose a pretty paisley print to match the bright colors on the front.
It's hard to see but if you look behind the flip flops you can kind of see the quilting.  It's an overall pattern of big splashes to resemble waves crashing on the shore.  (LOVE the flip flops with their ribbon straps!)

Adding the borders and appliques to the final layout was a challenge.  Once again I reached out to my sister Dutchy for advice.  I hadn't considered that the applique blocks were all different sizes and the background is white but there's no white in the main body of the quilt.  We spent well over an hour rearranging the appliques and trying out different borders to get it just right.

I decided to add a 1 1/2" white inner border to frame the main part of the quilt and tie in the white background on the applique.  The final addition was the colored blocks and blue "water" borders.  The binding frames out the appliques and works well with the paisley on the back.

The finishing touch was the label which I wrote about a few days ago.

I love the way it all turned out!
A "Happy Birthday" Day At The Beach!

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