14 September 2017

An Upgrade

A little more than three years ago, my friend Ruthie and I challenged each other to a jelly roll test. Was it truly possible to put an entire quilt together in a day?

I'd sent her for a birthday present her very first jelly roll. She was already addicted to Eleanor Burns' "Quilt in a Day" but discouraged because she hadn't been able to actually finish a quilt in one day.

That's what happens when you have kids and/or grandkids, right? She had both living with her at the time. I don't believe she ever finished her jelly roll strip quilt, but she did like the concept of Race Quilts.

I finished my Turtle Sherbet quilt top in a day, but the cheap jelly roll I had purchased was not cut on the straight of grain, and some strips displayed some serious curvature by the time I finished.

I had never had problems with strips I'd cut myself. Back in 9th grade, my home ec teacher graded, with a measuring tape, our pattern layouts before she allowed us to cut. We had to measure from the pattern arrows to the edges of our fabric several times to make sure everything was lined up properly. She made each of us do a plaid project, too, so we could practice lining up our fabrics. Here are some of the first jelly strips I ever cut, way back in 2006, using what I'd learned in the 1970s...

I've since learned the curving problem may sometimes be alieviated by sewing each strip from the opposite direction of the previous strip. But I've also learned curved strips aren't as common if strips are cut on the staight of grain, and then pinned before sewing, regardless of which end you start from.

Here's a much more elaborate strip project (still awaiting quilting) from 2014. I cut ALL those strips myself.

Here's another from later that same year. Quilted and gifted last January!

And one more (because I couldn't choose just one). Quilted and gifted in November 2015.

Turtle Sherbet came out as well as could be expected, and my California niece loves it.

I've always wanted to try the Turtle Sherbet idea again, however, with a few notable upgrades.

Most importantly, with my own strips, from fabrics chosen and cut by me, not a collection assembled by someone else.

I've been collecting clearance floral batiks, one yard at a time, ever since. I'd cut strips from each yard as soon as I got them home. The working name for this collection was Rainbow Strip Bar. Because... well, because the name made me giggle. Still does.

I've been waiting more than a year for the perfect reddish pink. I had all the other colors I needed. Magenta must be a very popular color for batiks, because it took three years to finally find the right shade on sale.

Meanwhile, I pulled out the incomplete Rainbow Strip Bar back in 2015, fully intending to whip out a super quick rainbow-colored quilt. I got only five strips sewn together before I decided I didn't want to use all the colors.

I LOVE the cool hues of the Rainbow Strip Bar so much, I decided to make a quilt top using just those colors. I call it Cool Edge of the Rainbow. This one's still waiting to be quilted, too. But I do finally have a suitable backing now! Perhaps it will be done by Christmas...

Last March-ish, I finally found my long-awaited fuchsia, and I recently pulled out the Rainbow Strip Bar once again to craft another Turtle Sherbet.

First, I wanted to use up the warm tones left over after I finished the Cool Edge of the Rainbow top.

I call this new fractured rainbow my Warmbow. It's going to one of the siblings of my adopted grandbabies when finished.

Both Cool Edge of the Rainbow and Warmbow, incidentally, each took a day to craft. True quilt tops in a day!

It took a day to sew my Rainbow Strip Bar into a top once I dug out the batiks again to cut additional strips to lengthen the shorter strips and then decide upon a color scheme. Three of the colors were considerably shorter than the rest.

While admiring my new rainbow, I decided this tropical turtle ocean needed a wave of sorts. So I bargello cut a 12-inch and then a 4-inch strip off the edge. I pulled the final pink strip off the 4-inch strip and sewed it back to the top side, then reattached both strips to the main quilt top. Satisfied with the visual effect, I set out to cut a triangle off the edge of my newest quilt top, then a matching (plus 3/4 inches extra, for good measure) very pale gray handpaint triangle. I measured, measured, measured, and I was very careful to measure again before cutting because I didn't want to mess up this gorgeous project.

To my horror, when I began to attach a small triangle from the trimmed off batik strip corner to the pale gray, the triangle was two inches too short! I guess it was a good thing I gave the gray strip an extra quarter inch; I may have had to take it off the main quilt top and cut another one. Talk about waste!!!

I went over my math again and again and could not figure out how the remaining triangle could be too short if I'd cut the gray strip exactly the same size as the pieced rainbow triangle, plus 3/4 of an inch for seams.

I went for a ride up Waterton Canyon with The Lizard so I could stew for a while about what to do next. During the ride, I decided to cut an inch-long strip from the rainbow strip, then cut another inch and a half from the gray handpaint to make two more stripes before attaching the rainbow triangle.

This time, everything went together perfectly, and I had a completed quilt top, minus the turtles.

I didn't want my frustrations to cause me to mess up again, so I set the quilt top aside and finished another (boy) quilt top before I began cutting out turtles from the batik fabrics.

I was churning ideas for the quilt backing when Lizard asked if I'd used up the rest of the deep red bed sheet I'd cut up for my Orphan Gemtones finish earlier this year. The maroon is not exactly sea-like, but it does go well with the top, so I decided to finish up the remnants.

For the first Turtle Sherbet, I cut out the turtles and appliqued them to the quilt top before sandwiching. Long before sandwiching, actually. I think it took me more than a year to work up the courage to free-motion quilt wavy lines into the prototype.

This time, I cut assorted-size turtles from fabric remnants instead of from the rainbow strip I'd cut away and from the gray handpaint. I then adhered all the turtles to the top using the 505 spray before free-motion quilting them into place.

Then came wavy lines of free-motion quilting. Every once in a while, I'd find a tuck on the back of the quilt. I didn't want to, but I'd rip out the stitching and do it over again because I wanted the quilt to be as close to perfect as I could get it. My mistakes were frustrating because I wanted to finish the quilting in a day. Not just to meet the old quilt-in-a-day challenge, but because I wanted natual-lit pictures of the finished quilt during daylight instead of flash- or strobe-lit photos of it pinned on the wall at night.

Once again, I was trying to beat sunset. Why does this happen to me so often?!?

I wanted to use the magenta or red batik leftovers for the binding, but there wasn't enough, and I didn't want to piece my binding. This time. Perhaps in the future...

An orange batik that didn't make the final cut for the quilt top looked to be the perfect edging, so I cut six 3-inch strips, sewed them together and quickly bound the quilt. Until the very end, when I accidentally sliced one of the diagonal binding tails in the wrong direction, meaning the binding was now nearly 3 inches too short.

Once again, I ripped out my stitching and quickly inserted another strip of the leftover binding so I could fix my booboo. I didn't think I'd ever get the last two thread ends buried on this project. The sun had already set!

Just in the nick of time, Lizard rushed over to the lake with me to snap a few photos. We can even see a tiny bit of the sunset on the water!

I'd like to make one more of these Turtle Quilts, next time with a narrow batik stripe at each end of the light-colored strip. And with fewer mistakes and redos the next time around. Perhaps with a tropical quilt backing to boot.

Nevertheless, I think one of the siblings of my adoptive grandkids is going to be very happy with this cheerful upgrade!

Linking up with Busy Hands Quilts, Crazy Mom Quilts and Confessions of a Fabric Addict.


  1. Shows what determination can do and what one learned waaaaaay back in the 70's lol Yeah, pretty hard for anyone to get anything done in a week, let alone a day, with kids and grandkids in the house.

    1. That's one of the reasons I have so many WIPs, Pat. I couldn't get anything done while I was raising kids!

  2. All of your quilts are so lovely - and the curvature - not nice of those strips to do that! LOVE the turtle quilt though!!!

    1. Thank you, Alycia! It is several people's favorite!

  3. Yea for you for stitching with it. A great finish! I love the turtle appliques also!

    1. Thank you, Judy! Those turtles are addictive. I'm tempted to put some on the current jelly roll quilt for Jelly Roll Day...


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