I trimmed about one third of my blocks to 9" x 14½" before coming upon a block that I had mis-measured and was smaller than the rest. I continued trimming the rest to 8¾" x 14¼" and went back and skimmed the excess off the first eight. Fortunately, I discovered no smaller blocks. For a while there I'd feared finding yet smaller and smaller blocks. I'd entertained visions of trimming and trimming and trimming those blocks until there was no crazy quilt type background left. My fears were unfounded. Sufficient background noise surrounded the gifts to cause me to still fret a bit.
Then I assembled five rows of six blocks each and joined them. I did not revisit my decision from the several days I spent positioning and re-positioning the blocks on my design wall. That process was carried out and documented in excruciating detail in my previous post titled Gifts - Some Assembly Required. It is amazing how much eliminating those little strips of white peeking through from the design wall and nipping in that seam allowance made the blocks more cohesive. Here are two rows from the assembled top. The gifts do show up a bit more more – not fantastic, but much better. I feel I have been lucky to have snatched a small victory from the jaws of defeat.
One mildly annoying issue with this quilt was pressing the seam allowances. I would press a block and then at some point, when I checked the wrong side, some portions of the seams had flipped, even if both ends had been captured in another seam. More than likely it is the bias nature of many of the seams in this pattern but it could have been my iron. I was using my backup Sunbeam iron. My trusty favorite Rowenta iron, with its shiny stainless steel sole plate with just the right point at the tip and just the right side edges, died after many years of faithful service. The Sunbeam has a black ceramic soleplate that does not glide as nicely as I like plus it has a ridge around about ¼" up the sides of the soleplate that could be catching. I missed the Rowenta sale in December because I was traveling at Christmas and can not bring my self to pay full price for a replacement. I may bite the bullet and buy it at full price. It may very well be worth it. I am a stickler for my seam direction and to have them shift in the middle is unacceptable to me.
I bought the backing fabric at the time I bought the kit so no major delays there. It is one of the fabrics from Moda's BasicGrey Jovial line. I chose the deer with the aqua toned background fabric 30262-14. The words printed across it are from Christmas carols such as Deck the Halls and Oh, Christmas Tree. It will be fun to curl up under the words "Fa-la-la-la-la." I must have really liked this source fabric line because, purely co-incidentally, it is the one I used for the Patchwork Math Workshop I took last month.
I've decided my binding. Because of the playful mood of the quilt I felt the binding needed to be scrappy. But learning my lesson from the cacophonous gift blocks, I did not want the binding to vie too much for attention. I cut strips of the leftover fabrics, red only, omitting the strong graphics, and shooting for a mostly solid-colored, controlled, scrappy binding. Aqua scrappy was too disjointed and did not play well with the backing and a green scrappy had no punch. I generally wrap my binding around a 12" ruler so that just by counting folds I can be sure I have enough length to go around the quilt.
Now I am at the point where I stall on all my quilts – sandwiching and quilting. But since I am pretty sure I want to echo quilt this around the gifts using a ruler technique on Heidi, my HQ-16, I do not think I will wallow in indecision too long. Unlike this little beaver below, my shopping is finished, and my quilting pattern is selected. I think. I hope it goes as planned. "Quilt as desired" can be such a scary phrase, fraught with many perils.
Linking up now to this week's Freshly Pieced's WIP. I also thought this shopping image would represent a lot of the quilters at QuiltCon 2015 happening in Austin, Texas this week. I am not one of them so maybe I will forge ahead on quilting Simple Gifts.