As promised, here’s my construction process of the galaxy quilt from start to finish. (I’m still referring to it as ‘the galaxy quilt’ because I haven’t decided on a title for it.) Be warned, this is a long post. It includes some photos I posted previously, plus a lot more information and photos.
Concept and design – For several months, I’ve been thinking about making an abstract art quilt of a spiral galaxy. After looking at a lot of galaxy images, I made a rough sketch of the shape I wanted to use for a quilt. My original idea was to redraw and refine my sketch, but the more I looked at it, the more I liked the abstract look of the sketch.
Here’s my original sketch. I photocopied it at 400%, and traced it onto tracing paper with a more dramatic tilt to it.
Pattern – Then I enlarged the tracing paper image by 400% onto 8 pieces of 11 x 17 inch paper. I taped those together to make my full-size pattern, which you can see below pinned on my design wall. Then I traced the design onto freezer paper, which I cut into pattern pieces and ironed to the back of the fabrics. I numbered all the pattern pieces on the full-size pattern and on the freezer paper – so I wouldn’t lose track of which piece went where.
Fabrics – I pulled a lot of fabrics with black or dark backgrounds, plus a few of lighter ones for the center. My original choices included a lot of warmer pink and red-violet colors. As I auditioned the fabrics on my design wall, I decided I wanted cooler colors – blue, purple and a bit of teal. (I will likely make another galaxy quilt in the future with the more dramatic pink and violet colors.)
For each pattern piece, I ironed the freezer paper template to the back of the fabric, cut it out with a 1/4″ allowance, then pinned it to the master pattern on the design wall.
I started with the center pieces in the lighter, brighter fabrics, then the outer pieces with the darkest fabrics. And finally the medium value blue fabrics. I was determined to use only fabrics from my stash, so some fabric choices were dictated by the amount of fabric I had.
I tried not to dither too much about my fabric choices. There was one fabric that I really didn’t like and changed later on – the gray on gray star fabric (left photo below) was replaced with a dark navy with white dots (right photo). I think it added quite a sparkle.
Construction process – Starting with the center pieces, I fused the pieces together. I only applied fusible web to the overlapping edges of each piece, and in most cases used 1/2″ fusible tape. By fusing only the edges, I saved time, used a lot less fusible web, and the quilt is less stiff. The disadvantage was that the fused pieces were only attached at the seam allowances, which made it a little flimsy to work with, and if I didn’t press the pieces well they sometimes fell apart and had to be reattached. I started the process using Lite Steam-a-Seam tape. When I ran out of that, I turned to some EZ Steam tape I had on hand. The EZ Steam was much stickier – which had advantages (it stayed in place better when finger pressed) and disadvantages (it would stick to itself if I didn’t pay close attention).
Here are the steps I followed to attach each piece to the previously assembled pieces (I wrote these steps out for myself, because the repetitive steps get boring and if I missed a step I risked fusing the tape to the freezer paper or iron):
- unpin the fabric piece from the design wall
- peel back the freezer paper on the edge to be fused
- slide the 1/2″ fusible tape about 1/4″ under the edge of the freezer paper (top left photo below)
- press the tape to the fabric, and at the same time press the freezer paper back in place on top of the fusible tape
- trim the fabric along the edge of the freezer paper template (bottom left photo below)
- peel back the edge of the freezer paper and remove the paper backing from the fabric
- on an ironing mat, position the fabric piece in place with the fused seam allowance on top of the adjoining fabric piece(s). Finger press in place.
- check the placement of the piece from the back (tick marks on freezer paper templates should line up)
- carefully turn over, and check the placement from the front (making sure points align, and that there are no gaps between the pieces)
- press the fused seam allowance of the new piece, first from the front, then from the back. Leave the freezer paper attached to the back until the entire quilt top is assembled. (In the right photo below, the center pieces have been fused and assembled and are lying on my pressing table. The outer pieces are individually pinned to the design wall, waiting to be fused.)
In the photos below, all the pieces have been fused together. At this point, I carefully peeled off the freezer paper templates from the back, and layered the top with batting and backing.
Quilting – I quilted with 3 different variegated threads – a light gray-violet for the center, then a blue variegated on the blue fabrics, and a black-white-gray variegated for the dark fabrics around the outer edges. I tested the threads, and my ability to stitch spirals with my walking foot, on a small 12″ x 12″ sample quilt.
The sample looked good, so I quilted the full-size quilt the same way. I quilted along the fused edges to secure them in place, and to further emphasize the overlapping and intersecting curved lines and elliptical shapes. Here it is after quilting.
Facing – at first I was concerned that when the quilt was hung against a black background (as is typically used at quilt shows) the edges would ‘disappear’ against the background, and I thought I would bind it with a dark navy or purple fabric that would provide some contrast with a black background. Then I decided it might look really effective if it appeared the blend into the background, so I faced it instead using my favorite facing technique.
Title – as I mentioned at the beginning of this very long post, I’m still referring to this quilt as ‘the galaxy quilt’ because I haven’t decided on a title for it. I’ll have to decide before I enter it into a quilt show. Some thoughts I’ve had are ‘Far, far away’ and ‘Baby, it’s cold out there’, but I may just call it ‘Galaxy’. Any suggestions?
Thanks for reading all the way to the bottom. I hope this has been interesting.
Today, I’m linking up with these blogs – click on the links below, where you’ll find many other creative and inspirational projects.