Steppingstones- 63" X 70"
This quilt is a Judy Niemeyer Pattern. It is a difficult paper pieced design which took many hours of work to complete. It is called "Steppingstones", and is actually one of the easier ones to do!
I took a course in Stettler almost 2 years ago, on the Judy Niemeyer paper piecing technique from the owner of "Quilting from the Heart, a Camrose quilt shop. ( Feb 2015)
After approximately 80 (plus) hours of work (and rework) I am pleased to be done the whole entire quilt including the free motion (unframed) quilting and binding.
|Matching up the bali strip for the blocks|
I used 3 packages of Bali strips for this quilt and which luckily included some extra strips, more than the project had called for. The paper pieced blocks called for each strip to be used twice, but if the seams were not cut "bang on" to a quarter inch, or if you used too much of the strip to make one of the points, then there wasn't enough left to cover the other point. I had to use my seam ripper more than a few times to take a strip off, or finesse the next ones.
|Arranging the blocks, numbering the rows|
I also learned that not all the sections in the patterns were the exact same size. When the directions said "use strip 2 for section 2 and 4", you had to keep track and not use that piece of fabric for another section or it didn't cover it. The blocks all look the same in the photo, but there are 3 different ones (called block J, K and L) I wrote a list to have it handy:
I also learned to cut each strip a little longer that the directions said to make it easier to use one strip for 2 points. I cut each 2 1/2" X 42" strip into 3 pieces and that worked well. (About 14 " lengths.)
Another tip I would suggest for anyone doing this pattern is to write yourself a brief note of the piecing directions. Because I worked on it many times off and on over the course of 22 months, each time I took it out to continue working on the blocks, I had to remember the exact steps again.
Here's my note:
1. Glue strip 1 to underside of paper (just a dab to hold it)
2. Put strip 2 under the paper, on top of strip 1 and pin at both ends.
3. Sew line 1, back stitch at each end.
4. Press open strip 2 to cover section 2 (Section 1 is also covered now and needs to be trimmed when you are done the block to use that strip for section 11- but only on block J)
5. Fold line 2/ Trim seam to 1/4"(save for sec #4)
6. Put strip 3 on top, edge to edge (A new strip!)
7. Sew line2/ press open
8. Fold line 3/ Trim seam to 1/4" (save for section#5) etc etc
Once I got onto the pattern it went well, but it's the type of project where you have to concentrate.
I also found it helpful to trace all the lines and section numbers on the back of each pattern piece in pencil. (I put the paper up against a window and traced,; then its marked on both sides. Just makes the folding step easier.)
I finally completed all the blocks in December 2016. I spent far too much time arranging and rearranging the blocks on the floor of my sewing room to get a pleasing "perfect" pattern.
After much delay, and indecision, I realized that I disliked one of the blocks and wanted to remove it entirely, so I opened up a few seams and removed it. Then I printed up a new copy of the pattern for that ugly K block (the kit only came with a certain number of paper patterns) and luckily had some unused strips to choose from to make a new block to use, which I was much happier with.
|Arranging and rearranging the blocks|
Another thing to be aware of, if you do draw the pencil lines on the backs of the patterns, make sure you sew the strips on that side every time or you will get a block that is backwards/ reversed.
Yes, I accidentally did that, too, but luckily I was able to add an extra strip on the side and could still use it. You would be hard pressed to find which one it is in the quilt now, but at first it was noticeable to me that it was a bit different.
|Black sashing and border added|
Next step was to sew all the black sashing strips between each set of 3 blocks. Then sew the block rows together and last, to sew the black inner border around the outside.
Whew! Motoring right along!
After a brief sense of accomplishment, I realized that I was still far from done. I had to make the piano key outer border.
The directions called for the coloured strips to be paper pieced as well, but I thought it would be easier just to piece them together ,so I cut the fabric strips to 6 1/4 inches in length then started playing with colour placements for the borders. I decided to go with the colours of the rainbow as much as possible, red, orange, speckled orange, light yellow, dark yellow, speckled green, lime green swirl, light blue marble, medium blue, dark blue (indigo), then light violet, dark violet and repeat.
After sewing rows of the rainbow strips together I laid them out next to the quilt top to see if they worked well with the colours in the adjacent blocks. Had to do some rearranging, but I finally got a running pattern that I liked for all the sides.
But wait a minute! I still had to make the corner blocks!
Now things were getting tight. I had a few fabric strips left to choose from but each block was made up of 6 pieces of fabric so I wanted a combination that looked good together, plus would work with the border and not compete with the blocks nearby. Oh boy!
The red was too dominating, the light gold was too pale, and I didn't have enough of either blue or grey to make all 4 corners.
In the end I made 2 corners with a blue end and 2 corners with a grey end.
Next step was to decide on the back fabric. I ended up ordering some black bali with small dark blue dots and streaks, called Yukon which I though it would compliment the very colourful quilt top.
Next step, machine quilt the whole thing.
Which quilting pattern should I use?? I looked online for ideas but still wasn't sure. Then saw a pattern on an ad for long arm quilting which gave me an idea. I thought because of the sharp angles on the points, I would go with a more circular quilting pattern, so I practiced a bit on scrap fabric what I call "ind swirls and waves".
Next question, what colour of thread should I use? There were so many different colours on the quilt top. I decided to do each block in one of the two colours showing, which meant I had to keep changing my bobbins and thread, but I liked how it was looking as I went along. I mostly used pale gold, light green, light blue, medium blue, and light mauve.
|Wind swirls and waves quilting pattern|
I was having a problem with my thread tension and after doing 4 or 5 blocks, I was unhappy with one or two so I spent an hour gently picking out hundreds of stitch with my seam ripper., and resewing the blocks.
Mostly I started out using black in the bobbin (thinking it would match the back but really! What should that matter!) Then I switched to dark blue as that thread seemed to have better tension, and even did one in the middle in gold because the dark colour kept showing up in the block whenever I changed sewing direction (free motion sewing on my beautiful Janome.)
I love this sewing machine, the Janome Horizon 7700! I have had it for 3 years and I wouldn't trade it for another. It is such a user friendly, forgiving machine. The only tiny bad spot is that the needle threader broke off last year, but I haven't really missed it. I also wish that it had a warning when the bobbin thread was low. Other than that, it's great!
I quilted the outer piano key border in my favourite design, swirling butterflies. (which also look a bit like leaves.)
Next step was the binding. I decided to go with a mock binding where you use the back fabric turned to the front as the edge binding. I trimmed the batting carefully, even with the edge on the quilt top, then trimmed the back fabric to 1 inch wide all around. After that I pressed it in towards the quilt so it is only 1/2 inch wide, pinned it onto the front side of the quilt, mitering each corner.
Last, I sewed the edging on all the way around from the top side.
Yay! After months and months of work, my Steppingstones quilt was done! And I think it is beautiful! :D
Labels: Judy Niemeyer paper pieced, Steppingstones quilt