A few weeks ago, I started making a piece that has been in my sketch book for over a year. The piece commemorates the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. I wrote about the first steps of the piece in an earlier blog post. When I got into the studio again, I picked up with the diagonal path of triangles by first pinning tracing paper to the design wall and tracing the curved path that had been sketched out in a chalk line. Next it was time to decide on the triangle sizes. I started with a protractor and tried a triangle with two 30 degree angles. It felt too narrow, so I tried 45 degrees, which was too tall. So I guessed at something in between and it worked. This made the left brained engineer in me wince, but going by instinct instead of numbers seemed to work better – and faster, so I took a deep breath, abandoned the protractor, and forged ahead.
Once the triangles were all sketched, I numbered them and traced them onto a separate piece of tracing paper so I could use them as a template to cut the fabrics.
I ironed my favorite fusible webbing, Steam-a-Seam 2 on several blue, green, and purple fabrics and then randomly chose triangles for each of the fabrics.
These triangles were placed in the matching spot on the quilt. After five or six triangles, I took a step back and started moving things around. The green wasn’t working so that was removed. And one of the blues was too dark and was replaced with a brighter blue.
When I was happy with the fabrics, I moved forward repeating the fabrics without any real pattern.
Once all the triangles were cut and put on the design wall to preview, I pinned some other colors up to see if red and yellow would add to the piece. It didn’t. Maybe some different blues or purples? Maybe. Some of the darker triangles were replaced with brighter ones.
When I was happy with the result, I sent a picture to my mother and asked her for a second opinion. When I told her the piece was about the Sandy Hook shooting, she said, “so there are 26 triangles?” No, there were 31, but she was right. There should be 26. I didn’t want to make the piece too much smaller, so I ended up removing the smallest four from the top and the partial triangle at the bottom. The path had to be modified slightly to accommodate the new number of triangles and then they were ironed in place and the piece was layered and pin basted.
Now to the quilting! I had three different variegated threads to sample. One rainbow colored, one orange-yellow-green, and one orange-pink. I tried them all on a small swatch and decided to go with the rainbow thread, partly because I liked the look and partly because that’s what I had the most of and didn’t want to run out half way through the quilt. When I started quilting, I once again had to thank my parents for my Bernina sewing machine. I don’t get to use it much these days, but I love it all the same!
When I took a peek at the back of the quilt, I realized that the tension was off. The sample had worked well, but when I moved to the larger piece and was quilting fast, the top thread was being pulled to the back. A little adjusting and a broken needle later, I was ready to get back to quilting and spent hours having fun with the free motion pattern.
When the whole piece was quilted, I realized that the triangles would not stay put with Steam-a -Seam alone, so I quilted those with three parallel lines connecting the points of the triangles.