Quilts for Friends Part II: 15 jars of fun

Last week I finished a quilt I had been working on for three years. Okay, maybe technically two years and seven months, but still it’s taken a while. The quilt is a wedding gift for two very dear friends of mine. When they got engaged I asked them if they would mind if I made them a wedding quilt, they said no, they’d love one, and so I got cracking. Since they only had a three month engagement my friends knew it would take me a while to finish the quilt. Aside from knowing a quilt was on the way and that it would be really scrappy in blues and greens they didn’t know what to expect. I never showed them my designs or fabrics. I think in the last several months my friend had only seen maybe two of the partially completed blocks while her husband had seen nothing. So in a way it was a surprise. Progress pictures!

One corner of the quilt. You can see the three different types of blocks I used.

I met my friend during the course of grad school. Suffice to say that she and I are both very nerdy and very crafty. Any quilt for her and husband would have to be something really special, something I’d never tried before, and a design that could incorporate all my nerdy herpetologist friendly animal prints. So I wound up making a modified jar quilt. My friend actually introduced me to jar quilts, something I had never heard of before. I didn’t want to do just the jars on a shelf routine of most jar quilts, I wanted something more eclectic that could use up more prints so I decided on a combination of split rail blocks (for motion), framed rectangles, and jars.

Laying out the pieces.

Since I had three different block types I was able to stave off boredom but in choosing this design I also made things much more complicated. I quickly realized after I started working on this project that I lacked the technology to actually finish the quilt the way I wanted. I knew I wanted to border the jars in glow-in-the-dark thread (something my friend loves) but I needed a special type of needle to prevent a thread and temper snapping experience. I also knew that I wanted to do an allover quilting design but it wasn’t until this past March that I actually got a darning foot and figured out how to use it. Before all that I had to finish all the blocks too which proved a long process in the midst of finishing my graduate degree, moving states, getting a job, and moving domiciles. Life does frequently get in the way of crafting I’ve noticed.

Laying out blocks to pick an arrangement. Yeah, it turned out pretty huge.

If you’ve read some of my previous posts about my quilting adventures then you know that I tend to go for broke on quilt size. At ~twin size this wedding quilt is the smallest human size quilt I’ve made but it turned out somewhat larger than I thought it would. Can you believe that I had originally envisioned this to be a small throw? Hah! I blame the fabric. There was just too much awesome fabric in my stash that I knew my friend and her husband would love.

The completed top, ready to be pinned in place.

The pieced back. Yeah, it looks pretty awesome.

With this project I was committed to using fabrics from my stash more than anything else. Yes, I did give into temptation a few times, snapping up a print at a store that would be just perfect for her or something that I figured he would like. But I actually was pretty good. When it came to the back I grabbed some leftover jar blocks and split rail blocks, two packs of blue and green blender fat quarters I happened to have, and some other large scraps to put the above together.

All quilted. Note the texture.

I used an allover quilting technique as I had hoped to do with an olive green thread. I like the texture it gives the quilt and I think it blended well with the variety of colors involved. Rather than quilt the jars I quilted around them then put a tie made of glow-in-the-dark embroidery floss in the center of each jar. Hopefully when my friends turn out the lights it will look like a bunch of fireflies twinkling on their quilt. The above picture also shows my interpretation of the shelf design typical of most jar quilts. If you look carefully you will see a thin strip of brown batik that the froggy jar is resting on. The brown blends really well with the dark green so you have to be looking carefully to see the shelf.

Lower left corner of the quilt. Note the binding.

I made my own binding, double edged but narrow, out of a twinkly green print I bought way too much of years ago. I have enough left over to bind another whole quilt. I zig-zagged the binding on and I think it turned out well. I like how it frames the quilt, almost blending into the blocks.

All done! The jar quilt is complete and it is green.

There it is, the completed quilt above. It won’t cover their bed but it will cover the two of them during movie nights and  have room to spare for their dogs and cat. It is machine washable and dryer friendly so I’m confident it will last for years to come. Since the best way to store a quilt long term is in a cotton sack and that is also the best way to gift wrap a quilt the last thing I did was make them a stuff bag.

There’s a whole lot of warmth stuffed into this little sack.

This project was a lot of fun even though it was a challenge. I busted my stash of greens and blues. I even made a noticeable dent in my pile of animal fabrics. I have quite a few jars leftover too so I’ll be pondering how to use those up in future. I gave the quilt to my friends recently and they both love it; I couldn’t be happier.

Thanks for reading and if you have any comments or questions about the techniques I used, dear readers, I’ll do my best to answer them in the comments section.  Happy crafting and creating!


9 thoughts on “Quilts for Friends Part II: 15 jars of fun

  1. Pingback: Quilts for friends: Part I « technicolorlilypond

  2. I just love how this turned out!! Knowing you as I do–and loving you as I do (and really really liking both the people who received this quilt), I must say that I’m absolutely positive that there are actually breathing holes in the lids of the jars, we viewers just can’t see them from our perspective. (Just in case any children reading your blog ever consider jars as even temporary homes for such magically wonderful creatures as salamanders…) I’m also positive that the jars are t e m p o r a r y homes for the pleasant creatures displayed…and I’m also positive that no animals were hurt in the creation of this quilt (in case brilliant, talented children reading this blog may be considering lizards as bedroom companions). So your readers know, the recipient of this quilt is also incredibly creative–just as is the writer of the technicolorlilypond blog in this respect. I still owe the quilt recipient a special “thank you” for making sure I received a delightful scarf knitting pattern–one that depicts a DNA strand. I still haven’t managed to knit that challenging scarf, but I’m delighted by the pattern and still owe her a special “thank you” for passing it along to me… Finally, in case anyone other than I myself has wondered: It does indeed appear to be true that at least sometimes birds of a feather do fly together…;-)…because everyone involved in this quilt–the quilt’s maker and the quilt recipients–are delightful, lovely people, wholesome animal lovers all.

    Thank you so much for sharing this!!I’m always dazzled by your creativity! It was fun watching you create this quilt and it’s truly delightful to read your blog about it…Thanks for making my day!!!
    Affectionately, Trollymomfrog

  3. Quilts, as you know (since I’ve bored you with such lectures for years) speak through time. Before women won the vote, quilters made quilts like “Clay’s choice” and abolitionists (such as all your ancestors on your “American side”) made quilts to guide the heroes and heroines of the Underground Railroad. Here’s hoping that quilts–ours as well as those yet to be created–continue to light the way to a better world. Quilts tell stories and imaginative children (I know something about such people) need to know that quilters today love animals and clean air and clean water and also seek a better world. As Kermit would attest, “it’s not easy being green”–but it’s truly the only way to be. And in case others think I’m a bit daft(–and that would of course be the case, as it always has been the case)–the very little girl you used to be could very well have wondered if any animals were harmed in the making of this beautiful quilt since there are jars, after all….So, in case the subject ever comes up, it’s best for the recipient to simply keep our dialog in mind…just on general principle. 🙂 Hugs right back at you:(((((((((()))))))))) Always, Trollymomfrog

  4. This is so, so amazing. I wish I had the knowledge and skill to make a quilt. You are so inspiring… I love all the different shades of green. This was my first time seeing a “jar quilt.” Lovely work!

    • Thank you so much, Erin! I’m so glad you like the quilt. You know I basically taught myself to quilt with the help of a friend and some books my mom leant me. A lot of profiles I’ve read in quilt magazines about designers have similar stories of men and women who taught themselves how to quilt or just learned with the help of friends and family. The magic secret is just to give it a try. 🙂 Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, that makes my day. 🙂

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