Tuesday, April 28, 2015

epic college map quilt

Thing 2 is headed off to college this fall.

I'm not entirely sure how this is possible since she was just in a car seat a couple of months ago, but there you have it.  Life moves pretty fast.

Late last year we started talking about what kind of quilt she would like to take with her, and she zeroed in on this duvet cover on Pinterest.  You can buy it here.

But of course this isn't a quilt, and it wasn't made by mom - so we used it as a jumping off point.  She didn't like the white background or the orientation of the map on the bed.  So out came my handy graph paper, pencil, and ruler.  The basic dorm mattress size is 39" x 80", and we wanted the map image to cover as much of the mattress top as possible.

The continent areas on a laminated wall map we have at the house measure 26" x 47", so by increasing those dimensions 150% we could get a map image measuring 39" x 70" - almost exactly what we need!

I carefully traced each continent and the larger islands from the wall map onto 18" wide freezer paper adding latitude and longitude lines to assist later with placing the fabric versions on our background.

A local copy and graphic arts shop told me they would be able to enlarge and print my images on to 36" paper - not quite wide enough for my purposes, so that's how I ended up tracing each continent on a separate sheet.

The enlargement and copy job ended up being a bit more pricey than I anticipated (around $65!) but hey - it turned out exactly as I had planned!

My next step was to transfer the reverse enlarged images to an iron-on fabric adhesive called Heat and Bond, and I began by tracing each enlargement with a Sharpie marker that bled through the back.  Then I was able to see the continent outlines in reverse and trace them on to the paper side of my Heat and Bond featherweight iron-on adhesive.  (When using a product like Heat and Bond to fuse your applique pieces for machine stitching you need to trace the reverse or back side of your images because the Heat and Bond is ironed to the wrong side of your fabric.)

Here you can see the reverse images of the northernmost parts of North America traced on to the Heat and Bond.  After ironing this ultra lightweight fusible adhesive to the wrong side of my continent fabrics I carefully cut out each shape with some very sharp, short blade scissors.

Based on my graph paper diagram, the center length of the quilt (minus borders) should finish at 81".  I cut a single width of fabric (WOF) piece measuring 84" in length since machine applique stitching almost always causes the background fabric to "shrink" a bit, and I'll trim it to size after the applique work is done.  Vertical and horizontal creases mark the center point of this background piece.  We started positioning the continent pieces using the ironed center lines as 30 degrees latitude and 30 degrees longitude, but in order to have the design area centered, each continent had to be carefully shifted a few inches "south" and "east".  Here is our final placement before fusing and stitching began - so exciting!!

Starting with Asia, I fused this continent to the background, set my machine to a short, narrow zigzag stitch, and started the stopwatch...

One hour and 26 minutes later, Asia was completely stitched down and secured!  I'm going to fuse each piece right before sewing it because the featherweight adhesive doesn't provide the strongest bond.  As I stitched and moved this large piece of fabric around and under the needle some of the smaller points started to lift up before they were stitched.  Fusing each piece separately before stitching will help me avoid having Madagascar or Tasmania completely fall off while I'm stitching another larger piece.

Europe went a bit faster - 56 minutes.  Lots of tight curves, peninsulas, fjords, and inlets on these two continents!  Here is the "boot" of Italy and the Iberian peninsula...

And for the record, Thing 2 chose all the fabrics for this quilt on her own.  It was great fun shopping with her and watching her choose colors :)  Originally I lobbied for using a different fabric for each country (can you imagine what a pain that would be?!) like the inspiration duvet cover is printed, but Thing 2 wanted to keep it simpler and do large pieces for each continent.  Thank goodness she stuck to her guns and didn't let me talk her into it, because I'm afraid that would have turned into a two year project!

Background fabric: Andover Fabrics Moonshadow Formica Grey by Kim Schaefer.
Asia: M and S Textiles Bush Plum in Black.
Europe: Art Gallery Oval Elements in Eggplant.

Stay tuned - I'm hoping to finish all the applique stitching this week so I can get busy making the border flying geese units this weekend!


  1. This is going to be amazing! I can't wait to see it. Now I know why you needed all that Heat 'n' Bond:)

    1. Yes! But thank goodness I had to go in search of it, or I never would have discovered the featherweight option!!

  2. This is so cool and amazing! I have twin boys off to college in the fall...their quilt requests were standard guy nothing fancy but wanted Texas Tech fabric included. Why did you trace onto adhesive fabric first before reverse tracing to heat and bond? What is adhesive fabric? I just love this!

    1. Thanks! I must have mis-stated something about the heat and bond. I only reverse traced it on the heat and bond, I didn't use any adhesive fabric (and I'm not sure what that is either!). Sorry for the confusion - I'll go back and try to reword it so it's not so puzzling :)

  3. My suspicions are are amazing!

    1. Well I don't know about amazing, but I'll sure feel like "Super-Quilter" when this one is finished!! Thanks :)

  4. What an extraordinary mom you are Shelley!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I'm so happy none of our grandchildren asked for anything this intricate and mind blowing, and with 7 out of 10 finished with college and only 3 more to go, my chances are pretty good, seeing that 2 of them are boys and the girl is pretty much into theater and English Lit. Then of course, there are the 6 great granddaughters, but by the time they are ready for college, I doubt that I'll be up to doing that kind of sewing anymore.

    1. Well my goodness, thank you for those kind words! I really didn't think it would be that difficult when we were considering it last year, but now that I'm in the thick of it I realize that I underestimated how much work it would be. But I'm pushing onward! Thanks so much for your compliments :) And 10 grandchild quilts?! Wow - you deserve a medal!!

  5. Wowsers! This is so impressive....tell Think 2 that she is to NEVER paint her toenails while sitting on that quilt!!!


Thanks so much for stopping by and reading a little bit about me and taking the time to comment! Have a wonderful day!


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