Sunday, September 14, 2008

Elvis Rocks and Rolls Onward

When I decided on the design for the quilt face, I thought a photo album or scrapbook page theme would work really well with the fabric I had chosen.  I thought it would be a pretty simple thing to cut a few squares, sew them together, and make the size match the quilt back, which is the "Blue Hawaii" movie poster fabric I blogged earlier.

Hah!  Lucky for me I am still stupid when it comes to quilting, because the whole thing ended up being a design challenge of major proportions for me.  This is roughly how it went:
  1. Select "photos" from the fabrics and cut them out;
  2. Piece together a sheet of brown shipping paper the size of the movie poster fabric that serves as the backing;
  3. Lay out photos on the paper and draw a preliminary "page" design;
  4. Plow ahead and frame several of the photos with the stamp fabric;
  5. Decide the preliminary design wasn't going to be a go and begin moving fabrics all over the place to make what I had already done work;
  6. Purchase fabric after fabric in innumerable trips to at least three stores to try to get the colors and scale of the fabric prints right;
  7. Stitch, rip, stitch to get the whole piece to measure properly.
I started with the center block - a 16 x 16 inch (41 x 41 cm) square of Elvis with a ukulele.   I cut the tropical postage stamp fabric into strips and made a frame.  That block became the center of the quilt face and I worked out to the edges from there.

I'm sure if I knew how to do paper piecing, this whole thing might have gone more smoothly.  But since I'm the kind of gal who barges ahead with a project hoping it will all fall into place somehow, I just dropped Elvis and his ukulele onto the paper design, arranged the other photos around the central block, selected coordinating fabrics which I hoped would look okay, measured the size of the strips I needed on either side of the central block, and started stitching from the top left corner to the bottom left corner.  Next came the top and bottom central blocks, then the right side panel.

Biggest problem for me after getting the fabrics selected:  remembering that I had to add 1/2 inch to the seams in order to have the blocks come out to the size I required.  That's why there is a narrow border of dark fabric.  When I placed the front and back of the quilt together, the front was smaller than the back.  In order to preserve the entire movie poster back, I had to add a border to the front.

Here is the lower left corner with the white cotton batting showing.  The black dashed lines are the basting stitches temporarily holding the quilt together.

And here's a central right side block.

When I got all the blocks sewed together and stood back from the quilt to get the overall effect, I was basically happy, but felt there was too much blank space around some of the blocks' photos.  So, I cut out individual postage stamps and appliqued them as a filler.  I started quilting "in the ditch" a couple of days ago (more stitching, ripping, and stitching) and I hope to have most of the sewing completed by this coming weekend.  Then, I'll be able to add the binding and call it a day on Elvis.

Here's the quilt face.  If I had a do-over, I'd use the same lay-out but stick to one batik fabric with the color palette of the central block.  I'd still use the appliqued stamps, which weren't part of the original design; I really like how they tied the individual blocks together.

Thanks is extended to Nancy Clifton of the Aiken Quilt Shoppe and Susan Congdon of the Aiken Quilt Society for their expert advice on fabric, for pointing me to the Web for inspiration, for listening patiently to my tales of woe as the project progressed, and for hiding so well their actual opinions about Elvis quilts in general.


Miss 376 said...

I am sure your friend will appreciate all the time and effort gone into this. You;ve done wrll to get all this achieved this week

IDESIGN said...

Congratulations on completing such a unique quilt! It looks awesome--I'll bet your friend will be so thrilled.
You and Susan inspired me to start a blog!! Check out my blog at