Thursday, November 2, 2017

A Texas Braid Christmas Quilt

2016 Black Friday Fabric Finds

Goodness! I had my first Black Friday ad in my inbox yesterday on Nov.1. That might be a record. Are you curious about whether my 2016 Black Friday Deals got used? As it happens, I actually have a quilt underway with some, and it may be something I can get done in time for Christmas. For once. 

The Fat Quarter Shop had a deal on Moda Jolly Bars in a Christmas print, and I snapped up 2. At 5" x 10" they were not a size I normally worked with, and I had to do some searching to find a pattern that worked with both the size and print. As the Bonnie Hunter Texas Braid was on my bucket list, and it took 2" x 5" strips, it was perfect. I just needed to add more fabric in both the prints and neutrals. There is a LOT of fabric in this quilt.

I had been gathering fabric for several week, and even been cutting different strips to give me an idea of the process. It didn't take long to understand this quilt took a different method than what I was used to using. I like to cut my fabric as I go. The chain piecing, and amount of pressing in a Texas Braid rely on everything being cut out ahead of time, and ready to go. Well, honestly, I don't think I have ever cut a whole quilt out before sewing until this one. I moved the project to the house to tackle, and was working about an hour at a time until I was fed up. It went on forever (it seemed.)

Minnie's (Opportune) Sick Day

Poor Minnie woke up sick as a dog yesterday. She was out of sorts, and had no idea what to do with herself. I needed to be nearby just in case. It proved to be a perfect opportunity to hammer out the rest of the fabric prep. I started early in the morning cutting 5" strips from the extra yardage, and 2" strips from an assortment of red fabrics. 

With Netflix running "Vera" episodes, I happily pushed on, Minnie at my feet.

It was finally time to sew on the strips. I chain stitched, and pressed the seam allowances toward the solid red strip. The laundry rack in my room worked well to keep things in order. There were 84 jolly bars to add strips to after the yardage, and that was a whole afternoon of hard sewing and pressing.

This morning I found that Minnie was still under the weather. The project was waiting, and I was ready to start cutting the strips. Typically I use a ruler and rotary cutter, but I was looking at mountains of fabrics to get through cutting one at a time. The seam allowances were making it hard to keep my ruler balanced, and the rotary cutter kept skipping. Ugh. This could take all day!

With my thinking cap on, I ran (okay, I hurried....) to the studio for my June Tailor cutting template. 

Beautifully straight, precise strips, and no more skipping with the cutter.

I tried stacking 2. 

Even quicker! Then 4, and it was still as precise. In 1:45 minutes, I had powered through the whole lot.

Time for a lunch break, and then some serious sewing.

Two HSTs made from a 4" square make up the base in this pattern, and it is a simple stacking process. The neutral 2" x 5" rectangle is sewn first against the neutral side of the base, and pressed down toward the base. The print rectangle topped with the red square is next, and also pressed downward. Repeat the process to build the braid, and chain piece all the rows for speed. Remember to press, press, press.

I need to tell you that the piecing required to build these rows goes surprisingly fast. Like braiding hair, I had to think about it more in the very beginning, but a rhythm developed. Soon it was second nature, and exciting as the pattern began to develop.

My row is approximately 96" long. There are 16 rows that will finish at 6". I have two options. One, make a kind size quilt, or two, split it into 2 smaller lap quilts. I imagine the second option will get more use, and the print theme blends well into our Christmas decorations.

Moda's current Christmas fabric uses the same palette, and blending them was easy. The majority of extra fabrics came from my stash, though.

The neutrals are made up of about 15 different white and off white fabrics, and even a few low volume prints.

Minnie is much better this afternoon, thankfully, but this project has me hooked. I expect I will have these done by the weekend if I keep after it, and maybe even quilted before it's time to toast with the eggnog. As Christmas projects go, that will be a first!

Come on, Doxie girls.
Be well, and let's go sew.

Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts


Angie in SoCal said...

It would drive me bonkers to cut that many of the same. But it's going to be beautiful!

Sharon - IN said...

That braided quilt is going to be beautiful! I love how you worked out a system to power through all the cutting and organizing. That print with the tree on top of the car is the most darling ever! I spent 3 full days cutting the pieces for the quilt I'm currently working on, so I know that never-ending feeling. I do love braids, so might have to consider this for Christmas lap quilts for family - a few years down the road tho!

Stitchin At Home said...

The Texas braid is going to be a beauty! I love how organized the strips on the drying rack!

Anja @ Anja Quilts said...

I can't wait to see the finish. It's looking great so far.

Sandra Walker said...

Love this; in my new (well a couple years old now) favourite Christmas combo of red, aqua and lime! Not good on Minnie, (as you know from my Naala, having a sick dog sucks your own spirit down doesn't it) but I'm glad to hear she's on the mend.

Linda Swanekamp said...

This is the quilt I started at the Bonnie Hunter workshop last month. Since mine is culled from scraps I could not do the chain piecing you did. I have to sew each little square separately. Rats. This is why it is taking me so long I guess. Yours looks great.

viridian said...

Lovely quilt beginning. I have made two quilts in this pattern and yes you get into a rhythm.

audrey said...

It sounds like you worked out a good system! I've contemplated this pattern before and wondered if I could actually stick with it. Love the fresh winter feel to your quilt.:)

Kate said...

Glad to hear that Minnie is much recovered. You've got a great start on a fun project.

Barb Neiwert said...

What a fun quilt! I scrolled through all your photos 3 times to get the method on how you pieced them. Fun, fun! Love it!