I promised that I would write about the quilts and I am keeping my word.  I made them for the two first grade classes' art projects for our school auction.  The idea is not original to me – Daria made one last year and I basically copied her formula, with a few tweaks.

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The first grades did the artwork for these quilts in October – one class drew zoo animal and the other class drew sea creatures.  I gave them sheets of paper pre-cut to 5" so I wouldn't have to adjust the size of the drawings.  And then I waited and procrastinated (ahem) and finally scanned the artwork into my computer and printed it onto the fabric.  I used the same fabric that Daria did – I printed 2 drawings on each 8.5" x 11" sheet (which I had cut down from the 11" x 17" sheets I bought).

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To set the image on the printable fabric, you soak it in water for a specified amount of time.  The only problem I had in this entire process is that some of my fabric shrunk a tiny bit after soaking.  My original intent was to cut the artwork to 5.5" squares.  On some of the fabric sheets, this wasn't possible as the sheets were no longer 11" long.  To solve that problem, I cut all the artwork to 5.5" wide and then used my judgment on the height – some are 5.5", some are a bit less.

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I matched each drawing with a suitable fabric and then sewed 2.5" strips around all four sides.  Once I had that finished, I used solid Kona cottons to complete each block – a tan for the sea quilt, white for the zoo quilt.  I cut long 4.5" strips and chained pieced as many as I could to each strip.  Daria said that this was a huge time saver for her and it was for me, too.  There was some fabric waste, but in the time vs. money debate, time was more precious.

Once I had all the squares sewn, I used my 12.5" square ruler to even them up and then sewed them together in a grid (5 by 5 for the sea quilt, 4 by 6 for the zoo quilt).  I added borders by using scraps of the colored fabrics and some additional bright solids on the sea quilt.  For the backs, I used two solid colors separated by a patchwork strip.  I asked the teachers to have some of the children write the quilt's name, their class, school and the year on paper.  I scanned that in and added it to the patchwork strip.  It's my favorite part.

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I quilted the zoo quilt first.  I didn't want to quilt over the artwork, so I came up with a geometric pattern by sewing a certain distance away from seam lines.  I can't really pinpoint exactly what I did – I think I have quilter's amnesia.  Regardless, the quilting took concentration and way too much time.  I rethought my idea for the sea quilt.  Because it is square, I decided to go ahead and do an allover diamond pattern.  I sewed diagonally from one corner to the other, using a strip of masking tape as a guide.  From that point on, I used the guide on my walking foot to sew the grid lines 3" apart.  It was fast and somewhat brainless.  And even though I hadn't wanted to quilt over the artwork, I really like how it came out.

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After binding, I washed the quilts.  The printable fabric cannot be dried with heat, so I threw them in the dryer with the air only cycle on.  Although it took some time for them to dry, it worked well.  I folded them up, took them to the auction.

The quilts were a big success – they both went for a good amount of money.  I'm purposely not telling you how much.  You won't be able to get it out of me.  Why?  Well, let's just say that one matches my family room pretty much perfectly.  If you think I planned it that way, you are right.

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I like my new quilt.

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