The Once Upon a Time Swap

I recently participated in a swap hosted by Amista Baker, of Hilltop Custom Designs.  This was the first swap I have participated in since 2000.  (That was a signed block swap.  I still have a pile of blocks with signatures in a bin somewhere.)

Amista is incredibly organized.  In the past I had seen her pleas for compliance on other swaps, and I was a bit intimidated.  Now that I have been a participant, I am very appreciative of her postings.  I kept on schedule, but I’ve been a little distracted lately, and I was glad for the reminders.

This was a secret swap, which means I knew who I was making for, but I do not know who was making for me.  I’ll admit – I have been scrolling wistfully through Instagram, trying to figure out which goodies will be mine.

My partner, Linda, likes bright colors and is a fan of dragons.  When I first got her preference list I was surprised – she filled it out almost exactly the way I filled mine out.  I decided to make a mini quilt using the awesome Geometric Dragon pattern by Kristy  at Quiet Play.  For fabric, I used Alison Glass, of course. (Linda listed it as a favorite.)  I may, at some point in the future, use a fabric that is not Alison Glass.  Maybe.

I pulled my fabrics, them organized them into a rainbow.  This was the first time making this dragon, and it didn’t meld colors exactly as I had envisioned.  My attempt to get the yellows out to the edges didn’t work.  I might ask the designer about a blank coloring page.

The dragon has a ton of pieces, but came together fairly easily.  I am very bad at figuring out where the angled pieces will fall.  I’m frequently wrong, despite pinning and flipping to get an estimate.  This can get frustrating, so by the end of the project I was basically cutting huge pieces, which leaves a lot of scraps.  Here’s a tip:  If you screw up the seam the first time, increase your stitch length to huge and try again.  Once you get it right, reduce the stitch length and restitch the seam along the successful line.

I added a pieced border of 2″ finished squares.  I had to add a little bit to the finished dragon to get up to a 12″ block.  He finished at 11.25″ rather than 12″, and I’m not doing math with dividing elevens. I must not have a scant enough seam allowance when doing paper piecing.

img_2661Quilting was a bit nerve wracking.  After a night of dithering, I decided to stipple the background, to make the dragon pop, and the border is a simple diagonal through the squares.  I thought about adding features to the dragon, but once the background was down, he was so puffy, I couldn’t bear to think of smushing him.  I would have added veins to his wings and an eye, but I just could not figure out where to put it.  So, Linda, I am sorry to have gifted you a featureless dragon.  I did embroider some flame lines, though.

I did make an effort on the border quilting to make sure the cross hatching came to a point at the binding, rather than under it.  I used a tiny rule and a pin to mark the 1/4″ line.  It worked fairly well.  I have a straight line on the bed of my machine, marked with washi tape.  I flip up the quilt, leaving my finger at the point, to make sure I’m close to a straight line.

I’ve noticed that there are always extras included in the swap packages.  I didn’t have the time to make extras myself, so I tried to fill the box with some fun things Linda will enjoy.  Apparently I did not actually take that photo, despite doing a lovely layout on a white poster board.  Ah, well.

img_2660The backing is Magic Metallic Baby Dragon by Sara Jane of Michael Miller Fabric.  Crap handwritten label by me!

img_2659And here he is, in all his glory.  Isn’t he handsome, with his fussy cut rainbow tail tip?  I may, possibly, have some insanity issues.  No, I don’t want help getting over them.

If you have a chance to participate in one of Amista’s swaps, give it a try.  They are fun.  Also, Kristy at Quiet Play makes amazing patterns.  You can find them in her Craftsy shop.  I think I might have a Dr. Who quilt in my future for my son.

9 thoughts on “The Once Upon a Time Swap

  1. I’ll have no negatives or ‘maybe I should haves’ about this dragon! She’s perfect exactly as she is and I love her to pieces!


  2. That is a really good tip about reducing stitch length! Unpicking super tight seams on a paper piecing project is a nightmare. Your mini turned out absolutely stunning!! It is definitely going to be one of the favorites from the swap. Thanks so much for participating 😀


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