Fun A Day - Find Joy Quilt

If you follow me on instagram, you've seen the project that consumed my January. Let me explain a little bit about the event:

One of my husband's coworkers organizes an event every January called Fun a Day. It's not a Pittsburgh thing, in fact it was started in Philly. Here's the blurb that I found on the Fun A Day Philadelphia facebook page:

 The premise is simple: pick a project (take a photograph, make the bed, draw a picture, bake a cake, etc), do it every day in January, then show your work the following month in a big group show. Check out our website,, for inspiration and info on other shows around the world!

And the Flickr set from our exhibition!

For my project I wanted to create a quilt by making one block a day. I got the idea to chronicle the days by starting with a blank block and adding 1 "stick", or hashmark, for each day. I have to admit, I got to day 10 and started to wonder what I'd gotten myself into! I was worried about running out of space before day 31, or worse, running out of interest. I couldn't think of a cohesive way to change the design after I'd put in 10 days, though, so I pushed forward. By the end I was enjoying the time I spent on the block of the day, even when they took me 2+ hours. I'd become pretty efficient at cutting and piecing, and it was fun to watch the pile of sticks grow!

I only had a week to finish the top, quilt it, and bind it for the exhibit here. I could have displayed the top unfinished, but I had a design in my head, and I didn't think it would translate well without all of the pieces! To help with the time crunch, I was piecing the rows as I finished each block. I worked out all of the math and bought the background fabric when I was about half way through with the project, and I spent one day cutting and piecing all of the sashing and borders. It really helped to stay on top of such a big project!

While I was piecing the top I was also thinking about how to quilt it. 

I racked my brain for several days over how to quilt the background of this quilt. I didn't want to accentuate the grid pattern, but I also didn't want to "settle" for an all over paisley or something. I flipped through some books for inspiration when I found a zig zag quilt. Realizing that it would take a decent chunk of time to mark out, I tried to find something else. My brain just kept jumping back to that zig zag, though!
I started marking the design with Frixion highlighters but had to "erase" them because I measured wrong. The markings turned white on the quilt, and didn't come out in the wash! Luckily I did my second set of marking with chalk pencil, but I'm still bummed to see the original marks on the quilt.

I created a zig zag pattern in the background, alternating a dense back and forth with swirls. I wanted the dense areas to look like the actual zig zags, and the swirl to look like background fill. I purposely set the zig zags so that the denser focal areas ran between the blocks to try and break up the grid look.

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt
Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

In the "day" boxes I stitched in the ditch around each "stick" and pebbled in the background.
I knew weeks before the top was finished that I wanted to lay out the blocks in calendar format and include a "month box" at the top. I wanted to remember this project, but not necessarily make a January 2015 calendar. ;) I came up with the idea to quilt a phrase into the box...something that would always ring true. I settled on, "Find Joy In Each Day".
To tie together the brown sections, I quilted pebbles around the words and included some swirly bits to break up the monotony a bit. (Can I complain for a tiny second and just say that it took me around 3 hours to quilt the pebbles in the large brown area. No joke, my shoulders were so angry with me after that!)
When I stitched out the words, I first stitched around each letter with brown thread and then traced over them with magenta to help them stand out just a little bit.

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Day 2 and day 3 - lots of pebbles!

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Day 31! I stitched around each stick to make them "poof" nicely!

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

On the back I used the 2 rejected background colors and the Cotton and Steel arrows (my FAV!). For the binding I used a Cotton and Steel basic metallic. I really love how the quilting shows up on the back! (The teal pieces along the top are sleeves, from when it hung in the exhibit.)

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Contrasting thread shows all of the mistakes, but it still looks fun!

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

Fun A Day Pittsburgh 2015, Find Joy Quilt

I want to send a huge shout-out to my friend Kathleen at Kathleen Quilts. She was a great help to me as I was deciding on what batting to use (I used double batting: Quilter's Dream Wool over Quilter's Dream Blend), and even included my quilt in her Free Motion Friday! If you haven't heard of her, hop over to her blog!

And lastly, a few things about the quilt, in no particular order:

-I finished it at queen size so I can put it on our bed.
-I cut my strips from Cotton and Steel basics "spindles" (2.5" strip rolls), and I used almost 2 full sets of 40 - 2.5" strips.
-All of the strips are pieced. No applique!
-Strips finished at 1/2" wide. Blocks finished at 10" x 12".
-I used 12 bobbins of magenta thread and just over 11 bobbins of brown thread!
-I actually enjoyed quilting the blocks with more sticks. Quilting lots of pebbles gets really boring!

If you're going to QuiltCon, come say Hi to me! I'll be helping a friend at her vendor booth on the show floor, the booth is Sew Many Creations. And now I'm off to pack!