Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Temperature Quilt 2020 is a top

Here it is!  My 2020 Temperature Quilt project is now a quilt top.  I would have shared sooner, but I ran into a little problem, and had to go sulk about it a little while, then admit that there was no quick fix.  I had to make friends with my seam ripper.  I dragged my feet, but I finally made a date with the quilt top this past weekend and voila!  

It isn't as pretty a picture as my last in-progress update picture, when the garden was still green. I thought it would look lovely over a pristine blanket of fresh snow, but I couldn't find such a spot in my yard right now.  The snow has started melting, the dog and has tromped through most of it anyway, and I added my boot prints to the mix.  Nevertheless, the colors pop in my winter landscape!

I had hoped to finish the top on January 1st and share it then.  I had 4 months of data to catch up on in the last few days of December (oops!), but I was on track by December 31.  On January 1st I retrieved the data for the last day of December, sewed the last block, attached it to the last row, and sewed the final row to the quilt.  I was on a roll and didn't even slow down at the borders.  You know I always slow down at that step, so this tells you I was really inspired to finish!

So what went wrong?  In rushing to catch up in the last few days of December, I neglected to check my seam allowance.  It looked OK, but I never actually checked.  Every seam being a tiny little bit off, multiplied over 30 seams, added up to about an inch. I thought I'd notice something like that when I sewed my new rows to the previous ones, but as I was matching seams between rows, each little bit was off by so little that it didn't cause a noticeable pucker to tip me off. The quilt just gently flared out at the bottom.

Yes, I did go sulk, and the quilt sat there for a couple of weeks, but once I resigned myself to using the seam ripper, I found it was really a pretty easy fix. I ripped the side border seams up past the offending rows, removed the last four rows, took in seams between blocks until each row was the same length as the January to August rows, then sewed the rows back on.

What's next?  The backing, of course.  I had no fabric picked out for the backing when my friend Michelle B. mentioned on Instagram that she looked forward to seeing one of my pieced backs on it. Of course, once she planted that thought, nothing else would do.  I have been playing around with ideas. 

 I want to incorporate the color/temperature key in it somehow.  Here's where I started:

This would be the next fastest option after a plain back, just color width-of-fabric strips with grey borders to bring the backing up to size.  I thought this might be a little boring, after all the flowing motion of the color on the front, so I played a little bit more in EQ8 to get option 2 and 3:

I haven't firmly decided yet, but right now I'm leaning towards the last one.

The last decision will involve determining how to add the numbers for the temperature ranges.  I thought I might applique grey numbers, but I'm not sure I want to do that much applique.  I could fuse the number on with fusible web and skip the sewing, but I'm not convinced that would hold up to washing, and I wonder if I would like the look of ironed-on fabric without any stitching around it.  Would it look unfinished?

A lovely foundation paper pieced numbers pattern from Meadow Mist designs is whispering in my ear, so perhaps I will paper piece grey numbers on color backgrounds.  I'll have to see how fussy the small 3" tall foundations look before I decide.  There isn't a deadline on this, so I could plan to piece a few digits each week.  That could be this year's weekly plan to take the place of the temp quilt weekly sewing, because I'm not planning to sew another temp quilt. Of course in the end it could end up being sewn all at once, rather like the last four month of the temperature quilt!

Until I decide on a plan for the backing, I'll be working on other things.  I have spent a large chunk of the last month doing more designing and writing than sewing, and I'm looking forward to bringing some of those ideas to life in fabric. My sewing machine has been lonely and wants my attention!  I'll share as I make progress.

What about you?  Have you started the new year off with some sewing?  New projects?  Old projects getting closer to being finished?  A temperature quilt?  I'd love to hear about your quilty plans for 2021.

Happy sewing,


PS: If you want to make your own Temperature Quilt, I am still offering the pattern for free here.


  1. Oh those darn seam allowances! Good recovery! Yours is awesome! I have spent the last few weeks trying to figure out how I will finish mine up. I finally got the inspiration and hope to have it basted and quilted up soon. Thanks for a great pattern. I enjoyed it so much.

  2. The quilt looks great, even with footprints in the snow. That error would make me sulk for a while, too, but I'm glad the fix was easier than you anticipated. And may I suggest some embroidery for the temperature key numbers? Perhaps, though, they won't easily be large enough? Lastly, my vote is also for the final layout of the back. But I know whatever you do will be beautiful!

  3. Just keep on; sooner or later you are going to get me inspired to at least to try to quilt on something! I did put a second label on my "VOTE" piece last Sunday; I'll try to post it later this week --- maybe. I think I agree with your third choice for your temperature backing. The top is really extraordinary. ---"Love"

  4. It is a gorgeous temperature quilt, and I love your backing options.
    I have made some sewing plans. The question is, will I carry them out? And that remains to be seen!

  5. I'd lean towards the last one, too!

    What a bummer to pull it apart when you thought you were done!

  6. Oh myyyyyyyyy .... what a dilemma to have. Good for you for all that unsewing! Front looks great, and I can see why the back is taking a bit to figure out. How about hand embroidery for the numbers? Are you labelling the months on the front too? And the overall story as part of the label? Oh heck, don't hold off in the final finish! Good Luck!

  7. I'd be sulking too if I had to rip it out. But at least it was an easy fix. Love it! I hope you choose the last backing option, good luck with the number decision.

  8. Love this! The numbers would be a stellar end to a great quilt, certainly worth the time once you commit. Its a keeper, and I agree the last one is the version that catches my eye.

  9. Oh, such a bummer to have to fix it! I've started mine and am already a week behind....But I get too confused if I have to do too many at once so today I'll catch up. I'm using your pattern and I love it but hubby would prefer the blocks to go up and down with temperature rather than day. Not gonna happen!

    1. I would ask hubby - up or down depending on the high of the day or the low of the day, and what happens when March temps rise and crash into the February row?!

  10. I love seeing this all together, and I will take your 'lesson learned' as a warning, since I am making your design this year. Interestingly, our January looks so similar to what you had last year! I am really enjoying doing this, and thank you for the free pattern to make it. Great idea for a backing too btw.

  11. I was going to make a temperature quilt last year, and got all the parts cut out - and then didn't do anything more. I've pulled it out again and am currently completely caught up (although I did have to frog a few days's worth... Our weather has been terribly boring though - temps only differing between 2 and 6 degrees daily (so far!).

  12. Great to see your Temperature quilt Joanne, a shame about the unpicking but the time spent ripping was worth it. It's lovely. Very creative looking backings - mine will just be plain - I'm ready to finish a quilt by the time I get the front done, without more piecing!


  14. Your back ideas are helpful. I have made two other temperature quilts and one is still waiting for a back. This would help communicate what the colors stand for.

  15. I am making a temperature quilt using your pattern. It is so much fun. I live high in the Colorado Rockies so my temps are betweem 20 below zero and 90 above (fahrenheit). I am using a white on white for the background and it gives the quilt a bit of dimension. I enjoy having a little bit of sewing to do each day and sometimes that is all I get but it is enough. Thanks for sharing.


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