It feels great to finally have this quilt out of my work in progress pile. I’ve been working on this project on and off for the past year and a half. This is my largest quilt I’ve made so far, measuring in at 80″x80″.
I rarely make quilts from traditional block patterns, preferring to stick with a more modern feel with rectangles and simpler designs. However, I really had a desire to get out of my comfort zone and move forward with a more traditional block. I used really fun, happy prints to keep the block lighthearted.
I followed the block pattern from Patchwork Square for Monkey Wrench. I combined 52 monkey wrench blocks with 12 mini panels featuring birds, butterflies, and bird cages.
I had a rough idea of what I wanted to do (mini panels starting from the four corners on a diagonal, the orange centre block), but the rest of it was mostly created on the fly on a block-by-block basis. When making each monkey wrench block, I used random squares in the colour palette. When I first finished my 52 blocks, I actually hated the quilt. I ended up seam ripping at least 10 of those 52 blocks and rearranging them so that I could make a semblance of a pattern. I was a bit happier with the layout once I could make all the corners match in colour to form the on-point mini blocks. The layout is a bit orange heavy in some areas though!
This project allowed my Singer 66 to shine. I always hated quilting large projects on my smaller modern machine because the throat space is so small. The Singer 66 is no mid-arm machine or anything, but the throat space is much larger than my other sewing machines and I can squish a lot more quilt in there.
I’ve quilted a few other projects using the 66 with success, but the large weight of this quilt made it difficult to pull the fabric through. I put my quilting on hold for a few weeks and special ordered a low-shank walking foot attachment for this machine to help evenly feed through the fabric. I can see a big difference in the quality of the stitches with and without the walking foot.
I kept my quilting simple, just following the inner seams of my monkey wrench blocks across the enter quilt in both directions. This created a cute square pattern on the back that appear like quilted sashing.
A few months ago I scored a great haul at a yard sale, picking up a large amount of white backing fabric, enough for this quilt. This was my first time using wide-width backing fabric instead of piecing together standard width fabric. It was absolutely wonderful working with the backing fabric so I will definitely purchase more. The backing is white with a faint leaf design in off-white.
I really enjoyed making the monkey wrench blocks, but if I were to do this again, I would want to make the blocks in the same colour combination instead of making so many different colour variations. This was definitely a huge learning experience for me and I’m glad I saw it through to the end.