Thursday, March 28, 2013

It's done!

I did it! The school's auction quilt is FINALLY done! AND I managed to get it done by my personal deadline of the end of March. The auction is until the end of April, but since April is an especially crazy month, I was determined to get it done by Easter. I'm told the quilt has never been finished this early, so hooray for me!

Now, I'm sure you all want to see the finished quilt, but I'm sorry-- you are just going to have to wait!  I hope you can be patient. I'd like to get some really nice, quality photos of it, and then make one final post of it after the auction, along with how much it ends up going for.

In the mean time however, I thought I would take you through the journey of how this quilt came together. I've been getting a number of comments and question about what a great idea for a school fundraiser this is, so I thought I would lay out how I did it, and give some modifications for how it could be done for your fundraiser.

First, let me clarify something. The auctioning off of a quilt full of student artwork is a longstanding tradition at our school. We have been doing it for decades and it raises quite an astonishing amount of money (in the thousands). For that reason, I have an extremely generous budget to work with. With that being said, however, I do have some ideas on how to make this quilt a bit more pocketbook friendly.

Now for the good stuff.

The Process (and it certainly was a process!)
We started this project back in November (we would have started in October has Superstorm Sandy not pushed us back a few weeks!), but having all of our 5th-8th grade students (about 250-300 kids) draw pictures with the theme of the Kentucky Derby. We supplied them with paper, pencils, erasers; they brought in printed out pages with ideas of things to draw. Tracing was not allowed, although they were allowed to replicate what they were looking at. We did this in two sessions and collected all drawings at the end of each session.

After all of the drawings were collected. We sifted through the piles to narrow down the contenders. Typically between 12 and 18 drawings are selected, however I like to be difficult so we selected 30. There were so many wonderful drawings, how could we stop at just 15?!

After the drawings were selected we scanned each one in to Photoshop and cleaned up and spots that occurred from the scanning process. We also made any minor necessary edits to the photos (resizing, too dark shading, etc.). Additionally, we removed some accents that we would add in later in the process either through the coloring or embroidery (like tufts of grass). Once the black and white drawings were all cleaned up we printed them off on special watercolor paper.
(Here is a drawing that has been scanned in, but not cleaned up yet)

With the help of a member of the senior class, all of the drawings (now on the watercolor paper) were colored in using water soluble crayons and water soluble colored pencils. They work by coloring like you would any crayon or colored pencil, but when you brush over them with a damp paintbrush they look as if they have been water-colored. We chose this route to avoid having inconsistent drawing lines (you know when you start coloring in one direction and then switch to another and it looks all funky), and it worked out beautifully.
(One of the "water-colored" images)

After the images had been colored they were scanned once more, cleaned up in Photoshop again, and then sent off to the printer. Now, we wanted to have 9" blocks which meant we needed 9.5" (for seam allowance) plus more for some room to square up. This meant that we needed to opt for 11"x17" fabric sheets. There are a couple of downsides to this, the first being that the bigger the fabric sheet, the more expensive. That's the obvious thing. The less obvious thing is that these need to be printed on an inkjet printer, not laser... which means no running it through a copy machine. You have to actually find someone who has an inkject printer that takes 11"x17" paper-- not an easy feat. We did find someone, but it ended up costing us $7 per page (multiplied by 30+) just to have the images printed out (and that was a discounted rate for being a fundraising project!).

OK, so, now we have all these images printed out on fabric. They look fabulous just like that, by the way. Next they all got distributed to parents, faculty, and friends to start embroidering. We have each embroiderer the fabric with the drawing on it, a flannel backing sheet, embroidery threads, a hoop, and instruction. We offered stitch and bitch sessions every Wednesday for a month for people to see what others were doing, ask questions, get help and suggestions, and to turn in their projects. We have a lot of freedom to our embroiderers to use whatever stitches they wanted and to add embellishments. On the picture above of the two kissing horses for example, the parent added leather strapping to make the reigns instead of stitching them out in thread.

Above are two examples of the evolution through the process, 
from child's drawing to finished embroidered block.

Once the embroidered fabric was returned to me I assembled the top using a very traditional, standard top with sashing and boarders, then quilted and bound it together (remembering to include a sleeve along the top for hanging).  I also created custom fabric for the back with the event logo and artwork.

The final size of this quilt ended up being approximately 63"x74", and cost us about $750 to make.

Here are some ideas/tips to make it for less.

  • have the kids create their own blocks by painting the fabric themselves.
  • try a crayon transfer of artwork like in this tutorial
  • if you really like this method, create a quilt design that uses smaller blocks or rectangles and use the 8.5"x11" fabric sheets that can be printed on your home printer (so long as it is inkjet).
  • try this project in a smaller scale... use only 10-15 drawings.

I hope you enjoyed this rundown of the process, and please feel free to contact me with any questions. This was the first time we've done the quilt like this (in the past we have always hand appliqued blocks together based on the drawings of the children), and I learned so much. I am happy to share it with you.

I hope you will come back at the end of April to see the whole quilt and hear how it did at auction!

Linking up with TGIFF, Can I get a Whoop Whoop!, Link A Friday Finish, 2013 NewFO Project, and A Lovely Year of Finishes. Check out my sidebar for links!


  1. Wow! Thanks so much for all the details. I can't wait to see the quilt! I'm sure your work is greatly appreciated. ~Jeanne

  2. What a great idea! Hope the quilt does really well at the auction.

  3. Wow ! I really want to see that beauty. Have a blessed Easter !

  4. Beautiful! So glad you linked up today. Happy Easter!

  5. Wow! Thanks for the step by step for such a good idea, I can't wait to see the finish.

  6. Sounds like it took many willing hands, coordination and good will. What a wonderful legacy to pass on to someone in quilt form. It'll be nice to hear the end of the story.

  7. Fantastic idea & a great project for the kids to be part off. Would love to see it.


I can't wait to hear from you!