Good evening and welcome to the second installment of my quilt pattern review series where I will be reviewing Then Came June's Sienna Burst Pattern.
If you missed my first pattern review, featuring Southern Charm Quilt's Good Girl quilt pattern, you can read it here.
**some of the links in this post (but not all) are affiliate links, meaning I'll earn a small commission off your purchase (at no extra cost to you, obviously). This helps me pay the bills, Thank you. This is not a sponsored post.
If you're a quilter that frequents the internet or industry events in the Pacific Northwest, you know who Meghan Buchanan is. She's wildfire taking over the field of modern quilting, the one-woman show behind Then Came June Patterns. In just over a year of being in business, she's released over a dozen wildly popular patterns, a few of which have been used by prominent fabric manufacturers to display new lines of fabric at international quilt market and other super major industry events... and the list of her achievements goes on and on and on.
I first found out about Meghan and her company, Then Came June, last summer when I was listening to the Creative Women's League podcast, episode 12: June on the West Coast. (extra points to Kate Toney, the CWL host, for the Bright Eyes reference... and extra points to me for listening to the podcast on the outskirts of Olympia). In the interview, Meghan spoke some powerful truths about what it's like becoming a mother, and how your old job and roles just may not feel right any more, something I absolutely can relate to (and wrote about in this post!). I literally paused the podcast to go find Meghan on instagram, and instantly fell in love with all of her gorgeous (!!!) quilts, humble yet badass attitude, and no-nonsense approach to business. I can honestly credit the Creative Women's League podcast for getting my ass in gear starting my own business, and especially this episode. Meghan is an inspiration, a business idol, and fellow local mother.
In a nutshell, Meghan is THE BEST! Then Came June is 100% my favorite pattern company. That being said, I am THRILLED to review the Sienna Burst Quilt; and I will probably make and review several more of Then Came June's patterns!
How fitting that I'm scheduled to write this blog post a few days after finally selling the keynote piece in the snowbird collection, my version of the Sienna Burst Wall hanging. It looked right at home in my living room, but I'm stoked that this wall hanging was adopted into its forever home.
Side note: Whenever I sell something I've made with another designer's pattern, I always donate half of the proceeds to a non-profit. With the sale of the desert-toned Sienna Burst wall hanging, the donation is going to the Mojave Desert Land Trust, an organization that works to preserve vital desert habitats.
When I get around to finishing and listing the full throw sized, spring-toned Sienna Burst Quilt, I will donate half of the proceeds to the Coalition of Oregon Land Trusts to honor the designer's state and local environment.
I actually conducted my master's thesis research on land trusts in Washington State, so this cause is one that is near and dear to me, and I'm happy to have the opportunity to help the cause.
When Meghan announced that she would be doing a Quilt-A-Long for the Sienna Burst Quilt, I signed up right away, like the true fangirl that I am. Over the course of eight weeks, Meghan walked hundreds of quilters through the steps of making this complex-yet-simple quilt with weekly blog posts and video tutorials on Instagram. (and speaking of instagram... check out her grid! It's gorgeous!).
In the weeks leading up to the event, I scoured local shops for peach, aqua, and mustard fabrics that would compliment the handful of fat-quarters of fabric I already had in the springy color palette I desired; including the secret garden bundle by Fabric Bubb that I bought way back last August and had been saving for just the right project. I even started a pinterest board to track my inspiration and process.
I started this quilt-a-long super jazzed, but quickly fell a little behind. I was great during week one, which was all about fabric selection, but when week two expected all of the fabric to be cut and all HRTs (Half-Rectangle Triangles) to be assembled, and then week 3 required four blocks complete...I figured out I had to make up my own timeline for this quilt if I was going to finish before April 23rd. I was already feeling so behind and frustrated with myself by only having completed one block. To prevent burnout on this project, I decided to go my own way. However, I still kept up with the weekly blog posts packed full of rad tips and tricks, and followed #siennaburstqal on Instagram.
Every brain works different organizationally, especially creative ones. When making a quilt, I prefer to iron, starch, and cut ALL of the fabric FIRST, and then assemble units, and then assemble blocks. I'm a huge proponent of being efficient with my sewing time, especially since I'm not able to sew at home, and have to sort-of schedule when I can go work in my downtown studio space.
So, I cut out all of the fabric at once, for all of the pieces of all of the blocks, plus the sashing.
The quilt doesn't exactly need all of the fabric it calls for, you could probably even get away with 1/5 of a yard for each of the 16 selections, if you cut carefully. I saved my scraps in a metal basket (pictured below), and by the time I had cut everything, the basket was overflowing.
I have the scrap basket sitting on a shelf in my studio now, waiting for me to make a sidewalk chalk quilt from the remnants (plus some other fabrics, I haven't checked to see if I have enough scraps for a whole quilt, but I know it will at least be a substantial contribution).
After cutting the fabric and stacking it in neat little piles to draw from, I constructed all of the units for the blocks. This means I created all of the dual strips in each block, made all of the HRTs and HSTs (Half-Square Triangles), and assembled the sashing. To be totally honest, this took me a couple weeks because of the HRTs and HSTs.
The most time-consuming part of following the Sienna Burst Quilt Pattern is constructing, and trimming all of the triangle units. Accurately trimming HRTs and HSTs is of the utmost importance, because if you neglect to do so, you won't have the results you want. True, even wonky quilts are absolutely beautiful, but the success of this pattern requires attention to detail and accuracy.
And even if you pay hyper attention to trimming your triangle units, you will probably still have a few wonky blocks, just like I did. It happens. Done > perfect, most of the time, even if you strive for perfection, sometimes you just have to move on to the next block.
When it comes to trimming triangle units, I strongly recommend using a specialty ruler and a rotating cutting mat. Really. You will work through this tedious aspect more quickly without a cumbersome ruler, and your units will be more accurate the less you have to move them around on the mat.
Once I had all of my pieces cut and units assembled, around week 6, I was ready to put together blocks. At the time, I was incredibly bummed and discouraged seeing everyone that was doing the quilt-a-long the way Meghan had laid out, with new blocks appearing each week. I felt like I had nothing to show for weeks and weeks of working, but that was all about to change...
During week 7, I constructed the remaining 15 blocks and assembled the quilt top. Since I had prepared all of the units, this step FLEW by, and I ended up finishing my quilt top before the last week of the quilt-a-long. Let this be a lesson of the tortoise and the hare... although I was slow to churn out blocks in the beginning, I still finished within the given timeframe-- early, even!
Below are some of the progress shots that I shared on instagram over the course of the quilt-a-long. Having a designated hashtag for the project was great for sharing progress and connecting with other quilters working on the same thing. Thanks to the hashtag, I found some of my new favorite makers.
And here is a photo of my completed Sienna Burst Quilt top!
I left this quilt up on my design wall for a few weeks while I worked through the fabric selection, ironing, cutting, second ironing, and unit assembly process of my next quilt. This is one of my favorite quilts I've ever made. My husband keeps pestering me about finishing it, it's his favorite too. I will get to it! And when I do, I will update this post with some pictures of the finished quilt, once it's basted, topstitched, and bound.
I'll probably go with my signature wavy channel quilting for this one, just like I did with the wall hanging of the same pattern. If you have any other ideas that would complement this quilt, please leave a comment and let me know!
OKAY OKAY. You've graciously scrolled through all of my self gratuitous quilt photos, now you want to know... Should you try this quilt??
And the answer to that question is a big fat YES, but with a few caveats. This pattern is a challenge, even for a semi-experienced quilter like myself. It takes time. It takes patience. This is not a weekend wonder quilt, sorry folks. This might even be the sort of quilt that you work on here and there, in between other projects that satiate your need for a fast finish.
So, I recommend that you buy the quilt pattern and schedule it in your project planner or whatever you use to keep track of your creative endeavors. You can find the Sienna Burst quilt pattern in print or pdf here, along with all of Then Came June's other patterns.
If you decide to make this quilt, there are some essential tools.
Essential, of course, in the sense that constructing HSTs and HRTs will be a hell of a lott easier if you have the right tools.
As I mentioned above, working with a rotary mat and specialty sized rulers really helped me get on with trimming the triangle units quickly and accurately.
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That's all for this week, folks! Tune in next week to hear about ways I'm attempting to make my small business and lifestyle more sustainable.
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