Well, the quilt is finally complete. I'm satisfied with it, though unhappy with several mistakes. On the other hand, I feel this was another major learning experience and I know some of the things to avoid for next time. I was very pleased when my husband commented on how much he liked it and asked me to make one for our family room. I'm glad he's confident in my work and now I'm looking forward to the next one (though I have several other things to work on before that!).
Here are some photos of the final process, in case anyone is interested.
After finishing the piecing, I started the quilt sandwich. Here's a photo of the three layers: the backing (I ended up going simple with a super soft sateen fabric) , the batting (I used a very low-loft) and the quilt face (? not sure what else it's called). After arranging the three, I pinned them together with safety pins. Note to self: buy more safety pins!
I trimmed the backing and batting a bit and then took it back to the sewing machine for quilting. I felt a little more confident in straighter rows this time, so decided to do more stitching in the ditch. I'm a long way off from being able enough to quilt designs, but I'm happy with the straight rows, particularly with a more modern looking quilt like this one.
The last step was to add the binding. On the robot/monkey quilt I ended up hand sewing the binding because I didn't know any better. It took me a week of sewing constantly to get it done because my inexperienced self made the most ridiculously tiny stitches. This time I decided to machine sew it on and it not only looked much better, it was much easier. The only problem I ran into here was trying to keep the binding on the sandwich in the process. This was (mostly) solved by using snap clips.
They worked great and I only had to fix a few places.
After that I just had to wash it and clip some ends. Here's the end result:
And the coordinating tag blanket:
Some mistakes I will try not to make next time:
1) When sewing the blocks together, make sure all the blocks in a row stretch in the same direction
2) If I'm going to use white, apply fray check early and often, and use a thicker white fabric. If you look close enough you can see a lot of frayed fabric in there.
3) When adding the sashing, quadruple check the length of the sash before cutting it and make sure it goes to the end of the row (though the red squares were a happy fix).
Yesterday I received a new AccuQuilt die in the mail: Circles. Time for my next project!