This quilt was Adam’s big Christmas present this year, and I am so thrilled with it. It’s been 2 Christmases in the making, and I was nervous to deliver it after so much buildup in my head. He’s been asking me for a couch quilt of his own forever, and I really wanted to make him something special. So here it is:

The front is a Union Jack I pieced with Kona solids in white, red, and royal.

The back is a custom-printed 1 piece of the London tube map.

I am so in love with this quilt. Sometime in 2010 I had the idea to make Adam a British quilt for Christmas, but my original plan was to piece together a full version of the tube map in 2.5″ squares. Then for the back I was going to somehow get a big Union Jack. This is as far as I got before ending up on the verge of a nervous breakdown:

It did not work out well, and after months of figuring out the graphing for the map (I didn’t have EQ software, I did it by hand) and experimenting with the construction, I abandoned the idea and gave him something else instead. Then this fall I had the idea to try again to make him a British quilt for Christmas, but this time it hit me that piecing together a Union Jack would be much easier than piecing together the map. I decided to see if I could have one big piece of fabric printed with the map, an idea I got from Tula Pink’s fantastic custom quilt backs. I found First2Print, a NYC/LA company that custom prints fabric. Romalia helped me out big time with fabric choices, test swatches, the whole bit–it was worth every single penny.

This is where my brother-in-law Morgan comes in. I could not have made this without his help. He’s a graphic designer, and I asked him how I could make a picture of the map giant without losing picture quality (you have to send First2Print a file the same size as the final image you want printed). He volunteered to do it for me and gave me an idea for another present I gave Adam (which I’ll talk about in a separate post). Anyway, he made the file for me and I sent it to Romalia. And the map looks freaking amazing in person:

It’s 56″ high (that’s as wide as they could print on the cotton fabric I chose) by about 2.1 yards long. The size of the map on the back definitely dictated the overall size of the quilt and the flag on the front. I didn’t want to have to add a border to the map backing, so I scaled everything on the front to fit.

I wish I could give a detailed tutorial with exact measurements for the flag on the front. The truth is I tried and failed to use the shiny EQ7 software I got for my last birthday. I tried to take an EQ class over the summer but found it didn’t really cover the things I needed to know. Every time I tried to turn the Union Jack image into angles with measurements, it condensed it into simplified blocks that looked nothing like the original design. So in the end, I used the software as a great big grid ruler. And that was really helpful as a starting point, to lay out the flag at the size I wanted for the quilt and use the software’s grid lines to figure out length and width for the blue triangles.

That’s how I started. Everything is at a 60 degree angle, so then I figured out the sizing for the white and red strips in each corner of the flag.

But even my measurements had to be fudged as I evened out the four corner segments. Somehow the same pieces in different corners ended up taller or wider than the first corner section, even if I cut strips exactly the same size. So I had to cut and trim everything down to get 4 exactly even sections, which means I have no idea what the final measurements were.

Once I had the corner pieces evenly made, the the red and white cross sections were really easy to measure and figure out.

I finished the top and then measured a white border to even it out with the size of the map on the back. I stitched it together like a tie quilt because Adam prefers that to all over quilting. Then I bound it in royal Kona.

Like I said, I love it. It’s a perfect couch size, and even though all of the blue triangles don’t match up perfectly I still think it’s one of the coolest looking quilts I’ve ever made. I never work with solids like this, and now I kind of love it. Merry Christmas, Adam!