My big brother has a birthday coming up. A few months ago, I started thinking about what I could make for him that would be both nerdy and quasi-useful. Among other things, he has been a Dungeons and Dragons fan since our childhood, so it seemed a good place to start. Unfortunately, I didn’t know the first thing about it. In my quest to learn the basics, I discovered the original D&D Starter Kit from many years ago. It has what was, for most people, the first map they ever played. It’s about 2 ft x 3 ft and composed of 748 one-inch squares – perfect for a quilt pattern!
Below are some of the images from this ~3 month project. There were times that I considered scrapping it and starting over, but ultimately I found that the polishing at the end of a project goes a long way. There are definitely flaws and mistakes in this hanging that I will always see, but most likely I’m the only one who will ever notice them. I did learn a valuable lesson during this one and that is: Don’t be afraid to change the plan if something isn’t working out!
Happy birthday to my favorite big brother!
Planning in Excel – yes, I’m a big ol’ nerd.
Cutting out over 700 pieces didn’t take quite as long as I had feared, thanks to my trusty rotary cutter.
All of the pieces, ready to begin assembling. Each of these pieces is 1.5″ x 1.5″ (one inch square plus 1/4″ seam allowances).
Laying out one of the 24 larger blocks. Making sure that each square was in the right spot was time consuming, but paid off later. I only had to take one block apart, because I checked and double checked each time I connected pieces.
Stitching the blocks together, trying to keep all of the seams lined up. Being off a tiny bit here and there adds up to major problems later on.
Stitching all of the larger pieced blocks together. This is where things got really exciting and I just wanted to share it with everyone! It was so hard to keep this to myself!
The finished front! Finally, it starts looking like the end result. I know where every single mistake is, but hopefully most people will only see a couple.
The finished back. This is the ugly part that gets hidden by the backing, but I always like to show it. It’s like the sausage factory. The cleaner this part looks, the easier the next steps will be.
The finished front, side-by-side with the original map. The lighting is a little off here and the fabric colors actually match up quite nicely.
Attaching the curved pieces. These were done as applique, since I couldn’t figure out how to piece together curves. Maybe next time.
Putting together the “sandwich”. It consists of the backing material (which is under the white stuff), the batting (the white stuff) and the top, made in previous steps. I use spray basting and then iron the crap out of it to make sure there are no wrinkles. Those cause major problems later on.
Ready to start the actual quilting. This is the step that permanently attaches all three pieces of the sandwich together. Sometimes this is decorative also, but in this case I wanted the map itself to stand out.
This was my test block. I used it to try out different stitches and thread colors. In the end, I settled on a beige thread for the bottom to blend in with the backing and black on the front, for two reasons. First, it would blend in on the black segments, which needed to have less attention and second, it provided some visual separation for the tan blocks, since I couldn’t reproduce the bevel in the picture. What you see on the test block was a spectacular failure that thankfully didn’t make it into the end result!
Once the quilt itself was done and the binding attached (which I failed to get a picture of, but that step is pretty boring), I let the entire project sit for about a week. During that time, I was noodling on how best to approach all of the elements that appear on the map. There are statues, “pools” of water, flames, wooden tables, bookshelves and chests, and even a rug. My initial thinking was to do the statues in clay, the tables and shelves in wood and use a filmy blue and orange plastic for the water and flames. As soon as I sat down with a lump of clay, I realized that this was not my forte. I considered outsourcing it (having someone else create the statues) and several other methods of getting them done. Then I realized that there was a perfectly good scanned image of every single element sitting right there on my hard drive. I also discovered that there existed a product that allowed you to print images on fabric right on your own printer. Problem solved!
I cropped out the elements and printed them out, combined them with some fusible batting to give them a lofty look, attached some cardboard to the back for stability and finally, a magnet to the bottom. A second magnet on the other side of the wall hanging would keep them in place and allow them to be moved to any spot on the map. I learned very quickly that when working with magnets, you need a lot of space to keep them all apart while drying!
The final piece – finally! Side by side with the original map, I have to say I’m very pleased with how this turned out!
When I'm not working, I try to maintain my T-shape. I love to read, garden and sew. I am also a foster home for Foothills Animal Shelter. Here is where I talk about these things and more!