My Bubble Gum Machine Quilt
I received a bubble gum machine from Santa in 1984 and after “selling” all the gum to friends and family realized I made a whopping $12! Since the beginnings of my entrepreneurial career I’ve always loved the graphic look & rainbow of colors found in a jumble of gumball. I designed this quilt using a traditional Drunkard’s Path block to achieve the gumball curves & interplay of shapes & colors. Each gumball is quilted with a spherical design.
I had been mentally designing this quilt for months before it actually became a reality. I wanted to design a quilt using Drunkard’s Path blocks for some time, and the idea of a gum ball machine hit me and I couldn’t get it out of my head.
One day, the lovely and talented Jenny Haynes of Papper Sax Sten contacted me out of the blue and after a brief Instagram conversation, she sent me some of her incredible acrylic templates to play around with. I was so excited when they showed up and I instantly put them to work, dropping every other project to focus on this idea.
Luckily, I had a rainbow of gum ball coloured Kona solid fabric in my stash so I was able to get started immediately. But… hang on… slow down. I actually needed to sit down at my computer and “sketch” out my design in Illustrator and do all the quilt math before I could jump right it. Sometimes it’s hard to slow it down once you have an idea and the right fabric!
Once I had my math figured out, I came up with some instructions* that looked roughly like this:
*Though it turned out some of my quantities were wrong so I had to add some blocks on the fly and I had a few leftovers. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Once I cut and sewed all my Drunkard’s Path blocks, I had so much fun sewing the blocks together to create my gum balls. Here’s a glimpse of my first batch…
Once I got going, I couldn’t stop and quickly I started seeing my gum balls stack up…
And next, because I figured this was the “easy” part, I whipped up the machine base. I put “easy” in air quotes because I miscalculated or my 1/4″ seam allowance was off or something because I had to seam rip the red strips a few times to get the pieces to line up
Over my birthday weekend my family “gifted” me some quiet time alone in my sewing room and this is when my random gum balls were contained into the bubble gum machine globe.
My architect sister printed out the 4’ circle template out on her plotter for me and I had to trust that I sized the inner and outer cut lines properly. It turned out it was ever so slightly off, but not enough to cause any real problems. Phew!
Then I pinned the heck out of this giant curve and set off to stitch it all together.
And then attached my machine base and voila!
I made myself some custom quilting templates for my gum balls and transferred the lines to my quilt top. I had to do a little research to figure out the best method to transfer my lines and ended up using some wax-free tracing paper I found in the bottom of a drawer, that I don’t even recall buying, and my brand new Hera marker. If you don’t know what wax-free tracing paper is, it’s kind of like carbon paper but instead of carbon it has white (or light coloured) chalk that transfers to the fabric when you trace over it. It ended up working well, although after a while the chalk from the tracing paper wore off a bit and I ended up just tracing over it with the Hera marker.
I was a little nervous about quilting it, I have only ever quilted straight lines before so there was a little bit of a “learning curve” if you’ll pardon the pun. But once I got the hang of it, it wasn’t much different from straight line quilting. For the machine I quilted a criss cross pattern and for the white background I quilted 1″ apart diagonal lines.
And ta da! Here is my finished quilt, complete with a scrappy gumball-coloured binding.
All fabrics are Kona solids by Robert Kaufman.