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Getting Warmer: 2022 Temperature Quilt Plan

I'm still overseas in Germany, helping out with my newborn grandson (who is doing very well; many thanks for all the good wishes!) and my toddler grandson (who is also doing great!), and the other day we had our first snow of the season.

Of course, all of these unusual (for me) temperatures have me thinking more about my temperature quilt. Since I'm away from my stash and my favorite fabric store, I'm doing digital planning in Electric Quilt 8.

Temperature quilts are a way of capturing the day-to-day temperatures at a given spot. It might be your home or the home of a loved one who will be the lucky recipient of your quilt. I mean, we all have a quilt-worthy someone who would love a temperature quilt, right? Generally speaking, each day has a block, and each block has a fabric that represents the high temperature and the low temperature for that day. Some quilts use a feature within the block to also mark record highs or lows. There are an enormous variety of designs out there. Quilter imagination knows no bounds!

I've been thinking about this quilt for a while, so I already had some ideas of what I wanted my quilt to do:

  • record the actual temperature rather than just a range indicated by the fabric,

  • record the average temperature for that date, so you can see how unusual the day might have been,

  • include some negative space in a neutral fabric as a rest from all the color and to give me some fun quilting space,

  • indicate record high and low temperatures within the block structure, and

  • be easy to sew because ... it's important to me to actually finish this one!

Record the Actual and Average Temperatures and Include Some Negative Space

My home has a temperature range of about 75 degrees over the course of the year, and I definitely didn't want to deal with 75 fabrics. So what to do? I decided to incorporate the temperature into the geometry of the block. My daily strip will be 3" x 10" finished. Each 1/4" in the height of the block will represent one degree of real temperature, giving me a 40-degree range to work with on any given block. The lines in the block design will start at the high/average/low point temperature of one day and end at the high/average/low temperature of the next.

The image below shows what this all should look like for the first few days of this year at my home in So Cal. The upper piecing line tracks the high temperature for the day, the middle piecing line indicates the average temperature for that day, and the bottom piecing line shows the low temperature for that day. The fabric for each day is to the right of the piecing line that tracks the temperatures.

Dfawing of temperature quilt block methodology

I somewhat arbitrarily decided that the middle of my block-- the 5" mark--would represent 60 degrees since most of the days will fall between 40 and 80 degrees. It may happen that I need to adjust a little if it looks like the summer months are going to be hot. The midpoint of the block might become 70 degrees, making the bottom edge 50 degrees and the upper edge 90 degrees. The image below shows how the grid captures the exact temperature in its measurements.

Indicate Record High and Low Temperatures

I quite like the idea of just indicating record highs and lows with a little strip of fabric, so I decided I'd just make my record indicators jut into the negative space. Something like the image below, although I'm yet to decide what sort of fabric I'll use for it. Perhaps a stripe or solid black? What would you use?

Be Easy to Sew

ok, a disclaimer. This plan definitely isn't the least complicated temperature quilt out there. By deciding to track the temperatures within the geometry of the block, I've bought into potentially having 365 different blocks. I love to paper piece, and this is a super simple block to draw, so I'm not too worried about it ... but if you prefer to have a single block that you're making over and over for your temperature quilt, this is NOT the plan for you.

I'm not planning to keep the temperature quilt on my design wall for the whole year--I will definitely have other uses for that space!--so paper piecing the blocks will make it easy for me to keep them identified by writing the date on the paper and leaving the papers on until it comes time to assemble the rows. It'll also help keep the blocks intact and eliminate loose stitching at the edges, so that's a plus.

Fabric Selection

As I mentioned earlier, I'm far from my stash and favorite fabric shops, so I can't play with physical fabrics to get an idea of my palette for this project. I do know that I prefer cooler colors, so I wanted my fabrics to skew that way, even though I know that a warm summer in So Cal might have its own ideas about what fabrics end up being used. In playing around with Kona Solids in EQ8, I came up with this draft palette. But .. it might change.

Plans Change ... And That's OK

You might have heard the catchphrase "No plan ever survives contact with the enemy." That's an abbreviated version of a philosophy of military strategy from Helmuth von Moltke. What he actually wrote was "No plan of operations extends with certainty beyond the first encounter with the enemy's main strength." You can see why folks have shortened it! von Moltke was a very successful Prussian general whose main innovation was that he gave his subordinates information about what he intended, rather than detailed and specific orders. He was willing to accept the various decisions they made, provided that they fell within the general framework of what he was trying to accomplish. I try to approach my quilting in the same way. So long as what I end up doing fits somewhere in the general framework of what I was trying to accomplish, I tend to be kind to myself and let it be.

I'd love to hear your thoughts in the comments on temperature quilts--especially if you're thinking of making one!

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WOW! You have taken on something Amazing. The palette is just right. I hope no Chinese Red this year. It appears you might need a helper when you start organizing your little 3" blocks...I'm ready! Also? I think von Moltke was a quilter!!😂

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I'll have a whole month to sew by the time I'm near a sewing machine again! I'm looking forward to it. And even if I didn't need a helper, I'd fib and say I did, just so I could spend some time with your awesome self!

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