archive for March, 2007
i think i’m officially
hooked on quilting. i haven’t enjoyed making anything as much as this for a long time. it’s a belated (natch) mother’s day present, all hand stitched. the tree fabric might look vaguely familiar – it features in my banner. the design has four different trees but this one is my standout favourite. it’s quite a crowded pattern and you can see the odd leaf and trunk from its companions peeping in around the edges. i cut out and appliqued the trunk while keeping the fabric in a single piece. in some ways i’m not totally happy with the “chopped off” appearance of the tree around the leaves and especially at the top, but it was necessary to keep it visually isolated and in other ways i’m pleased with the way it gives a rather more abstract, textural feel to the whole thing, rather than “oh look a lollipop tree”.
the chopped-offness adds to its overall slightly drunken air. the “grass” was supposed to be at an angle – and had to be to cover up other trees – but the “flowers” should be straight. that’s just not enough care at the piecing stage to get them lined up right. i wasn’t totally sure about including this fabric as it’s a different style print to the others and the whole “flowers” thing is a bit literal. but i really like the way the colours play – i think the white background balances the piece – and i like how it echoes the circular motif of the tree. i have so much still to learn about using fabrics together in patchwork, but it’s really fun learning.
but leaving aside my reservations about the finished article – and there are plenty, not least the quilting stitches
– i found the process utterly engaging. it was really much quicker than i expected, i enjoyed the control i had hand piecing, and i absolutely loved the hand quilting, especially in the softer sections (the tree fabric is furnishing weight so didn’t respond as obligingly to the quilting). having struggled to knot the ends of threads for years the quilter’s knot
was a real revelation – it’s quite unnerving how much it still delights me every single time
. i managed to get up a fair stitch rhythm and while i improved significantly from the outset my stitches were still wonky and uneven, ocassionally failing to catch at all on the back, and hovering around the 6-stitches-to-the-inch mark at their very best
. but nothing worth learning comes immediately and i enjoyed it so much i can see me taking every opportunity to practice, especially on manageable sized projects like this.
oh and yes, i’ve learned pretty much everything i know so far from the purl bee, their tutorials are beautifully clear (as well as clearly beautiful). and to give more credit where it’s due the whole idea was inspired in no small part by liesl and alex .
posted: March 30th, 2007 under quilting.
i can’t explain quite how much i love this quilt, except to say that i found it really
hard to edit down the pictures to post them on flickr – i wanted them all. i think one reason i’m so overwhelmed might be that i’ve never actually had a quilt before. i don’t think i’d even seen
one in real life until a couple of weekends ago when we went to stay with friends who’d put their very special all-hand-stitched quilt on the guest bed for us (which inspired me to get finally moving with this one). so i’ve never properly experienced the rumpled visual and tactile joy that is a quilt before.
this came together gratifyingly quickly, always a plus for my limited attention span. the top is pieced from mostly charity shop fabrics – cotton curtains (which remind me strongly of the ones that hung in my grandparents kitchen when i was small) and a poly-cotton duvet cover which had the hexagons on one side and the magnificent balloon pattern on the other. the binding is a superbuzzy fabric that i think may have sold out there now, but is also at reprodepot iirc. after a long time sewing clothing i have to say i’m delighted that the entire quilt was made without the use of a single pin (apart from the aforementioned thousands of basting pins) – oh the joy of straight seams and neat rotary cut edges that can just be held together.
after the pleasure of piecing the actual quilting was nearly my downfall. the walking foot did a sterling job, but i made the mistake of trying to rely on the quilting guide that came with it to keep my quilting lines parallel. this might have worked for straight lines (although the fact that it sits on the wrong side of the foot, and that i had to tape it to stop it sliding to random lengths, suggests perhaps not) but it hadn’t occurred to me that it would create concentric, rather than parallel, curves. not until i started. and those curves were getting tighter and tighter and harder and harder to sew. i realised at this point that i really should have lengthened my stitches for the quilting, especially if there was going to be ripping out to do. so i didn’t bother ripping, just started again with the top marked.
marking the top after basting (d’oh!) wasn’t so bad really – i made a cardboard template and traced along it a couple of rows at a time, having removed the pins from that section. after years of dressmakers chalk and assorted other equally-not-very-good fabric marking methods, disappearing marker pen was a revelation too, although i guess the fact that you mustn’t iron it pretty much rules it out for dressmaking. after reading a few horror stories about the ink reacting with detergents i made sure i soaked the whole thing in cold water to remove the marker before i washed.
i chose the wavy line quilting pattern because i wanted something with a bit of movement to break up the static formal lines of the top. it hadn’t occurred to me how much harder this would be with the walking foot than straight lines, but it didn’t turn out too bad, especially since the rumpled patches i was getting in places on the top (nothing on the backing at all, hats off to that walking foot) have disappeared into the general delicious rumpling once the quilt was washed (i used hobbs heirloom 80cotton/20poly batting and i just love the difference the shrinkage makes).
i think the quilting pattern works particularly well on the back, it just seems to carry the balloons along. i’ve since seen some really inspiring machine-quilted patterns using straight lines that are still really free and loose and make this look quite stiff (rats, can’t find all the links, but here’s one i love), so that’s a whole new world to explore too
i was nearly stumped on the binding. i bought a bias tape maker, in the hope of managing a single-pass binding, but failed utterly to get it to work properly. it seemed to me that it didn’t fold over tight enough so it wasn’t feeding under the iron evenly, the “tape” was totally uneven and unusable. maybe i just need more practice. anyway, i ended up cutting 1 1/2″ strips, pressed one edge to just over a 1/4″ then sewed the un-pressed edge at a scant 1/4″ onto the front of the quilt. then i folded over and machine stitched at 3/8″ from the back (with brown thread in the top and white in the bobbin). i know it’s usual to make the second pass narrower
than the first, so the stitches catch the binding, but i know how uneven my sewing is, and there was a good chance that i’d end up wandering off the edge of the binding completely on the back – and you’ve worked out by now that i’m rather averse to ripping unless it’s structural so i’d prolly leave it like that and just cringe every time i saw it. i couldn’t work out a neat way of mitring the corners so i just stitched separate strips to each side and hand finished the corners. in the end i really like how it’s turned out, with the neat turned edge on the front, and the row of bobbin stitches framing the rest of the quilting.
i’m itching so badly to get going on the next one
posted: March 22nd, 2007 under quilting.
for some reason i don’t quite recall i tend not to post my works in progress. but i’ve been so enjoying my quilting the last few days i wanted to share a few sneak peeks.
this first one is a playmat for our next arrival. i’m slowly working up the critical scale – first a toy quilt, now a baby quilt, next one for M, eventually working up to one for us. i ran out of pins basting it last night, about 2/3 done. having just read lisa call’s basting tutorial i’m thinking perhaps i overdid it a bit, as she pins around 6″ apart, whereas i’d read other advice that you shouldn’t be able to put a fist down without hitting a pin. if i can make it to the button shop today i’ll get more pins, but if not i have the centre section fully pinned and can remove those and pin the edges once the middle’s quilted. my walking foot arrived this morning so i don’t think i’ll be able to resist having a go tonight.
and here are the first of M’s stars. the tutorial utterly and totally rocks. i realised once i’d had a go how it neatly sidesteps all the problems of stretching on the bias you’re likely to encounter sewing triangles. i’m gathering a sizeable bag of offcut triangles that i may use on the backing or binding, or a spin-off doll quilt. the cutting is pleasantly straightforward and the sewing goes by in no time, i was planning to have a quick try at a sample square when i came to a halt on the playmat and managed all 4 yesterday, which included prewashing the fabrics. i really love em, but please reassure me, there is no such thing as too colourful when you’re 4, right?
posted: March 19th, 2007 under quilting.
i’m pretty much decided on a sawtooth star pattern for M’s quilt, not least thanks to this fab tutorial at the purl bee. also inspired by this fantastic mandala quilt.
posted: March 17th, 2007 under quilting.
via wee wonderfuls but josie’s work. i went searching for ideas on quilting patterns for my current wip and found this recent post. i have a strangely overwhelming craving for yellow at the moment, it’s grabbing me like nothing else, and i just adore this orange too. will have a good root around at mr monkeysuit later on.
eta: blimey is this really my first post this month? slap wrists, bad blogger
eta: heh, there must be something in the air, manda over at treefall’s got it too it was her yellow apron set in this post that jumped off the page at me the other day and convinced me i need more yellow in my life.
posted: March 16th, 2007 under blogs, quilting.