Saturday, 24 May 2014

A finish, a wash and "oh no...the chintz!"

This week I finished the machine quilting on my chintz panel medallion quilt, added a blue ombre stripe binding and popped it in the machine for a gentle, cold wash. And my thoughts as I saw it emerging from the machine at the end of the wash? 
"oh no ...the chintz!" - the lovely chintz centre panel has lost much of its colour - so sad! The rest of the fabrics are as fresh as ever - only the chintz suffered.
Here is the quilt finished and washed :

Finished at 186cm square (73 inches)
My first thought (coward at heart) was to hide it away never to be mentioned on the blog again! 
But , to be philosophical, the chintz has now lost its "youthful bloom" but it is still a pretty piece of fabric and has a vintage look that deserves to be loved. So here are more photos. 
This is the panel at the time of pin basting - bright and beautiful before the wash:

Thankfully the colour catchers grabbed all the lost colour so it didn't end up streaky. 
Colour catchers after the wash

To fill you in on the quilting:
I deliberated for ages on how to quilt that centre panel and even made a pattern sheet to practise sketching possible quilting patterns. 

I did toy with feathers in the cream ring but the variable width of the cream area made it a challenge to fit neatly and I didn't like the look of it. I decided to go with something different  - shapes to echo the applique shapes in one of the borders. Other quilting on the panel is some background stippling, a 1" grid and a wreath.

After washing 
The quilting on the borders includes a clam shell filler, a wreath, outlining, and straight stitching. 
Quilting on the borders 

A view of the backing 
(Just in case you ask - I have contacted the retailer where I bought the chintz panel and they have been quick to reply and sympathetic but have not heard of this problem before.)

Here is Benjamin Biggs Block 5 completed.

Have a lovely weekend

Sunday, 11 May 2014

Considering clamshells...

Here is the start of the clamshell border on my Ann Randoll repro quilt. I am very keen to reproduce the colours/look of the original fabrics because that is, for me, a major attraction in the old quilt. Luckily there are wonderful closeup photos of the clamshells available in the book"Quilts 1700-2010" by the V&A - just love this double page photo spread ! 
Starting to select fabric from the stash
Rhonda Pearce provided 2 1/2 " clamshell papers in her workshop back in January. I made a plastic cutting template to suit.
Here is a selection of clamshells cut out ready for prep - this will do for a start to see how it looks...
I generally cut as I go with EPP - modifying fabric choices depending on how it looks as it grows.

And then there are clamshells to consider in my Medallion quilt too - in the quilting. 
I have not given the quilting much attention for a few weeks. I dithered  considering what to do in the zigzag border for a long time - very tempted to do something relatively easy like straight lines with the walking foot. But yesterday I had a moment of madness and decided to do some free motion clamshells. They're not too "free" as I have a template to draw on first! I am using a thread colour to match the fabric so the machine stitching does not stand out - hoping as always to mimic a hand-stitched look in the end. 

Talking of hand quilting...I pulled out my very first quilt - a sampler made in 1990 - just to remind me of the feel/look of hand quilting. I remember how the quilting bug bit when I started hand quilting it - just loved it. Of course it is very wonky (nowhere near square) and the quilting is not evenly spread...but at least you can see I was keen! I do love the crinkly, soft old texture of it.  

My second quilt (below), finished 1992, was on the bed for years when the kids were growing up. I have just gifted it to my DD and her fiance for their engagement. They said "no gifts" but this is just a sentimental gesture. I must have exhausted myself on all that hand stippling on the sampler above because this second quilt is hand quilted - but only very lightly. Might have been something to do with having a toddler and little/no time - it is a huge quilt!

I tried it on the bed to make sure it still looked usable after all these years.
Folded double

I finished the secret knitting and can now reveal the gift.

I'm off to Mother's Day lunch - being treated to a restaurant meal. Not that I mind cooking...
                            Hope all you mums have a fabulous day! 

Sunday, 4 May 2014

Taking stock

The trouble with doing too many lots of projects at once is the feeling of moving in slow motion - nothing seems to be progressing. I know I'm spending hours on it... but where exactly ...?
So I gathered the projects for a quick stocktake.

Here is my Stars meet Hexagons - not looking much different but it has got larger since last report, and there is a lot prepped ready to sew. I am aiming for lap quilt size and still love the fussy cutting.

Here is a quilt I started in my monthly quilt class and posted about here in December - a wedding gift for my niece ( I'm calling it my Double X or Lucy's quilt). It has been all machine pieced in class with one flying geese border ready to add. I've learnt a lot about machine piecing in the process but still don't enjoy it as much as hand work, so it largely only gets worked on in class.

I'm just about to start Block 5 on the Benjamin Biggs BOM - and here are the fabrics selected ready.

There has been progress on my Ann Randoll reproduction - but lately some of it backwards. I'm really enjoying the challenge of this quilt but might need a little extra hair colour added this month (to cover the extra white hairs that Ann has contributed!). Three minor hiccups ...
  • Glue stains. After the pinwheel border comes an applique vine border with an large sawtooth edge. Here is the border attached with the sawtooth completed ready to add the bias and leaves of the vine.
The placement of the bias vine is fairly tricky - so it lines up with the corner feature and there must be enough room for leaves either side - see below.

Well - I decided on my first attempt to try glue (Roxanne bottled glue) to attach the bias strip to the border background ready to applique. But once it dried I found my placement was wrong so removed the bias - only to find some truly nasty glue stains were going to be visible. I washed/scrubbed/soaked it every way possible but they would not come out! So that border had to be scrapped and started again. And the lesson learnt ? extreme caution if anchoring applique with glue! I went back to pins...
Here is the stained reject:

  • The hole - when I unpicked a seam to adjust it (another story). A patched repair.

A patch inserted

Not too noticeable in the scheme of things...
  • Running out of fabric. I realised part way through appliqueing the vine leaves that I had very little of this fabric left and it was not a good feeling as I know it is long out of print. Not easy to work out how much was needed for the rest so I just plodded on regardless. With the help of my lightpad and the back basting prep technique for applique I managed to to wedge the leaves into every skerrick of the remaining fabric, leaving the tiniest seam allowance for needleturn - and just made it - phew!

Pinning for back basting prep on the leaves

some leaves ready for back basting stitching 
nearly finished the vine leaves

Now measures 55 inches square
Plenty more borders to come - just in case anyone thought it might be finished! No rest for the wicked? Next is a wide border of clamshells.

There has been some secret knitting: 

There's been a teeny bit more machine quilting of my Medallion quilt ....

So that's the stock take done - no finishes but lots of "nibbles" of this and that. 

 Autumn has been especially colourful in the Southern Highlands this year. Here is part of my garden.  Yes - am loving the colour of the maples, grapevine and golden ash, but am not loving the colour of the lawn! Actually it is very green under that bird netting :)
The reason for the netting is a desperate woman's defense against a flock of crows who have adopted our hill as their territory. They are usually quite harmless but at the moment have been ripping this lawn to shreds in search of beetles. It seems there's been an infestation of lawn beetles/grubs. I have spread powder to kill the beetles but the crows are not convinced and keep ripping the grass up to check! So the netting is there for a little while... hopefully not long, hehe.