Thursday 21 September 2017

Brenda's Bounty update

When I last posted about this quilt most of the blocks were done and I was a little worried about the piecing together stage up ahead. Happy to report all is good!

Here are the blocks finished and pinned on my design sheet. It's just a sheet on a dowel hung in front of a bookcase (note to self -  I need a longer sheet). 
My blocks were constructed by English paper piecing, using the templates from Linda's pattern "Brenda's Bounty" in her lovely Quiltmania book "Treasures from the Barn " - hence the name of my quilt. But the sashing/ joining method in the book required Y seams - not something I'm familiar with (panic setting in). I knew I'd have to do some research/practice on this method.

But then Sarah Francis kindly sent me a copy of her pattern where she uses partial seams to join it all together. Sigh of relief...I've worked with partial seams before and sure I can do it again!  Thank you Sarah! 
I cut my sashing strips the sizes in Linda's book because Sarah's pieces are a little wider and I prefer to have a smaller finished quilt. 
Then I followed Sarah's method and it went together like a dream - a couple of days machine piecing. There is a wonderful construction chart in the pattern that I followed word for word till it all came back to me.

If those steps look confusing and you'd like to know more, then it might help to look at a tutorial on partial seams by Jinny Beyer here.
Top finished about 79" by 67"
In case anyone asks - Sarah Francis doesn't have a website but is happy for me to share her email contact (patterns available for USD 10 plus postage).

I'll be hand quilting with cotton batting (Quilters Dream as per usual) but still debating which type of quilting. I'm very tempted by big stitch quilting as I loved how it turned out on this quilt . It is such a quick method ...but I don't want to detract from the antique look of this quilt. Aurifil 12wt seems thinner than a lot of the perle cottons so I might experiment with that and 'not-tooooo-big' stitch?! 

Monday 21 August 2017

Benjamin Biggs completed

It's been a great journey - thanks to Sentimental Stitches Just Takes 2 free block of the month for a lovely pattern generously shared. I reduced my quilt blocks by 75% from the 16 inch ones in the pattern down to 12 inches. I just wanted a smaller quilt finish and have been thankful of that when it came to hand quilting! 
I started the quilt in January 2014 and it measures approx 70 inches square, hand applique and hand quilted. The quilting design was not part of the pattern but I enjoyed throwing in a few scattered motifs amongst the  grid and echo quilting. 

I decided not to add trapunto to the motifs - preferring the softer, more natural look as it is. Thanks for the helpful comments and encouragement last post :) 

It's found a place on a hallway wall where the lighting shows up the myriad of quilting stitches! Despite there being so many stitches it really drapes beautifully thanks to the thin cotton batting (Quilters Dream).

I'm not leaping into hand quilting another just the fingers a wee rest . 

Saturday 12 August 2017

Brenda's Bounty - a work in progress

WIP...sounds so much better than UFO don't you think?

Brenda's Bounty started in January - 7 1/2 " finished blocks

My favourite antique quilt in Linda Collins' Quiltmania book

I have to admit my method is a bit different from the template piecing method in the book - just adapted to my peculiar skills (ie the difficulty I always seem to have with accurate piecing!) and the methods I enjoy. 
A little bit of fussy cutting if the fabric inspired

and here are the pieces prepared to hand stitch the block above
My method involved making my own EPP papers - using thin card and shapes from the book templates. 
For the small triangles I stitch basted the fabric over the card and later popped out the card to reuse for the next block. 
For the the handle rectangles, I first needle turn appliqued the handle onto a background rectangle (using back basting preparation method). Then I used a glue stick and iron to glue baste the rectangle over card ready to EPP this piece. 
The two large triangles were also glue basted over card. I usually prefer to avoid glue, but with large shapes the fabric stays a lot more stable than when stitch basted - because it is held all around the shape edges and not just in the corners. Hope that makes some sense? 

So ...all these pieces become...another basket block
Once the block was all stitched together by the EPP method, I removed the papers and unpicked the basting just around the edge pieces, pressed flat and trimmed to 8" square.
The design wall was important to check for balance in value and colour

The baskets are done and now I'm moving on the edge blocks - just simple EPP of little triangles. 

Not much looking forward to putting it all together with the sashing pieces ...Y seams ahead!  I'll put the sewing machine to work for that bit...and try to keep the brain in gear! 

The garden is starting to show signs of Spring cheer so I brought some inside.

Sunday 6 August 2017

The Biggs

"The Biggs" is being laboriously hand quilted. It might well be the last quilt I ever stitch so intensely but at about 80% done the end is almost in sight!

I have shared Benjamin Biggs quilting pics on Instagram but nothing on the blog since this post in Feb 2016 when I finished the quilt top. It waited awhile in the quilting queue - with some Quilters Dream cotton batting and reels of YLI natural hand quilting thread on hand. Meanwhile some quilting design research...
A lot of the blocks in this quilt are quite irregular/quirky so I want to keep that feel in the quilting approach - nothing too symmetrical across the top.  
I planned to scatter a variety of antique-inspired motifs in among the blocks where there was a little open space. 
The motifs were drawn on to the top, before sandwiching, with a wash out pencil (General's Sketch and Wash graphite). The design is almost rubbed out by the time it is quilted so not much is left for washing anyway!

Winter weather, lots of 'Tour de France' recordings to stitch by, and a quilt in the hoop ...sigh.

Once all the motifs and applique pieces were outline stitched, it was time to commit to an intense background fill...and no going back once started! The outer ring of 16 blocks are echo quilted, and the centre block will be too. I love the look of echo quilting but it is hard going at times - all the turning and turning of the hoop. Nice not to have to mark but there's a lot of focus needed to get relatively even stitches and relatively even row spacing. 

The inner ring of 8 blocks are grid quilted (3/8"grid) - marked with the Hera marker, block by block - I love this process.

Just an aside : I've been thinking about adding trapunto - stuffing the quilted motifs with yarn from the back. It would give them more definition but am not sure it would be right for this quilt. The antique original on Sentimental Stitches blog photos does not seem to have stuffing, and I love the soft, wrinkly textured look. I'd really like to do this lovely pattern justice. Might the trapunto make it stiffer ? look too formal ? or maybe just look downright bizarre seeing as the motifs are all different and unevenly scattered on the quilt?! Sounds like I've made up my mind...but will see when the whole is quilted and bound. The fun thing about hand trapunto is I'm guessing you can add it any time... even years down the track! 

The border quilting is parallel lines 3/8" apart - Hera marked again, about a yard at a time, and the easiest quilting on this quilt!

When I started this post it was to be titled "The Biggs and some baskets" but have scrubbed "the baskets"  as the post has got too long! 
Back soon to share something else I've been working on 😊

Wednesday 17 May 2017

Hexagon Star

Hanging on the wall at last!  
approx 62 inches by 56 inches

I was expecting all the EPP seams on the half inch hexagons to be hard going with hand quilting but they weren't too bad - just a bit bumpy at times. The hand quilting progressed surprisingly quickly and I was finished within a month. 
No marking was needed as I just outlined all the 'flowers' in the garden, and followed a lot of the star and diamond edges.

To give a little definition to the outer borders (single coloured hexagons among cream ) I quilted straight through three rows all around the outside of the quilt - see below:

Just in case anyone wants to know - I used YLI cream quilting thread, thin cotton batting, a 16 inch square hoop and my usual handful of hardware (Clover brass half thimble, yellow needle puller and TJ Quick quilter spoon) - no affiliation with any of these suppliers but they are Australian stockists. After losing a couple of my usual needles (flicked into the 'ether' across the room - as you do!) I tried a new quilting needle which I now also love - Sew Easy Quilting gold eye size 9. They were $2.65 for 20 strong little needles from Lincraft - got to love that sort of economy. 
The backing is a favourite old floral called 'Plantation' from Windham.

I thought that, especially as this was to be a wall hanging, this quilt would suit a no-show binding. If you google and Pinterest search there are quite a few handy tutorials on various ways to do this. 

In 2014 I made a hidden binding on my 'Simon' Dutch quilt (click to see more in the link) but I was not entirely happy with the corners on the back as they were a bit bulky and not particularly neat. Mind you the quilt hangs beautifully square and I love the finish on the front

So I decided to take a chance and give another method a try - adapting the method in this tutorial from QuiltArtNews.
To reduce bulk a little I only used a single fabric thickness (not double as in the tutorial). 

a nice straight bound edge on the folded quilt
The result is just what I hoped for -  a firm, neat edge (front and back) but still flexible enough to drape. And I highly recommend the method - very easy to stitch up.

Having a bit of photo fun with a "focal black and white" faded finish - how's this for an Autumn garden photo?