Wednesday 29 January 2014

"When Stars meet Hexagons" and Ann Randoll progress

Well - I really should be machine quilting my 'Simon' quilt but arthritis is being, literally, a pain in the neck at the moment. Sitting at the machine seems to aggravate the neck and shoulder ache, so I will have to wait awhile. 

Ann Randoll quilt :  I completed the hand pieced border around the centre. For some reason it fitted best with only 23 of the 24 diamond sections that are in the pattern - so that is how I joined it! Hand piecing has never been my forte. Unless I use papers I seem to be woefully inaccurate. The end result looks fine so no problem I think...
Pieced border pinned in place
Next to cover the seam with an appliqued bias strip, then trim back the brown background:
Bias strip appliqued over seam
Appliquing to the cream background with another bias strip - and that completes the centre ring: 
Centre ring complete - appliqued to cream background
Next step is a tiny saw tooth border and corner feature - to be appliqued. In the workshop we prepared freezer paper templates for the applique, as this is Rhonda's preferred method. Here they are :
Freezer paper template - decided not to use this method

But...I am not confident in this method,  so I decided to do my saw tooth border by back-basting prep for the applique. Here is the prep done ready to needle turn applique:
Back-basting prep done
I tried a little of the needle turn but am not happy with my thread colour - it showed too much when I used a neutral beige shade. Ideally it needs to be a dark brown to be less visible - which I don't have. Bit of shopping needed ...

"Stars meet Hexagons" - this is the name of a lovely little red quilt in Petra and An's book - 'Promenade in a Dutch Garden'. I saw their quilt at Quilts in the Barn 2013 and absolutely loved it - knew I had to make it sometime. 
Picture of the quilt in the book Promenade in a Dutch Garden
I know I have only just finished an EPP star quilt (my Mary Leggett Star Bouquet repro) and that  classifies me as having a truly sad case of EPP addiction! But some of you will understand?

This time I am using 1" stars, hexagons and triangles. The pieces in the book are 7/8" but I happen to have 1" templates and papers already, so am going that tiny bit larger. 

Just for comparison with my 'M L Star Bouquet' quilt: this new quilt will have smaller pieces, different construction, and a lot more creative variety in fussy cutting. Here is the start of 'Stars meet Hexagons' alongside the 'Star Bouquet'.

It is great to find use for a couple of red Coverlet collection repros. They have been lingering in the stash. I bought them years back because I loved them but then never found the right project. I think they are wonderful for fussy cutting but am going cautiously, mixing them with others, because I'm afraid there is only a very fine line between terrific and tacky in fussy cutting....and am hoping I haven't crossed it!

Two fold mirror reveals all sorts of possibilities

Whoa, reining in !  time for something more subtle.

I'm not using glue for this - just paperclips.
Stitching through the fabric only - so the papers pop out easily for re-use.

Progress so far
I'm stitching the stars and hexagons together as I go - in an ever expanding blob piece. By adding fabrics in this way I can hopefully, keep the colour, pattern and values balanced. Such fun!

I couldn't resist this little pot of Lisianthus - cheaper than a bunch of flowers and going to last so much longer. And what do you think of the container (if you can read it)? Wrong spelling but the right word!
Hope you are all coping with the world temperature extremes at the moment - whether too hot or too cold. We had a few days of blissfully cool weather here and I frantically worked in the garden, but I think the heat is heading back :(

Monday 20 January 2014

Medallion final border and Ann Randoll workshop

My medallion quilt top is finished - at a bit over 2 metres square (80inches) it is big enough, so time to stop adding borders!

Just to give you an idea of the sources of inspiration for the borders - I have loads of quilt history books and here are three favourite quilts from them that inspired the design, colours and borders. 

Here are the books in which I found the pictures :

So this is how far I got with my quilt design/ construction last time ... ready for another border.

I wanted to get a  zig zag border in there,  and I also especially wanted to use a large floral fabric - so decided to combine the two. Here are some sketches mulling over the dimensions...

Drawing up a paper pattern

Fitting the pattern to the quilt top

The triangles (background) was to be my floral and the zig zag strip was to be the cream fabric I had used for the applique border. To construct the zig zag there are various possible techniques such as making a bias strip to applique, or piecing it in blocks, and no doubt a lot more options too! I decided the best method for me was back-basted needleturn applique. So here goes... tracing the design on to the back of my floral (using light pad)

I then basted the cream fabric along those lines on the back, trimmed it back and needle turned the edges on the top. I found it an easy and accurate method - and really enjoyed the applique.
Basting is gradually removed ahead of the needleturn

Well - that stretched me a bit but I'm very happy with it. It is now on the quilting queue..
First I have to quilt  'Simon'  - which is on the floor getting pinned bit by bit. 

Meanwhile I spent a lovely weekend at Summer School in the Blue Mountains (organised by Karen Cunningham), in Rhonda Pearce's workshop - the Ann Randoll quilt. Here is Rhonda in front of her reproduction quilt, and students madly hand sewing... 

There are more borders to go but just look at this so far - wow! 
Rhonda' s Ann Randoll reproduction
Just a reminder - here is a picture of the original quilt 
photo from Sue Prichard's book Quilts 1700-2010

It was such a privilege and inspiration to attend this class - Rhonda is a needlewoman extraordinaire - I was in awe - the tiniest, neatest hand stitches ever. I shall be striving and striving but sadly will not be reaching that standard! However I am really excited to be tackling this one - such a variety of fun techniques. The next borders have more applique and tiny hexagons as well - great. 

We covered a few of the techniques involved - and made a start of bits and pieces (applique, bias strips, hand piecing curves) so we know what we're doing (that's the theory anyway!). Here's my weekend's work on the middle of the quilt - may not look a lot but it was challenging handwork !  I've placed the pieces together so you can see how it will evolve ...

And here is a photo (from the book again) of the middle of the original antique quilt - now you might see where I am going with this...

Great company, great venue, beautiful mountain location, yummy food and great teachers - looking forward to next year!

Hope all Aussies are enjoying the relief of cooler weather now - is wonderfully cool and drizzling here now. Am off to do some garden work. 

Saturday 11 January 2014

Simon top finished and Benjamin Biggs Wedding Quilt

Simon - the top is finished:

The final borders are a little different from what was planned but I am very happy with it.  I am not entirely sure what happened to the measurements but do know there was some considerable "user error" with a tape measure! 

Last post I had the centre top finished and the outer pieced border strips finished , and was debating the fabrics for the narrow joining borders. After auditioning a few, and taking note of your comments (thanks!)  I decided the paisley fabric was the way to go...

Paisley fabric just auditioning for two narrow outer borders - not stitched yet
So I carefully trimmed the top and the pieced border strips. All EPP papers had been removed and seams ironed open ( they needed trimming as I don't cut seams precisely before using the papers)...
Squaring and trimming with 1/4 inch seam allowance
Then I fussy cut my border fabric and machine stitched them to the quilt top. This is where the "user error" occurred - the strips were way too narrow. By then I had stitched them on and I was not undoing it all....

So I added another narrow strip all around  - cut from the same fabric :

That fitted fine so I stitched on the pre-prepared pieced border - phew:

At this point I had a look at the pattern again and read about 'traditional Dutch binding' - it is not visible on the front of the quilt (all the binding is folded over to the back). With that in mind I decided not to add a final border of paisley as I felt the quilt needed a dark outer edge. So ... am just going to finish on the pieced outer border. Besides...I am rather tired of sewing on borders LOL!

I am planning on domestic machine quilting this one (it is a manageable size at about 60" by 72")  and I am looking forward to giving this Dutch-style binding a try. 

Benjamin Biggs Wedding Quilt: I could not resist signing up for this free block of the month from Just Takes 2 (Gay and Brenda). I'd been itching to do a large reproduction applique project, tossing up between a few options. So many nice ones out there. Another reproduction antique is just my style and the gorgeous swag border on this quilt won me over - charming and a bit quirky, without being too challenging. Famous last words?
Biggs_Quilt_adjusted_2_(1) (2)_2wtmk
Picture from Just Takes 2
There is a Benjamin Biggs Wedding Quilt blog created for posting progress and there are already several wonderfully different blocks to look at there. I leaped at the chance to use reproduction reds and poison greens (having all these already in the stash just waiting for the right project). Here is progress so far:

Block 1- back basting needle turn applique
 OOh it is nice to be using red again!
Fabrics selected for my blocks
Medallion quilt:
Just to show this has not been abandoned - here is a peek at the final border progress. More on that next time....