Tuesday 25 February 2014

Quilted and bound - Simon is finished

 Just to recap - this quilt was made using a Dutch reproduction pattern called "Simon" in one of my favourite quilt books - the Quiltmania book 'Promenade in a Dutch Garden'. The colours and the combination of chintz and little prints really appealed to me. The quilt was started in September 2013, pieced using the EPP method as well as some needleturn applique, and it measures about 60" by 72" ( 1.5m by 1.8m). The colours are truer in the photos below - daylight helps!
The backing fabric is aged muslin

I quilted on my domestic machine - largely walking stitch in the ditch between every triangle. That might sound a lot of work but it was pretty straight forward - going in rows horizontally, vertically and then diagonally. I also free motion quilted around all the applique pieces and inside the outer border diamonds. For my liking that was enough quilting - and on this quilt it is all about the fabric and colours rather than the quilting.

Note the 'invisible binding' - more on that in a mo...

Quilting around the applique added lots of dimension
I mentioned on an earlier post that I would try binding in the traditional Dutch way - as described in the book. The instructions for this were brief but pretty clear. Unfortunately they didn't include illustrations of the process  - so I am hoping that I got it right. If anyone knows better please let me know! Anyway, this is what I did...
After quilting I trimmed the quilt edges.

Then I cut four strips 1 1/2" wide of backing fabric, cut on the straight grain. Two of these measured the same length as the sides of the quilt top. The other two were the same length as the top and bottom of the quilt plus 1/2" (seam allowance to tuck). The strips get sewn on individually (I did that by machine) and then all layers turned entirely to the back. Make any sense?
Here is the back - in the process of hand hemming the last binding strip to the back. The corners are tricky - bit bulky to manage - but it makes such a firm straight edging - I do love the finish and how it hangs.

 Here is the front - see - no binding visible!

I found a spot at home for the quilt - seems to go nicely with the old walnut table.

Monday 17 February 2014

Ann Randoll centre borders

I've been enjoying watching the Winter Olympics - some thrilling events I had no idea even existed!  And this has been 'sit-and-stitch time' for my Ann Randoll reproduction quilt project ( started in an inspirational workshop with Rhonda Pearce - using her pattern instructions). I'll probably for ever more think of these Olympics whenever I look at this quilt...memories get somehow ingrained in the stitches don't they?

First sawtooth border completed
Last report I was at the point of appliqueing the first saw-tooth border - quite tricky to stitch as the peaks are less than 1/2 inch high. My applique is far from perfect - there is an element of wonkiness in there! But I am happy with its 'handmade' look - consistent with the charm of the original antique quilt. 
I knew I had to get a brown thread, and a fine one - hoping it would disappear into the fabric.  I tried two YLI threads - the silk #100 and the Soft Touch cotton #004. They are both very fine which helps on small zigzags where you don't want stitches to become too much of a feature! I think it is just a personal preference which to use of these two (and am sure there are other great threads out there too) - both stitched beautifully. I prefer the cotton as it seems to 'grab' the fabric better - not so slippery - so the applique is held down very firmly . It does have a tendency to shred if you use a long piece of thread though. So short lengths it was! 

Next step:  to add a pieced border of tumblers. I decided to do this by foundation paper piecing by machine. - just because I have found it very accurate and stable ( which my normal piecing is not). I made foundation strips from foundation paper - using the piecing pattern from the workshop.
Preparing foundation paper strips

Foundation papers ready

Just testing that the papers fit around the quilt border - yep OK

Stitching the fabrics to the foundation papers

Trimming the edges of the pieced strips - paper still attached

Sewing border strips to the quilt - papers still in

Then  to remove the papers . I had used a small machine stitch so the seams were held firm, and the papers easily removed.

Centre with tumbler border attached
The next border has more small saw-tooth edging and corner feature blocks, as well as an appliqued bias strip with leaves. I made the bias with a 1/4 inch bias maker and appliqued it between the corner blocks. 
Placement of the bias - will be tucked under the corner blocks
And this is where I am at now - applique of the leaves - nice relaxing hand work:

It is so good to have had some useful rain in this part of Australia at last - my water tank has been empty for quite some time. So sad though to see too much rain has caused devastating flooding  in the lovely villages and towns of England - places I lived in and visited as a child. Do hope it eases very soon. 

Saturday 8 February 2014

The shrinking Benjamin Biggs

I completed my first Benjamin Biggs quilt block back in January and it was the 16 " version that is in the pattern. But since then other bloggers have had the brilliant idea to make all the blocks as a 12" size instead of 16"  - so the finished quilt will be smaller and more manageable. Great idea but I was a bit nervous of shrinking the pattern. As it turned out - easy - just printed it at 75% instead of 100% and so .... I made another Block 1 in the smaller size.
Block 1 in 12" and 16"
 Luckily I had enough of the same fabrics too. Seems crazy to replicate all that work but I will keep the big one to use as a quilt label on the back of the finished quilt. 

Here are Blocks 1 and 2 together - both 12". And I will make all future blocks in this size too. 
Block 1 and Block 2 in 12" size
I don't know if you remember - I have been helping my friend Angela make her first ever quilt - a Log Cabin. Well - huge progress to report! We spent a day pin basting it at my place and she is now at the quilting stage. She even bought a new sewing machine that has an optional walking foot and will do some straight machine sewing in the ditch. Then she plans to add some big stitch perle cotton hand quilting in red. We're both thrilled with it! The backing is plain red homespun - and yes, it has been pre-washed a couple of times with colour catchers - taking no chances here...
Angela's quilt - basting pins in 
I have had a lovely time turning red fabrics into swiss cheese (lots of holes) for my 'Stars meet Hexagons' quilt. And all the 'holes' become diamonds and hexagons like this:

Sewing these small EPP pieces together is quite hard on the hands so I might take it slower on this project . Time to work with different techniques in the Ann Randoll quilt reproduction.