Monday, 23 September 2013

"Lovesong" and "Stars"

"Stars" for my husband completed

I started "Stars" for my husband (yip, this is the first quilt I have ever done for him) in 2009 and finished the piecing later that same year.  At the time I thought I would quilt it by hand as it was simply too large for someone as inexperienced as me,  to quilt it by machine.  For the time being, it was put in a pile with other WIPs and I more or less "forgot' about it as so many other projects kept cropping up.  Once I had my Handiquilter  though, I had no more excuses, so after  working my way slowly through the pile of other WIP (in strict order that they were pieced) I finally got down to this one.
I had the brilliant idea of suggesting to hubby that he comes with me to our local quilt shop to choose the backing fabric and he was rather keen.  I was rather hoping for a dark purple kind of extra wide batik, but this was not to be ... hubby had spotted a batik that looked a bit like snakeskin and he knew straight away this was what he wanted.  I was not so sure, it didn't come in extra wide so I would need to piece it and the colour was rather busy for my liking, especially as the front of the quilt has so many colours in, but I offered and I had to then stick by my offer.

Backing fabric chosen by hubby

The stars are all quilted with the same block design with a variation of that for the setting in triangles.  I used  Madeira Polyneon 1609 with Superior Thread's Bottom Line in Taupe which blended brilliantly with the backing fabric (I find that this colour blends with most of the backing fabrics that I use, it is the one colour I would not like to run out of) and a size 14 needle, which seems to work for me with most threads.  The Madeira thread is variegated and matched all the coloured stars beautifully.

At 98 x 84" this is the largest quilt that I have done so far and it fits perfectly on our bed.  Most importantly though.....hubby loves it. :-)


I bought the pattern for Lovesong after it has run it's course as a BOM, the pattern is called "Vintage Valentine" and is by Verna Mosquera. There was no more fabric from the original BOM available, but that was fine by me, I do like to do my own thing anyway and set about collecting fabrics that I could use.  I wanted to maintain the "romantic vintage" style so stuck with  faded and muted colours.  Although this was not my first applique project, it was certainly the biggest one I had done to date and I have certainly learned a lot in the process.  I can't wait to start my next applique project, but for now I am wading through all my WIPs trying to finish them all before I start any new projects, although I do have a commission for a wholecloth quilt for a baby that I need to have finished before December, so that will be my one "new" project and will be my next post.

Quilt ready for outline quilting

I started with outline quilting all the appliques in Wonder Invisible thread in Clear with Cream Bottom Line in the bobbin.  I used a number 14 needle and after a few tries got the tension just right.  I did the outline quilting by eye and went slightly over the applique pieces in a few places, but I decided to just unpick this at the end.  I have since seen Jamie Wallen (from Quiltersapothecary) use a special ruler called a Mystical Mini, to guide you around the appliques, that I might want to try out. The next step was to outline the blocks and do all the background infill and the two narrow  borders.  All this was done with Glide thread in Cream, still with Cream Bottom Line.

Background quilting done

Next came some experimenting with Golden Threads Quilting paper (GT paper) I have decided on a rope and feather border for the outside border going outwards from the corners and wanted to design a pattern with ribbon and flowers to tie in with the design in the rest of the quilt in the centre point of each border, so I traced my rope and feathers onto the GT paper and then did the same with my centre design.

 I then took 3 more pieces of GT paper and clipped them together and started stitching through the designs on my sewing machine, with a thick needle and no thread.  This took absolutely ages but I was determined to stick to the lines and get it as perfect as I could.  This was then going to be used to pounce through onto the border fabric so that I could see where to stitch.  To my absolute horror, when I pounced through the holes, the powder did not show up at all.  I only had white powder (note to self to buy some blue powder) so the alternative was to stitch through the paper stencils but it was impossible to see where the holes were as the background fabric is so busy and similar in colour to the GT paper.  I now had 2 options:
a. Use my stencil as a pantograph or b. draw over the holes on all the stencils and stitch through the GT paper over lines that I can see.  I decided on the latter and started drawing next to all my carefully stitched holes (the pencil did NOT like going over the holes), then used 505 to position it onto the border.

See why I could not see punched holes on this background?

Stitching the design took no time at all, but then came removing  the GT paper.  This is a bit like being told it is really easy and the paper will just tear away (sounds a bit like foundation paper piecing paper, doesn't it, only having done that I know better) and it probably would if there are no tight areas of stitching and if I hadn't gone a bit overboard with how much 505 I sprayed to secure my stencils.  Unfortunately only one way to find out.  I had to take the quilt of the HQ and unpick all the paper and then tease the remaining stuck bits out from underneath the quilting stitches with a tweezer.  I am not joking when I say that this took an entire afternoon, but finally this was done and I could load the quilt back onto the HQ for the final bit of quilting.
This was when the fun began!  I now played with some embroidery threads to fill in the applique shapes, first the flowers and leaves and birds and finally the heart shapes.  As the embroidery threads are darker in colour, I changed my bobin thread to Taupe Bottom Line so that if the bottom thread pulls through, it would not be too visible on the front.  This gave rather a nice but still subtle effect on the back.

Block 1

Block 2

Block 3

Block 4

Block 5

Block 6

Block 7

Block 8

Block 9

Block 10

Block 11
Block 12

Centre Panel

The final stage was to do the background fill in the outside border, which I did with the Cream Glide thread and Cream Bottom Line.  Almost as soon as I started on this, I realised that my quilt design is totally lost in the busy fabric.  Do I redo the outline in a darker or contrast thread or do I stick with the original plan.  I decided to stick with the original plan.  Besides subtle can be good, the quilting does not have to be the first thing you notice in the border and that makes it such a surprise when you turn the quilt over and see the quilting on the back.  In fact, my family thinks the back of this quilt looks better than the front!

Front and back, which looks best?

I apologise for the quality of the photos, I am not a photographer and took these on my phone, but hopefully you will get an idea of what the quilting looks like in the next few photos.

I am really pleased with how it has turned out, for now I am just going to put it in my bedroom where I can see it and touch it every time I walk past it. Of all the quilts I have made so far, this is my favourite.

Please let me know which of the blocks are your favourites and whether you prefer the front or the back of the quilt. Thank you :-)

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