Monday, 19 October 2015

Quilt for Benedict

Quilt for Benedict

When on a trip to Colorado in 2012, I bought a pattern called Texas Star by Whirligig designs. I wanted to make the quilt top using Stonehenge fabrics by Northcott and knew that I would need to get all my fabrics on that trip as they were not yet available anywhere in the UK at the time. I was in a group of about 30 and we travelled by coach. It was a quilting trip organised by Patchwork & Quilting Tours, but unlike most people would imagine, we did not just visit quilt shops. We do a lot of sight seeing and on average do something quilting related only every other day. On a trip lasting 2 weeks though, there are a lot of quilting related activity, not least the visit of quilt shops. So I had plenty of opportunity to get the fabrics I needed. It was a great source of hilarity to everyone on the trip though, that unlike my usual habit of waiting to last to get off the coach (being respectful, I normally sit right at the back as I am younger, fitter and more able to move than most), I was waiting right at the front to get off the coach at every stop at a quilt shop. You see, travelling by coach, over long distances mean a lot of ladies are very ready to use the rest rooms when we stop and I could not afford to miss the restroom stop in order to get fabric (stops tend to be short with mostly only an hour at each shop, you had to be quick and know what you wanted). So I had to make sure I got to the restrooms first so I would have ample time to look and search for the fabrics. Invariably though, the choice was mind-blowing and decisions were hard to make and lots of pieces had to be cut, so I ended up last back on the coach too! I apologise profusely to all my fellow travellers who must have thought that I had a serious bladder issue and that I have a feverish need to buy lots of fabric ! I am sure you will agree though, that it was worth all the jibes and jokes and teasing in order to produce this lovely quilt top.
Being more accustomed to doing custom quilting than all over edge-to-edge designs, I was stuck for ages not knowing how to quilt the quilt. There are after all a lot of very small blocks and strips in here and I needed a design that suited the quilt. I did not want it to look like a quilt sample with lots of designs that do not tie together. The quilt top remained in the UFO pile for over 2 years.
My normal way of quilting is to sketch out the planned quilting design, which may or may not change as I go along, but once I loaded this one on the Handiquilter, I decided to just follow my instinct. It was quite scary to quilt areas not knowing if it will tie in with what I might add later, but I figured that as long as I enjoy looking at it and doing it, that it must be good. I started with the Stitch-in-the-Ditch outlining of all the blocks, which took 2 days to do, in a clear smokey grey monofilament thread, before starting on the designs for the blocks and finished off with the setting triangles.

The back

 I have just finished the binding on this quilt, which has a double piped edge to the binding.
The quilt is the first double bed sized quilt I have made for Benedict as he has until now had a single size bed.
I used Omni thread in pale yellow for the pale areas and then used a maroon coloured Glide thread which showed up better on the black and mottled grey than the steel grey I had first tried. Other dark areas were quilted using Military Gold in Glide.
The quilt has two layers of batting in, Quilter's Dream Blend with Hobbs Tuscany wool on top, so it is heavy and will be very warm. Lovely for winter in England. I still have to make the label but have not decided on a name for it yet, so this will have to wait for the moment.

Millefiori Quilt-Along
I have joined an online Quilt-Along group and we are all hand piecing a quilt called Millefiori, designed by Katja Marek, author of "The new hexagon",  and sharing photos of our progress with each other. A wonderful way of getting support if you are unsure of how to do it and wonderful for keeping you focussed so that you keep up with all the other members in the group. The group started in January and have been doing one block every month, I joined late and although there is no pressure to try and keep up or catch up, because I have so many other projects on the go, decided that I would try to.  I have been doing quite well with this and now have six blocks sewn together. I have not sewn my first block to the others as I felt the colours did not sit well with the colours of the others, so I will redo that one. This is what it looks like so far:

I have had a lot of questions about where I got my fabrics from for this project. I had one piece of fabric that I just love and found another that had lots of potential for fussy cutting that went well with that. Most of my fabrics are bought from shows, I knew what colours I wanted, so every time I went to a show, I focussed my attention on looking for specific fabrics that would look good with the ones I already had. It actually saved me quite a bit as I didn't even look at other fabrics. I collected my fabrics over a period of 4 months and then found some in my local quilt shop that worked well with what I already had, so it was time to start.

My starting piece of fabric

Some of the fabrics I chose to go with the original piece of fabric

 The pieces that have large  motifs on, are 1metre pieces, medium scaled ones are 1/2m or 1/4m pieces and the blenders are mostly 1/4m or 1/8m. I also pulled some from my own stash if they fitted well within the designs of the blocks (rosettes). As most of the fabrics are fussy cut, there are lots of holes in the pieces. I am planning on cutting smallish hexagons from these waste pieces and combining them into a long wide strip that I can sew onto my backing fabric. Hopefully there will be very little wasted .

English Paper Piecing
As I love doing hand piecing, I also joined a group on Facebook for EPPAddicts and this has focussed me a bit more on my hexagon quilt. I have now designed how I want my quilt to look and has just cut out another 2000 cream hexagons. This is my design:

By the way, if anyone would like to copy and use my design for their own quilt, you are welcome to do so, but  I had so much fun designing it and it gave me an immense sense of achievement when I had done it. I would urge you to just have a go on graph paper and see first what you can come up with yourself. If you then still want to use my design, that is fine.

I will be going to Houston in just over a week where I have signed up to do thread painting classes with Nancy Prince, ink painting classes with Judy Perez, a class on using cheesecloth in quilting with Pam Holland and sewing with silk with Katrina Walker.
Then, later this year, I am doing quilt designing classes with Claudia Pfeil.
I am so excited about these opportunities, and will post pictures on my next post of what I have learned.