Surfacing from my Quilting Binge, so Grab a Coffee…. this is a LONG Post!
Having attended numerous classes and workshops, I became completely obsessed with quilting and teeny tiny pieces of various fabrics draped everywhere. I did not mean to wait two years for my next post, but somehow all that gorgeous fabric and the smell of machine oil did something to my willpower and I could not drag myself away from my sewing.
But, to start at the beginning: The beginner quilt class at Craftland was a revelation. The mathematical mysteries were revealed to me and I was hooked! The class required pre-cut squares of fabric. I had bought pink Dora print fabric for this quilt, but forgot to cut it before class. Instead, I grabbed a pre-cut pack off the shelf and followed the step by step instructions. A friend’s daughter fell in love with this little quilt, so I gave it to her. She called it “Quinn”.
Learning how to quilt was so much fun, that I rushed home after each class to do the exact same steps on the Dora quilt. I just added some wide rick-rack trim to the squares, but will not be doing that again. The rick rack’s edging unravels with each wash and it will need some serious repairs soon. Soon after finishing the classes, it was time for Craftland’s Quilt Exhibition. I was so proud to display my quilt among all the other talented quilters and art quilters’ work.
Thus encouraged by my five minutes of fame, I enrolled for the next class, involving jelly rolls (which are pre-cut strips of coordinating fabrics). During the DSF shopping festival, I had popped numerous balloons to win various prizes from the gift baskets. I chose a few packets of jelly roll strips that had crazy car designs on them. This would be the perfect quilt for my other daughter, she who loves Ferrari so much, she even calls ketchup “Ferrari Sauce”!
The design idea was to join strips together, cut them into squares, and then quilt the squares in an alternating pattern; with the squares on the diagonal, and triangle in-fill to square off the edges. The outer edge was done by joining many, many strips together and finally, adding my first star pattern blocks in the corners. Arranging all the squares to avoid eye strain and hallucinogenic triggers, was quite a challenge! I’m quite happy the way it turned out, and we named it “Traffic Jam”. It has help up well after numerous washes and snuggles.
My friend’s other daughter did not have a quilt, so I found some cute and colourful Love Bug fabric in my stash. I could not make up my mind what other fabric to use with it, so I designed a rainbow progression checkerboard pattern on my EQ7 quilting software. The software is a bit difficult for me to master, because I don’t spend enough time on it. I used a rainbow striped fabric for the outside borders and so “Beetlemania” was born.
A dear family friend was coming to visit me in Dubai and I wanted to surprise her with a special quilt. I had these two crazy cat prints in my stash, but one of the designs was a challenge to work with. Well, let’s just say that in my haste, I cut the black random print fabric into squares, and then discovered a huge problem. The cats were printed in broad rows, easily cut into squares, but if I cut them the same size as the black fabric, there would be a distracting row of cat feet from the next row floating aimlessly on top. I had to make the square a whole inch smaller to make it work. Then I added strips of yellow fabric to bring it back up to the correct size. This “Catty Quilt” was a happy accident, but I learned my lesson for sure: “Measure Twice, Cut Once.”
I enrolled for another workshop at Craftland, involving traditional quilt block designs. It was a massive effort to plan each block’s fabrics; cut the hundreds of little triangles, squares and strips and keeping them all in numbered plastic ziplock bags until needed. Thank goodness for Accuquilt! Their dies make it super easy to cut pieces in bulk. Each block was also a unique challenge and I felt an amazing sense of achievement at the completion of each block. My fabrics were various black prints, white prints and bright lime green to give it some pizzazz. I called this quilt “Moonlight Pina Colada”, but it isn’t completely finished yet. I still have to decide how I’m going to quilt this patchwork top. I may splash out and have it done on the long-arm quilting machine at Craftland.
Soon thereafter, another dear friend was coming to visit me in Dubai and I knew I had to work fast to complete a special quilt for her. She loves bright pinks and oranges and I had just purchased a new Accuquilt apple core die. This is a very challenging shape to quilt and there were times that I seriously had to walk way, calm down, drink a coffee and then jump right back in. This quilt gave me serious neck pain from bending over the finicky piecing for hours on end. The batik fabric was also a challenge. It was so strong, that I could not add any other kind of print. It took a few tries to get the colour balance just right.
When you first put two of the apple core shaped pieces together, they have nowhere to join, because they curve in opposite directions. You have to insert one pin in the middle, then pin the two outer corners, and curve the fabric in a cup shape up off the table, while pinning as many sections as you can.
Once pinned, I had to sew the two pieces together. A quick swoop with a hot iron relaxed the stitches enough to lie flat. Then I repeated this for the remainder of the loose pieces. After joining two double pieces together, I had four pieces, and so on. I had to find a large enough space to keep all the pieces in their correct positions while I worked. So I moved my study furniture to one side and avoided the vacuum cleaner for a few days!
The only way to add a border to the curved edges, is to cut them into a straight line. I added a contrasting turquoise border to off-set all the bright colours. When I finished this quilt, I was so relieved it was finally over! I will not attempt such a large surface area with the apple core pattern again.
I wanted to try something simple, yet elegant after the apple core challenge. I saw an interesting quilt on Pinterest and followed it back to a blog called Valentine Quiltworks, written by a talented quilter, Sue Wood. She made a stunning quilt with a technique called “Disappearing 9 Patch“. Her instructions made it look very easy, so I bravely took the plunge. I had a few pieces of music-themed fabric and this was the perfect technique to show little bits, repeating harmoniously. I liked the dash of red she introduced. I tried other colours with the black/cream/gold combinations, but in the end, red was the best choice. Since I had the famous Drinking Song from the opera La Traviata as an earworm while working on this quilt, I decided to call the quilt “La Traviata”. On the left, is my nine patch before cutting and on the right, is the configuration after rotating the individual pieces.
By now I was feeling very confident in my patchwork and quilting skills, so I started looking at other techniques. I liked the idea of a visual game of “spot the pattern”. I spent a bit of time on Google, looking for block ideas and came up with a workable design that would give the illusion of an additional pattern once the blocks were assembled. I assembled one block to see if it looked good enough to proceed. There were a few tweaks in my fabric choices before I settled on this design.
It started with the centre purple/black print. I only had a small piece of it, so I had to fussy-cut the squares exactly on the same section of pattern to have identical patterns on the squares. Why do I do these things to myself? But, this quilt is speaking to me and I must obey! The four corner squares are also the same fabric. When multiple blocks are assembled, these will become larger squares that dominate the pattern in an entirely new way. At the moment, this quilt is still in pieces, but I hope to get back to it soon. I think I’m on to an interesting piece with this one.
And that, my dear readers, is the end of this very long post. Thank you for staying with me to the end. I hope to post more regularly from now on, so the posts will be shorter, I promise!