I started working on this quilt around Jan 22. It’s gone more slowly than some quilts because there were decisions along the way I found difficult to make – but I completed it last night. Yesterday I finished quilting the wide outer border, added the facing/hidden binding and hand sewed it on the back. Label added last.
I’ve tentatively called the quilt “Planets with Moons”. The finished dimensions: 49 1/2″ wide by 68″ long – a rather large throw, a bit too long to hang on a wall unless you have rather high ceilings. It certainly is a good length if you’re a tall person!
I’m particularly pleased with the back strip. In fact, I’m thinking I might do an entire quilt based on that idea – a 6″ drunkard’s path block attached to two 3″ drunkard’s path blocks. The resulting oval shape is interesting. I wonder what it would look like if I limited my colour palette to two colours (blending various shades). Something to think about.
Quilting the project was somewhat complicated. I started by setting up a circular embroidery to fill the individual large circles and quilted them all. Next I had to design an embroidery to fill half the background square (I could only embroider two sections at a time (either left two or right two) because of the hoops I have. Filling the background took three days – a total of 35 embroidery repeats. Then I decided to adapt the circular embroidery into a long narrow element for the border. That left a small corner embroidery which I added to finish each corner.
The challenge with quitting in the hoop is getting the embroideries to line up and join. Lots of math involved in trying to position and adjust the size of each embroidery so the stitching is precisely where you want it (my Pfaff Creative Icon 2 has a “precise positioning” capability which makes quilting in the hoop possible). I did “touch” the large circles in a few spots but for the most part I managed to avoid crossing the circle/square boundary. I stitched both sides of the narrow batik sashing in the ditch but chose not to add a quilting to that element, it was narrow enough that it didn’t require quilting.
With this quilt now done, I can put it in the pile for the Art Labs showing in the summer. I will hang it with several other quilts I’ve made using Drunkard’s Path, showcasing the technique as an artistic choice. The other grouping I have ready includes three “Convergence” quilts. So far, then, I have seven quilts set aside for that show. I will now turn to working on smaller wall art pieces, including a set of 6″ x 6″ which I’ll show at Art Labs, but they’ll really be for next December in Tatamagouche!
It’s being able to show my art that keeps me working at it. There’s always some time pressure – keeping in mind how much I need to actually produce for a show to work. Fortunately, I don’t need all new pieces for each show, I’m able to show older pieces along with a few newer ones which creates a new context for each piece.
After doing the laundry, emptying the dishwasher, repairing a small hole in a cashmere/merino knit sweater, putting last night’s dishes in the dishwasher, reading email, making the bed, shower and dressing, having breakfast (late as usual), I finally got to the Drunkard’s Path blocks. I sewed all 24 small ones, as well as the remaining nine large ones.
I assembled the blocks into rows: one large block, two small ones. The centres of the small blocks are leftovers from the grey “L” shaped pieces used to make the blocks on the top. I used scraps from my many boxes of different sized scraps to cut out 3 1/2″ squares from which I removed the quarter circle corner (with the help of an acrylic template of the appropriate size).
3 1/2″ Drunkard’s Path blocks are actually difficult to sew! I pin the centres together, then try pinning the ends, but because the fabric pieces are small it’s hard to twist the ends into place, pin them, keep the ends aligned when you start sewing. The curve is also difficult because there is very little maneuvering room. It’s all about pressing and trimming after sewing and not using the blocks in sets of four to make circles because quite likely the curves won’t align nicely. So I chose to offset the curves of the small blocks against the large one, although I aligned one curved edge against the larger block’s curve and trimmed the resulting row so I’d have a straight edge when I attached the next row.
Ten rows weren’t quite enough. I used up the leftover six blocks – three at each end, and finished with a piece of grey fabric that is going to be the inner sashing. My strip is 3″ longer than the quilt top – enough to let me set up the sandwich with the backing larger than the top all the way around.
I’ve cut the sashing and the backing to length. I need to make joins in the sashing so they are long enough and I need to spray starch (with Best Press) the backing fabric making sure all wrinkles are out of it when I go to set up the sandwich.
Tomorrow afternoon I should be able to finish the backing and set up the quilt for quilting!
I’ve been stuck this week on the Drunkard’s Path quilt. I went through my stash and although I have several large pieces of grey fabric the colour or patterns just weren’t right for what I’d done with the quilt top. So I went shopping for more fabric! Here I am trying to work from the stash (to use up some of it) and my artistic sensibility says I need to go shopping.
I bought two metres of a grey print fabric during the week, but I still couldn’t get to work – something was stopping me. I did cut out the elements for twenty 3 1/2″ Drunkard’s Path blocks as well as ten 6 1/2″ blocks with the intention of combining them in some way and I began sewing the blocks together but I’ve not made much headway.
Today I took a “vacation” day with a friend. We drove to Mahone Bay (an hour away from Halifax) – a lovely sunny day (if chilly) – the roads were a mess mid-morning when we left (from the freezing rain and snow we had last night). On our way back we stopped at Heidi Wulfraat’s Woolworks shop to look at fabric. She carries the complete Free Spirit line of fabrics. I love seeing the entire collection. I happened on a grey batik, however, which suddenly explained my inaction – I just wasn’t happy with the other backing fabric I bought!
On the left is the first backing fabric (light grey with dark crosshatchings) I bought earlier in the week – it’s now going into the stash – it will be perfect for some other quilt, just not this one. The grey/white batik at the bottom of the pile above I bought today. The Drunkard’s Path block example is what I’m planning on doing for the strip to extend the width of the backing – with sashings from the darker grey and the teal batik.
Tomorrow, I am determined to sit down and finish both the large and small Drunkard’s Path blocks, add sashing and the backing!
I still don’t have a quilting embroidery – but once the quilt sandwich is assembled I should be able to some up with something suitable.
Here it is (for now). Today, I added a narrow batik inner border and a wider grey print outer border, both with mitred corners. Two things: the dark batik, which has sort of circular shapes, echoes the colours in the circles (Planets). The medium grey (with a darker grey print) blends the background elements.
The only uncertainty here are the small “Moons” bleeding into the borders (pinned in place). I definitely intend having them, the question is do I have enough or are there too many? Are they in the right places? I still have some somewhat larger ones – I tried a couple but they were too strong.
I spent most of my morning working with ideas for quilting the top. The finished circular block (made from 4 individual blocks) is 300mm x 300mm. I have a 260mm x 260mm hoop which will let me embroider a circular design that will fit within the circles (which are 250mm in diameter). However, the background presents a problem. I can stitch-in-the-ditch around each block element but I feel I still have to fill each corner with something. I could do that as separate embroideries – two blocks at a time, using a 360mm x 200mm hoop. I could also try creating a design that will embroider in the 360 x 350 hoop (the reversible hoop) but that hoop presents unique challenges because trying to match any line that crosses the midline is very tricky. When I’ve used that Grand Dream hoop in the past I’ve made sure the design elements come to the centre but not across it. The circles make that difficult to do. It’s a problem I still have to sleep on.
My next step is to make a final decision about the small “Moons”, fuse them in place, and edge stitch them. While I’m doing that, I have to come up with something for the quilt back. I don’t have enough of the grey border fabric to do a pieced back with that fabric alone – although I can use it along with other fabrics. I still have 7 unsewn Drunkard’s Path blocks and a bunch of smaller grey quarter circle elements I can add to the collection.
I just finished the decorative edge stitching on all the small circle appliqués. Slowly and carefully – using 50wt rayon embroidery thread (top and bottom).
In these detail photos you get a sense of the decorative stitching done along the circumference of each small circle. I used a silver grey thread for all the grey circles, and blended in a complementary thread for each coloured block.
Last night I added fusible web to the back of 9 grey fabric strips, then cut out circles of varying sizes from each. I placed them on the panel, then decided I did need a wee bit of colour against the grey so I added just a few coloured circles in the background. I’ve pinned the circles in place; next I need to press them, then edge stitch using decorative stitches with contrasting thread.
The addition of the small circles pushes the large circles back, foregrounding the small circles. I’m hoping the addition of the bright narrow inner border with a wider outside medium grey will stabilize the whole panel. I’m also thinking I might add just one or two small circles through the borders as well – we’ll see.
With a healthy amount of rearranging of blocks I finally settled on this array and sewed the panel together. It always surprises me how different everything looks when it’s all sewn together. The joins are not perfect but they’re more than passable – always an accomplishment when sewing curves that have to join on the circumference. I’m also happy with the distribution of the grey background colour flow.
My next idea is to appliqué smaller grey circles (in three different sizes) randomly on top of these circles to break up the regularity of it all. I’ve selected 10 of the greys I used in the background, I cut 4″ x 15″ strips, now I have to apply fusible web (Pellon 805) to the back each, then cut out circles. My plan is to use bright threads to edge stitch these small circles in place.
I’ve also picked out a bright batik that echoes the range of colour in the panel to use for a narrow inner border, then add a medium dark grey wider outer border.
It’s taken me three days to sew all 70 Drunkard’s Path blocks. It’s a rather slow process – I mark the centre of each piece with a small cut, place the “L” piece on top of the quarter circle, match and pin the centres, then align the right end of the curve and pin it, finally I align the left end, carefully place it under the presser foot, and slowly stitch my way around the curve. Many people prefer having the quarter circle piece on top, but I find I can ease the curve together more easily when the “L” is on top.
This is not a typical Drunkard’s Path layout. I’ve picked up the blocks and tried arranging them in a different way, but I seem unable to do anything other than lay out the blocks in alternating circles! So alternating circles I guess it’s going to be!
I’ve moved blocks around playing with colour placement; this may be where I stop. Next step will be to create rows and finish assembling the quilt top.
I know I want an outer sashing, although I have no idea yet what colour to choose. That raises the question of whether I want narrow internal sashing around the blocks as well. I think not. The sashing will need to be in some strong colour with a grey border outside. I think a grey sashing would fight with the existing grey backgrounds; a colour will fence in everything.
I cut these quarter circles Sunday. Today I cut the grey/white “L” shaped pieces (as well as clearing up piles of fabrics sitting on surfaces around my sewing room).
I decided to group the quarter circles more or less by colour into sets of 4 then lay them out on the floor. Not half bad. by staggering the rows I get 7 blocks across each row leaving the half circles on opposite sides on alternate rows which sort of hides them. To make this work as a full array I need 10 rows which gives me full circles at the top and bottom edges. In all, I end up using 70 quarter circles which means I will have to cut a bunch more for the back when I’ve finished the top.
Next I have to try laying out the background pieces.
Except for the bottom left corner (which is too brown in tone) the other background elements look like they might go together. Now I need to pick up these pieces, and complete adding background to the other circles.
Here’s where I wish I had a large design wall! I don’t have a big flannel sheet hanging in my apartment because I don’t have wall space for one. I have to resort to the floor in my studio. I’m OK getting down but getting back up is not as easy as it used to be. So I won’t be able to do a full layout at one time. I’m going to have to work row by row, picking up the pieces as I go along piling them carefully so I can sew each drunkard’s path block. When I have them done, I’ll play with layout again.
Now I need to spend time looking at the array to make sure I’ve distributed the background reasonably well.
I had two piles of fabric on my cutting table – a stack of bright ones, a pile of light greys/off whites/darker greys. I’ve walked around them for nearly a week. I started cutting today.
I cut quarter circles from seventy-eight different bright fabrics (many from scraps large enough for the quarter circle, as well as fat quarters and other fabrics I had on hand; I cut 6 1/2″ strips from the background greys, then eighty 6 1/2″ squares from the strips. It took me nearly five hours to get that much done. My next move will be cutting the background “L” pieces from the squares so I can construct the blocks (that’s going to give me eighty smaller grey quarter circles as “waste” that I have to use for something!).
Last week I’d cut a couple of 6″ test background blocks – too small. Sewn to the bright quarter circle element my background would have phased out to nearly nothing at the sides. Fortunately I’d only cut four 6″ squares so I didn’t lose a lot of fabric. But that mismatch stopped me going any further for the better part of a week!
Today, I cut four background squares into “L’s” to see whether 6 1/2″ would work. I laid them out with quarter circle elements. I think this will be fine.
Once I have all the elements cut out, I’ll start laying them on the floor to see what kind of colour flow I get – BEFORE I even start assembling the blocks.
I’m planning on a 7 x 9 block quilt – my finished blocks will be 6″ – that will give me a top panel that’s 42″ x 63″. I’ll add borders to that to make the quilt a bit larger. No idea yet what I’ll use, that will depend on how the colour flow of the top shapes up.