First of the Abstract Wall Art Pieces Completed

Fern 4

I finished this piece yesterday, including the hand sewing – the border corners, the opening at the bottom where I turned the piece inside-out, the sleeve for hanging on the back.

At first I wasn’t sure I liked how it turned out, but the more I looked at it (and the unfinished panels on the cutting table) the more it grew on me. The raw silk piping brings closure to the pieced panel and the border fabric definitely declares that the piece is pink.

I’ve done the prep work on the other four panels – I’ve created and trimmed the piping, cut batting strips to fuse to the border edges so I can enlarge the panel (that’s because I trimmed the panel thinking I would only apply the backing with a hidden binding), cut backing muslin, and chosen border fabric for each. Hope to get to them later this afternoon.

 

Bamboo Quilt – Finished!

I started this quilt at the beginning of March. I had no idea how long it would take or how many decisions I’d have to make as I assembled the blocks, fit them together, planned the back, figured out how to quilt it….

I finished it this morning (with two weeks away from the work while I was in Italy) so working time on the quilt – about five weeks.

Quilt Top

Standing back from it now, I think the decision to use the light turquoise Kona cotton narrow inner border was the right one – it brings out the blues of the inserts which create the stems and leaves of the bamboo. I also like the choice of the border fabric which makes the inner panel stand out and at the same time echoes the hues of the panel just a bit darker.

Quilt Top – Detail

My plan when I started thinking about the quilting was to create some kind of single run embroidery design to fit my 360 x 260 hoop – I set up a double design to run bottom to top on the right, then repeated top to bottom on the left. The design stitched out well but my spacing when doing the hooping wasn’t close enough and I was left with quite a few spaces that still needed quilting. The solution was to create three more designs, narrower and shorter, to drop into those spaces. I wasn’t sure I liked how the quilting was turning out but now it’s done the space is filled pretty evenly. The border quilting turned out as I wanted it to. I’m happier with the quilt than I thought I was going to be!

Quilt Back

The back strip is a wide (13″) strip more or less crazy quilt pieced using bits left over from the top fabrics. It carries over the colour feeling from the front.

Binding – dark blue solid Kona cotton.

Binding A Quilt

A couple of days ago Melanie McNeil described in her blog how she was binding her latest quilt – “For this particular quilt, I chose to finish the binding by machine rather than by hand.”… I wrote her that I always machine finish the binding (for a host of reasons I won’t go into here), except I use a decorative stitch with variegated thread when I attach the binding on the front.

Let me back up here a bit: many quilters machine stitch the binding to the front of the quilt, then blind stitch the turned binding on the back by hand. However, if you’re going to machine stitch the turned binding edge, then you have to sew the binding to the back of the quilt, turn the binding under on the front (I pin the turned binding, then lightly press it), then machine stitch to secure it to the front.

I’m assuming you already know how to apply a quilt binding. If you don’t, Melanie has very clear instructions with videos, etc. explaining and showing you how to bind a quilt. What I’m offering here, is an alternative for the final stitching to secure the binding to the top of the quilt.

Graduated Stitch – Edited

Here’s a stitched binding on one of my quilts (notice the diagonal fabric join in the binding). What I want you to observe is the stitching I’ve used to attach the binding to the top of the quilt – a stitch that stitches adjacent the edge of the binding and incorporates jump stitches to the right and back which permanently attach the binding edge to the quilt (remember, the binding is already machine sewn to the back using a standard 2.5mm straight stitch – Melanie prefers a longer 3.0mm stitch).

This is what the stitch looks like on my machine screen:

Double Graduated Stitch – Edited

This is my modification of a more complex built-in stitch on my embroidery machine. Here’s the original stitch:

Double Graduated Stitch

I wanted the stitching down the centre to be just to the side of the binding with the cross-over stitches just securing the binding so I used the stitch editor built into my embroidery machine to get rid of the stitches on the left and keep just two forward stitches between the grouping of stitches to the right. It attaches the binding securely and I’m not having to worry about whether I’m getting my straight stitch a consistent needle width from the binding edge. (The decorative stitch also is forgiving on the back of the quilt if it doesn’t align perfectly with the binding edge.)

Here’s another decorative stitch I use frequently:

Honeycomb Stitch – Edited

Below is the “honeycomb” stitch on my machine – I’ve reduced the width quite a bit, and extended the length so the stitch doesn’t extend very far on either side from the binding edge on the quilt front.

Honeycomb Stitch

Here are two other decorative stitches that could work:

Graduated Stitch

My point is it doesn’t take long to machine stitch a binding to the front of a quilt with a decorative stitch and it’s visually a lot more forgiving than trying to stitch the binding with a straight stitch!

Bamboo Quilt – Piecing of Panel Done

Finally, I have finished piecing the elements for this quilt top. The next steps will go relatively quickly.

Bamboo Quilt Panel – Finished

Now I have to add borders: a narrow light one, then a wider batik that seems to coordinate with all the other batiks in the pieced panel.

I’m thinking I will do something simple to extend the width of the back – a jellyroll race piecing, crazy quilt strip…. Whatever it turns out to be it will go a lot more quickly than this piecing did. I got tired of creating these elements which took quite a bit more time than I expected when I started which is why the project ground to a halt.

Now I can move again, get the quilt done and added to the collection for the showing in Parrsboro this summer. Whew!

Bamboo – Further Along

Making headway. The width is now about 42″, with the fill-ins being place-held with batik blocks; the panel length will approximate 62″ – with borders added the quilt top will end up a reasonable size for a lap quilt.

Tentative Layout

So it’s looking like I will want between 7-10 more “bamboo” blocks – that’s getting to be within range (it was beginning to feel as if the end of the project was nowhere in sight). I’m giving up on getting any overlap between the blocks – bits of sashing to make blocks fit is going to have to do.

Truth is I’m feeling pressure to get this quilt done. I want to get onto a bit of garment sewing – I need to make a pair of pants and maybe another casual jacket to take to Florence at the end of April – that’s just a month away.

Bamboo – Making Progress

I’m making headway slowly on the Bamboo quilt top. I’ve created some more blocks – they’re getting better even though I’m not getting faster! The tapering of the inserts is looking more like I want it to. I’ve also started joining blocks and fitting in inserts where needed to make row segments. I’ve got 15 blocks assembled – I figure I’ll need between 35 and 40 to make a lap-size quilt.

Bamboo – Beginning To Take Shape

In the picture I saw originally, there are some leaves overlapping from one block to another: 

The only way I think this can be done is if the whole quilt top was constructed using raw edge appliqué. I’m doing this with slashing and inserting contrasting fabric.  I’m stumped about how to accomplish the overlapping across blocks! Nevertheless I’ll keep working away at these blocks.

Charm Pack Quilt – Finished

It’s done. Quilted and bound with a label. A vanishing 9-patch quilt with borders built from ~80 charm squares.

Charm Squares Quilt – Top

I’m pleased with the scattering of the small yellow blocks – they appeared when the assembled 9-patch block was recut into four – the yellow central block became four small corner squares. The distribution of colour also has worked out well. The pale inner border ties the central pieced panel nicely, the narrow yellow border provides accent and the dark wide outer border balances out the quilt.

Charms Squares Quilt – Back

For the back I selected a few squares from the second charm pack I’d bought (in case) and cut an equal number of batik squares to set up the bordered strips. The backing fabric is the same fabric I used for the borders on the front – didn’t have quite enough to cover the top so had to create a horizontal stripe as well. I reversed position of the two pieces when I added in the vertical strips to add further interest to the back.

The quilt is now in the growing collection of quilts to be shown in Parrsboro in July/August. It won’t be for sale since it already has a home with my physiotherapist. I think it fits the bill for her – she didn’t want it so fancy that she felt she couldn’t just throw it on her sofa.