The peacock is the theme of the India Quilt Festival, 2019 and I have designed a quilted peacock feather that you can make–as a participant in q quilt-along–to feel a part of the first ever quilt show in India! This is the fourth and final post in this quilt-along. I have given the list of materials required in the first post, the cutting instructions in the second and the tracing instructions in the third post of this series.
Now the real fun begins. I promise you that this is addictive!
Quilting the Peacock Feather
I would have liked to have a free-motion quilting foot, but a walking foot will work equally well for this small feather. I do not have even a walking foot, but I have not added a batting to my feather, so I think a regular foot will have to work here! Let us see how it goes.
The first thing I have to do is quilt the centre of my feather (which you may remember, I do not have in place at all!) So I flip over to the backing side and quilt the outline of the centre of the feather. I turn it around and realize I had white thread in the bobbin, so the outline shows up in white on the front. I am not very happy with this, but eventually, it will not matter.
2. Now I know exactly where the centre of my feather lies! I pin it in place, and zigzag over the edge of the outermost green layer. I then zigzag over the other three layers, beginning with the centremost to get the pin out of the way.
I have used dark blue thread, but you could use a deep yellow, or a dark green or even black—anything that will contrast nicely with your fabrics. If you do not have a zigzag stitch on your machine, use the straight stitch. A tiny satin stitch will work equally well! The great thing about this feather is that you do whatever you are comfortable with. The intent is to have fun! And now the fun begins.
3. With centre in place, I turn the sandwich over and start quilting over the lines in the pattern traced on the backing. I do the central spine of the feather first.
The trick is to quilt slowly; it is quite simple really, just quilting over a line drawn on the fabric!
4.I then start doing the rest of the feather, beginning again at the bottom. Start from the central spine, travel to the outer edge, travelling up the edge a little to the next line…
…stop the machine with needle down, turn around the sandwich and travel back to the centre. Travel up a little to the next line and repeat!
Once one side of the spine is quilted, I sew over the lines on the other side. In less than 10 minutes, I am done! The best part is that one does not need to panic if one strays from the lines. Your feather need not look exactly like mine, after all.
5. I am ready to add details to the feather now. I start, literally, to quilt between the lines. Note that I go beyond the outline in several places, just travelling with the flow!
Another 10 minutes, and I have finished quilting my feather!
The Final Step
6. Now I am ready for bringing my feather to life! I pick up my really sharp scissors and start trimming the feather along the quilted outline. At first, I am a little circumspect.
But then I become more adventurous, travelling almost up to the central spine with my scissors to make my feather look realistic. Let me check it from the back.
Time for the final reveal?
For a list of materials required and the PDF pattern for the quilted feather, refer to the first post about this quilt along. For the cutting instructions for the feather, refer to the second post about this quilt along. You can download a PDF file containing cutting instructions from that post. The tracing instructions (including a PDF file) are given in the third post, a continuation of my second post. The download link to the quilting instructions is below. If you want to make a larger 10.5″ or smaller 5.5″ feather, download the pattern below. Remember you need to keep the feather and background fabric at least 2″ bigger than the finished feather, on all sides!
I am back from my walk, and took this pretty picture of oak leaves to share with you.
So, let’s move to the next step, shall we?
Tracing the Pattern
I will trace the pattern on to the backing fabric. I have used white; you could use any light colured fabric, perhaps a blue or a green?
The pins are in place to mark the top and bottom edges of the feather and the centre.
I placed the white fabric on the paper print-out of the peacock feather outline and traced it using an ordinary HB lead pencil! I would recommend you use a washable marker if you have access to one. Remember the tracing is to be made on the right side of the backing.
I had a glass table to work on so it was easy to see through the white fabric. You could tape the paper pattern on a glass window and the background fabric on top of that.
When I was tracing from the pattern, I realized that the centre was not marked very clearly on the pattern. Now, what?
I placed the fabric centre of the feather, wrong side up on the tracing and drew the outline on the backing.
Simple solution, right?
Now my backing is ready. I remove the paper from below, but I leave the pins in place to mark the top and bottom of the feather and the centre on the backing. These are important.
Preparing the Quilt Sandwich
I don’t have any batting, so I don’t make a regular sandwich at all! But, as for you, it is time to prepare the quilt sandwich as you usually do…
Layer 1–the black background fabric for the feather on the bottom, placed wrong side up.
Layer 2–the batting (or a piece of flannel/ other thick fabric, if you do not have batting)
Layer 3–the backing right side up (with the tracing on top).
Now I carefully pin the three layers together, in exactly the same place as on the backing. This gives me the edges of my feather, and helps me in the placement of the blue-green fabric that will form the main body of my feather.
Where is the centre of the feather, you ask? For that you will have to wait–till I am ready to start quilting. Meanwhile, I am waiting for you to share your chosen fabrics on Facebook! Happy cutting, tracing and pinning!
Cutting the fabric for the quilted peacock feather…
The peacock is the theme of the India Quilt Festival, 2019 and there are going to be a lot many peacock quilts there, I can promise you! Would you not love to have a peacock feather quilted by you flocking there? A part of Tina’s secret project? Hurry then, and get your fabric and materials in one place and get ready to start!
Cutting the Fabric
I am on my way!
I first cut the fabric for the centre of the feather, which has the four colours from inside out–deep blue, light blue, deep yellow and green.
I begin with the outermost green portion of the centre of the coloured print out. I carefully insert my scissors along the outer outline of the green and cut out the entire centre.
2. I pin it on the right side of the green fabric and cut out the oval pointed piece. I do love this pretty green, don’t you?
3. I now trim the centre of the print out to the next, yellow portion. I pin it on the right side of the yellow fabric and cut out the fabric, just like I did the green.
I could have printed the pattern on freezer paper and avoided the pinning! For a more complicated pattern, I would definitely use freezer paper. Then I could iron it on to the fabric instead of having to pin intricate pieces and struggling to keep them in place.
4. I pin the yellow piece in its place on top of the green one. To ensure that I have it correct, I place the green paper ring on top of the green fabric and then adjust the yellow fabric inside the ring.
5. I am now ready for the next part of the centre, the light blue. Again, I trim away the yellow ring, cut out the light blue fabric and pin it in place. And so, the deep blue!
I finally have the entire centre fabric cut out and I place it on the fabric for the main body of the feather to see how it looks. Ooh, I do love this, I think that hand-dyed fabric is just so perfect for the peacock feather!
I have to go now, first for a walk and then to get some groceries, but I should be back in a few hours to finish this!
Before I go off, I put the tiniest dab of glue on each layer of the centre so that it doesn’t shift while I am away! Note that I am not going to stick it on the blue-green fabric; it is there only keep the four layers of the centre together. I am so excited to see how this will look finished!
Refer to the first part of this quilt-along for the PDF pattern for the middle-sized 7″ peacock feather that I made and for a list of the materials required.
If you want a print-out of the instructions above, download the file below. You will need Adobe Reader on your computer to be able to read this. It can be downloaded for free online!
I have been feeling so bad that I will not be able to attend the first ever India Quilt Festival in January 2019, at Chennai. So many of our Indian quilters, and a few international ones too, have sent in their quilts; there are nearly three hundred entries! But so many of us couldn’t; we didn’t have the time, or perhaps we didn’t feel confident enough. And being there…seeing all those beautiful quilts, meeting and learning from some of the best quilter-teachers in the world! Wow, that would be a dream come true for so many of us. Would we not love to participate in some way, however small?
So when Tina Katwal, the heart and brain behind the show, asked me if I would like to do something for the festival–so that all of us sitting at home could be part of the show–I said yes immediately. She had something in mind (let that be a secret for now) but for that I needed to design a peacock feather, easy enough for even a beginner quilter to put together with fabric scraps. We would be making our very own peacock feathers, using my pattern, and sending them to Chennai for Tina’s secret project…Sounded like an exciting idea!
For those of you who do not know, India’s national bird, the peacock, is the theme of the festival and one of the themes for the judged quilt show too!
I designed the feather on the Bamboo Paper App on my iPad—that was in September, just before I left to visit my son.
I decided last week, finally, to start working on the feather, but…I have no quilting supplies here! Thankfully, I did carry with me the fabric that I would be using for the feather. And, I have converted the sketch to a PDF file. So let us see how we can convert this to a quilted object. I thought a quilt along would be a good idea so that we could help each other if we got stuck.
Would you like to quilt along with me? Then, first, let us get together everything we need for this quick project. I presume you have Acrobat Reader (downloadable free online) on your computer, access to a colour printer to print out the pattern, and of course, a sewing machine with a walking foot or a free-motion quilting foot. (If not, you would need a willingness to hand quilt!)
Today, we get our fabric together and print out the pattern. The fabric requirements are for a 7″ feather. I plan to add patterns for a larger 10.5″ and smaller 6″ feather, if this works out okay.
Black (or any other dark coloured) fabric: 8” x 10” piece
Blue-green fabric for the main body of the feather: 6” x 8” piece
Light green fabric: 4” square
Gold/ Mustard yellow fabric: 3” square
Sky blue fabric: 2” square
Dark blue fabric: 1.5” scrap
Light blue/ light green (I have used white)
Batting: 8” x 10” piece. You could possibly use any thick fabric or a piece of flannel instead. That should help in making the feather stiff (and will be easy to work on even if you don’t have a walking foot for your sewing machine.) I do not have any of these, so my feather will be not be a true sandwich.
Machine Sewing Thread: Black/ blue/ green/ mustard to contrast with your background fabric. I am using a royal blue thread because…you guessed right…that is the only thread I have here!
Stabilizer–any light fusible of your choice, if you have it at hand. I don’t have any, so…
Here is a picture of my fabrics! Aren’t they delicious?
The other thing I am going to do today, is print out the pattern.
Important: The pattern will print in landscape mode, so make the necessary adjustments to your printer settings. Use A4 size paper and print true to size or at 100 percent. Do not adjust image to paper size
I have my pattern printed. You can see that the pattern is in two pages and that the outline is a mirror image of the coloured feather.
Another quilt-a wall hanging that I finished this year, but did not get around to sharing…
I wanted to make something special for my son and daughter-in-law for their fifth wedding anniversary and thought this would make a great gift. Many of you have asked me how I put together the portrait, so I will try to do a brief summary here. But before I do that, I must record my thanks to a generous friend and wonderful artist, Manju Narain, who is a master of portrait quilts and who worked as my guide and sounding board as I created this portrait.
The choice of picture is important. Take a high resoltion picture so that you do not lose out on the details. Mentally remove any extraneous elements in the background as you weigh the pros and cons of a particular picture. Does the picture speak to you, tell you something about the person behind the face? I went through several photos, changing them to black and white, checking for contrast and drama before I zeroed in to this one. My daughter-in-law, M’s, smile is a blinder and (of course!) I think, my son has a very sweet smile too.
Once the picture was finalized, I reduced the number of colours to five- black, white and three greys . I don’t have Photoshop and was not satisfied with the result obtained with Paint, so I searched online and found a great site which works beautifully well.
I enlarged the picture to 30″ x 40″; then took two full size prints-out, one on plain paper and the other on freezer paper and pulled out black, white and grey solids to work with. I trimmed away the background from the freezer paper print. The plain paper picture would work as a guide. I also kept a print-out of the original picture in colour, for reference.
4. I traced the outer outline of the figures and the garments on the white background fabric- this will help me in the final placement of the figures on it. No pictures of this!
5. I began work on my DIL’s (daughter-in-law’s) face and neck first. I built the portrait in layers, like one does with oil paints.
I decide to use the medium grey fabric as a base for the face on which the features will be built up. I ironed the freezer paper on the right side of the fabric which will form the lowermost layer. I built up the various layers, using the freezer paper templates as guides. For the really tiny pieces, I ironed a two-sided fusible on the wrong side of the fabric before cutting out the pieces. They could then be ironed in place. (The details, such as the white highlights on the nose, teeth and eyes would come in last after most of the quilting had been done).
For the hair, I used black as the base and pinned the highlights in the dark grey over it . (I later regretted not adding a fusible under the highlights as the thin strips frayed before I could stitch them down. Another good option would have been to cut and place them just before I was ready to quilt down the piece.)
Now I was ready to create Son’s face. Here, the base would be the dark grey.
The basic shapes finished, I stitched DIL’s face in place on the background, using my pencil tracing as a guide.
The great thing about having freezer paper templates is that you can iron them on the background fabric to make sure you are stitching pieces in the right place!
The deadline for finishing the quilt approached, but we had guests over whom I had to take shopping! That is where I found the perfect danglers for DIL!
Son’s jacket was a bigger problem. He is wearing a light blue jacket in the photo and I wanted to use their garments to add colour and zing to the portrait. Instead, I found this brown furnishing fabric-the texture seemed perfect! I also found the perfect buttons in my mother-in-law’s collection; they came from a coat that belonged to my father-in-law almost half a century ago.
Now I was thinking about DIL’s saree. Also, I needed colour here! That is when I remembered how fond DIL was of orchids and had insisted on purple orchids for her jaimala (garlands exchanged by bride and groom) on her wedding. So we went orchid-hunting! I finally managed to find these silk orchids, so pretty, don’t you think?
Meanwhile, I add more details to Son’s face…
…and find the loveliest black tissue brocade in my stash for DIL’s saree. I auditioned gold tissue for her blouse, but settled on black.
This is looking good now!
Black brocade saree in tissue silk for DIL
Now that everything is in place, comes the difficult question-to quilt or not to quilt. I began tentatively…
But, what the heck! Let us jump right in!
Well, lots of more quilting-and here we are. I finally decided to add five orchids to the quilt, four in DIL’s hair and one in Son’s buttonhole for it was five years of married life they would be celebrating!
The binding was done, dots of white Inktense pencil inks added to the teeth and noses, hanging sleeve attached and I was ready to share the pictures of their gift with the children on their wedding anniversary. I brought it with me when I travelled to the US to visit them. Here is the portrait on their dining room wall. Incidentally I used the ‘Hang-it-Dang-it’ hanger to hang it and it worked wonderfully well!
A final close look at the portrait before I say goodnight!
In its home!
(For those of you who have been waiting, I did not take enough pictures, so a detailed tutorial will have to wait till I do my next portrait quilt.)
Continuing with my quilts for 2018, here is a quilt I made in January this year, but never got around to sharing on my blog.
For this quilt, I recycled an old bottle green khadi silk saree, which I have had for years (and which has its very own story) and an ikat silk dupatta in cream and green with a border in plum red. I designed a really easy pattern-joining simple panels with minimum seams-to take into account the unravelling which inevitably comes hand in hand with working with silk. One day, perhaps, I will write down the pattern and publish it-it is something even a total beginner can handle!
I bagged the quilt with a backing recycled from another favourite saree, this time a muslin,with a Bagh block print.
I had it hand-quilted in the market by a tagaiwala, a quilt-maker whose family has been in this profession for several generations. The quilt is filled with nearly two kilos of carded cotton-wool and is really, really warm, to take care of winters in Jaipur, where we have no centralized heating. I think he has done a great job of the quilting, don’t you?