Quilts of a Feather-A Quilt-Along-Part One

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.
Designed on Bamboo Pad!
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.
Materials Needed:
For Background
Black (or any other dark coloured) fabric: 8” x 10” piece
For Feather
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
For Backing
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?

 

These beautiful fabrics are gifts from my quilter friends!
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.

 

The pattern for the feather is in two pages. Print both!
Meanwhile, why don’t you share on the IQF Facebook page what fabrics you have chosen for your feather?
Given below is the PDF pattern for the middle-sized 7″ peacock feather that I made. If you want a print-out of the materials required, download the second file also. You will need Adobe Reader on your computer to be able to read this. It can be downloaded for free online!

Portrait of a Girl…and Her Man!

What goes into an eye…

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
Portrait Quilt -patchworkofmylife The prints-out on plain paper and freezer paper

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.)

Auditioning the fabric face on the plain paper print out.

Now I was ready to create Son’s face. Here, the base would be the dark grey.

The base for this face is the dark grey

The basic shapes finished, I stitched DIL’s face in place on the background, using my pencil tracing as a guide.

I referred to the coloured picture to get the highlights and shadows on the picture right.

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!

Coming alive!

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!

The perfect earrings!

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.

The jacket is furnishing fabric! The buttons are from his grandfather’s coat.

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?

White silk and purple orchids for DIL?

Meanwhile, I add more details to Son’s face…

I add more details to the 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.

Saree in black silk tissue brocade

This is looking good now!

Love the way it is coming up!

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…

Scared I’ll ruin it!
Oh God! What have I done to it? Should I rip it out?

But, what the heck! Let us jump right in!

My only hope is that quilting the background will improve it!

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!

All ready except for the final highlights and the binding

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.)

Tana’s Ikat 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.

A quilt for my daughter…

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?

Details of the hand-quilting

 

Cathedral Window Cushions

Traditional Cathedral Windows with a modern look!

I just realized that I had not shared my finishes for 2018 here! So here come the fitted box cushion covers I made for an ell-shaped bench at the entrance of my son’s house. My daughter-in-law had seen these cushions and loved them, so I thought of making similar ones for her.

The cushions were 15″x 24″and 15″ x 39″ and deciding the size of the windows posed a problem! I decided to make 4.5″ windows and add a 1.5″ strip along the back and side edge. The math worked perfectly and it turned out quite well, I think!

The cathedral window patchwork cushions find their final resting place.

You can see another of my cathedral window finishes here. And if you want to make your own windows, there is a tutorial I did in two parts. In yet another tutorial I discussed the cathedral window math.

As you can see, this is probably the only kind of patchwork I have done more than once! But, at the cost of repeating myself yet again, cathedral windows–no, never again!

The Dreamcatcher At Houston!

Felt amazing wearing this ribbon!
Would you believe that I forgot to take a picture of the quilt by itself?
Preening in front of my quilt!

Nearly Insane—One More Block!

This 6″ block of the Salinda Rupp quilt was fairly simple, as you can see! I opened the seam at the edge as I plan to eventually assemble the blocks by machine.

Incidentally my new machine has arrived, haven’t had a chance to open it yet. It sounded like a great buy–has ten feet, including walking foot and free motion quilting feet and an extension table too! All just for $140 from Brother– I think it is Model 3340.

Block 81

Vital Stats

Number of pieces: 44

Difficulty level: Easy

Technique used: EPP

Block 81 Nearly Insane

So Houston, here I come!

Nearly Insane Progress

There was finally some progress on my Nearly Insane blocks, thanks to the fact that I was without a sewing machine while visiting my son! I had printed out patterns for the first fifty blocks at home and had the sense to carry them with me along with the Summer Breeze III fabric by Moda that I am using for my quilt. With time on my hands, I sat for several hours and cut out the templates for foundation paper piecing ( hundreds of them!) before it struck me that I couldn’t use them without a sewing machine! Now what?

I could, of course cut out the fabric for the blocks. I had the pieces done for five random blocks, when it finally dawned on me that I could piece the blocks without the machine. English Paper piecing it was to be. But for that, the templates had to be cut again, into individual paper pieces. Not a happy thought, as the average number of pieces in each of the blocks must be around fifty.

It was certainly a tedious job, but I finally had the pieces ready for EPP.

Prepping the pieces for EPP

I started on this particular block, but gave up half way to do a really easy one–Block 2.

But before I show you Block 2, you must see my Block 1, completed on my sewing machine before I went to the US.

Block 1

Isn’t it pretty? I attempted some fussy cutting with this one.

Patchworkofmylife Nearly Insane Quilt Block 1
Block 1 of the Salinda Rupp ( Nearly Insane) Quilt

Vital Stats
Paper foundation pieced
No of pieces: 37
No of templates for fpp: 5
Level of difficulty: Moderate (because of the tiny square in squares in the centre).
Completed in August 2018

Block 2

The white floral fabric isfrom a charm square I had lying around for years!

Patchworkofmylife Nearly Insane Quilt Block 2
Block 2 of the Salinda Rupp quilt was English paper-pieced.

Vital Stats
English paper pieced
No of pieces: 21
Level of difficulty: Real easy–had I foundation paper pieced it!
Completed in November 2018

Block 3

This block was foundation paper pieced it came up quickly!

Patchworkofmylife Nearly Insane Quilt Block 3
Block 3 of the Salina Rupp (Nearly Insane) Quilt

Vital Stats
Foundation paper pieced
No. of pieces: 37
No. of templates for fpp: 9
Level of difficulty: Easy
Completed in March 2019

Block 7

This block had 10 templates, so I would call it moderately difficult! The 3″ centre portion within the yellow strips had to be pieced in six steps (templates)!

Patchworkofmylife Nearly Insane Quilt Block 7
Block 7 of the Salina Rupp (Nearly Insane) Quilt

Vital Stats
Foundation paper pieced
No of pieces: 36
No. of templates for FPP: 10
Level of difficulty: Moderately difficult
Completed in March 2019

Block 9

Here is another block I started while in the US.
The inner 4.5″ portion on this was English paper-pieced, it had 28 pieces!

Patchworkofmylife Nearly Insane Quilt Block 9
Block 9 of the Salina Rupp ( Nearly Insane) Quilt; 28 pieces here, 48 more to come to complete this 6” Block!

But wait – the outer 1″ ring had 48 more pieces coming up. Terrifying! There were 16 half square triangles, 1″ each, besides four 4-patches of 1″!

I thought it would be sensible to wait to foundation paper piece them on a sewing machine. I finally sewed the 4 remaining templates of the block last week, when back in India. I discovered that I had made a mistake when drafting the pattern and I ended up hand-piecing it partly!

Patchworkofmylife Nearly Insane Quilt Block 9
Block 9 of the Nearly Insane Quilt was partially English paper pieced!

Vital Stats
English paper-pieced, foundation paper pieced and hand-pieced.
No of pieces: 76
No. of templates( had it been foundation paper-pieced): 14
Difficulty level: Difficult!
Completed in March 2019

Find out more about Salinda Rupp’s Quilt, popularly known as the Nearly and my version of it here! To see more blocks from my quilt, link on the `Nearly Insane’ link in the page menu.