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.
I show you how to frame your finished quilt behind glass, even adding a border!
My quilt Seasons in the Sun has been lying around in a shelf for over three years now! I live in a dusty place and it was necessary to put it behind a glass frame. In any case, it did not even have a hanging sleeve!
I was also not sure how to hang it behind glass and browsed the web for a solution. I finally decided to get a box frame made, fit it with a hanging rod and hang the quilt inside. The carpenter was ready with box frame a few days ago, but I could not get myself to stitch yet another quilting sleeve (after two on the Dreamcatcher and another on my son and daughter-in-law’s portrait quilt! That reminds me that I am yet to share pics of that portrait here).
So I was saying that adding hanging sleeves must be the most tedious part of quilting and I wanted to avoid it come what may! I decided I would mount it on board, like pictures are, but how? I did manage to work out something, and here is a mini-tute explaining what I did and why.
How to Display a Finished Quilt Behind Glass
Preparing your Quilt
1. Measure your quilt as accurately as you can, including the binding and then measure the finished binding. My quilt measured as follows
36.5″ x 50″ including binding. My binding was 1/2″ finished, so excluding the binding, my quilt finished at 35.5″ x 49″.
2. You need to decide if you want a border around the finished quilt. I had to add a 5″ border beyond my final quilt size, because I was working with a frame that was already made.
3. Once that is decided, you can calculate how much fabric you will need.
If adding border:
Fabric 1: Can be any solid ; I used inexpensive poplin. This has to be equal to the size of the quilt minus the binding plus total 1/2″ for two seams. I will call this the backing fabric.
Fabric 2: For the border. I could not decide what I wanted for the border. I would have liked a sky blue mitered border, but I did not have enough of the fabric in my stash. I also did not have enough green fabric in a single colour, so I pieced my border using whatever I had at hand.
To calculate the fabric needed for the (unmitered) border:
Width of border:
Width of border+ width of binding + 1/4″ for seam joining border to backing + 1.25″ to wrap to the back of the mounting board.
In my case this was 5″ + 1/2″+ 1/4″ + 1.25″ =7″
Length of border:
2 readied strips, width of border x length of backing ( for me 35.5″x7″)
2 strips of width of border x width of backing plus two widths of border minus 1/2″
( for me 7″x 49.5″ plus 14″ minus 1/2″, that is 7″x 73″)
If not adding border
Make a backing fabric equal to final size of quilt plus 1.25″ all around ( to wrap over and to the back of the mounting.
You may be tempted to skip the backing all together, but adding an additional backing protects your quilt, because it ensures that it does not come in direct contact with the board.
4. Prepare your backing by adding the borders. Spray starch and press all seams.
5. Sew the backing to the quilt:
Lay the prepared backing flat, right side facing up. Arrange the quilt, also facing up, on top of the backing. ( I spray basted the two layers together!)
Pin-baste these two together, so that the binding seam of the quilt falls exactly over the seam joining the border to the prepared backing. Now we are ready to sew.
You can machine sew, exactly at the inner edge of the binding, turning over frequently to check that you are not straying from the seam line on the fabric below. I did not feel confident about machine sewing, so I flipped over the pinned- basted layers. I folded the border back on the backing and slip-stitched the two layers together. I could ensure that the seam line on the backing fabric was joined to the seam line of the binding on the quilt exactly. That at the end of it I was left wishing I had stuck to a hanging sleeve, is quite another matter!
Once this was done, I folded the border back and ironed it. Here you can see how it looks. The binding is free, not stitched down, and I like that ‘quilty look’.
If not adding a border, the mount has to be exactly the size of the quilt.
I do not know any technical carpentry terms, so this is going to be written in a layman’s language!
I wanted teakwood for the 2.5″ wide frame, but the carpenter recommended pinewood, saying it was lighter. I did not want a simple frame, so I extended the bars beyond the frame. I designed the frame with the horizontal bars longer than the vertical ones to enhance the expansive feel the final picture would give.
The original plan, as I mentioned, was to affix a rod inside the frame and hang the quilt inside. But, with my change of plans, the hardboard that was screwed on to the back of the frame was removed and trimmed to fit inside!
– So, first the glass was fixed with strips of wood (1/2″ square section). I hunted across my city for plexi-glass, which would be non reflective, but it was not available anywhere. I then opted for the thinnest glass, 4 mm(?) thick.
– Next, the prepared quilt was stretched across the mount, the edges wrapped to the back and secured with painters tape.
We did think of gluing it to the back, but decided this was a better solution, as it would be easier to remove in case needed.
-The quilt was now placed inside the frame. Note that it does not touch the glass, because of the 1/2″ thick wooden strips between the quilt and the glass.
– The hardboard mounted with the quilt was secured with wooden strips nailed over it into the frame ( the way glass is). So no nail goes through the fabric anywhere.
I do believe this looks much neater than just hanging a quilt inside a glass box! I am now planning to frame more of my quilts to display them without fear of dust ruining them! And without harming the quilt in any way with glue or nails etc!!
After several weeks, I finally got around to a little bit of sewing and I decided to try out a YouTube tute on an easy and quick method for a nine-patch block, which I had seen long, long ago! In fact, almost five years ago, I had adapted this method to test and write one of my most popular tutorials, the one on how to sew an easy and perfect four-patch. So without much ado, here we go on my adaptation of the same tute to make several nine-patch blocks in a batch!
I will do this tute in two parts. In the first I will show you how I made several nine-patch blocks in one go. In the second part I will give you Maths for various sizes and some tips, including those for perfectly matched points on your blocks.
For my project, I need several nine-patch blocks of 0.75″. Yes, you read that right, 3/4″ blocks! Almost impossible to manage by the regular methods, one would think, since each of the nine square patches would be 3/4″ to start with, and end at 1/4″!
1. I begin with 2 strips of 2.5″ width in the fabrics I will be using for my block. Actually 2.25″ would have been sufficient, but remember a good rule to follow when working with miniature blocks is wherever possible, sew bigger and then trim to size. I will discuss the length of the strips later.
2. I sew a scant 1/4″ seam on both long edges.
3. Now I do something one doesn’t usually do! I trim the seams by about 1/16″ or 4-5 threads. Remember the final size of the pieces is only 1/4″? Unless I trim the seams, things are going to get difficult and messy at the back!
4. Measuring from just inside the seam, I make a long cut 1/2″ inside on the joined strips. ( 1/4″ is the size of the final patch, plus 1/4″ for the seam. ) Similarly inside the other seam.
5. I now have this:
Two pink-white strips and one each of pink and white strips about 1″ wide.
6. I press open the two pink-white strips…
Important: Do not iron open the seams. Instead, press them to one side. I ironed them to the darker, pink side.
7. I now sew the pink strip and the white strip to these, to get one pink-white-pink and the other white-pink-white strips and press it open, seams are again pressed to the darker ( pink) side.
8. Measuring from just beyond the seam, I trim the newly added pink strip to 1/2″. Had I worked with 2.25″ strips, this would not have not been required, as my recently added strip would have been 3/4″ instead of 1″.
9. And similarly, the white strip. The final white-pink-white strip will be just the scantiest bit wider than 1.25″, as will be the pink-white-pink strip.
10. I now cut 2.5″ long pieces from the lengths of the two strips.
I had begun with 10″ long strips, so I have 4 pairs of 2.5″ long strips at the end of this stage. ( I now made another 5 sets of these readied strip pairs, using 12.5″ strips, so don’t let the coming pictures confuse you!)
11. Now comes the most exciting part, where the magic starts to reveal! I pick up each pair, right sides together, and sew 1/4″ seams along the shorter edges. I had pressed the seams towards one colour; this ensures that the seams ‘lock’ and my points match beautifully.
Remember, chain stitching makes things move really fast!
12. You may have guessed what comes next? A cut 1/2″ from inside both seams. I could, of course, measure 3/4″ from the edge.But measuring from the seamline ensures accuracy of my ready size, because it takes into account that my 1/4″ seam may be a tad more or less than 1/4″!
13. Have we forgotten something here? Yes. We had to trim the seam (allowance) by 1/16″.
14. Press open the (6-patch) side pieces; again, seam to one side – do not press seam open. Which side? I pressed half of them on one side and the remaining nine on the other and made two separate piles of these 6-patches. I realised later this could get a little complicated with regular sized blocks! How? I will try to answer this later in the “Tips” section.
I joined the centre strips to side pieces appropriately. the white-pink-white to one pile and the pink-whie pink to the other.
15. Once sewn, I first press the seams towards the edge and am ready for the last step …
16. …the last strip joined has to be trimmed to 3/4″.
Here we are, the final eighteen!
Nine blocks have white squares in the corners and centre. The other nine are reversed.
Width of Strips
The Maths is very simple. Just add 1.5″ (for 6 seam allowances of 1/4″ each) to the size of your ready nine-patch, to get the width of your strips. So if you want a 6″ patch, begin with 7.5″ strips, if you want a 3″ strip, start with 4.5″ wide strips.
Length of Strips
This will depend on the number of blocks you need. The minimum nine-patches you can make by this method is two, one the colour reversal of the other.
If you need just two blocks, begin with 2 squares. The size of the square? Easy! Size of ready nine-patch plus 1.5″ . So for a pair of 6″ nine-patches, you need two squares of 7.5″. And, if you need a pair of nine-patches of 3″, start with two 4.5″ squares.
If you have a set of 5″ charm squares lying around and are wondering what to do with them, it may be a great idea to pair up contrasting colours and make 3″ nine-patches with them. The strips will have to be cut at 1.25″ from the seam at Stage4 and the centre strip will require trimming as it will be 2″ wide.
Add one width to the length, for each extra pair that you require. For two pairs of 6″ squares, the two strips will be 7.5″ x 15″. For 3 pairs, 7.5″ x 22.5″, for 4 pairs 7.5″ x 30″ and so on…
Caution: This method gives you two sets of nine-patches, which are colour reversals of each other. It will not work if you want identical nine-patches.Of course, you could put away the unwanted 9-patches for another project or use them in a border or something. If doing miniature blocks like I am making, I recommend this method every time. You can always use up the extra blocks.
I am repeating myself: press the seams to one side, consistently. Like I said, things get complicated when we reach the last stage of assembling the nine patch.
a) If making mini-blocks, press towards the strip which will be on the edge. Thus if you are making a block with 5 pink patches and 4 white ones, press towards the strip which has pink-white-pink patches. And vice versa with the colour reversal patch. In other words, half of them to one side and the other half to the other, like I did. Your finished nine-patches will look like this from the back. The last two seams face the edges.
b) If making regular sized blocks, which will be attached to other nine-patch blocks to make perhaps a border or larger units, I would follow the traditional method. Press seams on the blocks in one direction consistently, towards the pink-white-pink strip. In half of these blocks ( 5W-4P) the two last seams will end up facing each other towards the centre, in the other half (5P-4W) towards the edge. Then when these nine-patches are being joined together, seams will lock in to give you perfectly matched points.
c) If making regular-sized blocks which will not be attached to other nine patches, press seam towards edge like in a) above.
Well, I really can’t think of anything else, so…
Are you wondering what I am going to do with all these miniature 9-patches? What is coming up next? Well, you’ll just have to wait and watch, won’t you?
I sign off wishing all my friends across the world a Very Happy Diwali, the Hindu Festival of Lights! May our Earth see the victory of prosperity over want, of peace over war, of good over evil, of health over disease, of hope over despair, of love and compassion over hatred…of light over darkness, everywhere and for all its inhabitants.