I’d like to be, under the sea…

In an Octopus’s Garden…in the shade!

Appliqued Octopus
Machine appliqued Octopus

I made this quilt for a challenge with my quilting group Desi Quilters, for which one had to make a quilt using strips. I had always wanted to make a Convergence Quilt and I had the perfect print for it!

For making Convergence quilts, a great resource is the book Ricky Tim’s Convergence Quilt  available on Amazon.com. I found a great tutorial on Rafael’s Mum’s blogspot ” Adventures in Quilting and Sailing., and set out to work on my four fabrics. For those of you too lazy to go look up that blog , for a wall hanging / baby quilt about 40″ X 40″, you need two or more  fabrics, though generally one uses 4 fabrics, like I did. So, the recipe is:

4 fat quarters of nicely contrasting fabric.  It works best when the main fabric is a large diffused (all over ) print or batik with strongly contrasting colours.

1 yard 40- 44″ wide fabric for the border

1.5 yards of 40-44″ fabric for backing

48″ X 48″ batting ( I used an old woollen shawl :-))

So here  are my four fabrics ( remembered to take a picture only after I had already started working on it)

Convergence quilt fabric
Trying out arrangements for the quilt fabric

And here is the how the  top would look once finished… I added a 1/4″ inner border to frame the strips, before adding a wide 7.5″ border (cut at 8″) on the outside.

Quilt top finished
Quilt top

I quite love it! As I was sewing it, a song kept playing in my head – no points for guessing which!

We would be warm,

Under the storm,

In our little hideaway

Beneath the waves…

So I had to get my Octopus. After browsing through hundreds of octopus images, I zeroed onto these two, that I absolutely adored:

Debra Harry’s Octopus Quilt  and a quilt on The Calico Cat’s blogspot.

I decided to base my Octopus on Debra Harry’s Octopus.  For the fabric I turned to a Fossil Fern charms pack  gifted to me by a wonderful friend Chumkie, from my Desi Quilters group.

I needed a range of shades in the same colour. Brighter for the tentacles in the foreground, and darker in the tentacles to the back. Also, the underside of the tentacles had to be a much lighter shade. It was like painting with fabric!

These are the various colour combinations I thought of –

Purples
I do not like purples and thought it would be good to get rid of them here 😉
Pink Fossil ferns
Pinks? Too predictable!
Earthy browns? too dull…

( A good idea is to lay out your fabrics together and take a picture. You get a much better idea of what ‘clicks’ and what does not!

Once the decision for the fabric was made, I sketched the Octopus on newspaper and cut it out, placed it on the quilt to see how it looked. Too small! So I sketched a bigger one and that seemed just right. Sorry, I did not take pics of this stage either.

I then drew a grid on freezer paper – showing where the Octopus would be placed vis-a-vis the strips. You see, I wanted  a few of the tentacles to come from behind the strips.  [Secret – I had only charm squares to work with, so I could not have too long a piece anywhere 😉 ]

I the sketched my Octopus on the grid, freehand, as you can see!

Octopus sketch
Octopus sketched on freezer paper marked with quilt grid

Note that the image is the reverse (mirror image) of how it shall appear on the quilt. The top line is the upper border – I wanted a tentacle stealing out to the border! I numbered each tentacle, and each part that would be in a different fabric on that tentacle. 1, 2, 3, 4 would be the foreground tentacles in a brighter colour

A close up of the Octopus would explain what I am saying…

Octopus Garden Quilt
A close up of the Octopus to show the gradations in colour between the tentacles in the foreground and those at the back. The undersides were done in a lighter colour

Each small piece was then traced on to Heat n Bond Lite (pink), leaving an extra 1/6″ on the edge that was to be overlapped by another piece. All the pieces were laid on the fabric top, the paper removed one by one, and the fabric was ironed on to the quilt top.

I machine stitched it with invisible nylon thread on the top and white cotton in the bobbin. I could have been neater 😦

Learning: Here I realised that I should have handled it one tentacle at a time. Ironed one (the lowermost), stitched it, then the next… because by the time I was through with ironing it, edges had started to come off! The very small pieces even came off as I was stitching. That is why a few of the tentacles are wonky! I suppose I should overstitch the edges with satin stitch, now that I own a Brother, but I think I like the raw edged look:-) Or maybe, I am just too lazy.

For the backing I had fabric that was just 36″ wide and a quilt nearly 44″ wide. So I decided to add a contrast turquoise to make it measure up!  Alsa! The turquoise was  also a yard width, and only a metre (40″). Eureka! add some of the main print from the front in the shape of a coral rock! I had always wanted to experiment with wavy edges – so they came in next. Here is the end result

Convergence Quilt - Octopus Garden quilt back
Octopus Garden quilt back

I used an old shawl as the batting and quilted it with waves.

For the binding I joined the two solid backing fabrics and cut them diagonally to obtain a bias binding. Originally I machine stitched the binding ( from the back to the front!) because I was in a hurry.  I thought it was quite hideous, and ripped, folding down the edges with invisible hemming.

So

I’d ask my friends to come and see

An Octopus’s Garden with me!

Convergence Quilt with appliqued octopus
Octopus’s Garden Quilt

Of course, my Octopus has been christened  Paul,after  my favourite Beatle!

Convergence Quilt - Octopus's Garden
We’d sing and shout, and swim about
the coral that lies beneath the waves…

I do plan to add some embellishment to this quilt, so watch this space… 🙂

Wedding Ring Reversible Mug Rug

This is an adaptation of the traditional wedding ring block pattern into a mug rug! It is a wedding anniversary gift for my sister-in-law and her husband of 47 years.

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I wanted to make the mug rug reversible, and this is a picture of the back.

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I foundation pieced two wedding rings, about 10″ outer diameter. The centre circles have a flannel insert. I discovered that I had made a miscalculation, and these were half an inch too big! Nothing could be done now, so I slip-stitched them by hand to the interlaced wedding rings, taking the excess fabric to the back.
With no access to a sewing machine, I decided to hand quilt them. I quite like the extra personal touch the hand quilting gives to the gift:-)
It so happens that the monthly challenge on my quilt forum Desi Quilters for July 2012 is monochromatic quilts! So this could be my entry for the challenge.

Here is a closer look at the mug rug:

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And of the back!

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My Cathedral Window Quilt completed!

So my Cathedral Window Quilt has finally reached its new home.

I have shared the first part of its journey from squares to quilt here.

We ended with the 9X4 window frames ready for the panes. And I was staying at my son’s place with access to no fabric except two jelly rolls in yellow and red, from jellyrollfabrics.com and some brown charm squares! No sewing machine either. So be it! Back to the old school and hand stitching.
I did the centre square in red, before I decided to do the corners.
I cut out some 1.25″ brown squares, folded them in half, placed them on the frame, and folded the edges of the pane on the square. Hemmed over it and voila! We are done with corners.
My camera settings were wonky, so I have a video of the corners, instead of a click. And I am unable to post videos from my iPad, so 😦

I did think the brown squares were a tad smaller than comfortable! But the fabric miser that I am, I decided to stick to 1.25″ for the rest, because I was working with 2.5″ wide jelly rolls and 5″ squares, and did not want to waste any fabric:-)

But, I got some washable fabric glue and put a drop on the frame before putting the pane on it! Made life that much simpler.

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I did the edging in brown, and a kind of three window pattern in red!
I love it already, and want to stop right here! 20120725-203134.jpg
And I think I have arthritis developing in my right thumb. Can you get arthritis in a single joint? Not sure, so google google! It could be carpel tunnel syndrome, or osteoarthritis! Doctor son thinks it is nothing so fancy, all I have is iPaditis or Facebook-itis! Dear Husband thinks that the whites look shabby with all the seam joints showing.
It is meant as a gift for his sister, after all.

I go back to my design board ( that sounds fancier than the carpet) and try out different colour combinations on my windows – here are some of those:

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But all of these were vetoed by the Husband and the Son as “too loud”,
And I finally decided to make something more ‘sober(?)’
While I was doing the panes, I saw some of the window corners had this pretty little four cornered flower where the folded corners meet. Where the rows and columns meet was an ugly mess, with even a pinhole! So I went ahead and sewed a tiny stitch around each joint, just so!

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After several hours of sewing, interspersed with tending to a progressively sorer thumb, my Cathedral Window quilt is finally ready:-)

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Would I do it again? YES! Though, I would probably use a faster, simpler method now, like my fellow quilter Chumkie Mukherjee’s quilt along on our quilt forum desi-quilters.blogspot.com!
Here is another look at my little quilt before I sign off for today. I shall come back to this topic to share my learnings from this!

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…and a final look as the quilt finds its final home, on my sister-in-law’s sideboard:-)

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Dancing Square Mug Rugs

I saw this mug rug at http://nofightingnobiting.blogspot.in/2012/04/quilted-mug-rugs.html, while browsing the net for a little gift that could be made in a day!

I was not sure if I could understand the instructions given by Katherine. I knew there was another way of making this ‘dancing square’ block – joining all the quilt squares first, and cutting with a template. But I was not sure if I could get my pinwheel centres to match with that method!

I had also made a full size quilt about three years ago, using a stack and whack method very kindly shared with me by Cathey McClure. But I could not remember how that worked! Other than that it went stack, whack, stitch! And stack, whack, stitch again! L

So I used this (more roundabout?) method and surprise, surprise! my little quilt tops came up in no time at all!

I am giving the instructions for 4 mug rugs 8″ X8″ (not arbitrary – but because it works that way!). Through chain piecing, these can be cut and stitched up in an afternoon (other than the quilting).

You will need

Background squares (Blue- B) Twenty 4″ X4″

For the Pinwheel- Four Squares
each
of 4 contrasting coloured squares (yellow –Y, Pink –P, Red –R and Green G)

(For each little quilt you need – 5 B, 1Y, 1P, 1R, 1G)

For the backing – 9″ squares of background fabric (or any backing of your choice)X 4

Binding – Four strips 9″X 2″ of each of the pinwheel colours.

8.5″ square of batting

I like to mark a light square with a pencil on each corner of the wrong side of my solid squares – so that i don’t have to strain my eyes later trying to decide which is the right side!

Making the Template

I make my template with graph paper. Only centimetre graph paper is available in India. So I used a print out of inch graph paper available for free download online.( Free Multi-color Graph Paper from http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/multicolor/)

Of course, you could draw the square on plain paper, but graph paper gives it the accuracy I like in a small quilt!

If you have template plastic, great! It is not available here. (For my full-size quilt I had used plastic sheet cut from a plastic folder and marked with a permanent marker. You can use that for your template). I find that the graph paper template I use here works equally well.

  1. On the graph paper, draw a 4″ square . From each corner mark a point ¾” to the left (or right) and join the diagonally opposite points.
  2. Quick way of checking if you have it right – the diagonals meet at the centre point (2″ in this case)
  3. Stick your graph paper square to a thin, stiff card sheet, and cut out the shape.

    Cut across one diagonal – this is your basic template.

    Marking and cutting the fabric

    1. Stack up the squares colourwise carefully, matching all edges – make sure the wrong side is up in ALL of them. ( Or you will end up with a few anti-clockwise blades, which you will have to set aside for another project! Ask me! ) The background squares can also be in stacks of 4.
    2. Place the template on the top square and cut the stack. Do this for all stacks. For the sake of convenience I am going to call these pieces Half Squares or HS.

    3. Now comes the part which appears tedious, but makes life much simpler! On each half square, draw the crossing diagonal by placing the template perpendicularly– but DO NOT CUT. You can see in the pic below how your half square will appear.

      (No way I would do this for a larger quilt. But quite doable in a small quiltJ)

      Put the pieces back in stacks colourwise. Makes it easier to chain stitch. Remember to keep the wrong side up in all the pieces!

      Making the Block

      (You can skip reading this part and go on to the next part – it is an explanation of the process, more as a reminder to myself how I worked it out…)

      This project is basically a nine patch.

      The centre square has 4 pieces – YPGR

      The corner squares have 3 pieces –

      1. ½ B piece
      2. ¼ background piece b
      3. ¼ coloured piece( 4 corners each different)

      The outer centre squares have –

      1 ½ background piece B

      2. ¼ coloured piece

      3 ¼ adjacent coloured piece

      We begin by deciding what colours would be adjacent to each other. I decided on this scheme.

      1. Begin from the centre. Join 1 pink HS to 1 adjacent green HS, matching the pencil marked diagonal of the two pieces carefully. Join 3 more Pink HS to 3 green HS.
      2. Similarly join 1 Red HS to 1 adjacent yellow HS. Make 3 more red-yellow squares.
      3. Now join 1 red HS to a green HS. Similarly make 1 more Red-Green Square.
      4. Now make 2 Pink Yellow squares.
      5. You are now left with two HS of each colour (total 8). Join these to the background BHS .

        You will have ( besides 32 background halfs – which will not be cut)

        4 RY squares

        4 PG squares

        2 RG squares

        2 YP squares

        2 BY squares

        2 BP squares

        2 BG squares

        2 BR squares

      6. This is what your squares will look like. Cut all these squares across the marked diagonal! Now you know why we marked the line. You could also stack them and cut across the diagonal – this was a small project – so I preferred to cut each individually.
      7. Press open the units, seams to one side. It does not matter which.

        Putting it together

        1. Centre Square. Put together the 4 coloured squares. Make 4 such units. (rg-yp )

        2. Corner Squares Take a br HS and join to a B-HS. Match the seam of the brHS to the diagonal of the BHS while joining.

        1. Similarly join all other double coloured HS to BHS. You shall have 4 sets of

        Bbg, Bbp, Bby, Bbr

      8. Outer Centre Squares. Join the remaining double-colourHS units to the backgroundHS. You shall have 4 sets of Bpg, Bpy,Bry, Brg.

        1. Now press these seams towards the background fabric.

        Squaring Up

        Personally, I find this the most tedious part. I trimmed the squares to 3″. The centres are already available where the seams meet – so it was really not so much of a problem.

        Positioning

        Position each of the 4 sets in 3 rows of 3 patches, and join. Be careful while joining them – I had to rip seams thrice, because I joined the `wrong’ edges!

        So here it comes together magically!

Only one thing remains before you quilt it. Flip it over – and set the seams at the pinwheel centres into whirls!

Just so…

Quilt as you like. I added a binding overlapping the ¼” seam allowance – hence my little quilts were 8″ each.

This is what I did on the reverse on one mat.

I’ve decided to do a different colour binding on each of the 4 little quilts.

Two of my reversible mug rugs are quilted and ready. I just echoed the pinwheel outer edge in the quilting. I also did an outline quilting on the pinwheel, but didn’t like it. You can still see where I ripped it!

My finished mug rugs.

You could, of course, join the four blocks with/ without a sashing, add a border and and make a runner.

Do let me know if you make these!

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Quilt for a little girl

I designed and made this little quilt for my little grand niece.

It is a number / counting quilt – also a land, sea, air quilt – made with silks and satins and oodles of love. Anyone is free to copy it in any which way they like.

Patchwork of my life…sew many colours

I discovered patchwork while in college. The college  bookstore had a fascinating book called “All about patchwork” and I saved money to buy that. It was a princely amount of Rs.15 in an era when an orange bar was 25 paise and a choc bar was Rs.1.25. ( i still have the book – it needs a lot of patchwork, though – and some pages are missing) Scraps were not much of a problem as most of us stitched our own clothes.

I immediately launched on a grandmother’s flower garden hexagon quilt, cutting up paper hexagons, tacking them on to the patches, whip-stitching them together. I had about 20 double rosettes ready in two years and then I got impatient! so I joined them together – and made a bedspread.