I am one of those people who jump headlong into a project and the enthusiasm peters out in no time. I often don’t start a great looking new quilt, because I don’t know if I’ll finish it. Who doesn’t hate the thought of adding to those sad orphan blocks calling out to them to do something, anything with them!? Besides, what a waste of money and effort, which most of us cannot readily spare. I don’t want that to happen to any of you lovely people out there who embark on “Round the Year”, my Block of the Month Quilt! So I decided to pattern all my blocks to be versatile, stand alone blocks. At any stage, you can say, “Okay, that’s enough, I am not going to make any more of these!” (Though I do hope you won’t!). There are lots of ways you can use them, just as many as you end up with. I was playing around with my laptop and here are the options I came up with. (One of the advantages is that we have fairly big blocks which finish at 18″ with a 15″ inset circle.)
So what if you decide to make only one block?
Quilt it and make into a small table topper 18″ square. Incidentally, this is a test block made by my online quilter friend Nikhat Syeda– hasn’t she done a marvellous job? Reduce the size of the square to 15″, which is a great size for cushion cover. You could make a set of cushion covers depending on how many blocks you end up with. Add a border, quilt it to make a stunner of a wall hanging! Another quilter friend Sobana tested the same block. (She has even blogged about it here – you must see the other wonderful work she has done!). She is going to use it as the centre of a quilt she is planning! I am waiting to see what she comes up with – but this does give you an idea of what you can do with a single block! I almost forgot to remind you of what I did with a single block – in fact , with a little less than a single block… I skipped the outer square and quilted the pieced circle into a pretty, round table top. This is my friend Aliya Mir’s test block , which I have photoshopped to show you the look. Well, tomorrow evening I give the fabric requirements for the full quilt, do tune in! But before that, tomorrow morning I am experimenting with various quilt layouts here on this blog!
This is a hand appliqué method that works best when doing patterns that involve multiple curves and reverse appliqué. It is a carry with you project – no tedious ironing, templates, freezer paper , glue, pins…It is also very accurate!
You will need:
Pattern – . As a beginner, you may want to choose something that does not have too many sharp curves. A simple pattern with not too many small pieces is a good idea!
Background fabric – Most patterns will give you details of how much fabric you will need. But remember – at least ¾” to one inch larger than finished piece/ block on each side. For a 10″ X 10″ block, take background fabric 11 1/2″ to 12″ square. Trust me, you will not regret it!
Applique fabric – enough to fully cover the appliqué pattern completely plus approx half inch all around
Painter’s (paper) tape
Small, sharp scissors. Special appliqué scissors are also available!
Thread for basting – try to pick a colour that will show up on both the background and appliqué piece
Thread – colour matching the appliqué piece
Small sharp fine needles – keeping a couple of extra needles threaded is always a great idea when doing hand sewing of any kind.
Toothpicks (yes!). A knitting needle may prove useful for some patterns!
Thimble, if you use one
Couple of sharpened ordinary lead pencils, or washable ink pens for fabric. You may want a white/ light coloured pencil/ pen if your fabric is dark.
I shall be showing different blocks through this entire quilt along, so please do not get confused L!
Print out or trace out your paper pattern . You may need to tape together the sheets – matching given dashes or dotted lines – if the pattern is larger than A4 (like here). The online patterns usually carry instructions on how to go about it!
This pattern is all taped together and ready to be used. If your pattern is symmetrical – like the one above, you need to mark the centre of the pattern.
Trace the pattern to the wrong side of the background fabric.
Tracing the Pattern
Tape the pattern to a light box, or glass window, sunnier the better! Here is a pattern taped on to my window . (It was so sunny that you cant really see anything in this picture!)
Preparing the fabric: Take background fabric at least ¾” to an inch larger than your finished piece on each side . When appliquéing, the fabric gets `pulled in’ unevenly, and you will need to square it to the right dimensions, once done.
Spray starch and iron your background fabric, so that there are no creases!
Fold and iron (the centre part only) fabric twice to mark the centre with sharp creases.
Tape the background fabric, right side facing the light on top of the pattern. So now the wrong side of fabric will be visible to you …Match the centre of the fabric to the centre of pattern. And trace with fabric pen in contrasting colour. I use a lead pencil, which would not work on light coloured or white fabric.
Now we have our pattern traced on the wrong side of the background fabric! And we are ready for the next step.
Pin/ tack or tape your appliqué square to the right side of the fabric, smoothing it out . Hold it against the light to ensure your pattern is completely covered, leaving a seam allowance all around.
Flip over to the reverse side and go over the pattern with a running stitch in contrasting thread.
Tip: You can afford to take large stitches on wide curves and straight edges. The sharper the curve, the smaller the stitch!
This is done! Here it is from the right side.
Here is another block, the appliqué fabric basted in place on a corner. This is when I had just discovered that the joys of paper tape vis a vis pins!
Roughly trim around the pattern, leaving just about a ¼” allowance . For the time being, do not attempt to trim into sharp curves and the reverse appliqué portion!
A few tutes recommend skipping this step altogether, and trimming only as you go along.
In any case, we are ready to appliqué. Now you can carry this with you anywhere (or put it away for a year)– and take it out and finish it any time 🙂
Start location – Start in an area which is straight or a fairly wide or gentle curve. In my block above, I could have started on the straight basket base. I am starting on the wide handle above.
Even out the seam allowance here. A ¼ ” or less seam allowance works great on wider curves. With a washable fabric marker pen ( I’ve used a lead pencil), go over the basting line a few inches ahead of where you will be working. This will work as a guide for the seam line. As we go along, we continue to mark the seam line in this manner.
Several tutorials suggest using the hole made by the basting as a guide. My ageing eyes prefer a drawn line!
Clip the thread , remove a few stitches with your needle (or the toothpick). Turn the fabric under and start stitching! I was taught to take a few back stitches at the back when beginning a hand sewing project, so that is how I fasten my thread! More often than not, I forget to` bury’ the tail between the appliqué and the background fabric – which would look much neater. L
Generally one would slip stitch it ( like an invisible hem). You could also use a decorative button hole or a feather stitch …
and so you go on, removing the basting ahead of you, turning in the seam allowance and joining the appliqué piece to the background! Simple, isn’t it? Use the toothpick to negotiate the more difficult parts. And remember to keep flipping over to see you are on the right track…
TIPS AND TRICKS
Seam allowance – Trim your seam allowance as you go along. Your seam allowance is not a constant. For wide, gentle curves and straight edges, keep it at ¼” . Since there are no exposed seams, for smaller pieces you can reduce the seam allowance.
Another tip is sharper the curve, the smaller the seam allowance.
Curves – Notch all curves – as you approach them.
You would generally read that it is not necessary to make notches in convex (fat) curves, and that is quite true. But I find that doing this reduces the seam bulk and gives you a smoother curve.
As for concave (hollow) curves , it is imperative to make notches. Again, the rule is, sharper the curve, the closer the notches!
Sewing sharp (pointed) outer corners – as in leaves, petals…As you approach a pointed outer corner, trim the corner seam allowance to a blunt 1/8″ or less. Notch as liberally as you dare! Remove the hand basting stitches only up to the corner.
Stitch right up to the point and fasten the thread by taking one or two back stitches on the wrong side.
Now remove the basting on the other edge. With a toothpick, ease in the fabric gently, rolling it over inside the tiny space. You may need to trim the seam allowance further as you do this.
Sewing sharp pointed inner corners – As you approach the corner, reduce the seam allowance on both the edges that meet at the corner steadily. ( I make a cut which stops just before the corner point, so that the allowance at the corner may be literally just a thread or two!)
Remove the basting on both edges . Now, with the toothpick, ease in the seam allowance on both the edges. Remember, gentle is the word!
Sharp curves (not pointed) –Make two notches on either side of the corner, instead of a single cut as for a pointed corner.
The Stitch – I’ve not come across any description of it anywhere, so I do not know what it is called. It is something like the ladder stitch, or even the blind stitch, but not quite… invented it when trying to make my appliqué stitch invisible!
It is basically a running stitch. The lower stitch is visible on the wrong side. The upper stitch is hidden, in the fold just above the seam turning, but below the visible part of the appliqué.
I begin by bringing the needle straight up, on the right side on the appliqué, just a thread or two inside the edge.
Then I go right back in the same place, but not all the way to the wrong side of the fabric. I stop in the fold above the seam allowance. Travel a few millimetres in that fold and then go down to the wrong side. Take a stitch and come up to the right side again as in the previous step.
The stitch is totally invisible on the top! Except for a tiny hole, which can be smoothed away.
On the wrong side it shows up just a thread or two inside the pattern line.
I find hand appliqué really relaxing! I am sure you will, too!
This is a very special quilt, perhaps the closest to my heart! I started making it in February this year, as a Valentine’s Day challenge entry for my facebook quilting group, Desi Quilters. I had just managed to get the pieces ready for English paper piecing, when my daughter fell seriously ill.
She was hospitalized for 2 months, when there was someone very special who gave us faith she and we would come out of it, stronger than before.
“Cruel harsh winter
Ablaze with flowers of hope.
Summer’s in my heart.”
The unfinished pieces lay there forlorn and rolled up, to emerge in September, for yet another group challenge, ‘Flowers’. Finally completed, here it is.
This piece is also special, because it is the first time I tried free motion quilting, quite successfully, I thought!
(The use of the lighter brown in the bobbin case was not intentional – I just ran out of the darker thread :-p)
I added a few French knots to give some dimension to the flowering trees.
Today we are faced with yet another situation where we need strength and hope, lots of it!
My faith continues to give me belief we shall overcome this too! “…but winter always turns to spring. Never, from ancient times on, has anyone heard or seen of winter turning back to autumn. ” Nichiren Daishonin
बीहड़ उजाड़ मन.
गुलमोहर अमलतास बन
झूमी आस किरन…
My mother in law was a wonderfully talented lady! Born and brought up in an era where scrimping and saving was a virtue and everything was recycled, she used her amazing creativity to make some beautiful things.
I remember her telling me that they would patch old worn out men’s pajamas ( other than anglicised people and those in government service, most North Indian men wore white cotton pajama- kurtas) kurtas and dress shirts and they could then be used as night clothes. If they got worn out further, cut them up to make boys’ clothes! Or pillow cases! Unusable pieces were used as kitchen rags. Any further, you could make handkerchiefs and diaper cloths for children! In fact the best hankies and diapers came from well washed cotton cloth.
Of course, worn out sarees , both cotton and silk, were ( and still are, to this date) used to the very last scrap. Salwar- kameezes for the teenagers in the family were the first priority. The softer fabrics went into little gathered smocks for newborns and infants.
Quilts and cushion covers were made when you were down to the last scrap! In any case, chintz ( chheent) was really cheap, and it made much more economic sense to use that to make whole cloth chintz quilts, with possibly a matching or contrast border, rather than using finer dress and saree fabric for quilts. The only exception were quilts which formed the part of a girl’s dowry – these are made of silk and velvet to this day.
That reminds me of another major use of old muslin sarees – quilt covers! In North India, you need really thick quilts razais to keep you warm in the cold winter months, in the absence of heating. These were bagged quilts, filled with loose cotton and not washable. ( The katai walas with their dhunkis who carded and ‘fluffed’ the cotton till it looked like candy floss and the tagai walas who filled and tied the quilts deserve a blogpost of their own!) So,to keep the quilts from getting dirty, you needed quilt covers. There was no point in making the quilts themselves fancy if they were going to be not seen! When they did get dirty, you removed the quilting ( hence no dense quilting, especially in the colder climes of Punjab and Uttar Pradesh) washed the quilt top, cleaned the cotton and re-fluffed it. Back into the bag, and re-tied! This is done to this day, in most of North India. Rajasthan is not as cold, so you have lighter quilts here. The famous Jaipuri razai is half a kilo of cottonwool in beautifully hand-block printed muslin bag with fancier quilting. In even warmer climes the gudri was just two or three layers of fabric quilted together. Obviously, fancier work here!
Old saree borders – they were mainly woven – were joined together and lined with old muslin sarees to make lovely soft, light blankets ‘dohars’ ( literally ‘two layers’). I hope I can find a picture of one such dohar Mummy and I stitched.
And then there were the luxurious satin and taffeta petticoats to be worn under your silk and chiffon sarees. Here Mummy’s creative genius really came into its own! This is picture of one such razai made by her from old worn out petticoats! Winter is here – almost- and the razais will emerge from the closets. I’ll add some moe pictures then!
The progress on my just takes 2 mystery quilt has been painfully slow 😦 The mystery quilt by Gay Bomers of http://www.sentimentalstitches.net and Brenda of Dear Jane ran through 2012, and the last set of the 100 blocks that make up this quilt, and suggestions for the border were revealed this month ! I am still stuck in April, May sometime! 😦 😦 😦 But finally, I am planning to go full steam on it from tomorrow, so am making a record of blocks finished
Here are three hand -sewed blocks I finished since I last blogged about this quilt, months ago!
The first applique( Hawaiian look) block uses the back basting technique. I traced the pattern to the wrong side of the background and basted the applique piece over it, turning it in as I went along. It also has reverse appliqued diamonds in the centre.
The second block, Grandma’s Favourite Compass is paper pieced by the EPP method . The circle was hand sewed to the background.
For the third block, I appliqued after tacking the leaves on to paper,like you would for EPP). I then slit the background fabric to remove the paper.
Here are the first 28 blocks put together, to make up Section A of the quilt 🙂
And here are some more completed blocks. The bottom left Cathedral windows block needs some more work, I just discovered!
So this is where we stand today! I do have a few 4-patch strips that I have not photographed, but which count as blocks, anyways!
I have finished tracing out two more applique blocks – which will probably take me ages to finish! I shall sew them in the evenings, sitting in front of the TV. During the day, shall do the machined blocks!
Target – at least 2 blocks per day; 15 by Sunday! Also I am determined to finish all blocks of Section B during 2012…
At the end of each day, I shall post pics of the day’s progress! Do look in to have dekko and drop a line of encouragement!
The determination to win is the better part of winning. Daisaku Ikeda
What do you do as a quilter when you owe your Queen Bees something for their block parties? Try to sweeten up things a bit, right?
Queen Bee for Desi Quilters Bee Desi for September, Vidya had to wait till now for her block! For not killing me, she gets this little Scottie (whom she has named Patchy) to guard the felt farm animals she is making for her grand-daughter.
I had the pattern from my first patchwork book “All About Patchwork” (published Marshall Cavendish Ltd., London 1973).
It is made with 1.5″ squares from a jelly roll, partly machined, partly hand sewed; the ears and tail are paper pieced! It uses 92 squares – 30 for either side and 32 for the centre strip. I would highly recommend EPP if you decide to make this yourself. Sew the toy shapes first (remember to reverse the front and back!) and then join the 32 square strip.
My only regret – wish I had used brighter fabric for it – it should probably look delightful in bright solids.
October Queen Brinda deserved something for not asking me even once for her block. Since she celebrates Christmas in a big way, I made her this little festive quilt which could be used as a mat. Or she could use it as a wall quilt, if she added a sleeve.
I was inspired by a mini-quilt I saw on flickr.com, but am sorry am unable to trace it now:-) Shall add the acknowledgement as soon as I find it again. The 4-patch blocks are 1.5″ square made by my easy/ quick 4-patch method, which I shall tell you about in another blog! The buntings are fused using Heat and Bond (red). A few buntings are 3-dimensional, made by adding fabric to the back and attaching them only on the top. Brinda is a great hand quilter, so I wanted to add a bit by hand to it. So I embroidered tiny motifs in gold thread. This was the first time I did whole quilt by my new Brother, so it is not as neat as I would wish, but…
So, we come to November.
Quilted cozy for scissors
I made a block in prints instead of solids for Queen Nirmala.
And made this little scissors cozy to make her feel a little better
(Psst…do you recognise the prints from Vidya’s Scottie? I used the one inch strip leftover from the jelly roll after cutting 1.5″ squares to make this 😉 )
For December, I was not late 🙂
But…the mess that I made of poor Elvira’s block is really nobody’s business. Besides cutting it wrong and sewing wrong pieces together, I had a lot of thread tension problems, which no amount of fiddling with the tension knob could sort. Adding to my woes, I could not find my 1/4″ seam! I would have made her another block, but I had no other black cotton thread and a friend told me it was not available in the market either. Perhaps Elvira, who sews so beautifully, will be able to tell me how to adjust my machine!
The only good thing was that I had a lot of hsts – a by-product of Elvira’s flying geese, besides a few rectangles left over. I decided to put them together to make a mini quilt for Elvira. I do think it looks quite Amish, I wish I had the confidence to do some more quilting on it!
So those were the gifts I really enjoyed making! Before I sign off, here is wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!
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)
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.
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:
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 –
( 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!
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…
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
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.
I’d ask my friends to come and see
An Octopus’s Garden with me!
Of course, my Octopus has been christened Paul,after my favourite Beatle!
I do plan to add some embellishment to this quilt, so watch this space… 🙂