A Small Delay in Block Two…

Happy Independence Day to all Indians across the globe!
Not very good news at my end this morning. My laptop is bothering me no end! It has a screen all stretched out – just looking at which is driving me crazy. And the wi-fi is not working.
To get back to the beginning, it crashed a week ago back and had a lot of “bad sectors”. I got it back from the service centre with a new hard drive this morning. Thankfully, they have managed to save all the data, which includes all the detailed designs and templates for the Round the Year Quilt. (All except the photos, which they are still extracting from the old drive! I have my fingers crossed – that drive has all my pictures from the last ten years!)
But it seems they put in the wrong ‘driver’ and the screen resolution is all wrong. And they can’t find the appropriate ‘driver’ for the broadband! They have connected it to the net through a cable, but that is painfully slow. I can take a short nap in the time it takes to move from one page to the next!
To cut a long story short, you are not going to get the pattern for the second block of the Round the Year quilt until I can get it in some kind of working order!
This is being posted from my iPad, by the way!

While you wait and I can master my ill temper and get working on that laptop again, here are two more gorgeous Dahlias and a divine lotus that some very talented ladies have made! Enjoy!

Tina Katwal's White Lotus
The sacred White Lotus by Tina Katwal
Diptee's Gem - the Torquoise Dahlia
Diptee Raut’s Dahlia in soft aquas
Sobana's Indigo Dahlia
The Indigo Dahlia(or `Nilopatal’ as she like to call it) by Sobana Sundar

Dusk Dreamcatcher Round the Year Quilt : Fabric Requirement – Downloadable file

Dusk Round the Year

I had this horrible nightmare last night, where I had given the wrong fabric requirements for the “Round the Year” Block of the Month I am hosting! In the morning, I checked, but all seems to be okay, except the requirement for 36″  background fabric which I increased to 3.5 metres from the more conservative 3.25 metres.

I also saw a request on my blog for a downloadable file for the fabric requirement, which I think is a great idea.  As there are at least two `official’  colourways, to avoid confusion, I am calling the blue- orange -yellow version “Dusk Round the Year” !

I am so fascinated by the wonderful colours  that the setting sun paints across the skies – the brilliant oranges, golds and yellows – colours that can be rarely matched on canvas.   Some may claim that sunrises are equally beautiful, but being a late riser I am rarely up in time to appreciate those.   My quilt is, I hope, going to be evocative of  languid monsoon evenings – grey clouds looming while the blues, more brilliant than ever after the rains, struggle to make their presence felt  before the indigo darkness prevails!

Evening at the Pond
Evening at the Pond

I do so ramble on, don’t I? So without much further ado, here is the Fabric Requirement -Round the Year – Dusk !

You will need Adobe Reader (available free online) on your laptop to be able to view this file.

For those of you planning to make the `Rainbow’ version of the quilt, I hope to be able to post the requirements by tomorrow.

What You Can Do With A Single Quilt Block…

…and why you are going to enjoy this Block of the Month!

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!

BOOKMARKED! Free Pattern!

Rose Stem -Bookmark
Rose Stem -Bookmark

I quilted this bookmark as a gift for an unknown recipient in Japan! I used scraps (some as small as ¾” square!) of my precious Fossil Fern Fabric (by Bernatex) to piece the rose stem. It was totally improvised on a piece of fusible fabric stabilizer 2.5″ X 9″. When I discovered it could not be done in a single piece, I made a diagonal cut below the upper leaf, and pieced the lower leaf separately. The bud was an afterthought!

I have made a paper piecing template for the bookmark which can be downloaded here Bookmark -Rose Stem Paper piecing Templates. Remember to print the templates in the landscape mode of your printer! The instructions can also be downloaded separately as a .pdf file, as I have not been able to work out how to put the instructions and templates in a single file Bookmark -Rose Stem -Instructions L It is presumed that you know how to do foundation paper piecing! There are several great tutorials available online too!

( I used QuiltAssistant free software by www.timcosman.nl for making the pattern! I absolutely love it!)

Foundation Paper Piecing Template – Rose – Bookmark (2.5″x 8″)

 INSTRUCTIONS

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Fabric Requirement

  • Scraps of light coloured fabric for background (Coded 1)
  • Green for leaves – I used three shades of green (Coded 6, 4 and 3 – dark to light)
  • Scraps in any colour of your choice for the flower and bud – I used 5 shades (Coded 9,2,7,8,5 – dark to light).
  • 2″ wide strip fabric for binding – 25″ long
  • 3″ X 9″ piece of fabric for back
  • 3″ X 9″ piece of heavy batting. You could use a double layer instead, if you do not have heavy batting.

Piecing and Binding

  • Print Paper piecing templates file. Remember to print this in landscape mode! There are 4 templates, A,B, C and D.
  • Reduce machine stitch length to 1 or 1.5 before you start piecing. You can trim the seam to about 1/6″, as the pieces are so small. Finger press to flatten after joining each piece. Do not trim the fabric that extend beyond the edges at this stage.
  • Using master template given below as guide, join the pieced templates.
  • Layer with batting and backing and quilt closely on background to highlight the flower and leaves. It would look even nicer hand quilted, I think!
  • Trim to 8″ X 2.5″
  • Binding
    • Double the binding strip length wise.
    • Cut 2 lengths X 9″ and 2 lengths 3″
    • Attach first to the longer sides and hem/ sew to the back. Trim binding at the ends.
    • Fold shorter edge of binding inside before you attach it to the width of the bookmark for a neat finish.

*Suggestion – Trace templates on to fusible stabilizer and use that for foundation piecing, as it may be difficult to remove paper from such tiny pieces.*

Master Template
Rose Stem Bookmark Master Template

So go ahead, make your own bookmark!

Quilted Bookmark 2.5
Quilted bookmark – Rose Stem

…and do link back to share your bookmarks if you decide to make them!

Bookmark -Rose Stem Paper piecing Templates – Please print in landscape mode

Bookmark -Rose Stem -Instructions 

Update : November 2016. 

I recently had the ocassion to make this bookmark and have revised the master template and added some details to the instructions. I used the freezer paper method to piece the templates and could avoid having to take off tiny bits of paper after piecing! As you can see, I also did a button hole stitch on the edges instead of binding them.

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And the second prize goes to…Yayyyy! It’s me!

My winning quilt!
This Quilt Tells a Story (with an Indian twist!) This is a wedding quilt, the pieced winding ways block representing the sacred fire around which the bridal couple circumambulate and take seven steps ( quilted footprints around the fire) before making their vows, during a Hindu wedding ceremony.

Am so happy to share that I won the second prize in the Husqvarna Viking India Quilt Competition 2014, their Opal 670 Sewing Machine!

I had no plans to participate ,when HV announced their first ever competition for quilters of Indian origin in January this year, quilts to be submitted by February end!  The theme was  – A Quilt Tells A Story.…and the story had to have an India twist to it.  But then they extended the date of submission to 31st March…

So my quilt, which is in fact a wedding present for my husband’s nephew who got married in April, was entered in the competition. Here is the story behind my quilt!  ( I shall do another post by next week, detailing the piecing technique for those interested, with a free winding ways 8.5″ block and the fire pattern added on!)

The Saptapadi ( seven steps) Quilt :

I have long wanted to make a winding ways quilt – so this started off as a red and white winding ways quilt – red being my nephew’s favourite colour. At the same time, I did not want to do a traditional kind of quilt, I wanted a modern twist to it! Once I started playing around with the blocks on ‘Quilt Assistant’ software, I came up with something I liked! The ‘petals’ at the edges of the pattern looked like flames…the flames of the sacred fire, an integral part of every Hindu wedding. The couple circumambulating the fire seven times…

So I changed the colours to add oranges and yellows…what a happy coincidence that these happen to be the bride’s favourite colours!

I would quilt footprints around the sacred fire, symbolic of the ‘saptapadi’ – the seven steps taken by the couple, before they make the beautiful wedding vows, which have come down from the  ancient  Vedas. 

“We have taken the Seven Steps.
You have become mine forever. Yes, we have become partners. I have become yours.
Hereafter, I cannot live without you. Do not live without me.
Let us share the joys. We are word and meaning, united. You are thought and I am sound.
May the night be honey-sweet for us. May the morning be honey-sweet for us.
May the earth be honey-sweet for us. May the heavens be honey-sweet for us. May the plants be honey-sweet for us. May the sun be all honey for us.
May the cows yield us honey-sweet milk.
As the heavens are stable, as the earth is stable, as the mountains are stable, as the whole universe is stable, so may our union be permanently settled.” (Source – Wikipedia)

The fire would be offset towards a corner of the quilt. To balance it, a ‘kalash’ ( round urn decorated with mango leaves) would be at the opposite corner. A few winding ways representing flowers would be added randomly to balance the composition. This photo shows the way it finally started shaping up on my design board…

Designing  in progress

The original quilt was planned as 9×9 blocks of 10″ each. Around that time, the last date of this challenge was extended to 31st March, and I decided to participate. That meant a change in the size of the pattern and the layout. As I was working with fat quarters from my stash, the block size was changed to 8.5″ to make best use of the fabric.

One question I have been asked is why I did not use a black or charcoal grey for the background – it wuld have given a decidedly modern twist to my quilt. The answer is simple – those colours are inauspicious, and no Hindu would have them associated with a wedding ceremony which is a sacred ritual ( rather than a contractual arrangement).

I printed the pieces on freezer paper and set about cutting nearly 500 curved pieces for 49 winding ways blocks, over the next 3 days! Each of the pieces had notches on each side to mark the centres…

And then, I broke the bobbin winder on my sewing machine! My mother in law’s trusty old hand cranked sewing machine ( part of her dowry, circa 1936) emerged to do my piecing.

Once the piecing was done, various layouts were tried out. The brown corners of the 3×3 centre represent the innermost well of the three stepped ‘agnikund’, the wrought iron  ‘fire vessel’. The other brown pieces were the wood used in the fire. I planned to quilt mango leaves ( a symbol of Mahalaxmi, the Goddess of wealth and prosperity) strung on a thread in the top row!

Trying out the lay out options!
Trying out the lay out options!

At this stage, my consultant ( who else, but Dear Spouse) vetoed all additions in the form of ‘ kalash’ and flowers or even quilted leaves. Too cliched, he announced!

The blocks came together on my sewing machine and much to my chagrin, I started discovering that my perfect 1/4″ seams were not so perfect after all. Here is the back of the pieced ‘fire’.

Pieced `fire' top - back

And so the top was readied, before I pieced the back. I decided to put the leftover fabric to use as a border around my giant winding ways 25.5″ block. This block would be centred exactly at the centre of the fire block on the front!

Giant winding ways pieced  block for back

Then came the basting. I thread basted the quilt ( never again! The threads keep getting entangled in the quilting).

This is my second attempt at free motion quilting, the first was a mini 10″x 17″! This was truly baptism by fire! My original plan was to quilt it in red to yellow variegated thread, but I could not adjust the tension on the fine thread. So I echo quilted the flames in graded colours, a red, two oranges and three yellows. And yet, thread breakages, tension problems, beautiful eyelashes – I had more than my share of them all!  What would take 10 minutes to quilt would take an hour and a half to rip 😦

Till I was ready to give it all up in despair.

Tension problems, eyelashes and more!
Tension problems, eyelashes and more!

I have probably buried upwards of 1500 threads into this quilt! I am so proud that I did not clip a singe thread and I matched each quilting start off point and break off point perfectly, so that except in about half a dozen places, you cannot tell where disaster had struck!

I decided to go back to my trusted walking foot for the background diagonals.

It was just a couple of days before submission date, so I did something highly “not recommended”!  I did the binding first to bring the quilt into some kind of completion stage, before I did any more quilting! For the binding, I used an orange mango paisley print on brown ( thus ensuring the auspicious mango was integrated into the quilt!)

Binding before finishig the quilting

Once this was done, I relaxed. I would submit it in an `as is, where is’  condition on last date of  submission! Now I free motion quilted flowers to draw attention to the saptapadi – the seven pairs of footprints around the ‘fire’. I also free motion quilted stringed flowers within the diagonals, representing the garlands that decorate the wedding ‘mandap’ (canopy) under which the ceremony takes place! By now, I was fmqing with ease, and I could use the variegated thread, breaking it only once over an area of  nearly 36″ X 36″!

fmq garland

 

So here is the back of the completed quilt …

Quilt pieced back with giant winding ways block
Quilt pieced back with giant winding ways block

And here is the front!Finished Quilt

I am quite happy with the way it has shaped up! ( Though, don’t tell anyone, but I am mulling over adding some more quilting – perhaps closer diagonal lines – to add more texture to the background!) Meanwhile, the newly married couple wait for their wedding gift.

So here is wishing my nephew and his bride…

May the night be honey-sweet for them…
May the morning be honey-sweet for them…
May the earth be honey-sweet for them…
May the heavens be honey-sweet for them…
May the plants be honey-sweet for them…
May the sun be all honey for them…

Here are some more pics of my prize winning quilt!!

The colours are not very true to original here, but it gives an idea of the piecing

 

fmq in progress
Quilting in progress – a ‘footprint’ can be seen here
'Fire'
The sacred fire
Close up
Close up of white tipped flame in corner
Free motion quilting as seen from the back
Free motion quilting ‘flames’ as seen from the back

Hand Applique Using Back-Basting Method

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!

Supplies

You will need:

  1. 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!
  2. 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!
  3. Applique fabric – enough to fully cover the appliqué pattern completely plus approx half inch all around
  4. Painter’s (paper) tape
  5. Small, sharp scissors. Special appliqué scissors are also available!
  6. Thread for basting – try to pick a colour that will show up on both the background and appliqué piece
  7. Thread – colour matching the appliqué piece
  8. Small sharp fine needles – keeping a couple of extra needles threaded is always a great idea when doing hand sewing of any kind.
  9. Toothpicks (yes!). A knitting needle may prove useful for some patterns!
  10. Thimble, if you use one
  11. 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.

     

    Method

I shall be showing different blocks through this entire quilt along, so please do not get confused L!

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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!

  3. 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!

     

     

     

  4. 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 🙂

  5. 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.

     

  6. 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!

     

  7. 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
  8. 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!

All the blocks shown are from the Just Takes 2 2012 quiltalong…and here is a great hand basting tutorial from the same site.

You can see my quilt top containing all the above completed appliqué blocks here.

A Baby Quilt (?)

I started this baby quilt, believing I would finish it in four hours! But it took me all of four days 😦

20140402-155804.jpg
Desi Quilters, my virtual quilting group decided to donate fifty quilts through A Hundred Hands, a Bangalore based charity. I have been busy with a lot of things on the home front, so thought to give it a miss, till we started running short of the target! I decided I’d do a quick baby quilt in a pattern I’ve always loved, using soft blended fabrics. I cut some 6″ strips in 3 fabrics.
and in no time, the blocks were ready…
And the quilt top too!
That is when things started going wrong! No idea how it happened, but I broke the bobbin winder! And so I was stuck.
Out came my mother in law’s hand cranked Singer .

20140402-155731.jpg
I decided to omit the batting, and added a simple solid green backing, catching up the the layers with stitch in the ditch on alternate blocks.
So here is the final ‘dohar’ ( literally ‘two layers’) – nice to snuggle into on a rainy Bangalore night!
Hope the little one who receives it stays warm and loved, always!

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