Monday, 12 August 2019

Now I can share! - 1718 Simplified

Ahhh, the major exhibitions are over, for now and I can finally share my 1718 Simplified Quilt story.....

My excitement which I shared last year can now be shown as photos and I can tell the whole story of my own amazing personal journey.

The 1718 quilt had been a “want to make” quilt for me for many, many years, after I first saw a photo of it almost 20 years ago.  The chance to make my own version of the 1718 Coverlet and to travel to the UK from Australia with my quilt to visit the original quilt was truly a dream come true.

It was a picture, a very small picture inside the front cover of a patchwork book.  Interesting shapes and designs, seeming to be both logically placed and then random at the same time.  A conundrum.  One that I wanted to solve.  It was 15 years from when I saw that first little photo until I could start to make my own quilt.

During 2014, I chanced upon a brief advertisement, the quilt I had been coveting in the picture was being faithfully reproduced and a book was to be published.  In early 2015, I became the owner of that very newly released book...  The 1718 Coverlet:  69 Quilt Blocks from the Oldest Dated British Patchwork Coverlet by Susan Briscoe.

Getting there....
For a long time, it seemed like I wasn't really getting anywhere with the blocks.  I would prepare some applique blocks, put them into a zip loc sandwich bag and take them in my hand-bag for filling in waiting time or while on travelling.  When sewing in small stints and then changing to the next block, I lost where I was up to.  It wasn't until I laid all the blocks out on the floor, that I realised how far I had progressed.

I would often have little machine sewing sessions where I would make a group of blocks, say, all the square in a square, then maybe the hourglass blocks.  I found by doing this way, I could match things up a bit.  The 1718 Coverlet is symmetrical from left to right, but not top to bottom.  This was something I did not realise by looking at the book, but only picked up on when I was laying out the blocks.

There were many techniques used in the making of this quilt, including applique, piecing, english paper piecing, templates, fussy cutting and more.

Adding in the centre
A true labour of love - taking 3 years to make, with lots of hand and machine work.  Each block was carefully made, pressed and trimmed to the correct size. 

Completed centre panel.  Just love it!

I used a very, very fine wadding, called QuiltLite.  It was like a fine interfacing, but with a bit more give in it.  With so many seams and lots of applique, I wanted my quilt to hold and have a little bit of body to it because I wanted it to hold up to handling and hanging during the exhibitions.

Detail showing quilting with 100 weight invisafil thread and a 60/8 needle. 
The thread is a fine line, about the thickness of hair running down the needle shaft.

I used a very fine #100 weight thread to quilt each block to closely mimic the "coverlet" style of the original quilt, which it to make it look like it has no quilting over the patchwork.

Blocks after quilting before trimming and assembling.

Assembled blocks after quilting

Detail showing how the quilt as you was assembled without cover strips.
The method I chose for quilting allowed me to use a whole piece of fabric for the backing, with some stitch in the ditch on in the seam lines to attach it to the front with no sagging.

Not all blocks were easy to make, but all were very rewarding.

Ta Da!  A fully quilted, bound and labelled quilt.  Totally elated!

The coming together of this quilt was a complete joy.  Every block was wonderful to make, except the ‘cockerel’ (the block must have known that I don’t like chooks in general!!!).  My quilt has been called ‘1718 Simplified’ because I did not piece the applique backgrounds, allowing the unique shapes to be highlighted.  I used modern piecing and quilting techniques.

In June 2018, I was notified that my quilt had been accepted as part of the 1718 Exhibition at the Festival of Quilts, in Birmingham - a huge event that is well renowned on the world quilting calendar.  Of course I had to hand deliver it!  Off I went, with the quilt carefully packed into my hand luggage.  An incredible experience where I got to see the original 300 year old coverlet -WOW - attend lectures about the 1718 Coverlet; meet others who made their own versions of the coverlet and get my book signed by the author.

At The Festival of Quilts

1718 Simplified has been exhibited at and appeared in:
  • 2018 - Festival of Quilts, Birmingham, UK - part of the special exhibit celebrating 300 years of the original quilt.
  • 2018 Nov - Axedale Antics (local paper).  Article I was asked to write, telling my story of how and why I made the 1718 Coverlet.
  • 2018 - Quilt Mania magazine - issue 128 Nov-Dec 2018- Celebrating 300 years of Britain's oldest dated patchwork coverlet article.
  • 2019 January to May - with Grosvenor Shows, UK, as part of a travelling exhibition highlighting the 1718 Quilts throughout England.  Newark 18-20 January;  Ardingly 25-27 January; Harrogate 22-24 February; Duxford 8-10 March;
    Exeter 29-31 March; Quilts UK Malvern 16-19 May.
  • 2019 July - Victorian Quilters Showcase, Melbourne, Aust. - entrant in the mainly pieced, amateur, single person category.  Received an Highly Commended Award.
  • and is slated to appear in one or two more exhibitions during 2019.

Quilt Hanging in Melbourne at Victorian Quilters Showcase
My winning ribbon!

And.... would I make a second one?  Yes, I would.  

1718 has been the most interesting, at times challenging and
most delightful quilt that I have ever made.  

Thank you to those who supported me for your faith in me,
especially my Aunt Libby, who just "gets it"
and my husband Baden for his never ending patience and love.

Monday, 3 June 2019

Purple Floral

Started in a mystery quilt workshop, run by a member of my local quilt group, we were instructed to "not purchase fabric".  The requirement was to only use what is in your stash and to make it scrappy.  Well, I had no bits of scraps of any sort at that stage, having recently used them up, but, I did have big pieces and a few of them.

Backing onto front.
The lady running the workshop was concerned that with just 3 fabrics and not much variety that it might not work.  I think, had the purple floral been a tone-on-tone, it might not have.  There is so much variety in the print of the purple fabric, that it carries the pattern well.

Centre of quilt detail
We were instructed to pre-cut our fabrics before the workshop so that we could sew like the wind when there.  Each little zip-loc baggie had to be labelled so that we didn't get mixed up when the instructions were given out during the day.

Border detail
 Finished off with a french braid border, to which I added a 9-patch blocks to the corners.

I quilted Purple Floral on my domestic machine with clamshells over the centre of the quilt in a dusky purple 50wt thread, echo straight line quilting in the first border with brick red thread and then beads in the squares of the french braid with matching thread.

Back of quilt showing detail of the quilting.
I had great joy in completing this quilt this past week because I was able to complete it for my best friend from primary school for her 50th birthday.

I love the serendipity of how project completion often has someone who will be perfect for the item just appear.

Completed quilt.
 A really terrific pattern with dramatic effect.  Rectangles and squares, all flipped and turned to provide movement in the quilt top. 
Wrapped and ready for gifting.
Finishing at 161cm x 188cm (63in x 74in), Purple Floral was a rotary cutting and machine piecing dream to make.  Each piece just fitted together.  Lots of joy in both making and giving.

Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Disappearing Pinwheel

So, this is my third zip loc baggie project, as part of my New Year's resolution and quest to empty the shelf of those projects.  Disappearing Pinwheel (pattern from Missouri Star).

I chose to use the fabrics I have on hand - a big piece of white and 10in squares from my dwindling collection of Kaffe Fasset fabrics.

I started this project in 2016 when my gorgeous friend R decided to show me how to make it.  She has since finished hers.

The blocks as I opened up the zip loc bag.  Some completed and some not.
I ended up with 12 blocks which measure 11.75in (11.25in finished).  A nice size of layout of 3x4 blocks.  But, when my fabrics were put close together, the result was terrible, so I added in sashing strips and cornerstones.  It took me quite a while to find something in my stash and then I spied this lovely Liberty stripe.  Perfect, or so I thought.
But, the stripe was not at all the right fabric - I swapped the Liberty stripe for a plain red.  The stripe was just too busy and there was no-where for the eye to rest.

With careful cutting and calculating, I was able to get all of the sashing strips cut from the left over white fabric - phew!  It was a very close call to get 31 of 1.5in x 11.75in sashing strips and no room at all for cutting errors.  I think the cutting gods were on my side that day!

The top half of the notebook page shows working out for the sashing strips and the bottom half of the page is working out for the backing fabrics.

Ready for basting before quilting.

A pieced backing made from leftover blocks and two odd pieces from my stash....

Finished off with a red binding, which was the only deliberate purchase for this quilt.

I quilted this quilt as a "Strippy Quilt" with a rose pattern down the blocks and in straight lines in the long sashing strips.  I have used this technique previously and I really like how it gives another dimension to the quilt top.  The quilting thread used was Wonderfil #50 weight variegated lime green Tutti Cotton on top and Gutermann #50 weight cotton in the bobbin.  This thread has turned out to be a bit of a favourite to quilt with. It is so smooth in the machine and, as luck would have it, I had just enough to complete the quilt.

My Friendship Star version of the Disappearing Pinwheel will be donated the Royal Children's Hospital Melbourne via the Very Snuggly Quilts Program.

Pattern credit
** Disappearing Pinwheel Pattern can be found here on the Missouri Star website.

Monday, 29 April 2019

Road to St Louis - 16 patch aka "What was I thinking!"

At the beginning of April, I was asked to come up an idea for a Friday Night Retreat Project, using fabric pre-cuts.  There were suggestions of using Jelly Rolls, but as this is purely a volunteer task, I chose Fat Quarters because I had those and I wanted to challenge myself, plus the group members to use what they already own.

I decided to make this quit after seeing one at a Quilts in the Barn Exhibition a few years ago and liking it very much.  That quilter had used floral prints with solids and it has stuck in my mind ever since.  This block which can be very effective for little effort as it is a simple checkerboard pattern which has lots of scope for colour and pattern play.  

First set of blocks

While I haven't used or even replicated that first quilt I saw in the exhibition, I still want to make my own version of that with all new fabric one day.

Second pair of blocks
After testing what size to cut fabrics at and how much of the Fat Quarter would be used for the above two sets of blocks, I dove into the deepest darkest recesses of my stash and pulled out some very old as well as the “what was I thinking?” fabrics.  I chose my fabrics in 10 minutes by pulling them out and throwing them on the floor in pairs and checking that the all the fabrics worked together as a whole.

I then had a lovely afternoon home on my own and I sewed all day long, making blocks.  The very next day I laid the blocks on the floor, moved them around a bit, packed them up in order and sewed the top together at my local quilt group.

When I went online to do some research into the name of the block, I found quite a few free tutorials, including the references below. *^  There is nothing new about the 16 patch block or the method constructing it.  The first known publication of this block is Mosaic No. 20 Ladies Art Company 1897*  before being published again as Four Patch Variation Orlofsky, 1974 *  More recently, there have been online publications calling it 16 Patch Quilt Block ^ or St Louis 16 patch ^.

The 16 patch / Road to St Louis would have to be the quickest quilt I have ever made.  It was easy, it is effective and the size is only limited by how much fabric you have.

To quilt this quilt was super easy.  As I quilt on my domestic sewing machine, I chose to give extra life and movement by quilting an "orange peel" type of pattern.  You could just as easily cross-hatch it too, but I like the effect of  what I did.

The binding fabric is a Penny fabric which was donated by a friend.  The backing fabric and wadding have come from the donation stash at my local quilt group.

My Road to St Louis or 16 Patch will be donated after the Kilmore Quilters Retreat to the Axedale Quilters for their charity quilts which go to local people in need.

Finished Quilt Size:  150cm x 183cm  (60in x 72in).

To give credit where credit is due - these are the resources I have referenced: 
* Jinny Beyer - The Quilters Album of Patchwork Patterns, Breckling Press pub 2009

Penny fabric - Penny was a quilter who is now an angel, her children passed on her very sizable stash to a friend.  Penny now lives on in many quilts.

Monday, 22 April 2019

Jigsaw Quilt

I wasn't quite sure what I wanted to do with the gorgeous fabric Fat Quarter pack that I won in a Retreat raffle in May 2014.  Gorgeous Jo suggested I make a jigsaw quilt.  She had just finished one and it showcased the fabrics beautifully.  She even had some left over jigsaw fusible web pieces as well, so I promptly started the quilt.  Super easy to put together,

- just fuse on the jigsaw bits, sew the matching squares to the sides, press the seams open to reduce the bulk after the fusible is attached....

- then fuse on the bias tape, insert a twin needle into the sewing machine with matching thread and top stitch away...

A super effective pattern that sews up fast and a great way to show off those too interesting to cut prints.

The left over pieces were joined up and inserted into the backing fabric.  Plus an extra fabric to make it wide enough - I was 3 inches not quite wide enough when I first made the backing, which I only realised when I was basting it and I had to pull it apart and insert extra fabric - sheesh......

It took me an extremely long time to come up with a quilting plan for the Jigsaw (approx 4.5 years of repeatedly looking at it and putting it away).  Initially, I was going to do a large open stipple or meander over the quilt, but that looked terrible!  Blah!  So I unpicked that.

What I did end up doing was turning the quilt upside down and quilting it by following the large hexagons on the backing fabric, which meant lots of stopping and starting on my domestic machine and having to sew in ends, but I am so pleased with the final result.

Where the insert panel is, I stitched in the ditch and put a pattern down the narrow strips for a bit of added interest. The quilting thread I used was #50 weight variegated lime green cotton by Wonderfil and a #50 weight lime green Guterman cotton thread in the bobbin.

Front of Quilt.

Back of Quilt.

Finishing at 117cm x 155cm (46in x 61in)  with 60%wool / 40% cotton wadding, it is going to be a lovely warm hug for a teenager at the Royal Children's Hospital in Melbourne via the Very Snuggly Quilts program.       

Friday, 18 January 2019

Orange and Chocolate - part 2

Hmmm, exactly 4 years after making the quilt top and backing for Orange and Chocolate, I now have a finished quilt!

During December, at my local quilt group we were chatting about how many projects people have started and what are your thoughts for finishing them.  I mentioned that I have 14 quilt tops, backings and some bindings all together in a large plastic tub.  My intention is to quilt one per month - total 12 - during 2019.  A lady across the table from me, quick as wink, said "but you'll have 2 left over" - far too quick with her math!

When I got home, I took the lid off the tub and looked for a smaller quilt that I could easily quilt before Christmas.  I first shared my ramblings about this particular quilt in 2014....
  Orange and Chocolate 

Front of quilt with the backing and binding for the full colour combo.

I completed Orange and Chocolate a few days ago.  Yes, it has a home to go to.  Sometimes I think "I'll just finish this one" and then, quite out of the blue, a recipient appears.  Orange and Chocolate will be given to a friend who is undergoing medical treatment.  While our weather is incredibly hot at the moment, she will get cold, simply because that is what chemotherapy does to you.

Here's the front of the quilt, with it's lovely big orange flowers....

One of my friends was quite surprised by how much she likes this quilt, because when I started it she was very uncertain about the colours and the plan.  I have to admit, that without the applique flowers, it did look a little bland.  (This is the same friend who found the perfect fabric for the binding.)

The back of the quilt, with even more flowers because I cut out too many for the front.....

and a close up of the quilting, stitched with a variegated lime green thread with flowers and leaves.

Chocolate and Orange has finished up at 122cm x 160cm (48in x 64in) and will provide a much needed hug to a worthy recipient.