I have been teaching Embellished quilt classes for a few years now, and have had lots of ladies come and do my classes. It is always a lot of fun, and good to bounce ideas of each other, and see what they are all doing. I have the notes and patterns available and they can see my sample quilts. I am happy if they use my patterns, and copy what I have done. But I think it's fantastic when they use the technique and turn it into their own design. There are lots of different colourways being made, or have been finished. Lots of times the girls ask me what stitch they should use, or which piece of ribbon or lace looks better. And, as I want it to be their quilt, and not mine, I usually say, "It's your choice!". Now after a while they got used to this, and now we laugh about it. Some of the girls said I should write a book with all the lesson notes, and photographs of different blocks etc. And she even gave me a title for the book, and ordered the first copy!! The title is "It's your quilt, and your choice". (I can tell you that there is no book happening anytime soon!) And it has come back to me, because someone will tell me it's my choice, when I ask for an opinion!!
So that leads me to the title of this blog post, where I will try to take you through some of the process of Helen's quilt that I have finished. Sometimes the girls just want to learn the techniques, and start making blocks, with out having a plan. Helen made her first quilt a few years ago, and it was finished in 2009, and is in colours of black and gold.
And I have to say that Helen is one of those who take the notes and then works out her own designs. In the quilt above I think there is only about 4 blocks where she used my patterns. She loves working on the blocks, and I remember one day, when she phoned and told me that she could not believe how quick the day had gone while she had been sewing. I know teachers are not supposed to have pets, but....!
Helen made the black and gold for her own bed, and then decided that she would make one for her daughter. The next one would be cream background, with pinks, greens,and biege. It does take a little while to source a nice selection of fabrics, threads, braids and laces, after you decide what colours you want. Quite often the girls will swap with each other, as you only need little pieces of each.
In 2015 Heather Ridley came to The Sanctuary to teach her Sheer Mosaic Magic class. Helen thought she could do this in her colours and use it for the centre piece of her quilt. She had been gifted a lovely piece of lace, so she had an idea for. She had a plan!
This is the centrepiece at the start, and one of Helen's choices. The lace she had been gifted was appliqued on the background in the shape of a tree, and Helen thread painted a couple sitting on a park bench to stitch under the tree.
And this is the class that did Heather's workshop and the different colours they all chose.
Then we have a few photos of the blocks being made to join to the centre block.
And much later the blocks were all finished and ready to add to the centre piece, with gathered sashing and cornerstone in between.
Trimming the centre piece to the correct size so that the blocks will fit. This was in August, 2016.
Helen had choices to make then, about the borders, if any, how many, and what size. She had a purpose for the quilt, so knew the size of the bed it was to fit onto, needed to make the borders to get to that size. I did not get a photo of the whole quilt, as it was rather large, and you can't see the borders in this photo.
Helen added a small, 4" border around 3 sides of the quilt. with appliqued squares on point. Then another 4" border was added to the top, but with no applique. (She thought I could be creative with this!!) And then to get the size she needed, a 12" plain border was added to both sides, and the bottom of the quilt. This quilt was brought to me a few months ago, and as I was rather busy at the time, it was place into a plastic container, and waited and waited. I did not even look at it when she brought it to me, and I had not studied it closely, until this week.
Now it was my turn to make some choices. First of all I needed to ditch the blocks, and I mentioned this week, how tricky it is to ditch those sashes that are gathered. With the pellon that is used underneath as a stabiliser, it is hard to press the seams with out the iron sticking. But I got through this, and added frames to some of the blocks and basted the unquilted parts, and then went back to the start, to make some choices, with the borders.
The first thing I could see, was the appliqued squares were not in the centre of the border.
To "fix" this, I added a straight line of quilting inside the seam line as you can see in the photo below, This is the second line down from the top. Now it looks like a little sashing strip, and the square is centred in the border. (I am not saying this to be critical of the piecing, but to explain the choices I made in the quilting process)
The next choice was to decide on a border pattern, as this would help me decide what I would do throughout the quilt. I like all of the patterns to be "friends" with each other, so that it all works together. I picked out a few choices from my range of patterns, and asked Helen to come around and choose. Her criteria when I asked her how she wanted the quilt done, was Simple, Maybe Hearts, leaves or scrolls, and something fancy in the plain 12" plain border. I thought she made a good choice with the first pattern, and I even stitched a few inches, before I decided to stop the machine. I thought it was too open, although the criteria was for simple, Sorry I did not take a photo. As there was a lot happening in the centre of the quilt, and there was this empty wide border, I thought there needed to be something more to frame the centre and make a statement. I had also added another line of stitching inside the outer border, to match the one I added in the smaller border. You can see this in the next photo, with the chosen border pattern.
And then a choice of what to do in the inner border. And just because she could, Helen had left a gap in the middle of each border, with no squares appliqued! Another choice for me to make. I thought about quilting more squares, but the spacing did not work for that.
So this was my choice, to take an element from the border design to fill that space.
Now this was the bottom border, and a bigger space between the squares!! What to do now?? And Helen had been running short of fabric, so there is a little piece added in the centre. More choices.
This was my choice, although I will tell you that I came back at the end and unpicked this, as I was not happy with it.
This was how I decided to quilt the appliqued squares border. I normally like to SID all applique, but because Helen had stitched a fancy stitch that overlapped the edges, there was no nice clean ditch to quilt in!!
And I still had that empty 4" border at the top to decide on what to quilt in. Using that rest of the quilt and what was happening, I chose some patterns for Helen to look at and sent a picture of them to her. These had lines, or hearts, or scrolls, all of which were happening in the quilt. For some reason this text message did not get to Helen, by the time that I was needing to quilt. Which was just as well, because by then, I had another idea, and thought to recreate the squares that were in the applique, and treat that border as the same.
And this is what that looked like. The quilt was trying to "talk" to me all along!! I had not been listening.
I had to make a choice of how to quilt the centre background of the squares that were appliqued. We talked of background fill of clouds or more trees etc. I thought of crosshatching, but the nature of the applique meant that the spacing between was not quite all the same, and I did not want to accentuate this. I wanted the background to be a contrast to the tree in the centre, and not a distraction, and am happy with the choice made here. And the continuous curves replicate those that I quilting in the 4" squares border.
And then I did some unpicking and this is how I quilted that gap in the centre of the bottom 4" border. I felt that the flowers that I quilted before competed with the flowers in the outer border, and am much happier with this choice, which replicates what I ended up doing in the top plain border.
I thought I had finished, but have found a row of cornerstones that I have not done, so that's for another day.
The quilt is still on the machine, and after I finish, I will take photos of the quilt on the bed.
I was reading a blog today of someone who wants to use their machine more, and try all those lovely stitches that a lot of us have on their machines. This project is a great way to do that, and try things such as pintucking, couching, bobbin work, machine lace, twin needles, wing needles etc etc. The following photos show you how Helen has used lots of stitches, and different threads, tucking on the heart block, and even made her own lace.
Quilting this has made me want to get back to finishing my own quilts like this. I have already made 4 of these, and love trying out new techniques and threads and the stitches on my machine. Would love to hear from you if you would like to join us to make something like this.
Thankyou Helen for the opportunity to quilt your quilt. I love your fabric and stitch choices, and I am sure that your daughter will treasure the work you have put into it. Even though you threw me a challenge, I have enjoyed working on it and making those choices. And I love the gathered sashing, in spite of the extra work involved in the quilting of it. A very pretty quilt.
This post has turned out to be much longer than I intended, but hope you found it interesting, and at least it is quilting, and not house renovations or gardening!!
It is well past my bed time, so catch ya another time.