New Quilt Unveiled

Nothing was posted about this earlier because I wanted to surprise the recipient.  If she totally hates it, she can always pretend that the back is the top:

All my life I’ve struggled with completely finishing things, so bingo might be a better hobby than quilting, I sometimes feel.

Anyhoo, this has been bound, labeled, and provided with its coordinating tote bag.  And after going back and forth on it for a few times, I put handles on the tote bag.

This photo shows the bag.  Almost every piece of fabric has a story, either where it came from or how it was made.

See the blue and red swirly fabric towards the bottom of the bag?  That was a serendipitous piece created when I was using a hatband that had turned out too tight as a wiping rag when I was dyeing fabric.  For years this was a piece that was waaaay to beautiful to cut.  see here for a close up photo. The pink and green paisley to the right of it comes from either Susan Purney Mark or Daphne Greig.  Many small squares of it have been floating around Victoria, and I’ve collected pieces from both of them.

The fun thing about making this is that it grows itself and is a fast stash buster.  I’ve tried designs that purport to bust stash but require a lot of time and patience to work with smaller pieces that can’t be strip pieced.  After the twin bed topper was done I had no less scraps than before I started.  If my scraps continue to grow it’s because I keep an eye open for small pieces that other people have given up on!

When making this fabric I set a few parameters:

The same fabrics can be touching because I want to fool the eye and not be too obvious about where one piece starts and the other leaves off.  See how I did it with marbled fabric:

No, no set in seams here, thank you very much!

I’m working with strips and with pieces that are smaller than a fat quarter.  If you click on this photo Andrea Hamilton’s mid-arm quilting shows to much better advantage on the light fabric.  We chose Valdani Gem Symphony.

Nothing representational really, although I do have one butterfly on my cushion.

The fabrics are mostly solids, tone on tone, neutrals, batiks and surface design pieces. However in the spirit of nothing representational, I’m not using batiks with really in your face pictures on them, like flip-flops.

I’m not allowed to get too precious and agonize over whether adjacent fabrics look good together.  Some do, some don’t.

Some of the fabric is too beautiful to cut and some was what I couldn’t sell at the Guild garage sale!  And some came from fellow surface design folks who were cleaning out their studios and desperate to see the back of their own stash.

Since the fabric is used to make larger items there is not a set block size.  I sew pieces to each other and build long strips about 7 to 10 inches wide and as long as the width of a twin bed quilt.  Then when I’m going to make something I play around with these strips and figure out the final design.

And although some oriental carpet makers and Amish quilters put deliberate errors into their pieces because perfection belongs to God alone, I doubt I’ll ever come close to needing to do that!  There’s a non deliberate error in the tote (one handle is twisted, aaaarrrgggghhhh!

and another (really galling) one in the quilt itself. 

Be sure your sins will find you out …

there, THAT got your attention, right?

Quilter’s and crafter’s sins I now realize I’m guilty of:

Not cutting across the width of the fabric (WOF).  Silly me, I thought it made sense that if you have half a yard of fabric and you need a strip that’s 8″ by 2″ you would cut parallel to the selvedge, leaving 40″ of fabric wide by 18″ long.

2010 was the year in which I had the light bulb moment and realized it just doesn’t work like that.   I needed WOF for trading at our Guild’s retreat, and I needed WOF in significant quantities to make pillowcases for the million pillowcase challenge.

Several times I pored through my entire stash only to realize what I had been doing all those years, it finally caught up to me!  This led to a change in my evil ways, a gargantuan stash busting project, and (surprise!) fabric shopping for half-metre and bigger cuts.  Although for 2011 one of my watchwords is use what you have.

Have also resolved to be more attentive to thread.  Valdani is my favourite, and I do use what I have!  Actually had to buy a second spool of Gem Symphony when Andrea Hamilton was quilting my Shattered Angles quilt.  I look on Valdani as chocolate minus the calories.

Cindy Scraba is another amazing Island lady.  Her knowledge of threads is astounding.  Trivia:  Egyptian cotton is in the process of being protected legally, just like champagne in France.   It is so superior and they need to protect it.

Cindy sells Superior thread and I’ve started tracking in the catalogue what I have in the different lines.  The catalogue is great because it tells you which thread to use in every situation.

At the Guild retreat, I won a sample set of Wonderfil threads.

And I still have threads from my grandmother’s store that go back to the forties — on wooden spools with names for the colours.  They live in a case designed and built by my grandfather.  I use them for basting and minor embellishments.  After all this time I don’t trust them for anything that has to stay together.  But back then thread colours had names, not numbers, like Apple Green, Mauve, Primrose.

 

Geode

Here in all its glory is what I consider my magnum opus, to date at least.  Geode is approximately 54 inches in each direction and heavily embellished with beads, as seen here.

It’s on display at Satin Moon until Saturday.

I was inspired by this quote from Catherine Asaro’s book The Veiled Web, describing traditional Moroccan homes:  “The houses were like geodes, those rocks that appeared featureless and unadorned on the outside but when opened revealed a sparkling beauty of crystals inside.”

As I worked on completing it, it dawned on me that this is very much a metaphor for how I prefer to live, which was why the original title of this blog was Chameleon’s Nest.  I’m just not a person that wants to blurt it all out all over Facebook!

This piece is constructed of traditional strip piecing which has been slashed and reassembled.  This was the first art quilt technique I learned in a workshop with John Willard in 1998.  He doesn’t have much of a presence online, but this posting by the London Ontario Quilt Guild has lots of information about his work.

Quilted by Andrea Hamilton of Sydney, B.C.  I can’t say enough nice things about Andrea because my quilting skill is not up to the level of my design, and she definitely made all the difference!

Strictly speaking I believe it’s a house quilt, although not the traditional house block obviously.

 

THE formula

I’ve been busy making binding.  Another quilt is off at the Quilt Spa where Andrea Hamilton is working her magic on it.  Meanwhile since it has to be mailed off to arrive in Washington State by the end of the month, I got busy with the binding.

Afraid I can’t share pix of this one just yet as it is a candidate for Susan Purney Mark’s upcoming book on Shattered Angles.  But here’s Geode, which Andrea quilted for me, which was in the Geophysical exhibit at Quilt Canada in Calgary.

The instructions for bias binding on About.Quilting.com are nice and clear, and in my bookmarks.  But after making the binding I suddenly remembered  the one bit of the formula they left out.   AAAAARRRGGGGGH!

When deciding how big of a square to cut, they tell you to calculate the area of the binding by measuring around the perimeter of the quilt, adding 10 inches for safety, then multiplying by the width of the binding.  You then find the square root of that number, which is typically something that goes to several decimal places, so they tell you to round up to the next inch.

NEWS FLASH!

Round up to the next multiple of your binding width.

Example:

So if the square root is 20.763, and you want the binding to be 2″ wide, don’t round up to 21″, round up to 22″ because that divides evenly by 2 and when you match up your lines and start cutting all of the binding will be 2″ wide.  Last time I was making binding I had this all figured out, but yesterday I forgot until it was too late.  Oh well, at least it’s black and there

is more where that came from.  I measured along the length of the binding and I have Just Enough to go all round the quilt with 6 inches to spare instead of 10.  Fingers crossed, people!

What’s your biggest source of frustration when quilting?   Let’s share war stories!