Monday, 22 September 2008

Sampler quilt

I've been doing Lynne Edwards' sampler quilt from her wonderful New Sampler Quilt Book and these are my first 6 panels. As with her instructions for Cathedral Window Edwards is very well written, the instructions are clear and Edwards takes you soothingly through the bewlidering array of decisions when it comes to making a quilt: colour selection, accessories and kit that you know aren't going to be a faddy waste, hand and machine quilting. Each chapter shows how to make a block and they build on previous chapters, taking you gently from complete dependent beginner to being able to understand more complex instructions, building your confidence bit by bit.

My colour scheme is warmth and sun, to raise the spirits on cold days, and to be a set of colours I would always enjoy working with. Gold, orange, red, warm yellows, the colours of hope, autumn leaves, my favourite time of year. I was lucky enough to be looking for such colours when the Cotton Patch was doing a sale on fabulous Indian weaves, these fabrics are woven rather than printed so it doesn't matter which way up they are. I've supplemented with other fabrics that I've picked up as I've gone along, most notably Kaffe Fasset's yellow Roman Glass print.

1. Inner City
This is hand pieced over freezer paper and I have a guilty memory of getting my mum to buy me a stack of coordinating pastel fabrics to make into a version of Grandmother's Flower Garden and not getting very far. This felt very different, hand piecing over freezer paper was quick and the clever use of hexagons made this a much more contempoary design. With the three colours from my Indian fabrics: a soft red, warm orange and yellow, this really appears float on the black background Escher-like. The inner border is from a fat quarter pack of autumnal shades called Naturescapes from, again, the great range of fabrics available at Cotton Patch. The outer border (sashing) is a plain cotton named 'Parchment' from the Cotton Patch, and the four squares in the corners are again the Indian fabric.

2. Seminole
Seminole patchwork is a clever technique where you machine sew the fabrics into a strip then by cutting and restitching them together make these lovely zig zags and woven designs. This was my first time using the stripy orange Indian fabric and I love the way they look.
Each patch is indivdually made, backed and quilted then sewn toghther at the end. For my backs I've used various shades of blue. I tried to machine quilt to begin with but had real trouble, although looking at these again they don't look as bad as I remember. I understand a lot more about threads and machine quilting now so may give it another go! The squares at each corrner will in the end make four-patch squares. Not all the stripes will lie the same way and I'll see how I feel about that when I'm ready to put them together.
The inner border here is another of the Indian weaves, this time an ikat, which woven into zig zags of colour. There's a good article on the technique here.

3. Tangled Star
I still love this one every time I look at it, the design is so effective and the Kaffe Fasset Roman Glass fabric goes really well with the Indian weave red, floating like Inner City on the black background. Hand pieced, and I was so proud my corners came true! I gave it a black border which makes the points seem even cleaner. My quilting, on reflection, isn't bad on this one either, nice quarter inch shadow quilting. I've kept my quilting simple for now but may do something more complicated on them later.

4. Quick Triangles
One of the few that really did not inspire me, although it was thankfully quick and easy to do. I used another of the Naturescapes fabrics, this time utilising the areas of dark and lighter print to create different effects, the darker triangles in the middle to contrast with the yellow centre and the lighter ones outside. This one was hand quilted and in contrast to the piecing I really enjoyed highlighting the different triangles and rectangles with quilting. Bordered again with black because of the quite 'busy' prints in the main panel giving a good crisp contrast with the sashing.

5. Celtic Knot
An absolute delight. With this patch I learned how to create bias binding and love the effect of the binding which is made out of my stripy Indian weave. The effect is not one I could have got if I'd just purchased ready made binding. I loved learning how to ease the curves into place, stitch them carefully in place using slip stich, following the pattern, and learning how to transfer the pattern to the black fabric using dressmaker's carbon paper. I felt good that I was brave enough to mount the whole knot on yellow which I think works really well. I hand quilted around the outside of the knot which raises it slightly. I generally like hand quilting but ended up with some fabulous callouses on my finger tips and had to pause to stop bleeding profusely when I jagged myself badly one time.

6. Delectable Mountains
Another clever bit of machine piecing, this is one where I changed my mind and learned it was okay to do so. I originally decided to use an ikat weave with the plain purply one but the contrast with the orange background wasn't great enough and the ikat faded into the orange weave. Instead I used the Roman Glass fabric again and am pleased with how it looks. Again, another Naturescapes border, this one quite narrow. I may do more quilting in the middle later.

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