Quilting the Christmas Tree

Yesterday was quilt club and I had no idea what I wanted to work on, so I grabbed a miscellaneous selection of projects to take with me, including the Christmas tree advent calendar I’ve been working on.

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I couldn’t find the fabric I’d originally decided to use for the back, so I grabbed the next best thing, a dark snowflake-y print with a bit of a shimmer about it, bought yonks ago from Abakhan:

Golden snowflakes

I’m sure I meant to do something else with this, but it hasn’t happened yet, so at least it’s being used for something!

I also grabbed the last chunk of the hugely fluffy and frankly not very nice polyester wadding that I bought literally years ago from Galeria-Kaufhof in Germany before I knew what I was doing – it was just about big enough for this project, and I will be very glad to see the last of it!

The pockets will be added once I’m happy (ha!) with the quilting:

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I trimmed down the background around the tree so that it would fit on the wadding, which also meant that it fitted very nicely lengthwise across the width of the gold snowflake backing, then pinned the layers together.  It was a bit of a challenge, I’m not used to pinning anything so fluffy!

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For the quilting, I’d already decided that I would start by doing FMQ around each shape, following the lines of zig-zag stitch and using the same colour of thread, but because of the bouncy wadding it took me some fiddling to figure out what settings to use to quilt it without skipped stitches and/or broken thread and/or broken needles (yes, plural).  There may have been some swearing!  Eventually I caught the trick of it and quilted around all of the tree shapes.

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Because of the maddeningly fluffy wadding, the tree clearly needed more quilting to tame it a bit.  Smelling a challenge, I dug out a reel of green metallic Wonderfil (I bought it with this project in mind, after all), switched out my needle and started quilting random curvy zig-zags similar to the shapes of the tree bits.  It took a bit more fiddling with settings to get it to work, but the process was not nearly as painful as I expected.  (And the thread behaved itself and refrained from embracing inappropriate bits of sewing machine!)  About half of the tree has now been quilted like this and it’s helped a lot:

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(Yep, there are a lot of thread-ends to bury!  Oh, the joys of frequently breaking thread!)  I may well quilt some garlands with red or gold metallic thread as well, to make it really sparkly.  And try to ignore the fact that quite a bit of this will be invisible once I attach the pockets!  (In certain areas, this will in fact be a bonus…)

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The quilting on the back looks pretty cool, actually.  It’s not entirely without wrinkles, alas, but I’ve decided that I am not worrying about that in this instance.  :p

Once I’m done on the tree, I plan to quilt the background quite heavily (probably with a cream thread, I don’t know that my sanity could cope with more metallic) to squish it down and allow the tree to stand out a bit.

Linking up with Free Motion Mavericks!  🙂

Oh, Christmas Tree!

Right now, in my head, that sounds like a euphemism for something ruder.  And it’s all my own fault, too.

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Really, I don’t know what I was thinking.  The general concept – applique a bunch of green prints in the shape of a Christmas tree – was simple enough, or it should have been.  But there’s nothing so simple that I can’t usually find a way to make life harder for myself!  Instead of using fusible web or freezer paper templates (like any sane person might), I decided to use paper templates to cut out my shapes and then attempted to glue-baste them.  Uhmm…. not so satisfactory.  I think I had vague ideas of being able to trim back the backing fabric afterwards to reduce bulk, and also avoid that slightly “crunchy” feel of fused fabric.  But… this is going to be a Advent calendar wall hanging!  It doesn’t need to be snuggly!  No one will care if some areas are bulkier!  WHAT WAS I THINKING?!  Ahem.  Still.  This is the stuff of which learning curves are made, I believe.  Also, I don’t actually own any freezer paper (it’s not such a common supermarket sight here in the UK), but this project has made me want to get some to try – I think it would have been better than what I did do.

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And then, to make things even better, I started to machine applique around my glued-on shapes with thread that was entirely the wrong shades of green and in completely the wrong style of satin stitch – too wide, too dense.  In fact, it looked so dreadful that I didn’t even pause to find the camera – that stuff got hit with the seam ripper so fast it didn’t even have time to blink.  If you want a mental image, picture a fat, stripy green worm with ugly kinks in it laid across some fabric, and you’re about there.  Luckily, I also have a goodly quantity of plain dark green thread that is doing a much better job of things, especially with a less dense zig-zag stitch to lighten things up as well.  Also, turns out that sewing green to other green with more green is hard work – who knew?!

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So all the green has now been safely appliqued, which at least means I can stop panicking about losing bits of fabric or the paper pattern.  It’s not Christmas for a while yet, but I’m persevering with this because I would like it done now, please.  And really, there isn’t much more to do – just baste and quilt it and attach the Advent pockets in a pleasing way.  And next time I try to do something like this, I will know better how to deal with it – or at least what not to do.

Linking up with Monday Making!

Creative Oozings #25 – Progress, Actually and WIP Wednesday

I’ve never done this before:

So that’s a Thing right there.  I hope I did it right.  Work’s been quiet recently so I’ve been doing quite a lot of sewing instead.  How did I do that with an apparently broken sewing machine?  Well, turned out that the problem wasn’t the machine, it was my walking foot.  As long as I don’t want to quilt anything, I can sew to my heart’s content.  And speaking of hearts, I’ve finally made a major leap forward with a major project, the project that kind of kicked all this off:

All The Hearts

Continue reading Creative Oozings #25 – Progress, Actually and WIP Wednesday