Festival of Quilts 2019 – Entry 1, Birds Of A Feather

Douglas Adams famously noted, “I love deadlines. I like the whooshing sound they make as they fly by.” Me? I’m with ol’ Douglas part of the way – I do love a deadline. They help me focus and give me a specific framework to manage my time around, and as such they’re pretty important in my day job. I’ve also learned that I like a deadline in my crafts, too. Without a date or an event to aim for, I am quite capable of meandering off and being distracted by something else that’s caught my fickle attention. All hail, then, the imposition of Crafting Deadlines!

Consequently, last year I pulled on my Big Girl Undies and decided to enter the Festival of Quilts show for the first time. My reasons? 1) Getting something FINISHED (yay deadline!) and 2) getting some impartial feedback. Of my many UFOs, I selected the Paper Crane blocks from a Craftster block swap as my target project. I’d made the extra Cranes and filler blocks, everything was layered up ready to go, and I’d even made a start on the quilting, so really all (ha!) I had to do was quilt each block and assemble them into the finished quilt. Additionally, as a project that has involved other peoples’ effort, I felt it had greater priority than some of my other WIPs.

Having entered it into the Group category, I squared up to the quilting; matchstick quilting and dot-to-dot designs on the Flying Geese blocks and four different “elemental” inspired designs (water, air, fire, earth) for the background around the Cranes, which had already been ditch-quilted. I also had three slightly smaller Cranes made in error by one of my swap partners; she made me three more the right size, but the “wrong” ones were so pretty that I wanted them to be part of the quilt as well, so I used them on the back of three of the Flying Geese blocks and also quilted around them so that their shadows appeared on the front of the quilt.

Once all the main blocks were quilted, I turned my attention to the setting triangles needed to square it up. To enhance the Japanese/Oriental feel of the quilt, I decided to use a bamboo leaf motif, and spent quite a lot of time hand-appliqué-ing an awful lot of green leaves onto cream backgrounds!

How good is that fabric? It was a very fortunate find at Calico Kate in Lampeter, just perfect for my bamboo leaves.

You may notice that I cheated a bit with my setting triangles, which perhaps wasn’t the best decision ever made, but by this point the end of July was bearing down upon me with speed and I was just determined not to hear that “WHOOSH” sound. Each block was quilted with an overall pattern of elongated leaves, then the triangles were cut apart, trimmed to size and arranged around the quilted blocks.

Finally, to assemble the quilt, I used a modified version of the sashing tutorial by Leah Day on Youtube. On the back, I used narrow strips of cream Sevenberry fabric, which has the most fascinating woven texture, and on the front I used a lighter colourway of the leaf fabric, to really bump up the bamboo look. To maximise the effect, I even used Markal Paintsticks to stencil joint lines on each strip.

To make them really stand out against the background, I also fused a narrow strip of wadding down the centre of each strip, then hand-appliquéd each strip into place over the joins in a basket-weave arrangement. The quilt’s binding was more of the textured cream Sevenberry fabric. I should note that my Uncle had his 60th birthday party in the middle of July, and as I was the only person from my corner of the family even remotely able to go, I had to get my quilt into a “hand sewing only” state and then take it to the south of England to help him celebrate. I was not too proud to pull out the quilt and do more hand-stitching on it while chatting to the other guests! Luckily, as generations of stitchers before me have found, hand-sewing can be pretty sociable and everyone was charmingly interested in what I was doing and why. Finally, the last stitch was made and the hanging sleeve attached, then I rollered off as much dog hair and lint as I could find and parcelled it up carefully, ready for hand delivery to the NEC.

After a few days pottering around Birmingham’s museums, I finally got to see my work hanging in the Festival of Quilts!

So, aim 1 achieved – quilt finished and entered! Huzzah! What about aim 2? Well, I have to say that I was nervous when I opened the envelope with the judges’ feedback in it, but in fact what I found therein was very fair and encouraging comments and scores that, based on the very high standard at the FoQ that year, seemed entirely reasonable. I did get dinged a little over those setting triangles being a bit wibbly! However, in truth I’m not sure how much was due to bias effects and how much was down to having folded the quilt for delivery. Now that it’s on my bed, keeping me cosy in all this rough weather, it’s impossible to notice any wobbles. For me, entering a quilt show is very much an opportunity to learn, both during the construction phase and from the feedback afterwards. I can say for sure that it was a really positive experience that I am looking forward to repeating this year!

The WIP Whip-Round

Better a little late than never, today I corralled all my quilty WIPs, took new mug-shots of them all and am sharing them here in a “name and shame” list.  🙂  They range from “partly quilted” to “bunch o’ blocks”.  The Great Hexagon Project is not included since that’s my “slow stitching” thing that I know is going to be a little-and-often job and when it’s done, it’s done (or I use up the hexies in other projects).

Turns out I have 11 official WIPs.  Each one is listed in the Rogue’s Gallery below with a brief description, last sighting, photo(s) of the current state, what needs to be done next to move it along, and a project prognosis.

1. Oh, Christmas Tree

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What Is It?  An advent wall-hanging.

Last Sighting:  Quilting the Christmas Tree, back in February 2016.

What’s The Hold-Up?  I really, REALLY hate quilting this thing with the wadding I used.  It’s ghastly fluffy polyester rubbish that I bought way back when I didn’t know what “proper” wadding ought to look like.  Oh, and I am using metallic thread on it because I am some sort of crazed masochist.

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However, I haven’t tried quilting on it since I poked the wibbly needle-holder on my Pfaff.  The pockets are ready to attach once the quilt is finished, so I think it’s time to see if I can’t cut this tree down to size at last.

Dead or Alive?  This one’s still got life in it!  I really want to see it finished.

2. Frostbyte

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What is it?  A wall-hanging assembled from a procedurally generated pattern.

Last Sighting:  Frogging in the Frost(Byte), almost exactly a year ago.

What’s The Hold-Up?  Un-doing is never as much fun as doing.  Especially when it involves trying to extract layers of not-very-good and not-very-visible machine quilting.  Looking at it today, I realised that I’d covered a lot more area than I remembered.  That makes it worse.

Dead or Alive?  I really don’t want this project to be dead, I think it still has potential buried in there if I can make myself spend some evenings attacking it more with the seam ripper.

3. The Wedding Quilt

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What is it?  The “wedding” quilt that I promised to give my sister and her husband when they got married almost six years ago.

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Last Sighting:  A Billion WIPs, back in January 2015!  Eeep!

What’s The Hold-Up?  I finally managed to baste it, with fancy bamboo wadding and all, but I am unduly nervous about tackling the quilting on this, especially as I’d like to do some (or all!) of it as FMQ.  Right now I’m unsure how to start or what I want to do on it, and indecision is a total progress killer.

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Dead or Alive?  Definitely still alive.  My aim is to get this one done in the first half of this year, so it can be their anniversary gift.

4. Damask Suns

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What is it?  A throw-sized quilt that I started as part of a group project at Quilt Club.

Last Sighting:  Something Old, Something New, August 2015

What’s The Hold-Up?  I can’t decide if I want it to be bigger or not.  Also, I wish I’d used the blue batiks for the negative space around the stars to make them more star-like.  There’s no way I’m going to try and retro-fit that, but I am considering using left-over strips to make more suns in my retroactively preferred blue/yellow combo so that it can 1) be more like I should have made it in the first place and 2) be a more sensible size.  But it’s rather at the back of the queue in terms of sewing priority.

Dead or Alive?  There’s a pulse.  Just.

5. Black&White D9P/Batik Lonestar

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What is it?  A double-sided Disappearing Nine-Patch/Lonestar bed quilt.

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Last Sighting:  A Billion WIPs, again.

What’s The Hold-Up?  The Lonestar back (or will it become the front?  Ooooo, suspense!) needs to be finished.  IIRC, it needs to be squared up a bit better and brought up to size.  I’m also struggling with the fact that, at this point, this may just not be me any more.  It looks like the last dregs of my teenage taste escaping.  Hmmm.

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Dead or Alive?  It’s touch and go with this one.  There’s bits I really like, mostly to do with the Lonestar.  But there’s much of it that just isn’t speaking to me these days.

6. Marsala Spice

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What is it?  A bed quilt I designed as part of the Pantone COTY challenge in 2015.

Last Sighting:  2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Top-Only Entry

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What’s The Hold-Up?  It needs basting.  I have an idea for lining up the front and the back (or trying to!) and then doing some quite elaborate FMQ designs in the tile blocks.  I have actually bought some special soluble threads to help me achieve this, I just haven’t taken the plunge with it yet.  I also kinda wish that I hadn’t used that leafy print on the front, so that’s a bit off-putting, but I shouldn’t use that as an excuse to not finish it.

Dead or Alive?  This one’s definitely still kicking!  Despite my slight misgivings about how the final flimsy finished (morals of the story – always calculate your yardage before you go to the fabric shop and always listen to your own instincts when it comes to your own design), I like it a lot and I think it’ll be a really good canvas for some FMQ practice.

7. Irish Charm

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What is it?  Scrappy Irish Chain throw/bed quilt.

Last Sighting:  Irish Charm, September 2015

What’s The Hold-Up?  Not really sure, other than my butterfly brain!  It needs borders adding (I have the fabric for that) and it’ll be backed with a sheet I salvaged from the great Airing Cupboard Clear-Out.  It’s also a project that I am actively looking forward to quilting, since I have quite a clear idea of what I want to do.

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Dead or Alive?  Very much alive.  I have quite a lot of affection for this one, cutting all those squares helped me through a stressful period and I love the shabby chic, country-cottage vibe it has.

8. Crying Over Spilled Tea

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What is it?  It was a test piece for me to practice the D9P block (clearly necessary, as the oops in the middle demonstrates).

Last Sighting:  Lost to the mists of time….

What’s The Hold-Up?  Lots of things, really.  The colour?  The fact that I stupidly trimmed the starting squares to 4-3/4″, thereby making cutting up the nine-patch blocks (or trimming more charm squares to make it larger) just that bit more annoying?  The size?

Dead or Alive?  Ehhhhh.  The next-of-kin and executors are hovering vulture-like over this one.  While there are things I could do to it, I’m really not sure whether the end product will be worth my time, which already has many claims on it.  It’s not even the kind of project that I’d donate to Project Linus – unless I wanted to give some poor kid a complex!  It might see new life as a test-ground for FMQ patterns.  Maybe.  And then possibly be relegated to the dog’s bed.

9. Paper Cranes

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What is it?  Blocks from a craft swap I participated in over on Craftster last year, based on my own design.

Last Sighting:  Craft Swaps, August 2016

What’s The Hold-Up?  I need to make more blocks to make the layout I’d like.  The templates are printed, but I haven’t seized an opportunity to crack on with them as of yet.  Alas!

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Dead or Alive?  Kicking and screaming!  This is a project I feel very positively about, plus it has other peoples’ efforts in it, which adds an extra dimension of expectation.  This will be a QAYG project, to cut it down to manageable size and provide some relief among all the BIG projects I seem to have!  Those three cranes at the top are an oops – one of my partners made them too small initially (probably thanks to US/UK printer differences), but she very sweetly did three more full-size ones as replacements, so the first three will go on the back – they’re too cute to not use.

10. Disappearing Hourglass

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What is it?  Blocks I made by following a tutorial by the Missouri Star Quilt Company on Youtube.

Last Sighting:  Apparently never?

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What’s The Hold-Up?  I made all these blocks with layer cakes of Moda’s Cold Spell and Snow, then decided that I wanted it to be a bigger quilt (just what is it with me and big quilts?!), so I halted progress on putting the blocks together until I got more Cold Spell (check!  Bagged the last layer cake in the shop, in fact).  New blocks will use both the stronger blues, as here, and the lighter all-cream prints, to mix things up a bit.  I also found a Moda layer cake of blue/cream flannels, which are going to be perfect as the backing.  Most of the delay on this one is down to my low distraction threshold and the comparatively low priority of this project currently.

Dead or Alive?  Alive, just dormant.

11. Monster

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What is it?  A thing that should not be, horror personified in fabric form.

Last Sighting:  …In Which I Create a Monster

What’s The Hold-Up?  It’s hideous, I hate it I hate it I hate it.

Dead or Alive?  Due for a lethal encounter with the seam ripper.  RIP!  😉

So there you have it.  I’ll be honest, I was actually expecting the list to be much longer, but perhaps 11 projects is plenty when 7 of them are throw-sized or larger!  Clearly some are much more likely to see completion this year than others, but most of them still have a spark of life that makes me want to see them done and dusted.  I really want to be crossing at least some of these off by the end of 2017!