Silk Quilt?

I’ve had this collection of silk dupion (Indian silk) for a while – 2 yd of the golden embroidered fabric and 12 fat quarters in various colors. I want to use it up and get it out of my stash! 

I’ve started looking at pictures of quilts for inspiration – I want to end up with a modern, minimalist quilt using the embroidered fabric as background with either half square triangles or narrow strips (or both) for the coloured elements…

I also spent time today going through my personal photos for possible images for the small wall art quilts I need to work on. I still have to go slow – my hand tires easily and I have to listen to it!

Canada’s Big Quilt Bee

The Canadian Quilters’ Association is holding a Canada-wide quilting bee to commemorate our 150th birthday. The women in my building got together yesterday and we made blocks/slabs to contribute to the more than 1000 quilts the association hopes to donate to Ronald McDonald Houses across the country.

Most of the women dug through scraps of fabric, assembling strips and pieces to sew into 12 1/2″ blocks (each block to contain a small piece of “Canada cloth” containing maple leaves) – I was one of the sewers. I must have stitched at least 15 blocks. In all, we assembled 50 blocks – enough for two 4×6 tops, or four 3×4 tops which is what the Association will be making at the “Big Quilt Bee” to be held in Toronto June 14-17. During the four days volunteers will be assembling thousands of individual quilt blocks into quilt tops and making them into quilts.

As we were leaving Avis handed me one more batch of pieces. I made the block this morning:

Lobster Block

My lobster block has the requisite maple leaves, along with some Nova Scotia tartan and colours representing the forests, sea, sun and sky of Nova Scotia. I completed the block with a multi-coloured scrap. I hope it tickles the fancy of some recovering child.

As of March 31: “STATUS UPDATE on the Big Quilt Bee
300 finished quilts, 143 tops and 1,000 blocks (which will make 83 quilts) for a total of 513 quilts to date!”

The Canadian 2017 Quilt Bee

The Canadian Quilters’ Association has invited quilters across Canada to be part of The Canadian 2017 Quilt Bee to commemorate Canada 150. The quilting bee will actually take place in Toronto June 14-17, but those of us who can’t get there can participate by making 12 1/2″ slab blocks (even quilt tops). The goal is 1000 quilts for kids at Ronald McDonald Houses across Canada. The requirements: 1 small piece of Canada fabric inserted into each quilt slab. No specified quilt block design, just include a piece of Canada cloth and make the slab 12 1/2″.

Local fabric shops are participating in the event – holding slab making days. The Friday afternoon women, here in my building are joining in, too. A week tomorrow we’re planning on spending the day making 12 1/2″ slabs.

I stopped off at my local shop this afternoon and picked up a half-dozen pieces of Canada fabric and came home and quickly turned out 3 slabs!

Improvised Slab #1

Improvised Slab #2

Improvised Slab #3

As you can see my slabs are improvised – started with a bit of Canada fabric, surrounded it with something colourful, and continued to build out the slab until I had enough to trim to 12 1/2″. They’re wild! Nothing subdued about them. I’m sure they’ll coordinate with slabs sewn by other women. I figure 1000 quilts will require close to 25,000 slabs! That’s a lot of piecing but with many willing hands I bet the Association will meet its goal.

There was one horrendous mess on my cutting table by the time I’d finished these three  – I’ve just tidied up. I have three more pieces of Canada fabric so over the next week I’ll probably build another three slabs. I’ll do another couple when the women get together next week.

12 X 12 Quilt

I mused about the teal/indigo fabrics I had for a couple of days and decided in the end to limit the quilt to just the set of twelve fat quarters (I put the rest away). To use my set of twelve indigo fat quarters, I decided to make a 12 x 12 quilt based on Elizabeth Hartman’s “Low Volume Tiles” quilt from her Craftsy Class: “Inspired Modern Quilts“).

I based my quilt on Hartman’s design but had to adjust the sizes of my small blocks because once I cut the first 13″ square I knew I had to fiddle to cut a second set of 12 blocks – there wasn’t enough fabric for a second 13″ square. So the dimensions of my small blocks are a bit different than hers in order to be able to use the fabric I had – there was just enough with a 5″ x   8″ leftover piece of each fabric which I used in my side borders.

The idea behind this quilt is to take 12 fabrics, cut 13” (or whatever large size) blocks you want by stacking and cutting them into the same 12 sections. Next you sort them shifting fabric #1 to the back of the stack for the second small block, fabrics #1,2 to the back of the stack for the third small block, fabrics #1,2,3 to the back of the stack for the fourth small bloc…. You get the idea:

12 Blocks – Stack ‘n Whack – Sorted

When you’ve done the setup, each stack has 12 fabrics, arranged so that a different one of the 12 fabrics is at the top of a stack before you begin laying out the large blocks and the fabrics in each stack are in the same sequence, just shifted by one so when you sew the blocks, each block has all 12 fabrics with no repetitions!

I intended to end up with 10 1/2″ blocks (having started with a 13″ square) – I trimmed my stitched sections to 11″) and assembled them into a 3 x 4 array:

12 X 12 Stitched Together

That’s a small quilt, however. I had cut a second set of 12 small blocks from the residual fabric from my indigo fat quarters – so I stitched together the second set of twelve blocks. It turns out that I was lucky to have chosen 13″ as my starting size because I wouldn’t have had enough fabric to create the second set of 12 blocks had I started with 14″!

One other thing – I removed one of the light fabrics from the collection before I began cutting, substituting a bright green for block #12. I wanted one colour to pull the other fabrics together.

My Finished Double 12 x 12 Quilt With 4″ Borders Added to the Sides

My finished quilt top is a 4 x 6 array with added 4″ side borders to give me a final width more in proportion to the length. Finished quilt: width 50″; length 64″. I lost a tiny amount from both width and length with the trimming I did in order to able to fit the blocks together. But in a design like this you can’t tell where the trimming occurred. You really aren’t able to see the “blocks” or where the main joins are.

Now to come up with an idea for the back. Yesterday I bought some backing fabric and 1/4 m of four teal/indigo batiks to add to some others I have but didn’t use in the quilt top. I had to do that because I didn’t have a single scrap left from the original fat quarters I started out with.

From My Fabric Stash

Fabric Stacks

Nearly two years ago I returned from a road trip to Toronto via Center Harbour Vermont so I could visit the Keepsake Quilting shop. I’ve been buying fabric from the online shop for years. This was a chance to actually see the entire selection.

I was looking for green batiks to make a quilt for Noah. However, once I’d made my choices, I couldn’t help looking around and ended picking up two different fat quarter collections of indigo/teal – eighteen pieces of fabric in all.

Having just finished the Japanese Strip Quilt, I was looking through my stash and decided it’s time to use these indigo fabrics so I opened the packages, spray starched and pressed each piece. I realized I didn’t have enough light coloured fabrics so I made the rounds of my nearby fabric shops and bought several 1/4 m selections.

Now the prepared fabrics are sitting on my cutting table – along with a 1/2 m length of a bright green to use as an accent.

I just have to decide what to do with them! I want something “modern” but probably constructed using traditional elements. Can’t make up my mind, is the problem.

For example I could set up half-square triangles and recut them:

Disappearing HST

I could cut squares, stack them three/four at a time, wonky cut them, and sew, mixing and matching to create blocks.

Wonky Log Cabin

I could just make 4 HST at a time and cluster them:

HST Clusters

I could cut rectangles and arrange them somewhat randomly:

Japanese Blocks

Or I could just cut and sew, improvising as I go along!

Don’t know where to start yet.

A Note on Binding My Quilts

I bind my quilts using 2 1/4″ strips cut from the width of fabric to provide a bit of give as I attach the binding (given the large lap quilt size of my quilts I need six strips). I join the strips using a mitre – the reason is the angled seams don’t attract the eye and often they are nearly invisible.

Sometimes I press the long strip in half lengthwise, but lots of times I don’t bother. I attach the binding first to the back of the quilt starting 10 inches or so from one end (to allow me to create a mitre join when I get all the way around) – no pinning, just stitching in short sections, aligning the binding against the quilt edge (with a hint of stretch), and stitching a smidgeon more than 1/2″ from the edge. When I get near to the join I stop sewing, lay the quilt flat on the cutting table, cut one end of the binding then overlap the second end, measure 2 1/4″ from the end of the first binding edge, and cut. Now I create a mitre to join the two overlapping ends of the binding – I make sure the binding is the tiniest bit short (1/8″ – 3/16″) so I can stretch the joined binding to fit the quilt (that way I don’t get a bubble in the binding). (I haven’t said anything about creating mitred corners – click here to get more or less an idea for how  I do it.)

Now I turn to the front of the quilt, fold over the binding, turn it under and pin so the turned under edge just meets my stitching from the back. I have used a number of decorative machine stitches to attach the binding on the front. Here’s the one I use most often:

Binding From The Front

It’s a modification of one of my machine stitches – I am careful to keep the straight stitches along the edge, the stitching to the right and back overlaps the binding and holds it securely.

Binding On The Back

And because I’ve been careful to make my fold align with the stitching, the stitching is pretty much aligned on the back of the quilt (although my stitch tension isn’t always perfect – I don’t worry about that, it is the back of the quilt, after all.)

I’ve done this so many times that it doesn’t take long to bind a quilt.

Failed Attempt

Failed Attempt

I needed to piece an eleven inch strip to insert into the single width of backing fabric I had (that’s the primary reason I piece the back of my quilts – to get the width I need for the quilts). I had lots of small amounts of the Asian print fabrics I’d used for the top so I cut single 2 1/2″ strips, sewed them together in pairs on both edges, cut triangles which resulted in 2 1/2″ squares. I assembled the squares into a central row then filled in the sides with another row of the small squares and edged with a set of light coloured triangles to set off my pieced strip against the dark backing fabric.

I decided to construct the insert panel along the diagonal so incorporating the triangles would be straight forward. Nice idea. However, in spite of the fact that I trimmed the triangles, the further I got into the panel, the more it bent away from the straight! I took tucks in strategic seams only to find my next diagonal row was even further off. With the panel half assembled, I gave up.

Unused Small Half-Square Triangles

I gathered up the unused small squares and triangles, looked at them for a while, paired the small squares, then joined two pairs to create five inch squares – I ended up with nine which I aligned on point down the middle of my cutting table (in the end I needed only eight). I had lots of the Kona solid “pepper” fabric I’d used on the quilt top – I cut 6 1/2″ squares (which I cut along the diagonal) and inserted the triangles in the spaces between the pieced squares. Finally I added two narrow strips of one of the black/white fabrics to offset the panel against the backing fabric.

Pieced Back Using Small Half-Square Triangles

So my efforts weren’t entirely in vain. I have tucked away my failed attempt. I inserted my new panel into the backing fabric (offset twelve inches from one side along the length). I pin basted the quilt sandwich and you can see I’ve begun quilting the quilt. My finished quilt will end up 49″ x 62″. My quilt design (in a 360 X 200 hoop) has worked out to 7″ x 13.7″. I’m quilting along the length of the strips rather than from side to side (to complement the strips rather than stitching across them) – I will end up quilting seven rows, each row requires 4 complete and 1 half repeat to cover the quilt from edge to edge.

So far, I’ve stitched two rows and started the third. It’ll take me another two days to finish the quilting. I plan on binding the quilt with some of the backing fabric I was able to find yesterday in the sister shop across the harbour from where I bought the original backing fabric.

I’m already planning my next project – a spring raincoat using PUL fabric (Polyurethane Laminate used to make diaper covers among other things) in black with bright umbrellas which I came across a month or so ago. Now to find a pattern….