Batik Flower Garden Quilt Progress

 

I started adding a border of burgundy flowers to the Batik Flower Garden Quilt while I was at the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild three weeks ago. Since then I have basted and added quite a few burgundy flowers. This week I added 19 flowers and have only three more to go before I start filling in with the joining hunter green hexagons.

This border will be followed  by at least one more burgundy border to echo the two burgundy borders that came before the caramel and brown flower border.

Once you get near the edge of the edge of the bed on a queen sized quilt these individual borders of flowers take a very long time to complete. It makes it feel as though progress has slowed, but it hasn’t really. The borders are just so much larger.

I’ve mentioned before that there are two different methods of basting hexagons. The method I have used recently keeps the basing threads to the back of the work and makes for great photographs of work in process, which is the main reason I have been using it. I’ve been basting for the benefit of my blog. This method, however has a major downside, which is that it is very easy for papers to get pulled out prematurely, making it necessary to sew edges of hexagons without any paper stabilization. That makes for extra work.

Sometimes you can catch these renegade papers in time and pop them back into place as illustrated below, however more often than not they get pulled so far out of place that they just have to be pulled out altogether.

In an effort to avoid the need to sew together hexagon seems minus papers I have decided to revert to my older method of basting where I pierce the paper and run the basting stitches along the front of the hexagons. This isn’t as pretty in blog photos, but the assembly is easier to handle.

If I ever decide to do machine quilting I might not have the problem of the papers popping out because I could leave my fabric squares untrimmed, which would help to hold the papers into place. For now, however, I prefer to hand quilt and trim away the fabric bulk along the seams.

I am linking back to Jessica’s Monday Morning Star Count on her blog Life Under Quilts. Those of you coming here from Jessica’s blog might enjoy the two posts I wrote recently concerning the first quilt I made forty years ago, and how I repaired that vintage quilt. It doesn’t involve EPP, but you may enjoy seeing it nonetheless, and I would certainly love sharing it with all of you.

First Act Friday: A New Binding and Repairs for My First Quilt

After posting last week about the first quilt I ever made I decided that it was time to give this forty year old quilt a much needed proper binding. I headed off to the Pennington Quilt Works thinking that I would look for a tiny floral print with brown, gold, and off white as the main colors in the design.

I packed my quilt into a bag and walked around the store with it looking for the right fabric. I wasn’t finding a tiny floral, but my eye did settle on a polka dot print of brown dots on a gold background. The brown was just about perfect. The gold was slightly darker than i would have liked, but I felt that it was going to make a nice binding, and that it would unify the quilt.

In addition to creating a real binding (not just whip stitched seams), I needed to do some repairs. I decided on the Kona Butterscotch I had purchased to audition for the Batik Flower Garden Quilt.

Kona Butterscotch is second from the left. The color on the far right is Kona Caramel, which is the color I selected for the Batik Flower Garden Quilt after seeing all four of these fabrics close up and personal.

While I usually do not pre wash my fabrics, I made an exception in this case. The quilt had been washed many times since its creation, and I had pre washed the fabrics before I made the original quilt because I was coming from a dress making background to quilting. I wanted to avoid shrinkage issues on my repairs and my new binding by pre washing my two new fabrics.

Before adding the binding I performed repairs on the topmost side of the quilt. This is where the quilt had suffered significant damage due to grabbing and tugging in the middle of the night. Something I learned from this is that repeated vertical rows of hand quilting are much more fragile than repeated horizontal rows of hand quilting. No damage occurred in the dark brown areas where the rows of stitching were horizontal. There was significant damage in the gold areas where the rows of stitching were vertical. I never would have guessed that this would be the case. This new information will help me to think about how to handle quilting in the future. My guess is that increasing quilting density all around the edges of a quilt makes good sense. You never know how it might be thrown out on a bed and which side might get tugged. Quilting density should at least be increased along the top edge of a quilt when there is an obvious top edge. I see no need to make quilting rows any closer than two inches apart in the main body of the quilt because quilting that is located at least a foot into the body of a quilt is not likely to undergo stress from grabbing. Therefore, it and can be quilted less densely without concern.  Near the edge it might make sense to quilt as densely as every inch, or even every half inch if possible.

I added wedge shaped pieces of Butterscotch Kona fabric that wrapped around the edge of the quilt toward the back. The fabric was machine sewn to the front of the quilt because there was way too much thickness to hand quilt it. It was hand stitched to the back. You can see that the fabric is brighter than the original gold fabric, but it isn’t a bad match.

Below you can see how I added three wedges to make it look as if I meant for them to be there. Not all of the wedges were necessary to implement repairs.

I am very happy with the result.

One thing I especially like about this quilt is that I decided to do curved corners on my binding, and I LOVE the way they turned out. Since I had no way to mark the fabric, I ended up tracing curves from a plate onto a piece of paper. I then pinned the paper to the quilt and stitched through the pencil lines on the paper to mark the curves, and ripped the paper away. I was very proud of myself for coming up this idea for marking curved corners.

I used a bias binding, which I always do, because it wears better than a straight binding. Another reason to use a bias binding is because it makes it easier to do curved edges. Last week I noticed a baby quilt online with curved corners. When I saw it I thought, “Wow, this looks like a great way to totally avoid the issue of the imperfect 90 degree angle corners.” That’s why I did it. This quilt was particularly well suited to using curves for the corners because each corner is composed of a circular motif. When I proudly showed my finished corners to my husband he said, “I see you are cutting corners.” I said, “Yes, I am.”

After finishing the binding I washed the quilt on a gentle cycle in cold water, and dried it on a gentle cycle. It turned out fantastic. I am considering adding a few more things to the surface of the quilt using the polka dot fabric and the butterscotch fabric, but I am going to wait for awhile before I do.

Diamond Quilt Final Border of Hexagons is Finished

It is amazing how long it takes to do a final border of hexagons on a queen sized quilt. I’ve been working on that border for quite awhile. At last count I had 16 hours in on the border. This week I put in another 8.5 hours and finished the border. It took a full 24.5 hours to apply that final border of hexagons. I’m going to take a break from this quilt for a few weeks before I back it, bat it, baste it, and quilt it.

 

This week aside from working on the final border of green hexagons for the quilt above, I’ve also been producing more burgundy flowers for the queen sized Batik Flower Garden Quilt.

 

First Act Friday: My First Quilt

First Act Friday is a feature whereby I will show the quilts that I produced starting forty years ago in 1974 when I made my very first quilt based on the instructions I found in the February issue of Family Circle magazine pictured below:

The quilt is featured on the cover of the magazine wrapped around a model with a bit of an Angelina Jolie look.

In 1974 I was taking a year off between my sophomore and junior years of college. I was wrapping meat for a living, and looking for a creative outlet. I’d never quilted, though I had seen my paternal grandmother do so. She used a quilting frame, but I didn’t have access to one, and I liked the fact that this project did not require a frame. It seemed like an easy way to get started. I liked what I saw on the magazine cover and decided to give this project a try. At the end of this post I will show you, by way of scans of the magazine pages, what the instructions looked like for this project. I think that today if I had to work from those instructions I might be intimidated, but I was too inexperienced to be fearful, so I forged ahead.

I decided to use a warm color palette for my quilt. I used only solids, which now I realize was actually quite modern before the term Modern Quilting had even been coined. I was creating this quilt for the king sized bed of my then boyfriend. When we broke up about a year later I put the unfinished quilt on hold. I’d completed everything but the extra wide brown borders I was going to add to make it large enough for a king sized bed. About 25 years after shoving this unfinished piece in a closet I dragged it out and finished off the edges with pre made bias binding. I now use the quilt on a queen sized bed, but it’s really is too small for that bed. I think I may end up patching it up and perhaps adding on another border to make it bigger in all four directions.

Here it is:

This quilt was done using a quilt-as-you-go method involving hand quilting. There were units of four, two, and one squares with brown sashing. Those units were individually lap quilted by hand before being joined with more sashing in a contrasting color. That sashing was was wide enough to have batting and was also quilted by hand.

My one touch of vibrant color in this quilt was the red heart on one of the squares. I am Pennsylvania Dutch so this block speaks to me with its subtle reference to egg noodle packaging. The square appears to have been lifted directly from the Pennsylvania Dutch brand logo. Whoops. I may have actually been the log thief, since I’m having a hard time finding the distelfink block anywhere in the directions. My goodness, I stole from a noodle company. Well, actually I took inspiration from a noodle company logo.

You can see below how the large brown blocks were joined with the gold sashing. Here we see this from the back of the quilt.

This piece has been well used, and is definitely worse for wear. I made my husband give up using those blue pens that he liked so much after this happened. They ruined a few things before they were banished from the house.

Grabbing the edge of the quilt to pull it up in a cold Winter’s night has taken its toll as well. Here we see the worst damage from the front of the quilt, and then from the back. I guess I’ll have to be looking for some Kona solids for repair work, or perhaps a print that would coordinate well.

 

I have no idea of the content of these fabrics. I imagine that they were not 100% cotton. I know that the thread was regular polyester sewing thread, not quilting thread. I just didn’t know any better. Plus I wanted to match the thread to the fabric as was done in the magazine directions.

The quilting on this piece has actually held up fairly well. In spite of the few examples of wear to the fabric I am showing here, most of the quilt is in very good condition for having been used a great deal in the past fifteen years, and having been laundered many time.

Can you believe I had no idea that you were supposed to hide your quilting knots? They are all over the back of the quilt. I had not yet read “The Perfect Patchwork Primer“.

After what little border I had added to the edge got torn because it wasn’t quilted densely enough, I ended up picking out the machine stitches that joined it to the rest of the quilt. I turned in the seams, and whipping them shut. I think I should probably give this quilt a proper binding some day which I could add right to the edge that currently exists.

I did do some interesting quilting on this piece I must say with the diamond shapes.

Here is my favorite block (that I shamelessly stole) all by itself.

The project has a nice double page spread in the magazine.

Then there were four pages of densely packed instructions. Just ignore the hemorrhoid cream advertisement.

 

I did not add any embroidery to my quilt.

In the upper right of the above page you can see the instructions for adding the joining sashing, which has its own batting.

You had to hand draw the patterns for the individual appliqué units from looking at the samples in the upper left of the page above. You were supposed to draw out a grid and then copy onto it. While only eight units were provided, I ended up free handing many more than that for my quilt. Everything was cut with scissors, since rotary cutters did not yet exist.

I learned a lot from doing this quilt. The most important thing I gained from this experience was a sense of confidence in hand quilting without a frame. I went on to baste and hand quilt full sized quilts after finishing this piece. “The Perfect Patchwork Primer” provided me with all I needed to know to go on to finish four more quilts during my First Act In Fiber Arts. I’ll have a First Act Friday for each of those four quilts at some point in the future.

It’s fun to look back on the past, and some day I may design something to pay homage to these first quilt of mine.

 

The Batik Flower Garden Quilting Sample is Finished

The Batik Flower Garden quilting sample piece is totally finished. I finished the quilting this week, and I did the binding yesterday.

The size turned out to be 28.5 inches by 32.25 inches, which is a little small for a baby quilt, but could conceivably work well as a carriage cover.

I absolutely love the circular concentric quilting. Three concentric circles gives a nice density to the quilting, and the circles emphasize the flowers, while leaving the green joining hexagons in a space that is not quilted at all. The quilting shows up best on the solid caramel and brown flowers. It shows up second best on the burgundy flowers, and it nearly disappears on the batik patterned flowers, as the photographs below show:

Since I may be giving this quilt away, and if I do it will be the first quilted piece I have ever given  away, I thought it might be worthwhile to know how many hours of my life are in it before I decide to give it a new loving home.

Each flower took 12.5 minutes to quilt. I timed one of them, so I know.

There are 41 flowers in the quilt, which brings the hand quilting time for this quilt to a total of 8 hours and 32.5 minutes. we will round that down to 8 hours and 30 minutes.

I decided to keep track of the time on the binding. It broke down like this:

15 minutes – Sewing around the edge of the last border of hexagons multiple times to reinforce the seams and to mark the cutting line which I would follow after the quilting was finished
12 minutes – Cutting off partial hexagons, excess batting, and excess backing fabric
30 minutes – Preparation of binding: cutting, joining, and pressing of binding
43 minutes – Application of binding to the front of the piece by machine
140 minutes – Hand sewing the binding to the back of the piece

The total time spent on binding came to 4 hours.

Here are some photographs of the binding process:

I sew around the final edge of hexagons multiple times to reinforce the seams and to indicate where to cut when it is time to apply the binding.

Initially I tried cutting away the excess border with a rotary cutter. I only tried about six inches that way. I found that using the ruler and rotary cuter did not give me the feeling of control that I needed.

I ended up cutting away some of my stitching, so I switched to using a pair of scissors, which I found to be a much more satisfactory solution.

These are the portions of the hexagons that I ended up cutting off. I cut away half of the hexagons on the vertical borders. I cut away a portion on the horizontal borders that would give me the same size border as I had with the vertical hexagons. How much to take away and leave behind is a personal decision and may change depending on the piece.

 

Here you can get a good look at the multiple rows of stitching I used to reinforce the seams of the hexagons that ended up having portions discarded in the binding process. I believe that I ended up doing four or five rows of stitches.

I’ll estimate the time spent on hand piecing the quilt top using my 10 minutes per hexagon estimate. This estimate takes into account the cutting of papers, cutting of fabric squares, basting of hexagons, and the sewing together of the seams. I won’t bother to include the hexagons on the final border in my count. There are 351 full hexagons in the quilt top, so it took a total of 58 hours and 30 minutes to piece.

Adding up all of the figures from above, the quilt took a total of 71 hours to complete, but I just realized that I need to add in the time spent basting in preparation for quilting, which is probably about two hours, so it comes to 73 hours total… 73 hours of my life. That’s almost two full weeks at a full time job.

I was going to try to do some calculations based on the above figures to come up with an amount of time it takes to piece a square foot of hexagons, but then I got the brilliant idea of masking off a 12″ x 12″ area of the quilt and simply counting the number of hexagons, and using my estimate of 10 minutes per hexagon to come up with a time per square foot for piecing.

I came up with 60 hexagons per square foot for a total of ten hours to piece a square foot. That’s a very convenient estimate based on ten minutes per hexagon, which is probably the slowest speed at which I work. I doubt I can work as fast as 5 minutes per hexagon, but I can probably do better than 10 minutes if I try. However, English Paper Piecing is not about rushing. It is about relaxing and enjoying, so the 10 minute estimate is probably a good one.

I am happy with almost everything about this quilt. The only thing I am not happy with are my corners on my binding. They look very good from the front. However, I am dissatisfied with the way they look on the back. No one but a quilter would notice or care, but I do.

I want them to look like they are beautifully mitered. As it was, I fussed with these corners a great deal when I did the hand sewing on the back, In spite of that, I just could not make any one of them look like I wanted them to. I should be able to conquer the 90 degree binding corners, and I will.

I feel as if I have pretty well mastered the odd angled edges when binding. They seem to be more forgiving. I conquered odd angled binding edges on the piece below:

Yet 90 degree angles still have me flustered.

I took a course at the Pennington Quilt Works about binding, but I seemed to have missed something about the 90 degree corners. I’m going to make it a point to research this further. I’m going to look at a number of tutorials, and I am going to do many practice corners before I bind the large Batik Flower Garden quilt. It’s going to have 90 degree angles. The Diamond Quilt will not have any 90 degree angles, so I will be quilting and binding The Diamond Quilt top next.

I figure that it would take nine of these small quilts to equal the size of the queen sized Batik Flower Garden Quilt that I am making, so that gives me an estimate of 657 hours to complete the queen sized quilt give or take 50 hours. What’s 50 hours anyway on a large quilt?

I am linking back to Jessica’s Star Count as usual. Those of you coming here through Jessica’s blog might enjoy seeing the post about my photo staging area that I published since the last Star Count.

My Blog Photo Staging Area

Aside from just blogging about my fiber arts I will occasionally blog about the process of blogging itself, including such things as taking photographs for blog posts. That’s the topic today.

Today I had a One-to-One training session at the Apple Store on how to use Aperture, which is the professional level image editing and asset management program offered by Apple. I’ve been using Aperture for about two years now, but it will soon no longer be supported by Apple. My primary interest in seeking training in the use of Aperture at this point is to come up with an exit strategy for the day when Apple stops supporting the application. I will most likely start using Lightroom, but knowing as much as possible about Aperture will help me with that transition.

Aperture is an important part of my image work flow for my blog. I take my blog pictures with my iPhone and I have Aperture set up to automatically import my photo stream. Once the images are in Aperture I copy them into albums related to specific quilting projects. I share these albums on Flickr. From there I download medium sized versions of the photos I want to use in my blog posts. I arrange the files in my downloads folder by “most recently added”. This way I can drag the images directly into my WordPress posts. This works well for me. The images load quickly on the blog because they are small, yet I didn’t have to resize them myself because Flickr does all the work for me by offering me a variety of sizes for download. I merely select the medium size that I want.

The Apple Creative who helped me today praised my workflow in Aperture, so I decided to describe to him the blog image workflow that incorporates Flickr into the mix. While explaining this I opened up my blog so he could see that it is very photo centric in terms of its content. While viewing the blog he asked if the wood in the background of most of my recent project images was a texture created in Photoshop. I told him that it was simply my front porch, and that I have a great staging area for taking photographs of my work using the surface of my front porch. I scrolled down to this image so he could see how nicely the staging area works. I was particularly pleased with the entire set of images from that post. which made very good use of the porch.

I like to use my porch because the really nice wood makes a great background, but also because I get nice natural light. I have not been pleased with most of the photos I took indoors for my blog. After talking about where I take my blog photographs with the Apple Creative for awhile, I decided that it would be nice to do a blog post showing my staging area in detail, so here we go…

I’ll start with the steps that i used for photograph above. I deliberately placed the leaves at the top of the image above. The leaves in the image below just happened to be there when I took the photo. This is a great place to lay out a fairly large piece that just won’t fit well on the surface of the porch.

The porch gets a lot of direct sunlight in the morning which you can easily see in the photo below. Sometimes that makes for an artsy effect, but I like to wait to take my photos until the afternoon when the entire surface of the porch is in shade.

The railing can make an interesting background.

 And there is a nice railing to hang things from too.

Here is the porch in direct sunlight. When I take photos this way I find it necessary to do white balance corrections and exposure corrections.

Here is a patch of porch in shade, which offers a better background for photographs in natural light. It is much less harsh than the morning sun.

By 1:30 PM the porch and stairs are in shadow and it is a good time to take photographs. The light remains good up through about 4:00 PM.

Here is the view of the porch in the afternoon from my open front door.

CJMQG Retreat

Last weekend I attended the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild retreat at the Hyatt House in Bridgewater, New Jersey. There were about 15 women in attendance working on a variety of projects. I was the only person there without a sewing machine.

I decided to work on my Batik Flower Garden Quilt projects.  I basted my quilting sample piece before the retreat, and I managed to do some quilting on it. Initially I had tried using both green and burgundy threads for the quilting using the pattern below. After doing a little of it I decided that you really couldn’t tell that two colors were being used. I think something like this would be better done with machine quilting which would emphasize the quilting stitches more.

So I tried doing some concentric circles around the crimson centers of the flowers. I decided that I liked the effect, and did quite a bit of quilting on this piece while at the retreat.

I spent most of my my time, however, creating burgundy flowers and adding them around the edge of the large batik flower garden quilt.

By the time I was done adding flowers I had added fifteen burgundy flowers around the border and the hunter green hexagons between them. They are at the porch level in the picture below.

Here is a better view of the new burgundy flowers.

And here is a nice close up of those burgundy flowers.

This retreat was my second opportunity to get to talk to some of the women in my quilt guild. The first opportunity was when we had a booth at the Pennington Farmer’s Market in October. I enjoyed chatting with the women as we all worked. I even showed Tatiana how to do English Paper Piecing. She was finishing up a very modern quilt based on a workshop she had attended. She thought that a few flowers scattered across the surface would enhance the overall appearance of the work. I am looking forward to seeing the finished quilt during the show and tell segment of a future guild meeting.

My primary motivation in attending the retreat was to get to know people in the guild. I found it really pleasant to be working along side a group of women. In order to make this social event pay off I decided that it was important to learn people’s names, but I know that I have a terrible time remembering names. I decided to admit my limitation openly, and ask people if I could take a picture and write down their names. That way I would have a chance of being able to remember them later because I could look at the photos and names to study a little bit.

By the time I left the retreat I was able to look at each person and say her name. I made only one mistake when I did that, which I thought was pretty good. I did warn them though that when I saw them next I might not remember the names because they wouldn’t be sitting in the same places. I am such a spacial person. If you gave me a floor plan of the room I could still write the names on the tables, but I’m not sure I could match the names up with the faces at this point.

Diamond Quilt Progress – Border Nearly Done

I had very little time for quilting this week. I picked up my new MacBook Pro from the Apple Store on Tuesday and spent most of my time fiddling with Aperture. I even had a group training session at the Apple Store on Saturday morning.

I took a break from the Batik Flower Garden Quilting Sample Piece which you can see at the top of the picture above. I got out the Diamond Quilt and did some more work on the final border of hunter green hexagons.

The last time I reported on that border I had put in 6 hours and 43 minutes on it. Since then I have put in another 9 hours and 23 minutes. I still have about a quarter of the border yet to finish.

Lori decided that the quilt top had been laid out for her to enjoy. As it turned out I was able to work on it while she was laying on it because it is so big. Below are a number of shots of Lori enjoying the quilt top.

My plan for this week is to prepare things to take along with me for the quilting retreat I will be attending next weekend for the Central Jersey Modern Quilt Guild. We will be meeting in Bridgewater, NJ for three days.

I’ll prepare my quilt sample piece so I can work on that at the retreat and I will precut lots of burgundy squares and crimson squares so I can work on the large Batik Flower Garden Quilt.

I won’t be bringing a sewing machine to the retreat. I will be doing all hand work there. I could do that easily enough I home, but the main reason I want to go is to see what everyone else is doing and get to know people.

Quilting Sample Ready to Baste

I decided to flesh out the border of this quilting sample with the crimson fabric. As you can see very clearly below there is not a lot of contrast between the burgundy flowers and the crimson border.

I had actually considered finishing this piece off with a hunter green border, but I decided against it because hunter green hexagons join the flowers together. I thought that it might be confusing for them to mingle with the border. In retrospect I think this might have been a nice effect allowing the burgundy flowers to pop along the edge. Maybe I will do something like that in a future quilt. Imagine a hunter green border added to the image below.

I am linking back today to Life Under Quilts. Jessica has been very busy lately with a project that she will be able to reveal in the near future. It has an ISBN number, so I am really looking forward to seeing this new project. For the past few weeks Jessica hasn’t posted her usual Monday Morning Star Count link back post, and I have anxiously looked for it every week. After only one week of not being able to link back to Jessica, I realized how much I depended on her blog as a means of sharing my work with others. Before I started to link back I was blogging in a vacuum. I didn’t really think anyone was reading. Once I started to link back to Jessica’s blog I started to see comments on my posts, and I felt like a part of a community.

Anyone reading this from the Monday Morning Star Count linkup please take some time to scroll down and see what I’ve been up to in the last few weeks.

Thank you to Jessica for getting us sharing again. We English Paper Piecers need all the encouragement we can get to keep producing in a medium that takes so long and seems to move so slowly. I’m slightly late to the party this week, but I am looking forward to seeing what everyone has done since we last shared.

Edit: I was so grateful for the opportunity to share again that I made it a point to comment on every single link in the Star Count, and I will check back later in the week to comment on any links made between now and then. Keep stitching girls!