Running it up the Flagpole

IMG_9363Hi Everybody,

It’s been a while since I posted because I have been out gardening in our lovely weather. Now we are back to rain, rain, rain, it’s a good time to let the garden take care of itself and sew, sew, sew.

I had a friend once that worked for an American company and was always coming up with new sayings he had heard at work. One of them was to ‘run something up the flagpole’, or just give something a try. I love the idea of metaphorically offering something to the winds and letting it unfurl, even if it has to come down again. So this post is about new experiments; giving one or two more unusual things a try.

About a year ago I bought some fabric panels from a line called ‘The Sweet Life’ by the designer Cori Dantini.

IMG_9285

I’m not a great fan of panels because it feel like some of the work has been done for you, but I wanted to experiment with how big I could go with English Paper Piecing. Would the technique still work using very large pieces of paper? And if I had to butt several pieces together would the block be stable enough to keep its shape?   I also wanted to make a quilt that could be seen from all sides. Perhaps panels could be used effectively in this way. I laid the panels out on the carpet to see how it would look:

IMG_9306_2

I chose a co-ordinating piece for the back of the quilt, made up of similar, smaller panels, and auditioned some fabrics for the centre square. At first I thought I would use the blue floral design but opted for the green stripe because it blended in better and because it was called ‘Field of Joy’.

 

I didn’t have any very large pieces of paper, so I used three overlapping sheets of A4 paper stapled together, slightly smaller than the panels, and basted the fabric over the paper.IMG_9287

Then I sewed them together, sewing the centre square last. Unfortunately I attached the last panel facing the wrong way.  Can you see, the two girls with wings are facing the same way?IMG_9334

 

I left the quilt like that for over a week while I wondered whether to leave it alone, or unpick the panel and reverse it. Eventually, I decided to unpick it and change it, for two main reasons: 1) If it was to face this way, it would make sense for the two panels that have writing on to be facing you but they were sideways on, so you couldn’t read them easily. 2) This  started out as an experiment with a ’round and round’ design. If I left it this way then every time I looked at it I would be disappointed that I didn’t do that, that it didn’t work out. The mistake would shout at me. So I unpicked the panel, put the paper piece back in, re-basted the edges and re-sewed it on the right way. It seemed to take AGES. The other paper panels had been taken out (I didn’t want to have to put them all back in, so it lacked some stability which meant going slow). However, the good news is yes, the English Paper Piecing technique is do-able with large pieces of paper, just as it is with small ones.

Then I ran something else up the flagpole: I decided to embroider some of the surface design before I quilted the panels. I knew this would make the quilt totally impractical buy hey, this is about learning and have fun. I didn’t want to go too crazy or the stitches would interfere with the quilting, so I decided to embroider the girls hair and eyes and embellish their dresses a little. What a fun way this is to practice stitches! I can see myself doing much more of this surface stitching on fabric.

 

Now it’s time to sew the front and back together with a piece of cotton batting in between and start quilting. In the first picture above you can see I have drawn some turquoise parallel lines across the panel. These are to guide my quilting stitches and will wash out afterwards. In another post, I’ll let you know how it all turns out.

I am also experimenting with a small piece using fabric paint, applique and surface embroidery. More of that next time too….

 

 

Something in the Cabin?

e81c2329d3958c6e8a1e26165897b584

The traditional log cabin block layout. Image via all-about-quilts.com

As I love quilted and embroidered houses it stands to reason that one of my favourite quilt block designs would be the Log Cabin. Tradition has it that it is meant to represent the logs of a cabin built around a central hearth, which is often represented with a red fabric square in the centre. I came across an interesting article by Jane Hall (dated 2004) online, describing the history and possible origin of the log cabin. You will find it here:

http://www.womenfolk.com/quilt_pattern_history/logcabin.htm

It makes fascinating reading. Today there are a huge amount of variations on the original design: offset logs, swirling logs, thick and thin logs, half logs, half log skew and so on. The more I looked at these patterns the more I began to see pictures in them and feel that it might be permissible to create a variation of my own. For example, in the one below I see a girl in window with shutters, perhaps high up in an old American barn.

Barn Window

Image from Pinterest via picasaweb.google.com

In this one I see steps up to the front door of a house, perhaps someone sheltering from rain in a doorway. Or a dog on a temple step in India.

Perfectly Uneven

This and the following patterns are via Pinterest, from a book entitled ‘101 Log Cabin Blocks’ but I can find no author or other attribution given.

In this one I see Alice falling into the rabbit hole:

Rabbit Hole

in this one, an avenue of trees:

Avenue of Trees

and in this one  a garden shed with a cat in the window, up to mischief.Get the idea? It’s like finding pictures in the clouds, only you do it with quilt blocks.

Petite curved log

I turned around the logs on the  right hand side, so that they would resemble the slats of a wooden shed and put the most mischievous  cat I could find in the ‘window’ in the centre hearth area.

IMG_8234

Then I embroidered on a climbing vine and added some flowers.

IMG_8231

and ended up with this:

IMG_8230

At first I wanted to embroider on a spade handle leaning against the shed but eventually decided there wasn’t room; that it would make the whole thing look overworked. I am not sure my idea was entirely successful but I am trying out a few more of these to see what I come up with. They may just end up as UFO’s (unfinished objects to non-quilters!).

Last week I managed to finish one of my UFOs. Hurrah! You may remember it from a previous post, ‘Ah Those Liberty Squares’? It had been hanging around for a while as I couldn’t decide how to quilt it. The large centre area needed something holding it down here and there and I was nervous about messing it up but it turned out OK in the end. Here it is:

IMG_8227_2_2

‘House in the Country’

Until next time…