Tuesday, 13 April 2010
Here is my current project which I am hoping to have completed in time for the Festival of Quilts in August. It is a red and white floral design called Kaui o Na Molokama. The size is 108 x 108 so it is a large quilt. I am also including a photo of last years entry,Lei Neriali or Silversword. And I have a third design cut out,Pua Pake or Chrysanthemum, which is waiting to be basted to the background fabric.
These large quilts do take a lot of work to prepare. First I sent for the designs from Poakalani of Honolulu. The required fabric is 9 yards each of applique and background colour - and it is sometimes hard to find a good quality fabric! If the fabric is not extra wide, it has to be cut into lengths and resewn into one larger piece. Next you have to carefully iron the fabric into eighths (thinking carefully about wrong and right side). It is a long job to cut the design out with sharp scissors - then an even longer job to unfold and position the design and attach it to the background. First you pin the applique down with straight pins, then you have to baste it into place. Traditionally the basting was done by hand a set distance in from the edge, but I free machine basted the applique to speed up the process and "nail it down".
But finally you can enjoy doing the applique. This takes some time! I must admit to using a tiny whipstitch rather than "invisible" applique. Part of it is that this is the really traditional method, seen in the antique quilts. But part of it is that I really like the appearance of the closely spaced little "teeth" stitches. Very attractive.
Once the top is appliqued its time to quilt. I have gone over to using wool batting as it really shows off the quilting stitches so much better than cotton wadding which just looks a bit flat. Last year's quilt was echo quilted by "eyeballing" at about 3/8" spacing - but this year I am sticking to a 1/2" spacing. I am not marking but using the old-fashioned trick of using stick pins to measure the half inch distance - no markings to remove so all very fresh looking when the pins are taken out as you quilt.
I have discovered that Luixan Newman (the Thimble Lady) is now into applique so I am planning to send off for her new book. I like the fact that she really does her own thinking and experimentation rather than simply pass on received information. Even if I don't choose to use her techiniques, its an interesting read - which is becoming increasingly difficult to find these days! I'm also planning to try the silk thread that she seems to like on a sample piece.
My next project will be a welsh quilt with hand prepared wadding and a vintage paisley backing. I've got the welsh fleeces, the yellow top fabric and the salvaged paisley reverse. And, I've traced a lot of my Welsh quilts so will have fun designing the top. More later.