Saturday, 31 October 2015

Lucky Penny - big quilt finish!

Wow, what a whopper, as people used to say!  This is a big quilt, 83" x 98", and heavy, I guess because it is 50% grey Essex Linen.  It has been a while in the making but I am really pleased with it now it is finished.

So, what's the back story of this quilt?

I blogged about the top back in September (here) but the HST's were made much longer ago.  It feels really good to have finished, having tried a number of different layouts for the HST's till finally this one gelled.

An earlier layout which didn't quite work for me:

Once the blocks were together I added a narrow (cut at 3") border around the quilt to give the pieced stars some elbow room, and also so that I wouldn't have all those seams to deal with right at the edge of the quilt and to incorporate in the binding!

I managed to get the backing in an on-line sale at The Eternal Maker in August: making big quilts is great for using up stash fabric but it means a big expense when it comes time to back and quilt. So any discount is appreciated. I took the whole of what remained on the bolt, about 4 1/2 metres, but even so I had to piece in a tiny strip of pink Bike Path to make the backing just big enough.

Seeing the Alison Glass Handcrafted fabric on sale was the spur I needed to get on with this quilt. I don't usually go for green, and there is always a risk buying on-line if you don't have a sample, but this soft green with the orange and yellow splashy accents just seemed to be right. And I am even more sure now it is quilted.

I used a soft grey thread (Aurifil 2620, 50/2) in the bobbin which blends amazingly well with the green backing fabric: it really takes on the green-ish colour. But I wanted a slightly more robust thread on top as a lot of the quilting would be across the Essex linen. Mettler Quilting cotton (40 wt. no. 724) was perfect.

I wouldn't usually put two different weight threads in top and bottom of my machine, but I had no problems with tension once I had had my machine serviced (see here for that particular hiccup, which I can't really blame on this quilt: the machine was due for a service and I had   been fiddling with the tension on a different project and got completely muddled...). The fine Aurifil thread suited the light-ish weight of the Handcrafted modern batik, and the chunky Mettler coped well with the grainy linen.

As for the quilting design, I fell back on my trusty walking foot but didn't want just to quilt in the ditch; partly because my intersections aren't all perfect, not by a long shot, and partly because the intersections are rather bulky, despite my best efforts with the steam iron pressing in different directions and opening some seams.

There are so many points in a block like this which is made up of only half square triangles, and to partner regular quilting cotton with a heavy fabric like linen adds to the challenge.

If I were to make this quilt again, I might try pressing all of my seams open including the diagonal seams of the HST's, though the advantages of nesting seams together still has great appeal.

Anyway, the quilting plan worked well and I think gives quite an interesting texture, showing up very clearly on the back, and pretty well on the front too. I only had to worry about keeping in the ditch on one out of every four diagonal lines of quilting. The other lines I marked in with a Hera marker to keep me straight (ish). It always takes longer than I expect to quilt a big quilt, but it is so satisfying seeing how each line added builds towards completion.

Finally the binding: some of you are going to hate me, I know. I didn't have yardage of any Alison Glass fabrics used in the quilt. I knew I wanted a grey so as not to detract from the stars but not the linen as I felt it would be too thick and insufficient contrast.

I did however have a lovely half metre of an Alison Glass floral - isn't it lovely?  The right colours too.

I really liked the random effect of little bits of colour which I got when I rolled up an edge to mimic a binding... But could I sacrifice the lovely floral design? I wrestled with my conscience for some time as you can imagine, but I am really pleased with the result.

So that's about all I can say about this quilt.  It is my biggest finish for quite a while and I have to say yet again that it is having this blog which made me get on and finish.  So thank you for visiting and letting me ramble on and record my progress.  The internet is full of such inspiration and encouragement; I love seeing other people's work and like to share my own.  On with the next!

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