Friday, 22 January 2016

Neelam top - a challenge completed

Nearly but not quite there with my Wednesday WIP, so instead I am going to show you a small top I finished earlier in the week, which is now ready to layer and quilt.

Last April I went to Nantes in France to the Quiltmania Show, Pour l'Amour du Fil, which I loved and which I blogged about at some length here and here. Gosh, it seems an age ago.

One of the things I bought was a small kit with a pattern and selection of fat eighths (or metric equivalent) from a company called Neelam: the stall was selling what I think are fabrics printed in India with woodblocks using natural dyes.  I have provided a link but didn't manage to click the translate button so I have guessed at the French description!  I must go back and have a proper look later.

The sample displayed looked lovely and so I succumbed and bought the kit and a couple of fat quarters for backing.  Included were some pieces of raw silk in a beautiful rich red.  The colours really attracted me, and it is a good thing I still like them, because making up the top has been a bit of a challenge.

Basically all the instructions are in French, which is not unreasonable for a kit sold, and bought, in France at a show mostly attended by French people! I do have schoolgirl French so can pretty much manage the verbal instructions - but the measurements are in centimetres, which is more of a problem.

I think it's a bit like recipes - you should not really try and convert quantities from metric to Imperial or American when baking, but should stick with one set of weights throughout. Well, I don't have a metric ruler so I thought I would redraft the pattern into 'English' inches.  But I am a bit too impatient to get out the graph paper and do a proper job; I thought I would be fine measuring the templates and working out the equivalent measurements.

All I can say is that it mostly worked, but not quite.  The snags came with the triangles where it is not so straightforward, and I had to fudge a bit along the way.  You will see that the central octagon has a rather smart narrow chevron border.  That's because the octagon turned out half an inch too small, and I didn't have enough fabric to recut, having fussy cut this piece.  So I am making a virtue of my bungle as I quite like the chevron trim.

I also added the corners to the blue squares on point in the wrong order (knowing no better) and have lost the points of the red silk triangles which form the central star.  I should have added the dark blue triangles first and then the red silk triangles which would then overlap neatly, not the other way round. Actually it would probably have been better if I had made the blue squares on point a little bit bigger. Never mind, it will show less when the top is quilted.  Planning to do this by hand as the top is only 24" square and the fabric is quite fine.

The block reminds me a bit of the Swoon block which was all over the blogosphere a while ago and which I still want to make.  Not quite the same but similar-ish.

I am glad to have finished this top despite the problems, which were largely of my own making. I should have spent more time on the redrafting. There was actually quite a lot of helpful information in the pattern, with cutting diagrams and piecing plan as well as templates: it's just that it was all designed and labelled in centimetres...

I had started cutting out before Christmas and had to abandon the project when visitors started arriving, so it was a relief to retrieve the pieces from where they had been scattered about the house, and finally get the top assembled. My aim is to sit down and do some hand quilting this weekend so that I can post a proper finish very soon.  Meanwhile I am linking to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday as I feel good about not having this one in pieces any more.

We aren't expecting snow I am glad to say, so if you are on the east coast of America and watching the weather forecast anxiously, I hope you will stay warm and safe this weekend.

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