Monday, 21 July 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt Along - The Finishing Line!

Finally the last 3 borders are on my modern medallion quilt!  They were a lot less time consuming than the "Cross my Heart" border (thank goodness or it might have been a few more months before the end). :)

So here they are:

"Stuck in the middle"

 This was a regular kind of border, with a little twist of a different fabric inserted in the centre of each row.  Hence stuck in the middle.  I wanted something defining, that balanced the saturation of the orange border so I put a visual full stop there so to speak by using two different teal greens, both with polka dots. 

"Equal Rights"

This is just a peek at the next border.  This one was heavy on the low volume so the wonky 60 degree triangles (which came together quickly and beautifully) had to really stand up and be counted.  A couple of people in the quilt along group had mentioned that my quilt reminded them of a Summer garden.  Great compliment and a bit of an inspiration at this point.  I decided to go with my more colourful fabrics such as the Hello Tokyo print used in the wavy border.  I also introduced a final print not found elsewhere, the one with flowers and butterflies, which is from Love U by Deb Strain.  The colours worked perfectly at this stage and reinforced the garden idea.  The teal Mirror Ball Dot ensures there isn't too much whimsy and fluff and makes the orange border from the same range feel less lonely. :)
 "I Was Framed" is the last but certainly not least border on the quilt. 

It was possibly the most challenging when it came to choosing the "right" fabrics.  Technically it wasn't hard as it was very similar to "Stuck in the Middle".  I say "right" because really there is no definitive answer when making a quilt as I hope this series of posts has pointed out.  In this case I could have gone low volume and let the quilt wash into softness towards the edges or I could have reinforced the teal or...
What I chose was a lime green linen feel solid which appears very briefly as highlights in the crosses, geese and central medallion.  On the corners I introduced a final print not found anywhere but which has the perfect blend of greens and oranges.  This print from the Love range by Amy Butler was a bit of a gamble and took some auditioning with other fabrics because I knew I wanted it but didn't know if it belonged.  It is a little softer around the edges than the other, more graphic prints but I think it sits well with them.  Together I think they pull the quilt together, give a conclusion to the introduction of the centre and make it all make sense.

And here it is billowing beautifully in the breeze after the (what seems like incessant) rain.
If you are interested in seeing what others have done with this challenge then look here and follow the link up!  It's amazing how different one pattern can look...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt Along (4)

Finally got back to my next medallion border properly today -  the "Cross my Heart" border.  I had had a varying number of strips, cross blocks ready to trim and finished blocks lying around for a while but I needed to crack on with assembling it.

This is what the (60) little cross blocks look like:






And yes, once again they are meant to be wonky.  I moved away from making as many orange ones in this border and more towards the teal as the quilt grows.  I love that spotty teal one with the peachicks in the background!

The blocks are fairly easy to make and great for chain piecing.  You don't need to worry too much about matching the + up and as long as the overall untrimmed block is more than 3.5" square then it's perfect!  The only real alteration I made to the pattern was to press all the seams inwards to make the cross pop more.  I had done this before with similar blocks to make presents for a Christmas wall hanging and it worked really well, so why change things?

The crosses, once sewn into borders, went onto the quilt traditionally, rather than wrapped.  I did pin them to add a bit of stability as there was quite a bit of stretch and give in each block making it a rather "flexible" border.  And here is the finished border on:




It's matching my vision so far so I am pretty happy with that.  Onwards and outwards!

Edit:  As the quilt along officially draws to a close (although there are plenty of us still going) check out the "mother ship" so to speak for link ups and other variations of this quilt.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Memory Quilt

Other projects seem to be pulling me away from the next border of my medallion quilt at the moment, in a good way of course and this baby quilt is one of them.


I was asked to make a memory quilt for a little boy's first birthday - he's a second child and the poor chap had missed out on receiving a quilt when he was born while his big brother had been made two!  His mum wanted it to be made out of his baby clothes from his first year to make it extra special and fortunately she was wide open to the idea of a raggy quilt, which saved a lot of time and tears trying to stabilise the various fabrics.  She requested green flannel for the back which was a lovely choice I think as it really pops through in the front and unites all of the squares.  It also works well with the (more numerous) spotted muslin squares which filled the gaps when I ran out of clothes...You don't get much fabric from size 000 onesies!

Where possible I fussy cut motifs or included cute details like pockets to make it a bit more interesting...


Pretty much every item was sentimental to his mum and being a mother myself I can really relate to this!  I even had a bit of a tear in my eye when I cut into that first bonds suit and couldn't imagine going through the process of making one for my own little boy...even though I think it is a fabulous idea.

I think the hardest but most rewarding square to make was this car one.  The car is a multi layered applique which was located on the baby suit's bottom - so I had to remove the elastic from it before cutting.  She was adamant that this one had to be saved though so I found a way. :)


I hope I am given the honour of making more memory quilts for people in the future.  They aren't the most "beautiful" or modern quilts but they are just so meaningful and full of love.  Which is at the heart of quilting really, isn't it?

Monday, 16 June 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt Along (3)

This installment is the "Waving not Drowning" border.  Or should it be "Not Waving, Drowning"?  I thought it might be the latter when I embarked on this task but it turns out I had already unlocked skillz of awesome (yo!) in this area already.  How about that?

After reading a couple of related tutorials, mulling it over a bit, choosing my fabrics and having a bit more of a think I realised that I had learned the key technique while being shown how to join wadding perfectly.  It's the overlap cut.  Not very exciting to non quilt geeks but probably one of the most useful (and kind of weird) things you can learn in quilting...and versatile too apparently.

So that's what this border is.  An overlap cut, cut in a gentle wave...freehand of course.

 The freehand bit did terrify me slightly, not so much because it involved sewing curves again (I secretly kind of enjoy curves in sewing) but because it meant slicing through some of my favourite fabrics!

Particularly the "Mice on Bikes" by Lizzy House.  I just love the whimsy of those little mice on orange bikes...and the little 3 blind mice!  The outer wave is from the "Hello Tokyo" range of fabrics.

I am finding this whole process fascinating, the way the quilt is growing and changing identity and also saturation.  From what I have seen of other people's medallion quilts it seems this is as "dark" as it will get as the coming borders reintroduce that low volume background again.  Hopefully that will make my mice extra noticable!

Beep! Beep!

Looking back of what I have (and haven't) posted, I realised that this quilt slipped through the cracks...

I think I meant to photograph and blog about it when I finished it...but then its recipient, the cutest little 3 year old around, put it on his bed in the room next to ours and they have been inseparable ever since.  Well, actually I think it has been washed a few times but you get the idea!

It was made to go on his big boy bed to not so much replace the Spot quilt as keep it company apparently. I thought he had grown out of Spot (which he had, just not the quilt, which was a great compliment).  So Spot is now a bit small for his bed but perfect for snuggles on the sofa, while this emergency vehicle quilt is more his speed on his bed, being a king single bed topper.

The fabrics are all from the same range, bought with the central panel as a fat quarter pack.  I always feel I am cheating slightly by using all fabrics from the same range - it somehow doesn't test my creativity like choosing random fabrics does.  The current medallion quilt project is a prime example of this.  Anyway, in this case the challenge was to use the fabulous panel to best effect.  To do so I adapted a Cluck, Cluck, Sew design and instead of making the whole quilt out of it, I made a border using all the lovely fabrics from the pack.

It is quilted practically for quite heavy use in straight lines in a variegated thread in primary colours which works beautifully with the prints.  I also practiced my free motion skills by outlining each of those little vehicles on the panel.  It was a labor of love, trust me. :)  The binding is scrappy blues from the range as well.

I don't think he will be growing out of this one *quite* as quickly as the Spot, at least I hope not!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt along (2)

It's time to wrap around some borders!

So, a medallion quilt has a centre followed by a number of borders, plain or decorative, which radiate concentrically to the outside of the quilt.  The New York Beauty Contest forms the centre of the Modern Medallion and it is followed by two wrapped borders, known in the pattern as "Plain Jane" and "Drunk Geese".  They both fundamentally use the wrapped border technique, which was something new to me (again!)

Normally I just pop on two opposite sides, press and then two longer opposite sides and press and there you have it, a border.  This one is different in that you start each side at the edge, leaving overhang at the other and sew, leaving a gap at the overhang edge. You then work like this clockwise and then sew up the flappy ends to form a continuous, flowing border.  No tutorial here as there are some great ones already - like this one by MsMidge. 

The wrapped border isn't really show to its best on the Plain Jane, but it did give me practice:
I chose the tangerine fabric (Michael Miller's Mirrorball Dot in case you were wondering) to really make that centre pop as there is a lot of low volume background material in this quilt.  So of course I needed to turn up the (70s) volume in this border!

The next wrapped border is the Drunk Geese.  Or in my case "Lost Goslings" - spot the little guys trying to get home :)

I played around with this one a bit as I have done wonky/cut loose geese before.  (For those of you wondering about the "Drunk" title - it is a quilter in joke.  This pattern done traditionally (ie straight, measured and precisely) is called "Flying Geese".  Except these guys are wonky, freestyle and not at all precise. Someone mentioned making a cocktail in their honour on our facebook page, I reckon it would need Grey Goose vodka in it...mmm.

Anyway, I digress.  So the border is also wrapped (you can see it better here with the little geese flying in from the edges) but I have fiddled with the design a bit to make it my own.  As you can see, some flocks are flying towards each other, or away from each other, while the original pattern suggests all in one direction.  I wanted a bit more movement and craziness here as it was all looking a bit polite by the end of the Plain Jane.  I also swapped a lime and orange goose around to join their opposite flocks...just for fun.

I have used the citrus oranges and greens from the centre but also added a more leafy/grassy green and a blue -green to my palette, hinting at how I want the borders to now develop away from a lot of orange and lime towards more muted tones.  I am hoping this makes this central section really draw attention.  We'll see if it works.  That's the fun (and really scary) thing about medallion quilts - you don't really know where it will take you or if things will work out as planned.  I get the feeling it will be a Tim Gunn quilt - "Make it work!"


Friday, 13 June 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt along (1)

Wow!  Two posts in one day after such a long time...must be feeling productive. :)  Possibly because the young man is now at an age where he is enjoying going off to play lego or draw for extended lengths of time and so my sewing machine and I are able to become reacquainted during daylight hours (when I am less likely to make a huge mess of something...)

Anyway, I digress.  This is, in fact, the first post of my progress in making my first medallion quilt.  I have the makings of possibly a second one in my work in progress container and so this seemed a good opportunity to try one on for size before committing to that layout for my improv blocks.  The quilt I am doing is also a huge skills builder - bonus!  If you are interested this is the quilt pattern in question.

So the story so far...First step after commitment and joining the Facebook quilt along page, was to choose my fabrics.  I wanted to challenge myself to only use stash.  Of course, it isn't such a challenge when you have *quite* a bit of fabric. *ahem*  Anyway, here was my selection:

 I had started out wanting to use green tones and make a fairly monochromatic quilt with low volume background and pops of green.  The greens needed something else so I widened the range to include those blue/greens on the left.  Still needed something...Orange!  Happy with my selection I printed off the pattern and...panicked.

The central focus of the quilt is a modern, wonky version of a New York Beauty block, renamed the New York Beauty Contest.  It involves freestyle cutting (yay!), curves (mmm, ok...) and foundation (paper) piecing (oh no!)

I am not a paper piecer.  I have done the grand total of one block of paper piecing which was under strict supervision and guidance at a retreat.  Every tutorial you read on the topic (including the one kindly written for this stage of the medallion quilt) says something like "Here are some pictures of me paper piecing and some very useful instructions but basically, it all sees rather weird, hard and counter intuitive until you do it for yourself and then it's fine, really so you just have to sit down and do it."  It is indeed all of those things.  It involves sewing on the wrong side of the foundation with the fabrics right sides together and then flipping them backwards to cover a void and somehow, just somehow, it works.  I am just glad that precision wasn't the aim here and that I could at least relax into my inaccuracies.

So here it is, stage 1, the central medallion - the New York Beauty Contest.