This is a real summer project to add a splash of colour to any space...indoors or out! I thought it was a disaster! It turned out to be the prettiest quilt I ever made and it is aptly named, because this quilt is full of surprises!
Apart from my pineapple obsession, which is showing no signs of abating whatsoever ... one of my other fascinations of the moment is embroidered diamonds. Actually it's been going on for a while. Back last year, I made a scarf for a friend that had embroidered diamonds on Cashmere and was pretty pleased with the result.
I decided that perhaps I could use this on a quilt, and thought about it for some time. I wanted to use my Liberty fabrics in a simple 9 patch formation and mix it with some chambray. I put together the 9 patch blocks using 2.5" squares. The joy of Liberty is it actually doesn't seem to matter at all how you jumble the fabrics up, they look like an english cottage garden however you do it. I cut strips of chambray to go in-between them and began embroidering some diamonds, with a simple running stitch using Perle Cotton #8. It had a sort of Sashiko like look.
I made every one different and then stitched it all into place with long strips of chambray to join the rows. I was pretty pleased with it so far. Then I put on a narrow border of Liberty Print to frame it and decided to add some reddish chambray for the final border. It was pretty much as I imagined it would be and I was pleased. Then, in a rather haphazard way, I cast around the sewing room for some backing. I had a piece of one of my absolute favourite fabrics by Anna Maria Horner, but was horrified to find that it was just to short by about 6 inches!!! I left it in a grumpy heap for a few days and then I hit upon an idea. I cut a piece of matching red chambray to make up the difference.
Then..... if you have ever wondered what to do with the monogramming function on your machine.....well, here's a rather cool idea. I put a line from one of my favourite poems all across the strip. It took a bit of time, but not nearly as long as it would have done if I had chosen to stitch it by hand. I have a Janome Horizon Sewing machine and I love experimenting with all the amazing things that it can do.
Using the monogramming function on a quilt to add text is so much fun and opens up a world of possibilities. You can find some tips about how to do this in the tutorial - click the link at the end of this posting. I feel Alfred Lord Tennyson's the 'Lady of Shalott' is just the sort of verse you should be reading on a summer's day, wearing a straw hat and drinking Pimms - don't you think?
Once the strip was stitched, I slashed across my backing fabric and inserted the panel in and VOILA! - not just a quilt backing - but a poetic surprise waiting to delight. So disaster number one avoided. Then I came to quilting it. Mmmmmm.
Well my first problem was what thread to use. The quilt was primarily blue and mixed print on the front and Red and yellow on the back. I realised that I probably should have made the poetry line in blue, but it was too late now. The solution was not ideal, but as with all quilts, in the end, it all melts together and these little imperfections get lost in the whole loveliness of the project. I used blue thread in the top of my machine and red thread in the bobbin. It is quite hard to sew, especially free motion, with contrasting threads. If you pause or drag your quilt too quickly or slowly it will show a little. I did alot of 'breath holding' will I quilted it! I chose a new pattern for the quilting from my absolute bible on the subject.
It was called Roses. I was too impatient to try it out and had I not been, I may have changed my mind. It caused my embroidered diamonds to fade. In retrospect, it may have been better to simply quilt this with a 'stitch in the ditch' regime, sticking to the straight lines of the piecing. All the swirling and whirling somehow seemed to cause the sharpness of my embroidery to just disappear. I was rather concerned, but once you have started something like this, it is almost impossible to unpick quilting and so I continued, rather disgruntled to the end.
I pressed it and it looked better, but somehow not as I really had planned. I added a chambray binding and as usual (it still surprises me) this seemed to correct everything, although I have no idea why?!?!? Somehow, once it was all done, this little quilt was simply beautiful. It is thoroughly 'english' in it's look and charming in that 'roses around the door sort of way'. I felt I needed to get up in the attic and find an old Laura Ashley dress and collapse in the garden surrounded by the birds and the bees and simply drink it in. It was not a project without it's issues, but I have a feeling that my Hidden Gems quilt, might just surprise generations to come.
For full instructions for this project hop along to the tutorials section.
Happy summer days everyone,