Well the first of the 2015 Challenge Series 12″ x 12″ quilts is hanging on the display stand: January. As I mentioned in my previous post, I kept it simple this month as I didn’t have a ‘previous’ month to make the quilt in. So I chose to make an appliquéd 12″ four-patch.
January is often the coldest month here in the Netherlands, with quite a bit of snow, so I went with a snowflake and snowman theme. Two patches with a one snowman each, and two contrasting patches with a snowflake each.
I cut the patches at 7″ to allow for shrinkage with the appliqué and then machine appliquéd two snowflakes that I found in Kay Mackenzie’s book Inspired by Tradition and two snowmen that I found in a quilt pattern in Margaret Peters and Anne Sutton’s book Country Quilts for Friends. When I had done the basic appliqué, the quilt looked a bit like this:
Then it was time to add details to the snowmen with embroidery: eyes, noses, mouths, arms, pompoms on their hats, and for the sledding snowman, runners for his sled and a cord to control it by!
I used three strands of DMC Mouline cotton embroidery thread for the embroidery. The arms and sled details are in stem-stitch, the eyes and mouths are French knots, the noses are satin stitch a so are the pompoms.
Once I finished the embroidery I checked that I was happy with how they looked (gave the bird an eye!) and then trimmed all the threads neatly on the back to prevent show-through in the finished quilt.
Then I pressed and squared up the patches, trimmed them to 6 1/2″ and sewed them together.
Because the material the snowmen were appliquéd on had a white background, I decided to use a different batting to my usual batting which is a Hobbs 80/20 that is a bit creamy in colour. I had a sample pack of 18″ batting squares, so I used a Quilter’s Dream mid loft white polyester. This was therefore the first ‘new’ thing for the quilt (see the introductory 12″ x 12″ post for an explanation).
I chose a fabric from the same series as the patches for the backing.
The I made a quilt sandwich to prepare for quilting.
I used pins to baste as I was machine quilting and it was nice and quick!
The I quilted in the ditch, echo quilted around each snowflake and quilted landscape lines behind the snowmen. After quilting I also basted around the outside edges of the block to stabilize them for the binding process. I used Gutermann cotton thread for the quilting.
I hand quilted tiny silver snowflakes with DMC metallic embroidery thread in the sky above the snowmen, and in white embroidery thread in the centre of each of the appliquéd snowflakes.
Because all the fabrics in the quilt top are patterned (yes, even the snowmen and snowflakes, the snowmen have little flowers and the snowflakes have a lace pattern) I decided to use a fairly plain light purple batik to bind the quilt and provide a restful frame. Because the quilt is small and only for the display stand, so won’t get a lot of wear, I decided against mitering the corners of the binding. Instead I used Mimi Dietrich’s Overlapping Corners technique from her book Happy Endings (which I can highly recommend, wonderful book on edge finishes). She recommends using a single fold binding with this technique, because of bulk, but the I made a double fold binding (I always do), that finished 1/4″ wide, and it worked just fine.
For the first time I used Clover Wonder Clips to hold the binding in place for hand sewing instead of pins. They were great! Easy to use, stayed in place until I wanted to move them, easy to remove and the whole binding was less stiff than when I pin it in place, which made sewing more pleasant. And there was nothing to prick my fingers on! I’ll be using these for binding from now on.
I hand stitched both sides of the binding in place on the quilt back.
The I added a small hanging sleeve to the back of the quilt, so that I could hang it on the stand. The raw edges of the sleeve at the top of the quilt get covered by the binding. The lower edge of the hanging sleeve I sewed by hand to the quilt backing.
Then I sewed on the top and bottom binding.
And made a label for the quilt and sewed it on.
And then turned it over and had the first of twelve small quilts finished!
So I hung it on the display stand and placed the snowflake seasonal header on the top.
So what was ‘new’ for January: I used a polyester batting instead of cotton mix or pure cotton because it was whiter. I have decided that I do prefer cotton or cotton rich, I feel that it needles better and has a nicer hand. I wouldn’t use polyester for a lap quilt, bed quilt or large wall-hanging.
I used Clover Wonder Clips instead of pins to hold the binding in place for hand stitching. Wonderful! I used the standard size as this was a small quilt with a narrow binding.
I made an Overlapped Corners binding instead of mitered corners. For a small decorative quilt this was great. I was so pleased with the batik binding that I am going to bind all twelve quilts with a batik, which will give the series a linking motif and some continuity. Now for February!