I know what you are saying: “March quilt reveal, but it’s already April and then some!” What can I say? Non-quilting life intervened and made a March reveal in March impossible. So with a bit of luck we get two reveals in April. Anyway, here we go with March.
As I said at the end of my last 12″ x 12″ post, March is when the daffodils come into flower here in Holland, so I was thinking daffodils, and I was thinking: “I could paper piece them, and as my ‘something new’ for the month I could design my own daffodils!” Cue a lot of browsing through flower books and on the internet for a photo or drawing of daffodils to base my design on. After a couple of non-starts that resulted in patterns so complicated that the reveal would have been next March, I remembered that I have Electric Quilt. So I dove into EQ7, and found a daffodil and some leaves. I resized them to four inch blocks (they were 6″) for the first flower (the biggest one) and then I redrew the daffodil entirely for the second flower, and the third flower, a daffodil in bud, was all my own work. I wanted a quilt that showed three stages of the flower opening. So after a lot of tweaking, I had a coloured printed pattern that looked like this:
I had decided that I wanted my daffodils to grow up from left to right: not for any particular reason, it just looked better to me, maybe because I am right-handed or something. I was going to quilt some lines for wind in the sky and add a couple of Bumble Bees as an embellishment.
I also printed out the paper piecing patterns themselves: the leaf blocks were pretty straightforward and were a single foundation:
But the flower blocks had multiple parts and some very fiddly bits!:
Usually if I foundation piece I don’t use paper, I use very thin stabilizer or sew-in interfacing (Vilene). As part of the ‘do something new each month’ aspect of this series, I decided to use paper this time: foundation paper from Nancy’s Notions to be precise. It wouldn’t fit in my printer tray (different size to European paper) so I traced the patterns myself from the printouts with a Sharpie pen, and I then ironed the tracing with a dry iron with a pressing cloth to ensure there was no residue ink on the pattern that could transfer to the fabric. So I had patterns that looked like this:
I had chosen the colours I wanted when I was designing in EQ7, so then I raided my stash to see if I could find them, and I could. I decided to use a print for the background to give the whole quilt a bit more interest, to use plain and batik fabrics for the flowers and stalks, and of course, a batik for the binding.
While I was wondering which fabric to use for the backing, a fat quarter package arrived from one of my fabric clubs, with a striped floral fabric. Now, I always feel that you can’t do much with a fat quarter of directional stripe, so I’m never that thrilled to get one, but these were daffodils (of sorts!) so I had the perfect use for them: the backing of my March quilt.
I ordered some Bee Buttons over the internet from Dress It Up, and I was ready to start piecing.
I use Carol Doak’s ‘postcard’ method when foundation piecing (where you bend the foundation back over a piece of card to trim the seam allowances), but I use a piece of thin and stiff plastic, instead of a card, as I find it is stiffer, thinner and doesn’t get squishy along the edges through use. It was actually the cover of a small ring-band diary I had many years ago.
In started out using an Add-a-quarter ruler to trim, but I quickly changed to an Add-an-eighth ruler because the pieces were all so small and narrow.
I held the pieces I was adding in place with a couple of pins as they were very fiddly.
Once each stalk block was complete, I trimmed it to the 1/4″ seam allowance line, but left the paper in place at that stage for stability. My experience with the paper, as opposed to my usual interfacing was that I didn’t like it as much: I found it a little thicker than I would like (other brands may be different) especially when it came to removing it! I had creased the lines and used a very small stitch length, but it was tricky to get it out of the narrow angles. I got better at it as I went along, but will be going back to interfacing next time, I think.
Once the stalks were pieced and I had cut out the background sections that didn’t require piecing, I had this:
The stalks are curling as the paper foundation is still in place. I removed it once I had sewn the blocks together to make the top. I made the biggest daffodil first, as I thought it would be the easiest: larger bits.
And it wasn’t too difficult, actually.
In fact, the second flower was the most difficult to put together, whilst I had expected that the bud, which has really tiny pieces would be the moist difficult, but it went together really easily. No set in seams like its bigger brother! So I progressed from this:
Then I sewed the blocks together.
And layered them for quilting. I decided to pin baste with thin Clover flower head pins, as I was primarily going to quilt in the stalks and flowers themselves in the first stage.
I machine quilted 1/8″ away from the inside edge of the flower petals, in yellow and orange, and down the centre of each leaf and stalk. I used a combination of Gutermann and YLI 100% cotton thread. The batting was also new for me: 100% cotton from Quilter’s Dream. Low loft, it needled nicely. I left pins in place in the non-quilted areas to stop the batting sandwich from shifting.
While I was debating with myself about what colour the wind is, as I wanted to quilt spring breeze lines in the sky, my husband (to whom I had posed this question for the sake of a second opinion) came with the brilliant suggestion that instead of quilting the wind, I should quilt the flight paths of the Bumble Bees from my bee buttons. Problem solved (the colour of a flight path, by the way is variegated blue, green en yellow from Luana Rubin for YLI).
So I worked out where I wanted my Bumble Bees, and then I drew freehand looping flight paths with a white chalk pencil that ended where the bee began, and that was going in the direction the bee was ‘flying’ in. I free-motion quilted the flight paths. Then I sewed all the bees on by hand.
Then I added a double fold binding in a spotty green batik. First the sides, then the top and bottom. Easier with a double fold on a small quilt that trying to mitre the edges.
On the back I added a small hanging sleeve and a label. I sewed a bee-hive button to the label, so that the bees on the front have a home to go to at night!
So then the quilt was complete!
So I put it on the hanger, changed the header from the winter snowflake to the spring flower, and put it in our entry hall.
And in case you are wondering: we both agreed that quilted spring wind was either light blue or white, but that Bumble Bees have a more colourful flight.
In April, our wild garden hedgehogs wake from their hibernation……