Twelve times 12″ x 12″: March quilt reveal

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:

The paper piecing printout

The paper piecing printout

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:

Centre leaf block pattern

Centre leaf block pattern

But the flower blocks had multiple parts and some very fiddly bits!:

Centre flower pattern

Centre flower pattern

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:

Patterns traced on foundation piecing paper

Patterns traced on foundation piecing paper

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.

The Daffodil pallette

The Daffodil palette

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.

The stripey daffodil fabric that arrived by chance

The stripy daffodil fabric that arrived by chance

I ordered some Bee Buttons over the internet from Dress It Up, and I was ready to start piecing.

Piecing the first stalk

Piecing the first stalk

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.

Folding the foundation back for trimming

Folding the foundation back for trimming

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.

Stalk partially completed

Stalk partially completed

I held the pieces I was adding in place with a couple of pins as they were very fiddly.

Stalk piecing complete, but not trimmed

Stalk piecing complete, but not trimmed

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.

A trimmed stalk block from the back

A trimmed stalk block from the back

Once the stalks were pieced and I had cut out the background sections that didn’t require piecing, I had this:

The stalks and the sky

The stalks and the sky

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.

Half a daffodil flower

Half a daffodil flower

And it wasn’t too difficult, actually.

Large daffodil flower complete

Large daffodil flower complete

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:

One daffodil

One daffodil

To this:

Two daffodils

Two daffodils

To this:

Three daffodils

Three daffodils

Then I sewed the blocks together.

The quilt top blocks sewn together

The quilt top blocks sewn 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.

The quilt top layered with batting and backing, pin basted and ready to quilt

The quilt top layered with batting and backing, pin basted and ready to quilt

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.

Here the quilting in the daffodils is complete

Here the quilting in the daffodils is complete

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).

The locations for the bee buttons

The locations for the bee buttons

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.

The quilt top, quilted, embellished with bees and trimmed for binding

The quilt top, quilted, embellished with bees and trimmed for binding

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.

The sides bound

The sides bound

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!

The quilt back

The quilt back

So then the quilt was complete!

Completed quilt

Completed quilt

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.

Twelve times 12" x 12" : March

Twelve times 12″ x 12″ : March

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.

Close up of Bumble Bees in flight

Close up of Bumble Bees in flight

In April, our wild garden hedgehogs wake from their hibernation……

 

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