Twelve times 12″ by 12″ : May quilt reveal

Well the May 12″ by 12″ quilt is hanging in our entry hall. I decided for May to go French and make a mini medallion quilt using genuine Indiennes, the traditional brightly coloured dress and quilt fabrics from Provence in France, that go by that name because in the 17th and 18th centuries brightly coloured cottons came from India and the Middle East. Today of course they are made in France, but still with the original oriental designs and use of warm mustard yellows, cobalt blues, black, deep blue green and rusty red. The traditional quilts from southern France made with these fabrics have a number of recurring characteristics, including a medallion style, the use of at least one border print and a total absence of plain fabrics!

So I dived into my stash, which contains a number of Indiennes that I have bought in Southern France over the years, but never used in a quilt, and made a small medallion quilt in the French style. There were four things new for me: the first was I have never made a quilt with all very highly printed fabrics before: I have made quilts with all prints, but they have always included either batiks or small spots or something that read as plain from a distance. Nor have I ever made a quilt with dress fabrics instead of quilting cottons, and this was my first true medallion quilt and my first use of a border fabric.

So I worked out a design based on a full sized historic quilt and then selected my fabrics and cut them to size.

The layout of the medallion - all the patches cut out and ready on the cutting table.

The layout of the medallion – all the patches cut out and ready on the cutting table.

I used a border fabric of wheat sheaves and poppies for the second border around the central diamond medallion. The setting triangle fabric that makes the diamond a square is also cut from the border fabric as the border pattern was very wide (not designed for a 12″ by 12″ quilt!). I made the central medallion black, as that is a common colour for the centre field in the traditional quilts.

The quilt top patches sewn together.

The quilt top patches sewn together.

So I sewed all the patches together, then chose a fabric for the back (an Indienne style commercial quilt fabric) and layered them with some Quilter’s Request Thin polyester batting (from a sample packet).

The Indienne style quilt backing fabric.

The Indienne style quilt backing fabric.

The quilt sandwich, ready for quilting.

The quilt sandwich, ready for quilting.

I quilted first of all in the ditch, using Gutermann 50 weight thread in mustard yellow (black for around the diamond) then I quilted the central diamond in a zig-zag pattern in black YLI 40 weight cotton, going by eye from motif to motif. For the red border I quilted diagonal lines in red YLI between the motifs and I did the same for the green squares in green, but in the opposite direction to the diagonals in the red border. I left the yellow squares, the poppy border and the setting triangles unquilted so that they would ‘pop’ and contrast nicely with the densely quilted areas. The batting was okay, but I noticed a slight tendency to bearding in the centre medallion. These quilts are good for experiment, but I really am a cotton or wool batting woman!

A close up of the centre diamond and the diagonally quilted inner border.

A close up of the centre diamond and the diagonally quilted inner border.

When I was finished with the quilting I squared up the quilt an added a double fold batik binding in dark blue green. I felt that the dark colour for the binding was necessary to balance the black centre of the quilt. I had considered a black binding, but that was too heavy, so I went for green. I used a batik instead of an Indienne, as the linking motif of this series is a batik binding.

The finished quilt front.

The finished quilt front.

I made a quilt label (and a hanging sleeve) for the back of the quilt.

The quilt back with label.

The quilt back with label.

And then hung it on the Ackfeld wire quilt hanger in our hall.

The finished May quilt.

The finished May quilt.

I was so pleased with the effect that I went and tidied my whole stash! Also to get inspiration for June. I find that revisiting my stash is a good way of getting inspiration.

One of my two stash storage units: in the open shelves fat quarters sorted in colour groups, behind the doors larger cuts.

One of my two stash storage units: in the open shelves fat quarters sorted in colour groups, behind the doors larger cuts.

And that was how I came across the perfect piece of fabric for the June 12″ by 12″ quilt!

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