Twelve times 12″ by 12″ : June Quilt Reveal

Well I’ve been playing catch-up with the 12″ by 12″ series, and have finished the June quilt in June! I decided this month to make a whole cloth quilt and concentrate on some fun quilting instead of patching and appliquéing (which, of course, are also fun!) so that I could get the quilt done a bit faster and get back on the monthly track. When I was tidying my stash after finishing the May quilt I came a cross a really nice fat quarter of oriental style fabric in blues and soft purples, etched in gold, with a pattern of stripes and circles with small floral designs in them.

The Royal Blue and Purple fabric, here cut to about 14

The Royal Blue and Purple fabric, here cut to about 14″ by 14″.

Unfortunately there was no printed selvedge on the piece, so I have no idea who the designer or manufacturer is. I bought it in 2008 from an internet quilt shop that is no longer trading, and the order confirmation has no SKU, just a description: “Imperial 3 circle stripes royal”. It is really pretty, and I hadn’t used it at the time because it seemed such a shame to cut it up, so a mini whole cloth quilt seemed like a good use! If anyone recognises the fabric, I would love to hear from you, so that I can credit the designer and/or manufacturer.

A close up of the fabric, showing the floral details and gold etching.

A close up of the fabric, showing the floral details and gold etching.

Anyway, I felt that the fabric was appropriate to June, as we get incredibly long blue-purple twilights at this time of year, as being this far north it never gets really dark around the longest day: the sun doesn’t dip below the horizon until after 22:00 hours and is above it again by about 05:00 hours, so in between it isn’t dark, just twilighty. And the big circle made me think of the moon, which, when full, hangs magically in the softly lit sky.

I found a marbled fabric in royal blue for the back in my stash. Both the fabrics are a bit more purple and saturated than they appear in the photos.

The backing fabric.

The backing fabric.

Because this quilt was about the quilting, I wanted it to have a thicker batting, so I used two layers: a Hobbs cotton on the bottom and a Hobbs wool on the top. This layering of two types was new to me, and I haven’t used a wool batting before (this also came from the batting sampler pack). I have never made a whole cloth quilt before either, so there were two new things for the month.

The quilt sandwich, ready for basting.

The quilt sandwich, ready for basting.

Because of the two layers and the thickness, I tacked the layers together with basting thread before machine quilting the sandwich. I also cut the top, batting and backing generously, so that I could cut it down to the correct size after quilting, in anticipation of a bit of shrinkage.

Basted and ready for quilting.

Basted and ready for quilting.

Because of the pretty floral patterns, I didn’t want to free-motion quilt all over the piece, I just wanted to add definition to the whole. So I first quilted all the vertical lines next to the patterned stripes, just to one side of the gold etching (that I didn’t want to obscure), both outside and within the circles. Then I quilted around each of the circles, just outside the etching. I did this with a variegated YLI thread, called ‘Jewel’ which goes from deep blue, through lighter blue to a purply pink, almost precisely the same colours as in the fabric. The variegation gave the simple quilt lines a little extra pop.

Detail of the quilting in the large circle, or moon.

Detail of the quilting in the large circle, or moon, straight line quilting, zig-zag and patterns.

Then in the undecorated stripes on the fabric (with ombré shading) I played with the quilting stitches on my machine, and used zig-zags, waves and other patterned stitches, adjusted to the width of the stripe. The combination of variegated thread with ombré shaded fabric produced some subtle colour contrasts that I was really pleased with.

Detail of wave quilting with variegated thread.

Detail of wave quilting with variegated thread.

When I had finished quilting the top, I used a 12″ quilting ruler to determine where to cut the sandwich down to size, for the best effect. It was very puffy, but hadn’t shrunk as much as I had expected. Before cutting, I traced a line around the ruler with a chalk pencil, and then quilted a straight line 1/8″ in from the line around all four sides to stabilise the sandwich edges before binding. Then I cut it down to the correct size.

The nice and puffy quilted top, ready for binding.

The nice and puffy quilted top, ready for binding.

I added a hanging sleeve to the back and then a double fold batik binding: I had a batik in royal blue and purple with little turquoise circles that was perfect for this quilt.

The quilt bound and ready for hanging.

The quilt bound and ready for hanging.

Then I added a label (all the labels for this series are from a roll by Moda, they are cream cotton with a border in either red, blue or brown).

The back of the finished quilt.

The back of the finished quilt.

And then I hung it on the Ackfeld Wire quilt hanger in our entry hall. As this is the June quilt, I also changed the hanger header from the spring flower to the summer sun.

The finished June 12

The finished June 12″ by 12″ quilt.

For July, I am thinking swallows and batiks…

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