The October mini-quilt from the 12 times 12″ by 12″ series is complete. As regular readers of this blog will know, I am a fan of Autumn/Fall leaf colours, and one of our best holidays ever was a spectacular trip through New England in the Fall of 2014. So when I started this series, I knew that I wanted an Autumn Maple leaf for the October quilt. But how to make it more that just a piece of orange fabric on a background?
Enter a pattern for a Maple Leaf Table Runner by Shabby Fabrics. Each leaf is made up of patchwork material in a range of prints. I figured I could make one leaf incorporating a range of orange colours, which would make it more interesting, and I have never pieced squares before to then cut them up for appliqué, so I would be doing something new.
I always think Autumn/Fall colour is at its best when it viewed against a blue sky, or reflected in water on a sunny day (complimentary colours, I guess) so I wanted to make my background blue, to look like a sunny sky. So I used Joen Wolfrom’s 3-in-1 Color Tool to choose fabrics from my stash: a turquoise blue for the background and a variety of prints in different shades of orange for the leaf, plus one very dark orange for the stalk.
So I cut a number of squares to make the patchwork cloth from, and played around until I liked the distribution.
The colours look a little more saturated on screen. I also had a batik for the binding with just the right colours.
And for the backing I used an Autumn scene fabric for Michael Miller Fabrics. I was given this years ago as a gift, but unfortunately the piece is less than one pattern repeat, so I have never known what to do with it. This seemed the ideal chance to use a bit.
Once I had arranged the squares to my satisfaction, I sewed them together in pairs and then into rows and a block of 5 x 5 squares.
I pressed the seams open to reduce bulk in the final appliqué leaf.
Because the appliqué was going onto a bright turquoise blue background, and some of the orange fabrics were quite pale, I added a layer of very thin fusible interfacing to the back of the patchwork to limit the risk of ‘show-through’.
Then I traced the leaf form from the Shabby Fabrics pattern in reverse onto fusible web, and fused it to the back of the patchwork.
And cut it out around the pencil line, added the cut-out stem and voila!
I fused the leaf and the stalk to the background, and then stitched the leaf down using a pinky-orange Aurfil 50 wt thread and a smallish zig-zag stitch, a little wider than usual because I liked the way it looked. I used a matching shade for the stalk. I layered the background fabric with a tear-away stabiliser for this step, to prevent puckering.
I removed all tear-away stabiliser and layered the top with the backing and batting: I used two layers of Quilter’s Dream cotton from a sample pack: the standard cream underneath and ultra-thin white on the top, to keep the colours as crisp as possible. I thread basted the minimum necessary and was ready to quilt.
I knew I wanted to quilt ribs on the leaf itself, but I wasn’t sure what to do on the blue background: I had originally had the idea of quilting little outline maple-leafs, but when I put the 12″ ruler on the top, it was clear that there wasn’t enough room around the leaf for that to work. I was toying with the idea of a sort of square outlines in the background for a modern look, when my husband said: “Why don’t you quilt it to look like the sky or water?”. Why didn’t I think of that?
So I drew a random ‘landscape squiggle’ (it is actually called that in one of my quilting books) lightly all around the leaf in white pencil, starting top right and continuing all the way to the notch in the leaf at the top in the middle. Then I quilted the leaf in orange and the squiggle in turquoise blue. The leaf-ribs are all two lines of stitching, the background a single line. I was pleased with how it turned out.
I added the binding, the hanging sleeve and a label.
I embellished the label with a few autumn leaf buttons just for fun.
And hung it on the Ackfeld Wire stand, with the Autumn header.
So ten months of the year in quilts are complete, two months to go. November for me is characterised by the huge skeins of geese that fly over our house every day, and that I see collecting in the meadows as I cycle to and from work. I feel flying geese, with a twist, coming on. Watch this space!
And in the meantime, I wish you all a very Happy New Year for 2017 and all good things in stitching as in all the other areas of your lives.