It has been a busy couple of months, both in and out of the Ice Bear Quilts studio! Most of my January and February sewing was making curtains (drapes) for our sitting room and dining area. As the sitting room windows are 21′ wide and 9′ tall, there was quite a bit of measuring, cutting and sewing, but I am very pleased with how they turned out! The dining area is much smaller than the sitting room, and has a corner window, with two panes of 6′ x 6′. So there wasn’t a lot of progress on the quilting front.
In my Studio Update no. 6, in January, I showed two small wall-hangings in the making, on the design wall, which I had designed myself to be able to use a large piece of a feature fabric: a bright square Christmas one (christened Merry Mouse) and a rectangular one in softer colours.
The rectangular quilt, which features a white farmhouse, is now complete.
As I was experimenting with this design, the quilt is made from fabrics I already had in my stash. The feature fabric was originally a panel that I was given (I don’t know who the designer is, that information wasn’t on the panel), and that I actually didn’t like very much, as it had lots of black text printed on it and several design features that weren’t to my taste. I decided however that it was ideal for my feature-fabric design and I played about with a large ruler on the panel until I had two parts of the design that I liked enough to use: the farmhouse with chickens out front, and part of a tree with a small church in the distance. I cut those images out of the panel to the correct size, and bordered them with a pale green shot cotton. Then I chose two small calico prints from my stash: a dusty yellow that matched the colour of the sunflowers, and a soft pink that matched the hearts and the church.
I played about a bit with the location of the feature blocks: left or right…
Above or below…
But I decided in the end, that the tree had to be above the farmhouse, and that it looked beter if it grew away from the farmhouse, as that put the church in the distance, and suggested that the tree-trunk continued down alongside the farm…
Interestingly enough, this is nothing like their respective positions on the original panel!
I found a pale green fabric with little pink flowers in my stash to use for the border. I only had a fat-quarter, so I had to piece the side borders, but with a diagonal seam it is hardly noticeable.
Once I had added the borders, it seemed to me that the yellow and pink calicos were a bit too bright: they are actually very soft shades, but somehow the pale green borders make them pop a bit. So I decided to quilt them in green, to tone them down a bit.
I layered the quilt on my cutting table and basted it with thread. I find that Oakshott shot cottons (the inner borders) don’t respond all that well to pin basting. I had a pink calico in almost the same colour that I used for the backing.
Then I machine quilted the top with Aurifil 50 thread in soft green. First I stitched in the ditch around the feature fabrics and each of the panels. Then I drew a simple design of crossing lines and curved corners on the inner green borders with chalk pencil, and quilted that.
Then I quilted a wavy cross-hatch in each of the pink calico blocks, and curved lines in both the yellow ones, in both cases using the printed design as a guide, and eyeballing it.
When it came to the feature fabrics, as the house, tree, sunflowers etc. were printed with a thin black line around them, I changed my thread to a variegated black and brown 40 weight cotton by YLI, and used the printed lines as a quilting guide. I used a variegated thread so that the quilted line would not be too heavy.
I quilted around the farmhouse, across the roof tiles, around the sunflower petals, the chimney, windows and rooster on the roof. In short, everywhere there was a dark printed line, I quilted along it.
The only exception to this was the chickens in front of the farmhouse: they weren’t outlined in black, so I quilted them in rusty red and yellow to match the printed colours. By quilting around the details of the printed picture, I managed to get a fairly even distribution of quilting over the whole top.
I quilted the outer borders in three parallel rows.
I had decided that given the soft colours in the quilt, the binding would need to be dark, to tie it all together a bit, so I used a dark rust-coloured shot cotton to make the binding. I sewed a hanging-sleeve on the back, as I was sewing on the binding.
In the photo the quilt is still hanging on the design wall, hence the pins! The green quilting toned down the yellow and pink just the way I hoped it would, so now I have a fun extra wall-hanging, all from my stash, and making a feature of a piece of fabric I never thought I would find a use for. Once I have quilted the Merry Mouse version, I’ll put a downloadable version of the instructions for the quilt on the blog, in case anyone else would like to try it.
Making this quilt made me think of Thorn, which is a village in the neighbouring Dutch province of Limburg, about 90 kilometres (56 miles) from here. Due to a quirk of (fairly ancient) history, all the houses in the village (in fact all the buildings, except the church) are painted white. So I imagine my farmhouse is probably just outside Thorn!