I finished my Mirabelle quilt this week and overall I’m really pleased with it.
It’s by no means perfect though. There are lots of alignment problems but I think since I started this quilt two years ago, my piecing has become more accurate. The machine quilting isn’t as good as I’d like either. I quilted in the ditch, which was made easier with a dedicated ditch quilting foot, but it’s still more wrinkled that I’d like, especially the horizontal sashing, which you can see in the photo above. Mum seems to get her quilts so smooth when she quilts them.
Things that I learnt whilst making this quilt
Always piece on the same sewing machine.Failing that, check the accuracy of your sewing/seams as you complete each block. As I made this over the course of many months, I used different sewing machines when piecing. I found that some machines did a more generous ¼ inch seam than others and it wasn’t until I’d done a good number of blocks did I realise that they were coming out at different sizes because the seams weren’t quite the same. I had to remake some and trim down others. If I’d stuck to the same machine, even if the seams were a fraction bigger than they should have been, at least they would have been all the same!
Press the seams the same way. With the cross pieces in each block and sashing, I pressed some seams away from each other, and some towards each other. Because it is a pale fabric you can see the seams underneath through the top and it doesn’t all look the same.
Cut all the sashing from the same piece of fabric. Unfortunately all my horizontal sashing pieces were cut from a different piece of plain fabric. It was the same shade of Moda Bella Solids, however it was from a different bolt and the colour is very slightly different. It wasn’t until I’d sewed the whole quilt top together, that I noticed the colour variation. It does annoy me a bit as it looks like it is a bit grubby, but I couldn’t face re-doing it.
I’ve decided that it’s about time I finish the half made quilts that I have packed up and decided that it was time to get on with the Mirabelle Quilt. I started this quilt 2 years ago and the top has been finished for over a year! The backing fabric and wadding have been cut and it’s been ready to go for ages.
So yesterday whilst it was quiet in the shop, I sandwiched the layers and pinned it with curved safety pins.
And today, using the Elna 760 and quilt in the ditch walking foot I got started.
Progress was a bit slow as I had to keep stopping to serve customers, but the main thing is that it underway and I will keep it at the shop to work on in quiet times. I’m determined to stay on top of it and get it finished as soon as possible.
This past week, I’ve gone all Japanese, and not just because I love sushi! Sometime ago my husband bought me a book on Sashiko, a type of Japanese embroidery, and I bought some a couple of sashiko kits which I hadn’t started until this week. One is a cushion and the other is for a tote bag. I thought the bag would be nice project to take to Knit ‘n Stitch, especially as one of the group members has done some sashiko and I could ask for help if I didn’t understand what to do.
It is actually easier than I thought it was going to be, especially using a pre-printed cloth kit and I’m really enjoying doing it.
Then today, Mum and I went to the Quilt Show at Westpoint, Exeter as we do every year. It’s a small show but I quite like that as it’s not too tiring.
As well as the usual stallholders, there is a quilt exhibition. I wasn’t wowed by the quilts this year to be honest, except for some by a quilter called Kay Bell. The quilting was amazing. All free motion machine quilting. It was pretty darn perfect. I took this close up photo of a quilt called Swooning. She used Camille Roskelley’s Swoon pattern for this quilt. I almost didn’t recognise it at first because the colour and fabric choices and quilting made it look so different.
As far as purchases went, they were all Japanese related from a business called Japan Crafts. I bought some plain blue fabric for some more sashiko embroidery which Mum suggest I turn into a wall hanging with the patterned blue fabric forming a border. I also couldn’t resist a Japanese fabric charm pack and kit to make a traditional rice bag. The stallholder threw in a free pattern to make a larger bag too with the charm pack.
Mum splashed out on a Parrs Reel Ruler kit. This is a new free motion quilting system with a special foot that fits most machines and a slotted ruler allows you to quickly and easily quilt your projects. You can get all sorts of different rulers to create different shapes. I’ve only had a quick play this afternoon, but I think with a bit of practice could really help us with our quilting.
The Dutch Pinwheel Quilt is finished and hanging on the wall above our shop counter. I’m really pleased with it. It measures 38″ x 38″ and made with a white Moda charm pack, a Moda Ambleside charm pack plus some extra white for sashing and backing. The binding is also from the Ambleside fabric collection. I kept the quilting simple, by just quilting in the ditch. It’s not brilliant but I’ve not really done much quilting myself, so not bad for a first proper quilt I suppose. I will be writing a tutorial for the shop blog on how I made it, in case anyone else wants to try.
I’m in the quilting mode now, so maybe I’ll get some of the other quilts finished now!
I’ve been wanting to make Dutch Pinwheel blocks for a while, ever since I saw them on someone else’s blog. When the Ambleside fabric collection arrived at the shop, I thought it would be the perfect fabric to use.
So I took a charm pack plus a Bella Solids white charm pack and started making half square triangles with them.
Once trimmed to 3″ squares, it was just a matter of laying them out in the order I liked.
The first one I did I mixed the designs up. I didn’t think I wanted the colours to be too regimented. This was probably the best block I’ve ever made in terms of accuracy. All the points met… first time!!
The only problem though was once made, I wasn’t sure I liked the mixed up colours after all!
Today has been a bit miserable weather-wise, so I sat down and made another one and much prefer it because it’s not so random.
I just don’t know if I can bring myself to undo the first one though because of how well it sewed up!
I couldn’t resist… I started another quilt yet I still have two to finish, plus a mini quilt.
But the Whitewashed Cottage collection by 3 Sisters that we had in recently to the shop was just calling out to me. I saw this free quilt pattern called Layers of Charm which uses a layer cake plus some extra yardage and last Friday I just couldn’t resist the urge to get started. Work was put to one side and I inwardly groaned when customers came in the shop, because I just wanted to sew without interruptions!
I got almost the whole top done in a day. There were only a couple of seams to finish the following day. If I’d not had interruptions and had started earlier in the day, I would have got it all done.
This is how it was when I was trying to decide where to place the squares.
I’ve chosen the backing and binding fabrics from the Whitewashed Cottage collection and now just need to quilt it. I’m going to machine quilt it on Mum’s Janome 15000 sewing machine using one of the stipple patterns that it does automatically. I want this to be a quick quilt! I’m going away this weekend to visit the in-laws, so it might have to wait until I have some time off over the Easter weekend to get it done!
The Mirabelle quilt top is now finished too, but I’m waiting for Fig Tree’s new collection Aloha Girl to arrive to see if there’s any fabric that might work for the backing and binding.
I have started 2015 with renewed enthusiasm to finish my Mirabelle Quilt quickly. All the blocks are now done and I’ve started to sew the sashing between them.
It was fun trying to decide the order in which to lay out the blocks.
One issue I’ve come across is that a 1/4 inch seam isn’t always 1/4 inch. Sometimes it’s 1/4 inch and a bit more.
I’ve sewed the blocks using various sewing machines at home and in the shop and I became aware that some of the blocks were coming out smaller than they should have been, even though I was trying my hardest to be precise.
Turns out that although I was using 1/4 inch feet on all the machines, some of the seams on the block were quite a generous 1/4 inch, thus making the blocks as much as a half inch too small. The more recently completed blocks were much closer to the 10 inches they should have been because once I’d realised I adjusted the needle position on sewing machine so that it was an accurate 1/4 inch.
Whilst sewing the sashing this week, I’ve had to redo some blocks that were just too small. A few I could stretch, but half an inch is too much! Coincidentally Pat Sloan, one of the Moda fabric designers, published a post about testing your 1/4 inch seams on her blog this week.