Finished! My spring-green, stripey, silky, stitched up, wool & leather quilt.

Morning Easter Egger Hens! I’m back from our great trip up north, the quilt has been left on a gift table at the First Baptist Church, Lucy got to run around without a leash and fell in a ditch (no injuries, much laughing) and I got to meet CHICKENS!!! But more about that later this week, today we’ll finally take a look at the wedding quilt, which, to Mr. Bug’s intensely amped-up stress level was finished IN THE CAR and photographed on the way up north. Luckily, we have the most beautiful rest stops in the nation here in the great state of Minnesota…

I thought the back was so pretty it was a shame to wrap it up, plus wrapping a quilt is weird. I mean, who has a box big enough and if you skip the box it’s just a floppy paper-wrapped amoeba. I raided my jewelry box and co-opted my leather bracelets to use as special quilt straps, rolled it into a tootsie-roll and just pinned our tag to it. I used a bit of the same leather in the quilt as I had to make the bracelets, so it was very matchy-matchy.

And of course, I had to include a little tag. Everything’s better with a basset hound on it, right my chicken friends? I bet you LOVE this quilt, what with your penchant for laying green eggs…

{the front}

OK, first lets’ talk about the front! I used a whole bunch of different fabrics including some organic cotton flannel, silk/cotton blends, dupioni silk, cotton voile, wool flannel, silk charmeuse and plain ‘ole quilt-weight cotton. Unfortunately for the new bride (or groom, how they sort out their household chores is a whole different bag of scraps), this quilt will not take kindly to baths. I love giving practical gifts, don’t you agree?

In addition to all my fun fabrics, I did some not-so-fancy stitchin’. There’s a shop close to my house (Needlework Unlimited for curious Minneapolis-based hens) that carries a giant array of handwork supplies, including silk embroidery yarn (like perl cotton, but, you know, not cotton. I’m not familiar enough with the terms to tell you the correct weight!) The best part of the selection (apart from the fact that it’s SILK) is that the colors are much more vivid (and varied) than the DMC offerings at Joann’s. I got a couple colors of green, then ran some basic running stitches along a strip of Kona cotton in Snow. I embroidered the bride and groom’s names (Olin! Great name, isn’t it?) and their wedding date on one of the strips. Everything was totally freehand – I didn’t even trace out a pattern – and it cracks me up that the letters look EXACTLY like my handwriting!!

 

I embroidered one other strip by hand as well – just a scroll of running stitches with little sunburst flowers. Both white strips were 4” wide, if that helps give you a sense of scale.

I quilted with straight lines of stitching to either side of the seams. I’m not sure if there’s a name for this style of quilting. It took FOREVER, but I am incredibly bad at stitching in the ditch, plus I thought the double lines of quilting would look nice on the back of the quilt. I put on the binding entirely by machine – a first for me, as I’ve always sewed to the front by machine, then slipstitched to the back. It was fun to use one of my decorative stitches and I like the effect! In the end, it wasn’t that much easier than slipstitching by hand, as I had to be SUPER careful to have the edge of the front in line with the stitching line from when I had attached the binding, otherwise it looked messy in the back. And you hens all know how much I dislike a hot mess on the back of my projects!

As I said above, I stitched some leather strips to the quilt as well. I really wanted the overall look to not veer towards super-girly, so I offset the embroidery, silk and polka dots with a more ‘masculine’ color-palette, leather and wool flannel.

I stitched the label on after the whole quilt was assembled rather than stitching to the only one side before quilting or tucking into the binding. I like the casual look of stitching labels through all the layers – I do that when putting labels into a lot of my clothes as well. It’s even better if you use a decorative stitch – of course, one that looks nice from both sides!

{the back}

I really loved the back of the quilt. Almost more than the front! The silver shiny fabric is a wonderful silk/cotton blend (I think it’s 55% silk, 45% cotton, but I might have that backwards) that I got at my local quilt shop. I was a little concerned about working with silk in general in the quilt, and ESPECIALLY on the back, but this fabric is incredibly stable – no running, fraying, getting chewed up by the sewing machine, rippling or showing off giant holes from the needle (unlike some charmeuse’s and dupionis I could name…) I really loved the feel of the silk on the back of the quilt and it really looked awesome quilted!

In order to not have to do too much piecing for the back, I used the silk the long way – that’ just about two yards, so it’s 72” x 44” (more or less) on the right. I bordered the silk with some leftover strips from the front and then pieced together another wider strip of the green and white ‘brocade’ print cotton. I love the strong, simple lines and the fact that they are running vertically, while the quilting (and the piecing in the front) runs horizontally.

I actually needed a bit over two yards length for the back and asked for the wrong length of silk at the quilt shop, so I was about 5” short. I didn’t want to shorten my quilt top that much, so I ‘lengthened’ the large silk piece by adding a little pieced strip to the bottom of the silk before attaching to the narrow strip/cotton part of the backing.

Here’s how I did it: I trimmed a 5” strip of silk from the long side of the silk piece, then I pieced a few of my scraps to one short end and sewed it back onto the bottom of the large silk piece. For the most part it just looks like the silk is longer, but there’s this fun little patchwork piece in the lower right corner – it’s hard to see in the photo above because of the light, but here’s a closeup! You can also (sort of) see how the machine stitched binding looks on the back. A little wonky, but that gives it character, right??

All in all, this was a fun quilt to make. I’m not sure I’ll jump wholeheartedly back into quilting, but I would like a matching throw or two for my living room update. I may make a couple blankie/quilts that look more like the back of this quilt!

{what I learned, tips and resources}

  • Quilting. It’s not just for cotton anymore.
  • Spray adhesive makes basting a quilt a LOT easer (tutorial)
  • Strip quilts are fun to make and not quite as tedious as block varieties (tutorial)
  • Cutting binding strips is not difficult (tutorial)
  • Machine applied binding: sew to back of quilt, wrap around edge, line up fold with stitchline and secure with decorative stitch. Normally you sew to the front of the quilt, then slipstitch to the back as the neatest side will be the machine stitched (front) side, but when doing by machine you will need to see what you’re doing and the neatest side will be the side you are looking at when you sew down the fold.
  • Working with voile, silk and wool in quilts. As you hens know, silk dupioni frays like the dickens as does some wool (like the stuff I was using) and while voile is fairly stable as its tight weave is what makes it so soft, I always consider it ‘delicate’. I considered serging the whole thing and probably would have if I’d had a serger at home (I made the top pre-serger.) Instead I made sure to shorten the stitches a tad to make them extra-strong (I normally sew with a  2.5mm stitch, I went down to 1.8), I trimmed with pinking shears, and pressed to one side. It was not a pretty sight!
  • To deal with the quilt during the quilting process. You should start quilting in the middle of the quilt in order to keep everything balanced. When you start in the middle, you’ve got a LOT of quilt to either side to deal with. If you’re doing straight-line quilting like I did, roll both ends in – like a scroll. It rolls into a surprisingly easy to handle shape!
  • When doing straight like quilting like I did you have to ‘flip’ the quilt after every line, otherwise you end up with a crooked quilt. So. Start quilting (start in the middle, it’ll be easier). Sew your first straight line, then you will turn the quilt and start quilting on the same side that you just ended on. Like so.

quilting

Special thanks to my boss, Nikol, for all her advice during my frantic month of quilting… And to Ashley at Film in the Fridge for the endless inspiration (um, is copying someone’s work directly still considered ‘inspiration’?) and great tutorials!

In closing, a snapshot of some nice hens I met this weekend.

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11 Comments
  • Malisa
    August 2, 2011

    I am just getting back in to sewing and I was wondering if you could explain the use of quilting strips a little more. I’ve seen them for sale online and in local stores, but I’m not getting what they’re used for. Are they in place of blocks? Do they normally come in colors that are coordinating?

    Thanks for your time and I think that quilt turned out beautifully!
    Malisa recently posted..think global, shop JUSTMy Profile

  • Allison
    June 30, 2011

    This HAS TO be the most beautiful and not old-and-stuffy quilt ever. It is gorgeous! (Love, love, love your blog!!)

  • PepperToast
    June 28, 2011

    What a lovely lovely quilt. I happen to know not one but TWO Olins. It IS a great name. Also, I am hoping you know the name of the green fabric that is directly below the embroidered names. The one with the horizontal stripe and the sandpipers(?) running along. A.D.O.R.A.B.L.E.

  • Corrine
    June 28, 2011

    For someone who is not a "quilter" per se, you did really good girl! The colors are great, the stripes as you planned them add dimension and texture, while the quilting in an opposing direction plays off of that. I am sure that the receiving couple will cherish this, they should, it is beautiful!

  • Kat
    June 27, 2011

    That is an aweomse idea for a wedding present! I love the colours. Amazing!

  • Alessa
    June 27, 2011

    That's the most awesomely wonderful quilt I've ever seen. Love the colors! :)

  • Katherine
    June 27, 2011

    This is gorgeous and amazing. I am inspired to copy it!

  • sarajane
    June 27, 2011

    Oh my.. that is a scrumptious quilt! I am inspired to make (or cough, cough, copy) yours. Thanks for convincing me that I can do it!

  • Suemarie
    June 27, 2011

    Gorgeous!! Totally gorgeous. What kind of batting did you use and do you have any advice on that?

  • Anonymous
    June 27, 2011

    I am also working on a wedding quilt for my niece and like you have finished many a quilt in the car on the way to the event! lol

  • What-I-Found
    June 27, 2011

    Oh, I just want to jump in and say how much I like this quilt!! The colors are marvelous, the embroidery adds an heirloom touch, the use of the different fabrics together takes it to Art Quilt status. And bonus points for making not to "girly".
    Well done!

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