Monday, 26 August 2013

The Chocolate Quilt, a retirement gift for a special friend, in neutrals (and some basting tips)


A few years ago I joined a block swap of neutrals, to make Friendship Blocks (24 of them). I have a special friend that I wanted to make a quilt for, I knew her retirement would be in a few years... These would be perfect so I chose Chocolate Fabric as my focus fabric.  Fast Forward to this spring and my friend gave the word that she would be retiring.. very shortly.

I was so very glad that I had these blocks all safely stashed away for her quilt. These and a few more were enough to make a quilt 70' by 80" for her.

sub sets

Friendship Stars is a traditional pattern, and one of my favourite. Simple blocks let me play with colour values. Using these neutrals in various lights and darks was challenging for me as I love colour. I love to play with colour, bright, deep, dark, wild, fun....

So this was not only made as a special project, it was "outside of my box", and since the theme colour was brown I quite easily thought of chocolate.

Thinking of chocolate makes me smile, and so does my special friend; this is why this quilt was made especially for her.

assembly of sub sets

Some work notes: I like to use painters tape to mark my sewing lines. I also used the Angler 2
A finished block ( 1 of 28)

I prefer to baste with thread and needle.
 I find it much easier when quilting because catching the pins locked together annoys me.
 Threads are also much quicker to pull out.

I like to use tools. Especially if I  have invested in them. If they do not make my sewing life easier, faster, more fun then I do not keep them.          
Basting  - some people like to pin baste because it goes so fast. It is also easy for multiple people to baste at the same time.
 I will do this if I have a small quilt that I will be finishing up on the machine very soon.    
What I prefer however is thread basting. I use basting needles (which are long and flexible) and long lengths of thread. Usually I put a single knot in the end and take long stitches (about 3 to 4') either in a horizontal grid, or radiating lines from the center.   For larger quilts the radiating lines from the center can be done with a long single length of thread. Smaller quilts work well with a grid, lines about 6" apart. I also run a line of stitching along the perimeter. I leave the trailing  back end un-knotted.
It is so easy to pull the length or smaller sections of basting out while you are quilting.    Sometimes good friends will be patient enough to help thread baste with you. It can take an hour or two  to properly  baste a full size quilt. Working with friends, six of us can baste it in 20 minutes; especially if one person is the designated needle threader!
Tip: Whether you are basting with thread or pins there are some details that need to be looked after.
  1. Press the backing fabric (and the top) so there are no puckers and it will stretch evenly
  2. Lay the backing, good side down, flatten and tape (painters tape works well)  to the floor or a  table or clip (bulldog clip) to a table top edge. I like to use two six foot banquet tables butted together in a square (or if needed I can use blocks of wood to spread them evenly). Be aware however that whether you are using pins or a needle and thread that there WILL BE needle marks on your surface - so DO NOT USE A DINING TABLE OR YOUR HARDWOOD FLOOR
  3. The backing should extend a few inches larger on all sides than your top
  4. Layer the batting, evenly to the edges of the backing, then either tape or clip in place
  5. Lay the top, right side up. Smooth evenly from the center outwards in all directions. I tug the bottom backing layer to make sure there are no folds in the fabric.
  6. When these layers are all evenly stretched in each direction ( but not under tension) then tape or pin in place so that you can baste.
  7. Basting is a very satisfying step, this signals that the sewing part of the project is done and now it is time to quilt!