"Feathers for Lorna" December 2009
"Feathers for Lorna" is my entry for the Colemore Quilters Christmas Challenge this year. The challenge was to make a 24" piece incorporating our own interpretation of the theme LOG CABIN and to use the green floral fabric 'somewhere' in the quilt.
We had 9 months to make the piece ... so please tell me why I waited until 3 days before the deadline to start making this piece? Amazingly the piece went together very quickly although if I am honest it is rushed and not the best in places.
The background is actually Court House steps blocks but thats still a log cabin right? Getting the right block size to make a 24" piece was interesting too! My math skills have suffered in recent years somewhat but I got there in the end ... or so I thought. In my rush I forgot about QUILT SHRINKAGE! Dah!
For those that don't know ... quilt shrinkage is normal!
As you make your quilt it will naturally loose inches in seam allowance variation, pressing, quilting and laundering. Your choice of quilting design and the density of this design are probably the most significant factors (assuming you can sew a consistent seam allowance) but other factors like using unwashed fabric with steam pressing (as opposed to dry pressing) will shrink the fabric and the addition of surface appliques and trapunto will also add to the shrinkage rate. Together all of these processes can have a significant affect in reducing the size of your overall quilt top.
How much extra should I allow for my quilt top?
Making a quilt top to an exact size can be difficult BUT if you enter competitions you will need to be aware that SIZE is critical and your quilt can be rejected if it is not within the size limitations of the competition. Often the rules have very tight tolerance too of maybe +/- half and inch.
Experience will dictate to you how much extra you need to allow on your quilt top BUT as a general rule try allowing an extra 1" for every 2 feet of quilt. Sounds alot right ? Believe its not! My piece ended up shrinking 2" with the trapunto, quilting and blocking. So my 24" piece was 22" ... when I layed it down for blocking... aargh!!
.. but don't fret if your top gets too small ..
Fudge factor 1: add an extra border before quilting...
If , like me you forget to make the top bigger than the required finished size ... don't panic and fly into a rage! You have options. First of, if you remember before quilting you can add an extra border. I thought if this but didn't want a border on my quilt so I washed and stretched the quilt a little. I had to wash the quilt anyway to remove the trapunto water soluble thread so whilst it was damp I pinned the piece out and stretched it to 22.5".
Fudge factor 2 : square to the back and batting only...
It was still 1" too small though BUT I had extra backing and wadding all around the quilt top so I squared the top up to 24" on the back and backing only. (Normally I would trim the top down to size as well)
Fudge factor 3: make extra wide binding ...
Now all I had to do was to cut extra wide binding strips. In this case I cut 4" strips instead of 2.5" strips for the binding and I had plenty of width to play with and finish the piece to 24".
I learnt a couple of other things with this quilt too! The feathers are a quilting design I drew up for my sisters wedding quilt a couple of years back now. I have wanted to make an applique of them for a while and I thought this would be a great opportunity to test them out. I enlarged the original design and manipulated the proportions a bit first though. Then I fused the feathers, machined buttonhole appliqued the edges, and trapuntoed behind them.
Learning exercise No 1 .... reduce the FUSE
I really enjoyed the trapunto but I made the mistake of having fusible behind the entire feathers instead of just having it around the edge. As a result they are a little stiff.
Learning exercise No 2..... be PATIENT
Fusing appliques is fast BUT with such a large design (the big applique is 20") there is a problem with peeling back the fuse paper and ironing in place. Be patient! Also watch the edges of the applique. Mine got a little ragged in places as I positioned then repositioned the applique before fusing permanently.
So there we have it ... my challenge quilt 2009
"Feathers for Lorna" (24"x24")