A few months ago, a member of our sewing group, Denise, who used to be a professional sewing teacher in the USA, offered to teach appliqué to anyone who was interested. I think my appliqué skills are pretty good, but there is always more to learn, and Denise has forgotten more about quilting than I think I have yet managed to learn. She is very clever.
Of course, we had to sew hearts. I do not particularly like hearts, but you would not know that from the number of them I make. They are a great shape to learn with because of their curves and inny and outy points.
In the classes, we covered all sorts of machine and hand appliqué techniques. We tried everything from reverse appliqué to broderie perse. I skipped making a mola sample as I did not think it would suit the style of this baby quilt. We also looked at different stabilisers and fusibles, many not readily available in Australia and only found in Denise’s imported stash.
I decided right from the beginning that I would make my class samples into a baby quilt. Before the class started, I found out what Denise was planning and I bought a Michael Miller Spring Couture charm pack of solids. I then raided my stash for coordinating prints to make the hearts. Some of my hearts and backgrounds got a bit mixed up when some pins fell out and I sewed the wrong hearts to the wrong backgrounds, but it all worked out in the end.
Many of my favourite blocks are the ones I hand appliquéd and then added stem stitch to, also by hand. I was new to adding stem stitch to appliqué. I liked it so much I used it in the mug rugs I was working on at the time too.
When I had all the hearts sewn, I popped into my local quilt shop and bought the stripe. I am so very happy with the striped fabric. The colours look just right with all the blocks. (For the interested, the selvedge reads, ‘Ann Kelle for Robert Kaufman, Remix’.) Initially, I planned to make the borders very stripy, but in the end I toned it down by adding lots of white. I wanted the hearts to be the focal point, not the stripes. The quilt has a lot of negative space (oh, how very modern!) as I tried to bring it up to a cot size, which just happened to be the size of a leftover piece of wadding in my stash. I cut and prepared my stripy binding to make sure I had enough fabric before I added any leftover striped fabric to the pieced backing.
What I learned from making this quilt is that my appliqué skills are good, but my machine quilting needs more practice, especially in straight lines. Crazy Mom Quilts published some machine-quilting tips the day after I quilted this. I could have used the advice the day before. Two rows before the end, I realised I had my foot pressure too firm, which resulted in the fabric layers shifting a bit. At least her blog post confirmed my theory about what I need to fix next time. I also have to say that my tension is good and the lines are mostly straight!
To quilt the hearts, I stitched in the ditch around each. I used my sewing machine’s knee lifter a lot, sewed very slowly and had my best concentrating face on (tongue out, brow furrowed). I like how the quilting stitches ‘nest’ in the embroidery stitches around some blocks and are almost invisible.
My favourite things about this quilt are:
- all the pretty fabrics
- the stripy binding with invisible joins
- the backing, made up of the yellow spot, the stripe and the pale blue spot.
In a few days, I will share how I made my stripy binding with its invisible joins.