Sunday, December 18, 2016

Grandma's Choice Finished

Hi all -

I've finally finished my nephew, Trevor's, Christmas wallhanging. Yea! I decided to call it Grandma's Choice because it was made from a selection of fabrics that my mom gave to me one birthday, with a few additions from me. Trevor was very close to his grandmother so I think the fabrics will be special to him. I also think it's a great combination so he would like it anyway.

In my last post about this quilt, I had finished the piecing and wanted to add corners to the quilt with appliqued feathers based on the feather appliques that Karen used in her pattern. I was pretty sure I wanted to use the navy blue fabric with the stars for the applique, so now I had to pick a background fabric. First I tried a light fabric that I had:

 but decided that this one was too light and would draw attention away from the center. So I tried a darker fabric:

 This looked a lot better to me!

I didn't want the vines and circles from Karen's pattern, so I drew a triangle the size of the corner I wanted and traced a couple of her plumes onto it. Then I freehand drew a couple more plumes to make what I felt was a pleasant design. I wanted to do turned edge applique so I traced the plumes on freezer paper:

Then I ironed the freezer paper on some cardstock:

and cut out the shapes to make templates:

I only needed to make shapes for the center plume and all of the plumes on one side since the feather design is symmetric.

To make the applique shapes, I traced the template on the back side of the fabric and cut out the shape leaving an approximate 1/4" seam allowance. I sprayed the fabric with sizing and ironed it until it was just slightly damp. Then I replaced the template and ironed the edges over the template to create the shape. If an area of the seam allowance dried out before I got to it or if I got a fold on the edge, I just brushed it with a little more sizing and ironed it into place. I have a set of the Appliquick tools and I found they were really useful for turning the edges on the narrow points, but found my fingers to be easier to use on the wider ends. I then popped the template out of the shape, gave it one last press and glued it into place. When all of the plumes were in place on a corner piece, I sewed around the edges of the appliques using a narrow zigzag stitch and invisible thread. I finished one corner and checked to make sure that I liked it:

I'm liking it! So I made the other corners, attached them and trimmed up the quilt top:

I was now ready for quilting. I always stress over how to quilt my quilts, and this one was no different. I did the stitch-in-the-ditch quilting first, using smokey invisible thread in top and bobbin, to stabilize the quilt and to give me more time to think about the other quilting. That part, while a bit boring, is a nice break before the stressful part of making the hard decisions about the quilting that would show. But the time always comes where I have to make decisions....

I knew I wanted to break up the center a bit and that I wanted the quilting to tone down the seam line in the center. I had pressed the seams to the side when sewing the blocks together and that left me with very prominent seam lines. If I make a quilt like this again, I will definitely press those seams open so the line isn't so strong. I figured the best way to reduce the impact of those lines would be to quilt lines that were perpendicular to the seams. But straight lines would be too harsh so I would need curved lines. I used Lisa Calle's method of printing out a picture of the quilt and then drawing the quilting on tracing paper over the top of the picture to test this idea out:

I was liking the idea, but found I didn't like this method of design, at least for this quilt, because I really needed to see how far apart the lines would need to be on the quilt and which size curved ruler to use. So I switched to a method I've used before where I cut a piece of paper the size of the quilt and traced the main piecing lines in permanent pen. Then I could draw my quilting lines in pencil and erase anything I didn't like:

I found that really helpful and continued to play with quilting ideas:

This gave me a good starting point for the quilting. Once I'd decided what I would quilt in the middle, I did the quilting. I used a ruler with my Bernina to quilt the curved lines. I definitely need a lot more practice with rulers, but it turned out good enough since I would be filling the channels with pearls and ribbon candy which would mask my bobbles and uneven lines. Once the legs of the center were quilted, I quilted the center circles. Those I traced and quilted free-hand since I find that easier and quicker and I get better results. I filled the center with pebbles to match the pearls in the longest channel in the corners and filled the outer center circle with ribbon candy to match the ribbon candy in the legs. Then I quilted the feathers in the center. I wanted to put those in there to match the feather appliques. It's always good to repeat elements in your quilting! I drew the feathers free-hand and then quilted them. When I was finished with the feathers, they looked a little bland because they blended in with the background in that area which hadn't been quilted, so I added scribble quilting behind the feathers to give them more definition. That helped a lot, but unfortunately blended in with the ribbon quilting in the center. I decided that was fine and just left it, but next time I would probably use three channels in the center circle and put ribbon candy in the center channel, leaving the inner and outer channel unquilted for better definition. It's hard to see the center quilting because of the matching thread, but you can get a sense of it with the light in this picture:

When the center quilting was finished, I quickly quilted the background around the appliques using a simple stipple. I wanted the applique to pop and knew that the quilting would be invisible, so that was a good choice. I didn't take any pictures of that because you really can't see anything.

The next section I looked at was the medium blue semicircles. I knew that I wanted the striped fabric in the diamonds to be the main focus of the quilt, so I wanted something in the semicircles that would emphasize those. I started by quilting lines that went from the bottom of each diamond, continuing the angle of the diamond. I thought that might be enough for that area, but they left too much puffiness in those areas so I added quilted triangles in each section, 1/4" from the edges of the sections, and filled the triangles with ribbon candy, continuing that quilting theme:

I really like how this turned out! I didn't have a blue thread in the right shade, so I used a brown that was the same value as the blue fabric and I think that really added to the look of this area. It's funny, the quilting itself was pretty quick for this area since I did it all freehand with the darning foot, but it took about the same amount of time to bury the threads as it did to do the quilting so it ended up taking forever to finish this part.

The final part was the section with the diamonds. I was hoping that I would be able to leave this area unquilted beyond the ditch quilting, but the diamonds were just too puffy. I thought about quilting straight lines in the diamonds going over the stripes to emphasize them, but the colors in the stripes are so different in value that I was afraid that the stitching would be too visible and would end up fighting with the stripes. But I had to do something, so I finally decided on a stem going up from the bottom point flaring out into a plume at the top (repeating that quilting element) with a swirl on each side to fill the area better. I drew registration lines parallel to the edge of the blue area to help me keep the swirls lined up as best I could and then just went for it. To finish up, I quilted straight lines in the dark blue and cream triangles to push them to the background:

When the quilting was done, I decided to finish off the quilt using a faced edge rather than a binding. I had made the corner triangles a little smaller than I should have so the appliques ended up very close to the edges and I was afraid that a binding would make the corners look crowded. Even if I had done the corners right, I think I would have ended up using a facing for this quilt just because the quilt strikes me as one that doesn't really want a boundary. Here is the final quilt:

And here's the back so you can see the facing:

I added a hanging sleeve and label, but didn't take pictures of those since they just obscure the back. I really love how this wallhanging turned out and I think Trevor will be pleased!

That finished everything that I have to make for Christmas. As usual, I'm cutting it close, but it all works out in the end.



  1. Beautiful quilt and I enjoyed following along with your quilting decisions

  2. Just lovely! Your quilting provides such a nice texture to this wall hanging. I sure like the feather appliqué! Thanks so much for such an in-depth sharing of your technique!