Friday, January 8, 2021

Happy Wholecloth Flowers

Hello, 2021. Can you believe some quilters have new finishes to share already this year? That's amazing. I have a finish to share, but it's really the last finish of last year. I shared one photo of it in my 2020 wrap-up post, but didn't have time to get a post together for it, so here it is again.

Looks wonky; just the breeze
During November I had the thought that I might be able to eek out just one more quilt. I had a two-yard length of fabric I had bought as a souvenir at a Ben Franklin store on vacation in October 2017. I love Ben Franklin (think five and dime store, variety store...much cooler than a dollar store), but they are few and far between in my state now, so shopping there for fabric was high on my list of vacation activities.

I knew immediately how I wanted to quilt this fabric, but it took me this long to get to the quilt. I wanted to make it just a bit wider than the fabric, and when searching around in my bins, I discovered that I had a bunch of solids that were in the same color families as the fabric. And I don't even have that much solid fabric. There must be a connection between those pieces and this print. Are these "my" colors?
I used newsprint (packing) paper to foundation piece 1-inch (finished) piano keys for the borders. I didn't feel like planning corners so I just attached the strips and used a partial seam to finish it all off. 

I am still not real comfortable going into a retail store, but I did not have fabrics on hand that might work for a quick, easy backing. The next best thing was to search online for fabric immediately available for curbside pickup at Joann. My first choice would have been a local independent store, but they don't have a big online presence at this time. (I hope that might improve in the future, but I know that's hard for small stores.) You can not imagine how long it took me to look at (agonize over) every bit of fabric, squinting at or enlarging to try to determine how the colors and prints might look in real life. I fancied a small print multicolored floral, but of course, that was just a fantasy given what was available. I finally settled on a mottled yellow print.
It was described as a floral print, although I couldn't see that on my screen, and the colors sort of vibrated between yellow and orange. I took a leap of faith that that might translate to a goldish, cheddary (not lemon!) yellow. I was thrilled when the fabric was just as I envisioned it when I picked it up. The flowers just show up as texture, but it works well with the front of the quilt.
I knew that I would be tempted to over-quilt this, but I wanted to keep it a soft and not too lengthy project. All of the quilting is following the shapes. I tried to follow as close as I could, but did not obsess about it, so there are lots of wobbles--enough to keep it playful. 
I started with the shapes of the biggest flowers, then the tan leaves, and finally the interiors of the biggest flowers and some of the ladybugs. I was tempted to outline some of the small flowers, but wasn't sure how to keep myself from doing all of them, so I stopped. My freemotion quilting is a little rusty. I don't do it as much as walking foot quilting these days, and my stitches were a bit tiny, but the machine has a great stitch (tension is just perfect), so it still looks good.

I puzzled over the border a bit. I get bored quilting in the ditch, so I did not want to do that. I thought of a vine with leaves, but wanted it to be even simpler. Then I remembered that I had some very old cardstock stencils from back in my hand-quilting-only days. The biggest one just happened to be the width of the border.
I used to carefully measure and plan these kinds of borders to go around corners with symmetry, but not this time. Following the borders in the same style as they were attached was easier and had a more modern vibe. 
I used my hera marker for the lines, which worked well on the solids. And the soft December light by my window was just right to see the lines as I quilted with my walking foot. I left the last bit of border clear for my initials and the date.
(before washing, the washout marker shows)

When planning the size of the quilt, I made sure to allow enough fabric for the binding. I love pieced scrap bindings, but again, in the interest of a quickish finish, a single fabric was preferable, and the big print achieves the same purpose of varied colors. 

I took my time with the piecing and quilting, but it could have been a very quick project. I know that I will keep my eye open for other very large print fabrics to do this again because it was really fun. Minimal piecing, minimal marking, loosey goosey quilting, easy backing, along with a fun print--who doesn't love that?! (The only thing I might have done differently was center the main fabric vertically so those big bottom flowers weren't cut off in an awkward spot.)This quilt is going to be set aside with another similar-sized quilt until I have one more, and then I'll ship them off as a donation. 

Here's a gallery of photos after washing. I tried and tried to get good photos in the sun, but our weather has been fickle. The sun would peep out, I'd run out and get set up and then it snuck back behind the clouds. But I did get a few.

Where's the sun?

I did find some sunshine for a few seconds through the living room window.

Here are the stats for this one: 
Pattern: Wholecloth with piano key border
Fabrics:  Free Mind by Hoodie Crescent for Newcastle Fabrics; various solids, mostly Kona, but some others, too; probably a perennially-available Keepsake Calico fabric from Joann
Batting: Hobbs Premium 80/20
Thread: Superior Masterpiece in Granite for piecing; Superior King Tut in White Linen for quilting; Yellow, hefty hand quilting thread from my drawer (the label is gone, but it's got a nice glace finish)
Binding: 2 1/2 inches cut, double layer, machine sewn to front and hand stitched on back. 
Size: 48 1/2 by 60 1/2 inches before quilting; 47 3/4 by 59 3/8 inches after quilting; 44 by 55 3/4 inches after washing on cold and machine drying on low.
Machines: Singer Featherweight for piecing; Singer Treadle 115 for free motion and walking foot quilting and the machine work on the binding.
So that's a final wrap on 2020. After the week we just had in my country, I truly wonder what awaits us in 2021. Quilting will continue to be needed as a balm, I think. I gave my two machines a spa treatment this week while I was between projects. Then I started a new project, a Year of Scrappy Triangles, 52 patterns by Leila Gardunia. I think (hope) I can handle one block a week. That's all I'm going to say about it right now. I'll tell you about my "rules" for these blocks after I have a few made.  

Have a safe, healthy new year, and keep quilting!

(Just a reminder: I'm not affiliated with any company, so when I mention products, services, or stores I'm just documenting what I used or liked.) 


Susan Smith said...

Great idea for a piece of fabric you just can't cut into. I'm impressed. Take care, stay safe & hugs from down under.

karenbbsnow said...

So colourful, I love it. A great finish!

Linda said...

Oh my gosh Janine this is glorious! It has the look of broderie perse. (picture the heart-eyes emotie here). I love everything about it - the colors are so harmonious, the quilting is just right, that backing is perfect. I've never thought about using a whole piece of fabric for a quilt, but now I'm inspired!

Jannette said...

That's such a pretty quilt! I love the idea of using a print in the center, and your border fabrics are perfect! I've quilted a quilt from the back side, using the pattern in the fabric as the quilting motif, but never thought of using the front-side print (storing that idea away...)
Your new project looks interesting! Looking forward to watching your block collection grow!

Bernie Kringel said...

Janine, this is beautiful. I have made several whole cloth quilts when the fabric was so pretty I thought it best to just feature it as is. This one is perfectly suited. The border is perfect - I think the colors are really lovely. Excellent finish - I love it.

Jenny said...

It turned out beautifully, well done you!

Preeti said...

Very bright, so happy, absolutely simple and just perfect. Sometimes it is best to leave the fabric as is and do the minimum. But deciding when to do less takes a lifetime. Clearly you, with decades of experience, know that. A beautiful finish to begin the year. We can all use positivity and this quilt is just that :-)

QuiltGranma said...

What a great use of that large print, and delighted you found just the right fabrics for the border!

Kim said...

What a treat it is to re-visit this most amazing quilt of yours. I could look at those flowers for hours and just smile. The piano key board border is truly inspired! Your quilting of course, is perfect. Such a glorious find when you happened upon this fabric. In some way, those fabulous flowers have a vintage feel to them.

Ruth said...

I love everything about this quilt, the fabric, the border, the backing and the quilting. The quilting rang a bell with me. I have been quilting with the walking foot for almost everything for a while. But I made a quilt with panel that was going to me too much twisting and turning of the quilt under the arm of the machine. I bit the bullet and went with free motion and it worked out OK. I guess free motion will an option for me again, at least for a while yet.