Friday, October 19, 2012

A challenge

Quilters do love a challenge and I am no exception. For our Fynbos retreat the challenge was to make a 50 X 50 cm quilt, utilizing a fat quarter of Calico in the process. The theme was: Go Crazy with Calico.

Although I was in charge of organizing the challenge (deciding on the rules, the size, getting sponsors,printing brochures, selling the challenge, organizing the judging etc) I decided to also take part in this.

The Red and White quilt exhibit that was held in the beginning of the year in New York was the inspiration for the quilt I made for this challenge. Now I have my own red and white quilt and although only 50 X 50 cm (about 20 inch square) it can easily be scaled. The quilting do however indicate that it is a small quilt.

Like every quilt this quilt also has a story. While sewing and pressing, some of the red fabric bleed. I immediately realize that I did not washed the red fabric till the water runs clear but that it was to late to do anything. I would just had to be careful and no more starch spraying seeing that I would not be able to wash the starch away- at least not before handing it in for the competition.

Once my stars was completed I measured them to determine the average size. At the IQCAfrica in Johannesburg at the end of July I took a class from Cynthia England. I adapted a method learned from her.  I cut 4 squares from freezer paper of the size of the stars. I ironed it to the front of every square, trying to include all the star points. Now I could sew the blocks together without chopping the points off  but also keeping "straight lines straight" one of the South African judges' pet peeves. I could also add my borders using the paper as guidelines. (If you cannot comprehend how to do this you need a class from Cynthia England- one of the best teachers I took a class from till date.)

I decide this was the ideal opportunity to quilt on a double batting. The combination of cotton (for stability and drapability) and wool (for loft and texture) was just not affordable in South Africa to try on a full scale quilt. When I started  quilting I thought this was a mistake. The quilt was quite stiff- but this was only noticeable because it is so small. It quilt beautiful and I was quite glad that I did use this combination.

I decided to use a cream colour silk thread on the calico- my Bernina love to sew with it. It did sew beautiful but after a while the thread started braking. I replaced the needle but it still regularly broke. I quilted about 2 hours and decided to quit for the day. Everyday I remove the blue indication marks carefully with a wet cloth. I took care not to draw any lines on the red fabric and to only wet the calico- to prevent any bleeding of the red fabric. The next day I decided to use another thread- I could not handle any more thread braking.

When I was sewing the binding on I saw some loops of thread on the back. When I pulled on it the thread come out and all the quilting on the calico in the middle section came out!. My silk thread was solvable thread all the time.(I immediately stored it away with the other soluble thread.) One advantage was that I had the needle marks to see my quilting pattern and I could improve on it where necessary.

In spite of taking care that my straight seams stay straight, that was the one  negative comment I got from the judging panel. After close inspection I saw that one of my partial seams (A seam that radiate from the middle of the star) was not perfectly straight. I know I have struggled with that- one have less than a inch to partially seam- so to pick up that seam and get it sewn was a struggle- no wonder one of them was not perfect.

Every quilt share as a teaching tool for it's maker. It also share a time period in one's life. The quilt story and the quilters life story become entwined while working on the quilt. It is with fond memories that I will look at this quilt that was part of my life for a month.

To make a miniature quilt may take just a little bit shorter as making a full scale quilt. The accuracy needed for a quilt like this make for careful sewing, cutting trimming and pinning. It is only the length of the seams that make it quicker to complete.


  1. Hi Marie, thanks for sharing the process of your Fynbos Quilt. I always want to know from the entrants to competitions what they were thinking, and how they decided to do what they did. And your photography is really good.

  2. That is a beautiful quilt! You should have won the blue ribbon!


  3. Ek stem saam met Liri! Dit is 'n pragtige kwiltjie!!


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