Monday, 4 June 2012

Quilt: Vintage Laura Ashley hexagons

I last left you when I had finished putting all the original hexagons onto card and was planning the quilt layout. Having realised I was short some fabric I bought some from etsy in America to help with finishing the design.

This is the link to my first post about this quilt.

The fabric turned out great and had a little more give in the cotton than the other fabric, but it was still ok. Once I had cut it out, it was back to more layout planning on the floor. I took photos of this and used as a reference point when adding hexagons. Due to the number of hexagons in each pattern I had to be a bit creative with the layout and you can see in the finished quilt that I have two designs for the corners in order to create the most symmetrical layout possible.

I did quite a lot over Easter and completed one side, then went back to finish the other side. I did put it down for a few weeks and then came back to it. I finished the quilt top on 21st May.
I ironed it with the cardboard in, and then took out all the pieces and ironed it a lot more, ensuring that all my seams were ironed flat the right the way.
Back of completed quilt top

Wadding and backing
I was going to buy the wadding online and use Hobbs Heirloom as before, then I heard about a quilting shop near me in Lincoln. I had been keen to go and have a look for a while. I wasn’t expecting much, but as it was so close to me I thought it was worth checking out as an alternative to the local shops I use.
Well the shop was amazing, enormous selection of fabrics, lots of choices, jelly rolls, moda, batik and beautiful Japanese designs. They sell wadding on the roll, so I bought some from them which was better than online.
The wadding I bought was ‘Soft and Elegant’ 80% cotton, 20% polyester. For the quilt backing I bought a flat bed sheet and cut it to size. I got a 300 count Egyptian cotton sheet and it is so lovely and soft.
I constructed the quilt in the normal way. Backing fabric on the floor (freshly ironed) wadding, then quilt right side up on top, pinned and then basted into place.
Quilt top basted to wadding and backing fabric.

I was very nervous about doing the quilting as it was to be my first attempt at machine quilting. I decided on diagonal lines to form a diamond grid. I wanted to keep it simple and thought this would look a bit more interesting than squares. I measured all of the lines in one direction and then put quilters tape on it to mark these. I used quilters tape as I got given some for Christmas with some other items, so thought I would try it out.
Quilters tape marking where I will sew.

I started to stitch it, and realised a problem soon after I started and couldn’t really rectify it. As I was a bit nervous, I started with the corner, so the shortest stitch line. However this caused a bit of bunching later on which was difficult to smooth out. I should have stitched the centre lines first and worked out allowing the fabric to smooth outwards if required. Therefore when doing the lines the other way around I stitched from the middle and it was much better. A couple of lines are not very straight, but I am pleased with it as a first attempt.  Next time I will also stitch more basting lines and start ALL stitching from the middle. I liked the quilters tape. I wouldn’t use it all the time as I think it is a bit wasteful to buy it when it can only be used once. But it was great as a beginner to be able to visualise how the pattern was forming, if I was measuring it right and most importantly it was a good guideline for the machine. It is important to remove it quickly after use, as the longer it is on the harder it is to remove, on the box it says only use it for one day and I would agree. I did all of the quilting in one weekend, and it was much better to do it all in one go. It took a while to figure out how to fold and move the fabric through the machine, so there was a lot of moving around and repining and folding. I found that once I got into a system I got a lot done quickly. I used a lot more thread than I thought I would on the quilting and next time I will find a few machine bobbins and preload them in advance so that I don’t have to keep stopping and reloading, or even worse, stitch a whole line, look back and realise I ran out of thread halfway through!

I chose green binding as there is green in one of the fabrics and if I did it in pink or white there would not be enough variety. Also as the darker pink fabric came from elsewhere I thought that by adding the green, it wouldn’t draw as much attention to the pink being darker than the other pink tones.
The binding was also bought from wisteria fabrics, it is Marbles by Moda. I liked this compared to a solid green block. I prewashed it, as it is darker than the quilt. I was talking a lady in the shop and she explained a good method of how to attach the binding by machine. I created my binding strips and then along one edge, laid the binding on top of the quilt right sides together  and stitched ¼ inch from the edge. Then I folded the fabric round the back, folded it under ¼ inch and hand stitched it to the quilt. I also mitred the corners. I had some difficulty with the binding, I can see how it should work, but I made it wider on the front than the back, so that you can see the stitch line on the back. Also I need to work much harder on mitring the corners as they are a bit untidy. Next time I will leave more fabric to play around with and fold under.

I also made a quilt label having read about these online. I thought it would be a nice touch to explain the history of the quilt. I stitched my text in green on some hardanger Aida (all I had lying around) and then made a mini border. This was hand stitched onto the quilt. I have blocked out the names on the photos below.

Quilt label (after washing and it looks very wonky in this photo)

The final thing to do was to wash it. I was rather nervous, having read about shrinkage rates and bleeding. Some parts of the quilt had yellowed a bit, some had a bit of dirt and stains on them having been carried around so much. Once washed it was put on the washing line to dry and it looks absolutely fine, there were no problems after washing. However next time I will prewash to save myself the worry.

Completed quilt

Close up

Side view

All in all I am very pleased with this, it has taken me about 6 months to do, but I would put it down for a few weeks and then start up again. I am pleased with how the quilting looked, and once I got into it I quite enjoyed it, but I defiantly need a bigger dining room table. The colours have worked well and the extra fabrics I have bought have matched. I used alot of thread for this. I must have used about 5 normal size reels, I then bought a massive 1000m reel and have used a bit of that too. The finished quilt measures 70 x 39 inches or 185 x 99 cm and has 355 hexagons. I will be taking it to my parents in a few weeks when I visit and give it to my grandma. Hopefully she will like it!

New skills
*Hexagon hand piecing
*Machine quilting
*Machine binding

Shopping list
Asda, Elegant living range

Laura Ashley quilt kit
Vintage floral fabric
Moda, Marbles – green
Flat bedsheet
A lot of Gutterman white cotton

1 comment:

  1. Wow, this must have been such a challenge to complete! I do admire your patience - fabulous result.