Friday Finish – My very own quilt.

It’s taken a long time, but the Gypsy Wife #1 is finally finished.P1060964

I spent the middle of this week home, so after the necessary events of the day were finished, I devoted my time to machine quilting, making scrappy binding, then machine binding this quilt.

Now I know we’re not supposed to apologise for bad photography, but I do wish I had finished this one in summer. I could have posed it amongst riotous flower beds at home, or at the public gardens. Instead, it’s draped over the laundry line, surrounded by mud, wet washing and bare tree branches. I might take it for an outing in summer, just because it deserves a great photo.

Back to the quilt.

I started this quilt over a year ago, taking my time, since it’s a quilt that takes a lot of room to assemble. I took the quilt to a bach (small holiday home, or crib) a couple of times, since I could lay it down on the floor without kids, spouse or cats walking on it. I’ve since acquired a design wall, so GW#2 can be assembled at home.

Some of my favourite blocks, and one I view as a bit of a fail. Guess which is which?
Some of my favourite blocks, and one I view as a bit of a fail. Guess which is which?

The fabrics are a real mixture, but the backbone of the quilt is from the Sidewalks Range by Riley Blake. I didn’t want to use the main fabrics featuring the children playing, but the roses seemed very Gypsy-ish to me. Because I couldn’t get many of these fabrics in NZ, this was also my first overseas fabric purchase. Oh, what a slippery slope that turned into. I am now a devotee of online Quilt Shops, though sadly restricted by budget and the falling NZ$.

Sidewalks by October Afternoon for Riley Blake.
Sidewalks by October Afternoon for Riley Blake.

I saw the original QAL for the Gypsy Wife at the  Factotum of Arts blog, then had to make this quilt because it just “spoke” to me, in a way that not many do.ame1170_gypsy_wife_210x270_fa_page_01I took this quilt on despite my complete and utter lack of experience in sewing a quarter inch seam, let alone cutting or sewing a complex block. At that stage I had just received my new machine (Brunhild), and my Hubbie was nagging me to use it (something to do with justifying a huge cost, credit card bills, didn’t I like his Xmas present….etc).

While I hadn’t let a lack of knowledge or natural ability stop me from starting quilting, these earlier endeavours have yet to be revealed in public (e.g. the Pansy Monstrosity). So, while I gathered up my courage to join in the QAL, I watched others sewing along, including fellow kiwi bloggers Linda at Koka Quilts, and Megan at Jaffa Quilts. Their Gypsy Wives have a more modern, edgier vibe than mine, and are well worth checking out. I got to look at colour combo’s, and gather up sewing hints to help me along. The best hint is to use a scant quarter inch seam throughout, and to remember that the measurements for the final block size do not include seam allowance. Otherwise it can lead to some blocks, just not quite fitting like they should. Speaking from experience, this can be fixed by adding a narrow border sometimes, rather than re-making the block.

Apart from every block being something new to learn, I also tackled big stitch hand quilting with Perle 8 (see post here).P1060957My stitches are wobbly, and uneven, and I’m not sure I’ll do the same for Gypsy Wife #2. I had troubles with knots breaking threads in the fabric, some of the Perle 8 is looking “frayed” already, but once again I learnt an awful amount. For example, when I started quilting I had no idea the quality of fabrics and thread differed so much.

The backing is made from a collection that I found at Spotlight called Piccadilly by DS fabrics for Fabric Traditions. Nobody but me seemed delighted to find DS fabric there, so I have put a half metre of each fabric in my stash for another backing, meanwhile the fabrics are still sitting in the clearance section tempting me to buy more.

Piccadilly by DS Fabrics for Fabric Traditions, available in green and orange colour ways from Spotlight stores in NZ and Australia.
Piccadilly by DS Fabrics for Fabric Traditions, available in green and orange colour ways from Spotlight stores in NZ and Australia.

I like the way the hand quilting looks on the back, almost making the quilt reversible.P1060969One thing I need to figure out in future is how to square up the quilt and backing fabrics a little better. I must acknowledge too, that the back was actually pieced by Daughter #2, in exchange for buying her some fabric.

Another task, new to me, was making scrappy binding. With such a colourful quilt, it seemed the best option. I followed a tutorial by Pat Sloan, using 10-12 inch lengths of each of the fabrics. I tried to leave the larger remnants alone, since I would like to make a matching pillowcase or two.

I am happier with this binding than any other I have done so far. The difference was ironing the binding towards the front, after attaching it to the back of the quilt. I then had to only pin the corners, leaving me to concentrate on sewing oh so close to the edge of the binding, rather than on removing pins, and stabbing myself with them. As a result, no blood was spilt during the making of this quilt! Another first.

Scrappy binding, mainly in the Sidewalks range.
Scrappy binding, mainly from the Sidewalks range.

All that is left is to wash and dry the quilt. Any cautions for washing quilts with hand stitching? Otherwise, I guess a gentle wash as always, with a few colour catchers, and line drying. It might have to wait for a sunny day though.

This will be my first quilt, sewn just for me. I have promised myself there is no giving away this quilt, no matter how worthy the cause.

Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts, TGIFF, and Link a Finish Friday.

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9 thoughts on “Friday Finish – My very own quilt.

  1. This has turned out fabulously – talk about challenging your self. I am always pleased to find DS at Spotlight too. Have a great weekend and I look forward to seeing GW2 finished ……

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  2. Yeah, that won’t be for a little while. I have decided to finish the Pansy Monstrosity, then finish a couple of my daughters UFO’s. Maybe by the end of the year?

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  3. Congratulations. I’ve a Gypsy Wife in construction. I’ve done all the blocks and put 75% together, just the last bit to go. Your’s looks lovely and well done as it’s not the easiest quilt to start with

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  4. I can’t believe it is your first quilt! It is beautiful. No one could ever find what you think is your failed block. I won’t even look. I think it is our quirks that make our quilts homemade. I don’t have perfect stitches when I quilt and I don’t think I ever will. I don’t care. What counts is that I make my quilts mostly for family. My grandchildren know that their grandmother took the time to find the fabric, cut it out, sew it together first in tiny blocks, then in larger ones, and then finally in a huge gigantic one. And then, the quilting begins. At last, the binding comes on. Their quilt is totally unique in all the world. They don’t care if all the stitches don’t match. That is the value of a homemade quilt.

    Just love yours. You will find that it gets easier and easier. Love the process. You did so well. I wish my first one looked as great as yours did!

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