The Making of Chintz Circles

As Chintz Circles is entered in this week’s contest at Quilting Gallery (and you can go vote here), I thought it might be sort of fun to look back at the process of making it. The picture above was taken almost immediately after I finished stitching down the binding but before it was washed.

But this is where it began back in late March of this year.  I used the Inklingo Orange Peel Deluxe collection to print all the Alabama Beauty shapes on the back of my fabrics, which makes a quilt like this so achievable!  No tracing of templates or worrying about matching points on curved seams — they were all there for me. Once I had determined I wanted to get that circle effect, I did have to be careful about my fabric placement.  When I got the first four blocks hand pieced by early April and saw the partial circles beginning to appear, I was thrilled.

By April 7,  2 complete circles had appeared.

By April 12, a total of 6 circles had appeared.

By April 21, 2010, there were 9 complete circles.

By April 26, a total of 12 circles had shown up.

Adding rows took a bit longer the larger it got, but by May 18 there were a total of 16 circles:

By the time the middle of June rolled around, it was up to 24 circles:

By June 21 a total of 30 circles had appeared, the hand piecing was completed and the top was finished.

Then the backing was found, the quilt was basted and the machine quilting began. By July 19, I had started tacking down the binding and the next day the picture shown at the top of this post was taken.

Then came the best part.  On August 1, 2010 the quilt was presented to my aunt on her 90th birthday.

Making Chintz Circles was a true labour of love and I owe thanks to Karen Dianne whose post inspired me to make the circles the predominant feature and to Linda Franz, the inventor of Inklingo, which I think is the best thing to happen in quilting since the rotary cutter and without which I doubt very much that I would have ever made Chintz Circles.

If you’ve stayed with me to the end of this post, please go to Quilting Gallery and vote!  You can vote here.

Chintz Circles Quilting

A sneak peek of the quilting I’m doing on Chitnz Circles.  The fabric wrestling, aka quilting by machine, will result in interlocking circles following the shapes in the blocks.   I haven’t done a lot of machine quilting, or machine stitching for that matter, but I’m relatively pleased with how this is turning out.  Wrestling with a quilt that has a silk batt is a lot easier than wrestling with one with a cotton batt.  The difference is quite evident.  I’m not finding it anywhere near as hard on my hands as I have when I’ve machine quilted a quilt with a cotton batt.  What’s taking forever is the burying of the threads.  There is some continuous stitching I can do but not a huge amount, which results in a lot of threads to bury.

It’s not going anywhere near as quickly as I had hoped, but I feel like a fair amount was accomplished Monday night.  If I can devote 2 or 3 hours every evening this week, I should be able to finish it by the end of the week.  Then it will be a matter of figuring out what fabric to use for binding.  That has me completely perplexed at the moment.  There are so many different fabrics on the outer edges of the quilt that choosing a fabric for the binding may be a bit more challenging than I had anticipated.

As well as the clematis (thank you everyone for identifying that) shown yesterday, Mr. Q.O. got this shot of a part of our friend’s garden.

Neither cat was very active on Monday.  Lester slept on the pink loveseat.

While Smudge was having a snooze on the pink chair.

Piecing an Alabama Beauty Block

Thursday night I printed some more shapes for the nameless quilt.  I refuse to call it “The Thing” any longer.  It needs a name!  I got the fabrics picked out for the next set of 3 blocks and this block stitched.  I’m finding it easier and easier to plan these blocks.  I lay out the pieces for each block, make sure that the pieces that create the circles are in the right spot and then it’s really a quick block to stitch.

This is the back:

And this is a close-up of the centre of the back.  I had promised someone (sorry, I forget who!) that I’d show a close-up of how I press this block, so here it is:

The batiks I had ordered from Sew Sisters last weekend arrived.  I think a piece of one, if not two, of these is going to be used in the Alabama Beauty quilt.  These were definitely my lucky fabrics!  Tomorrow we’re off to Sew Sisters to pick up the frame.  I can’t wait!

Along with the batiks was this cute FQ of Easter fabric.  Wouldn’t this make a great back for a little doll’s quilt?

Thursday was another rainy, grey day.  Lester spent some time on the windowsill, but there wasn’t much for him to see.

Smudge, on the other hand, decided it was a good day to curl up with a teddy bear.

Can You See Waves?

These four blue batiks will all be incorporated into my Double Diamond Storm at Sea variation.  Five new Inklingo Collections were released Sunday night for various sizes of Storm at Sea — 4.5″, 6″ ,6.75″, 9″ and 12″ blocks.  There are a couple of extra shapes in each collection too, which really open up some design possibilities.  I already know there are some stars in my future using shapes from these collections.  I know I want to make a quilt incorporating different sizes of the blocks as well.  The free Design Book is a fabulous bonus that contains tons of information, including methods for constructing the blocks, as well as some shaded and unshaded design sheets.  The first thing I did was print out one of the design sheets and sort out what I needed to print for my first block.

I decided to first do a 45″ wall hanging using the 6.75″ templates in the Double Diamonds layout that can be seen at the bottom of the page here but with a twist.  I’m using all four of the batiks in the picture above as well as some white.  It took me only a couple of minutes to figure out my page sizes, cut and press the fabric to freezer paper, print and then start stitching.   I think batiks are my favourite fabrics to work with — and they’re perfect for this design as there are spots where a lot of seams are going to meet.  As batiks are such a fine fabric and press so perfectly, I won’t be fighting too  much bulky fabric at those points.  Here’s my centre square:

The back of my centre square was pressed in  a second thanks to the batiks.

I have the diamonds and their surrounding triangles printed and cut out, ready to go.  The little squares and their surrounding QSTs are printed, ready to cut

Last week Crispy asked about the cutting line, whether it was printed as well as the stitching line.  As I know the ink in my printer will rinse out without any problems, I printed the QSTs on this fabric in a darker red than I normally would use.   If you click on this picture to enlarge it, you can see that both the stitching and cutting lines, as well as matching points, are printed on the shapes.

I had hoped to go to the Etobicoke Quilt Guild show on Saturday but woke up with a monster migraine.  However, I got lots done on my Alabama Beauty blocks and have now got 3 of them put together.  One more block and the first of the circles will appear in its entirety.  I’m not sure how large this will grow but I think it may well end up as a large lap quilt as I want a dozen or more circles in the quilt.

Our weather this week sounds as though it’s going to be wonderful with a forecast that seems to indicate we may well see 70 by Friday.  I can’t wait!!   The nights are still quite cool, but to have days in the high 60s or low 70s in late March and early April?  Huge treat!

Smudge was very busy on the weekend, guarding the toys.  I think he knew I was about to grab them all up and put them back in the basket.

Lester decided it was a good time for a nap.

Fabric Choices

Once I knew my idea for the Alabama Beauty blocks was going to work out as well as I hoped, it was time to get out the box in which I have the fabrics left over from the shabby chic king-sized quilt and from some of my Quilted Diamonds blocks.  This weekend I’ll spend some time picking out more fabrics and get the templates printed on to them.  I have no set plan, but will print the templates on however many fabrics I end up picking out from the box.  Then when I start to piece those blocks in earnest, I’ll have lots of pieces cut out and ready from which to choose.

My preferred method seems to be having lots of choices all ready to use, so that I can change my mind at the last minute regarding what fabrics are in a block.  That way I do end up with pieces left over but those left-over pieces often become part of something new or get incorporated into a quilt label.  Planning the whole quilt top out to the last fabric isn’t something I do very often, it seems.

We have had a quite a drop in temperature with an overnight low last night in the range of -7C, although that’s not going to last much past today.  It was quite windy on Thursday and, while Lester spent a little bit of time on the windowsill, it appears relaxing on the couch was the more appropriate thing to do.

Yesterday morning, Smudge decided that he wanted to spend some time in my desk chair.  I think this is one of the best shots of him we’ve got.

A Little Shabby Chic Curved Piecing

These are some of the fabrics I picked out for shabby chic Alabama Beauty blocks.  There are other fabrics I’ll add to the mix as I do more blocks, but these are a starting point.

Once the fabrics were selected, it took me only minutes to cut my fabric, press it to the freezer paper and print the templates on the backs of my fabrics.  Then I was off to the races.  While we watched Angels & Demons last night, I stitched this block.

The back, which didn’t press as well as I would have liked.  I’m on the hunt for distilled water to use in the iron as we have extremely hard water and I’ve been told that using half distilled/half tap water will help lengthen the life of my iron.  As soon as I find the distilled water, this is going to be pressed again.

All that rain on Tuesday made a difference.  I looked out Wednesday morning and noticed, for the first time, some green shoots coming up in the flower beds on the roof garden.  Unfortunately, they’re saying we’ll have a wind chill of -11 on Friday, which I don’t think will do those little plants much good, but then it looks like it’s going to warm up and stay warm.  I hope they open the roof garden soon.  It can be absolutely wonderful out there on a sunny day in a sheltered spot.

The cats have been busy the last couple of days.  Almost every toy is now out of the basket.  Last night Lester was very busy with either the catnip pillow, which he licks and licks, or the practice golf ball.  Here is he relaxing after all that.

And Smudge doing his lounge act.