Sunday, 16 March 2014

Radiant Explosion: The Process

This is for those of you interested in how my Radiant Explosion quilt went from an idea to a finished quilt. My inspiration for the quilt came from Quilting Modern - I read the following phrase regarding their Supernova quilt and an idea popped into my head:  "Supernova dazzles with its explosive design and vibrant color palette.  Random fragments spin off ..." (p105, Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts).

The original idea

After deciding what size I wanted the quilt to be (50" x 60"), I worked out the location of the epicentre.  I then marked out the quilt and epicentre on my design wall. I pulled the fabrics I wanted to use and then then crazy pieced panels.

Crazy pieced panels

I started cutting up the panels and sticking them on my design wall.  At some point between sewing the crazy panels together and then cutting them back up again, I realised that the pieces needed to be kind of wedge shaped, whereby the end closest to the epicentre should be narrower than the other end of the wedge.  I played around with it focussing on how it looked, with absolutely no consideration for how I was going to join it all together.  In the following pictures, all the coloured pieces are pinned to the design wall [aka cot flannel sheet hung from wall with coat hangers], I haven't started sewing them together yet.

So then I sat in front of it for quite a while thinking, hmmm, now what do I do?  I sewed them together in sections, by first adding white scraps to the top and bottom of each shard/wedge, and/or the sides of the wedge.  I would then trim to straighten the edges for sewing together.  When I removed a piece from the wall I put pins in my design wall/sheet so I could return them to the right place. I went through a cycle of  joining sections then pinning them back up on the wall, and moving onto another section, until I had large chunks pieced that could be joined together into a large circle.  Here is an example of a section sewn together.

Some sections pieced together

At some point I realised that joining all of these in the centre needed to be thought through.  I tried to do an improv curve when I'd joined part of the explosion together.  I knew I was on the right track but it didn't really cut the mustard.  I made sure I had lots of seam allowance in the centre, which looked like a big fat mess for a while.

I googled "circle shape in quilt" and ended up at Craftsy watching Sarah Fielke show me how to create perfect applique circles with ease.   So I appliqued a circle on my epicentre.  I machine stitched around the edge of the circle (as opposed to needle-turn applique - is that what it's called?), mama doesn't hand-sew. The centre of the explosion is where my inexperience let me down, and is definitely the one area that I would do differently if I did something similar again. 

Before applique

After - much better but an area to work on in the future

The negative space isn't all white with the odd shard of colour - that would have been much easier but for some reason mama decided to include some rays of Moda Bella Ivory.  My thinking was that it was a subtle way to extend the explosion, which I think it does (you'll just have to believe me, because you can't really tell from the photos).  In the photo below you can see the spacing of the rays.  I used the stitch and flip technique to turn the long rectangles into long triangles.

From here it was a matter of trying to square up the explosion and then piece the background into panels which could then be sewn together.  That one sentence sounds easy but in reality it took me longer than I thought it would, mostly because of the rays set on an angle.

I originally quilted it with a variegated thread, the thread was perfect from a palette perspective (orange, pink, purple) but it was far from perfect from a quilting perspective - the coloured thread highlighted the wonky/crazy shaped pieces but in a bad way, it didn't enhance the piecing - it contradicted it and made the crazy piecing seem all wrong.  So I unpicked it, it took quite a few hours to unpick then re-quilt (basically at the end of the day on Sunday, I was at the same point I was at the start of the day but quilted with a different coloured thread).  It was definitely worth it.

When I quilted it again, I started at the edge of the applique circle, with off-white thread (Wonderfil Konfetti 50wt - colour KT101).

Here is what I learnt:
- I want to do a dresden plate, or similar design with wedges joined in a central circle, so that I know the "proper" way to do it!
- I need more practice with Y seams (seeing as this is the first time I've ever done one)
- I need to remember to square up, it happens as part of the process when you make a quilt with rows of equal length, but is easily omitted when making a quilt like this.
- Sometimes its better if you don't know how much you don't know, otherwise you might not try things.
- I don't like the look of coloured thread quilted on white/light background.
- I really need to get my camera serviced because that black spot on all my photos is driving me crazy.
- Did you just go back and check each photo for the black spot?  I crop it out sometimes.

Thanks for reading!

Linking up to:
Anything Goes Monday at Stitch by Stitch
Sew Cute Tuesday at Blossom Heart Quilts 
Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story

Friday, 14 March 2014

Radiant Explosion

This quilt has stolen all my spare time over the last six weeks or so, and I've loved {nearly} every minute of it.  It is entirely improv pieced.  If you are interested in how I constructed the quilt, I will be documenting it in another post have documented it here.

A crazy pieced explosion

My inspiration for the quilt came from Quilting Modern - I read the following phrase regarding their Supernova quilt and an idea popped into my head:  "Supernova dazzles with its explosive design and vibrant color palette.  Random fragments spin off ..." (p105, Quilting Modern: Techniques and Projects for Improvisational Quilts).  Photos taken in the shade show the quilt more to its true colours, the purple is very, very close to the Pantone swatch for Radiant Orchid.

Its natural habitat - the couch

It is quilted with straight lines radiating out from the centre of the explosion, with "ghost shards" quilted randomly across the negative space.  Within the coloured explosion the lines are spaced every 15 degrees around the centre of the explosion, outside of this they are spaced every 5 degrees.  I had initially quilted it using variegated thread, but didn't like it so unpicked it all and quilted it again.  I'm really pleased I unpicked it.  I haven't washed it yet, so some of the original quilting-stitch holes are still visible in the epicentre, but they'll wash out I'm sure.

Example of ghost shard

The negative space is not all one fabric, mostly it is Kona snow and some other close matches from my stash, but with rays of Moda Bella Ivory set in it.  The rays are not easy to see in the photos - there are 5 of them and most are about 12 inches long.

Look closely and you'll spot one of the ivory rays

It is backed with a vintage sheet.

Quilt Stats:
Pattern: my own design - Radiant Explosion
Finished Size: 50" x 60" approximately
Backing: Vintage sheet (fairly certain it's 100% cotton)
Binding: Kaffe Fassett Spot  
Pieced and quilted: by me, on my domestic sewing machine

I will be linking up to the 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge, hosted by Anne and Adrianne - I definitely recommend checking out some of the other entries and the FlickR pool.

This is my first time entering a quilt challenge, and this quilt was most definitely a challenge.  I identified some key areas where I would like to develop my skills over the next couple of months, in particular I'd like to do a dresden plate, one where the centre is not appliqued; and I need more practice with Y seams.  Considering it has been mere months since I finished my first quilt, I'm really pleased with how this quilt turned out.

It's my birthday in a few weeks, so this is an early birthday present to myself, it's a perfect size for keeping me warm while I read a book on the couch. 

Also linking up to:
TGIFF - hosted this week at Quilt Matters
Can I get a Whoop Whoop?
SewJo at My Go-go Life 

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Fairweather Dress (Think Ruffles Blog Hop!)

Hello and welcome to my stop on the Think Ruffles blog hop!

I must confess ruffles and I don't usually spend a lot of time together, in fact the only other thing I've ever put a ruffle on was Ruby's ruffle T-shirt a couple of years ago.  But all that changed a few days ago when I put a ruffle on something else:

This is the Fairweather Dress, which got its name from the fact that, dependent on the weather, we were thinking of going to a local fair on the morning I made it.  I didn't make it to the fair because I was too busy making this dress.

It is made from my favourite vintage sheet, I thought the scale of the lovely little roses was perfect for a dress for a small person.  The ruffle is made using a scrap from binding my sister's placemats, with a scrap piece of ribbon sewn on top, so I'm counting this as project 28 of Scraps 101.  For inspiration on other vintage sheet upcycling projects, check out my Upcycled Vintage Sheets Pinterest board.

As Ruby (for whom it was made) refuses to wear it, there are no action shots of her wearing it.  Thankfully Pepper-Mae did want to wear it (if only for a nanosecond before demanding it be taken off).   It'll fit Pepper-Mae perfectly next summer, although I may add straps to it.

Now that you've taken a peak at this little beauty, why not pop over and visit some of the other bloggers who are sharing their ruffles today?  You can view the whole Think Ruffles schedule on Amy's blog.

mila+cuatro (That's me!)

Also linking up to:
Sew Cute Tuesday
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