Monday, April 06, 2015

Bouquet Royale goes to Show...Here's a look at the Making of it

Some of these pictures may well be repeats of another post.  My 3rd 2015 show quilt, which I named Bouquet Royale (after many agonizing weeks of wanting to name it something else which was a name by another quilter), is currently at MQX.  It is undergoing that scrutinizingly nerve-wracking judging process today which all too often leaves me here at home useless and unproductive.  Then again, the fact that I am leaving for MQX tomorrow does that too!  Anyhow, since I will know in a couple days how this quilt faired, and because the judges are essentially done with it, I am posting some "making" pictures about it.

In October 2013, about a week before I took off for Houston, I pulled these fabrics out of my stash. Clearly, I supplemented this stack with several others, but all prints are large-scale florals -- some Kaffe, some Philip Negley, Westminster, etc.  They are happy prints that I really love, and just didn't know what to do with.  A few weeks before starting this I had either quilted or was prepping to quilt a client's POTC (patchwork of the crosses).  I don't know what in me snapped to make me think I wanted to make one, but I did. 
 I drafted the elongated hexagon pattern to yield a 1" - 1-1/2" hexagon (it finishes to a 8-1/4" square), and decided to make these interesting, they'd be fussy cut.
Fussy-cutting makes for a ton of waste (below!), but it makes the design.  In some cases, I found that 1/2 yard of these large scale prints didn't even yield 8 identical pieces!  If you look closely, there may be times that one of the 8 are not quite identical.  Life goes on!
Here's some of the blocks...I had the Foxgloves in 3 colorways.  This chartreuse became a key color as the quilt evolved.
 The other color I love, is the orange/coral...or perhaps it is the combination of it and the purple that is so appealing.
 I didn't start this with a plan of any sort.  No design, nothing!.  I cut out blocks to hand stitch 25 of these.  Yea, I forgot to mention that these are all hand stitched - and not in the conventional EPP way (like what I showed a week or so ago).
 This next shot was about January 2014.
I can remember playing with the layouts during the February Olympics last year.  That is all 25 blocks finished, but they are not set in the silk yet.  Every one of these had silk triangles hand stitched to make them square.  That was fun (choke, choke!).
 Here are the center 9 -- yes the layout shown above was changed to place the orange/coral blocks near the center.  You know me, I can't choose a nice, easy 5x5 layout!  It would be too simple boring.
 Square corners?...nah.  Let's hand stitch some silk scallops.  LOL.  Actually this is reverse appliqued, so the green (which is a tighter weave like a batik) was what I appliqued.  Easier than it may look.
This green fabric, to this day is kind of my "doubt" of this quilt.  It coordinates very well with many of the greens in the blocks, but it still gives me consternation, and wonder if it really belongs.  It was hard to quilt because nothing shows easily on it.  I decided that was OK, because the quilting would show most visibly on the silk.  I'd need places to hide crap!

This layout shot is from late May 2014.  The center section is a unit, and there are 4 corner units, but no borders or applique yet.
 But I did have a plan!...I had sketched these "ribbons" and envisioned them being expertly appliqued in shades of hand-dyed green silk.  Slap me, I must be dreaming...Appliqueing the silk Radiance is not impossible, but it takes forever.   I had the right colors of silk - they had been bought as 2 gradient packs from Houston in 2013.  Problem was that I used much of them in a previous small silk quilt (go back a couple months to see The Jester's Folly).  I contacted Color By Hand in Newport, KY - for once I had kept a shop's contact info!  They are wonderful if you ever want custom dyed fabric, especially silk or sateen.  It took about a month, but I was fine because I knew these were the colors I needed.
I spent all summer hand appliqueing the green ribbons to the top - 56 ribbon pieces.  Silk does not let you hurry.   Not perfect, but done.
And if that was not enough, I decided it needed to pull the deeper coral color out to the border, so I added the very narrow shoe-string bows at each corner. Those were fun...tee hee.  Much to my surprise it was still pretty flat and square.  Can't say that happens on every one of my quilts, especially those mostly made by hand.  And this one was -- The 9 center blocks were sewed together by machine, as were the corner blocks, but everything else was done by hand.  At one point I added up the hours for just the top and it was over 400 hours, which is not really surprising.
So...we all know that nobody shows just a top at a quilt show.  This bad-boy needed to be quilted.  It is quilted with a cotton/poly batt and wool.  It also is stitched with 40wt Glide and silk threads.  Silk is for the areas I just want the texture, and Glide is for when I want to see that color a little.
********************edited to add******************
Note that this quilt was a guinea pig of sorts, in that I decided to try a Pellon wool batting.  I had read Kim Brunner used this and raved about it.  Normally I use either Hobbs or Quilter's Dream wools. Listen carefully - avoid that Pellon crap at all cost.  It bearded fiercely.  I thought I was going to cry.  It showed as it bearded through the dark green fabric.  I needed half a lint roller to get it ready to send and I still don't know how much more has migrated through since.  I still need to contact Pellon because this is flat out unacceptable.  It is a soft. pliable batting, with nice density, but bearding is a definite show stopper for me.************************************

Without further adieu, here is Bouquet Royale - all bound and ready to go.
Closeups...the silk fabric doesn't ever let down when showing of great texture.  This is the center. Because the central part of the quilt is really a 9-patch of blocks, I needed to do something to set the real "center" off.  I used the 4 green setting squares sort of, but also, the quilting around the center block differs from others.  All stitching here with the exception of the linear linework on the champagne silk is done in the Glide - Prickly Pear was the color, which is a chartreuse shade.
All 25 of the blocks were quilted similarly.  I designed this quilting to draw away from the fact these are hexagon blocks, and attempt to make them look more floral.  There is a flower at the centers, with leaves coming off next.  The cross-hatching is textural, but represents the spider web of the garden. The quilting design of these is complex and I believe it gives them a pretty finish.
 
A finished corner...
At times, it felt like a game of "how much thread can I stitch".  This is an 80" quilt, and it has been a couple years since I have wrestled something so large.  They definitely take a long time!  The intersections of the blocks (above) got tiny silk circles hand stitched after the quilting was started. These are not a coverup, but an after-thought.  This section after I quilted it just reminded me of those old-fashioned silk pillows with tufted buttons.  I may change out the purple circles to champagne silk too (just didn't get around to it!).  I don't know what else to say about the quilting...It is all original designs, hand guided, and by all means I will absolutely NEVER do that parallel lne crap ever EVER again.  Or if I do, it will be on some funky angle, and not in a space with non-parallel pieces, where the quilting must appear parallel!
Here's a shot of the crazy border.  It's 11" at its widest point.  Next time I will not choose such a well matched green.  It was hard to see what I was doing.  Except for the stitching of the flowers (which do have silk centers), it is silk.
 Last pic...piped and scalloped binding.  I shouldn't even admit how long this took, but I will anyway...To make the piping, prepare the edge and attach the piping and binding...12 hours.  To hand stitch the binding down to the back...another 25 or so.  Insane.  And then it required another blocking to get it to lay properly.  Hopefully, but hopefully, I will see it hanging nice and flat on Wednesday. Fingers crossed.
I have no idea how this will do, nor do I know what other good quilts are in this same category.  I am just anxious to get some trustworthy feedback on the quilt.  I know it is unique and different, and hope it will be received with the same joy with which it was made.  Come to MQX and see this, as well as my other two that are at the show.

23 comments:

Monica said...

You have a real winner on your hands there. It is absolutely beautiful Margaret. Good luck with its showing!

Cheryl M. said...

Your quilt is just wonderful. Good luck and hoping for wonderful results at MQX. Wish I could see it hanging.

Becky (My Fabric Obsession) said...

Oh my goodness Margaret! This is just amazing! Stunning work as always. And you have such patience to spend so many hours on just one quilt. I hope to take a few lessons from you and slow down myself. The end result is SO worth it. Good luck at MQX, can't wait to hear how this one does!

quiltmusings said...

Your quilt is absolutely stunning. I love how you have used all the florals to create your own flower designs, love the ribbons, and am amazed by the quilting. Such detail and finesse. And the parallel lines...I cannot imagine! Congratulations. I think the judges cannot fail to fall in love with this quilt.

Dora, the Quilter said...

It is absolutely gorgeous, and I hope the judges recognize that and reward you.
(And, as for the parallel lines, they are beautiful, but I can empathize with your feeling that once was enough!)

Dar Welch said...

Oh my, this is breathtakingly beautiful! Your talent leaves me speechless! Good luck at the show!

What Comes Next? said...

Breathtaking! I'm sure it will do well in the shows, and reward your amazing skills and patience

Ann said...

A beautiful quilt! All the details are just wonderful. You've really raised the bar on POTC. Thanks for sharing the process. Good luck at MQX.

Maggie A said...

OMG. This is seriously amazing. I'm sure my chin hit the desk when I saw the final result. I sure hope you win something for this quilt. Unfortunately it makes me feel so inadequate I want to give up and take up crochet.

Sharon said...

Lovely quilt. I wish I was going to the show so I could see it in person. Interesting choice of batting. They must give it a nice texture.

Sewing Up A Storm said...

Your quilt is stunning! I really enjoyed reading about how it all came together. I think the green fabric with the leaves is nice and does pull the colors together and I love how you added it as a very thin strip inside the binding. There are so many tiny details I could stare at it for hours and still notice new things. AMAZING.......the only thing to improve it would be a ribbon hanging by it!!!

Susan ACEVEDO said...

This is just beautiful...hope it gets the applause it deserves..congratulations

Maggie said...

"Breathtakingly beautiful" says it perfectly. Om. My. GOSH!!! It's gorgeous! (Would a black light have worked for your green on green? I know it does for white on white and black on black.) Please let us know how it did.

Maggie in Arizona

Michiko said...

Your quilt is breathtakingly gorgeous!! I have one question, if I may. When you pieced silk, did you stabilize with pellon 865F or other stabilizer?
Good luck at MQX.

LJ said...

I am stunned!! Unbelieveable quilting! You are a true artist with your fabrics and needles.

LJ said...

I am stunned!! Unbelieveable quilting! You are a true artist with your fabrics and needles.

Amy @ Amy's FMQ Adventures said...

Your quilting and design process just blows me away every time! Thank you for sharing it with us in so much detail!

Sandi Whitford said...

Amazing!

Rebecca Grace said...

Spectacular as usual, Margaret! You have such a superb eye for detail.

Barb N said...

There isn't anything about this quilt that we don't love! A masterpiece, for certain.

Mary Roberts said...

Absolutely the most stunning quilt I've seen in quite some time. I've tried to add you to my Feedly collection but cannot find you within their search facility. Any suggestions?

HiggiSue said...

This is just stunning and inspiring. Thankyou for giving me confidence to give it a go

Mary said...

Bravo!! This is absolutely fantastic! Thanks for sharing the photos. I had no idea what you do to make a show quilt.