One of the unexpected pleasures of me making quilts is getting the reaction of my teenage children in particular my 14 year old daughter. The boys I’m afraid either give me platitudes and or in the case of the 14 year old say something outrageous just to wind up his poor mum. He’s a 14 year old boy, what do you expect!!! But Anna is more considered and not given to easy platitudes, she likes being honest but is sweet enough not to want to hurt my feelings… So when I brightly ask her opinion there’s a heavy pause while she weighs up her response. These are always priceless and useful when I have to come up with a name for the quilt because it’s going to a quilt show so this quilt is called [It’s] Kind of Weird.
This quilt is destined for the display area that the Modern Quilt Group of the UK Quilters’ Guild have been given at this year’s Festival of Quilts, the biggest and most prestigious festival of its type in the UK. This is quite a big deal and the pressure is on to fill it with hopefully inspiring quilts to engage and enthuse the largely traditional quilters that go to this event. The tireless organisers led by Kate Percival have set the theme of Cottonopolis, which I have to say I’d not heard before, but is the nickname given to Manchester in connection with its cotton manufacturing past. The sub theme within that is the music and musical groups of Manchester.
There are a growing number of challenges to members of this group with I guess the aim to fill this large area to the brim! Well I’ve done my bit. The main challenge relating to Mancunian music requires you to make a 24″ square quilt based on a given music group band and/or their song. Those up for the challenge, to give them plenty of potential for inspiration, were each given the name of two Manchester bands and two of their songs.
For my first quilt the band was Oasis, and yes I had heard of them, and the song title Cloudburst. I made this quilt blogged here
I’ve chosen to make another quilt simply as a back up and if there is space in the display area. I wanted to reuse this particular pattern which is the January block by Liz Harvantine and had a blank wall at home that I want filling. So it is a very expedient quilt and certainly not just made for this quilt display To be frank that was the driver I then had to work out quite how this quilt designand fabric choice would fit in with my music band The Chemical Brothers, and no I hadn’t heard of them or their particular song.
Well looking at the earlier version I made a couple of years ago…
…..it struck me that the middle motif looks a bit like a flask on its side of the type you would typically find in a chemistry lab. Yes I agree it’s a bit of a push! But with the use of fabric with chemistry symbols on it I thought it would do just about fit the name of the band. Okay, hands up, there is no reference to the brothers but give me some artistic license please!
When I made this pattern before I was relatively early in my quilting journey and I did it in an open class with Joy Edgington of New Pastures Quilting. This proved a wise decision because you do need to both cut and then sew the curve quite accurately for all the elements to match up when you put the 4 x 12″ blocks together. Joy, as a quilting teacher of many years standing, had the expertise of knowing what to do to make these pieces fit together. But rather smugly I thought two years on with at least three or four curved quilts under my belt making this quilt should be a much easier task. So I was somewhat confounded to find that my beloved curvemaster foot, which normally helps me achieve curves without pins, proved useless. It eventually dawned on me, and it really should have been a much quicker thought process that it proved to be, that the problem was using batiks.
Using batiks in quilting rather divides the quilting world. There are those that love their multi tones and often brilliant colours and others that don’t. I’m probably more in the latter category and as a consequence do not possess any batiks. But of course these Alison Glass’ modern handcraft range are batiks but their very modern and fresh style is in contrast to most batiks I’ve come across so I’d forgotten. The thing with batiks, I have since discovered, is that they generally have a much firmer weave and are therefore quite stiff. They don’t take to being pulled and stretched when doing a curve in the same way as other cotton fabrics. But they do have one very major plus. They are marvellous to iron and make wonderfully crisp edges and folds so for precision piecing I’d imagine they would be very suitable
Once I had sussed this the obvious way forward for me was using glue. My new best friend is sewline glue sticks. It proved very easy to get accurate curves without pins. The only downside is that it does make that seam thicker because of the adhesive and the quilt when finished being pieced needed to be washed to get the glue out.
To justify the theme of The Chemical Brothers I used the chemistry equation fabric in both a mottled white and grey positioned so it looked like liquid in the ‘flask’ and another fabric with symbols on it that looked vaguely reminiscent of chemistry symbols from my ‘O’ level Chemistry which I passed by a whisker donkey years ago.
I took the opportunity to include some fabrics I love for their subtle interest and quirkiness. A piece of London map fabric which shows the route I take (well almost) to my parent’s home, some olde world map fabric and some map contours. That latter fabric which whilst I love from a distance looks if the material is creased and folded in on itself. And my favourite ‘Maker ‘ fabric.
To get the quilt to feel balanced I cut and placed the pieces up on my design wall. The outer pieces were cut over sized. Understandably the quilt display organisers want the quilts to be exactly the right size so I built in some wriggle room.
In the end whilst there was some remedial work to do on a couple of the blocks to ensure the curves met reasonably smoothly it wasn’t too major. Overall I was pleased with the accuracy.
But smugness aside when looking for quilting inspiration at other quilts made with this block I came across quilters who have made full-size quilts including 56, yes 56, of these blocks all beautifully connecting. I am absolutely in awe of that as that would take me for ever – it would be a truly epic quilt.
linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean at Crazy MomQuilts