The beginning of this project can be found here.
Well, I haven’t finished this project, as I had hoped. It seems that not leaving enough time to complete my projects is becoming a theme (if you can call a statistical sample of two a “theme”). Knowing me, this will never change. But, the good news is that I seriously doubt that my cousin and his fiancee are expecting anything from me, so it will be a surprise no matter when it gets to them. Low expectations are the key to my success.
When last we met, I had 2 squares of embroidery complete, and one more to go. The double crane went much like the other two squares, only faster. The one place where I got a little nervous was where the chests of the birds were supposed to meet. In the original pattern, they seemed to barely touch, but due to how I chalked the lines or where within the lines I embroidered, I arrived at the meeting point, and suddenly the one line I was working on looked like it was going to cross where the other line would go in a very ugly manner. I considered picking the stitches, but in an attempt to salvage my work, I decided to sew the other chest line to see where that one was showing up.
This turned out to be a good idea, because it allowed me to choose which chest line I wanted to actually stitch, and then I just let the other stitch be, so it looked like the chests were slightly overlapped. And now, from a distance, it looks almost like they are lightly touching like it was supposed to in the first place.
And then came the piecing.
I hate piecing. I had to make a wall hanging entirely by hand in 8th grade (not for home-ec, but for a joint language arts-social studies project of all things), which is where I learned to piece and quilt in the first place, and even then, I hated piecing. I don’t know how people (*cough* Rozsamaria *cough*) do it, but I find piecing to be a painstaking, stressful process. In this case, it was compounded by the fact that somehow, the edges of my silk had become oddly warped, despite the fusible interfacing. Honestly, I think it came more from trying to fuse after cutting the square than the embroidery, but I’ll have to see in the future.
Also, I am not very good with a sewing machine. I can never seem to make it go the right speed, so my cloth ends up spiraling out of my control with random, wild lines of thread. As long and laborious a process that hand-piecing is, it would have taken me longer to do it by machine. My mother, knowing this, was kind enough to offer her help, so instead of taking at least a week unto itself, we got the piecing done in about a day. I pinned, she sewed, and I pressed the seams.
We only ran into problems when, despite my meticulous calculations, the drawn seam allowances didn’t match up after we had sewn pieces together, resulting in jumping seam lines that we had to try to finesse into straight lines. This became even more of a problem when, once the main three blocks were put together, we were trying to get the middle diamond to just touch the top and bottom squares. Not overlap, not sit apart, just touch. I got a little creative with where I ironed the “seams” to get the top square to touch the middle square.
After all was pieced and done, there was only one place where the seamline is really visibly out of alignment with the rest of the piece. Thankfully, because it’s in a place of all green fabric, it doesn’t really look like it’s out of place until you get up close and personal with the fabric.
Should anyone notice, it will hopefully be one of those charming quirks of being homemade instead of an eyesore.
After finishing piecing the top, the next step was to find a backing fabric that would look good enough to do a fold-over binding with. While searching around the store, I quickly discovered that the fact that silk changes color depending on what angle the light shines makes it very difficult to find a brown fabric that matches. I thought for sure I was going to have to try to find some green to offset the whole thing, when I finally found an amazing rich brown batik that had all the right tones of the brown silk. It’s almost a pity I used the entire half-yard as the backing fabric, because that would be fabric worth having around to use at a later date.
I had always planned on embroidering something on the back to indicate who the wall hanging was from and why it was given, but I wasn’t quite sure how much information to put on. I know that pros always tell you to put the entire provenance of the quilt on the back, but it always feels so ridiculous to me. For instance, from Quilters’ Cache: “Whatever your chosen method…your quilt label should include at the very least, the maker of the quilt, the person who did the quilting ( if it was someone else) the name of the pattern, the date your quilt was finished, and the location in which it was made. “ The name of the pattern and the location it was made?? I know it’s good for posterity, but there’s just no way I’m going to embroider all of that on the back of a wall-hanging that I’m giving to family. I would feel like a pretentious idiot. I mean, I have a hard time even including my last name on things, since my first name is relatively uncommon. “Which Annalisa made that for us again?” So I compromised, and included my name and Mike and Aimee’s names and their wedding date. I’ll tell them all about the quilt and the various bells and whistles in a nice note with the gift.
I wrestled my way through several hand-written versions and computer fonts, but I finally found a font I liked for the dedication. I matched the outer oval with the silk thread I’m using to quilt the wall-hanging, and I used white thread in the middle to mirror the sashiko on the front. Then, for my little attribution rectangle, I reversed the colors.
Having finished all the stuff that I needed the back free for, I ironed on the fusible batting, and I’m really pleased with it. The only potential problem I’m seeing is how to get quilting knots to pop under the fabric when the fabric and batting are glued together! Through the top layer I suppose. Also, I’m starting to wonder if I should have sewn the hanging sleeve to the back before I ironed on the batting. I guess I’ll see when I reach that point!
I had this great idea for quilting. If you look at my drawn pattern, you can see “quilted ‘ai'” on the four triangles surrounding the cranes. ‘Ai’ is the Japanese word for love, so I was going to quilt the kanji into the wall-hanging. I even made a stencil so I could sew around the shapes.
Unfortunately, the stencil was the high-point. None of my chalk was showing up on the green fabric on the front, so I tried chalking the reverse of the stencil on the back.
The chalk wasn’t very permanent, so I had to be really careful as I was stitching. Unfortunately, I was so focused on the fabric that I missed that my thread was stripping, so partway through it broke, and I had to pick it out to a place where I could make a knot to slip under the fabric, but it kept breaking! I ended up having to pick out all of my work. So I have given up on the ai kanji for now. I think I will simply quilt around the silk squares. Kind of boring, but the quilting thread really blends in with the front, so I don’t think it will be visibly boring. It will just give some definition and shape to the wall-hanging. (She said, not really knowing how it was going to turn out. By the seat of your pants is the only way to fly.)
So what’s left? There’s the quilting, which should be easier now. Then there’s the binding and sewing on the sleeve so they can actually hang the wall hanging. And then I’m done! Oh, and the obligatory dry-cleaning, because there is a lot of chalk and cat hair lurking about this thing. Hopefully there will not be any more unpleasant surprises in part 3!