» Crown Jewels

March 22, 2018

Well Begun is Half Done.


                                         (and Mary Poppins)

I finished a quilt top yesterday!  It is a version of Crown Jewels using shot cottons in “jewel-like” tones.  I made it slightly smaller than the original version thinking it might some day hang on a wall in my house. I also set it slightly different than the original quilt.  I used an even number of block quarters, so there is the illusion of half a cross on either side of the quilt.  I like the idea of customizing using subtle differences. Sometimes these differences are deliberate and happen immediately at the start of making a quilt.  Other times they unfold as it is being sewn.  In this case, the latter is definitely true!  As I was sewing and laying out the blocks, aside from editing some of the colors out, I decided that some of the blocks I had sewn were not in color combinations that I liked.  They, too, were edited out and I was left with a smaller number of blocks.  Of course one can always say that design decisions are deliberate….who’s to know?  At the moment, I have it pinned to the wallhanging above my couch so that I can live with it for a little bit and decide how to quilt it.

Working with shot cottons can be a little bit different than working with regular quilting cottons.  The fabrics I used are specifically Westminster shot cottons, and I find them to be a little looser in weave that other fabrics.  That means they can be prone to raveling a little and stretching when they are sewn and/or ironed.  I love the look of them, though, so I don’t let that stop me from using them in my quilts.  In the best of all possible ways, they have a worn look about them.  Sort of like fabric with an old soul.

I like to use spray starch when sewing with shot cottons (just regular Niagra or whatever brand your grocery store carries is great) and always reduce my stitch length to 2.0 or just slightly larger. I also sew more slowly than I do normally.  This may sound silly but frequently I put the pedal to the metal – so to speak- if I am excited about getting something done.  Slowing down and sewing more deliberately results in seams that are more straight and even.  It also reduces the possibility of the fabric stretching, and makes it less necessary for you to have to stretch your blocks to make them fit together in the end.  I am not an expert of precision piecing by any means but I have found a few tips that make it harder to tell!

In addition, I usually sew this quilt together in quadrants rather than in rows.  When I sew blocks together in rows they often ten to slant downward for some reason.  I seem to be able to fix this by sewing quarters of the quilt together and then to each other.  There are many methods of keeping track of your blocks as you sew them together.  My favorite is chalk pencils.  There’s too much going on in my house for methods other than marking each block with a number to work.

This sample is going in my “to be quilted pile” where it will wait along with the others – hopefully not for too long. I seem to be able to sew quilts faster than I can quilt them these days.  Or maybe I just like piecing better than quilting. Either way, I never manage to zero out that pile!


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