Thursday, February 17, 2011

Elephants on Parade

My baby elephants quilt is finished!  It's only taken me a little over 18 months, but I got sick of seeing it lying around the sewing room so I decided I'd better get in and do it.

I'd been working on the last of the machine quilting over the previous couple of months.  I'd decided on a wavy pattern as you can see, which really should have been done with a free motion foot but at the last minute I got nervous and did it with a walking foot.  I had to repeatedly stop, raise the foot, and reangle the fabric, but it worked for me in the end.  It's not perfect but it's the most fancy quilting work I've ever done!

I think one of my main issues with the quilting was marking out the design on the purple border.  On all the other colours I was just able to see the design from the paper underneath and trace it through, but the purple was too dark.  I think I tried all the white marking methods I could think of.  I got dressmakers carbon paper, I used a tracing wheel, even got out my talc powder!  None of them seemed to leave an impression.  I think in the end I put the pattern underneath and could just make out some major intersections and kind of made up the rest.  The purple quilting isn't as good as the other colours.

Speaking of colours.... I used monofilament thread for the border quilting, as I had used on the coffee quilt. I don't think I'll use that again unless I really don't want the quilting thread to show.  I used it for this quilt because I just wanted the effect of the quilting, didn't specifically want the lines to show up. Next time I'll just try using a matching coloured thread.  Nothing specifically wrong with the monofilament but it was just very fiddly sewing the ends in and things like that.

On the topic of quilting, I did hand quilting around the outside of the elephants.  You can't really see the quilting on the front, but it does add a certain amount of dimension to the blocks.  I had hoped on the back that there would be an outline of the elephant in white, but the thread I chose was not thick enough (Gutermann Quilting thread) and the backing fabric is just too busy.

The other problem I had with this quilt was the binding.  The pattern called for one strip of each of 4 colours, one for each side in a different colour to the border strip on that side.  When I'd finished my quilt and measured it up, my strips weren't long enough.  The quilt's finished size was supposed to be 112cm, but I think mine came out ever so slightly longer because of inaccurate seams, and also my fabric was 112cm from selvedge to selvedge, but I didn't want to include the selvedges in my sewing.  Since I had to join the binding strips anyway, I decided to make the bindings match the border, including doing the little bit around the corners (you can see this in the first photo).

The other thing I did to this quilt to make it a little more unique was to applique one square instead of embroidering it.

And the final bit of a quilt which often takes the longest...... is the label on the back!  I'd found an image on the internet somewhere ages ago that I decided I wanted to use, so that settled the decision of how I was going to make the label.  It was to be printed on Matilda's Own Injet Printable Fabric.  I had used this once previously for a quilt label.  Of couse it meant a trip to the shops for hubby to pick up a new colour catridge for the printer!

I edited the image, changing the colours of the elephants to match the quilt.  This took a few goes of printing on paper because of course colours on the screen don't look the same in print.

I also embroidered elephant footprints onto the label.  I had intended to hand quilt some foot prints into the cream inner boarder, but after the time it took me to quilt around the elephants I'd had enough hand quilting for now.  This was my compromise to get some footprints onto the quilt.  The printable fabric is rather had to sew through I discovered.  Embroidering the footprints was just bearable, given that I hadn't hooped it up.  Attaching the label to the quilt was another matter!  I was trying to only pick up a few threads for each stitch to make an invisible stitch, but the threads didn't separate very easily to let the needle through, and on more than one occasion where I had carefully picked up only one thread from the fabric, it broke with the force of the needle being pushed through.  I didn't remember this being a problem last time I used it, but I think I must have attached the label with blanket stitch that time.  So there's a tip for you - don't bother trying to do invisible stitches on printable fabric.  It's not really worth the effort.

I had thought the quilt was going to end up way too large, but the finished size would fit nicely in the cot if you tucked the large borders down the sides and end of the cot.  It leaves just enough space at the top for a pillow, the same as how a regular quilt covers a bed.  Unfortunately this is not usually how you place a baby in a cot.  It will, however, be very useful to cover the bed once Abigail is a little older and we convert the cot into a toddler bed, and also as a lap quilt after that.  Until then I think it will be used as a floor mat for her to lie on.... and hopefully sit on soon!  It should fill in the gap nicely until she is ready for a big girl bed, and needs a big girl bed quilt, which I'm hoping will end up being the Birdie Stitches BOM I'm currently working on.

Now that this quilt is no longer on my to-do list, I've got a free space for something new!!  I've decided that I want to make my niece and nephew lap quilts for their birthdays this year (August and September).  They will be turning 10 and 7.  She LOVES puppies and the colour green, he LOVES dinosaurs but I'll have to check on his favourite colour.  These quilts are going to be mostly or all pieced with little or no applique, and I intend to follow someone else's pattern, so this *should* make then quicker and easier to finish.  Think I've found a pattern for the puppies, and bought some fabric online today that I just loved... but more on that later.... and I'd better get in and finish the music quilt first.

Back to the baby elephants... here it is in action being approved by it's new owner
..... and yes it has been sicked on already!  Only a little dribble though.


  1. How gorgeous! I don't feel so bad not having mine done!

  2. Cute quilt and really cute label.



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