Sunday, November 10, 2013

Sunbonnet Sue Baby Quilt

A couple of months back, a member of our local stitching group, Needles n’ Crafts, Radha, posted at the board asking if anyone is willing to make her a Sunbonnet Sue Baby Quilt which she hopes to gift it to her sister’s daughter is expecting a baby.

I jumped at the opportunity to play with Em, my embroidery machine which I have started to neglect due to my heavy travelling for work.

We discussed the details and finally agreed on only 8 blocks of the Sunbonnet Sues instead of the whole quilt being all Sues.

Radha also requested if I could add a cat in the center block as her sister loves cat.

I pondered for a while as to how to add a cat in the appliqué blocks I already have and did some sketching.

However, after a while, I felt that my cat did not turn out like it was going to look like a cat, and proposed back to Radha if I could instead embroider a Sunbonnet Sue which already has a cat in it which I already happen to have a pattern for it.

Luckily Radha agreed.

Next, I sat down to design a layout of the quilt to make sure that Radha would be happy with it. I gave her 3 options and when she finally settled for one of it, I immediately got started on it as that very weekend, I had some free  time.

I did not want to put off doing it to later, knowing how hectic my work schedule could sometimes be and sometimes even unpredictable where I would have to travel within only 2 days notice.

I am glad I started when I did and got as far as appliquéing and embroidering up to 6 blocks that weekend, because after that, I travelled non-stop for 2 weeks.

The next time I worked on it, I stayed up late to finish off the 2 remaining blocks and started to cut up my fabrics, bought earlier in the day at Kelvins’s one fine Saturday, to make up the rest of quilt.

Radha had specified that she wanted the quilt to be in pink.

That being my favourite colour, I would think that I would have no problem choosing just the right fabric for it.

Wrong!! LOL!

I brought along my sketch and the finished Sunbonnet Sue blocks to Kelvin’s shop so that I can match the pinks to my Sues, and my oh my, does Kelvin have many shades of pinks! LOL!

I was going cross-eyed trying to choose which pink suits the quilt best.

It was hard choosing the many flowery pinks, as in my head, I thought that maybe Kelvin would carry some pink baby motifs, and I would just choose that.

However, the choice of baby motifs in pink was limited at Kelvin’s shop. I did, however, managed to get some very lovely small flowery prints of pinks which I think is really sweet.

For the backing, I managed to get a lovely ABC fabric bought from Gill’s Quilt Gallery in Bangsar, which I felt just matched the pink and green motifs which I intended to do for the front.

It was fast putting the quilt together. It took me only a week, working on it every spare night I wasn’t travelling for work. But the next stage of the quilt, I felt like it was taking me ages to get it done.

For some of you advanced quilters out there might find doing the quilting part a breeze. But for me, it was the biggest challenge of doing a quilt.

I thought that I’d take a short cut and get Em to help me with the quilting part.

I had bought a few quilt patterns online and tried it on a small practice piece and it turned out almost perfect!

I was happy with the result and set about to quilt embroidery the whole quilt with Em’s help. Easy peasy, right?

Wrong again!

Em refused to quilt embroider the huge (huge by Em’s standard) quilt. The quilt kept coming off its hoop and I would end up with jumped stitches.

After several attempts to get Em to quilt embroider, I started to get all flustered and frustrated. I decided that this is not going to work. Em is kicking up a fuss and we don’t seem to see eye to eye on this project.

I decided to let Em off the hook and started to look for other ways to quilt the baby quilt.

I could have just done some simple stippling quilting effect all over the quilt, and I should be done in about 2 weeks, but I am not one to just do something straight forward and felt that, after doing quilting for a number of years, I should start progressing to the next level, and that is to try to do other quilting designs, other than just stippling.

I looked to the internet for ideas.

I spent every spare time I had, googling for quilting motifs, hoping to find just the right motifs suited for my level of expertise. Oopps! I cannot even be considered an expert!

In my search for just that right quilting motif, it brought me to Pinterest.

I could spend hours going through Pinterest!

I came up with loads of quilting designs which I really love. Alas, most of them are for more advanced quilters.

I was beginning to feel the pressure when my time was running out as Radha asked if I could get the quilt done by November, and I still could not settle on a quilt motif which I think I am confident enough to do. My travelling all the time did not help either.

Finally, after many hours of going through Pinterest, I decided on a few motifs which I think I can manage.

Once the motifs were decided, it was time to do some practice pieces.

However, since I was still busy travelling; there was no way I could do a practice piece. So, I did the next best thing.

In between boring meetings, and on my flights in the plane and at airport lounges, or anytime I find that I have extra time on my hands waiting to get on the plane, for a meeting to start, even while I was watching TV, I'd be doodling, trying to find what works best for my quilting level and what suits the baby quilt best.

I finally settled for 4 different quilting designs.

I can’t say I know the names of any of the quilting designs that I have chosen as they all came from different sources.

You can go to my Pinterest to see the pins and track the designs from there, if you like.   

Trying to quilt on a sewing machine with a small throat was another challenge I had to face.

For a while, I ended up having a sore shoulder from not sitting properly. I finally decided to move my sewing machine to another table where I would have more space to the front of the machine, and it worked.

I was able to quilt for many hours on the baby quilt, making frequent stops in between for some water to drink as adviced by many of my quilting friends and from reading and watching YouTubes.

I can’t actually recall how many hours it took me to finish the quilting, but, despite all the sore shoulders I had to endure, I enjoyed every stitch I put into the quilt.

I had so much fun trying out the new quilting motifs.

As if quilting 4 new designs wasn't challenging enough, I decided to also try out making a scalloped border instead of the normal straight edge border. 

This is the first time I am making a scalloped edge for a quilt.

It took me several sketching and markings on the quilt to finally get all the scallops at the 4 corners to match up.

After having to go through a tough time doing up the scallop edge, I decided to just settle for a simple straight line quilting for the border.

Despite it being simple, I think the simplicity of a straight line quilt gave the border the depth and dimension I wanted.

I like the way it turned out. 

Next came the binding.

It was also a first for me to try to bind a scalloped edge and I had to tune in to several Youtube videos before I was confident enough to give it a go.

I think I did OK. I like the way the binding turned out actually.

I decided that the binding should be yellow instead of pink or green to add interest to the quilt. I thought that it would make the quilt 'pop'!

Did it, when you first saw the quilt?

I think the yellow binding picked up the yellow ABCs on the backing very well, and on the front, it brought out the yellow dress on the middle row of Sues. 

This baby quilt had given me the opportunity to try out so many new things and something that I think I’d never try out if not for this quilt.

Thanks, Radha, for giving me this opportunity to make this quilt for you. Those sore shoulders were worth every pain I had to endure! LOL!

I hope you and your sister and niece will be able to enjoy the quilt.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Give a big pat to yourself, Nik. This is awesome work. Definitely an heirloom piece.