Quilters Cabin is *crammed* with bolts of wonderful fabrics ... it's almost claustrophic. Amidst all the eye-candy that was extremely distracting, I found a bolt of a wide floral stripe fabric in the clearance bin. SALE! My favorite word! Mr. Pirate can't quite understand the logic behind, "look how much money I saved when I bought this." :-)
The are 5 stripes across the width of the fabric with a generous amount of plain fabric between the stripes, which makes it perfect for cutting apart and still having the motif intact. It was this fabric that was the inspiration for the Madeline quilt.
The pattern was a freebie in PDF form from Electric Quilt (image using my fabrics to the right).
2012 update: sadly, I can't find the "Madeline Quilt" PDF on the Electric Quilt site nor on the companion Do You EQ? site. I submitted a question to the EQ people, inquiring if Madeline was still around. They were very prompt in answering.
They said ... and I quote ...
Here are all of the Madeline projects we produced using EQ5. We donít plan on putting these back up on the website so feel free to put them up on your website if you wish.!!!!! Well, I certainly didn't expect ANYTHING like this!! They emailed to me all Madeline files they had offered. One version is using standard fabric (which is the one I used) and the other is using flannel and is one ginormous block. They are available both as a PDF *and* as an EQ5 project file! I am so overwhelmed at their generosity. They could have just said the pattern was no longer available and left it at that. That is the response I expected. But to have such a gracious reply email along with the files is simply incredible. Thank you, Electric Quilt, so much!
Here are the files, as they were from EQ themselves, to download, should you want them:
the instructions in PDF form and
as the EQ5 project file.
the instructions in PDF form and
as the EQ5 project file.
The original layout alternates columns of "plain" fabric with columns of Economy blocks. Their version uses the same fabric in the center of the Economy blocks as is used for the alternating columns and borders.
I changed the layout to accomodate mitered corners with the floral stripe fabric ... I think mitered corners look so much nicer when dealing with stripes of any sort. You will see that due to my focus fabric, I dramatically changed the look of the quilt from its original version.
Since I had 24 blocks to fill, I wandered through my collection of machine embroidery designs, looking for something that would fit in a 4"x4" hoop. I knew I didn't have 24 of anything from one digitizer, so I was also looking for designs that would look together.
I was very, very successful in my search! From San Francisco Stitch Company, I found their English Garden Medallions collection. These designs are digitized absolutely beautifully, although some designs did have an obnoxious number of jump stitches. Sometimes, it is just impossible to eliminate the jump stitches. However, everything stitched out wonderfully with all elements melding well with others. I am very, very pleased with final result.
The designs from this company are incredibly detailed. If you look closely at the 3 pictures below, the first one has teeny-tiny little blue birds and a nest of blue eggs. The second one has goldfish. If these weren't pointed out to you, you probably never notice them but simply admire the overall design.
Although their original choice of colors is beautiful, I changed them to coordinate with my focus fabric. That took care of 12 designs ... I needed 12 more.
The next set of 10 designs came from Gorgeous Stitches and is their Fun Flower Square collection, which is available at their Yahoo group.
Although the Fun Flower Squares didn't have the same intricate designs as the English Garden Medallion set, they were lovely companion pieces and coordinated very nicely. Once again, I changed the colors to match those in the focus fabric.
The next design was a singleton from Artistic Designs, available at Oregon Patchworks. This is a design that is available only to the Members-Only-Club, in the January 2006 collection. I've got to say that this THE most gorgeous stitch-out I've ever seen. The ribbon's satin stitch is beautiful and the outline stitch tracks *exactly*. I did use a pink/white variegated thread, but I can't stress enough how difficult it is to have the outline stitching be exactly on the edge of the design.
I've stitched out many, many designs that have outline stitching and most of them turn out dismally. There are so many different components to not only digitizing a design nicely but having it *stitch out* correctly, as well. With this motif from Artistic Designs, everything came together perfectly: the fabric (which is simply quilting weight cotton), the stablizer (fusible, woven cut-away), the thread, the tension in the hoop and the stitching capability of my machine. I simply LOVE this design. :-)
Now, if you've been keeping track, that's a total of 23 designs. I needed 24 ... and for the life of me, I can't remember where that last design came from. I didn't write it down in my notes. My bad.
From my stash, I was able to find the minty green, dusky pink and light pink used in the Economy Square blocks. These colors came directly from the floral stripe focus fabric. But, I didn't have anything suitable for the narrow borders between the columns. This necessitated a trip to a local quilt store, where I was able to find the PERFECT green.
Back home, I cut and sewed and pressed. And ran out of green fabric. !!! Let me repeat that: !!!! ::thunk head on the wall:: Obviously, I miscalculated. How that happened, I haven't a clue, but I shall blame it on someone else. :-) Very fortunately, the quilt store still had it in stock and I was able to buy the necessary amount that I needed.
Also from my stash, I had extra wide muslin for the backing: no seams! Woo hoo! And the muslin looks appropriately old-fashioned, which ties in nicely with the appearance of the front.
I loaded the top, batting and backing on my Tin Lizzie 18 and began quilting. First up was the floral borders. Because I wanted the floral stripe to be noticed and not the quilting, I used Superior's Sew Fine in dark brown to fade into the fabric. I was torn between outline quilting the flowers so they would become somewhat "puffy" but there wasn't an obvious continuous path between all the floral elements. I sure did NOT want to have a lot of starts and stops!
I have to admit that I'm still awfully pleased with myself when I load a top "square". It's really nice to see the horizontal fabric strips parallel to the rail.
I eventually chose a curvi-linear design that doesn't have anything at all in common with the fabric nor the design ... but I like it. :-) I used a circular template to achieve this design; first the top half of the circle was stitched, then the template was flipped upside down to do the other half of the circle.
The green borders got a free-motion leafy/petal vine motif.
The Economy blocks needed a lot of decision making. Do I treat the block as one big square, ignoring the colors? Do I put separate designs in the different colors? Either choice is valid; it all depends on what you want the final look to be.
I'm still *so* timid when it comes to quilting! I see the color areas and immediately think these should be treated separately, although I have seen some lovely examples where the design totally disregarded the coloring. However, for this quilt, I took the easy way out: I did a different quilting design in each of the color areas. The dusky pink outer areas got a continous loop design. The inner minty green got a continuous curve design. I did use a curved template to get a nice looking curve. Maybe next time I'll be more courageous and color outside the lines. :-)
And how did I treat the embroidery?
I figured out that I needed *something* in that area; it was too big to left unquilted. I sure didn't want to quilt *across* the embroidery, so that left an outline stitch around the perimeter (and sometimes, INSIDE the center "hole", if the design had one, as shown in the picture to the left).
Luckily, I had previously purchased a wonderful longarm tool, Deloa Jone's "Appliqlide". Although this quilt doesn't have any applique (for which the tool was designed), I have found this tool to be wonderful for close-in control. It was this tool that I used to help control Lizzie as I did the close outline stitching around the inner and outer edges of the embroidery.
There is nothing, I mean NOTHING, like having the correct tool for the job. The very first time I attempted to do an outline stitch around an applique, the result was soooooo bad. Really, truly horrid. But at that time, I had no idea that a tool was even necessary!
Education is a Good Thing. :-)
All that remained was to choose a fabric for the binding. I had previously tried to find a brown fabric in a shade that would make the binding blend with the floral stripe. I looked at all different kinds of prints, batiks, mottles, monochromatic ... everything. But nothing was pleasing to my eyes.
In cases like this, you need to then try something completely different, a distinct and obvious contrast to the adjacent fabric. In my stash, I had the fabric on the right; a wonderful, fantastic pink flower fabric with gold veining. It looks vaguely Asian, as the flowers are chrysanthemums, but the different shades of pink used coordinates so nicely with the different shades of pink in the floral border stripe.
(It occurs to me that if you were to fussy cut this fabric, it would make for excellent bird feathers. Just sayin'. :-) )
There was *one* puzzling, annoying thing that happened ... and naturally on the backing, where I couldn't see it happening. While quilting with the Sew Fine thread in the floral border, occasionally a snarl of nastiness would develop. It never gave any indication on the top, so it was an unpleasant surprise when the quilt was advanced and the thread nest was exposed on the take-up rail. The snarl is of the Sew Fine, so obviously came from the top .. but not consistently .. only sometimes. Maybe it was a lint glop in the bobbin casing that disappeared, only to reemerge sometimes. But since I have no idea why this happened, so it's impossible to figure out a solution. Really annoying.
Finally, the label .. and now I am adding something new and extra to my quilts ... my very own embroidered pirate tags! (see the red arrow? .. geez, how can you miss it?) I talk about these in the next project, the Rain Forest Rings placemats. I'm just tickled pink to realize that I can make these personalized tags myself!
In fact, I have started collecting other tiny designs to embroider different tags ... if you're interested in having your very own personal, embroidered tags, drop me a line and we can discuss it.