Sunday, 6 November 2011

Chestnut tree and Web of Charms

Isn't this a magnificent specimen of a "spreading chestnut tree" ?

I can't help myself singing that song I learned at school - complete with arm gestures.  The tree is between the Dowse Museum and the Town Hall complex in Lower Hutt - and I must consult the plan as I do hope it stays there after the construction of the new town square.

Do you ever look back on a quilt you made years ago and wonder, what was I thinking?  Or perhaps you go ahead and do something that on reflection was a question of ignorance being bliss?

I decided I wanted to make a charm quilt and my understanding was that it would be one shape and no two pieces of the same fabric.  I think the charm quilt came into vogue in about Victorian times when many young ladies vied with each other to have the most variety in their quilts - about the time that the crazy quilts were made of entirely impractical fabrics.

I chose the hexagon, done the English paper piecing way so started cutting pieces from my scraps and yardage - earlier I showed fabric that had a 'bite' out of it which means it must be in the quilt.

I decided on the size of forty across and fifty down, making a cool 2000 - and this was some time before the year 2000!

After I had exhausted my fabrics I still needed about 600 so I put the hard word on my friends, including those from my golf club who didn't do patchwork, but had spare fabric from dressmaking perhaps. There is even one piece of pale blue with silver that was from a bridesmaid's dress.   The papers were cut accurately but I often cut the fabric with scissors knowing that accuracy wasn't important

Both sons were on their big OE so I was able to spread out the completed hexagons on the spare bed, roughly into colours -

I then pinned a flannel sheet to the wall and started to arrange the hexagons, securing them with brass pins, starting with the palest in the centre -

I tried not to agonise too much, just get them on, then stand back -

The colours seemed to follow naturally, with enough contrast to stop it being boring -

I worked on this for a week or so -

Until it was all pinned, ready to start sewing

I then removed the pieces from the sheet by threading them onto a needle and thread, with a large knot, in batches of 25.  I wrote on the paper back which row and whether top or bottom half and then started sewing them together.

At the time I was playing a lot of golf and became well known around the 19th, identified by the red biscuit carton I carried with me -

I stitched the rows of hexagons, and kept them tidy draped over a coathanger  -

When I had sewn all the rows, I joined the rows into two halves and then into the whole, then I sandwiched it on a trestle table, letting the weight of the quilt hang down as I worked from the middle up and then down;  I tacked the layers together so that it would be ready to hand quilt.

The backing is folded over the edge of the front so that the thread didn't get snagged by the batting.  I started to quilt and it seemed natural to do so as a large cobweb - particularly so when I discovered, right in the centre that I had used the same fabric twice!  Shock horror!  So I embroidered a spider on one of the patches to make it different!

All the time I was intending to finish off the edges by turning the backing under and slip stitching the top and backing together -

but as I quilted towards the outside I realised it needed a border.  So, I went to the fabric shop and chose a very dark tone on tone purple - it wasn't exactly easy to put the border on, I mitred the corners and appliqued the main part onto it - I even had to patch the backing as it was just a little short on one side!

The quilt won Viewer's Choice when it was shown at the exhibition of the Wellington Guild  held at the Botanic Gardens back in 199?-

This photo was taken at the last exhibition of the Wellington Guild, in the category of past winners - and it shows the quilting rather well.

You can perhaps understand why I wasn't keen to make another one but chose to use some left over hexagons as the centres of my machine pieced Wonky Hexagon Log Cabin.

I joined a local book club and went to my first meeting today.  I love reading and am looking forward to finding new authors and meeting new people

The thought from my Girl Guide diary is "Everything worth while has its risks"

Thanks for stopping by and your feedback.



Nancy J said...

The web pattern for the quilting looks so good, did you ever add up THE HOURS, you spent on this? the shading fits the hexagons so well.Our chestnut tree is in full flower also, and is huge.Remember the poem, "The Village Smithy"? Well many of them could be under those trees and sit in the shade, I read that the chestnut tree in Longfellow's poem was made into a rocking chair for him.A fitting end for a tree immortalised in poetry.Cheers from Jean

Jenny said...

Wow June - I hate to think of ALL the hours that went into this quilt. The quilting is so effective, and I remember seeing your quilt at the exhibition. Congratulations again on your winning quilt!!

Razzle Dazzle Quilter said...

Hi June
I adore hexagon quilts. I have to admit I have never made one but do have a few, rescued from opshops or trade me. Your quilting pattern is sheer genius. I am not surprised that you won the award.