Wednesday, July 2, 2008

English Flower Garden Charm

For some reason, I usually knit in the summer, but this summer I'm sewing instead. Maybe because I'm stuck on this knitting project since I really want to do it right. Or maybe because I'm just slightly obsessed with this new quilt project that will only take me about 20 years to complete.

This project is an English Flower Garden. A very traditional quilt that really needs to be done by hand to be done properly. Not difficult for those Victorian women who had nothing much better to do with their days, not the most practical for a person who works 4 jobs and ocassionally tries to have a social life.

Anyway -- The English Flower Garden is nothing more than a bunch of interlocking hexagons. Doesn't sound like a big deal until you realize that to match each point of the hexagon, you need a Y-seam. Since there is no practical way to do a Y seam with a piece of fabric smaller than 4 inches per side, that means get out your 9 sharps and thimbles.

Each piece of the quilt requires several steps. First there is the paper that is cut into hexagons. I chose to do this step the modern way and use freezer paper instead of plain everyday paper. I don't know if this actually saves time or not, but by now, I'm used to it and it suits, so I'm keeping it. i've been using freezer paper off the roll, folding it 8 times at about 4.5 inches and then cutting around my template outline. I'm going to try the straight sheets for printers now that I've finished the roll (but not the hexagons needed) and see if it is more economical or easier.

Once you have your freezer paper hexagon, you can just iron it onto the wrong-side of your fabric, trim the fabric and the seams are ready to be basted. Okay, so the basting takes more time than you think it should and your thread is always getting knots and tangles, but it's a good project for lunch hours.

Once all those steps are done, you get to start sewing them together. My teacher suggested a ladder stitch and it seems to work for me, so I'm just gonna keep doing it this way.

Then again, my personal quilting philosophy is getting in the way. First, I can't make a small quilt. A quilt should always be big and warm and be able to cover a family of 10. The approximate number of hexagons needed for a quilt of approximately king size is 1000. This is good since i've decided to make this quilt into a charm. That means each one of the fabrics used should be unique, no doubling and traditionally charm quilts have 999 different fabrics. Well, deciding isn't quite the right word. I mean I decided to take a charm class and English Paper piecing was suggested as a possible project, and I sort of wanted to do one, but the idea of all that hand work made me think twice. And did I mention since it's an English Flower garden i'm only using floral fabrics (or anything resembling a leaf or floral, viney will certainly do)

Are you starting to get the picture. I just managed to fall into a hole that involves making a king sized hand made quilt with 999 different fabrics about 4.5 inches wide that i really was trying to avoid doing in the first place.

Anyway, I'm around 16% done (each hexagon attached to another is .01% completion) and to finish this rambling project, i decided I will not hand piece a quilt only to machine quilt it in the end. That's right, I'm gonna hand quilt this sucker and I even know I'm gonna fill the thing up with buttefly and bee motifs.

And all this proves is that I am certifiably insane. Then again, how do they ever expect me to finish this quilt in a straight jacket?

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