Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Sunflowers and Sewing

Just back from our Easter holiday in France, hence the silence on the blogging front for the last couple of weeks. We hoped to be heading off south for sunshine and some welcome warmth but, alas, that wasn't quite what we got! Still, besides the rain we did get to see our sons and daughter-in-law over the Easter weekend, which more than made up for the wet, miserable weather.

As they were all flying in to (and in two cases out of) Bordeaux, we took the opportunity to wander around what is, undoubtedly, one of my favourite cities. In recent years, there has been a big "clean-up" operation in the city, so the beautiful golden stonework of the Old City has been re-instated and you can see some of the results below. The clean-up operation on the Cathedral is still ongoing so the contrast between the cleaned up tower and the still to be cleaned main building is striking.

On a sunny day the city glows!

In amongst the trips to airports I did manage to fit in some sewing, although not the first projects of the Zakka-style SAL that I had planned! Over the last few years I have been patiently piecing together Dresden plate blocks in shades of yellow and gold for a Sunflower quilt. In the summer the SW of France is a blaze of golden yellow from the sunflower fields and it is lovely to see the rows upon rows of sunflower heads lifted to the sun, so my Dresden plates were to remind me of these when the sun is in short supply. The quilt top was pieced last Autumn, so this was my first chance to get the top backed and bound.

I had what I thought was sufficient wadding for this top but, unfortunately, turned out to be some several inches short when I laid the quilt out, so a trip to the nearest fabric shop was called for. The shop mainly retails fabrics for curtains and dressmaking so the only wadding that I could find was very puffy (high loft??) but wide enough to be used in one piece so ideal, or so I thought.

My small sewing machine had other ideas! The machine (and I) really struggled to cope with the backed quilt. The stitch length shortened as the speed increased, very frustrating, so the initial plan to outline machine quilt each sunflower was abandoned in favour of hand quilting. Much less frustrating to manage, but hard on the fingertips!

When I quilted the Circle of Geese cushion top that was basted with ordinary low-loft wadding there were no problems with the stitch length, so I can only assume that the puffiness of the wadding was the problem.

(See Megan's blog for the inspiration for this quilting)

Encouraged by the problem-free quilting on the cushion top and determined, however, to have the borders and sashing machine quilted I braced myself for another tussle with the machine. This time the main problem was that the top thread kept snapping! I was using King Tut thread for the quilting, which I had bought a while ago specifically for this quilt. I have never used this thread before but thought it was a reliable make. I ended up going out and buying some Gutterman all-purpose thread as the King Tut thread snapped so often that it was impossible to use. Has anyone else had any problems with this thread? I have bought the same make of thread to quilt my Almost Irish Chain quilt and I really don't want to start using it if I am going to have the same problems all over again!

After much muttered (bad!) language and several inadvertent tucks the quilting was eventually finished. It certainly doesn't bear any close scrutiny but it will definitely keep us warm at night when the temperature drops, which is what it is for.

I think if I was starting this quilt now I would probably choose a solid for the squares as it looks a bit too busy for me now, but given the hassle involved in getting it finished I can happily overlook that :) When I look at the quilt pattern that inspired it in Quilt magazine in 2007 it too is too busy for my tastes now, but as they say you live and learn!

As it is a Wednesday I can take pleasure in moving this quilt into the completed part of my WIP list and it is also my finished WIP for 12 WIP's in 2012, so another bonus to its' completion.


  • Reindeer Cushion
  • Shades of Green, Fleur Bleu, Checkered Heart and Orange cushions 
  • Orphan Block needle roll 
  • Pieced arc tea towel  
  • Yo-yo maker purse 
  • Padded hangers and tutorial

  • 3 blocks of In Color Order HST BOM (up-to-date) 
  • (Almost) Irish Chain quilt now basted 
  • Zakka-style SAL (2 projects behind schedule)
  • First border of teatime quilt completed, blocks calculated and fabric cut
  • 4 blocks of NY Beauty QAL completed (2 blocks behind schedule)
  • 6 blocks of Craftsy BOM completed (on schedule)


  • Indigo, yellow and violet rainbow cushions
  • Last block of Sampler quilt
  • Amy Butler bag 
  • Bag Making Bible Fashionista Bag 
  • Dragon Bag
  • Patchwork Block bag
  • Christmas mini quilts 

I am off to reply to the comments all the lovely readers have left on my blog whilst I have been away, so if you haven't received a reply now you know why (unless of course you are a no-reply blogger!) and then catch up on all that has been happening in crafty blogland

Linking up to Freshly Pieced's WIP Wednesday and Esther's  WOW


      1. I think the dresden plate quilt is really lovely, it really does look like sunflowers and I really really love dresden plates- so I find it charming. I am sorry you had so much trouble quilting it. I have never used a high loft batting- and based on what you have said I think it will continue avoiding it. The quilting on the circle of geese block is really quite lovely too- fantastic work.

      2. wow wow wow
        With the wrong batting finishing a quilt becomes more of a chore than a joy ... Anyway: you did it!
        With those sashings you could've chosen for quilting each block and then putting it together. But then the backseat driver is the most annoying person ... sorry

      3. Oooh, so jealous of the trip to the south of France! Anywho, I just finished a quilt with King Tut, it's what I usually use, and have never had a problem with breaking, but then I use cotton wadding. Was it polyester white puffy stuff you got? It possibly wasn't happy with that.

      4. Oh, man - France is definitely on the bucket list of places I would love to go. :) Sorry about the high loft batting. Sometimes is reeks havoc on my machine as well. The quilt is beautiful though.

      5. Love your circle of geese and your sunflower quilt is wonderful! I had some king tut once (bought at a craft fair) and I quilted a queensize with hobbs heirloom wadding and I was really happy with it so I wonder if your batting caused the snapping.

      6. I have never used that type of thread before so I have no opinion as to that but I just wanted to say how beautiful I think your quilt is. And you France pics.

      7. So glad you had ago of time in France. Bordeaux looks stunning as does your sunflower quilt!

      8. LOVE it!! Beautiful dresden quilt! And I don't get on with that high loft stuff either...I only ever made that mistake one time!

      9. I'm glad you had a great time! The quilt is beautiful. It really does look like a field of sunflowers. Your completed list is getting long! :D

      10. Beautiful sunflower dresden!! I love it!

      11. Love the Sunflower Dresdens! I think the background fabric adds to the charm of this quilt - it caught my eye right away and makes me think of a field of sunflowers!

      12. The Sunflower Dresdens look lovely and happy! They give zero hint of the muttered language that occurred during the quilting!

        Love how you quilted your Circle of Geese - very striking!

      13. Yellow and blue is a can't miss combination and your is lovely. Sorry about the stitch frustration but there is always something, glad that you persevered.

      14. The quilt I recently made for my son had a high loft batting in it. I used King Tut thread on it,although I had the problem with stitch length,my thread only broke a few times. I use this thread all the time,without any issues.

        My guess is that the high loft batting is the culprit!

        Love the Dresden Sunflowers :)

      15. Ugh, I have definitely dealt with the thread-snapping problem when I tried to practice some FMQ with Dual Duty XP instead of a legit quilting thread. I know how frustrating it can be, and I was just working on a practice sample. I haven't tried to machine quilt higher loft batting, but it does sound like it could be to blame! The dresden plates look great :-)

      16. Your sunflower quilt is really beautiful!!! I like the way you have done each one slightly differently. I love sunflowers. When I read this, I think I must be mad for wanting to do a quilt... LOL!!!


      Thanks for taking the time to leave a comment, I read and appreciate every one! I will reply by email unless you are a no-reply blogger, in which case you will need to check back in the comments list for my reply, sorry!

      Anonymous comments have been disabled due to the level of spam comments I have been receiving lately, sorry!

      Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...