Saturday, March 22, 2014

Squaring up circles

Three months into the year and I am struggling to get this blog going. Too many distractions in life and too many other priorities. Most of the time I opt to sew rather than write. That admission coming from someone who has managed couple of novels for nanowrimo should speak to the level of my obsession with quilting. I have even stopped reading! And I know many of those who know me will find that impossible to believe.
 My new finish though deserves to be written about. Not because it is good, though for someone who is a beginner like me, struggling to get points aligned or a neat finish, it is something to write about. No this deserves to be written about because of the way it happened and the people who had something to do with it.
We have a saying in Tamil that roughly translated means 'like a villager seeing a city'. That's how I gawk everytime I visit this gallery. Marianne Hak is one gifted quilter and I love the colour play in her quilts. Her Ripple Effect and Colour Shot made me visit her site frequently and for a while I even made one of them the background in my laptop. I loved the hand dyed fabrics that seemed to deepen in colour, the perfect rounds set in squares and sliced through with coloured spikes, the spiral quilting and the fact that one could never make out where a block began or ended. I had already decided I was going to make something at least remotely like those quilts and use her tutorials for spiral quilting and qayg when I did it.
So when Anna from DQ shared a tutorial for a simple way to Drunkard's Path my interest perked. Well it actually perked when I saw Vidya use the tutorial and make a beautiful circle set in a square.Voila. i had a way to do circles set in squares. Things happen providentially and I received a package of freezer paper from yet another friend. Told you at the beginning that there were so many people involved in this quilt in their own little way! So I took out the batik that I had been hoarding and gloating over since the time I got it from Tina at the Square Inch (formerly Quilts of Love).
Making these circles was really simple and soon I had a pile of them.

When I got bored with making the same kind of circles I went smaller and smaller.

I played around with their settings, chopped up some of the circles and recreated more colourful ones until I had enough to satisfy the colour craving in me. I had figured out that the inserts would have to be an inch in width when I sliced the circles. So I sliced and joined and also made sure that when I had a block that was a touch small, my inserts took care of it.

 And then I was off spiral quilting following this tutorial from Marianne's The Quilting Edge. I had already decided to use her tutorial for QAYG as well so all my blocks were pinned and proper, ready for the spiral show. The tutorial explains all the steps to be followed for spiral quilting but of course if there is way to screw up one always finds it. Three squares spirally quilted  and I saw with dismay that my squares were all going askew. All three layers were being pulled away form each other and I knew that after squaring my 12.5 " squares would end up a miserable 9" or less.
I sent out an SOS to the desi quilters group and soon had one of the experts Vani solving my problem. She educated me about lowering the pressure - not the tension, and in the process I learnt something new about my still-new machine. Some ripping and I was spiralling again - not out of control though.
 I added a few blocks with cheater fabric to avoid an sensory overload by the circles and spirals but still ended with a busy layout. this quilt was challenging me on all levels and it seemed like I had more frontiers to conquer. I have to admit the thought of quilting more blocks was not something that had me jumping in enthusiasm but I did not want to compromise. I took advice from all quarters but settled on couple of solids and one striped fabric to bring the quilt together. It changed the look of the quilt, maybe toned it down a touch with the straight line quilting. The back too was affected as I had used up all the fabric with my initial blocks. Luckily I had the same kind of fabric in a pleasant green and it added a special touch to the back even making some prefer it to the front.
The quilting showed up beautifully on the back and I am glad I took enough pains to do it neatly. Truthfully it is difficult to go wrong if you follow the tutorial properly! And so a special quilt was born and it is going to a special person too.She deserves it as she has been the one who has been nudging me into quilting since the last ten twelve years with books and tools.
Sharing this on Show off Saturday at


  1. This is going to be beautiful. I love your colours.

  2. Your quilt is beautiful....thank you so much for sharing your process and your kind words.

  3. This is a wonderful quilt! Words fail me! You know what you call speechless! It honestly is by far one of The best i've seen!!

  4. Lovely ! I was going to share this with Marianne but I see she's already been here :)

    1. Tina Would not have been courteous if I had not told her what I was upto after being inspired by her and having used her methods. She is a generous person to have dropped by. Thanks for the thought though.

  5. Fantastic! I love the blocks, the quilting, fabrics, every part of it is wonderful! Thank you for sharing such a beautiful creation!

    1. My pleasure Amanda. So glad to see you here.