Monday, 7 April 2008

Maria Quilt Challenge

My friend Marg put forward a challenge to a few fellow quilters at the end of last year, which involved making a quilt with only the following supplies...
a small hessian bag that contained: one piece of tape; one oz. of pins; one hundred needles; four balls of white sewing cotton; one ditto black; one ditto blue; one ditto red; two balls of black worsted, half an oz. each; twenty-four hanks of coloured thread, one of cloth, with 8 darning needles and one small bodkin fastened on it; two stay laces; one thimble; one pair of scissors; one pair of spectacles, when required; two lbs of patchwork pieces.

The inspiration behind this challenge is based on the work that Elizabeth Fry did with female convicts in England in the 1800's. Some of the female convicts being transported to Australia where given the above supplies to use on the sea voyage, either to make clothes or utility items for themselves or to sell. The result of one of these voyages is the Rajah Quilt.

The quilt is to be handsewn using only the tools in the hessian bag. No template plastic, no iron, no pencils, no paper. Well it took me a while to gather two pounds of patchwork fabric/scraps. Now one would think it would be relatively easy, considering that most quilters have a fairly large fabric stash (I'm no exception to that) and bags of scraps coming out of our ears. Well when I went through my fabrics there were a lot which I didn't think would be suitable. I wanted to try and select fabrics which I thought would be available in the 1800's, or at least reasonably close in pattern & colours. I eventually scraped together the two pounds of fabric which included a lot of scraps, some calico and even some old cotton checked shirts of my husbands which were destined for the rag bag.

The next challenge was to come up with a design. Now this was difficult as there was no paper or writing implements in the hessian bag. So it had to be all done in the mind and designed as I went along. I decided to go with a medallion centre which was a style which was used quite alot in the 1800's and just add various borders, style to be decided at the time, until I run out of fabric or get sick of it. So I roughly cut out a square of calico. I decided to go with stylised vines coming out of an urn. To do this I had to set the medallion square on point. Then I cut out some long strips to create the stems and stitched them down. Then lots of leaf shapes to attach to the stems. These weren't as hard as I thought they were going to be. I stacked 4/6 pieces of scraps on top of each other, then just cut an ovalish shape. They are not all the same, which is fine, as nothing is identical in nature. I attached these using a blanket stitch around the edge with embroidery cotton. Next came the triangle to create the urn. I then put a narrow border of black & white check (hubby's old shirt) around the medallion. One of the challenges was cutting straight lines without the aid of a ruler, which was difficult. Hence one of the reasons for using the checked fabric for the narrow border. I could use the lines created by the checks to at least get a strip of fabric which was relatively the same width at the beginning and end. I then added calico triangles to create the square. This was difficult without the aid of a ruler, so I just roughly cut them out, bigger than required, then just trimmed them up once I had sewn all four on. Another narrow border of black & white frames this square.

At this point I was very pleased with the way things were going. I then fussy cut some floral bouquets and appliqued (needleturned) these into the calico triangles. I really didn't know if I liked these or not. But after hanging and viewing I decided that it wasn't too bad and they sort of fitted in with the theme. One of the other challenges which I have found difficult was not being able to use the iron. I can be some what of a perfectionist (ask any of my quilting friends) and am a quilter who usually likes to press my seams etc as I go along. However I have had to do with just finger pressing the seams and/or using the handles of my scissors to press down on the seams.

Stay tuned for the next stage of the Maria Quilt Challenge.

1 comment:

puddlingalong said...

what's happened to the pictures Mav???

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