it’s finished!

What do you think of this quilt? It’s my improvisational medallion quilt that I started in a Gwen Marston workshop in mid-2013, and it’s finally finished!

Karen Mundt- medallion quilt

Karen Mundt- medallion quilt


I’ve written here a few times about the progress, and about how it proved to be a real challenge.
In the Gwen Marston class, we started with a centre block and then started adding onto it, a border at a time. I only got the hour-glass border on during the class, and made up the rest of it myself. Decisions had to be made for each border- what techniques to use, which fabrics, which colours. There are obvious borders out to the half-square triangle border, but then after that it was made up as I went. I wanted to make mine as scrappy as possible, and while I did buy a lot of the fabric to use for it, I also used a lot of left-over fabric from past projects.
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I experimented with lots of different block designs, made up some of my own and made wonky versions of blocks. As I made endless blocks, I would put them up on my design wall and move them around. It was this middle stage where I often felt that I wasn’t moving along, so I started to make decisions on a section at a time. I would work out which blocks could go together to make up a large section and piece them all together.
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I had started with thinking that I would use a pale green or cream as the calming fabric and filler in between the colourful blocks, but soon realised that wasn’t going to work. So I switched to using red as the filler and that became the constant colour to draw the eye around the quilt. The filler strips and pieces were necessary to ‘fill in’ where some blocks were a little shorter than others or not quite fitting together and made it much easier to piece the sections.
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I would work on just making decisions on one section at a time, put that up on the design board and move onto the next. Eventually it got there, after countless re-arranging, contemplation and fiddling!
But once the quilt top was together, I then had to work out how to quilt it. As there weren’t any regular seam lines going all through the top, no large spaces to fill in with a quilting design but lots of seams everywhere, and the fact that it was so busy to look at anyway meant I had to keep the quilting fairly minimal.
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I ended up just quilting a quarter-inch echo around most of the blocks and seams.
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For the back I used some pink striped fabric and pieced it with bits left from the front..
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Isn’t it good when it all comes together!
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my hardest quilt to make. ever.

Sometimes, working out the best way to quilt a quilt-top is a long process, fraught with indecision, double-guessing and accompanied by lots of sighs. Such was the case when I put this quilt of my own onto the longarm machine last week. This is the medallion quilt that I have mentioned quite a few times over the last year or so, here and here.
I started it in a workshop with Gwen Marston a couple of years ago, and the inspiration is a medallion quilt from her book Liberated Medallion Quilts. I didn’t use any pattern or instructions. It is made from lots of blocks, all made to different sizes and employing a variety of methods. Improv quilting indeed!
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Once a large supply of blocks are in hand comes the difficult stage of working out how they can all fit together.
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Many a time I was heard to say this is the hardest quilt I’ve ever made! Blocks were put together with strips added in here and there to make up gaps, extra little half-square triangles quickly put together to fill in a space and lots of re-arranging up on the design wall. I used Gwen’s method of ‘liberated quilting’, and made wonky star blocks, lop-sided log cabin blocks and unusual colours together in the hope it would all look okay in the end.
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But once the top was all together, silly me thought it was all plain sailing from here. But how do you machine quilt such a top, with irregular seam lines and so many shapes and sizes?
I started with the decision that I didn’t want to do an all-over design or use my favoured method of free-hand quilting because it was so busy anyway and that style of quilting wouldn’t suit it.
I would use the same cream thread all over because otherwise changing threads would be a nightmare, but try to limit its visibility on darker coloured pieces.
So… I’m going to use straight-line quilting wherever possible, although there won’t be a regular 1/4″ around the blocks and some have strips which aren’t a constant width.
It’s in progress at the moment, so excuse the thread-ends in these photos:
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Some blocks would be just out-line quilted, on some the quilting would be visible but not so on others, I’ll use in-the-ditch to move from one section to another, and as for the wonky blocks with irregular strip widths and star-points- sigh…..
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For the centre square, trying to avoid curvy lines for consistency restricts the options somewhat, so more thinking required here-
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This quilt is turning into the hardest one I’ve ever had to quilt.

bit by bit

I’ve been making a little progress on this improvised quilt. I’ve written about it here and here before, and it may seem to onlookers that I’m not making much headway! Making up this quilt as I go along is harder than it seems, really hard. I think it is probably the most difficult quilt top I’ve made!
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I have it up on my design wall with all the extra blocks I’ve made so far arranged around it.

The last week or two have been spent looking, re-arranging, looking, sewing bits together, changing my mind and so on. I’ve started worrying that it’s all too busy and will just look chaotic, instead of looking like its meant to be: colourful and scrappy but still just right.
I know that once I have worked out a rough arrangement of the little blocks that are going around the medallion centre, I then will be adding filler strips to make them fit together. Those filler strips will be in the light green that I used in those wide strips top and bottom of the centre, as well as red and some of the stripe. So I’m hoping they will help to pull it together and also give some places for the eye to rest.
Herre are a couple of sections I’ve put together:
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It’s been fun making all the extra blocks. Some unexpected pairings of fabrics have revealed some new favourites, like this block:
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These are some of my ‘extras’ – little parts to fill in spots where needed.
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and lastly, I can’t complain because I have had some help from Dublin the supervisor
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making a wonky quilt block out of a straight one

I started making some blocks back in January, as part of the Aurifil Block-along, as posted about here.
I intended making these blocks with a view to add them to my scrappy medallion quilt that I’ve been slowly working along in the background between other things. This quilt:
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This was the first one, a traditional bowtie block:
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Like all the blocks I’m making for this quilt, I put them up on my wall once finished so I can look at them all together. I won’t be arranging them until I have lots made so their final resting place is unkwown for the time being.
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But these blocks have been sitting there all this time and each time I look at them I think, they are not right, there’s something I don’t like. I think they are too big and ‘straight’ and ordinary, when most of the other blocks are wonky or improvised, or just different in some way. So, I had to do something with them. Maybe breaking them up, so all four aren’t together in one big block?
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No, still too ‘clean-cut’. There’s nothing for it- I have to chop them up.:) So, I cut them across the middle, and inserted a strip. Still not enough; cut them across the other way and inserted another. Here’s the first:
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I’m still not completely enamoured of them, but they are better than they were previously. Maybe they can sit up on the wall a bit longer while I ponder….
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I’m linking up here to Lily’s quilts and her Small Blog Meet- hope you’ll have a look at some other blogs :)

improvising with made-up fabric

Experimenting more with blocks for my medallion quilt, I’ve been sewing scraps together to make a base fabric that I can then use to make blocks out of. Using a variety of odd-shaped scraps that have resulted from the blocks already made for this quilt, I just sew them together:
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Once I have a piece big enough I can then pick which block to make from it and cut the necessary components. Here is a couple of blocks where I used the saw-tooth design:
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It adds that scrappy look, which I often prefer to the ‘clean-cut’ look! Then, there is also the wonky log-cabin block which has endless varieties:

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In this block I added a flying geese block to the top of some randomly pieced strips:
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And some more little strip squares:
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I’m utilising quite a large selection of fabrics for this quilt, but stearing clear of the brights that I normally favour (except for a little bit of bright lime or fuschia here or there!). I’m taking to heart something I read, where by as long as you have a fabric appearing more than once in your quilt, it will look as if it belongs. Once I get it all together, if I don’t like some blocks, then I can just keep them out for another project along the way!
It’s all good.

work in progress….

What have I been working on, wellll….I’ve gone back to this medallion quilt, started in a Gwen Marston workshop last year, which I return to every now and then in between other projects. As I’ve mentioned here and here before, it is improvisational so the goal is to make the parts and put it together as you go along.
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The latest additions include the red/cream half-square-triangle border around the centre panel, and the two wider strips top and bottom.
I want it to become a rectangle shaped quilt, which is why I didn’t add that light green border all the way around.
I’ve also been making lots of random blocks, without knowing where they will all go in the quilt just yet. Looking for some ideas and wanting to have a play, I decided to try a couple of blocks from this little booklet that came with an issue of the “Love Modern Quilting” magazine earlier this year.
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Have you ever utilised these ‘free’ booklets or patterns that often accompany magazines? I just thought I might as well try a couple of them in some of the fabrics I’m using for this quilt. This first one is ‘Cross Check’.
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The green strips are made with a Reece Scannell shot cotton, so it photgraphs a little funny, but such a beautiful fabric.
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The patterns in the book are for 12″ blocks, but I’ve scaled them down to make 6″ blocks to fit in better with my quilt.
I also tried ‘Paving Stones':
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The quilt top is going to be a sampler of sorts, with lots of different blocks and the intention of putting it all together at the end like a puzzle. I also made these improvisational blocks – cutting odd-sized strips without a ruler and sewing them together. Hoping they will fit in there somewhere as well!
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And this block is one of the Aurifil ‘Designer of the Month’ blocks, which I have been playing along with, like here, although not exactly every month :) – this is the block for July:
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improvising

We had a lovely weekend in Sydney recently, that beautiful harbour city. While the purpose for the trip was for my son and his beautiful fiancee’s engagement dinner, we also had time for a little sight seeing. Darling Harbour was sparkling…
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and the weather so warm
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We have some photos of the magnificent Queen Victoria building, which now houses a great selection of beautiful shops-
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Look at these windows:
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and the lovely world clock:
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There was no time for sewing, but I’ve tried to make up for it since I got home. I’ve been doing some more work on the medallion quilt, inspired by a Gwen Marston workshop I attended last year. I’ve been making ‘spare parts’ for this improvisational quilt, and I need to get lots of them made before I can start playing with them up on the design wall.
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So I have made quite a variety of different blocks, most of them with odd-sized strips and pieces
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but also some a little more regular
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However I wasn’t quite happy with it. I couldn’t see where to go next. I’m thinking it is still a little too regular for me and I need to liberate the blocks a bit more for my tastes. So I’ve started sewing together some curved strips which I’ll then cut up along with those regular blocks to shake them up a little!
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Making it up as you go is harder than it seems at the start!

improvising quilt design

I’ve been doing a little more on the medallion quilt I started in the Gwen Marston workshop in July. This is as far as I got at the time:
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I’m wanting to use this project as a chance to play and improvise, make it up as I go along. Which is harder than it sounds! I spend so much time looking at it, holding up fabrics next to it
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making different shaped blocks- because it’s not only the colours and values of fabrics to use, but also what each successive round may have in the way of block design and size.
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I added another border all round of different width strips and then decided on some wonky star blocks, so had some fun making a few of them..
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using some recently-purchased fabrics and mixing with some that have been patiently waiting on my shelves for their turn..
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I might put them in as the corner stones of the strip-pieced border..