We’re so excited to bring you our first Inspiration Team feature! This week’s project is by Pam Varner, an amazing quilter. Be sure to check out our Facebook page for a fun giveaway courtesy of Pam!
Another month, another Sew Steady challenge. I was sent a collection of Woolfelt by National Nonwovens with the direction: “Fall Themed.” I love that my only limitation is my creativity. For me, Felt always brings to mind applique done by hand. Personally I’m not a fan of doing handwork although I admire projects that use this technique. Autumn is my favorite season and Thanksgiving is on the top of my list of best holidays; so I thought that this challenge would be fun. The problem with felt is that it is thicker than quilting cotton so applique by machine would require some manipulation. Then one day I was looking for something in my kitchen and came across cookie cutters – what if I were to do applique using a cookie cutter method? Flat applique here I come! (Full disclosure: if this technique has been done before, I have never seen it. If you have, please let me know as I’d love to explore more)
First up, come up with a project. I love table toppers, but often the design gets lost when you start decorating your table. I have a lot of autumn decorations (see above about my love for autumn) and I wanted to create something that could accommodate a centerpiece. Hexagons and equilateral triangles would give me consistent shapes to work with and end up in a somewhat circular finish.
Next up, cut shapes out of felt. I chose 3 colors to use. I cut my shapes using Accuquilt dies, but any fabric cutting system would work. The key is that the shapes must be identical. Decorative stitching gets the best results when using stabilizers and luckily I had some black cutaway. I tried a couple of quilting/decorative stitches on my machine, testing width and length and eventually settled on a variation of the blanket stitch. It is important to choose a stitch that goes both left and right of center.
Now for the piecing. I considered using the same flat applique method (yep, it’s officially a thing now) for piecing and want to explore this in the future but didn’t have a stash of felt to pull from. A finished piece using all solid colors seemed lifeless. I found some orange and cream fabric to bring it all together.
The double edge sword of thinking outside the box is that you don’t know what the challenges are going to be so you don’t know not to try something. Due to the difference in thickness, I choose to press the seams open. When doing this again, I would probably fuse the quilting cotton to something as thick as the felt.
Time for the quilting (aka the fun part.) I intentionally chose the darker brown for the center and quilting that would make it flat; the perfect place for a vase or other centerpieces. This design was done by using the curved side of the Westalee Design 12” Arc. The method of parabolic curves made with straight lines is as old as art itself; a while back I started experimenting doing this using a curve for class exercises. I like the way the first curve complements the hexagon shape.
The cream triangles were marked using the Westalee Design 6 Point Crosshair Square. This gave me the intersection of the three points.
The pumpkins and leaves are my favorite. The pumpkins were done with the Westalee Design 4” arc. The echo side of the Westalee Design Hearts-a-Plenty (from the Quilt Class in a Bag Kit) made perfect leaf veins. Both were done by starting in a centralized location, stitching out and then back to the starting point. Originally, I was going to add quilting to the outside of the fall shapes, but when I saw what I already had, the decision to stop was made for me. This is one of the few pieces I have done where “The quilting made the quilt.”