Thursday, February 20, 2020

A Custom New Zealand Quilt and Quilting Brave.

I don't usually make custom quilts, as I find I struggle to get them done in a timely manner for a variety of factors. The first reason being that most of my time is spent chasing after a 2-year-old, and the second being that I often find that I lack motivation and like to quilt for my own pleasure and not because I have to. This is possibly why I have such an enormous stack of unfinished quilts that I keep promising myself to get to in the future.

However, I was recently asked by my Aunty to make a quilt for her first grandchild and she wanted some input into the design. Primarily she wanted it to have a distinctly New Zealand theme. I immediately had a whole heap of ideas, such as creating a foundation paper pieced Buzzy Bee, Red Band Gumboots or a Rugby Shirt with a Silver Fern. But my Aunty wasn't so fussed on those ideas. She was thinking Nikau palms and birds.

Birds - That gave me an idea... I cranked out Electric Quilt and showed her my applique Kiwi Pattern and started playing around with some colours. When she saw the idea of a flock (is that the correct word) of Multi-coloured Kiwi, she was sold - and quite frankly, so was I. I was so excited to get started, that we immediately searched through my stash to find scraps for the colours. I wanted to go for bold prints like the Fuschia Blueberry Park fabric I had in my stash, however, Aunty wanted more plain fabrics, with subtle prints. On a side note, she later agreed that the bold prints stood out exceptionally well in this design. Plus she really liked the fabric by Nutex with the Kereru, Tui and Takahe on it, so I decided to use that as the border and sashing for the quilt, which worked well as the colours in the fabric were reflective of the colours in some of my Kiwi, as well as including the Nikau Palms she wanted!

I really enjoyed piecing this quilt, and if you are a regular follower, you will be well aware that my applique skills are somewhat lacking, however, this quilt was great for helping me to practice this technique and find out the style of applique that works best for me. I still used Raw-edge applique, and love love love HeatNBond EZ Print Lite Sheets for appliqué projects. I have discovered that I much prefer a zig-zig stitch over a blanket stitch for my applique - it looks neater to me.

After I had completed my blocks with the nine colourful Kiwi I laid it out to make sure I had balanced my colours, and I had a helper, who kept telling me that the quilt I had created was "Ten Kooky Kiwi". This is a New Zealand Children's book and Song which has Kiwi getting into all sorts of mischief. I will be honest, I hadn't made the connection until he said it, but when he did, it seemed only fitting to make a tenth Kiwi, and place it on the back of the quilt (I used ‘Crazy Paua Shell’ fabric by Nutex for the backing)

This quilt for me was really about pushing myself out of my comfort zone and practicing some new skills. As well as being an applique quilt, I also tried doing some free-motion quilting using the hopper foot. I whipped out those $3 gloves I got from Bunnings Warehouse and jumped in. It may have been careless of me to try a new technique on a quilt that was not for me. However, I also felt that if I didn't give it a crack, then I might be held back by the same fear in future quilts. Besides, there was always my handy seam ripper to help me unpick if I really screwed it up.

I practiced doing a stipple on a small square of fabric, and then put my Kiwi Quilt under the needle and let rip. I was using my new Sulky PolyLite thread for the quilting and it came out very nicely.  Hopefully, I made Leah Day proud, but possibly more importantly - I definitely surprised myself and was super pleased with my effort. By the time I had finished quilting my hearts and the stipple to fill in the spaces between, I was much more confident, and actually very happy with the result. It's a hard thing to break out of your comfort zone and try something new, but ultimately if we keep letting that fear rule us, we would never try anything new. Therefore I think its sometimes important to take a leap of faith and give it a go. Quilt Brave, and be fierce in your dedication to hone your craft.

This time I was brave, comes and all in all, I think the resulting quilt was better for it (and yep - it definitely has a New Zealand flavour!). Would I be this brave in a quilt again? Absolutely.

Happy Quilting!

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