Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Oh {Wonky} Christmas Tree!

Trees and trunks

I finished a project! I know, I'm as surprised as anyone. This is probably the first quilting project I have finished in two years, which was probably a baby quilt. And this one is even smaller! 

It's Christmas in July - a wonky tree wallhanging requested by my stepmom. Well, she requested a Christmas wallhanging and this is what I decided to do. I was going to add in a little triangle Santa at the bottom. But then I figured that the trees alone could be wintery and Christmassy, so she can leave it up thru the winter season (which in Minnesota is quite a long time!). 

I think it's about 22" x  34". I really wanted to make three hanging loops, so it would hang lower, but I couldn't come up with a way to do that that I made sense to me... So, I went with a very thin sleeve. I didn't tack it down to the back because I didn't want the top of the hanging to sit above the rod.

Oh {Wonky} Christmas Tree

In typical me-fashion, this started out as one thing and ended up as another. I wanted to do this as a paper-piecing project - precise and crisp. Then naturally, because I am not precise and I am not good at following directions, things went wrong pretty quickly. The original plan got scrapped and wonky won the day. But, I like the visual interest of the wonky trees and trunks. So, it all worked out. 

Wonky Trees detail

I thought long and hard about the quilting. I am a terrible free motion quilter. Terrible. I know it's about practice, but having the right tools and the right set up is also important. I'm in the midst of moving house, so I definitely don't have any of those things, which I'm sure affected this attempt. But all my other attempts have been pretty abysmal as well. Also, I broke my walking foot a couple years ago, so straight-line is a bit challenging. I looked at other people's beautiful swirls and snowflakes and other intricate designs on their Christmas tree quilts and knew that those were pretty far outside my abilities. But I really didn't want to ruin the whole project with crap quilting.

First, I tried some free-hand square-ish motifs at the the bottom. They do not look great, but are ok. Then I used my regular piecing foot (feed dogs up) and made the triangles between the trees. That actually worked out pretty well. I think the feed dogs helped keep the stitches more even.

Wonky Trees detail Wonky Trees detail

I added a wonky star at the top for interest. I actually started to machine quilt the main negative space in large concentric triangles on the sides, but that quickly got away from me, as my basting had shifted somewhat and as I got closer to the center, there was too much excess fabric bunching up. So - my friend, the seam ripper came out. Then, I spritzed the wallhanging with a little water and gave it a press and the holes pretty much closed up. I was very relieved since I don't plan on washing this one and there were a ton of holes!

Since I had been so disappointed with my efforts to FMQ, I decided it would be a good idea to hand-quilt the remainder of the negative space. I'm not really sure if it turned out to be a good idea, but I figured I could do that better than using the machine. I never really got the thimble/rocking motion down, so each of these stitches is exactly that - one stitch at a time. Not efficient, but ultimately effective.

Wonky Trees detail

I intended to hand-quilt the trees, as well but then I decided I liked them plain. I think that the star and the hand quilting give it a slightly folky feel, which detracts a little bit from the more modern/contemporary feel that I was going for. But overall, I am pretty happy with it and I hope that my stepmom likes it.

To end on an up note, I think that this is probably one of the most successful machine bindings I have ever done. Maybe because it is such a small project. There is one tiny blip on the right side that I can see and that bothers me, but not enough to unpick it and re-do it. With a little pressing, it hangs fine.

So many ideas and designs floating around my head. When we move I will be able to have a dedicated corner in a room to sew, so I hope that I will be able to get back into it and check a few things off of my list!