It's finally finished! Well almost...
Regular readers will have seen a sneaky peek a few weeks back but, many hours of hand quilting later, I have got it finished enough to include it in the wonderful Blogger's Quilt Festival.
It is a special surprise quilt for my sister's 60th birthday (which was on Tuesday). So if you are reading this Jane, shut your eyes now and move away from the computer! Jane knows she is getting a quilt but hasn't a clue what it will look like. But Jane, when you do read this later, I want you to know that this quilt was REALLY hard to make!
I was actually inspired to make this quilt after seeing a beautiful version in last Autumn's Quilt Festival, made by Two Dogs and a Quilt. I wanted to make another quilt with plenty of blank space so I could do some heavy hand quilting. I loved the way this had turned out in my double wedding ring quilt, and was looking for an idea for something similar. The spider web design looked perfect. I remember also seeing one in a book of 'optical illusion' quilts many years ago and had loved the kaleidoscopic effect.
I started it just after Christmas and originally I experimented with keeping each 'web' in a separate colour theme (blue and red, green and purple - you can just about see this in the photo below, slightly distracting as it is pinned on to another half finished quilt with another quilt behind!) but, as I added more colour themes I felt something wasn't working.
So I put it away for a few months as we were very busy anyway with our shop. When I got it back out (after I realised how close to her birthday it was getting and started panicking!) I randomised all the colours and the effect was much more interesting. Each slice of web is a different colour theme and each web is made up of 8 different themes, so each piece of fabric was posistioned with a lot of thought. I think this was one reason that the whole thing seemed to take so long!
Usually I just whiz along when I am machine piecing. I can get a log cabin done in a few hours, but this one... Each of the triangular slices took 15 mins and there are 324 of them!! So that's 81 hours!!! And then they have to be sewn together!
Just a warning to anyone thinking about starting one of these - make sure you have plenty of time on your hands.
I used the white fabric as a foundation and just pieced on to that. I didn't mark it but just did everything by eye as I didn't want it to be as regular as most of the spider webs I had seen. I liked the fact I could 'randomise' the webs and sort of squash their shape, and I think the overall effect keeps your eye moving around the quilt more.
However because I had pieced the original webs to go together in a certain way, when I re-arranged them there was some extreme randomness. This meant I had to deliberatly un-match the slices of some of the later webs so that it wouldn't look odd in a particular corner. It was quite hard trying to deliberately mis-match things! It's just a good job I am not a naturally neat person!
You can get a better idea of how I made it with the photo above. I just pieced it all with scraps or with new pieces of fabric, rough cut, and then trimmed it from the back afterwards. I tried to use as many scraps as possible but aesthetics won out over thriftyness in most cases!
I pieced too many stripes too close to the points in the first few and only realised my mistake when I started putting them together. The middles were too bulky with seams and you couldn't see the smallest stripes anyway. And then about two thirds of the way through I realised I could cut away the foundation fabric at the points and make the whole thing much flatter in the center of the webs. I can't believe I didn't think about this earlier - duh!! It was too late to do anything by then as I had been piecing as I went along. But if anyone else uses this method then this is a really good tip!
Here is the quilt top finally finished. Phew!
I think another reason it took SO LONG was because the pattern meant I had to make it bigger then I usually would have. I didn't want to cut the spider webs in half so I had to go another block all the way around. which also meant that there is a lot of plain white around the edges. So I decided to turn the edges of the quilt top over to the back and sew them under. I haven't finished this way before but I thinks it looks quite neat and meant I avoided binding in another colour, I thought the quilt was just too busy for that. There's nothing fancy on the back, I do admire you quilters who make beautiful pieced backs, but time was just too short and I didn't want more seams making the quilting any harder (so it is just a white sheet, sshh!)
I did spend a LOT of hours on the hand quilting (all in the last 4 weeks - a lot of late nights!). It is a bit of a slog but I love the way the white 'stars' look. I still have some quilting to do in the white areas around the edge and there are 2 big blank corners to fill. I have been thinking about quilting '60' there but not sure how much my sister wants to be reminded of her age! Anyway I figured it was finished enough to include in the Quilt Festival and now I have another week to finish those edges as I am taking the quilt down to Jane, week Tuesday (as long as the stupid ash clouds don't make a re-appearence!).
I'm off to take a look at all the other quilts now and hopefully find some inspiration for my next quilt! Make sure you all go and visit too - I have updated the links so they take you direct to the right page. Here is another link to Amy's blog. Thanks so much Amy, for hosting this fantastic event!