A Beginning

Dear Gwen,
You and Katie have asked what is my first project. Last year when Carl and Katie were married I promised Katie a quilt. I had already chosen the pattern and some of the fabric. And as a preview I showed her the cover of this book . Her quilt will be the one shown on the cover. It is called "Spring Irish Chain Quilt". The pillow shown is actually the Lily of the Valley center for 12 squares in the quilt, surrounded by the Irish Chain. Each of the L. of the V. squares is created in trapunto. This is the first project in which I have tried this technique. The square is actually composed of 2 layers of fabric. The top is the quilt fabric you will see in the finished top. The second layer is a Swiss batiste I purchased from a company in Louisiana. The motif is traced on to the batiste and then hand stitched through both layers along the design lines.
This first picture shows the front of the block. Photo credits belong to Dad. (He has a much better understanding with the new camera.) The color is very true in this picture. The second picture shows the trapunto a bit more clearly. To make the raised area yarn is slipped between the two layers. Each area is padded just enough to raise it without distorting the fabric. The instructions suggested using polyester thread to outline the motif. I thought about this for a total of 2 seconds, deciding that trapunto is a much older technique than the invention of polyester thread. So the traditionalist in me picked up the 100% cotton thread and began to stitch. In all fairness the suggestion of polyester thread was made to address a problem with the trapunto technique. As you manipulate the yarn into the areas the cloth does get stretched, resulting in the chance an outline stitch may snap. I have not had any problem with the cotton thread. Some instructions suggest a polyfill for the trapunto areas. I chose wool yarn. The first choice was the fluffy, delicate one on the left of the picture. It worked quite well except that it showed through the top fabric darker than I liked . So choice number two was the better yarn. The wool yarn will felt together over time and not migrate out of the channels and areas.

The next series of pictures shows the filling stitch in the trapunto areas. Working on the back side (batiste side) the threaded needle is slipped carefully between the two layers of fabric. The next stitch starts in the exit hole of the first stitch so that the yarn is drawn through the two layers. I continued working this area in a straight line until I reached the other side. Then I pulled out the needle and clipped the yarn close to the fabric. I worked in the ends of the yarn and closed any holes left in the batiste. Each area of the trapunto requires a few lines of wool to fill it completely.
This block seems to show a little distortion on the bottom edge so I will go back and remove a small amount of yarn from the fill in the center leaf. This should relieve the tension in that area and allow the fabric to flatten.

I am so excited to start this quilt. It incorporates an element from your quilt ( the similar piecing technique of your double nine patch) and motif quilting as in Carl's quilt. Dad suggested I make a quilt for us for my next one. It would be a nice way to celebrate our 30th anniversary in 3 years. Isn't that just the way it is....you get started on one and you have the next one simmering on the back burner.
love, Mom


gwendolina said...

SO lovely, the old-worldyness of "Swiss Batiste from Louisiana" and jamieson and smith cobweb lace Shetland wool is fabulous. That pattern is gorgeous.

gwendolina said...

ps - great pictures, Dad!

katie said...

I'm not exactly sure what to write, but I want you to know how special I feel when I see all of the hard work, time, planning, care, materials, etc. that are going into this quilt. It is going to be beautiful! I'm glad I get to be privy to some of the process - it makes me appreciate it so much more. I've been telling everyone that I think I have one of the best mother-in-laws ever and I'm pretty sure you've just given me one more reason to sing your praises. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

wow-incorporating both lily of the valley and ireland-how can you beat that- well I should really be thinking of what I could make for carl-so far I am sticking to the fill the freezer role-everyone needs to use their talents-mine is dirt and weeds.