I took on my first real commissioned quilt. It may have even started this time last year. A friend in far away California wanted a special and very specific quilt made.
It needed to be linen.
It needed a shield design with bees.
It was for someone in the SCA, which has very specific rules. (basically historical re-enactors)
Now, up until then, I hadn’t worked with linen in a quilt and I have said in the past I didn’t really like applique. The image I was given for the shield was roughly 4″ high. The finished quilt needed to be queen/king/as large as possible.
Plus, this was for a friend, so I wanted it to be as perfect as possible, right?
Work on this really started in earnest back in October / November. the recipient finally got it last week. That is how long it took me. It might have taken less time without the creative angst.
I had to do a lot of manual figuring out of things. The natural linen I managed to find at an incredible price online and bought all of what they had left – it was either 8.5 or 10 yards. Just barely enough. The purple and yellow were bought locally at a chain store, 1 meter of yellow, 2 of purple.
The shield part I figured out by laying out on my own queen sized bed and draping the fabric. The width of the shield is the full 45″ width of the fabric. I drew the rest of the shield according to historical direction. I had to do the curves with a pencil and string compass.
For the bees, again I had to go by my best guesstimate. I took the image I was given, enlarged it significantly and cleaned it up in Photoshop the best I could, then I printed it out, traced it out while cleaning up and smoothing out the lines and checked the fit.
The yellow part of the shield was tricky and I did have to ask the client if the bee in this section needed to be bigger or not. Technically it should have been for greater accuracy but we decided this was good enough. I appliqued the contrast areas to each bee first, then applied them to the shield itself.
I then pinned the shield super carefully on the pieced top and sewed that on with a zig zag applique stitch like the rest.
When it came time to baste, some of the top and back was actually larger than the queen sized piece of batting. I did use 100% cotton batting. Lots of careful pinning and trimming here. This living / dining room of ours is a huge room, but we still had to push back one loveseat and the dining room table in order to baste the whole thing.
My design for quilting the shield area was all stippling and outlining the bees. This was for movement to mimic how bees seem to meander everywhere. in the main quilt background, I decided a simple crosshatch grid would not only look great but be reminiscent of medieval quilted armour padding. Especially good since it was this era the client re-enacted, so it would be close to historical. While I did machine quilt it, I also used 100% cotton thread here too. I have a super huge cone of beige thread that I’m still not sure when i might ever see the end of. I think it’s 10,000 yards.
I used my 18″ by 3″ wide ruler to help create the gird and marked it with tailor’s chalk in a rust color. It was slow going and I did get off course a bit but managed to correct it when I met in the middle. I started at one side, then moved to the other to join up at the bottom front where I could work out any misalignments in a low visibility area.
Next time i Need to use a yardstick or something longer.
Back of the quilt showing some piecing.
Back of the shield area showing the bees.
The quilt after washing. YES I tossed it in my washer and dryer to see how it held up and to repair anything that needed to be resewn. Nothing came undone. I wanted this quilt to be able to handle the rigours of use. If you think a cotton quilt looks amazing after washing a linen one is fantastic. This is so warm feeling and heavy – not to mention soft. I had just barely enough linen left with some trimming to do the single fold binding. I think I cut 2″ strips, so it was quite narrow. I machine stitched it on.
The client is absolutely over the moon and I am super happy.
I did a few small projects after this one though. 😉 While working on this I think I went through two whole seasons of the X Files on Netflix.
From my notes, I used:
3 bobbins purple thread
7 bobbins beige thread
And spent 9 hours, 40 mins quilting, marking and making / applying binding. Does not include piecing or design time. That was at least another 3 hours.