Thursday, December 14, 2017

Smitten the Quilt, It's Finally Finished!


Oh, the weather outside is frightful,
but Smitten the Quilt is delightful!

(I'm pretty sure my hubby wasn't humming this when he was holding the quilt up for me to take the photo but maybe was thinking it would have been nice if I had finished this last week when there wasn't any snow on the ground and the temperature was a tad bit warmer.)
Winter, Spring, Summer and Fall or just one month shy of one year is how long it took for me to make my Smitten Quilt.  It had all of the makings to be a project lasting for several years so this was an unexpected finally finish for me since the top was just done at the beginning of October, (you can read about it here). It could have hibernated for a few years as many of my previous tops have, but this must be my year for finishing up quilts, because who would have thunk that I could handquilt Smitten in a little over six weeks? Certainly not moi!
After finishing up some other projects and experiencing some trepidation since I've never handquilted a large quilt before, Smitten was basted and handquilting started by the end of October.  I was curious to know how Jen Kingwell basted her quilts for handquilting and was surprised to learn she uses a tagging gun or what I call a basting gun which I happened to have.  I purchased my June Tailor Basting Gun well over ten years ago and never used it because at that time they said in order to use it properly, you needed to purchase a separate plastic grid which lifts the quilt up off the table so the plastic tags could be inserted.  I didn't buy one so the basting gun just sat on my shelf.   Now, all you have to do is once the quilt top, batting and backing are laying nice and flat on the table, you just lift the quilt sandwich with your fingers and insert the tag.  I was hesitant at first since I didn't want to shoot my fingers with that very sharp needle but happily I can say it never happened.  Believe me, the whole world would have heard my scream if it did.  And it only took a half hour and three rows of tags and my quilt was basted.  I also remember another problem quilters had with using the basting gun was that the tags left a small hole once it was removed and I have to say it does, but thankfully they're on the back and not the on the front of the quilt.  Since my basting gun is old, there's a possibility that this won't happen with the newer guns and tags. What was really nice was that these tags held the layers together very nicely while I was handquilting and I removed them each time a block was handquilted.
The quilt was backed with a very nice, silky-feeling piece of 60" wide dark blue and white shirting stripe fabric I had in my stash and perfect for the 48"x60" quilt. The batting used was Fat Quarter Shop's 50/50 Bamboo Blend Happy Cloud Batting.  I am not a hand quilter so I can't say the handquilting "felt like butter" as I have read in some batting reviews but I will say I didn't experienced any difficulties and the quilt lays nice and flat.  
I handquilted with Cosmo and DMC embroidery floss and used both embroidery and sharp needles.  I did not use a thimble and the tip of my index finger on my right hand is a little sore.  While digging through my embroidery floss shelf, I found this sweet Longaberger basket to hold my supplies.  FYI, the cup on the lower left side is for garbage in case you're wondering.  I also did not use a hoop, I lap quilted it like Jen Kingwell does but instead of my lap, I laid the quilt on top of my nice, large kitchen table which is right near the TV.
Here's are some close-up photos of the quilts.  As mentioned before, I am not a handquilter which is pretty evident by some of the uneven utility stitching you can see.  It was rather cumbersome when I was handquilting the blocks in the center which may account for the large, uneven stitching.  I will say that I do like the feel and softness of handquilting. I thought it was ironic that right before this quilt was finished, I happened to see a blogpost on flat stitch sewing for paper piecing which is used when you don't want to see the whip stitching on your paper-pieced blocks.  I can say there is whip stitching galore on my quilt and I don't have a problem with seeing how the pieces were sewn together.  Before I started Smitten, I watched a Sue Daley tutorial on paper piecing and used a light silver 100% polyester thread when sewing the paper pieces and the blocks together as she recommends.  I wouldn't change anything about how I pieced Smitten except maybe I should have sewn the pieces together more tightly.
Here are some more photos of Smitten from afar and
on the floor which I am thankful that Sophie, the World's Worst Dog, did not come running into the room to jump on it while I was taking this photo.  I will admit my piecework and handquilting is far from being heirloom quality and the stitching is not as sturdy as I would have liked.  I had to resew several block seams, after the hand quilting was finished, with some mighty fine whip stitching which you can really see.  I mentioned in a previous post my Smitten Quilt will not be used for curling up with but will be hanging on the wall.  The only wall suitable upstairs is in the dining area of my kitchen and unless I hang a clear piece of vinyl over the quilt I don't think so. I can envision flying spaghetti sauce landing on it and I don't think this quilt would survive being machine washed or if it does, there's going to be even more mighty fine whip stitching to mend it.  I guess I should have realized that this quilt would be a little too narrow and a little big too long for my walls in the bedroom and family room and maybe should have made one less row of blocks--lesson learned for next time.  I'll be hanging it up in my sewing studio which might be the right place after all--it's a no judge zone.

Netflix just released some stats saying over 140 million hours of content is viewed everyday and a list of the shows most binge watched and I'm surprised none of the shows I watched while making Smitten made the list. I've watched the complete seasons of Gilmore Girls, the sequel A Year in the Life, Blue Bloods (still loving Tom Selleck), some movies and documentaries, several seasons of Fixer Upper and started watching The Crown.  I wouldn't be surprised if I spent over 500 hours watching TV while working on Smitten.  This was one handpiecing project that I did at home and when I did take it on the road with me just the one time, I got into a little bit of trouble, (you can read about it here).

My friend Carol, who got me started on my Smitten Quilt, is still my friend and just has a few small blocks left to sew and then the side blocks before she can start assembling the top.  She's hoping to get it done in 2018 but that's when we're suppose to be starting Jen Kingwell's Glitter quilt.  I'm sure we can discuss it some more when I see her this weekend for her 50th Wedding Anniversary Luncheon and I'm good with waiting a year.  BTW, this is the second Kingwell project I completed this year, Flutterby being the first one and I've already finished Gypsy Wife several years ago. I'm thinking that I've been challenged enough for the next few years so I can justify doing some easy quilting for awhile, so strip piecing here I sew, but after the Secret Santa quilts are finished.
Cheryl Brickey of Mountain Mist Designs has announced the Best of 2017 Linky Party will be starting Tuesday, December 26th, (you can check out the details here).  Cheryl has hosted these linky parties in years past and I am looking forward to participating in my first "Best" party.
And just when I was about to publish my post, I received my Patreon reward from Quilting Jet Girl.  Yvonne just posted about her December Mini Mini Quilts yesterday (you can read about it here) and I was so surprised to receive it today.  To become a supporter, which I wholeheartedly encourage, please check out Yvonne's Patreon site (you can read about it here).  I am not going to have any problems finding a place in my studio to hang up my mini, mini quilt--it is beautiful beyond words.

Happy Holiday Sewing!

Linking up with: My Quilt Infatuation, Thursday Needle and Thread, Crazy Mom's Finish It Up Friday, Confessions of a Fabric Addict, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop Friday, and Busy Hands Quilts, Finish or Not Friday

34 comments :

  1. What a huge task of hand quilting that beautiful quilt you have accomplished! And is such a short time...it would take me years to do that. Mainly because I don't have the patience to sit and do something that takes so long. Congrats on a beautiful finish (and a wonderful husband who tolerates the cold)!

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    1. Thanks Shannon! It's nice to finish Smitten and it's hanging in my studio now. I't time to finish up some quilts now, I'm almost at the point of waiting until the last minute. I'm going to hate when it gets really too cold to take the photos outside, indoor photos never turn out well.

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  2. Rose congratulations on a beautiful finish and major accomplishment. I can't even imagine doing hand quilting. I saw that mini from Yvonne on her post and thought how lucky you will be when that makes it's way to you.

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    1. Thanks Jan! When I first started quilting, I thought I would have to hand quilt but I knew after making the first quilt I wouldn't have the time to hand quilt. It was nice to do the hand quilting on Smitten but I think I would only do it on smaller quilts in the future. I am loving my mini mini quilt.

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  3. Wow, that quilt is quite an achievement! It looks like heirloom to me, and that hand quilting looks gorgeous on it. Congratulations on an amazing finish!

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    1. Thanks Liz! If you were to see the quilt in person, you may change your mind. I do love seeing it hanging up in the studio.

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  4. Can you hear it? I'm whooping and hollering here and dancing around the room for you and your Smitten quilt finish! Yay, Rose! It's a beautiful quilt and I think hanging it in your sewing room is just the place for it! I love your little mini mini (and I'm just a tad jealous). Congratulations!

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    1. Thanks Wendy. I'm loving seeing Smitten hanging in my studio. Unlike the other Kingwell projects I've done, I may want to make another one, smaller version and big hexies only. Those little 1" triangles were killers. I thought you would be a little jealous of the mini, mini quilt.

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  5. Wow, I am smitten by your Smitten! Those block centers are so cute! And so quick. For a hand pieced, hand quilted project that was fast! That is definitely an heirloom. It's the kind of quilt that has so many surprises, it's just fun to look it over again and again.

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    1. Thanks Nancy! I am loving the Smitten quilt and you are right about looking at it over again and again. This is one quilt I love putting all the pieces together.

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  6. I love 💕 that quilt. It is just gorgeous. Funny how if we get motivated it becomes easy. I, too, plan on joining in on the linky party, but we’re traveling that day so I better get that post going. I have Jen Kingwell’s small world, but am going to give that another year before I start, I think.

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    1. Thanks Kathleen. I can't wait to see which posts are on your 2017 Link. I always liked the Small World pattern but have read of problems with the pattern. I don't know what it is about Kingwell patterns, you do one and swear you won't do another but you end up doing another, it's almost an addiction to quilt torture. ha ha

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  7. Saw your pic on Sarah's party and had to come right over. Your Smitten is beautiful! Love the side triangles - just the right background. Must add it to my Kingwell bucket list. Merry Christmas.

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    1. Thanks Angie. Out of the three Kingwell patterns I did, Smitten is my favorite and am sort of missing working on it. I may end up making so more hexies, but only the big ones, the tiny paper pieces were not so fun. I hope you add Smitten to your bucket list.

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  8. So gorgeous that I am speechless!!!

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    1. Thanks Preeti! I am happy that Smitten is finished now. I have to catch up with the Christmas quilts now.

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  9. I'm so impressed with you hand quilting and everything! Great finish!

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  10. WOW! This is gorgeous Rose! I have always wanted to make this quilt, now I think I will have to start straightaway! I learned to EPP from Sue Daley herself. She did a trunk show at my LQS about seven years ago when EPP was in its early 'revival' days! And I will happily piece her way. The fineness of the stitches doesn't worry me at all! I think your quilt will hold up fine! Beautiful!

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    1. Thanks Suz. I think you will like making Smitten because I know you will come up with the most beautiful fabric combinations. And lucky you for learning EPP from Sue Daly. I'm glad I sew her video because I would never have thought of using polyester thread.

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  11. I’m also smitten with your beautiful quilt! I just bought a new book by Jen. I hope to start a new project from it next year.

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    1. Thank you for stopping by; I appreciate your comments. I have Jen's Quilt Lovely book and have already made a version of Flutterby and hoping someday to start Glitter. BTW, I read one of your earlier post about making a Christmas ornament with folded fabric and thanks to you I got the bug to make one now. I've already watched a video and am just waiting for the styrofoam balls to arrive in the mail.

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  12. Smitten is beautiful, Rose! I'm impressed that you did it all by hand. I like to keep a hand sewing project going but mine are always small, and the still take me 2 years! Gilmore Girls is one of my all-time favorites, I hope you enjoyed it!

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    1. Thanks Emily. I'm going to have to come up with another sewing project for the road since we're planning several road trips next year. I'm feeling sort of lost without having Smitten to work on even though I have another hexie project which was in the works before.

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    1. Thank you Melody! I am smitten too and I really liked this pattern and may consider doing another version of it.

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  14. Wow! This is so impressive. Congrats on the absolutely beautiful finish!

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    1. Thanks Jasmine! I love Smitten but I think you would agree I need some down time now with some strip sewing.

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  15. A beautiful quilt Rose! And so very special with all your hand quilting too! Have a happy Xmas.

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  16. It's so pretty, and that hand quilting just makes it looks extra comfy-cozy!!!

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    1. Thank you Karen! I really like the way the hand quilting felt on this quilt and hope to hand quilt again on a quilt which will be made for cuddling.

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  17. Goodness, Rose, there's so much here it's hard to figure out where to start. Smitten is a good place so let me just say I love, love, love it. Hand quilting was definitely the way to go. Did you find that your hand quilting improved as you worked on the quilt? I always do and end up wishing I had practiced on a "meh" quilt beforehand. Of course, I never do that!
    Really it's beautiful. I love the colors--you have just the right amount of that pretty blue. I tried to count to figure out how many different blocks there are, but it's too confusing. (I'm such a cheat, but I can't help myself. I want to know everything.)

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  18. Thanks Mary! You were right about the hand quilting, there definitely is a difference between the hand quilting of the first blocks and the last blocks but then again the first blocks were in the center and it was kind of cumbersome maneuvering the quilt. It definitely was easier when I got to the edge. There were 28 large hexagons, 6 half hexagons and 12 side triangles and I am happy and still amazed I finished Smitten.

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