A chemical quilt

This weekend, ‘him indoors’ and I had our 11 years anniversary. My life has totally turned around since meeting him and in a good way. Last year I bought the Anitagoodesign package called ‘Periodic table of quilting and embroidery’, as I wanted to have a quilt which symbolised our special tenth anniversary. Well, time came and went and it didn’t get done. I had bought the fabric and the software and was all set but things got in the way and probably I just didn’t give it the focus it needed and deserved. This is one of the reasons why ‘focus’ is my word for this year. It’s also why I’m so chuffed to have finally got it done.Quilted table of elements anniversary wall hanging

The reason it’s really relevant is that Chris is in the chemical industry and his degree was in Chemistry. I’m not scientific in the slightest and I only liked biology at school, as I fancied the teacher! I clearly love sewing, so this wall hanging shows that even though we are quite different in so many ways, we can still work together effectively. I chose those colours also because the purple is my fave colour and blue is his.

Now if that was all I wanted to say it would be a very short blog post but no, I want to explain more about how this sort of project is completed. Like I said, it was meant to be done last year but these things are not quick to finish.

If you want to annoy someone who enjoys machine embroidery, then say something like this:

“All you have to do is press a button and it does it all for you”

I hope to explain some of the myths behind this brilliant craft and help the people who say such hurtful things, realise that it’s not that simple at all and really adds so much creative possibility to everything you make.

What does the embroidery machine provide?

It provides an amazing arsenal in our toolbox for sewing. The machine needs a human to be knowledgeable enough to make it be successful. It just does as it’s told.

What does the embroidery machine not provide?

It does not complete projects on it’s own. There isn’t an option for it to assemble wall hangings by itself. A personalised creativity button doesn’t exist.

 What did I need to create this project?

  • The Anita Goodesign pattern software which I bought from Lords Sewing
  • Specially designed polyester thread – I got mine from Doris who runs embroideredjust4u
  • Cotton thread for piecing the blocks.
  • Invisible thread for sewing the back of the binding down.
  • Tearaway stabiliser, which I got from GS-UKDirect
  • 100% cotton fabric
  • Wadding – I used a cotton/polyester blend which Janet from A Rainbow of stitches
  • My embroidery machine.
  • A domestic sewing machine.

Invisible thread used for sewing binding

What are the stages involved?

  • Decide which size each block will be.
  • Cut the fabric pieces and wadding to the correct size for each block.
  • Figure out which design each block will have.
  • Work out which colour thread will be used on the various parts of the project.
  • Which stabiliser best suits the project?
  • Check which size hoop you will use.
  • Decide what colour fabric will be used for the applique sections.
  • Transfer the designs you choose onto a usb stick and ensure that your machine can read them.
  • Follow the instructions included in the pattern (exactly the same as everyone with ‘normal’ sewing does.) This involves many stages from stitching outlines onto the hooped stabiliser to stitching the wadding in place; removing the hoop from the machine and trimming the wadding layer; re-inserting the hoop for the top fabric layer to be stitched down; changing threads when you choose; adding the applique fabric at the appropriate time and removing the hoop to trim that applique before continuing with the next stage of the design. Repeat that for all 72 blocks.
  • Stitch all blocks together on a domestic sewing machine in the order required by you.
  • Cut the backing fabric a couple of inches larger than the front section and secure to the front to enable you to quilt those layers together with a domestic sewing machine. Once complete trim the project to match the size of the front panel.
  • Create the binding.
  • Create the sleeve, which is used to hang it on the pole.
  • Sew the binding on, including the top part of the sleeve in the correct place.
  • Hand stitch the lower part of the sleeve in place.

TA DAH! Job done! …. now breathe.  A quilted table of elements wall hanging

And I’ve tried to be very basic in that list of instructions!

I could’ve free-motion quilted those sections myself. I could cut each letter for the applique myself. This whole project could be done without the use of an embroidery machine. I chose to do it on my embroidery machine because I enjoy it! How about mixing up your machine embroidery with hand embroidery or applique or your own free-motion. There are loads of techniques available to really let your projects shine with your special influence.

Most of us sew because we love to

You could sew every sheet, every item of clothing, every tea towel, every towel. I am not going to do that though because that’s not enjoyable and besides, I need to live my life at the same time as doing sewing.

So, next time you might feel inclined to mock someone who has used an embroidery machine, think on. It does include alot of skill and knowledge. It can take up alot of time. It does include alot of creative decision making.

Also consider how women in the 1940’s would view your machine with it’s needle up/down function and with it’s automatic buttonholes and all the other fancy gubbins modern day domestic sewing machines have.

Take care and respect everyone’s efforts to be creative and have a hobby which gives them great joy.


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