Books and Quilts

I made a quilt for a The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell book party. It’s based on an illustrated map on the book’s inside cover.

A little about how I made the quilt:

  • I made the pattern from a photograph of the map that appears in the book. I went into Photoshop to bleach out some of the color, enlarge it, and turn it into a PDF. I printed the PDF out in tiles, which I taped together to make one large pattern. Then I cut the kingdoms out along their respective borders.
  • Once the kingdoms were traced out onto applique paper, I cut out the mountains and traced those out on applique paper, as well.
  • I ironed those pieces onto the back of my selected fabrics. Then I cut the fabrics a quarter to a half inch outside the applique paper borders. That allowed me to fold over the edges of the appliques so they wouldn’t unravel. (It was sort of a cross of the fusible and freeze-paper methods described here.) You’re not supposed to have to fold over the edges with fusibles, but after making many appliqued baby quilts with the traditional fusible technique, and having seen the tattery edges the appliques get after many machine washes, I fold edges over.
  • On some of the more complicated  or curvy shapes (beanstalk, tree top, one of the mountain ranges), I appliqued using the dryer sheet technique, modified for machine sewing rather than hand sewing.
  • All the ingredients (fabric, thread and batting) were from my stash. A lot of the stuff in this quilt is from fabric sample books, which you can get free at sewing and upholstery stores when they clean them out to make room for the new sample books that arrive each season.
  • The Northern Kingdom is from a fat quarter I got at a fabric swap at a friend’s house a while back.
  • The Elf Kingdom and the beanstalk came from the same swap, from a calico fabric that was probably made around the 1970s. You can see the same fabric in the border of another quilt here.
  • I have no idea where the Sleeping and Hidden Kingdoms came from – I’ve had that scrap of fabric around for ages. The last time I used a part of it was in 2006 to make animal appliques for my nephew’s birth quilt. It’s a nice fleecy texture – very soft. If I had a bolt of it, I would probably want to make it into a camel costume for Halloween.
  • The Red Riding Hood Kingdom is corduroy from the calf of what had been my favorite pair of pants circa 2005, until it got a big tear below the knee and I had to turn it into capris. Those pants were never the same. (Also, is that weird that I gave a stranger a quilt that includes a piece of my old clothing? I totally hadn’t thought of that. Oh, well, it’s clean.)
  • The ocean: Again, I don’t know where this came from. There was just enough of it to include it in the quilt. Like all the pieces of the map, it’s also an applique. All the pieces are sewn onto a light blue background, which you can’t see. I’d been planning to let that light blue serve as the ocean, but it was a little boring and when I realized there was just enough blue velvet to cover it, I could not resist.
  • The appliqued mountains and the Troll and Goblin Kingdom are also velvet, from tiny (approx. 4×7 inch) upholstery samples. That’s why none of them are quite the same color.
  • I did some machine embroidery on this one, which is always a challenge on a bottom-of-the-line machine that has no embroidery settings. But a close zigzag stitch can become many things if you give it a chance: pine trees, rivers, dirt paths, snow on a mountain top, leaves on a bean stalk, a tree trunk – even a troll bridge. Originally, in the Northern Kingdom, I’d planned to do appliqued mountains as I had in the rest of the quilt, but for some reason I changed my mind and embroidered them instead. In retrospect, I think an applique would have looked nicer, but it was an interesting exercise all the same.
  • The rivers were the funnest thing to applique, and I was glad to have a very shiny blue thread that complemented the velvet ocean and lakes nicely. That thread had been bought for a different project long ago – so long ago that, although I know I completed it (I can tell because plenty of thread had been used from the spool already), I have no idea what it was. If I hadn’t had that on hand, I would have used a cotton that was the same color, but not so iridescent.
  • The quilting on this was not elaborate. I did it by machine, outlining each kingdom, path and trail, and sketching details into the mountains and rocks.

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