Archives

The ‘Palat!’ Mini Quilts!

One of the eight `Palat!’ (Turn Around!) miniquilts…

A few months ago, eight classmates, who studied together in Grades 8 and 9, got connected after nearly fifty years – on an online chat group. Within a couple of weeks, they were talking of meeting in real life. The venue was to be my city and the occasion, my birthday! Naturally, I had to think of a very special gift for my seven girlfriends, three of whom would travel from 250kms, another three from a 1000kms and the seventh from right across the world!

It was not be just another bag, or cushion cover, or mugrug or whatever! It had to have a deeper significance, something that resonated with all of us.   I thought of our ties of friendship, which time could not weaken, for we, each of us, knew each other when we did not know who we would become, before we learnt to wear masks to fool the world…And now that we had found each other, we were not going to lose each other! Mini quilts these were to be!

I visualized eight girls holding hands, in a circle perhaps? Scrolling through Pinterest, I came across a hand-embroidered design of two sisters holding hands and pointing out to a rainbow and something clicked in my mind! The designer, Jessica, mentioned how she had modeled the hair of the two little girls after her own daughters.

The Design Process

I liked the fact that you saw the back of the two girls, and so I decided my girls would also have their backs to the viewer, representing our collective roots in the past. I would have the eight friends hold hands, to represent what we meant to each other, literally and figuratively. Gazing at distant horizons, we would be seeking our own rainbows, together and individually… I also wanted the quilt to be special for each girl. I thought then of one colour from the rainbow for each girl. The eighth colour could be aqua. The dresses of the girls would be appliqued in fabric in their respective colours. But I baulked at the thought of having to appliqué 64 dresses! Another design decision was taken. Each girl’s quilt would have just her dress appliquéd; the rest would be just ‘thread-sketched’.

It so happened that the eight girls names began with Sa, Ra ( two of them), Ga, Ma, Pa, Dha and Nee which are the names of the musical notes in Indian music! The girls, therefore, stood in that order. Why did I begin with the red and end at the violet, instead of vice versa? Because I could be either green or aqua, depending on which way I started, and I preferred the aqua to the green!

To echo the rainbow theme, the backing would be strip pieced in the eight colours. I even had the perfect fabric for it, a Bali Batik jelly roll gifted by my friend, Elvira Threeyama of Chez Viez Quilts. Each girl could sign on her own colour strip at the back, and we would each have quilts signed by all the others.

The next step was to scroll through all our class photographs to zero in on the hairstyles of the eight friends. I drafted the pattern of eight little girls, with hairstyles matching their hairstyles from high school, standing in a straight line. The girls were wearing shifts, like in the original pattern by Jessica of Cutesy Crafts. I was finally ready to ‘test’ my pattern.

The ‘Test’ Quilt

The first quilt was to be my quilt; all the experimentation was to be done on this! My pattern was to finish at  15″ x 21″ approximately. To make best use of my jelly roll strips, I cut them into three pieces, approximately 14″ long and added a 3.5″ black strip at the bottom and two 3.5″ black strips on either side to make up the width and length. Once I had my backing strip-pieced and ready, I got around to preparing the ‘top’.

I taped the pattern to a sunlit window and traced it to my light coloured fabric with a pigment ink marker with a micro tip. For the quilt sandwich, I used a polyfill batting. Using Pam Holland’s method, what she calls ‘ Quilting with Character and Charisma’ I machine quilted over my traced figures very slowly, adding in details as I went along. Once I reached ‘my’ figure, I did ‘raw-edge appliqué’ around the aqua dress (which I had glued on with a dab of school glue to ‘my figure’). This quilting took me about two hours, including the dress 👗 preparation.

The ‘Palat!’ miniquilt : I used a ‘Fabrico’ ink pen to colour the socks and hair ribbons red, like in our school dress.

To trace the rainbow, I marked a point at the centre bottom and rotated a 12″ ruler on the quilt, marking with a pencil as I went along. I used the needle-to-presser foot edge distance to space and quilt the various colours of the rainbow. I also did a bit of ‘outlining’ in the other dresses with thread!

My ‘Palat’ Miniquilt, with the rainbow in place.

The Learning

-The indigo and violet were too dark and the quilting did not show up at the back. I would need lighter shades for the rest of the quilts.

-I also forgot to reverse the colours in the backing and the ‘violet’ girl lined up on the red strip! The girls did not ‘stand’ in their respective colours, but nothing could be done about this, as the coloured strips were two inches wide.

-Black was not a good choice for the ‘additional’ strips. A lighter colour, preferably the same as the front, was needed.

The Aqua ‘Palat’ Miniquilt – the back left a lot to be desired!

For the life of me I could not see myself quilting seven more rainbows! Very tedious!

If I had to make seven more of these quilts, I would have to make it more interesting for myself! Perhaps they could all wear bell bottoms, which were such a rage in the late sixties, in one? Skirts in another? Lacy frocks in yet another? What about ‘lungis’ (sarongs) also very popular then?

So that is what I did!

‘ ‘Palat!’ : Sa’ in her red bell bottoms! See her hair? Where I began and ended the quilting!

The ‘Palat’ Miniquilt – RaY in her orange box-pleated skirt


The ‘Palat’ Miniquilt -Ru thinks I have short-changed her and given her the plainest dress! Don’t miss the strands of ‘hair’ below her ribbon!

A thin satin ribbon makes up the belt of Ga’s frock! I later added a tatting lace to the frock…

The ‘Palat’ Miniquilt : Actually, my quilt is the saddest looking! The embroidery on the dress is also pretty shabby!

The ‘Palat’ Miniquilt : I love Pa’s A-line dress! See that little lace I made, by cutting out holes at the edge?

Dha wears an indigo coat with a huge box pleat at the back, accessorized with boots and a crocheted muffler! I did rows of chain stitch around the neck to hold the muffler in place.

For Nee’s blouse I found a piece of fabric from a dress that had actually belonged to her some 50 years ago! This was a hexagon from scraps she had given to me for my hexagon quilt!

The Dedication and the Quilt Label

For the quilt labels, I downloaded free vector images of hot air balloons from the Internet and printed them on special computer printer fabric, which I had bought on my last visit to the USA. I then quilted these on to the front of the quilts.

The ‘gift tags’ on the quilts were hot air balloons, printed on fabric and then raw edge quilted to the front.

On the back, I fused the dedication cum label!

The back carried the names of the eight friends and the quilter’s name and date.

The Binding

I originally planned to bind the each of the quilts in its special theme colour. I began with the yellow, but then thought black would look nicer. Here are the bindings!

The binding…


The Reunion

Before I conclude this story and start posting more pictures, I have to share with you what we did at the reunion! Besides catching up on each other’s lives in late night sessions, talking non-stop, giggling continuously, screeching and screaming and having the time of our lives.

Of course, we signed our quilts for each other. We also went and bought tied and dyed ‘leheriya’ stoles, in the colours of the miniquilts; each wore a stole in ‘her’ colour! Don’t forget to check out the photos of the eight friends in their stoles!


Before I forget, why is this quilt called ‘Palat!’? Palat ! is a Hindi word meaning ‘Turn Around!’ Almost every one with whom I shared the quilt told me they wanted the girls to turn around and show them their faces!

So here come the pics! Beginning with the girls as they did ‘Palat!’

When the girls turned around…

Here are the pictures, front and back of each of the quilts.

The backs of the eight quilts…

…and the fronts of the eight minis.

And here are the close ups of the eight dresses!

Close ups of the dresses…

The two who wore bell bottoms.

…and three who wore shifts!

The eight quilts, laid out to receive their intended owners…

I laid out the miniquilts on the dining table and invited the girls over to help me lay the table…

…who were delighted to receive them!

To say they were surprised would be an understatement!

Well, so that was the story of my Palat! Miniquilts. Do stay tuned in to find out what I have been up to in the last few days!

Scallops and Irises – A Wonky Log Cabin Mini Quilt

Scalloped borders with facing on the mini…

I don’t remember if I blogged about this miniature quilt, which I began exactly a year ago, to the date! 

The nine 2.5″ blocks had been foundation paper pieced and joined, waiting for the border and the binding, all of which was cut out and waiting.  I have been long wanting to experiment with a scalloped border and this seemed a good place to try it out!  It took me hours to do this, because I could not find any tutorials on this. It seems every time I want to go somewhere, I have to invent the wheel!

So here is a pictorial tute on how to make scallops on the border to your mini! If anyone is interested in the scallop pattern for a 10″ mini quilt, you can message me on my Facebook page ‘Patchwork of my Life’ and I will be happy to share it with you.  You can increase the number of scallops in 2″ increments ( or reduce them!). 

1. Get your quilt top ready. Add the batting and backing, ready for quilting. 

2. Quilt the centre of your quilt, leaving the outermost border ( which will be scalloped) unquilted. I did a simple stitch in the ditch around the blocks and  inner deep purple border.

3. Pin the scallop pattern on the border, leaving 1/4″ seam allowance beyond the paper pattern.

The 1″ wide scallop pattern was pinned in place on the border. Note the 1/4″ seam allowance beyond the border.


4. Mark the outline by stitching on the scallop line. I used a 1.5 stitch length. 

Sew along the scallop line.


5. Remove the paper; the small stitch length makes it easy. 

Remove the paper.


6. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ beyond the scallop. ( I also added a line of echo quilting within the scallop). 

Do any further quilting that you wish to. Trim the seam allowance to 1/4″ beyond the scallop.


7. When I reached this stage, I realized that I needed a bias binding for the scallops! And all I had was a 1.25″ wide straight binding, which I had no intention of letting go waste. So I decided to do a facing. 

-If you wish to add a binding, remember you need bias binding! Sew it on as you would regular binding. Just one thing,  you will need a much longer strip than for a straight edge. I have not calculated, but for this quilt, I had made a strip 70″ long instead of 50″ which I would have done for a straight edge. Also, sew down the binding very slowly and use the needle down option if your machine provides it. Stop as often as you need to adjust the layers. Curves are not difficult to handle – look only at the stitch immediately ahead of the needle, ignore the rest! I would suggest notching the seam allowance on the inner curves, especially, before turning over and securing the binding. 

– If you want to add a facing ( much simpler), here is how you go about it. 

Attaching a facing to a scalloped border

i) Prepare the facing:  The facing should be wide enough to go at least 1″ beyond the inner curve of the scallop. Put a ruler on the quilt, the ruler edge touching the outer ‘fat’ convex edge of the curve. See the reading on the inner edge of the curve. For example, if this is 2″, the facing should be 3.25″ wide, including 1/4″ seam allowance. I had originally intended to add a binding to my mini quilt, so I had ready 1.25″ strips. I decided to go ahead with these. I think a 1.75″ strip would have been more convenient. 

The total strip length needed for this 10″ square was about 50″. Turn in one long edge about 1/4″. I did a machine zigzag after folding the edge. 

Fold in one long edge about 1/4″ and secure it. A zigzag stitch is used here.


iii) Preparing the quilt: This may look tedious, but will give you a great finish! Remove the batting ( use a pair of sharp embroidery scissors) from between the two fabric layers on the outermost seam allowance on the quilt edge.

Trim away as much of the batting as you can from inside the seam allowance. Use sharp embroidery scissors.

iv) Attaching the facing. Line up the raw edge of the facing with outer ‘fat’ curve edge on top of quilt . Begin at one corner – remember to extend the facing a couple of inches beyond the corner. Pin if you are more comfortable with that. Turn over to backing side.  Start  sewing  over the scallop outline already marked by the stitching line.

Line up facing strip on edge of top of quilt. Sew over scallop outline from backing side

v) When you reach the corner, make a mitered corner as you do with regular quilts and turn the strip.  Pin in place and continue sewing over the outline.

Turning the corner – view from the back.

Turning the corner – view from front


vi) Go around sewing over the outline, stop a couple of inches before you reach the corner where you began. Turn the strip end ( where you began sewing) to form a  ‘mitered’ 45 degree fold.

When you reach the corner where you started, fold the binding to form a sharp 45 degree fold.

vii) Now bring the other end of the strip to lie over the folded end. Pin in place, turn over to backing side and sew over the scallop outline, continuing around the corner and beyond. Trim the excess fabric, extending beyond the corner! 

Simple! Isn’t that?


viii) Just a couple of steps more and we are done! Trim the seam line – from the backing side, of course – and make notches all along the curves. Careful! Don’t get too close to the seamline! However, where there are lots of layers of fabric, like in the corners, try to trim off as much of the excess fabric as you can.

Trim off the excess fabric on the facing strip…

Notch, notch, notch!


ix)Slip stitch the overlapping corner folds together. ( Right bottom corner in the pic below)

Slip stitch together the overlapping folds in the corners.

x) Turn the facing over to the back …

Facing turned over to the back…


xi) …and press the life out of that edge! 

Press down the edge as flat and sharp as you can. Lots of layers here, so this is an effort!


xi) Secure that edge with stitching about 1/8″ within. This quilt is exactly 10″ square, outer curve to outer curve, unlike if it had a binding, which would add the width of the binding to it. 

Done! I like it with a facing instead of a binding!


Now for some close ups…

Secure the facing with stitching 1/8″ from the edge

A picture to show you that I make mistakes, have fabric bunching up, etc, etc…


One final close up! 

I used Fossil Fern by Benartex for the quilt top. The backing fabric is batik from The Square Inch…

I will be happy to clarify if there is any confusion regarding this method!