In an Octopus’s Garden…in the shade!
Machine appliqued Octopus
I made this quilt for a challenge with my quilting group Desi Quilters, for which one had to make a quilt using strips. I had always wanted to make a Convergence Quilt and I had the perfect print for it!
For making Convergence quilts, a great resource is the book Ricky Tim’s Convergence Quilt available on Amazon.com. I found a great tutorial on Rafael’s Mum’s blogspot ” Adventures in Quilting and Sailing., and set out to work on my four fabrics. For those of you too lazy to go look up that blog , for a wall hanging / baby quilt about 40″ X 40″, you need two or more fabrics, though generally one uses 4 fabrics, like I did. So, the recipe is:
4 fat quarters of nicely contrasting fabric. It works best when the main fabric is a large diffused (all over ) print or batik with strongly contrasting colours.
1 yard 40- 44″ wide fabric for the border
1.5 yards of 40-44″ fabric for backing
48″ X 48″ batting ( I used an old woollen shawl :-))
So here are my four fabrics ( remembered to take a picture only after I had already started working on it)
Trying out arrangements for the quilt fabric
And here is the how the top would look once finished… I added a 1/4″ inner border to frame the strips, before adding a wide 7.5″ border (cut at 8″) on the outside.
I quite love it! As I was sewing it, a song kept playing in my head – no points for guessing which!
We would be warm,
Under the storm,
In our little hideaway
Beneath the waves…
So I had to get my Octopus. After browsing through hundreds of octopus images, I zeroed onto these two, that I absolutely adored:
Debra Harry’s Octopus Quilt and a quilt on The Calico Cat’s blogspot.
I decided to base my Octopus on Debra Harry’s Octopus. For the fabric I turned to a Fossil Fern charms pack gifted to me by a wonderful friend Chumkie, from my Desi Quilters group.
I needed a range of shades in the same colour. Brighter for the tentacles in the foreground, and darker in the tentacles to the back. Also, the underside of the tentacles had to be a much lighter shade. It was like painting with fabric!
These are the various colour combinations I thought of –
I do not like purples and thought it would be good to get rid of them here 😉
Pinks? Too predictable!
Earthy browns? too dull…
( A good idea is to lay out your fabrics together and take a picture. You get a much better idea of what ‘clicks’ and what does not!
Once the decision for the fabric was made, I sketched the Octopus on newspaper and cut it out, placed it on the quilt to see how it looked. Too small! So I sketched a bigger one and that seemed just right. Sorry, I did not take pics of this stage either.
I then drew a grid on freezer paper – showing where the Octopus would be placed vis-a-vis the strips. You see, I wanted a few of the tentacles to come from behind the strips. [Secret – I had only charm squares to work with, so I could not have too long a piece anywhere 😉 ]
I the sketched my Octopus on the grid, freehand, as you can see!
Octopus sketched on freezer paper marked with quilt grid
Note that the image is the reverse (mirror image) of how it shall appear on the quilt. The top line is the upper border – I wanted a tentacle stealing out to the border! I numbered each tentacle, and each part that would be in a different fabric on that tentacle. 1, 2, 3, 4 would be the foreground tentacles in a brighter colour
A close up of the Octopus would explain what I am saying…
A close up of the Octopus to show the gradations in colour between the tentacles in the foreground and those at the back. The undersides were done in a lighter colour
Each small piece was then traced on to Heat n Bond Lite (pink), leaving an extra 1/6″ on the edge that was to be overlapped by another piece. All the pieces were laid on the fabric top, the paper removed one by one, and the fabric was ironed on to the quilt top.
I machine stitched it with invisible nylon thread on the top and white cotton in the bobbin. I could have been neater 😦
Learning: Here I realised that I should have handled it one tentacle at a time. Ironed one (the lowermost), stitched it, then the next… because by the time I was through with ironing it, edges had started to come off! The very small pieces even came off as I was stitching. That is why a few of the tentacles are wonky! I suppose I should overstitch the edges with satin stitch, now that I own a Brother, but I think I like the raw edged look:-) Or maybe, I am just too lazy.
For the backing I had fabric that was just 36″ wide and a quilt nearly 44″ wide. So I decided to add a contrast turquoise to make it measure up! Alsa! The turquoise was also a yard width, and only a metre (40″). Eureka! add some of the main print from the front in the shape of a coral rock! I had always wanted to experiment with wavy edges – so they came in next. Here is the end result
Octopus Garden quilt back
I used an old shawl as the batting and quilted it with waves.
For the binding I joined the two solid backing fabrics and cut them diagonally to obtain a bias binding. Originally I machine stitched the binding ( from the back to the front!) because I was in a hurry. I thought it was quite hideous, and ripped, folding down the edges with invisible hemming.
I’d ask my friends to come and see
An Octopus’s Garden with me!
Octopus’s Garden Quilt
Of course, my Octopus has been christened Paul,after my favourite Beatle!
We’d sing and shout, and swim about
the coral that lies beneath the waves…
I do plan to add some embellishment to this quilt, so watch this space… 🙂