I meant to write this post sooner, but ... never mind ... it's a long "but". Suffice it to say, here it is. I'm just going to ramble a bit here, mentioning all the things that come to mind that I think you might want/need to know, if you're thinking about - or have already decided to - join me and my cohosts, Melissa from OhHowSweet and Wynn from ZakkaArt, two very talented and lovely ladies that I'm lucky enough to call friends.
WHAT ARE WE MAKING?
This QAL is for the pink quilt on the cover of the book, not the other projects in the book. Altough between you me, I really think you'll want to make some of the other projects, if you haven't already. ;)
There are only two, but they're VERY important.
#1 - Please own your own copy of Happy Flower Quilts, or borrow it from the library. As an author myself, I understand how much work goes into writing a book. I have a great deal of respect for Atsuko Matsuyama - the incredible fabric and pattern designer who wrote this book - her time, her talent, and the publishers who work so hard to bring her creations into your hands. I also know that this book is well worth the cover price. There are so many wonderful patterns - the quilt blocks themselves are worth it, but you also get 29 more project patterns and tons of inspiration.
#2 - Please refrain from pubishing - online or elsewhere - any information that would allow someone to construct any part of this quilt without the book. More specifically, please don't publish cutting instructions or templates. Please DO write about tips or tricks you might like to share with your readers about how to construct the blocks, like how you do inset seams, or what kind of thread you like to use, or how you make your own templates, how to embroider certain stitches, etc. There are so many things you can share with your social media audience without violating copyright laws.
If you participated in the Farmers Wife QAL a few years ago, you may recall that the author was frustrated with people blogging detailed posts about what size to cut each piece and how many pieces for every block. And rightly so. That's just not cool. I hope we will all respect copyright laws and respect Atsuko's work.
Thank you so very much for your cooperation. It is deeply appreciated.
We officially start Monday, March 6th. We will post two blocks/week until all 99 blocks are finished - so we'll be done February 2018. That might sound scary and intimidating, but we're in this together. Slow and steady, and all that jazz.
I'm going to make the blocks in order as they appear in the quilt, starting with the top left corner. Every week I'll have one pieced and one applique block. But you do whatever you want, whenever you want! It's is completely up to you. Start late, finish early ... do what works for YOU. There are no penalties for not keeping up or doing your own thing. This is totally casual! The point of a QAL is to motivate, inspire, teach, and hopefully entertain. Rumor has it that there may be giveaways throughout the QAL, and winners might be chosen from hashtags. ;)
Speaking of hashtags, please use #happyflowerqal for all your posts! We'd love to see your blocks. Feel free to include info on your fabric choices too. We're always interested in that sort of thing. ;)
My cohosts and I PLAN to post every Monday. I emphasize PLAN because I'm sure there will be weeks when one or more of us aren't able to post for one reason or another. If you're posting your progress, join us on Mondays or feel free to set your own schedule.
As much as I would like to be "tech support" for this project, I have a full-time job. Add to that my family and home, and ... other things ... I simply don't have time to answer questions and offer help. So ZakkaWorkshop - the publisher of this book - set up a Facebook Page (click HERE) for QALers to post, share, ask, answer, learn, chat, connect, inspire ... all that really good stuff that comes with a QAL. I'm super excited about it. Make sure you join. I'm hoping some of you expert quilters out there will lend a hand to the newbies. So if you as me for help, the best I'll be able to do is direct you to the Facebook Page. All questions posted there will be answered. That said, I've written some things below that you might find helpful.
This quilt is make with 99 blocks - 50 pieced blocks, 34 applique blocks (a few also have a bit of embroidery details) and 16 squares that are simply a pretty fabric.
Because this book is published with both imperial (inches) and metric (centimeters), it was impossible to include cutting dimensions for both measuring systems for all the blocks, even the super easy ones. That's why all the pieced blocks are made with templates. Most of them are very easy to construct, but there are a few with inset seams.
If you're not a huge fan of templates, you can sometimes get away with measuring the templates and then cutting the fabric without them - but this only works for really super basic shapes.
Now don't panic. I have a few ideas if you don't enjoy applique, or embroidery, or complicated piecing.
To avoid applique, make 2 of each pieced block. Or make 50 pieced blocks and 49 simple blocks with a feature fabric.
To avoid embroidery, most can be relpaced with thin applique pieces or use a pretty trim like a thin ricrac (for stems and vines), or buttons (bird eyes), or simply omit the stitching altogether.
To avoid complicated piecing (there are only a few blocks with inset seams), replace those blocks with duplicates of your favourites, or again use a simple square of a fabulous print.
You could also just do half the blocks and make a smaller quilt, or just make a few blocks and turn them into a table runner, a cushion cover, a mini quilt ... we are a really creative community so we can turn just about anything into just about anything else! LOL! We're awesome "problem solvers", aren't we?
There are soooo many methods to hand applique. By machine is definitely the easiest and quickest. I machine applique more often than I hand applique, but for this project, my preferred way is how I was taught when I took a Baltimore Album class in 1999 - freezer-paper ironed and pinned to the fabric, and then I needle turn the edges.
I only mention that in case you were wondering. But I have friends who hate this method and use other techniques quite successfully with beautiful results. If you're new to applique, check with your local quilt shop to see if they're offering a class, I'm sure you can find videos online to help you along.
Also, when I applique a lighter piece of fabric onto a darker/printed fabric, I line the fabric that is being appliqued with Presto-Sheer. It's a super thin, fusible interfacing that either eliminates, or greatly reduces, any "shadowing" from coming through. You can find it on-line if your local quilt/fabric shop doesn't carry it.
I use Jeana Kimball's Foxglove Cottage "Straw" needles for my applique.
I use silk thread for my applique. I mostly use a cream and pink because that's what I have. But I recently bought a red and darker grey for this quilt.
I'm pretty sure there are only 3 types of stitches in the entire quilt - back stitch, outline stitch, and a french (or colonial) knot. That's it - the 3 most basic and beginner stitches there are. And you don't need many colours either. The embroidery is mostly for stems and leaf details. There are a few knots for bird eyes and flower centers. There's really not much at all. I think you can get away with a pink, a yellow, and a few greens. Maybe a blue. (Unless you're going for a non-conventional colour scheme.)
I use Jeana Kimball's Embroidery/Redwork needles and COSMO floss for embroidery.
See previous blog post.
In case you didn't know, Atsuko designs fabric for two companies - Lecien and Yuwa. Her collections for Lecien are called Old/New 30s, and her designs for Yuwa are called 30s Collection by Atsuko Matsuyama. I was actually quite surprised when I rounded up all my Atsuko prints from my stash. I have a LOT! LOL! If you are new to her fabrics and you like them, her latest collection for Lecien will be in stores this month. I'm going to make my first few blocks with that new fabric for you to see, and then I'll be diving deep into my stash. Can.hardly.wait!!!
Ok. Hope that helps! I really hope you join Wynn, Melissa and me on this year-long journey. We're going to have beautiful heirloom quilts at the end!