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Handy work

November 26, 2014

I do love hand quilting.  I also love hand appliqué.  My hands aren’t entirely keen on either though – it is quite hard going on them to use the itty bitty needles involved that sometimes seem as sharp on the eye end as they do on the pointy one!  I’ve also been finding this week that my absolutely essential quilting thimble has been slipping off my finger because it has been so much colder, which isn’t helpful…

My latest nightdress case commission came from a lady who wanted nightdress cases for her grandchildren.  The cases will live at her house and her grandchildren will use them there when they came to stay.  I love that idea – it really is one of those things that you can imagine they will remember from their childhood: “when we stayed with Granny, we kept out pyjamas in these fancy nightdress cases that she had made for us.”  Can’t you just imagine it?

I was asked to make both cases in different shades of pink, so I was keen to partner the pale pink one with a stronger Liberty print (this is Ciara) and the hot pink one with something a little cooler (this is Edenham).  Usually, I use Robert Kaufman’s Essex Linen for the outers, and this is what I used for the hot pink case, but he doesn’t have a paler pink shade so I used his new linen and rayon blend Linen Washer, which is just lovely – so soft and drapey, but still up to the task.  I quilted them both with a lilac quilting thread, so there are elements of sameness and difference in both, which felt right.

I do tend to use this cross hatched quilting pattern in a lot of things, I just like the look of it.  On these cases, I love that you get two different scales of the pattern – one on the case itself and another teeny one on the appliqué beds.

I use a cotton batting for the case itself but a pure wool one for the mini bed because it is so lofty and makes the little bed look and feel like an old fashioned eiderdown, once it’s quilted.

Before hand stitching the bed and pillow into place, I also stitch down the little ‘sheet’ on either side and across the width of the bed.  I like seeing how tiny and tidy I can make the stitches.

The little cases look quite plain before the applique is added, although there is a fair amount of work involved to get to this point since I also interface both the outers and the lining pieces before putting them together:

I do love Liberty tana lawn, but it isn’t the easiest fabric to work with.  Even with a lightweight interface added, it is very delicate and liable to crease where you don’t want it to, but if you use your finest needles and silk pins, it will work with you, and I think it looks gorgeous:

I think I have the design for these little cases where I want it now.  Top stitching around the edges on the outer would give it another lovely level of detailed finish, but I couldn’t use the machine for that – it just wouldn’t look right against the hand quilting stitches on the outer.  It is already a greedy little design with the expensive fabrics and the time taken for all the detailed work, so I think I’ll keep them sans top stitching.  Also, apart from the additional time investment, there’s a limit to how much work my hands can do! 🙂

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  • Reply Leonor November 26, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Very nicely done, Debbie! Although ruffles and pink aren’t my thing, I can absolutely see all the work that went into this, and I think it will make those granddaughters very happy 🙂

    • Reply crimson November 27, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Thank you! I have enjoyed putting a little bit of pink into your new project bag by using a nice warm pink thread in the top stitching… Mwah, ha, ha! 🙂

  • Reply Stephanie November 27, 2014 at 11:22 am

    Dear Debbie,

    You make such wonderful use of those beautiful Liberty fabrics! And it is precious indeed, as a fellow seamstress with lots to learn, to see close-up shots of your work and neat stitches.

    There is so much to learn from and appreciate here, Debbie!

    Warmest wishes.

    • Reply crimson November 27, 2014 at 2:25 pm

      Thank you lovely Stephanie! 🙂 xx

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