Saturday 4 October 2014

Elephantasy - the Elephant of Stolen Dreams

I do enjoy paper piecing and when the lovely Juliet at The Tartan Kiwi was looking for pattern testers for her latest design, naturally I raised my hand, jumped up and down and called out "Pick Me! Pick Me!"  And she did.
It was my absolute pleasure to pattern test a 12" elephant for her.  As soon as I saw it I just KNEW that I had to make a pink elephant.  After all, all elephants should be pink right!
The day after receiving the pattern (Wednesday) I was at my local Spotlight store and was talking to the manager about their upcoming Quilting Expo which was on Saturday.  She begged me to make up something for their expo as last year they didn't have very many quilts on display.  The only catch - the quilt had to made up of 100% Spotlight fabrics.
Hmmmm, I decided to kill two birds with one stone (so to speak - no birds were actually harmed in the process but I did come very close to shooting those rotten geese - read on).  Why not turn Juliet's elephant into a quilt for Spotlight to display at their Quilting Expo.  I had 2-days to get it completed.  Yes it was do able - it wouldn't take very long to paper piece the elephant.  And it didn't.  One ellie whipped up late Wednesday night.

My completed elephant
What took the most time however, was designing and making the borders for the rest of the mini.  I had decided to turn the elephant block into a mini medallion and add a border of facing flying geese to it.  I had no pattern so I was free forming it as I went... mistake numero uno.  It took me AGES to work out the correct size to cut the segments for the geese.  My Thursday was dedicated to battling geese.

Geese in the making
Geese learning to fly
In hindsight I should've paper pieced the geese individually and then joined them all together.  Instead my free formed geese were slightly wonky.  This led to further issues.  I had to increase the width of the inner white border so that my geese were even on both sides.

With geese flying about and honking around the depths of my over tired mind, I abandoned it for the night.  I spent the night dreaming of geese and thinking about designs for the corners.
This was the sight that greeted me the following morning.  "Oh Mr Hart what a mess!"  Yes, there was indeed a large pink elephant on my kitchen bench!

My kitchen bench
Geese trimmings
I decided that I wanted to add schmancy corner blocks to the flying geese border.  Initially I was looking at whirly gig designs, and doubly whirly gigs, but couldn't find a pattern to fit a 3" block.  Instead I settled for a miniature paper pieced block called "Birds In Flight" which I resized on my photocopier.
Birds In Flight 3" paper pieced block
I had to remake a few of the wonky geese so that I could accurately attach the corner blocks to the geese borders.  Whoa, I think I grew a few extra grey hairs there!  The first one took about 1.5-hours to attach; the 2nd one about 1-hour.  The last two didn't take very long at all.  The seam ripper & I were on first name basis by the end of it as I had to unpick my 1.5" stitches and retape my papers numerous times until they all joined up accurately.

Attaching my flying geese borders
It was worth the heartache though.  Initially I had planned to have the "Birds in Flight" blocks with the white triangle at the bottom and the purple section at the top but I quickly realised the pretty pattern they made if all the purple bits aligned so my three little birds are flying out from the quilt and not into it.  By Friday night all my borders were attached and the top was finished.

The finished top
Next began a marathon quilting session.  I was determined to get as much done as possible before "The Block" started at 7:30pm - yes, the world stops so that I can watch "The Block"!

Quilting - stitching in the ditch
I anchored down the edges by stitching in the ditch so that I could at least get the binding attached and hand sew it down whilst watching the TV.
My purry view whilst I hand stitched the binding
I ended up missing most of my show, bar the last 20-minutes, and then watched a movie.
Back to quilting
When the movie ended (& the binding was attached), I went back into the sewing room to finish the quilting.  I used a variegated pink thread to ditch stitch around the elephant and white thread to ditch stitch the rest of the quilt.  For an organic feel I added a row of hand quilted running stitches along the middle of the thicker white border between the elephant and the geese. I used a pink embroidery thread for this - the same colour as the elephant's tail.

quilt label
Even the quilt label was Spotlight fabric - I bought a meter of this quilt label print last year from one of their Melbourne stores (various designs on the panel).
It was about 2am Saturday morning when the whole thing was finished.  The Quilting Expo began at 11am.  Technically I had time for "some" sleep however my brain had other ideas.  Instead of counting sheep, I was harassed by honking geese ;)

My Completed quilt
Close up of the back showing the quilting
Close up of the tail - plaited embroidery thread attached to the quilt
Close up of the head - I love the fussy cut eye
A quilted ellie
I put it out there on Instagram: What should I name this quilt?  The name "Elephantasy" kept coming to me.  After all, it was a fantasy elephant.  It's a shame that elephants aren't really pink with polka dots. 
The clincher was when my friend Kerry called it the "Elephant of Stolen Dreams" referring to the lack of sleep I'd had the last few nights whilst trying to get it finished on time.
Hence "Elephantasy - the Elephant of Stolen Dreams".
Elephantasy - the Elephant of Stolen Dreams
And yes we did make it to the Quilting Expo on time.  I'll blog about that separately.
Elephant pattern by The Tartan Kiwi

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