The two quilt projects needed very different approches to their construction. The paper pieced hexagon Woman's Work was completely hand sewn and each length of quilt had iron on stiffener at the back, whereas Flesh and Blood has more straight lines which could be machine stitched in part and then machine quilted with a longarm quilting machine.
Flesh and Blood was constructed in tandem with Woman's Work. It is a narrow quilt with large areas of plain fabric, which gave opportunities to add further areas of pattern. For this I needed a long-arm quilting machine and the technical knowledge how to use it.
I came across Lana Dragicevich. She specializes in quilting and has a longarm machine at her disposal. We corresponded in December; we arranged to meet once I had the quilt design worked out to show her my designs and discuss options. After our initial meeting I chose custom quilting, where each area would have an individual treatment and after a few conversations she had identifed patterns that were suitable for the project. After only a month later, the U.K. was on lockdown. All contact thereafter was by Skype and email.
Whenever I asked if something were possible Lana found a way and patterns to accommodate my idea. Nothing was too much trouble which encouraged me to push further on what could be done. Luckily the postage system was still working and, although slower, seemed to be reliable and the work was completed without any delay.
Lana at work on Flesh and Blood on her longarm quilting machine
Many hands make light work.
The Hexagon quilts have to be hand sewn and as a result are extremely labour intensive projects. Although the amount of work in such a short space of time was daunting I was extremely fortunate that amongst my friends I found seven volunteers who enjoy stitching, willing to work pro bono, who were up for the challenge.
Handing over the bulk of the second two quilts' stitching time allowed me to plan and design the frame that would support all three banners, and also complete my other major project, Flesh and Blood .
Each stitcher was given a package containing instructions, diagrams, cut fabric, paper hexagons, at least four spools of thread in various shades of grey, needles and a needle threader. I then kept a colour coded diagram of both the quilts and who was sewing which part of it.
Just making up the packs was a lot of work, counting and recounting the fabric and paper hexagons and collating all the items into each package. I was keen that it should be like a shop-bought craft kit and that it would not become a chore to complete. Even with all the work it took considerably less time than had I attempted to sew them all myself.