Since the invitation arrived for the next Brass in the Grass Steampunk Picnic hosted by Vancouverites for Steampunk to be held in late August in New Westminster, British Columbia, I have been thinking about ways to upgrade our Victorian/Steampunk inspired picnic kit. Of course new outfits for myself and any of my daughters wishing to attend were on the list along with a new vest for my husband.
Today is all about the Steampunk Picnic Quilt...
With a family of five and a large dog there is no way we could carry enough seating for such a large number with out including a picnic blanket/quilt in the mix.
Though I have been embroidering and quilting for many years this is my first what you would call full size quilt. I wanted it to have the following: 1) homespun charm - not too regular in pattern, more like it could have been built over time 2) Steampunk character (of course!) - beautiful browns, burgundies, blues and caramel colours with lace and ruffles 3) Sci-fi references for those in the know and to generate smiles 4) Must be FUN for all to sit on!
I began the gathering, cutting, piecing and sewing the front together on Canada Day evening for two reasons: 1) I had tripped over brown Dalek fabric (go look up Doctor Who, if you don't get the reference) earlier that week and 2) my big fuzzy studio companion does NOT like fireworks and requires company in the room, while he hides from them under my studio table
Using a rotary cutter, quilting ruler and cutting mat. I began cutting 5 inch by 5 inch squares, for no other reason then it was the width of my ruler. I initially bean trying to cut relatively the same number of pieces from each fabric and held onto any smaller pieces thinking I would use them at some point so the layout looked more irregular. I used a collection of all cotton fabrics: cluney lace, plaid flannelettes, florals, toiles, Asian and English scripts, Dalek and cork prints
Eager to see how it would look before I finished cutting the pieces I began to experiment and sew a few blocks together. I gradually worked on about 6 different groups of blocks and then began trying to piece those grouped into a whole using my smaller pieces and strips to fill in any gaps.
By the end of the evening I had gotten to a point where I knew I was ready for a border to help ground the quilt and give a place for your eye to rest.
In the morning I recalled having made a long roll of 4 inch wide solid caramel cotton that I had planned to ruffle for adding to skirts, that would now be better served as the internal borders of my quilt. I began running low on the cut pieces from the center of the quilt and began cutting new fabrics to add to the mix, hoping it would lend to the idea that it could have been added to at some point in time.
After squaring off the completed top, I once again eager to see it finished added the brown ruffle, attached the back and batting right sides facing and then turned the whole thing right sides out. Not the normal order for a quilter and if you are worried about how flat your back will be, not recommended.
For me this was always meant to be a quick, fun project and not meant to be fussy. I have always liked the look of a quilt that has the ribbon ties at the corners of the blocks but as a picnic quilt they were impractical and lumpy to sit on. After a look at the more exotic stitches on my Janome sewing machine, I realized that the one step eyelet stitch would be just the right thing to use. I then sewed a small eyelet stitch in the corners of all the blocks and pieces in the center of the quilt and ran a traditional straight stitch down the lines of the borders.
And that is the story of the creation of my Steampunk Picnic Quilt, with nods to Doctor Who, Firefly and Victorian/Steampunk sensibilities.