Friday, September 19, 2014

New Project - Jacks and Cats

A funny thing happened to me back in August, while I was working hard to stay on schedule with Best Friends Forever. I ran out of ideas! That's never happened to me before, and it was kind of disturbing, to be honest. I know it was rushing through the project that did it.

So since my last post I've been taking a break. On Wednesday my Mom and I went out to the mall, and I said we need to look at different things in different stores for a change. But of course I still bought three quilting magazines, including the latest AQS magazine and this one:

Primitive Quilts, Fall 2014
I keep saying this magazine, Primitive Quilts, is not my style, but somehow this is the third one in a row that I've bought! Then, since we were in the neighbourhood, we stopped at Art of Fabric and I bought a few fat quarters and a half metre of this, just as something useful for my stash:

At home I spread out my spoils and sat down to read my magazines. I love magazines, but I have been trying not to buy too many, because there is always a new project that I must make. Sure enough, when I opened the page to this project, it fell on fertile ground:

"Jacks and Cats" is a flannel lap quilt designed by Emily McGlothlen of The Little Red Hen. All the background fabrics are fairly dark, and if you squint your eyes all you can see are the white eyes and teeth of the cats and pumpkins. Click the photo to see it larger. I think it is genius!

I meant to say now that I intend to make the quilt pretty much as written, but I've realized that I've already changed quite a bit:

  • I scaled the blocks from 8" up to 9" to make it a bit larger
  • I changed all the fabrics
  • I changed the technique on the applique blocks
  • I changed the border
BUT, hopefully I've kept the spirit of the quilt the same, lol!

The pattern calls for 6 different shades of mostly solid orange flannel. I quickly realized that I might shop for months before I could find six different solid orange flannels, and I remembered some fall coloured plaid homespuns in my stash that I bought from Keepsake Quilting a couple of years ago. I was going to make these stuffed pumpkins, but I never did. A quilt will be better! In fact, almost all the materials will be repurposed from my stash. Instant gratification! 

I matched the homespuns with some co-ordinating quilting cottons:

I still had that black fabric out while I was playing with these, and I thought it would be really interesting to use it for the applique background, instead of the solid black in the pattern. So I had to buy another metre the next day. 

Actually, none of my fabrics will be solid! I'll use the leafy green Asian blender in the photo background for the inner border, and I'll have to piece the outer border.

The pattern calls for fusible machine applique, several layers of it, with a few hand stitched details on top. My hands hurt at the very idea of stitching through all that! Plus, I have some really nice felted wool in fall colours in my stash, from another unstarted project. So the faces will be felt applique, the stars underneath will be the homespuns, hand appliqued, and the circles under that will be quilting cotton, sewn into my new black fabric. At most there will only be three layers to sew through.

That gives me several new techniques to try with this quilt! I've already made a start on sewing in the circles:

I think the fabric mix will work! It looks like a harvest moon, doesn't it? And the black could be stars, or it could be spider webs. 

The circle is 8" across, and I used 32 pins to coax it into the background:

The AQS magazine I bought conveniently had a good tip for sewing curves. They suggest that you cut the curve that has to stretch, in this case the black, with pinking shears. Then you don't have to clip it:

It worked really well. My first one, the one above, came out nice and flat. The second one is never as good as the first one, I've noticed. Does that happen to you too? But I love the fabric:

Not much of the gold background will show once the applique is on, and I don't think it will detract from the glowing eyes. Plus, most of the rest of the circles will be quite dark. I'm really glad that the hardest part of the project, the sewn in circles, will be first, when my motivation is highest! After they're done, everything else will be easy.

I'm under no illusion that this will be done by Hallowe'en, but it is fun to work on a seasonal project in the right season, for a change. They say a change is as good as a break, and now I've had both!


  1. I had to chuckle over the 'not my style' remark. I have also purchased that magazine saying the same thing. There are always at least four projects I want to make from it...still thinking I guess. Or maybe just too many WIPs in the wings. Lovely blog you have as I hopped over from Quilty Folk.
    blessings, jill

  2. Not so bad for someone who thought she had run out of ideas!?! Maybe sometimes a little break from what we do is a necessary "reset", and in your case, you seem to have "refreshed" quite well.

    What a fun quilt you picked to re-energize with! Love the idea of incorporating the different fabric types into the applique. Stitch on!

    1. Thanks! Yes, the break was very helpful. But right now, I have 423 unread posts in my Bloglovin feed! No, I won't be reading them all. :D

  3. Oh boy, I sure am glad I didn't see that magazine because, like you, somehow many of the projects in it are appealing, even if not in my "normal" style. Now then, if you were to sew the white eye and mouth parts first onto the black, then sew that onto the orange starburst pieces, and finally sew the assembled lot onto the black circles, you would only be sewing one layer onto another at any given time. I sure hope you don't have to hand sew through three layers. Knowing you, though, you have already no doubt worked this out.

    Anyway, I love this project and it reminds me that I have a kitted up project - all the fibers and fabrics including the felted wool bits - of jack-o-lanterns that has been lying around in a drawer for too long.

  4. Your break was obviously very good for you! Love that your new quilt includes some of repurposed stash and a spark from the newly added 'useful stash fabric'. lol Funny how that works! I totally agree that Primitive Quilts mag. has a good thing going right now.

  5. good you have your creativity back, certainly personalising this quilt with all the alterations you have made, a lovely range of fabrics too, Not seen this magazine yet in the UK but pop into the local stationers often and will have a peek when I spot it

  6. A great story, and a great project. I love the colours and concept.


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