Thursday 14 January 2016

Free Motion Mavericks - Week 76 - Mystery Wall Hanging

Now for something completely different.  This wall hanging is totally unlike anything I have ever made before, because most of the work was done by somebody else.

This is how I started, with this unfinished piece of embroidery.  It had been lurking in my cupboard for nearly five years, so I got it out last month and made the quilt sandwich.

The red fabric is a thin cotton, printed with a design of peacock feathers and flowers.  The motifs in the centre and much of the narrow outer border had not been embroidered

However, the broad inner border was finished, the printed design worked over in silk embroidery thread, which has a marvellous sheen.

It was tacked to a calico backing and the embroidery worked through both layers.

At the outset the centre looked relatively empty, so I got busy on my wonderful 1945 Singer 15K treadle and did the free motion quilting to outline the printed design.  I added a few beads for a bit of twinkle once everything else was finished.

In the two blank corners of the centre I put free motion quilted leaves and berries, and later sewed on beads in shades of blue and pink.

After quilting the centre, I outlined all the embroidery with free motion quilting.  Going round all the little clusters of French knots was fun.  I was afraid they might get knocked out of shape by the hopping foot, but they were made of sterner stuff than I had anticipated and held out against the onslaught.

This was the really scary part.  Along two sides of the outer border there was barely a quarter of an inch to a fraying raw edge.  The material was too fragile to even consider adding a strip of new fabric with a seam before quilting.  The solution was to lay a strip of fabric over the frayed edge after I had quilted the embroidered panel, sew it in place, and then quilt the added strip.

The new fabric was a linen effect cotton in a slightly more muted shade of red than the centre.  Before laying it in place I hemmed it with my oldest machine, the Willcox and Gibbs which dates from 1888.  I used a variegated thread, and was really pleased with the effect given by the multi-coloured line of chain stitch. 

Next I quilted the plain red border, and finished off with dark green binding.  For all the straightforward straight stitching, I used my 1916 Singer 99K so it could sew its way into the New Year and celebrate its centenary.

The finished wall hanging measures 30 x 32 inches and has turned out better than I had dared hope.  I am delighted that all the beautiful embroidery can be seen and appreciated, and all the hours spent stitching by the mystery embroideress have not gone to waste. 

Before spending five years in my cupboard, the embroidery had spent decades buried in the stash belonging to my sister in law's mother.  She died in 2010, leaving piles of stuff that I was able to set aside for future use, and from which I was able to piece a quilt in her memory.  At first I assumed that this embroidery was her work, but my sister in law was quick to point out that it wasn't - not her style and not her colours.  She had distant memories of someone (she can't remember who or when or where) giving it to her mother to finish off and use somehow.  She never did.  It was shoved away, most probably because she didn't really like it.  In fact, my sister in law didn't like it either.  It seems to be the peacock eyes' fault, all staring and frightening, especially the double ones... grotesque cartoon characters, enough to give little children nightmares.

Rot, say I.  No one over the age of two and a half could possibly be scared of a design that is so obviously based on my scissors.

Update - Well my sister-in-law didn't like this wall hanging, but her brother certainly did!  He now has it proudly displayed in his house in Baltimore.

blogbutton photo peacockfmq025_zpse5bceb10.jpg

Here goes for week 76...

The project in Week 75 that really caught my eye was Em's winter trees quilt, beautifully displayed outside in the snow. If you haven't seen her blog post yet, nip over now and see more photos.

If you love free motion quilting, whether you are a beginner just taking the plunge, or you have reached the stage where you can do ostrich feathers with your eyes shut and still achieve perfect symmetry, then please link up.

Remember, FMQ is FMQ, whether your machine was made last week, or it is older than your granny.

Here are the very easy and slightly elastic rules:-

1.  Link up with any recent post, ideally from the last week but within the last month, which features a free motion quilting project, whether it is a work in progress or a finish.

2.  Link back to this post in your own post and/or grab the linky button for your blog's sidebar.
3.  Visit as many of the other participants as possible and say hello in the comments box.

4.  The link up will remain open for four days, from midnight to midnight GMT for the long weekend, Friday to Monday.

So far quilters from the USA, England, Wales, Australia, Canada, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, France and Macau have taken part.  The first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week.

Linking up to Kelly's blog My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday
and Sarah's blog Confessions of a Fabric Addict for Whoop Whoop Friday
and Nina-Marie's blog Creations... Quilts, Art... Whatever for Off The Wall Friday
and Amanda Jean's blog Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish It Up Friday.


  1. What a lovely piece! I love the peacock feathers all over it. Great job!

  2. Gorgeous. I love how you stayed true to but also built on the original design. I'm rather fond of the cartoon characters. I can imagine a children's book illustrated this way.

  3. What a fun post. I love taking lost work of someone else and using it. You did a wonderful job doing just that. Really creative use of stitching!

  4. You have done a marvellous job of rescuing that embroidery from lying hidden in the cupboard. Well done you :)

  5. lol That's a funny ending.
    You indeed did a great job of finishing this embroidery project. The beads add the right texture and sparkle.
    I think that the whole can be more appreciated when standing at some distance instead of focusing on a single part of it.

    1. Thanks, France. It looks great from a distance because the silk thread catches the light.

  6. Muv, what an honor you've paid to the woman who began this work. It is stunning--beyond stunning. Enjoyed a chuckle about the peacock feather eyes and your scissors. And kudos for handling the fraying edge so beautifully. Also, how very cool of you to let your 1916 machine celebrate its centennial and the new year in style!

    1. Thanks Linda. It has been an ideal project for all the dull rainy days we have been having.

  7. This piece is STUNNING!!! You did an awesome job Muv!

  8. Hi Muv, what a beautiful piece! It really is stunning. You have respected the mystery embroider's work and added your own touch. I would not have thought to embroider a printed fabric like this. Thanks for the idea.

  9. What a gorgeous piece you have made that. You should enter it into a show. Love it!

    1. Thanks Angie! Except I haven't got it any more. It has gone to my sister-in-law's brother in the States.



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