Thursday 18 October 2018

Free Motion Mavericks - Week 205 - Three French Hens

This is the 12 x 12 quilt that I have made for this year's exhibition at Midsomer Quilting.  The theme was "Think of a Number", so I hit on the idea of Three French Hens.

The bold stitched outlines are chain stitched using my Willcox and Gibbs Automatic machine.  It took a while to set up the machine for use because the belt had slackened.  After cutting sections from the leg of an old pair of tights I finally cut one of the right circumference to adequately grip the wheel and give good traction. 

Each of the hens is based on photographs of French breeds of poultry.  I tried to make each hen match what it is saying, so the "oui" hen is this nice agreeable looking Ardennais cock.

By contrast, the big brute of a hen saying "non" is this rather intimidating de Pavilly cock.

And cowering down in the corner is the rather nervous looking yet conciliatory Gascony hen, which is by far my favourite.  It must be the slightly coquettish way she is showing her half-profile.

The "i" should have been dotted with a French knot, but I couldn't remember how to do them and was feeling far too idle to get a book down from the shelf, so it is just a little cluster of stitches, slightly lost amongst all the scattered quilting stitches in the background.

The hand quilting wasn't part of the original plan, but the light caught the surface, which was far from even, so I had to aim for some sort of texture.  I should have free-motion quilted it, but my sewing room became a temporary dumping ground while we were redecorating the front room, and I haven't got round to tidying it up yet, so my machine is surrounded with clutter.  I thought the hand stitching would be quick and simple, but I was wrong on both counts.  There, I've confessed.

"Non" is the only word I could sew in an uninterrupted line of stitching.

"Yes No Perhaps" would have been fairly straightforward to stitch, but French, being French, throws a hyphen and a circumflex accent at me just to make life difficult.  

I made sure I left this writing until last, by which time I was getting the hang of it.  The chain is the back of the stitch, so I had to work from the back.  I wrote the words backwards on the back of the fabric and stitched along the line, which was a little tricky because the foot on the Willcox and Gibbs hasn't got a groove in it, so I would lose sight of the line when it disappeared under the metal on its way to the needle.  Anyway, despite the difficulties I am immensely chuffed that I managed to stitch handwritten French backwards with a machine made in 1888.  The only bit I unpicked was the crossbar on one of the "t"s because it wasn't quite at the right angle, and that only took a moment because with chain stitch all you need to do is pull the end of the thread to undo it.

The rest of the sewing, that is the outline quilting around the hens and attaching the binding, was done with my 1916 Singer 99K.

I shall be delivering the quilt to Midsomer quilting next week and shall be kissing it goodbye because it is going into the charity auction.  Perhaps I will make another one one day.

Here goes for week 205:-

If you have no free motion quilting to show, feel free to link up and show any project you like.  Here are the usual rules, but feel free to ignore them.  To keep the original emphasis, however, preference will be given to free motion quilting when featuring projects from the previous week.

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.
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, Macau, Russia, Ireland and Brazil have taken part.  The first participant from each new country will get a special mention the following week

Linking up with 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.


  1. I think your chickens are great. :D

  2. I had to adjust the belt on my 1880 W&G, but still haven't sewn with it. I also want to try (a much easier) embroidery with that machine. Nice job.

  3. What a charming piece! And thank you for leading us through your processes.

  4. Hi Norma, your French chickens are adorable! Magnifique!



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