I hope you all had a great holiday – I’m finally getting everything back to normal around here and can’t wait to get back to my sewing machine. I finished this quilt before Christmas but didn’t want to post it because it was a Christmas gift. This design is an hourglass quilt, which uses my favorite half square triangle blocks. I alternated a solid block with an hourglass block, because this entire quilt is done in linen and I thought an hourglass block all the way through the quilt might be too heavy with that many seams.
I really love items sewn with linen and I almost exclusively use Robert Kaufman Essex in Flax, a cotton/linen blend that is really nice to quilt with and is machine washable. It’s a nice neutral color that blends well with a lot of quilting cottons. For the colored hourglass blocks, I wanted to try to match the fabrics in the room where this quilt was going to end up. Robert Kaufman’s Essex Yarn Dyed linens were just about a perfect match and they are the same blend of cotton/linen, but with a cross thread of white to provide a beautiful tweedy look that is just gorgeous. These fabrics just appeal to me so much. You’ll see more of them in my quilts in the future.
I do have some tips on sewing with Essex Linen, though. I know a lot of people do not prewash their fabrics before sewing (I prewash everything) but I strongly recommend that you prewash linen. Unlike regular quilting cottons which may or may not shrink or change after a wash, the linen will shrink. And it may be just enough to ruin your project. So I put mine through a very delicate cycle on cold water and then tumble dry it until it is thoroughly dried. If the fabric is going to change in any way – bleed color, shrink, fray, etc. – I want it to do it now, before it’s sewn into a quilt. I know people have had trouble in the past with linen and you don’t want any surprises. So dry it well, iron the heck out of it and it should be fine. I even sewed double seams in this quilt – for every single block, just to ease the tension on the seams and prevent fraying. I don’t recommend trying to zig zag or overcast the seams – this actually makes the fabric fray and splits it. I think sewing a double seam on a small stitch length, like 1.8, does the trick. This is so worth the extra time to not have to worry about quilting with this gorgeous fabric.
sewn double seams on every block to ease tension:
The drape and softness of this fabric is really nice. The linen has a weight and heft to it that makes a really snuggly quilt.
The colors I used in this quilt were Essex yarn dyed Taupe, Rust, Red, Olive, Leather, Charcoal, and Espresso. The background color was Flax.
see that beautiful tweedy look the white cross thread gives the linen?
I made sixty 5.5″ hourglass blocks and sixty 5.5″ squares out of the plain linen. The quilt is 10 blocks wide by 12 blocks long. The finished quilt measures about 50″ x 60″.
before quilting and after
I didn’t want to stitch in the ditch at all for this quilt – again, not wanting to add any stress to the seams – and so I stitched lots of diagonal lines around the blocks. This was the first quilt that I tried using Auriful 40 weight thread instead of my usual 50 weight. I really liked the heavier look and did not have to adjust the tension of my machine at all.
For the backing, I used Zen Chic’s Modern Background Paper Handwriting, an awesome fabric that I thought went well with the linen. It’s a larger text fabric than the one that I used in my Shire quilt. Both super fabrics.
I used something new for this quilt. I’ve always used Warm and Natural cotton batting for my quilts, but I was in a quilt shop recently that didn’t carry it – they firmly believed that Hobb’s made a superior batting. It’s a blend of 80% cotton and 20% polyester, which gives it a little more loft and softness. So I tried it in this quilt. I could definitely tell a difference. The quilt was softer and had more drape, better for a quilt that you want to snuggle up with. The Warm and Natural is a firmer batting for sure and probably a better choice for a wall hanging quilt.
I even made a little pillow to go with the quilt!
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and thanks for dropping in!