Well, I now have my first medallion quilt under my belt and am loving the way it has turned out. I bought the peacock fabric and companion stripes that appear in the 6th and 9th border four years ago on a trip to Pennsylvania’s Amish country. I also got the peacock feathers and the teal and gold fabrics at the same time, and I’ve been waiting for just the right pattern to come along to inspire me to cut into the peacock, which was a print rather than a panel. I finally found the pattern that you see above that is by Marie Bostwick and Deb Tucker (the designer of the set of specialty rulers that I’m always touting because they make my life so much simpler and productive).
Last weekend I had the opportunity to go on my local quilt guild’s 4-day retreat, and I was excited to get the peacock quilt done. My first problem with it was the peacock and accompanying flower design was much larger than the fabric used in the original pattern, so the oval template provided simply wouldn’t work with my print. The Monday before the retreat was our monthly guild meeting, and as things worked out, our speaker showcased several of her award winning quilts with ovals included in them, so I asked her if she had a formula for figuring out how to cut a perfect oval. She did not have an answer for me. Evidently she does hers by the seat of her pants and is much more skilled than I am. Next I asked the person that I was convinced knows absolutely everything about quilting, but alas, for the first time since I’ve known her, she couldn’t tell me the answer. So Super-Hubby to the rescue. I was explaining my issue to him, and he went to the computer and found two how-to videos on how to make a perfect oval that both used the same easy technique! What a wonderful quilter’s husband I have. I’m attaching the links to both videos. The first one I thought was a little easier to understand, but the second one has a better visual, so if you’re interested you might want to watch both of them. The second one, I just moved the bar past the goofiness until they actually started showing the technique. They are both about a minute or so long.
So on Tuesday, we went outside and I made my oval on freezer paper, which I ironed to the back of the peacock design I wanted to use, and then used my usual applique technique to finish the edges, and by the time I left for retreat on Thursday, I had a little over a third of it hand stitched onto the gold background. I figured, how long could it possibly take to throw a few borders on it, so I packed 4 other projects that I wanted to try to get done. Evidently it takes a long time to put 9 borders on when 3 of them are pieced borders and two of them are mitered, because I finally finished getting border number 7 on just in time to pack up and head home on Sunday afternoon. I never even touched my other projects. And I wasn’t goofing off, but hardly left my work area to check in with what others were doing. But when you think about it, with 3 pieced borders, I probably made enough pieces to make up a twin sized quilt. And the pieced borders created another issue. Since my center medallion was larger than the pattern, when I made the pieces for the borders to the pattern specifications they didn’t fit perfectly. So my friends Holly and Debby came to the rescue and helped me figure out how to position coping strips to make the borders look good. I especially love that Debby came up with the idea on the 7th border to use Deb Tucker’s “Corner Beam” ruler to make the corner pieces in that border along with coping strips to make them fit perfectly. I think it adds an unexpected element, but turns the corners nicely yet doesn’t draw too much attention to themselves. I also want to thank Holly for the refresher course on how to do the mitered borders.
Saturday night, we had a show & tell. I had two of the border #7 s on the quilt and it was hanging on the design wall in the main workroom where I was assigned. There was another small group of quilters in a more remote building who brought their projects down to the dining room next to my workroom for show and tell. Just as we were finishing up show and tell, the fire alarm went off and we smelled something like toast burning. Against all rules that you hear about from fire marshals, I ran into the workroom and grabbed my peacock off the wall and the box with the rest of the fabric in it and slept with it in my room that night. As it turns out a member of the staff was cooking a tortilla over an open flame and it caught fire, so it was much ado about nothing, but I was NOT going to let all my hard work go up in flames. Don’t try this at home. Okay, I’m a bad, bad girl.
Even though I didn’t get my other projects done, I had a great time with a great bunch of ladies. If you’ve always been afraid to try an oval, I encourage you to watch the videos and give it a try. The worse thing that can happen is you mess up a few pieces of paper. I am simply terrible at math, and had to do the oval twice because the first one I made didn’t turn out big enough. It’s worth the time and trouble when you get great results. I’m glad I didn’t cut up the peacock fabric into a one block wonder as I was tempted to do several times over the years.