Saturday, 13 June 2020

Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

It's finally finished!! This is the DIY Constellation Quilt from Haptic Lab and it has to be my longest WIP to date. My mum bought it for me more than three years ago. It hasn't taken me this long through lack of enjoyment but more being overwhelmed by other projects to complete in the mean time. Speedier projects seem to feel much more urgent than this slow paced labour of love. I made good progress when I first began it years ago then work got busy and it languished in a corner. A week on the sofa with a sprained ankle a year later saw another burst of progress but work ground to a halt when all I had left was the Milky Way of hundreds of french knots. I haven't done a huge amount of embroidery but have always enjoyed a bit of cross stitch and french knots were my nemesis. I couldn't muster up the enthusiasm to pick this quilt back up when all that was left waiting for me was hours of french knotting but lockdown gave me the final kick up the bum I needed. I've absolutely conquered my fear of the french knot and dare I say I even enjoyed them!

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

This is actually the second Haptic Lab quilt I have completed as I made the New York map quilt for my sister about 5 years ago. I was really pleased with how that one turned out but definitely feel like I have 'levelled up' my hand quilting this time around. I think my stitching is a lot neater and more accurate and I managed to keep the back reasonably neat and tidy too. I'm really proud of it and am actually quite inspired to start another one! They have kits for maps of lots of different cities (mainly US and Canada but London and Paris too) plus a map of the world. I've just seen that they are now offering print-at-home versions which is very tempting! As well as the DIY kits they sell completed quilts and I'm really in love with the National Parks quilts. Fingers crossed they might bring those out in a DIY version.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

The DIY kit is essentially a map of the quilt printed on to tear-away paper. You layer up your backing fabric, batting and top fabric and lay the tissue out on top. Then you safety pin through all the layers at various points and you are ready to sew. You sew straight through the tissue and tear it away at the end. So satisfying! The sewing instructions are limited and quite vague so I made my own decisions about techniques to use on different lines. It might look like quite a daunting project but actually once you've got your stitches figured out are quite straightforward and therapeutic to work on. I've really enjoyed whiling away some of the lockdown hours in front of some mindless TV with this on my lap. They certainly do take up some hours though. A couple of people have asked me how many hours I have put in to this and I've really got no idea! I'd love to know so if I do another one I'll have to keep a record. This is the regular size quilt by the way. They also do a large size but I feel like the regular is a nice manageable size to sew.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

As I noted when I made the New York quilt, there is so much room for creativity when sewing these up. To start with you can have a lot of fun when picking the colour combination of fabric and thread and you can also use different colours and types of thread in different areas. I like that for the map quilts the Haptic Lab team suggest getting creative and marking on personal landmarks like relative's houses or buildings in the city which mean something to you. For this quilt I stuck with a classic starry night look though and I also opted to leave off the constellation names. Check out Jasika’s version of this quilt though! Her colour choices make it so entirely different.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

I started this such a long time ago that I can't remember where I got all the various materials now but the front is a fairly fine deep navy cotton sateen. I love that it has a slight sheen to it and the intense colour which seems so right for a night sky. The back is a quilting cotton in a slightly different blue and I used the same batting as last time - Hobbs Heirloom Premium Cotton Quilt Batting. I would really recommend it as a good thickness for hand quilting. I had a shop bought binding squirrelled away for the edge which I'm really pleased with the colour of. If you want to do the same you'll need to make sure it is at least 4cm wide when folded out flat to give you a decent width of bound edge.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

For the construction lines I used a Gutermann 100% cotton hand quilting thread in navy. For the majority of them I did a simple running stitch but for thicker circle running around the stars I used two strands of the thread and a backstitch to make it denser. For the constellations I chose a metallic silver DMC embroidery thread. I love the effect of this but it did have a tendency to get tangled up more than non metallic threads. This was not going to be fun at all for all those french knots so for the Milky Way I used a pearly white regular embroidery thread. I chose to only take the navy stitching through to the back side of the quilt. Although one or two silver and white stitches have made their way back there too! The more I sewed the better I got at avoiding mistakes like this.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

I've got a big embroidery hoop but found it got in the way a bit when I was doing the constellations themselves as you quite quickly cover a fair bit of distance and find yourself at the edge of the hoop. Having to move it every five minutes was a bit of a pain so some times I opted to do without. Probably very naughty of me but I found it a lot easier this way! The hoop was absolutely invaluable when doing the french knots though as they are so much easier to manage on a nice taut surface.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

To bind the edges I followed this tutorial although there are lots of almost identical tutorials online. it is very straightforward to do and achieves a lovely neat finish with mitred corners. You stitch the binding on by machine when attaching it to the front and for this I used my walking foot to avoid the layers of the quilt being stretched out unevenly as I sewed. Once attached to the front you fold it over the raw edge to the rear and stitch the folded edge of the binding down by hand. You might think that after all that hand sewing in the quilt itself I would have had enough of it but I actually really enjoyed this part and it was quite speedy to do. Perhaps because it was the most familiar and well practiced technique for me in the whole quilt as it was just like sewing a hem.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

This quilt was a learning process and certainly hasn't turned out perfect but I'm delighted with it none the less. When I was finishing up the binding I added a Kylie and the Machine 'imperfect' label. It seemed to fit the bill just right. I love the idea of declaring the imperfections; for me they are a really beautiful thing and what makes this quilt unique. A sign of the effort and love that went into making this with my own two hands.

Diary of a Chain Stitcher: Haptic Lab Constellation Quilt Hand Embroidery

8 comments:

  1. More than three years ago! That's quick. I'm just on the home straight on a crochet blanket I started in 1995.

    Lovely work - I've not seen anything like this before.

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    1. Haha! I love that three years is quick!
      I haven't yet tried crochet...next hobby on the list!

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  2. Just amazing, I can hardly imagine the number of hours to complete this masterpiece... congratulations !

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    1. Thanks very much! I daren't count the hours but they were at least all enjoyable!

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  3. Impressive!

    Elisabeth

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  4. Oh wow, I didn't notice it was all hand-sewn until you mentioned it explicitly. Splendid work!

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    1. Thanks very much! It becomes obvious when you look up close!

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I love hearing from readers of my blog so please feel free to leave a comment letting me know what you thought about this post/make! Any hints or tips to improve my sewing are always much appreciated too!