Winter Tablecloth with Glorious Cardinals

Winter Tablecloth with Glorious Cardinals - francenadeau.comWinter Tablecloth with Glorious Cardinals - francenadeau.comI went to the fabric store to buy thread. Of course, the thread spools were in the back of the store. I had to walk by rows and rows of gorgeous colors and attractive designs aiming at getting my attention. Holding my head straight, I kept looking at the back wall while walking at a brisk pace. I was doing well–I had passed by the expensive embroidered fabric without touching it, I had not turned my head the slightest to spot the new arrivals and I looked at the cutting table when I arrived at the section reserved for the 100% cotton destined to the quilters–I was doing very well indeed. Only the seasonal table remained between me and my goal. But then, red entered my peripheral vision. My all-time favorite color. I had a moment of weakness and turned my head, not much, but enough to realise that the red belonged to cardinals. My favorite bird. Before I knew it, my hands were on the fabric assessing the thickness and the texture. A few seconds later, my mind was set on a tablecloth and napkins. Those cardinals with their golden accents would be glorious on a winter table ! How could I resist ?Winter Tablecloth with Glorious Cardinals - francenadeau.comWinter Tablecloth with Glorious Cardinals - francenadeau.comWinter Tablecloth with Glorious Cardinals - francenadeau.comI made a simple border with a stitch I have on my sewing machine. I call it the crescent stitch. I sew at approximately 1/2″ from the border and afterward cut along the stitches with embroidery scissors. The cutting take some time, but I just love the lacy effect this technique creates. I have done it on several tablecloths and I can affirm that this border can stand many sessions into the sewing machine. The thread is very secure if you do not cut too close to it.

Red may seem too vivid for a table setting. The red on this fabric is not, though, because all the colors are slightly faded. Don’t you find that these lovely cardinals are glorious ?

France

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Winter Tablecloth with Glorious Cardinals - francenadeau.com

Cardinal Blocks for my Winter Quilt

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The cardinal is a majestic bird that adds a splash of vividness wherever it lands and I could not make my Winter Quilt without it. I more than once saw a cardinal while walking in the Montreal Botanical Garden during a mild winter day. Posing in the same manner as the ones I have hand-appliqued, perched on the branch of a grand oak. Twice this winter, I was lucky enough to see one in my backyard (though not in an oak).

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The eyes and the black sections around them were embroidered by hand. I have also embroidered snow on the branches and on the acorns, because I have never seen a winter without snow. The blocks would then have been better suited for a fall quilt.

A closer look will show you blue threads running horizontally. This is because I prepared the quilt for quilting before taking the pictures. I know, these do not add to the prettiness. Please, ignore them.

I have made four cardinal blocks. They are similar, with wings and acorns placed differently. Two birds are facing the left and two are facing the right. I hope you enjoy looking at my cardinals, as much as I did stitching them.

France

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More winter-related creations:

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Snowman Blocks for my Winter Quilt

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Cardinal and Red Berries Quilt

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From Bits and Pieces to Snowmen

My First Free Motion Quilting

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The quilting is done on my Cardinal and Red Berries Quilt and this is my first “real” free motion quilting project. I am more a hand quilter but recently a few things incited me to learn this new method of embellishment.

First, let me repeat that this project started when I won a giveaway from Karen at Karen’s Quilts, Crows and Cardinals. The giveaway was a starting kit to make her Redbird and Berries Mini Quilt. If you saw her quilt, you know that Karen quilted hers beautifully and I wanted to get a similar effect on my background.

Second, I visit Freemotion by the River every week and Connie makes beautiful projects that she free motion quilt. She and the many blogs I visit showed me that free motion quilting makes remarkable finishes and that pushed me to try it even thought it brings me out of my comfort zone. If I machine quilt, it is usually quite simple, done with the regular foot.

So, some weeks ago, I took my free motion quilting foot from its bag. I had once tried it, a few years ago, but did not know then that the grips below the foot must be lowered. You may guess how bad it went when I tried to stitch with it in those conditions.

With the grips down, I have practiced on scraps and decided to make my true first attempt with my Cardinal. I must say I enjoyed it.

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There was some awkward moments for sure, like when I went from bottom to top or when the fabric seemed to make a jump to the side all of a sudden. Anyone looking closely would see how imperfect it is. But I do not mind the imperfections and I enjoyed seeing the patterns take form so quickly. I certainly learned a lot while doing this piece and as the saying goes, practice makes perfect!

France

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Cardinal and Red Berries Quilt

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The top before quilting

A few weeks ago, Karen from Karen’s Quilts, Crows and Cardinals presented a quilt she created and made with fabric from Moda Bake Shop. It is a beautiful quilt in red, white, beige, gray and black. Quite sophisticated. She did a giveaway for a starting kit and, oh surprise!, I won.

So, last week I was able to start working on my own Redbird and Berries Mini Quilt. You may think I am making a mistake when naming the quilt in the title of this post, but no. I am giving mine a name different from Karen’s because, well, I decided to work with only what I received in the mail. Which makes mine a little smaller (even more mini) and without the white background. Different quilt, different name.

The first thing I did was admiring the gorgeous fabric. I had received squares in beige and gray (for the border), grey stems already cut and larger pieces of deep red, orange-red, light beige and black. Deep colors, sophisticated prints.

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A zoom on some of the gorgeous prints

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The red fabric has some grey and black in it

I love cardinals and I love red. Which is why the first thing I did was cut the pattern for the cardinal and prepare it with fusible fabric, to be stitched by hand. After, I separated the squares: the light beige squares on one side, the grey and the dark beige squares on the other side. I had decided to make the background with the light beige squares and I started to move them around until there was an harmonious assembly of those. I must say that I added seven squares from a beige cotton I already had. It was that or making do with a smaller background and leaving some of the beautiful fabric aside. Which I could not. Then, I placed the darker pieces of fabric all around to create a border, as in the original quilt.

I assembled everything with my sewing machine. The squares are 2” wide after sewing and the top is now made of 7 by 8 squares. After that, it was a matter of stitching all the appliqués by hand: the branches, the cardinal and 33 berries. The position of the branches and the berries differs from Karen’s quilt because mine is smaller and there was no way I could put them at the exact same place.

The next steps are the quilting and the binding. I am eager to do them and have this quilt ready to be displayed! France

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The top without the border