Friday, August 31, 2012

August Challenge - Jester Hats or Tilt-a-Whirls

 SewCalGal's challenge this month came from Wendy Sheppard.  It's an all-over pattern she calls "jester hats."  It looks deceptively simple, but gave quite a few of us a challenge.

My finished jester hats
I didn't have much time to quilt this month - my daughter, Lisa, and I have been working on the interior of our "porch," with help from her fiance.  It's really a three-season room now.  The project has been in the works for over five years and we finally got to the drywalling stage.  So all month long I've been coming home from work, changing into my grungy clothes and slapping "mud" (aka drywall compound) on the joints and screw holes.  Okay, "slapping" is not the right word.  I'm too much of a perfectionist.  A professional would have had it done in only a day or two, but it took me a good deal longer, and boy are my neck and shoulders sore!

Then, when I did get a chance to quilt the temperature was in the 90's.  TOO HOT in my sewing room!  I had been drawing page after page of jester hats, and like many of the quilters in the challenge, was having a problem with them.  They just didn't look the same as Wendy Sheppard's!  The spacing was off, I only seemed to be going in one direction (diagonally) and I kept getting trapped.

This is my fourth or fifth attempt at drawing.
I finally printed out one of the pictures and traced that several times. Then I went back to my paper, and low and behold I got it!  Several folks mentioned that when they thought of the pattern as a dance it helped.  Well, I'm not a dancer, so that didn't help me!  But it started feeling more natural when I started thinking of a tilt-a-whirl - you know, that carnival/fair ride?  You twirl and twist as you're going around in a circle and then, whoops! You're going the opposite direction.  My mantra (which helped me loads!) was "bump, bump, BIG curl, bump, bump, BIG curl..."

They're finally getting more even!

Since I haven't been piecing much this summer, what with the porch and the heat and all, I didn't have a project that needed quilting.  So, I used a scrap piece of muslin and some pieced together batting that I had laying around.  It's nothing special, but my challenge is done!  I'll definitely put this pattern in my repertoire.  It's a great, fun looking pattern for large spaces.

I did finally admit to myself that I can't use the cheap thread on top though.  I struggled through lots of breaking threads (pink, teal, blue, dark purple and light purple) and just crummy looking stitches before I broke down and used my good stuff.  I really want to use up the junk stuff for my practice, but it's not worth the headache!  It did seem like it worked okay in the bobbin, so maybe I can get rid of it there.

Same piece but different lighting to show the texture better.

The other thing I learned was that I tend to move my fabric too quickly around the big curves.  This gave me great practice in getting my hand and foot/machine speed to match up!

Here's Lisa applying the first coat of mud.  The mudding is done and Lisa put a primer coat on before she headed back to college last week.  I really, really appreciate her help.  We've chosen a soft peach color for the porch, and she's planning on painting it on her first long weekend.  I hope the weather cooperates!

Lisa applying the first coat of mud.

Good thing the ceiling isn't any higher!
Happy Quilting!



  1. Looking good, both your porch and the jesters hats! I've been spackling and painting too, my DH's shop, one section at a time. It surely is slow going!

  2. I also think your Jesters Hat FMQ and your porch look great!


  3. Your Jesters Hats look good - I found that practise on paper essential for this one too, but a fun design.