A few months ago Pam Holland, the distinctive award-winning quilter, put out a challenge to make houses inspired by her designs. It was an irresistible challenge because I am a sucker for houses and hers are so quirky and enticing. After pouring over her examples and doing quite a bit of thinking and stitching, this is what I produced.
I hope you can see why it is called Castle Close. I had great fun making it. The rest of this post will give a step by step account of the process.
House quilts have always caught my imagination and I have made quite a few over the years, using the machine piecing and paper-based methods to construct villages (see post #8). Pam Holland’s challenge set me on a new path of replacing piecing with applique and of doing a bit of drawing with a fine marker to give definition the windows and doors. I copied the only two square buildings from her many and varied houses.
I rarely sketch, but this time I did do a bit of planning with a pencil and crayons. The aim was to work out how to get the effect of rows of houses nestling behind one another. I discovered later that it was much easier to get this effect with fabric.
Then I made some sample houses. Old habits die hard and I pieced the roof onto the walls of the house. It felt like a more solid construction once the triangle and the square were joined by stitching. The photograph on the left is of the sample houses. The other photograph is a trial run of the layout of the village.
Paper-backed fusible web was used for the doors, windows, and roof trims. It was certainly easier than piecing them in as they are pretty small. (The houses are each one-and-a-half inches wide.) Once the bits were stuck down I machined around the edges with straight stitching to stablise them and then used a permanent pen marker to outline the windows panes and door trim. The doors were “painted” with water-based coloured pencils.
I finished off each of the houses before I appliqued them onto the background. For this I used my favourite black and white commercial fabric and hand painted the sky and the grass onto the cloth with a watery solution of fabric paint.
The houses were then machine appliqued onto the painted background, in layers. It was an “aha” moment when I found I could get that nestled-behind-one-another effect by partially covering the first row of houses. Pam Holland favours putting her houses on hilltops. I found that by placing the rows in a gentle semi-circle I could create an echoe of this effect.
The railway line and street lights were machined onto the piece after the cluster of houses and all been appliqued onto the background.
And finally I sandwiched, hand quilted, and bound the village. As a happy surprise, the fabric for the binding fell out of my stash of fabrics (well, almost!). Truth is, I found it buried amongst the pile of orange and yellow pieces in my cupboard.
Congratulations to Susan Harrison Buckingham who won the competition. She created a world of Pam’s houses, nestled in folds of fields that went up hill and down dale.
Apart from being an exquisite quilt maker, Pam Holland is also a tutor, author, designer, illustrator, photographer and presenter. Her blog page is at https://iampamholland.com and she has a public facebook page. There you will find images of house entries from around the world.