Tree of Life part 5: the Grass

I must confess, I’ve been dreading this bit. But like so many of these things, once you get started it comes together quite painlessly.

Looking back at the original design for this quilt, The Tree of Life, design you’ll see that there’s a strip of ‘grass’ under the branches of the tree. It needed something in the design to anchor the tree, or it would have appeared to float in the water, hence the grass.  I blithely dashed off some very sharp points, not thinking at that point that I’d be spending a considerable time pondering the best way to produce them.  Now, I could have foundation pieced something onto blue background panels. But my foundation piecing isn’t too hot. I could have done some extremely finicky and probably very tedious needleturn applique, but there’s a LOT of points to turn tidily. So in the end I took the course of least resistance, and am bonding them to the background, followed by satin stitch around the outside.

The grass, detail. It tucks under the red circle, so that has to wait to be finished.

The grass, detail. It tucks under the red circle, so that has to wait to be finished.

The grass, detail 2. The bottom edge is just folded up and pinned on, but the top edge is bonded so it holds still when I sew it down

The grass, detail 2. The bottom edge is just folded up and pinned on, but the top edge is bonded so it holds still when I sew it down

Test strips, first to establish which stitch to use, then size and tension, and finally, checking that it looks OK. It'll be better in green!

Test strips, first to establish which stitch to use, then size and tension, and finally, checking that it looks OK. It’ll be better in green!

First I cut strips the right height , and pieced them together, short edge to short edge. Then I drew the waving grass, following the curves and colour banding in this gorgeous Robert Kaufmann fabric, one of my favourite ranges.  Then I flipped it over, and fused a very thin, fine bonding web to the back. Leaving the paper on, I then cut out the top edge of the grass, following the drawn line closely. I then turned up the bottom edge 1/4″, pressed and pinned it, and then pinned that to the correct horizontal line on the background. After that, I took off the paper backing, and ironed the grass onto the background.

The stupid thing is, I can’t finish it today as I don’t have thread the right colour.  The green I have is too pale.  So it’ll have to wait till I can get some tomorrow, a nice strong fresh colour, I think.

Meanwhile, I can hem down the inner edge of the circle everywhere except where it overlaps the grass, so I can satin stitch the grass down under it.

I wasn’t sure if it was going to be buttonhole stitch or satin stitch, but satin stitch is less bulky, so I’m going with that.  A few tests were necessary to establish the best length, width and tension – too tight, and you get a ridge inside the stitch and the fabric is pulled up and distorted.

I’m beginning to start thinking about the trunk of the tree, and what it might look like.  Lots of strips pieced together, and then cut into horizontal sections and pieced together again to form the trunk and branches, I think.  I have some wash away tape for that bit, so I don’t chew up enormous quantities of the fusible web, and also so that the trunk doesn’t get too stiff – just slightly firmer edges.

The grass in place, but not yet sewn down

The grass in place, but not yet sewn down

Anyway, tonight is just a bit of hand stitching, if I feel like it, or maybe I’ll make some more hexies for the Car Quilt while I watch the idiot box.  I’m making better progress than I dared hope, and I’m having the night off!

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