The Cloths of Heaven 2: groundwork

Much work but little visible progress.

That about sums up where I am. It’s like doing revision before an exam; I’m having to do a lot of prep and look at all sorts of different things to check them in advance so that when I’m actually making the quilt I don’t come up against any nasty surprises.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.03.26 pm

Test panel on the same fabric I’ll be using.

I’ve found metallic markers that will write nicely on well-starched and pressed fabric with a double or triple pass to allow the pigment to build up. That resolves my concern that I’d have to paint or embroider the poem. I’ve found the perfect pale grey, sheeny voile to make the clouds and landscape in the central panel, which layers beautifully for different levels of opacity. I’ve found a lovely brilliant silver embroidery thread – it’s quite fine, meant for sewing machines, but it seems to behave OK in a hand sewing needle. These finds have help to clarify for me that silver for the lettering looks much nicer than gold, which has a brownish tinge against the dark blue. The silver really stands out, is cleaner and has more sparkle.

The problem of how to create an even circle of the correct size without ugly flat spots or bulges in the outline kept me busy for a while, but rather than do my usual trick of finding something about the right size to draw around (who has a dish 32 inches across anyway?), or the string, pin and pencil version, which always results in a wonky circle, I’m resorting to something vaguely scientific.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.05.05 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.04.41 pmThe fabric is folded in half top to bottom and then again side to side. Knowing that I want a circle with diameter 32 inches, I halve that for the radius, set my ruler on the point where the folds meet, and mark 16 inches plus a generous seam allowance, moving the outer end of the ruler an inch or so each time to make a new mark. Once that’s done, pin the layers of fabric together carefully so they don’t shift, and cut around from folded edge to folded edge on the seam allowance line. When you open it out, you should have a perfect circle. This circle can then be used as the template for the inner edge of the 6 inch border round the outside, and the line extended to create the outer edge of the border.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.04.11 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.05.22 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.05.41 pmThe next fun bit will be creating the templates for the landscape. I have a drawing, but it’s only 8 inches across. I need to increase it 4:1, so once again I’m going old school, ruling a 1 inch grid on the drawing. I have stuck sheets of paper together to create something the size of the finished piece, ruled a 4 inch grid on that, and now I can scale the drawing up.

It works well, I did it on my Tree of Life quilt a while back, and as I lack computer skills and fancy programs, resorting to pencil and ruler is the way to go. Experience with the other quilt has also reminded me that appliqué of any kind makes the fabric contract and draw up. A circle becomes ever so slightly oval, and a square no longer square. I need to make the outer edges of the appliqué overlap the outer edge of the circle a lot and the seam allowances generous, so I can re-draw the circle afterwards to true it up.

Tomorrow I’ll scale up the drawing and make the templates. Who knows, I may even actually start sewing!


31 thoughts on “The Cloths of Heaven 2: groundwork

  1. Looks like very good progress. I’ll be glad when I’ve given my presentation tomorrow so I can get back to more interesting projects, too!

  2. Magpie Sue says:

    I don’t know if the finished quilt will be laundered but you might want to check to make sure the starch won’t allow the lettering to rub or wash off. You know, just to prevent any nasty surprised later on.

    I know what you mean about unless needle is passing through fabric it doesn’t feel like progress is being made. I live in that same camp.

    • katechiconi says:

      Already tested! The ink is quite durable and the pigment seems to sink right into the fibres. But thank you so much for the thought. If I don’t actually get to sew today, I will at least expect to start cutting out, which is progress of a more tangible kind.

  3. pattisj says:

    You’ve got enough experience to know that a lot of prep time will keep you out of trouble. 🙂 It’s so hard when one wants to get to the stitching.

    • katechiconi says:

      It sure is! I have the mental image of how it will look pushing hard at the edges of my mind. I’m currently making the templates for the appliquéd central panel – it’s laborious but I absolutely need to get it right.

  4. claire93 says:

    it all looks very pain-staking, but will be worth it when you can start cutting and sewing

    • katechiconi says:

      Cutting has begun, but it all looks like a dog’s dinner right now. Another couple of hours will see the pieces stuck down, and probably tomorrow I’ll get the appliqué done.

  5. rutigt says:

    That is some big work you´ve started! You seem to solve the problems though and I think the quilt will look great 🙂

  6. All I can say is ‘wow’!

    • katechiconi says:

      I don’t think I’ve ever prepared so intensively for a quilt. Normally it’s a case of assemble some fabrics, decide how big it’s going to be, what sort of design am I going to use and away we go. There’s a lot that can go wrong here, hence the homework. On the upside, all that prep means I’m steaming along at a rate of knots. Watch this space!

  7. tialys says:

    I much prefer the silver too. Will you be using different fonts or just one. I particularly like the one you have used for the word ‘Silver’.

    • katechiconi says:

      It’s all going to be hand lettered, and yes, I’ll be using the same style as ‘Silver’, which I like too. It’s more legible than italic style, not so cartoonish as simple hand lettered capitals, and it’s unique because it’s my design!

  8. I have some silver threads… Shall I send some to you so you can try those out too?
    Love your research into the newest project

  9. Lynda says:

    We used to do variations of that grid process for art when I was in school. And, I even did it with my preschoolers once for a large wall piece of Noah and his ark. The end result was “interesting”, but recognizable. (The parents loved it!) 😀

    Can’t wait to see your superior results, Kate!

    • katechiconi says:

      We were taught to do it upside down for greater accuracy. I also use a ‘window’ to frame and isolate only the square I’m working on, otherwise it gets too confusing. And the next post shows how I got on!

  10. anne54 says:

    The silver is such a good decision, and will fit well with the shimmer of the clouds. I can’t wait to see how things progress.

  11. I can see how silver thread would be nicer with the blue than gold.
    This post makes me think of the saying about how one eats an elephant!

  12. Kirsten says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing this one come together 🙂

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