The Cloths of Heaven 12: the Mountains of the Moon

I’ve always loved that name. It’s a mountain range in Africa, and now, it’s the central section of this quilt

landscape quiltedI’ve finished the hand quilting inside the circle: moon, mountains, clouds and sky. No blood was drawn, for a change, and my quilting calluses have come back a lot faster this time round; it’s not such a long time since I finished Worldwide Friends and my hands have retained the memory.  It’s also lovely to be able to get rid of the safety pins, which are deeply annoying when hand quilting. There’s a sort of magnetic attraction between the pins and the thread on your needle and a tangle is virtually inevitable. Even if you’re nowhere near them… The sky and moon are densely quilted to keep them flat, the mountains less so, and the clouds very lightly quilted indeed to keep them puffy. You can see in the photo above that they’re almost 3D. The mountain quilting doesn’t show well in this image, but it’s mainly jagged straight lines, echoing the upper outline of each one.

landscape quilting, backThe back is looking quite respectable too, and I haven’t missed too many stitches. That green Fossil Fern batik backing is beautifully soft and smooth, for which my left hand was very grateful. There were areas that were tough to work on, notably where the appliqué panels overlapped at the edges. The other areas were fine, and the fact that this piece is smaller than a full size quilt made the whole process manageable. I haven’t used a hoop at any point – I rarely do. The quilt was laid out on the table, and I worked with my left hand underneath, my right on top and the weight of the quilt provided all the tension I needed.

Next is quilting the circle containing the poem.  I’m still debating that one. A bit more sketchbook time is needed. I’m beginning to think concentric circles is the way to go; two each at the bottom and top and two between the lines of lettering. Perhaps some sort of shape around the stars separating the stanzas. A diamond, maybe?

The final step is to do the corners, stitching down the stems and extending them out into the tendrils, stitched all the way through all layers, so the stitching will be visible on the back.  I’m considering whether to stitch blue on top and green underneath so everything blends a bit more on both sides. Once that’s finished, the quilting of the centre panel is done, and it’s on to stitching on all the leaves. Given the joy that stitching around safety pins brings, I think pinning on all the leaves at once is a recipe for flinging the whole thing into the corner and screaming. I shall sew one at a time, using the template as a guide, and working away from the leaves already applied.

But first, a short break for family dinner; the curry is smelling amazing!

38 thoughts on “The Cloths of Heaven 12: the Mountains of the Moon

  1. Wonderful hand quilting. It’s looking great, even on the back – how extravagant to use batik on the back, but worth it for the looks. I never thought of using anythig except extra-wide plain sheeting or curtain lining on the backs of my quilts! You’ve reminded me of the reason I tack my sandwiches and don’t use safetypins.

    • katechiconi says:

      It does look nice, better than a standard small busy print wideback, which is my most common default. Normally, I machine quilt, hence using the safety pins, since tacking gets caught under the foot. A matter of habit…

  2. tialys says:

    You should definitely sew one leaf at a time – we don’t want to think of you flinging beautiful pieces of quilting into corners and screaming, it would upset us.
    I love the batik on the back – it has a sort of ‘cloudy’ look that goes well with the general theme as well as being a beautiful colour.

    • katechiconi says:

      The quilting has gone well in the second half, so screaming is considerably less likely! Once I’d sorted out all the fabrics and worked out what was going where, it was clear that I’d have a surplus of the green batik, so I decided to go with it. Lovely fabric to quilt through, too!

      • Some say it is hard to quilt through because of the very fine, dense texture. I’m not a hand-quilter but I don’t like machine quilting through batik. I’m glad you’re finding it a pleasure to use.

      • katechiconi says:

        Fossil Fern is printed on a softer, slightly more open weave, and has an almost silky feel compared with the traditional crispness of normal batiks. I love it!

  3. claire93 says:

    I really admire your patience.
    Quilting (hand or machine) is the part I like the least and always seems to take forever. Your centre panel is looking gorgeous

    • katechiconi says:

      I agree that quilting is not my favourite part. In this case, though, it adds a textural dimension I can’t achieve any other way. The rest of the quilt will be machine quilted, simply to hold the layers together.

  4. Coming along beautifully. I’m eager to see what comes next!

  5. Grannymar says:

    It looks more amazing at every stage. The batik on the back reminds me of curtains I made some years ago for an internal glass door. Instead of lining, I used another curtain fabric to tone with the colour scheme in the room behind the glass.

  6. knitnkwilt says:

    It’s looking good. In the photo the back has enough blue with the green that I’d be inclined to use blue on both top and bottom. But that is me talking, and I can’t get my tension so perfect that I don’t get bits of back thread to top.

  7. Your hand quilting is wonderful. I’ve never learned to do it though I did try. I like the fabric on the back and the whole thing is beautiful.

    • katechiconi says:

      The quilting’s fairly even, but not as small as I’d like it to be. Mostly that’s because my hands aren’t as nimble as they once were, and because I came to hand quilting late in life. So long as you don’t beat yourself up for not using the ‘correct, approved’ technique, anyone can do it. My way is not at all how they show it on all the YouTube tutorials, but it works for me!

  8. anne54 says:

    I love hand sewing, and the idea of hand quilting actually appeals to me. However, I have never done it, and not likely to, so it is easy for me to say! I get what you mean about pins and thread though. It is looking wonderful.

    • katechiconi says:

      Thanks, Anne! Hand quilting does give a special soft texture to things which I like very much. More to do this afternoon, and then I’m back onto the sewing machine to fix down the ivy stems.

  9. katechiconi says:

    Yes, it’s nagging me as I write this…

  10. rutigt says:

    The Mountains of the Moon….yes, I love that name too! You are doing great. I just have been away for some days and you have done all this!!!!!! I´m impressed!

  11. vivjm says:

    Your quilting is beautiful. And on the the back too!
    I can’t abide quilting with pins in place, so I always hand baste, though admittedly it does take a lot longer that way!
    “The Mountains of the Moon” is certainly a wonderful name 🙂

  12. Wonderful quilting…. marvelous.. 🙂

  13. oh Kate this is soooooo lovely !!!!

  14. The back is looking very respectable!
    Yes, why does the thread seek the pins and wrap around them as it does? It is like a moth to a flame.

    • katechiconi says:

      My phrase for it is The blind animosity of inanimate objects:
      If something can jump out for you to stub your toe on, it will.
      If a pin can make sure it’s in just the right place to drive its point under your fingernail, it will.
      If the glass of water can sidle close enough to your elbow to be knocked over, it will.

  15. EllaDee says:

    I love the organic-ness of the batik on the reverse, and the cool soothing appeal of the blues and greens. I could get lost in tracing the lines of the stitching.
    BTW thank you for the explanation about the blind animosity of inanimate objects… I needed that. I have a smashed big toenail courtesy of the G.O. and a misplaced soccer ball…

    • katechiconi says:

      … This morning I had a large container of just-sliced watermelon chunks leap out of my hands and splatter all over the floor, staining my pants with pink juice and leaving sticky residue everywhere. I’m convinced the rest of creation has it in for me…

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