The Cloths of Heaven 24: over the line

Today is my birthday, and as a reward, The Cloths of Heaven is finished, at last.

The Cloths of Heaven final, frontThe Cloths of Heaven centre detailI started it on 30th October last year, and it is finished today, three months later. I originally gave myself 6 months, then brought the deadline forward considerably when I realised I could get it carried back to England if I did so, rather than taking my time and having to entrust it to the mail service.

The Cloths of Heaven border quiltingI’m tired, I admit. The last couple of weeks have been intensive, the quilting has taken its usual toll on my hands, but it has been absolutely worth it. The process of building this quilt has helped to clarify for me that increasingly, my creative process on these large pieces is more about the quilt being tailored to the intended user on several levels, and less about simply making something pretty or interesting, or even doing something just to see if I can. I’m making a creative statement about the person, if you like, rather than simply making something useful and attractive but generic.

The Cloths of Heaven labelI’ve enjoyed the growth of my skills and the exploration of ideas and processes intensely, including the involvement of those of you following this blog, who have been kind, encouraging, helpful and, frankly, indispensable in keeping me on track! I’m very, very happy with the finished quilt.


Some stats, for those who are interested:

Started 30th October 2015, completed 31st January 2016
Finished size: 88 x 88 inches
Fabrics: 100% cotton, mostly generic fillers and solids, but the blue, green and red batiks are from the Fossil Fern range by Benartex. I’ve been calling the colours Reef, Rainforest and Bushfire in my mind. The clouds are made of fine grey polyester tulle.
Construction: machine piecing, hand and machine appliqué, hand and machine quilting, hand lettering.
Threads are 100% cotton Gütermann Ne50 in dark blue and dark jade for construction and hand quilting weight in dark blue, dark jade, dark magenta and pale lilac. The silver used on the constellations is a Sulky machine embroidery thread in bright silver.
Assembled in 5 units (centre and 4 sides) using the quilt-as-you-go process, where sections are pieced and quilted before being attached to each other with sashing strips.
Hand finished binding and label, hand stitched yoyos in the border.
Label was created in Word, saved as a .jpg file, and the image reversed in PicMonkey, then printed out on transfer paper and heat bonded to white fabric.

For more detailed information on each process, you can find all the posts about The Cloths of Heaven stages 1-24 by typing ‘Cloths of Heaven’ into the search panel in the bar on the left.

It has been suggested that I should enter this quilt into a show. That’s very kind, but I know this quilt is not ‘show quality’. It’s original and different, but not, as we know, perfect! Furthermore, by the time any of the shows come round, I hope it will have been lying on my niece and her husband’s bed for some time fulfilling its intended purpose. But what do you think about entering it into the Blogger’s Quilt Festival?  All I have to do is write an entry post and show photos, which shouldn’t be too taxing. Tell me what you think about doing that. I have never entered anything in it before, and am even having trouble deciding which category it should go into. I feel a bit shy about exposing myself that way. What if I don’t get any votes? :-/

I’m going to have a short break from big sewing. There are lots of small bits and pieces I want to work on for a while; more scrappy blocks, a secret sewing gift, some more F2F blocks, a bit of embroidery and finally, I’d like to start my selfish sewing: the first block for Bee, Myself and I (see the link in my side bar).

There’s a new quilt already knocking on the door in the back of my mind, and it involves creating a lot of original paper pieced designs. I’m resisting the urge to dive straight in and am sticking to pencil and paper for now…

We’re off on our travels on 6th February, back on 17th. I’ll be posting along the way from time to time – come on, you didn’t seriously expect me to disappear from view entirely, did you?



The Cloths of Heaven 23: In the home stretch

I’m back with a needle in my hand...

Border quiltingThe borders are attached. I’ve spliced together many, many pieces to make the batting for these from my enormous store of batting scraps, now much reduced. I’ve joined many, many widths of fabric strips to form the borders themselves. It has been tedious in the extreme, but it’s done. I made up a template for the sinus wave template I was considering and did a test but it looked, well, meh… So I got out paper and a pencil and just scribbled some more till I came up with something I liked better.

I’ve got the border on one side quilted already, with the pattern I finally decided on. Simple circles and triple chevrons, evenly spaced along the border. The bad news is, it needs quilting by hand. Eeek. The good news is, it uses a lot less yoyos (if any, I haven’t quite decided yet)… Hurray! Speaking of which, I have 124 yoyos made. That’s going to be more than enough for the new border layout, however I use them, so the time I save I can use to hand quilt.

quilting coloursThe interesting part of this simple pattern for me is that each line of quilting is in a different colour: the circles are lilac and the three lines of the chevrons are in dark magenta, jade and dark blue. It’s a detail most people wouldn’t notice, but I love it!

Tomorrow I should be able to get the opposite side quilted, and perhaps one of the others, depending on how much real life demands my attention. The green binding is already made and waiting. Once that’s on, I’ll make the decision about the yoyos. If I don’t use them here, I’m certain to find something else to do with them!

Looks as if this quilt is going to be done in time after all…

The Cloths of Heaven 22: Let’s go round again

It’s ready for the final addition: the border.

Can I just say again? I love this quilt… It’s been such a satisfying piece to produce because at each stage I’ve been able to achieve what I wanted, and if change was necessary, it was always for the better instead of watering down the concept.

Cloths of Heaven side panels

It doesn’t really taper in towards the bottom, it’s just the angle I had to take the photo at. And I simply CAN’T get the colours to look right in indoor light…

I’m OK with the small inconsistencies, the bits where things don’t quite line up. This will happen when you have lots and lots of long edges. Fabric stretches, a little here and a little there, and some is worse than others. It happens when pieces are handled a lot, as in quilting, and become slightly warped. It happens when you are trying to line things up blind, where seams to be aligned are on the inside of a multi-layer sandwich and all you can see is the plain fabric on the outside. I can hear it now: Vergeet niet, lieverd, perfectie is voor de Lieve Heer. Thanks, Ma.

I love the quilt the way it looks now, and it’s tempting to stop. But this size (76 inches square) isn’t quite large enough to cover a queen bed with a good overhang. So I’m going to add the 6 inch border, yoyos and all.  Thankfully, the quilting design that’s now nudging away inside my head for liberation requires fewer even than my second estimate. Think sinus waves, of varying lengths, in different thread colours, each line strung at intervals with yoyo ‘beads’.

There will be a short interlude for loads of pressing and cutting…

The Cloths of Heaven 21: positively purple

I expect you’ve been wondering where I’d got to. There has been a lot of non-‘Cloths of Heaven’ activity recently.

There was an excellent reason for that, as you probably realise by now, but it was time to get back to my main job! But behind the scenes, I’d been quilting the two long and two short side panels. They’re done, a nice simple grid running through the squares on the diagonal. I tested a number of thread colours against all the fabrics of the front and back, and the jade/teal green was the best by miles. The quilting went quickly and pleasantly, just a couple of times when I didn’t check my bobbin before I started a long line, only to discover at the end that I’d got just the first inch stitched and the rest was a long trail of top thread. Grrr… I am loving this QAYG construction method. No aching shoulders and frayed temper from hauling a huge quilt through the narrow throat of my domestic sewing machine.

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 3.41.57 pmScreen Shot 2016-01-21 at 3.42.17 pmI’ve been plugging away at the job since finishing the quilting, and both short sides and one long side are now joined, very tidily and invisibly.

I considered using the sewing machine to stitch down the final seam on the back, but it would have left a visible line and instead I’ve hemmed the edge down by hand. There are lots of tutorials out there for a variety of methods of joining the quilted panels, but my favourite is to use a 1″ strip to join the two front edges, leaving a ½ inch wide visible band, and a 1¼ inch strip on the back, with one edge pressed over to give a neat hem which will just cover the stitching line from the front. You can used a 2 inch strip pressed in half instead, but this way I was able to recycle all the edges I’d trimmed off the quilted panels, very economical!

Screen Shot 2016-01-21 at 3.41.23 pmNow, purple. Several of you commented favourably on the purple I’ve used for the backing on the side panels. I agree! So much so that I’ll be using it for the 6 inch outer border too, front and back, as well as the sashing strips that join the side panels to the centre panel. I looked at a number of other options in the same colour range, including one very lovely purple/dark pink batik, but in the end, it was going to be too ‘loud’ in the overall colour scheme, which is not what I wanted for the border. I think fate must have intervened on my behalf, as there was just enough left on the bolt to do the job plus 8 inches to spare… The quilting design for the border is still evolving in my head, but I think I’m getting there.

I really must start churning out more yoyos. I don’t have nearly enough done, not even half.

SAL 23: inching along

It’s been a very busy few weeks, but I have managed a bit of cross-stitch!

Here’s where I was last time:

SAL 27.12.115

And here’s where I am now:

sampler 17:1:16

As always, it’s worth your while visiting the other SAL stitchers. Don’t forget about the difference in time zones; if you’re seeing me first, you may need to drop in to theirs a bit later to give them a chance to get their posts up.

Avis at
Claire at
Gun at
Carole at
Jule at
Wendy at
Lucy at
Cathy at
Jacqui at
Jess at

Foot²Freestyle: the Virtual Quilt

What happens when you bring together a group of creative, focused and generous quilters, and give them a Mission Impossible?

Miracles, that’s what. On 12th January, we agreed as a group that we’d create together the quilt that was the goal of Miss May, since she would no longer be among us to finish it herself. Just 5 days later, the blocks are all made, and the ‘Virtual Quilt’ is assembled.

Pat's Virtual Quilt

Screen Shot 2015-03-14 at 7.32.54 pmOur friend can see how her quilt will look, and the postal services of the US, UK, Netherlands, Germany, France and Australia permitting, we hope to have the real thing completed within a few more weeks.

Stay with us for the rest of the journey. I’ll keep you posted.


ScrapHappy January

It’s that time again, people!

Once again, it’s the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps.

Postage stamp block 13Another postage stamp block for Ella Dee’s quilt. I’m not getting on very quickly with this one, mainly due to The Cloths of Heaven and a couple of other private/secret projects eating up all my time just now. And February’s going to be a busy month for travelling, so it may be even more inadequate next month! We’ll see…

I have a plan and a drawing for the postage stamp quilt, something a little bit different. There are 13 blocks completed now, and another 12 to go, and then I can start assembling things.

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps – no new fabrics. It can be a random or formal quilt block, a pillow or pincushion, a bag or hat, a collage or rag rug. Anything made of scraps is eligible. If your scrap collection is out of control and you’d like to turn them into something beautiful instead of leaving them to collect dust in the cupboard, why not join us on the 15th of each month? Either email me at the address shown on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. You don’t have to worry about a long term commitment or even join in every month, just let either of us know a day or so in advance whether you’ll have something to show.

Lorij quilt top Lorij quilt backHere’s a couple of photos of a project made by Lorij from strips of scrap fleece; look at that lovely neat hand quilting on the red back! Lorij doesn’t have a blog but joins us occasionally here in photos.

Linking with

Gun at (in Swedish and English)

Titti at (in Swedish only)

Heléne at (in Swedish only)

Eva at (in Swedish only)

Viv at (in English)

Nanette at