Bee, Myself and I #19

And the quilt goes on…

The first two blocks of the second line down are quilted. I’ve had some other things on the go (a rather larger hand quilting job, you’ll recall!), so I didn’t manage the same number of blocks this time as I did last time, but I’m still doing OK. Here are the completed blocks 6 and 7.

The only tricky part is ensuring that the quilting on the body of the hatbox is roughly the same on all the blocks. The two blocks shown here have very different patterns, so I’ve had to be selective about which bits I pick out with quilting.

The easiest way to see if you’re getting it right is to look at the back; without the distraction of the block design, you can tell if the quilting is evenly distributed and not too dense.

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not for anyone else. The original concept belongs to Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl. To find out more, you can click through on either her blog link, or using the button a fair way down in the left hand column.

Hopefully next time I’ll have a few more to show.




Beginning with Bonnard

One of my sisters had a landmark birthday yesterday.

It turns out that she’d love a quilt, but hadn’t quite liked to ask, and it wasn’t until I asked if she’d be interested in having one to add to the peaceful décor of her new apartment that I discovered this. We talked a lot about size and the sort of colours she likes, and whether she uses Pinterest for mood boards (she doesn’t, but it’s not for everyone…). She’s also not keen on modern prints. We ended our conversation and both went away to have a think. Next morning, she sent me this, as a guide to the colours and mood she’s after:

Well, as we all know, I do love a bit of blue and green and lilac, so it’s no great hardship for me to make a quilt that references this lovely Bonnard painting. I had a blissful hour or two rootling in my stash*, with the following result:

There’s not a graphic modern print among them, so we’re ahead already. Yes, they’re all batiks, but they blend so wonderfully, and I love the contrast of the warm colours across the top. I’m hoping this effect will enable me to create a soft, watery, leafy effect, with dashes of brilliant brightness here and there.

My sister still has to consider and edit this selection, but I think the bones are there. And in case you’re wondering, the quilt really has named itself. It’s going to be called Bonnard. I think it’s probably also going to be hand quilted, but that’s a long way down the track still. Not quite such an intimidating job as the last one, as this quilt will be only about 60 inches or 1.5m square. Perfect sofa-snoozing size.

*In case you’re wondering, this isn’t folded yardage but individual 2½ inch strips, with maybe two or three exceptions. My stash really isn’t very impressive!

There’s no rush with this one, no deadline, so I can afford lots of thinking time. Having said that, it’ll probably go really quickly!


If anyone’s interested, there’s an amazing video of the sale of this painting at Christie’s auction house in London in 2011. It realised a staggering GB£6,400,000, and the auction process is really entertaining 🙂

ST&D: the ribbon and the stamp

And another two! I’m enjoying making these so much that I’m having a hard time keeping up with my own ideas 🙂

Every quilt I make for OCA has the teal ribbon on it somewhere, and here’s where it’s going on this quilt. I wanted to make use of the stamps on the brown paper backing, and thought a parcel of some sort would be the way to go. And then, of course, it needed a ribbon round it, and what better way to finish off than with a teal ribbon bow?

Once of the planned central blocks was a large representation of a stamp. Originally I was going to do something with appliqué, but having achieved some success with the small transfers, I went for it with a bigger one. Australia Post issued a series of ‘Australian Road Trip’ illustrated stamps in 2012, and this is the one for the Great Barrier Reef, right there on my doorstep. It was too good to miss 🙂 The bright colours called for a darker surround and gave me an excuse to use this floral fabric which I’ve been hoarding for a while.

I have one more postcard block to go and then I’ve made the 5 blocks I committed to. If anyone in the Ovarian Cancer group is finding themselves short of time and can’t managed the block(s) they’ve offered to make, just let me know, as I have plenty of time (and inspiration!) and can very easily make more.

While I’m thinking about postal issues, we’re off on a motorbike road trip on 14 October, returning on 29 October. Anyone who’s posted anything in the last couple of days can be reasonably assured it will be delivered before we go, but can I ask anyone planning to mail anything soon to hold off for about 3 weeks, so that your lovely squishy doesn’t languish in the depths of the post office while our mail is held? Anything posted after 20th October should be fine.

That’s enough postal stuff for today. Now, will it be hand quilting, or a spot of embroidery….?


ST&D, postcard 2

I thought I’d change things round for this second one.

The last one had all the fancy business on the front. This time, I’ve made more effort with the back and the actual background. I’ve made a panel of hand-pieced EPP hexagons for the front, the classic patchwork look, using a variety of teal scraps. But combining that fairly plain front with another plain back didn’t do it for me.

Scans, right reading

Reversed, to print on transfer paper

I went to my letter and postcard pile (I get so few now, I like to keep them to read again), and I sorted out ones that had nice stamps and postmark franks. I scanned them, retouched them, cropped them out and arranged them on a single A4 page in Word, at pretty much actual size. Then I took a screen shot of the page, opened it in Preview* and reversed it so it was now a mirror image of itself. You can see where I’m going with this? Yup, I’m making transfers. I printed the reversed image onto an A4 sheet of HP transfer paper. My printer uses pigment inks, so transfers printed this way stand up OK to being washed once they’re ironed onto fabric and heat set. Follow the instructions on your transfer paper package for the best way of applying the transfer to fabric. Once the image was transferred, I cut out each stamp and postmark, and then stitched them down onto the background.

At this point, I have to make a confession. I cut the background piece too small, so I had to sew a bit back on. Being me, I couldn’t stand the horribly slightly visible seam, so I came up with the row of decorative stamps and postmarks down the side. I actually love the way this looks, so all’s well that ends well, don’t you think?

I have some stamps and postmarks left, on a ‘brown paper’ back-ground. I must think of a cunning plan for using them up! Much too pretty to throw out…


*I’m working on a Mac, and the way of producing a reversed image may differ on your computer.

ST&D postcard: not embroidery, then…

It’s as I suspected.

I did a test piece and I simply can’t get the needle and thread through the bits where there are three or four layers of fabric, especially when one of those fabrics is a densely-woven batik. Add to that the need to use a layer of waste canvas* and it’s out of the question. So…

I’ve changed things round a bit. The ‘Greetings from Tropical North Queensland’ bit runs diagonally across the back of the postcard and is hand-lettered in indelible ink, as is my name in the address section. I’ve used a font that looks like vintage ‘brush stroke’ lettering, to keep the kitschy-postcard-vibe going. Happy with the result… The front will stay message-free.Here’s the finished block. And now I’ve proved to myself that I can do it, that’ll be quite enough of that!  The next one will be considerably simpler and quicker 🙂 I have another postcard block to do, plus the OCA ribbon block, plus the postage stamp block in the centre, and I’m not doing complicated for each one.

On with the next one! 

*waste canvas is where you place a layer of canvas or other gridded fabric like Aida on top of the surface you want to embroider, do the embroidery, and then pull the canvas out, thread by thread, leaving just the embroidery and the fabric surface. Again, very fiddly, but it produces an excellent result.

NOTE: The free online photo-editing suite I have been using has now decided it won’t let me save my edited images unless I start paying. I ask you all to be patient while I learn to use the built-in editing options on my MacBook, which are not as versatile, but present a more economic option than paying over $140 a year to make my photos a little prettier!

ST&D: postcard progress

It’s not done yet, but the hardest part is over.

I laid the design on my lightbox, and traced the outlines of the drawing onto fabric scraps, which I then cut out and arranged on a fabric backing, ensuring there was plenty of excess around the sides. I photographed this and made a large scale colour printout to help me with placement later. I inverted all the scraps and sprayed the pieces one by one with 505 basting spray in my hi-tech spray booth (aka a large old cardboard box with all the flaps taped out into a sort of tunnel; it keeps the stuff inside instead of all over my sewing room). I then placed them on the backing in the correct order, following the printout. A quick press with a hot iron under a sheet of baking paper to set the glue, and then I placed the fabric rectangle on a piece of tear-away stabiliser, with the stabiliser grain running horizontally, following the horizontal strips of fabric. This makes it easier to tear away afterwards. I basted the fabric and stabiliser together round the outside, and then I was good to go.

Sewing machines all differ with stitch lengths and widths. I did a small test piece on some scrap to see what gave me the best version of blanket stitch. I wanted the stitch that caught the edge of the fabric to be small, and the interval quite large, for minimal visibility. I also decided that life was too short to change the thread colour for every piece, so I selected a pale grey blue for all the stitching.

Once all the pieces were stitched down, I removed the basting and tore away as much stabiliser as I could before passing out with boredom deciding I’d removed enough. I clipped away as much of the fabric layers as I could get my small scissors into (I’ll probably be unable to resist having another go at it later!) and then gave the whole thing a good pressing. And there you have it. My Greetings from Tropical Queensland postcard front, good to go (apart from the embroidered message). The back is a piece of cake, and I’ll have a go at that tomorrow. I’ll show the finished thing when it’s done.

Once this first postcard block is done, I’ll make another and much simpler postcard front for my second block. I feel some hexies coming on, or possibly a scrappy block… I’ll probably also make the postcard front and back sit at different angles for a bit of interest.

Time for a cuppa and a well-earned piece of chocolate 🙂


ST&D: Postcard preparation

For those of you debating how to make your postcard block, here’s how I’ve made a start.

Initially, I thought about doing appliqué for the whole thing, but given the design for the postcard I’ve come up with, I can see there’ll be multiple, multiple layers which will need quilting through, so I’m reserving appliqué for the front of the postcard and the stamp on the back, and all the rest will be pieced. That being so, I feel I’ll achieve the tidiest result if I paper piece the appliqué sections into the background, which will avoid any nasty Y seams. The only thing is that I need to avoid a directional print for the background.

The image shows how I’ve drawn my design onto 12 inch quilter’s graph paper, and then divided the design up into sections A and B, numbering the piecing order. There are registration marks to help line up the two sections when the time comes. I’m going to take this plan and separate sections A and B, giving them both lots of seam allowance around the outside – at least an inch on the outside edges and half an inch at the join. This will hopefully ensure that the assembled block isn’t skimpy. You can always trim off, but not add back on, right? I’ve chosen fabrics that are mainly on the cool side of the spectrum to blend with the mainly teal colour scheme. The background will be cream with a very pale teal batik floral print, and the back of the card will be a mid-teal solid with a dark teal ‘stamp’. The lines on the back will be lines of machine stitching.

Given the slightly kitschy tropical beach scene on the front of the postcard (well, I do live in the tropics, near the beach, so why not?), I’ve gone for a message on the front of the card in the sort of font you see on the older type of postcard. If you want to incorporate a bit of embroidered text of some kind, there’s a website here where you can choose from a limited range of fonts and build a caption or a few lines of text. It’s free. I’d suggest you take note of where it tells you the finished letter height, so you don’t end up with text that’ll turn out an inch high, unless that’s what you want, of course! I haven’t yet decided what colour to do the embroidery. Bright pink’s a strong contender, though 🙂

I’m going to give my stamp a ‘perforated’ edge, like the real thing. Not so fine, of course, but this strip of cotton lace will do the job nicely. I love little details like that.

If this postcard works out well, I’ll try something completely different for the next one, perhaps an abstract splodge of colour like my ScrapHappy blocks, or hexies, or some really teeny weeny pieced blocks. It’s a small space, 7 x 5 inches, so why not go a little mad?

Watch this space for how I get on 🙂