Scinteallate 3: Back in the swing

I’ve got my paper piecing mojo back.

Every time I don’t do it for a while, I lose the tricks and habits that make this such a great technique for accurate piecing. I start to think it’s too much trouble to make templates of the pieces I need. I forget to adjust the stitch length down. I forget that all-important mantra: Stitch, Flip, Check, Trim, Press. Then, out come the stitch ripper and tweezers and sweaty frustration…

But by the end of this block, I was back in the swing. I didn’t have to take anything apart, the paper came off the back with very little resistance, things lined up as they should, and I’m facing the next one with equanimity, despite the fact that it has 64 pieces! Yup. You read that right. Thing is, they’re almost all rectangles of the same width, just slightly differing lengths. As they say in these parts “She’ll be right, mate”. I’ve got this.

So, this is my Scinteallate block No. 2. En route already are several more from Robin, Gun and Sue, and a further 12 more are in progress from other lovely contributors.

I think the Twinkle Factor is improving rapidly, don’t you?



Let there be light…

… and behold, there WAS light!

Let me start by saying I didn’t just hold out my hand and say the words, I went shopping for it! I’ve long found the light on my sewing machine a bit feeble and yellowish. I tried an LED bulb instead of the incandescent one it came with, but something about the frequency made it flicker in a very headache-inducing way. The light was great, but not at that cost. I searched the shops for an LED strip I could plug in, but they all came as separate strips to which you had to solder a connector and then a power cord and adaptor. I could, but I wasn’t going to; there had to be an easier way. Today, while shopping for something else, of which more later, I found a small box with a home-made label on it, bearing the legend ‘LED light strip for sewing machine’. Below was a photo – and it was all cabled up. Not cheap, but perfect for what I need. The brilliant Ray of Needleworx (‘The Hardware Store for Ladies!’) had made several of these up, and had sold them all in a matter of days.

Here’s the difference: Top, normal light only; Bottom, with LED strip

I was actually in there because my light pad had died. The connection between cable and pad had give up the ghost, and 9 times out of 10 the touch-switch for turning it on wouldn’t work without endless jiggling. I find it invaluable for paper piecing, and Ray had just sent me an email to say the Triumph A4 light pads were now a good $150 cheaper than when they first came out. Well, you can’t ignore a bit of serendipity like that, can you? The photos show the same piece of paper on the light pad; Top, with the pad off, Bottom, with the pad on. You can see it’d make paper piecing a whole lot easier… (and for those still looking vaguely puzzled, you sew the fabric onto the back of the paper, but the design is marked on the front, so seeing the lines through the paper really, really helps!).

So now I have a working light pad too, which turns on first time, every time, is bright as day, is thinner and lighter than the old one, and has just eliminated my last possible excuse for not getting on with the paper piecing of teal star blocks for the Scinteallate quilt.

How deLIGHTful…

Scinteallate #2: let the twinkling begin

I’ve cleared off the design wall.

I got the quilting finished on all the blocks hanging there, so BougieNights is bundled up and put away for a while.

A clear design wall was screaming for blocks to hang up, so I got cracking on my first Scinteallate block. I haven’t paper pieced for a while and I’m always a bit clumsy and stupid when I first get going, so I kept it simple. It’s not as faceted and twinkly as I’d prefer, but I needed to get my hand in without using a million pieces. I do like this star a lot, though, and the block is really simple to make and assemble.

I now have offers of blocks from Lynn, Nanette, Margaret, Sharon, Sue, Lynda, Gun, Kerry and Robin. Thank you so much, ladies – at one point I thought I might not be able to make it happen, so your help is greatly appreciated 🙂 Given the short timing (ie, blocks in hand here by end of June) I’m going to make this one a little smaller than my usual 5×6 layout. It’s going to be 5×5, very much lap quilt size. Fewer blocks + less quilting + less binding = quicker delivery!

Scinteallate’s going to be at the forefront for a bit, but I do have a bit of a WIP queue going now:

Bougainville Nights (blocks quilted: assembly and binding)
Hatbox quilt (blocks quilted: assembly and binding)
Pastel scrappy quilt (sandwich, quilt, assemble, bind)
Amethyst & slate (F2F3) (sandwich, quilt, assemble, bind)
Anemone quilt (make and add more flowers, finish assembling, sandwich, hand quilt, bind)

Despite all this loveliness waiting in the wings, I’ve been unable to leave alone a quick sketch I did for a block while I was watching a nature program on TV the other night. It’d be another Hatbox-type thing, to be slowly assembled over time, appliquéd either by hand or machine (haven’t decided yet) and hand quilted. So I’m thinking it’s going to be my next Bee, Myself and I project. Anyone interested in joining in a slow, pressure-free project for personal enjoyment, to be stopped and started at your pleasure? I’ll post a prototype of the block when I have one done (you know that’s going to be soon, don’t you…?) so you can see if it’s something you’d enjoy. And because it’s got to be a bit mindless, it’s going to be pretty simple, I promise.

See what you think when the time comes.

BougieNights: six to go

I got a bunch more blocks quilted.

There are 14 done and only six left to go, and I’ve managed to locate the sashing fabric and cut a few strips despite the fact I don’t yet have a cutting table (not long to go there, though!).

The only reason I haven’t finished it is the never-ending renovation list. However, even there I’ve managed some progress. We got some track and bookshelves up on the blue wall, and I shelved 12 boxes of books there and in the book case to the left. The shelves aren’t quite as long as I’d have liked, but they come in standard lengths and a slightly longer shelf would have meant cutting off and wasting about half a metre from a longer length, which I couldn’t allow myself to do! However, on the upside, this gives me the space to hang a picture on either side, so it’s not all bad. And in case you’re wondering, the shelves are level; it’s the roof that’s sloping down… I whittled down my craft and quilting books considerably, and now it’s just the left hand half of the bottom shelf; all the big books both standing and stacked. I have yet another large carton of general fiction I’ll never read again, so that’ll be going to the op (charity/thrift) shops too.

One thing is becoming clear about the sewing room and that’s a lack of wall space. I have two big windows, the design wall, and on the fourth side, open space. Before, I had a lot of stuff stored on shelves all round the walls, which won’t work here, so it’s going to be necessary to think about how and where I keep things. There are still 4 large boxes of bits and pieces shoved under one of the tables, so the problem isn’t going to go away.

And finally, I’ve dug out a bunch of paper-pieced star patterns for the ovarian cancer Scinteallate quilt. It’ll be such a great way to use up some of the larger scraps from previous quilts. Hopefully I’ll find time in the next few days to make a start so I can post something soon. We have a few participants now: Me, Lynn, Nanette, Margaret, Sue, Lynda, Gun and Sharon (for whom I need an email address, if you’re reading this!). That brings us up to 12 blocks plus however many I make, so if you missed my earlier post and you’d like to join in, leave a comment or send me an email. If I make the quilt the same size as previous ones, that leaves me with 18 blocks to make myself, so I’m considering making it smaller, at 5 x 5 blocks instead of 5 x 6. That’s a total of 25 blocks, which is a bit more manageable.

Right, back to rulers, markers – and boxes!

Twinkle, twinkle, little star

It’s time for the next Ovarian Cancer quilt.

You’ll remember that henceforth, our quilts are being made to be auctioned at the Nude Lunch, our local annual Ovarian Cancer fundraising extravaganza. Not only will they raise more money than was being achieved by Ovarian Cancer Australia, but the money is being spent locally, for the benefit of local ovarian cancer patients and their families. The next Nude Lunch is on 6th September this year. Ooooer… a bit of a deadline, then. So, well, I stirred up the little grey cells, and we have liftoff.

The quilt is going to be called Scinteallate. Yes, I’m still finding ways to play with the word Teal.

Here’s what the dictionary has to say:

Given the meaning, I thought twinkling stars would be a really pretty visual interpretation. So this quilt will feature 30 teal star on cream background blocks, each 12 inches square (finished size). As always, I will sandwich, quilt and assemble the whole thing. What I’m asking is that each block should be as scrappy as possible, to give the twinkling effect I’m hoping for, like faceted jewels. You can make crazy stars, wonky stars, traditionally pieced, appliquéd or paper pieced stars. You can add beads, sequins or metallic threads (just bear in mind I’ll have to quilt the blocks). You can make your stars very simple or as complicated as you like. I will probably cluster the more complex blocks in the middle of the quilt and spread the simpler ones around the outside to give the effect some ‘air’. The format will be 5 across by 6 down, and I will assemble using the QAYG method, as always.

Timing: I need your contributions here by the end of June. For contributors not in Australia, this means sending your block(s) by mid-June. That will give me enough time to quilt and assemble the quilt and get it to the Naked Lunch organisers in time for them to include it in the event program.

Contributors so far:
Kate (as many blocks as necessary to bring the total up to 30)
Lynn (2 complex blocks)
Nanette (2 blocks)
Margaret (2 blocks)
Sharon (1 block)
Lynda (2 blocks)
Sue (1 or 2 blocks)
Gun (2 blocks)

So, who else is in?

In the Arms of the Angels: the fundraiser

So, massive congratulations to everyone who worked on this quilt, or indeed offered encouragement, inspiration or practical help. 

Last night the Trudy Crowley Foundation was launched at a Twilight Dinner at the Mackay Marina, and I’m delighted and thrilled to let you know that the quilt raised $1,050 at the live auction. There was a professional photographer there and a cameraman from the local TV station, so there may be better publicity in the next few days than my phone camera shots… Also present were the deputy mayor and a couple of the local MPs, so the PR team had done their work.

As suspected, the quilt went to Trudy’s great friend and Director of the Foundation, who’d already told me she was prepared to outbid everyone else to secure it. She was as good as her word.

The Foundation has already secured the services of a warm, passionate and dedicated Ovarian Cancer and palliative care nurse, the lovely Rosie, who was at the dinner and has expressed interest in a pair of teal wings to wear at work 🙂

I’ll be having a meeting soon with the organisers to discuss the next quilt, which will be auctioned at the Nude Lunch event. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get it done for this year’s, which is in September, but definitely for the next one.

But maybe not till after I’ve moved house….

In the arms of the angels: she soars

So, it’s done.

You know how you make plans to sew all day? Yeah… No. I’ve scraped together a total of a day and a half over the past three days, mainly because the stitching had to be done standing up, with the quilt hanging on the wall so the wings were in the correct position. It’s hard on the back and my poor tired feet. But it’s been enough. The idea I had for making the wings strong and powerful-looking has worked. They’re not flat and limp, but have bulk and dimension. The wing panels are backed with stiffening, and in stitching them down, I’ve applied lateral pressure to bow this stiffening down the length of the wings and make them pop out. You get a good shadow under the wing, so I haven’t had to fake a shadow with a piece of grey tulle laid onto the fabric underneath it. I’m really, really pleased with the effect, and am very happy with the overall result.

Do you like the tiny stars, adding a little sparkle as the light moves over them? I wanted something that tied back to the text on the label, and this seems to fit the bill. They’re applied with fabric glue as I’d have gone totally bonkers if I’d had to stitch them on. I’ve stitched a hanging pocket on the back, as this isn’t a bed or lap quilt, and you can see that I’ve added a pretty minimal binding, just to finish the edge. It’s not going to get much wear and tear, so a narrow binding will be OK.

It’s time to launch this quilt. I’m delivering it today to a director of the Trudy Crowley Foundation. She’s already expressed her determination to do battle in the auction to ensure she becomes its new owner. However, Trudy’s own father is also in the running, so let the bidding war commence! The auction will take place at the Twilight Dinner to launch the Foundation on 30th March. I hope it’ll prove worthy of its purpose and raise loads of money to help launch the Foundation and the work it was set up to do. And finally, thank you to everyone who has contributed blocks, ideas and encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Here are your wings, Trudy. Now, go fly.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” Leonardo da Vinci