Sea Glass #9: keeping my hand in

I won’t be going back to the radio silence of the past couple of weeks…

And stuff has been going on in the background, just nothing I wanted to post about yet. But I wanted to show you where I’d got to with the hand quilting on Sea Glass.

So, the four central flower basket blocks are hand quilted. That wasn’t quite as much fun as it might have been; there are lots of layers in parts of the blocks which made it quite tricky getting the needle through evenly and tidily. I was very happy about my ‘big stitch’ decision at that point! Once that bit was done, I had to work out how to quilt the first border. I was in the hand quilting groove by that point and thought I’d carry on.  I’m not using a frame or hoop on this job; I have the quilt laid out on my 3 metre (10ft) dining table with the area I’m working on flat and the rest rolled and folded on either side. This creates enough tension that I can quilt without needing a frame if I work on the edge nearest to me. The only downside is that I can’t use the table for anything else right now!

You can see the design I’m using quite clearly on the template. Because it’s geometric, it was pretty easy to transfer the design; I just punched holes through the direction changes and intersections of the lines, and marked through with either a fine pencil on the light fabrics or a white ceramic marker on the dark ones. If you click on the image below you can see how it looks when marked.

Lift the template, join the dots by drawing in lines with a ruler and the job’s done. Hand quilting these is quick and easy, they’re all going the same way. There may be a bit of subsequent filling in around the corners, but I’ll see how it looks later once the main part is finished. This is a big (80² inch / 2m²) quilt and I don’t want to make work for myself if it’s not necessary.

Now I just have to think of something for the next border 🙂

ScrapHappy August

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

This month, I’ve had a bit of a rummage in my surprisingly large box of brown scraps. I say surprising because brown is probably one of my least favourite colours to quilt with. Most of the scraps date from the time I made a Tree of Life quilt for my brother. The tree itself was made up of strip-pieced multiple brown fabrics, hence the generous array now at my disposal. I still haven’t made much of a dent in the brown scraps!

For the second block, I’ve made something from my neutrals box, picking out black, white and grey to go with the other strong colours I’ve already used.

After this, it’ll be time to start again, but this time using the paler, less saturated scraps for contrasting lighter blocks.

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 if you’re new and you’ll have something to show, so we can add your link.

Here are the links for everyone who joins ScrapHappy from time to time (they may not post every time, but their blogs are still worth looking at):

Usually has a scrappy post:

Gun at (in Swedish and English)
Titti at (in Swedish only)
Heléne at (in Swedish only)

Sometimes has a scrappy post:

Eva at (in Swedish only)
Sue at (in English only)
Nanette at (in English only)
Lynn at (in English only)
Norma at (in English only)
Lynda at: (in English only)
Birthe: (in Norwegian only)
Turid: (in English and Norwegian)
Susan: (in English only)
Cathy: (in English only)
Debbierose: (in English only)
Tracy: (in English only)
Jill: (in English only)
Claire: (in English only)
Jan: (in English only)
Karen: (in English only)
Moira: (in English only)
Sandra: (in English only)
Linda: (in English only)

See you again, same time next month!

Swamp thing…

… is how I’m feeling right now.

Notice the sad effect of severely blocked sinuses and a nose that’s been blown into extinction…

I’m very sorry to have disappeared off the radar for so long. There has been a protracted period of bad health, first some fairly serious gastric issues landing me in hospital for further investigations, results still pending. Then, o joy, despite having an annual flu shot, I got flu. Correction. We both got flu. The Husband, being made of sterner stuff than I, was up and about within 2 days. I could not get my temperature down and it took 5 days before I was tottering around again. We both still sound like a TB ward and cannot sleep without a small mountain of pillows to keep us almost upright at night. We’re on the third bottle of cough medicine, the fourth packet of cold & flu remedy, and still the nose-blowing, whooping and wheezing ring out in the small hours.

On to more cheerful subjects.  I’ve actually sandwiched and pinned Sea Glass, and have made a start on hand quilting the central flower basket section. This is something I can do in short bursts without it being at all taxing, so it’s the perfect convalescent occupation. In addition, I’ve done some more hand quilting on the Hatbox blocks, but that’ll have to wait until the end of the month, at which time I hope to have some-thing decent to show you.

I must get back into the sewing room in the next couple of days, as the 15th of the month and ScrapHappy Day are approaching, and it wouldn’t do to have nothing done!

Anyway, I thought I’d just let people know I’m still alive, if not exactly flourishing. Hopefully normal service will resume soon…. Swamp living is getting rather dull.

Bee, Myself and I #17

And on to a new phase of work in my selfish sewing.

Not the final layout, but you get the idea

It’s time to start quilting the Hatbox Quilt. Because of the design, there was no way I was going to do some generic overall machine quilting.

These beautiful fabrics deserve quilting that emphasises them, that makes a soft, cuddly and lovely quilt, that gives it the heirloom quality it deserves.

So, I’m hand quilting. I’m not a good hand quilter, but I can produce moderately even big-stitch quilting. Primarily it’s because I’m no longer dextrous enough for the little controlled movements needed for small stitches – the arthritis in my right hand has taken care of that. There is, too, the fact that I don’t care much about weeny stitches and lack the patience to execute them in any case! I actually like the texture bigger stitches give, a soft ripple and a play of light and shade. I’m using regular white hand quilting thread rather than perle cotton because I want the texture to stand out rather than the stitches and thread colour.

I’ve outlined the hatbox itself, echo quilted around it on the background, and done a little detail outlining in the design of the hatbox fabric itself, to give texture. It would be easy to go totally crazy and outline every detail, so I’ve been careful to hold back a little.

I’m not using a frame. These blocks are only 10 inches square, and with the extra backing and batting around the outside, 12 inches square. It’s enjoyable and gives a bit of swift gratification, because the job is done in a couple of hours. But the nicest part of holding the block in my hand to work on it is the backing. I’m using a beautiful soft Japanese voile, and it feels just lovely with the surface quilted. If all the blocks feel as nice as this one, it’s going to be fabulously cuddly!

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.


Busy hands

It’s been a random sort of week.

I’ve finished Gallimaufry.

I sorted out a layout for the Hatbox quilt. It’s not final yet, but I’m fairly happy with the distribution of colour and background. If you spot anything you think stands out inappropriately, do say, because I’ve looked at it so much now I can’t ‘see’ it any more…

I’ve stitched another handful of hexie flowers into the Anemone quilt.

And last but by no means least, I’ve rearranged my sewing room.

Old room layout

New room layout

There’s less floor space and the ironing board is further away from my sewing chair, but the lighting at night will be better as I won’t have my back to the overhead light, and the morning light will be more indirect and less in my eyes. A few extra steps to the ironing board also won’t hurt! I also now have space at the end of my sewing table to set up my big old iMac there instead of stuck away in the corner, so I can listen to music or a talking book while I work. And while I was at it, I tidied up and threw out, dusted and swept.

Time to restart the Sea Glass quilt, now I have all of that sorted out. I have to stitch a backing together and cut the batting to size, and then make and pin the quilt sandwich… I’ll be starting in the centre blocks, and hand-quilting those before working my way out-wards and probably (but not definitely) machine quilting the rest. It’ll depend on how my hands hold up. As always with me, the quilting will not be dense, and will be big stitch, but even so, I think it’ll look good.

But first, I think I’d better clean out my sewing machine and treat myself to a new needle!

Gallimaufry: one more step to go

Sorry, I’ve been off the radar for a week, and scarcely realised it.

All sorts of not very blog-worthy stuff has been going on which has kept me busy. Not so busy, however that I was completely unable to sew.

A pretty bit of dappled late afternoon sun illuminating those central blocks. A very satisfying end to the day!

The light was going so it’s not a great shot, but you do get some idea of how the quilting looks.

We’re in the final straight with this one. Just the binding to go on and the label to sew in and then Gallimaufry will be ready to go in the washing machine and then onto my caravan bunk 🙂  The binding is made and the sewing machine is threaded with the right colour and fitted with the walking foot. We’re good to go. I know, I know, I said it would be ready by the weekend.

However, I very foolishly picked up the Anemone quilt to do some stitching in of hexie flowers while I watched the last few episodes of Masterchef. Net result, two lots of addictions: the series and the hand stitching. I’ll show you the sewing results another time, and I’m glad to report that the right person won the competition – by a single point!

Tomorrow I’ll sew the binding on, and then spend some contented hours hand stitching it down, one of my favourite parts of quilt-making.

More soon – or at least, sooner than last time, I promise!

Gallimaufry: two thirds joined up

It’s almost done. I have 60% of it joined up.

I really, really like that narrow dark blue sashing between the squares. It puts a nice crisp edge on them, lines everything up, and is dark enough to throw everything else into contrast. Give me to the end of the week and I’ll have the joining up done and be ready to get the binding on.

There was a point halfway through making the blocks when I had a moment of doubt. Would it clash with the bird/seashell fabric for Miz Lizzie’s curtains?  I don’t think so, on reflection. What do you think? Even if it’s a little bit off, I love this quilt. Can’t wait to use it for the first time on our next trip. Sadly that’ll probably not be till October :-/

Hope the good weather holds so I can take the final photos outside. Then you’ll see what it really looks like…