Carla’s cushion

Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl has designed the most gorgeous cushion.

I was so pleased to be asked to test the pattern for her, and I’ve found it easy to follow; it answers questions before you need to ask them, and it’s versatile enough to work with fabrics of all kinds.

If you go to her blog post, you’ll see her version, a fabulous riot of gorgeous colours, corralled by an elegant set of 4 English Paper Pieced blocks, and trimmed with velvety pompoms. Mine is different. Far quieter, using leftover pieces of the paler colours from my Bonnard quilt, and devoid of pompoms, but elegant and pretty all the same, demonstrating that the same pattern works well with very different fabric designs and colour choices. Like Carla, I’ve made a concealed zipper opening for the back, but the pattern also suggests alternative closures if zippers are a technique too far for you. My cushion will join the Bonnard quilt in due course as a gift to my sister.

Carla has the pattern for sale in her Etsy and Craftsy shops. If you click on the link above and go to her post about this, you’ll find links to both in her sidebar. If you’re looking for a small, interesting but not too demanding hand-stitching project which gives you the option to go bright or pale, dark or light, high or low contrast, lavish or simple, this is for you. Enjoy!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m not being paid to say nice things about it – owning this lovely pattern is reward enough.

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ScrapHappy January

Hello, hope you’ve all had a ScrappyHappy Christmas or seasonal celebration of your choice 🙂

Today’s the 15th of the month, the day my friend Gun in Sweden and I host  ScrapHappy, a day for showing something made from scraps. And by the way, this is our third January ScrapHappy. Can you believe we’ve been at it so long?

You’ll remember (I hope!) that last time I decided I wasn’t happy with the way the scrappy quilt was coming along, and that I’d take out all the pale, pastel blocks for another quilt in due course. Well, of course, that left me with gaps, so I’d made another teal and another yellow/ orange block.

I had another look at what was left, and the paler version of the purple block was still pretty strong, so I pulled that out of the stack of pale blocks. So now I had two purples, two teals, two oranges and the black & white, brown, pink, blue, red and green. So I needed four more: another blue, green, red and pink. And here they are!

ScrapHappy is open to anyone using up scraps of anything – no new materials. It can be a quilt block, pincushion, bag or hat, socks or a sculpture. 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 on my Contact Me page, or leave a comment below. You can also contact Gun via her blog to join. We welcome new members. You don’t have to worry about making 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. Regular contributors will receive an email reminder three days before the event.

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.

Kate (me!)Gun, TittiHeléneEvaSue, Nanette, Lynn, Lynda,
Birthe, Turid, Susan, Cathy, Debbierose, Tracy, Jill, Claire, Jan,
Karen, Moira, SandraLindaChris and Nancy

See you again, same time next month!

 

 

Clamming up: quilting for Bonnard

I must have made, tried and discarded a dozen different templates.

My original plan was to quilt Bonnard with a random scatter of leaves, but no matter what I tried, I just couldn’t find an assortment of leaf shapes I liked, which were the right size and which were simple enough to quilt with my not exactly tiny hand-quilting stitches. My subconscious was at work, I think, or perhaps it was the quilt, trying to gain my attention and tell me what it wanted.

And then I realised that the quilting wasn’t the point of this quilt, it was a supplementary feature, an attractive way of holding the layers together which incidentally added visual richness and texture. And there it was. I’d do a simple all-over repeat. What about a Baptist Fan, one of my favourites? Still not quite right.

I’ve come full circle, I think. I’m quilting clamshells, like my bestest and favouritest quilt of all, the one that lives on my bed. The ones on Bonnard will be larger, at 4 inches across rather than 2½ inches, but I wanted them to fit within the proportions of the squares and blocks I’ve used to make Bonnard. As an incidental bonus, the larger size will mean I get it done more quickly, and the interlocking clamshell shapes mean the stitching all travels in one direction so I won’t be twirling the quilt around. It’ll sit on the table, its own weight providing the tension I need to hold things flat, and I won’t be draped in acres of cosy quilt at this hottest time of year. As an extra benefit, my plain white teacup is exactly the right size to form the template I mark around, plus it won’t bend and deteriorate like a card template.

Win-win all round, I’d say.

Noodlin’ about

Not quite as aimless and lazy as it sounds, actually.

I used the pool noodle method to layer and spray baste the Bonnard quilt. I got it done in the space of about 2 hours, a record! Plus I don’t have a stinkin’ backache, pricked and sore fingers or pin holes in the fabric. I didn’t do it exactly the way shown on the YouTube video which gave me the idea, which I think would need two people to be successful with a quilt this size, just to keep things taut and smooth. I broke it down into two stages. Here’s how.

First job was to assemble my noodles. I’m using regular foam pool noodles. I cut and fitted together one whole noodle and part of another so they were the exact width of the backing. They’ll cut with an ordinary sharp kitchen knife, no special equipment needed. Then, to stop them bending in the middle, I pushed a broomstick up the centre channel, which also held the extended section on; it’s a tight fit.

Then I taped the backing good side down to the edge of the table, and pulled the rest of it across the table and smoothed it down, taping the first 24 inches of the sides as well, to hold things flat. On top of this I laid the edge of the batting and pulled the rest of that across the table too, so both layers lay flat and reasonably smooth. At this point, I took the decision that I wouldn’t attempt to do the quilt top as well, as I didn’t feel confident I could get all three layers smooth. So on this pass, I layered and basted only the backing and batting.

I pinned the edge of the batting to the noodle, and rolled the batting up carefully, ensuring it was straight by checking the edges. I then sprayed the leading, taped, edge of the backing, aligned the batting to the taped edge and carefully unrolled to the edge of the sprayed area, smoothing the batting onto the backing, spreading in an outwards motion from the centre. I was careful to cover any exposed parts of both the batting and backing, as well as the table top. I untaped the edge of the backing and pulled it down so a new section was on the table top.

I continued spraying a section, unrolling and smoothing the batting, until I reached the opposite side, exposing the edge of the batting pinned to the noodle. I unpinned, smoothed out this final section, and trimmed away excess batting flush with the edge of the backing.

I then pinned this flush edge to the noodle and rolled backing and batting together onto the noodle except for the final table-width. I then took the quilt top, and right side up, aligned the top edge with the top edge of the batting/backing but leaving about 1.25 inches of backing clear. I then rolled the remainder of the quilt top onto a second noodle.

After that, it was a repeat of the backing. Spray a section, smooth out, pull forward, spray the next section, etc. Finally, I flipped the sandwich over and smoothed out the backing again, as it became a little wrinkled while the top was going on.

If you want to try this yourself, you’ll need:

Pressed and smoothed quilt top and backing, and batting cut to size
Masking tape
2 – 4 pool noodles, depending on how big your quilt is
2 broom sticks or pieces of dowel the same size
Glass head pins (not as big as flower head, but easier to extract from the foam than dressmaker’s pins)
8 – 10 sheets of butcher’s paper or a plastic drop sheet
Spray baste ( I use 505)
A large table in a clean, dry area with no wind to blow the spray about.
Fabric scissors

If you haven’t tried this before, I urge you to give it a go, especially if you’re over the floor grovelling needed for pin basting. Actually, if you’re sensitive to the spray, this process would work quite well for thread basting too, but you’ll need a curved upholstery needle for the quickest results.

Job done. Smooth layers, trimmed out, and ready to start hand quilting.  I must go and find my hoop…

Bonnard back

‘Tis done.

It went nice and quickly. I did a bunch of strip piecing and then sewed a lot of random leftover squares together to make other strips. Jumble them up, make sure there’s one of the random strips in each set, sew it all up, stitch the red fabric to the sides and there you have it.

Next is cutting the batting to size from my big roll, and then sandwiching. Normally with a quilt this size I’d be pin basting, but I want to have a go at spray basting, as I think the pins will drive me mad while I’m hand quilting. The one slight problem is that I don’t have anywhere outside that’s big enough and clean enough to lay the quilt out flat. Our weather’s very hot, very dry and everywhere’s very dusty. I think it’ll have to be a couple of picnic tables on the back patio, working fast so I don’t die of heatstroke, and I’ll have to work section by section.

I’ve seen a video tutorial where you wind each of the three layers onto pool noodles with a dowel rod up the centre to stiffen them, layer them up as usual and then unroll just a short section of the backing, spray, roll the batting across it, smooth and spray, and then roll the top across it, and smooth and spray that. It seemed sort of straightforward (famous last words…), so I got myself some noodles in the post-Christmas sales for the princely sum of $4 each. Bonnard is wider than the length of the noodle, so I shall have to cut a section from a spare to add to the end to extend it. I’ll let you know how I get on, and provide a link if it’s successful.

Time to go and cut batting and fluff it up in the tumble dryer to get rid of the creases.

Seven quilts ago

That’s how long it is since I cleaned my design wall.

Lint roller sheets

Yup, there sure are lots of teal threads in there. Well, think about it. From the bottom, Stay Positive, Tealed with a Kiss, Gonna Teal your Heart Away, The Blue Hour, Gallimaufry, Sea Glass and Bonnard. (As well as those, there are the blocks for Signed, Tealed & Delivered, which isn’t yet a quilt top, let alone a finished quilt.) Five of those seven contain significant amounts of teal, so I suppose it’s no big surprise.

What is surprising is how long I left it; Stay Positive was finished a year ago. I’m blushing here… In my defence, my work and cutting tables are immaculately clean and tidy. The floor is another story, but I do sweep up regularly. But I’d just let the design wall get thready, then fluffy and finally downright hairy. It was time, and more, to clean up.

So now I’ve got a beautifully clean and tidy design wall, and no more excuses. Time to get cracking on the back for Bonnard.

Hand-stitched heaven

Nothing at all ominous about my sudden silence 🙂

Quite to the contrary. I’ve been labouring away at some lovely hand-stitching. Carla at Granny Maud’s Girl has designed an EPP pattern for a beautiful cushion (pillow) cover, and asked if I’d look it over to assess the instructions. I loved it so much I had to actually make it up! I dearly love a bit of EPP, and normally I do it in a leisurely and intermittent fashion.

This was different, since I wanted to give Carla feedback as quickly as possible, so she can finalise the pattern. It isn’t launched yet, so I’m not showing you the whole thing, but this should give you an idea.

Now I just have to add batting and a backing and I can quilt it. After that, I’ll assemble the cushion, and it will go to my sister to join the Bonnard quilt I’m making for her – I’m sure you recognised the scraps!

If you love this as much as I do, hop over to Carla’s blog and maybe leave her a comment or drop her an email to express interest. She hasn’t posted it yet, but I’m sure she will soon.

I’m sure some interest will help her get it finished 🙂