Amistad Chapter 11: She’s done

I’ve gone on quite enough about this simple but lovable quilt.

Time to let the pictures do the talking. She’s finished, in good time for me to enjoy her for a few days before she needs packing away. I could have waited and posted it as a Friday Finish, but well, I wanted to show it and the sun was shining and…

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What can I say? It’s late afternoon. You get shadows….

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I love these fabrics… That coral is just sublime.

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I didn’t plan this, it’s just a happy accident. but how cool is that effect of the printing on the backing?

To Amistad and the friendship that gave rise to her.

More soon….

Amistad Chapter 10: Quilting’s complete

The quilting is finished at last.

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The quilting only shows close up because the fabrics are busy and colourful

I’m pleased with how it looks. Nice and simple, complementing the simple design. It’s not so dense it makes the quilt stiff, but it’s close enough there are no baggy bits. I’m beginning to love hand quilting – oh, not the havoc it wreaks on my hands, but the gentle puffiness, the slight variations, the humanity of it as opposed to the mechanical perfection of machine quilting.

Time to put the quilting needle and thread away and thread up the sewing machine to attach the binding… There will of course be more hand sewing once that’s done, but at least I can use a sensibly sized needle, and hemming requires me to hold the needle differently, which will give the sore fingers a day off!

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You get a much better idea on the back

I realised today that I have packed my quilt labels, and have no idea which box they’re in, but I’ll be able to check start and finish dates here on the blog and can make one up later.

The general consensus is that I should offset the scrappy binding seams. So that’s what I’ll do. Always nice to have lazy choices post-rationalised into design decisions!

In a couple of days, I’ll be writing Amistad’s last post, and it will be time for something new.


Amistad Chapter 9: giving the fingers a rest

All the remaining blocks are marked up and waiting for quilting.

One more 9-patch and then the four square corner blocks to go. But my fingers have registered a protest, not just the callused and punctured tips, but the joints too. So I moved onto an alternative and more comfortable activity: the binding.

Screen shot 2014-09-07 at 12.22.20 PMI had lots of scraps left from cutting the blocks. So I cut 2½” strips from all the fabrics I had, and cut those into 6½” lengths. Then I laid them out and randomised them as much as possible; I had lots of some, very little of others, so I tried to distribute the ‘lots of’ fabrics evenly through the mix. After that it was simply a matter of chain piecing the lot, pressing the joining seams open and then pressing the binding in half lengthways. There’s a little extra bulk from all the seams, but it’s a great way to use up the scraps.

Screen shot 2014-09-07 at 12.22.53 PMIt’s all tidily rolled up on the cardboard inner tube from one of my endless rolls of packing tape… Knew they’d come in useful!

In case you were wondering, I cut 6½” lengths because the blocks are 12″ square, so in theory everything should line up. I’m wondering, though, if I’ve given myself another headache trying to match seams, or if I should offset everything on purpose.

What do you think? Would you give yourself the extra work, or make them purposely offset?

Right, time to go and hang out the laundry.  Have a lovely day.

Amistad Chapter 8: Two thirds done

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Despite the frantic box action around here, I’m still finding time to do a bit of stitchery in the evenings.

18 blocks are quilted. I have three more of the 9 patch blocks to quilt with the interlocking circles pattern, and the four corner blocks to quilt with the square spiral pattern, which is pretty quick to do. And then it’ll be done.

Screen shot 2014-09-06 at 8.31.27 AMAmistad is wreaking havoc with my fingers, though… I’m pushing on quite hard because I want to finish the quilting and if possible the binding before we move. It will let me pack up my sewing room with a clear conscience. However, the resulting calluses and holes in my fingers make it a slightly penitential exercise. And because packing’s a dusty, dirty job, I get ingrained dirt in the cracks in my fingers, so all in all, my hands are wreckage!

I’m keeping in my mind’s eye the vision of a large sewing room with a big table I can spread out on, all supplies to hand and the ironing board out of the way so I don’t have to take it down every time I want to get at a shelf. Oh, and the Husband’s visiting chair not in front of my fabric cupboard, having to be moved so I can get in there.

It’s a lovely dream, and in 19 days, it will be coming true!

Amistad Chapter 7: one third quilted

It was a very long and tiring day yesterday.

I baked all day long. Two lots of chocolate fudge brownies. Two lots of carrot cake with lemon creamcheese frosting, a big vegetable frittata, 6 chicken and mushroom pies, a gingerbread and date loaf. I had to get more plastic containers to transport them. The orders have gone from 3 items once a fortnight to 5 items per week, so it’s looking hopeful, but on baking day it has me on my feet all day in a small kitchen, having to wash up constantly because I have no space!

I also got the AHQ quilt finished, packed and sent off, in good time to reach HMAS Toowoomba before she sails. I just love waltzing into the post office and plonking down a box they can’t charge me for! Parcels under 2kg to an AFPO are free. I have had to straighten a couple of people out about this, and managers have been called, but they know now at my local…

Screen shot 2014-08-22 at 5.40.39 PMScreen shot 2014-08-22 at 5.41.03 PMWhat I didn’t get a chance to do is work on Amistad. So today, after I sorted out all my tax return paperwork (oh yes, I got that done too!), I sat myself down in a peaceful frame of mind and just got stitching. I’m now about a third through the quilting. It’s getting easier and quicker. I have everything neatly to hand at my sewing table, I rest the hoop on the table edge to save my arms and shoulders, and I have a brilliant LED work light with a magnifying lens for when my eyes get tired. Like now…

Screen shot 2014-08-22 at 5.39.39 PMBack to the needle.

Advancing on two fronts…

I have progress to report, but the photos don’t really do it justice.

On the AHQ quilt, I have finished the front and the back, and it’s sandwiched and mostly pinned, ready for quilting to start tomorrow. I have used up all three of my boxes of  quilting safety pins, having two quilts currently at the quilting/ready to quilt stage, so there are a few rather gappy areas.

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The back: red at the top, then cream, then the navy kangaroo fabric I love so much. Simple, easy, and DONE

I was therefore forced to do some work on Amistad, so that I could free up some more pins for the AHQ one. Oh, the hardship… I still need about 15 more to properly secure it, but my fingers are complaining quite loudly now, both from the arthritis and from the needle sticks. It’ll have to wait till tomorrow.

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Smaller Big Stitches, achieved in a fraction of the time.

I’m pleased with how the hand quilting is looking. I tried a short ‘between’ quilting needle when I first started hand quilting years ago but I couldn’t get along with it. So I’ve always used a fine long needle with a long eye. On the first Amistad block with interlocking circles I found the curves were too tight to use the long needle properly. I was getting grumpy, and the needle got bent. I fished out my needlebook, took out a between needle, and away I went. I will never go back to a long needle. I don’t know what’s changed, but I’m loving the short fine needle now and I can work much faster. I can even see myself doing weeny stitches, it’s so much easier to use. But try telling me that before!

Right, I must now attack the third front: the Wedding Sampler.  Until tomorrow…

Amistad Chapter 6: taking big stitches

I’ve started the hand quilting, and in the process I’m rediscovering my quilting calluses.

The design is a step and repeat of two alternating patterns based on Japanese sashiko stitching. The first is a grid of interlocking circles called Shippo, or Seven Treasures. It looks a bit like the quilt pattern for Cathedral Windows. The second is a simple square design called Raimon, or Spiral, which is almost a Log Cabin. As the quilt top and backing are not sashiko fabrics, I’m not attempting to use the thicker special sashiko thread, which would be impossible to force through this closer weave.

Screen shot 2014-08-15 at 5.41.10 PMScreen shot 2014-08-15 at 5.41.26 PMScreen shot 2014-08-15 at 5.41.41 PMThey’re both pretty easy to stitch, and I’ve managed two 12″ squares today. Only 23 more to go….

The photography lighting is a bit moody, but it was the only way to show the quilting up against that extremely busy floral, and as I’m using white thread, it doesn’t show on the cream back either unless I light it from the side.

I’ve just taken a look at the latest post from Aussie Hero Quilts, and they need 4 more quilts urgently for HMAS Toowoomba before she sails. I’ve put  my hand up for one, but it’ll have to be a very simple one that I can finish in under a week, or it won’t reach her in time before she deploys. I’m waiting to hear if they still need it or if someone else has snaffled it up…

Nothing like a deadline to make me get my act in gear.

Doing the Happy Dance

It’s not elegant, but it is expressive.

And it’s what we were both doing yesterday early evening, out on the Mackay Harbour breakwater.

We’d gone there to get some fresh air, tell ourselves it was OK if the offer on the house was rejected, and generally get a bit of perspective, which, as it happens, was not required. We got the phone call we’d been waiting for. Our offer has been accepted and we’re aaaaalllll good!

In a newly optimistic frame of mind this morning, I slashed my way through the rest of the box of scraps.

Screen shot 2014-08-14 at 9.43.57 AMAnd then I was able to come up with a quilting plan for Amistad that I like, thanks to this post from Esther, who inspired me to look at Japanese sashiko patterns:

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And the sun is shining, and most things are right in my world.

But I’m not going to tempt fate by posting photos yet.  We all know what happened last time…

Have a great day. I will!


I’m at that excruciating stage we all reach at some point, with too many balls in the air.

I have got the beginnings of something for the Jumble baby quilt. I keep putting up pieces and taking them down, moving a few completed blocks around, putting off having to cut more fabric in case I change my mind and don’t like what’s there. I have sewn a few blocks together, but it’s annoying me, irritating me, causing me to be uncomfortable in my mind. So I’ve stopped, for now.

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I’m in the extremely long winded process of sewing in the last ring of Steampunk Wheel XI. Did I mention before there are over 250 pieces in this one Wheel?  It feels as if every one of those pieces is in the last ring and they’re all tiny triangles. Not true, but about 80% of the shapes are triangles and they’re not fun. I shall be singing hallelujahs when it’s done, but that’s a few days off, I think. But I can’t sew on it for long without my eyes crossing a little, so again, I need a break.

Amistad is not annoying me. It’s sitting folded on my work table, waiting patiently for my head to clear and time for me to go to the fabric shop and buy backing and binding material. But it is being slightly reproachful: I was first. You’ve been neglecting me. I’m nearly ready, why can’t you finish me?

I escaped all the fabric noise and went into the garden, where I have discovered two tiny delights. Here they are.

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The Kipflers will be first. The Nicolas are also showing, but the Bintjes are late season spuds and there’s nothing yet.

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There WILL be strawberries. Only one plant is flowering, but as you can see, it’s very enthusiastic.

And now I have a good excuse to escape the house entirely: Dinner at the Dowager’s.  I shall pick up Steampunk when I get back…

Amistad, Chapter 4: a Friday Finish

The quilt top is done.

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Pretty opal colours. I had to rush to finish so I could catch the light.

Now I can safely put it to one side and concentrate on the Jumble baby quilt during the day, and Steampunk in the evenings. Oh, and embroidery for the next SAL post on Sunday 20th. We’ll be away for 4 days from Monday, so I’ll take it with me for evening handwork – fewer bits to get lost than with Steampunk, plus hopefully I’ll actually make some progress!

I still have to get backing and binding fabric for Amistad, so a swift shopping trip is called for, but it’s going to be in and out – I have too much on to spend time browsing luxuriously.

Back to the machine.