Sewing for a rainy day

It’s a beautiful wet day. Perfect weather to hunker down with some sewing.

I’m in slight danger of becoming obsessive about Worldwide Friends. Some might say it was already too late…. But rather than press on and on, and then get a bit fed up with it, I’m giving myself a slight break.

Screen shot 2014-05-07 at 3.33.42 PMOne of the things I haven’t done anything with (apart from get it out and stroke it occasionally) is the beautiful Amy Butler Lark fabric I bought with a gift voucher I received from Factotum of Arts last year. I need more light cotton tops – shirts with sleeves are fine when it’s hot and dry, to help keep the sun off my arms, but when it’s hot, overcast and wet, something sleeveless is more comfortable.

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All my favourite colours in one place

Using the same pattern as for my lawn nighties but shortened a fair bit, I’ve made a top out of one of these gorgeous fabrics. I don’t have quite enough of it to make the pattern in the suggested way, so it has seams up the centre front and back, but I can live with that, even if it does mean the diagonal fabric design doesn’t match up down the middle – the fabric is gorgeous enough to distract me from that. I hear horrified intakes of breath from the purists, but once again I say Finished is better than perfect… I don’t have enough of the other two fabrics to do the same thing, but I’m sure I’ll think of something equally lovely to make with them.

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I like adding small, hidden details to personalise a garment

This will be Project #1 of A Year of Finishing, Finally (YFF).

Amongst all the planned new quilts and ‘official’ sewing projects, let’s see how far I get down the list of UFOs, using up scraps, knitting, crochet and dressmaking before something new interposes itself!  I have plenty to be going on with. (And by the way, projects for AHQ don’t count, they’re Sewing for A Cause and can be introduced at any time).

Happiness is … almost halfway

I’ve had a few good hours at the sewing machine, and it’s coming together.

Bliss to be back in my creative groove. I’ve missed sewing while I was away – or at least, I’ve missed the speed at which one can assemble things on a sewing machine. I seem to have avoided the usual stuff-ups and the quilt is almost sliding togther. No cutting errors, no sewing errors, nothing the wrong way round. It can’t possibly last – can it?  I haven’t cut, pricked or burned myself today either. Almost like it was meant to happen!

Progress so far:

Top three lines are assembled. Next two need to have their horizontal sashing added.  The bottom 5 lines are still to be started.

Top three lines are assembled.
Next two need to have their horizontal sashing added.
The bottom 5 lines are still to be started.

I’m still totally in love with these two Amy Butler ranges (Lark and Cameo). They contain colours and patterns I wouldn’t normally consider, but which work together somehow. The white sashing is scrap left over from the Triple Trouble quilts. Hopefully I’ll have enough, but if not, I’ll just need a bit of extra.

Right, I have to go to the kitchen now and assemble some more gingerbread. I’m addicted to the stuff at the moment.  Tomorrow I’ll be making bread and peanut butter cookies, so there’ll be a little less sewing :-(. And I’ll be sewing dark blue hexies for the Car Quilt while I watch TV tonight. Unless I decide to do some more work on Thing. Or work on a paper-pieced design I’m trying to make work. I keep ending up with Y shaped seams…

You see the dilemmas you face when you have multiple WIPs?

A quick burst of Happiness

You know how some things make you smile just to look at them?

There’s a big smile on my face, and it’s all down to a quick interlude with my Amy Butler Lark and Cameo charm packs. I had taken down the design wall flannelette sheet to give it a quick clean and get rid of all the threads from the back of the ToL quilt. After a couple of hours of quilting, I decided I wanted a quick break. I put the sheet back up. I started fiddling with the squares.

An hour later, I had this:

Happiness: the layout

Happiness: the layout

Doesn’t that just make you smile? Imagine the squares separated by 2 inch white sashing all round to spread the joy and make the quilt bigger. And I’ll bind it with leftover turquoise from the ToL quilt. Haven’t thought about backing yet, maybe something totally random made from whatever I have big scraps of. It’s simple, cheerful and a welcome break from the complicated intensive stuff. I love it! There are 4 squares of non-AB fabrics; I’ve used pieces of Philip Jacobs floral prints, which seemed to work with the rest. No prizes for spotting the ringers, though!

Then I got back to work on the ToL. I’ve finished outlining the top of the tree, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit, and the three birds in the tree. Next is the two birds inside the circle above the tree, then the birds outside the circle. I’m ‘saving’ the roots, grass and fish for later this week when I have more time. Once all that’s done, I’ll draw bark-y type lines on the trunk and branches, ripples in the water and clouds in the sky, and the next lot of quilting will start. I’m really happy with the progress I’m making. It’s going nice and fast.

My fingers are less happy, and have just announced it’s time for me to stop for the day. I can’t wear a thimble on thumb and first two fingers if I want to be able to hold a needle, and they’re the ones getting hammered. Same thing happened before when I did lots of hand quilting. I built some truly impressive calluses on my fingers which saw me through to the end and took weeks to wear off. Perhaps I should consider keeping them by doing more hand quilting. It would certainly save the initial pain!

Next time I take a break, I’ll start cutting the sashing…

The Tree of Life part 12: of trees… and guilt

No, I have not gone out and decimated some tropical rainforest.

The Tree grows apace. All branches are now prepared for appliqué, and I’m considering how best to do the job. The trunk has to lie over the ends of all the branches. But there’s no way I can appliqué the branches down first, since how they fit onto the trunk is critical. I could appliqué round the outside, and start and stop between the branches, leaving unsewn lengths to feed the end of the branches under. That’s one option. I could leave all the branches pinned on in place while I whizz round the outside of the trunk, capturing the ends of the branches under the edge of the trunk. That leaves a small problem: peeling off the fusible backing once I’m ready to fuse the branches down, since one end is going to be sewn in. Minor, but a consideration. And thirdly, fusing everything down at once and trundling round all the outlines in one fell swoop. I like this option least. Manipulating the top through my sewing machine will rub off the smaller fused bits (experience speaking here), and the edges will fray, and it’s generally not going to work so well. I think I may go with option 1. Do one piece at a time. Take time. Have the freedom to make adjustments. Ensure the branches are in the best possible condition when I sew them on. They are, don’t forget, one quivering mass of bias edges, ready to stretch if you just look at them funny. They stretch, fray and come apart at the seams. No, option 1 it is.

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The branches, complete

So, the process is: Unpin everything. Take down the top from the design wall. Lay the centre along the length of my ironing board. Peel the backing off the fusible I’ve already ironed onto the back of the trunk section. Lay it out so it’s straight and butts up to the root section. Offer up the branches to the edge of the trunk and mark both edges with pins to show where to stop and start. Remove the branches and carefully iron down the fusible, leaving unfused areas at the branch junctions to help stick them down. Stitch down with satin stitch, all the way round, starting and stopping to leave the branch slots unsewn. After that, it’s a question of doing the same thing with all 7 branches. Holy cow… I’ve got a bit of work ahead of me, eh?

Now, does anyone have any suggestions for making this easier?  If so, I will receive them with glad cries and expressions of appreciation.  This quilt has been a learning process throughout, and I’m always happy to learn an easier/faster/cleverer way. (Yes, I know cleverer isn’t a proper word…).

And now for the guilt…

Cameo

Cameo

Lark

Lark

I’m in the middle of a serious quilt, I have loads of others lined up, I’m taking two weeks out of my quilting schedule in April, and yet STILL I’ve ordered some new fabrics.  Two packs of 5″ squares.  Amy Butler Lark and Cameo collections, which go amazingly well together, and are destined to be turned into a nice lap quilt, sashed in white.  I don’t have enough lap quilts… Yeah, right. But aren’t the colours lovely?  Don’t you love the cuteness of 5″ squares, just small, so the fabric doesn’t shout at you, it just sings quietly? Don’t you think they’ll be fresh and pretty all together, sashed with white? And maybe a nice aqua binding? I’m going to need a holiday from serious quilts when the Tree is done, and I’ve nominated these fabrics to get my creative mojo going again.

So, tomorrow will find me cursing the day I started this quilt. But I’ll get through.  See you on the other side!