BM&I #39: Parterre Block 4

I’ve really enjoyed making more of these.

So, here’s Block 4

It’s getting easier as I go along, and I’m learning a few more tricks and shortcuts each time.

Once I’ve finished the Scinteallate quilt at the end of August for delivery early September, I can give more attention to my personal projects: Bougie Nights, the Hatbox Quilt, Amethyst & Slate (F2F3), the pastel scrappy quilt – and of course, this one!

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not to a deadline or 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 of this blog.

More next month!

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BM&I #38: Parterre Blocks 2 and 3

And after a short break from BM&I, I’m back.

I’ve missed the end-of-monthly sessions showing my current Slow Quilting project, ever since I quilted the last Hatbox block. That one just needs assembly, which isn’t the kind of gentle, pleasurable, personal sewing I associate with Bee, Myself and I. A new project was called for, and with the successful but definitely slow assembly of the first Parterre block, I knew I’d found it.

I had to check that it wasn’t a fluke, and so here’s Block 2:

… Closely followed by Block 3.

I’ve learned a couple of new things with these new blocks, the main one being not to make the stitch width too narrow on the blanket stitch, or the chambray (which is very loosely woven) will pull out at the drop of a hat. The other thing is that there’s no need to worry about straight grain on the leaf shapes, because there isn’t a straight line on them, and all the edges are on the bias! Lots of starch prior to cutting takes care of any tendency to stretch, so long as you handle them gently.

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not to a deadline or 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 of this blog.

More next month!

Parterre 2: the how-to, and the first block

With everything ready, I had no excuse.

Et voilà! This is Block 1 of dunnamany, but at least 36.

So, on the offchance that you might want to know how to make it, here’s a few words and pictures.

Cut a piece of tear-away stabiliser a bit larger than the finished block, and lay it on top. You should be able to see the layout through it fairly easily. If not, thicken the lines with a black marker. Mark the corners of the block on the stabiliser.

Cut all the templates out of your chosen fabrics. In an ideal world, you should starch the fabrics first, as this makes it much easier to cut the shapes out. Note: I wanted two cream fabrics in each background so I’ve created a template for only half of the background. You can make it all in one piece if you lay the edge on a fold. I use a fine lead mechanical pencil on the right side of the fabric in most cases, and then cut very accurately on the line with scissors.

Once you have everything cut out, you’re good to go. I’m using yoyos I already have, but to make them in the correct size, you need to use the 4 inch template I’ve drawn. It’s also quick and easy to make them using a yoyo maker: this is the one I like, by Clover.

Start in the middle with the two background pieces (or one large piece if that’s what you’re going with). Lay them in place and pin to stop them sliding around. Then lay over the leaves, overlapping the seam allowances at the bottom, folding the top one under. Finally, add the two corners. Pin everything in place, flip the stabiliser over and check the back to ensure the seam allowances are even and fully overlapped.

If all is well, baste down the leaf and inner edge of the corner pieces and remove the pins. Leave the pins in the background and at the bottom of the corner pieces.

Blanket stitch down the basted edges and remove the basting. Lay down the length of ribbon and lightly dab glue stick on the back. Stick down on the centre line of the background, bottom edge flush with the seam allowance. The top edge will be concealed by the flower. Top this with the 3 inch flower circle. Baste the flower circle in place and blanket stitch both this and the ribbon stem down.

Lay down the last two corners and baste in place, turning under the seam allowances on the arms to give a finished edge. Blanket stitch, and remove basting.

Turn the block over, tear away the stabiliser and trim out the seam allowances and excess fabric behind the flower head. Finally, apply glue stick to the back of the yoyo, stick it down in the centre of the flower and blanket stitch around the outside. In case you’re wondering, that yoyo is dark blue, not black.

And you’re done!

Parterre

Wikipedia: “A parterre is a formal garden constructed on a level substrate, consisting of plant beds, typically in symmetrical patterns, which are separated and connected by paths. The borders of the plant beds may be formed with stone or tightly pruned hedging, and their interiors may be planted with flowers…”

I have been dithering and procrastinating about this one for far too long. So it’s a relief that I finally have the templates drawn and cut for my next Bee, Myself and I project, which will be known as Parterre.

I first had the idea a couple of months ago, in the middle of doing something else. At the time, I could only scribble down a quick sketch and some notes. It’s times like this when I miss the fabulous multi-coloured ballpoint pen I had as a child, with six different inks in it. Does anyone else remember those? But I digress. This has been nagging at my brain for weeks and weeks, like a tiny stone in the shoe, and finally it got too much.

Today, I sat down and made the templates, drawn out first on quilter’s graph paper, then transferred as individual pieces onto plain paper and spray-mounted onto firm card to make templates to draw around, with seam allowance included. Like the previous BM&I project (the Hatbox quilt), it’ll be raw edge appliqué, blanket stitched onto the background and trimmed out behind to reduce bulk. I won’t use fusible or glue, as you can’t then remove the excess fabric at the back. As before, I’ll add a layer of tear-away stabiliser at the back, layer all the pieces, pin and then baste by hand before stitching everything down. Labour intensive yes, but the result is a supple block with a tidy back, and no ugly channelling of the stitching. The blocks will finish at 10 inches square, and I haven’t yet decided how many to make! That decision can wait until I discover how tricky the block is…

I’ve done a pull of fabrics from my stash of FQs and larger scraps. The circular ‘frame’ around each block will be a slate grey chambray-effect glazed cotton. The backgrounds will be cream on cream prints, for visual interest with minimal interference with the prints. I have two reels of half inch jacquard woven ribbons (originally bought for gift wrapping) to form the stem of each flower, and dozens of yoyos left over from The Cloths of Heaven quilt, which will be the centres of the flowers. The leaves and flowers will be in contrasting or even clashing prints. This baby is going to be bright! I’m also considering putting a small button in the centre of each yoyo, and am still debating what colour to use for the blanket stitch; the red worked well on the Hatbox blocks, but I don’t want to cover the same ground. I’m pretty sure I won’t need to buy anything except perhaps backing material when the time comes to start the hand quilting.

I’m hoping I’ll get the first block done in time for Bee, Myself and I at the end of the month.

Scinteallate #5: half a dozen

It was a great day for squishes!

The postie brought not one, but two lovely packages. The first was from Sue, with four gorgeous blocks:

And the second was from Gun, with two, including one stunning appliqué block:

And finally, I’ve bought the fabric for the back and joining strips:

I couldn’t resist the tiny stars on the cream background, and that marbled teal has tiny sparkles over-printed on it.

Scinteallate is really starting to scintillate!

ITAA: postal progress!

We’re just shy of having everything we need to start assembly.

Lots of squishy mail in the last couple of days. I received a light background block today from Margaret; I’m awaiting one more from Nanette for the background, and then I can assemble it, sandwich and quilt it.

I’m awaiting three square dark border blocks, one from Nanette, one from Sue and one from Lynne, and then I can finish the bottom border. I also received a dark border block today from Margaret which completed the top border, so that one’s good to go.

Nanette sent me these two long border blocks yesterday, which complete the border pieces needed for the left side.

Margaret also sent this beautiful appliqué shell cornerstone, so now I’m only waiting for Sue’s heart cornerstone block and then I’ll have everything and both long side borders can be assembled.

I need to go fabric shopping (oh no!) for a couple of metres to do the border sandwiches; each cornerstone is going to be backed with a different cream fabric, but the bits in between need to have something cream but different from the centre background panel fabric, which I already have.

This shows what it’s looking like right now, but you can see that what I’ve detailed above plugs most of those gaps. It’s feeling a bit strange to finally be talking about assembly and quilting; the timing of this is really preying on my mind because of everything else that’s going on, so I’m getting far more worked up about it than I really need to. There.Is.Time….

A few more days and I can assemble the background. Yay!

In the Arms of the Angels: feathers…

I’ve been making some progress behind the scenes.

Firstly, the scroll that goes at the top of the centre panel. It’s slightly padded with a batting layer, which gives it a bit more dimension, I think. I chose a pale green-beige batik that looks a bit like stone, and I’ll get the words embroidered in serif capitals if I can, in teal thread. It’s not as dark as it looks in the photo – indoor lighting 😦

And then the wings… There’s going to be lots of feathers. They need to be stiff, like real flight feathers, and layered so as to have depth, instead of being just flat and one-dimensional. This is going to mean a fair bit of weight, so I had to create a stiffened foundation shape on which to stitch them so that they don’t pull at the surface of the quilt. This foundation will itself be sewn to the background by hand with invisible stitches, so that it doesn’t affect the quilting and is invisible on the back.

I’ve used a fairly stiff non-fusible interfacing between the front and back layers of each feather, so that the shape is firm and sword-like. Once the feather is turned through, it’s topstitched around the edge to keep it crisp, and will have a further topstitched shaft down the centre. The feathers are overlapped slightly, as in nature, and the colours are varied to give added visual interest. I’m mixing a grey and beige overprinted with a little silver for the leading edge feathers, with lots of different beige and cream prints to give texture as well as colour variation. It’s very labour intensive, but I really like the effect.

And Kathy’s lovely pale background block has arrived, which is really going to help with the soft broken-colour I’m after. One thing I’ve realised is that I need to keep the tips of the wings as free of the pale background as I can or they’ll blend in too much, so the tips of all the feathers have to stay separate, but I may also need some sort of ‘shadow’. I’m thinking some very fine grey tulle laid over the background under the tips of the wings may give the effect I’m after, as it’ll allow the background colour to show through instead of being solid. Anyone have any other suggestions for achieving what I want?

Still lots more to go… Meanwhile, keep those background, border and cornerstone blocks coming, my lovelies!