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!

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In the Arms of the Angels: we take flight

Christmas is over and my cutting table was empty, so…

So of course, it was time to start work 🙂 Already, I have received four blocks and made three of my own. There’s more en route and still more promised. I could have waited a bit longer, but the deadline is looming large in my brain and making me restive, and anyway I wanted needed to do some exploratory work.

First out of the traps were Robin’s four blocks, two pale background squares and two dark border squares. Gorgeous, aren’t they?

Then I made three light background blocks myself. Two of them are scrappy, as I don’t want things to be too tidy; I’m hoping for a soft, broken-colour effect.

And finally, using butcher paper, I blocked out the size and shape of the light background on which the wings will sit so that I could work on the banner, hook, L-plate and wings. It doesn’t look like much yet, but I really needed to look at size, proportion and placement.

 All these elements will be separate pieces which will be appliquéd to the background. The edges of the banner and L-plate will be free of the background, and the wing feathers will be substantially free of the background along their length, I hope, so that there will be some movement. I’m still working on how exactly I’m going to achieve that, but at least now I have sizes and shapes blocked in.

The wing shapes are just foundation pieces at the moment; the actual wings will be larger, and they’ll also look fuller with the feathers lying thickly over the background.

So, In the Arms of the Angels is off the ground.

Go Teal it on the Mountain #18: the saw-tooth mountain

This is Montserrat, in Catalunya, north of Spain.

Between 1985 and 2004, I flew over this mountain every time I went to visit my father. My mother died in 1984 and after her death my father went to live in Catalunya, northern Spain, an area now striving for independence from Spain. The rest of the world knows it as Catalonia, but the locals call it Catalunya, and as a near-local, so do I. My father returned to the UK this year aged 95, no longer able to be independent, but for 23 years, that mountain was the gateway to my father’s home, and seeing it from the plane was the signal that I was nearly there.

It’s an unusual formation, and without making a much larger block it’s hard to do the mountain justice, but if you’re interested, take a look at what Wikipedia has to say about it.

Montserrat means ‘saw-tooth mountain’ in Català (Catalan), and the name suits it. I’m a little sad that I’ll never see it again in real life; Pa no longer lives there and I’m no longer able to make the long flight back to Europe because of my back. This is the perfect opportunity to say goodbye to it.

Adéu, muntanya  🙂

Go Teal it on the Mountain #17: Arizona peaks

Yesterday amidst all the worry about fire, there was something happier.

I received a squishy containing two lovely blocks from Tracy of It’s a T-Sweets Day. Look at these beauties! Tracy has written about them herself, but in case you hadn’t noticed, these are two more mountain ‘portraits’, with their names embroidered at the bottom.

This one is Mt Graham, in Safford, AZ. Don’t you love those cute fluffy cotton bolls, to show that Safford is a cotton-growing area?

And this one is Pusch Ridge, in Tucson, AZ. Look at that majestic saguaro cactus. Teal really works in these powerful desert landscapes, doesn’t it?

We now have 26 blocks, only 4 more required to bring us up to the 30 needed for the quilt. One of those will be the teal ribbon that goes on all these quilts, which I’ll be making from scraps.

I’ve got two rows of blocks pressed and sandwiched with backing and batting, and I’ve started the quilting. I’m really liking how the ‘peak’ quilting is looking. It complements the designs without competing with them for attention.

I’ll post some of it soon and show you 🙂

 

ST&D: the ribbon and the stamp

And another two! I’m enjoying making these so much that I’m having a hard time keeping up with my own ideas 🙂

Every quilt I make for OCA has the teal ribbon on it somewhere, and here’s where it’s going on this quilt. I wanted to make use of the stamps on the brown paper backing, and thought a parcel of some sort would be the way to go. And then, of course, it needed a ribbon round it, and what better way to finish off than with a teal ribbon bow?

Once of the planned central blocks was a large representation of a stamp. Originally I was going to do something with appliqué, but having achieved some success with the small transfers, I went for it with a bigger one. Australia Post issued a series of ‘Australian Road Trip’ illustrated stamps in 2012, and this is the one for the Great Barrier Reef, right there on my doorstep. It was too good to miss 🙂 The bright colours called for a darker surround and gave me an excuse to use this floral fabric which I’ve been hoarding for a while.

I have one more postcard block to go and then I’ve made the 5 blocks I committed to. If anyone in the Ovarian Cancer group is finding themselves short of time and can’t managed the block(s) they’ve offered to make, just let me know, as I have plenty of time (and inspiration!) and can very easily make more.

While I’m thinking about postal issues, we’re off on a motorbike road trip on 14 October, returning on 29 October. Anyone who’s posted anything in the last couple of days can be reasonably assured it will be delivered before we go, but can I ask anyone planning to mail anything soon to hold off for about 3 weeks, so that your lovely squishy doesn’t languish in the depths of the post office while our mail is held? Anything posted after 20th October should be fine.

That’s enough postal stuff for today. Now, will it be hand quilting, or a spot of embroidery….?

 

ST&D: postcard progress

It’s not done yet, but the hardest part is over.

I laid the design on my lightbox, and traced the outlines of the drawing onto fabric scraps, which I then cut out and arranged on a fabric backing, ensuring there was plenty of excess around the sides. I photographed this and made a large scale colour printout to help me with placement later. I inverted all the scraps and sprayed the pieces one by one with 505 basting spray in my hi-tech spray booth (aka a large old cardboard box with all the flaps taped out into a sort of tunnel; it keeps the stuff inside instead of all over my sewing room). I then placed them on the backing in the correct order, following the printout. A quick press with a hot iron under a sheet of baking paper to set the glue, and then I placed the fabric rectangle on a piece of tear-away stabiliser, with the stabiliser grain running horizontally, following the horizontal strips of fabric. This makes it easier to tear away afterwards. I basted the fabric and stabiliser together round the outside, and then I was good to go.

Sewing machines all differ with stitch lengths and widths. I did a small test piece on some scrap to see what gave me the best version of blanket stitch. I wanted the stitch that caught the edge of the fabric to be small, and the interval quite large, for minimal visibility. I also decided that life was too short to change the thread colour for every piece, so I selected a pale grey blue for all the stitching.

Once all the pieces were stitched down, I removed the basting and tore away as much stabiliser as I could before passing out with boredom deciding I’d removed enough. I clipped away as much of the fabric layers as I could get my small scissors into (I’ll probably be unable to resist having another go at it later!) and then gave the whole thing a good pressing. And there you have it. My Greetings from Tropical Queensland postcard front, good to go (apart from the embroidered message). The back is a piece of cake, and I’ll have a go at that tomorrow. I’ll show the finished thing when it’s done.

Once this first postcard block is done, I’ll make another and much simpler postcard front for my second block. I feel some hexies coming on, or possibly a scrappy block… I’ll probably also make the postcard front and back sit at different angles for a bit of interest.

Time for a cuppa and a well-earned piece of chocolate 🙂

 

Signed, Tealed & Delivered: Ready, set…. go!

And here we are again. Time for another Ovarian Cancer donation quilt.

Signed, Tealed & Delivered has a postal theme, as you can see from the original sketch I showed some months ago. The response to my call for block contributors has been outstanding, and I will be emailing everyone who volunteered with confirmation of what they’re making, attaching a pattern if necessary.

As always, the colour scheme is based around various shades of teal and cream, in 100% cotton quilting weight fabrics. However, with this quilt, I’m encouraging the use of other colours in the envelope linings and postcard fronts, to ensure this quilt is lively, colourful and varied. Pink, apricot, orange, emerald, dark blue and lilac are all possible additions.

As you know, there’s a paper piecing pattern for the ‘lined envelope’ blocks, and it’s pretty simple, so shouldn’t present too many difficulties. The ‘postcard’ blocks can be pieced or appliqué (personally, I’ll be using appliqué), and as you can see, there’s a postcard front and a back on each block. I think it would be a lovely idea to put your name on the address portion of the postcard back but not, of course, your address! It could be permanent marker, embroidery, etc. If anyone would prefer not to do this, let me know and I’ll let the others know that it’s not happening, so the blocks are all consistent. How you achieve the postcard is completely up to you, but if you need ideas, I’m happy to offer suggestions. Email me!

The four large envelope blocks in the corners can be achieved with simple piecing of triangles. Finally, there are the centre blocks, the stamp, the frank and the OCA ribbon. I have a brave volunteer for embroidering the frank, and I’ll be doing the stamp and ribbon blocks myself. The binding will be in the ‘airmail’ stripe fabric I sourced previously. I’m not sure what colour the sashing will be this time; I’ll wait to see what the block layout looks like so I can check what colour the quilt is ‘asking’ for.

The sizing follows the previous quilts. The blocks will finish at 12 inches square, and I’d ask you to give me an unfinished block of AT LEAST 12½ inches square, preferably a bit larger if possible. This will ensure that when the blocks are quilted I still have plenty of leeway for trimming out.

Ideally, I’ll have all the blocks in by the end of January, to give me plenty of time to quilt and assemble (I think I need to do something a bit more elaborate than quilted wiggly lines this time!), so hopefully that’s enough time for everyone to get their block or two sorted out. I’ll be posting the incoming blocks as they arrive, to keep everyone’s creativity flowing.

So here we go. Time to start sorting out your teal-ish fabrics, fabulous OCA Quilt Volunteers 🙂