Triple Trouble 12: we have lift-off

Announcing the departure of Flight 333, bound for the Netherlands…








The backing fabrics. Don’t you love those prints?

It’s my own personal Finish Up Friday.  The three baby quilts are done. Bound, labelled and ready to go.  All I have to do is go to the post office to send them on their way.  My three magic flying quilts…  It’s going to be fun seeing which niece gets which quilt, and whether there’s any correlation between personality and motif – but that’s a long term question. I wish these photos were better, but it’s lashing with rain outside, and getting dark.  Not a good place to hang the quilts on the line… So they’re hanging on my design wall, in my sewing room, with not very good lighting.  I’ll take some better ones in daylight for my gallery.

I’m getting faster at quiltmaking, without a doubt. I started these three on 20th December. In between, I had Christmas, a number of smaller projects, and hand sewing on the Car Quilt. The design process has always been the easy part for me, and the hard part has been working out fabric requirements or recalculating an existing pattern for a new size.  Practice is helping with that.  And I’m getting less anal about using all my fabric up.  Leftovers are OK. Leftovers make new quilts!  These three, while the white and backing fabrics are new purchases, were conceived after a rummage in my scrap box, a quick blast of inspiration from some of the beautiful paper pieced blocks I see fellow bloggers turning out, and a couple of minor rethinks because I didn’t have enough of something. My recycling was as follows:

Wervelwind: oranges from my first ever proper quilt, yellow from the quilt I made my Jindabyne nephew and his wife, yellow left over from the baby quilt I made for Donna’s little boy.

Vlucht: greens left over from Donna’s baby quilt, greens left over from my heirloom hexagon quilt, green from a couple of very unloved fat quarters which worked very well here and which would otherwise have probably been given away.

Komeet: lilac recycled from an old worn out nightie, pink paisley left over from the French Braid quilt I gave to Jen in London, two fat quarters I loved but couldn’t use anywhere else.

I’ve finally worked out what design I’m going to use for my other big quilt, the one that’s going to be the warmer winter one, with wool batting instead of cotton.  Heaven knows when I’ll be able to start it, but I now have the design in my head, I have more than enough fabric, and may even be able to make matching pillow cases (shams).  Still some thinking to do, but I’ll post with fabric choices soon…

And now, a sigh of relief. Time to clean my sewing machine and my sewing table, empty the thread bin, and start work on something else. The Tree of Life is waiting patiently for my attention….


Triple Trouble 11: in the departure queue

We’re in the home stretch now.

Komeet's binding just needs stitching down on the back.

Komeet’s binding just needs
stitching down on the back.

Komeet is trimmed, the binding is applied, I just have to hem down the back.  170″. A piece of cake, I’ll probably get it squared away tonight while I’m watching TV.

Vlucht's binding is ready to be attached to the trimmed edge.

Vlucht’s binding is ready to be
attached to the trimmed edge.

Vlucht is trimmed, the binding is cut and pressed.

Wervelwind is trimmed and waiting for me to cut the binding.

Wervelwind is trimmed and
waiting for me to cut the binding.

Wervelwind is trimmed.

I’ve had to make 2″ binding because there was only just enough of the lilac chevron fabric left to make 2″ binding!  But it works perfectly well, and is probably nicer on a small quilt. Of course, if one quilt has narrow binding, they all must, and the net result is that I end up with a little more leftover fabric than I originally thought. And the problem with that is, exactly…? Quite. I’m learning to relax about leftover fabric. Time was that I beat myself up about ‘waste’, but I’m learning fast that there’s no such thing.

Today I made a gift for a friend using scraps from 5 or 6 other quilts. And I do mean scraps: a 4″ square here, a 2.5″ strip there. The back was pieced from leftover bits of the piece I made for the roots of the Tree of Life.  I bound it with a jelly roll strip which has been sitting in my stash for about 5 years without a home. It all comes round again eventually.  I’m looking at my scrap boxes with a different eye these days: speculatively rather than despairingly.  It would be nice if they were better organised, of course.

I think with a clear day and a good run-up, I should have all three finished tomorrow except, maybe, for labelling.

Triple Trouble 9: triple-deckered

Some progress to report.

I have got all three layers of all three Triple Trouble baby quilts pinned together, ready to start quilting. I realised at the end of the second one that I was going to run out of quilting safety pins, but apart from that, it went fairly smoothly. It’s so much easier to handle the backing, batting and tops for these small quilts. I was finished a lot sooner than I thought. Just as well, really, as I was working in the covered patio, on the big table, and it was 34C/93F  today. I was out of the sun, but not out of the heat, and there’d be an occasional gust of wind undoing all the careful smoothing and aligning I’d just done. Staying motivated was hard…. especially as my sewing room is air conditioned and I had the lure of other things I could be doing in a nice cool room!

Side one, with the sewing pocket, currently occupied by a notebook. Pens on the left, hairbrush on the right.

Side one, with the sewing pocket, currently occupied by a notebook. Pens on the left, hairbrush on the right.

Side two, with Kindle where my travel docs folder will go and phone in the right pocket.

Side two, with Kindle where my travel docs folder will go and phone in the right pocket.

Side 1 standing up.

Side 1 standing up.

Side 2 standing up

Side 2 standing up

Which left me with no excuse not to begin work again on the Survival Kit. I’d been putting off inserting the zipper, since it had to go in on two curves on each side, and I hate that. Straight ones? No problem. Curves are a beast. Anyhow it got done. And then I thought I might as well carry on. Heavy interfacing to reinforce the top edge and bottom of the bag. Zoom round the outside, square off the bottom corners to give a flat bottom, and voila, the thing is almost done. There’s a bit of hand finishing, and the lining to put in, but aside from that, I’m happy. To the extent that I’m actually pretending it’s finished, and here are some photos!


Little appliqued motifs to go with each quilt

And then to celebrate that, I did the little applique motifs on the bibs that go with the baby quilts. I’m really pleased with these. They’re simple, cute and a nice bonus to go with the quilts.

We’re off to the Dowager’s tonight for dinner. I’d rather stay home and do some more work on the Car Quilt, but it’s a regular thing and we’re expected. I’m sure she’s going to ask how I’m getting on with her tapestry handbag…

That’s it for today. Have a good weekend, everyone.

Triple Trouble 8: what lies beneath

I’ve had a successful shopping trip.

Once again, the Husband was called into service as pack pony, a duty he performs unflinchingly, and with an increasing degree of knowledge and interest. Waiting in the queue to have my batting and background fabrics cut, he enquired whether I needed new blades for my rotary cutter. Gasp! As it happened, I didn’t, but never one to look a gift horse in the mouth, I got another one…

The orange one, with its backing fabric and matching bib

The orange one, with its backing fabric
and matching bib

The green bib is fairly vivid, but it's the right colour to match some of the geese

The green bib is fairly vivid, but it’s the right colour
to match some of the geese

Pity I couldn't get a lilac bib, but this blue is the same shade as the fabric in the star

Pity I couldn’t get a lilac bib, but this blue
is the same shade as the fabric in the star

So, I now have the backing fabrics for all three baby quilts. And while I was in the supermarket later on, I spotted a pack of 5 baby bibs in bright colours, including the ones I wanted, so I snaffled that too. The green and yellow are perfect, but unfortunately the supermarket lighting made me think there was a lilac one as well, which turned out to be a slightly sad pale blue. So I’m going with a deeper blue instead, which does actually feature in one of the lilac quilt fabrics. I’m going to apply a little motif to the corner of each bib: a square for the orange one, a triangle for the green one and a diamond for the lilac one.

Don’t you love the fabrics for the backs? I originally thought about a spot for all three, but I couldn’t resist the lilac chevrons, and then it was obvious I needed a different pattern for the orange too, hence the stripe.  My cotton batting is  hanging on the line to shake out the creases and let the sun bake some of the chemical smell out of it before I have to work with it. I should hopefully have enough of each fabric to bind as well except for maybe the lilac, as they didn’t have quite as much left on the bolt.

Because I don’t know the names for the babies, I’m not following my normal practice in labelling them, which is to put the quilt name, the recipient’s name, the date and then my name.  So the quilt names, date and my name will have to do. The triplets belong to my Dutch family, and therefore the quilts will be named and labelled in Dutch. The orange one is Wervelwind (whirlwind), the green one is Vlucht (flight) and the lilac one is Komeet (comet, or shooting star). I shall leave it to the parents to decide who gets which, once they are old enough to have their own sleeping quarters. I’m told that for the first short while they all must sleep together so they don’t get lonely after being so close together for 9 months!

I’ve been making a list of all the projects I want to finish up and begin this year. I don’t know that I’ll get everything done, but the only way to find out is to make a start! So far, I’ve got 14 projects, which is slightly more than one a month. Given that some of them are quite substantial quilts, that’s going it a bit… There’s nothing like a bit of peer pressure to make me knuckle down and do some work!

That’s it for today. I have to do a bit of work on the Survival Kit back. And take a look at the Dowager’s tapestry handbag. And press the baby quilt fabrics. And make another storage basket or two….

Good job the Husband is at work tonight, eh?

Triple Trouble 5: triangle spinoff

It was difficult, this bit.

Not piecing together the background, which was straightforward despite having to do the cutting outside on the only table large enough, and having the bits almost blow into the fountain at least twice (although I did make a mistake which I’m not going to rectify, no prizes for guessing what). No, the tricky part was placing the triangles, which are supposed to look as if they have spun off the whirling central design. In my head, I can see the finished thing: the quilting’s going to follow the curved lines on which the triangles have been placed, radiating out from the offset coloured square like curving sunrays. Nothing too fancy, just a bit of work with my trusty walking foot and some white thread.  The triangles are going to be appliqued down with orange satin stitch.

The orange quilt top layout

The orange quilt top layout

Centre detail

Centre detail

I’ve got a good idea for the green one.  You’ll just have to wait and see. Probably only until tomorrow, though!

Now that I’ve made two bags, I’m getting the bag bug. I spent an hour or so yesterday browsing for free patterns to download, plus some storage baskets to try and make my stash storage a little more aesthetically pleasing than the current multiple shoebox hodge podge… I desperately coveted the Noodle-head Basket which the lovely Sarah gave away recently as part of Sew Mama Sew Giveaway Day. So I’ve decided to try and make my own, probably without the divider, since it won’t be helpful with the stash storage purpose. I’ll keep you posted on how it goes. Trouble is, I need about 10 of them: Black & white, red, green, blue, yellow/orange, pink, purple, brown, neutrals, multicolour.  I know very well there are many impulse-purchased fat quarters in my stash which I will probably never use, and unless I make a bag out of them, they might as well be useful and become a storage basket.

Well, that’s quite enough displacement activity for the moment. Back to the sewing machine.

Triple Trouble 4

… and the last one’s done.

Lilac Rolling Star.  There are all sorts of memorable scraps in this one!

Lilac Rolling Star. There are all sorts of memorable scraps in this one!

This lilac Rolling Star block is by far the most complicated thing I’ve ever attempted in patchwork.  I’m way, way out of my comfort zone, so I’m especially happy that it turned out reasonably well.  The eagle-eyed among you will detect that some of my points don’t exactly match, that there are two random seams near the centre because I misjudged the size of the piece I needed, and that the outside edge is distinctly wobbly.  But you know what?  I don’t care!  All together now: “Finished is better than perfect!”

For Christmas, my lovely family-in-law have given me Spotlight gift cards. For those who don’t know what this means, Spotlight sells dress, quilting, curtain and upholstery fabric, homewares and a huge range of craft items. So today, I went in, trailed by my faithful pack-horse (aka the Husband) and went a little crazy. I’ve bought three different white fabrics for the three baby quilts, a couple of fat eighth packs, a few fat quarters, a length of fabric to make a new top, a couple of racks for spools of thread and bobbins, a new pack of pins, and last but not least, a brand new iron. Now, there’s nothing wrong with my existing one. It works just fine, but it get cursed on a regular basis because while I’m using it the cord constantly gets tangled up in the hooks that hold my rulers on the edge of the sewing table. This new iron avoids that problem. It’s cordless, and quite a lot lighter than the other one. And best of all, it cost only $10 in the sale.

Now, my teeny weeny sewing room looks like a bomb hit it. Tonight I have a few small jobs to do, and they have to be quiet ones as the Husband is working tonight and is getting some sleep before heading out at around midnight. But tomorrow, I’m going to have a huge tidy up so I’m clear, clean and tidy for the start of the New Year. Think of it as a detox, and you won’t be far wrong.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are looking forward to the New Year. It will be the 10th anniversary of my arrival in Australia next year, so I’m hoping to have a small celebration at the end of July to mark the occasion. I have a few other fun things planned – I feel it’s important to start a new year not only with difficult resolutions, but with things to look forward to as well.

What’s on your work table just now?

The Tree of Life part 10: From the Ground Up

The Roots are done. It’s been a useful learning exercise to apply to the branches when I get there.

The three template pieces and the strip pieced background

The three template pieces
and the strip pieced background

Yesterday I pieced together the strips that make up the fabric from which I cut the three root pieces. I cut what I thought was a generous number of strips, but I ended up with only just enough. It’s amazing how much everything shrinks when there are loads of seams through the middle. Today, I drew round the three root template pieces with a sharp pencil, and then cut them out just inside the pencil line. There are some potentially useful leftover bits which I can’t immediately think of a use for, but something will come to me at some point.

Cut out, assembled and glued down

Cut out, assembled and glued down

I then used the new Japanese glue pen to apply all three pieces in position on the background. I had only moderate success with this – the pieces were too large for the strength of the glue, and got rubbed off as I pushed the fabric through the machine and turned it around as I was sewing. From this, I’ve learned that these pieces are better fused to the background, since this holds them tight to the surface.

Sewn down and pressed

Sewn down and pressed

It’s done, though, and while the fabric has drawn up and shrunk a bit, it’s not as bad as I feared. The satin stitch in a toning colour works well, and there aren’t too many wrinkly bits despite the difficult shape. I keep saying “better finished than perfect” to myself…

It looks like someone's been logging here....

It looks like someone’s been logging here….

I Skyped my brother this morning, and he was able to see work in progress on the design wall behind me, which was exciting for both of us. He hadn’t seen it yet, and I had plenty to show and tell.

I’m a bit tired after the last few days. We’re in the run up to a big Christmas, plus I have some pain issues which are stopping me eating and sleeping well, so I’m going to put the Tree aside for a little while. Once the festivities are over, I will get back to it – maybe sooner – but for now, I’m going to look at a couple of small projects I’ve sidelined for some time.  Remember the triplets arriving in April I mentioned in an earlier post? Yup. Three baby quilts. I don’t know yet how many/which are boys or girls, so the quilts have to be non-specific. And I want to try paper piecing for feature blocks on them.  That’s one thing the Tree quilt has done for me – it’s made me braver about trying new stuff.

Until next time.