Floribunda #9: onwards and inwards

I did no sewing or even cutting while we were away.

So it’s really rather nice to get back to such constructive pursuits. It’s all very well listening to audiobooks, reading my Kindle, taking dictation for the travel posts from Mouse, improvising meals from my pretty limited caravan pantry, and taking photos, but I miss the structured calm of actually piecing blocks.

So it’s straight back to Floribunda, and Blocks 10 and 11. Block 10 is done (I like the blackcurrant colours of this one), Block 11 is laid out, ready to sew.

And now you can begin to see how it’s laid out. From the outside inwards: a purple/yellow block at each corner, green all around the outside, pink inside that, and purple/yellow again in the middle. Block #11 will sit below the central pink block on the top row of pinks. I haven’t quite decided yet if this is going to be 5 x 5 blocks or 5 x 6. The blocks aren’t difficult but they are just the tiniest bit fiddly.

And may I just say, I never thought I’d be using the words purple and yellow together in any quilt I made, but there they are, and the combination just works. But I don’t think I’ll be using it again any time soon. I feel a little more positive towards purple these days than I used to, but yellow is still bottom of my colour list, along with baby blue, bottle green and brown.

I got an email while we were away to say that Mackay Show is back on, and inviting me to submit a quilt (or two). I’ve read the rules very carefully, and it doesn’t say anything about when the quilt had to be made, so I’m thinking about submitting the Hatbox Quilt for starters. All I’d have to do is hand-sew on a hanging pocket which I could easily remove afterwards, and put another temporary label over the existing one to comply with the rules. I’m pretty sure I could get Floribunda done by early June, which is when the quilts have to go in. What do you think? Shall I submit that one too? I’m certain I couldn’t get Parterre finished in time, particularly as I plan to hand quilt it, and Anemone won’t be hand quilted by then either, I don’t think… This one’s a fun dilemma to have!

Back to picking out fabric combinations for Floribunda!

Floribunda #8, and other stuff

It’s me, Mouse.

I’m dead worried, I can tell you. The Staff have been striding (Dad) and lurching (Mum) about all day, moving Stuff from one place to another. There was a distinct lack of routine activities, and I Don’t Like It. To be fair, they didn’t stint on the treats or the belly rubs. I think the score evened out at two frozen chicken necks, one bit of beef jerky, one bit of chicken jerky and a dried lamb bite. I got a walk and two runs in the yard, and several up-to-scratch dog-worship sessions in, including one on the bed this morning. But. I know there’s something going on. My Number 2 pillow and blankie have disappeared somewhere. Any minute now Bad Monkey (fluffy Mouse-toy, slayed horribly on a regular basis – Mum) will follow suit. I tell you what it is: we’re off on another trip! (Well-spotted, that sighthound – Mum).

Mum did herself a bit of a mischief the other day when she dropped a glass frying-pan lid on her broken paw. I must say, the language was surprisingly, um, salty, and I’m a sophisticated doggo… She’s also getting impatient for it to mend, and took her Boot off today. Mistake. The Boot’s back on again and she’s hobbling worse than she has been for a couple of days. Never mind, we’ll all have a nice long trip tomorrow and the day after, apparently, and she can rest her paw then.

So, this afternoon, while Dad was fiddling around in the back of the ute (pickup to you non-Australian types), arranging boxes and crates and fridges and tool-bags, Mum decided – finally – to take the weight off. So of course, she had to sew something. Apparently it’s rather colourful. I wouldn’t know… I’m a dog.

She says this is Block 9 of the Floribunda quilt, which is now going to be for her niece. Originally there was no yellow/orange and purple, but there was a special request for yellow, and this is how it’s being used. Apparently Mum is bringing hand work with her, but not this quilt, which needs a machine, cutting table and ironing board.

Instead, she’s bringing bags of scraps. It seems she’s already begun the next Days for Girls quilt, heaven help us. Is there no end to the scraps?  And I ask this as a doggo who enjoys his scraps; one of my favourite ways of making my displeasure known is to have a good rootle in her rubbish bin and spread the contents across the sewing room floor. It can get quite, um, artistic!

I’ll be posting more from the road, so paws crossed for better weather than we’re having here: Hot and wet. There’s nothing wrong with Mum’s fingers, so she can take dictation, as usual, and I happen to know there’s a bag of treats in her purse, so I shall be graciously accepting some of those to stimulate my creative juices. (Let’s hope they don’t stimulate anything else, Mr Fluffbum – Mum).

Look out for more thrilling episodes of… The Travels of Mouse!

Floribunda #7: blocks 7 and 8

OK, a little change of direction here.

First, some brief background. My brother has four daughters. Two of them, the older two, already have quilts I made for them, the Cloths of Heaven quilt and the Bookcase quilt, shown on the left. You can click to enlarge and see the detail.

My brother asked me recently whether I’d make quilts for the younger two. I’d always intended to do so, but unlike with the first two, there was no landmark event to spur me into action. So, well, you know me. Two new quilts.

For one niece, I had a Pinterest board started, but since I’d worked on it, her tastes had changed. That one will need more work and I’ll show you more soon, when I’ve collected a few more fabrics.

The other niece was more of a mystery, but in the end, much less problematic. After some conversations and a new Pinterest board, she is going to receive my Floribunda quilt, but with some modifications. She loves yellow. Eeek. Well, as many of you know, it’s my least favourite colour to work with. But I think I’ll be able to pull it off. So, the plan for Floribunda is changing. No more setting on point, no more trellis with twining creeper. I’ll be setting the blocks straight, and won’t be alternating pink and green. I’ll be able to give you more of an idea once I’ve made probably 3 or 4 more blocks.

In the meantime, here are two new ones, blocks 7 and 8.

The first is just another green one, but the second one gives you an idea how I’m going to include and manage the yellow she wants included. There will be fewer of these blocks than of the pink and green because I have less of the purple background. I really rather love it, I must say. For the record, Floribunda’s going to be a smaller quilt; rather than the 75 inch square, hand quilted item I had planned (which would have taken another year, probably), it’s going to be 60 x 72 inches and machine quilted.

And of course, ready much sooner.

Floribunda #6: blocks 5 and 6

….how does my garden grow?

Pretty darn fast, as a matter of fact. These blocks are such fun!  The layout’s the same, so you get faster and faster at completing them, but the fabric combinations make sure that each one looks very different. Take a look:

See what I mean? Imagine these blocks joined by a dark jade green trellis. What do you think of the idea of adding a vine winding through the trellis and the occasional 3D leaf here and there when the whole thing is assembled? I’m sorely tempted, on the basis of my usual ‘more is more’ principle, but I do accept it may be Too Much. I will listen to your thoughts on this one, because I know perfectly well I’m in danger of tipping over into Don’t Even Go There territory… I’m going to defer the decision till the thing’s fully laid out in any case.

So, here are the close ups of blocks 5 (pink) and 6 (green):

I missed posting a Parterre block for BM&I at the end of October. That’s OK, I’ll have more time this month.

I must go, Mouse is standing at the back steps, waiting for me to throw him a doggo-popsicle (aka a frozen chicken neck). At what point did I become a slave to this dog’s every whim, I wonder…?

Till next time.

Floribunda #5, blocks 3 and 4

This is so dratted addictive.

I make a couple of blocks and think that’ll hold me for a day or so. Then I find myself standing at the cutting table, sorting colours and cutting strips for another block. Or two. Or three.

Which is why there are two more ready and the parts for another one waiting on the bench.

Turns out this quilt might be ready a fair bit sooner than I’d imagined, if I keep going at this rate. I really must stop and finish up a couple of other things.

Or not. My willpower may not be up to it!

Floribunda #4: the first two

I haven’t been totally idle on holiday.

I did manage to get the hexie cushion cover done for ScrapHappy, and here are the first two Floribunda blocks done, one pink and one green.

I’ve decided that hand piecing is going to be much, much too slow – I can’t wait that long to see the results! So, I’m going to be machine piecing this one, and with luck, I’ll get the 44 blocks I need completed some time this decade! Some of them are whole blocks, some are halves and there are a couple of quarter blocks, all needed to set this quilt on point, which is the current plan.

I really love how these two have turned out. Roll on the next 42…

Floribunda #3: this is it!

I have the right block pattern now.

It’s called Ribbon Star, and it’s easy to cut, easy to piece and just complex enough to be interesting, especially in a variety of colours and patterns. It’s made entirely from 2½ inch jelly roll strips. All I’ll need are needle, thread, squissors, cutting mat and rotary cutter, a few pins, a pencil to mark the seam allowance, and my mini iron and ironing mat (which both live in the caravan anyway).

I haven’t wanted to use the actual fabrics while testing so as not to waste them if something doesn’t work, so you’ll have to imagine this with a bright raspberry pink background and a green star, or a fresh green background with a pink star. The ‘corners’ between the star’s points will have some sort of contrast; I haven’t yet sorted the fabrics into sets, but that will happen before I go away, because I need to cut some sets to take with me.

It’s a relief to know what I’m doing, finally!

Floribunda #2

Hmmm. I probably need to change a few things…

Unless I’m happy to finish this quilt some time around 2025, I’ll probably need to use a different block design 😦

I’ve made the test block. It’s really lovely, but it’s very, very time consuming to make by hand. I know this was the first one, but it took hours to cut, mark, stitch and press. And I do want a block I can make by hand. Just not one with eight Y-seams and a central 9-patch of 1 inch squares…

I also made life harder for myself by using a couple of directional fabric prints. That said, it wasn’t hard to make, just very, very fiddly. And the hand piecing process isn’t hard either, so long as you remember just a few simple rules.

Tradition has it that you don’t press any seams till you’ve finished assembling it. That didn’t work so well for me – I like to see what I’m doing – and I don’t think it’s necessary so long as you have a plan for how the seam allowances will lie.

This block can now go into my basket of orphan blocks, waiting for me to find a use for it. Or maybe one day it’ll form part of a scrappy sampler quilt, all different designs.

Oh, and I want to reassure you that the Quilt Supervisor was hard at work, keeping my nose to the grindstone.

It’s a tough job, but someone has to do it…

Floribunda #1

Well, this is going to be the next one – and it’s for me.

I bought these two Bali Pop packs nearly a year ago, without any clear idea of what I wanted them for, but I was unable to resist the fabric mixes. Now, I have found a block I like. It’s really quite simple, but is just complex enough to be interesting.

It’s designed to be machine-pieced, but I want a big handwork project to keep me going for a while, so I plan to hand-piece it. I also need to be able to break it down into smaller parts for easy portability, and that too works well with this design, at least until the point where I have to assemble it.

I’m going to use the individual block design from Jen Kingwell’s Star Dust quilt. I won’t be laying it out like hers; mine will be on point, and with a single fabric sashing between the blocks rather than double. I’ll also have a much simpler colour scheme: I will use the two batiks as alternate green and pink backgrounds, and from the Bali Pop packs, I will select 25 or 30 strips for the petals, putting pink on the green background and green on the pink, but with some variations and ‘wild cards’ for visual interest. The solid green and pink will become the central tiny square of the 9-patch blocks which are the centre of each flower. I’m thinking a dark blue-green for the trellis which is formed by the sashing between the on-point squares. I haven’t quite decided what’ll happen in the setting triangles and corners. Maybe leaves…?

I think a marathon cutting session is called for, so I can package up the pieces for each individual square to make a travel kit to take on trips with me. Though I should probably do a test block or two in advance in case I find the hand stitching unbelievably tedious, wouldn’t you say?

Oh, and do you like my ‘squissors’?  That’s what they’re called, scissors you squeeze, no need to get my porky digits into tiny holes in order to snip threads. The blades are slightly curved too, so you can get right into tight spaces. I love them! So much easier than the little embroidery snips I’ve been using.

Now I have something to look forward to, watching these flowers grow on my trellis.


Bonnard, and a brief break

I’ve been working away in the background on Bonnard.

This is where I left you, the centre and first two rounds done.

And here’s where I’m up to now, the centre and nearly three rounds done. Of course, each round is larger than the last, so everything goes a lot slower the closer you get to the outside! I thought I’d need another round, but actually, I’ll be happy to leave it at the size I originally planned. The graduation works, and I don’t want it to get too pale around the outside. The outer blocks on the left have been stitched, but on the right the squares are all still pinned. I still have two rows of squares to place at top and bottom. It’s a lengthy, leisurely process…

Yup, it’s definitely looking wonky, but is actually pretty straight when I’ve got it pinned right. That row on the right looks really crazy!

I really like how this quilt top is coming along. I think the wash of colour from dark centre to light outside is working well, as is the change of colour balance from rich, intense tones to delicate, watery pastels. Mixed throughout are the pings of warm colour, like sequins of sunlight on leaves in the centre and vibrant water-washed rocks and autumn leaves on the outside. The batik prints recall moss, lichen, flowing and dripping water, leaves warm and cool, sunlight, flowers, stone, soil, and here and there, a flicker of flame. I hope it evokes the life of the forest…

There’s still a fair bit of placing and piecing to go as you can see, but the final character of the quilt is making itself plain. I’m beginning to think about what I want to do about the quilt back, and more importantly, the quilting. The back will either be all one fabric with a ‘filler’ pattern (I’m thinking dark green with a small leaf pattern if I can find something suitable), or alternatively, a deep red, but I’m tending towards green at the moment. The other option is a filler pattern, but with a pieced strip up the centre, using leftover squares.

For the quilting, I’m going to hand quilt a small, simple leaf design in each square. I’ve got 4 different leaf templates so they won’t all be the same, and I’m also thinking about how to arrange the direction of each leaf. I’ve drawn up a few plans showing the leaf designs arranged in formal geometric patterns, but I’m not terribly enthused about them. I’ll think on it some more…

If I can keep up the pace I’ve managed so far, I should have the top done by the New Year. But now, it’s time for a short break for Christmas 🙂