Sea Glass #15. All done

This has been one of my favourites.

I can’t really explain why. A combination of colours I love, a simple but effective pattern, improvement in my appliqué skills, lovely texture, a big improvement in my hand quilting skills, and no deadline.

And now it’s done. Bound, labelled, washed gently in wool wash with a couple of colour catchers to get rid of the marker, and then tumble dried. Puffy and soft. Ready to go to its new home. You guys were right, that purple batik was perfect as binding and I still have at least 30cm of the full WOF left.

So, what shall I do next? Quilt another handful of Hatbox blocks? Make a couple of envelope blocks for ST&D? Make a scrappy block for ScrapHappy? Nah. I need a tiny vacation. Like, maybe… a day or so?

Think I’ll stop and sit a while before I get the next job out. This calls for chocolate.

Sea Glass #14: Time for a new needle

… and new fingers and a new template.

It’s done. The hand quilting on Sea Glass is complete. I’m actually quite shocked at how quickly it went, but I suppose each time I do hand quilt a large project I’ve learned from the previous ones, and I instinctively know how to make a quilter’s knot and bury the end of the thread, and how much thread to load on the needle and what length it’ll cover, and so on. It helps also to have a large space to lay the quilt out on and be able to leave it undisturbed (hello again, dining table!).

I’ve used a nice thick cotton batting so there’s a good puffy loft to the quilt. One thing I’ve learned and will pass on to you to save you grief: do not use a white-on-white print for your backing. Sure, it looks lovely, but the over-printing is thicker than average to make it visible, and the thickness of the ink is hard to push the needle through. I worked that one out about 10 minutes into the quilting process…

The paper template was easy to make once I’d worked out that making the slots by poking through with the blade of small sharp scissors instead of laboriously cutting them with a scalpel was infinitely quicker. It was easy to use; I just marked through the holes with a white ceramic mechanical pencil designed for quilters, and literally joined the dots. The marker rubs off with an eraser or washes out, as does the thin lead pencil marks I used on the lighter fabrics. The template’s completely stuffed now, as is my needle. It’s a big old heavy quilt, there’s a lot of fine weave batiks, for which I like a fine quilting needle, so a bit of bending was almost inevitable.

Finally, I’ve bought my binding fabric. Strictly between us, I’ve bought a bit more than I really need, because I like the fabric so much… It’s another batik, very pretty shades of amethyst, and I think it’ll look lovely edging that greeny-tealy-bluey border fabric. So, tomorrow’s trim out day, followed by cutting and joining the binding strip, and depending on my time and energy, perhaps even machine stitching the binding on the front face. Hand stitching down the binding on the back will definitely have to wait till my hands have had a rest.

Now, time for a little glass of something to celebrate.

Go the Doggies! The last few yards…

The quilting’s done, and I’m tired.

Screen Shot 2015-10-02 at 3.45.41 pmThe request was to make this quilt exactly like the earlier Sydney Swans one I made in red and white. That one was only lightly quilted in a large cross-hatch, so that’s what I’ve done here too. I’ve dealt with all the loose thread ends, I’ve taken out all the pins and I’ve trimmed off the spare backing and batting. It’s too big to hang on the design wall, and it’s a hot, blustery day so I’m not going to hang it on the washing line to take a photo –   I don’t want a repeat of the fraying that happened before! You’ll see it soon…

I have the binding made and rolled up ready for the final stage of the game. I’ve used the last pieces of the three feature prints, and it’s made just enough binding to go round. One of my nice new quilt labels is also ready and waiting to be bound in on the back.

I had a small square piece of the big chevron print left, so I made the birthday boy a mug rug for his cup of coffee or stubby cooler while he’s draped in his quilt. Oooh, gotta love matching accessories!

We went to the movies last night, and saw The Intern, which we both enjoyed very much; we’re approaching the age where it’s becoming our new reality! Tomorrow, we’re taking part in a charity motorbike ride in the morning. And then I get Sunday off, because we were originally going to be be in Cairns so I couldn’t bake till Monday. I didn’t explain the change of plans to my customers…

Tomorrow afternoon, I’ll be sewing on binding like a demon, and that will just leave my favourite part; hand stitching the binding down on the back :-).

Aimée 8: on its way

I finished hemming down the binding last night.

We had a beautiful (if hot and steamy) sunny morning, so I got out there at 7.30am to take a few photos. Now, it’s folded up around a note, waiting for me to be able to get out to the post office and send it on its way to France. With luck, she’ll have it by mid-February – I find that mail from and to Europe tends to take two weeks.

Now, on with the next thing. I’m going to be housebound today, waiting for someone to come and fix the ride on mower, so I’ve got a great chance to get cracking on my grey and white summer dress, or whatever I have enough fabric to make. And my sewing room is beautifully air conditioned, so it’s not at all hard spending hours and hours in there! Who knows, I may emerge with more than one garment….

Have a good day, everyone. More soon.

Aimée 7: in the home stretch

I was lucky, I got 5 solid hours on it on Saturday, so I was able to finish up all the quilting.

Screen shot 2015-01-25 at 1.03.06 PM

Just the binding to do, and then it’s finished. The photo was taken in the hot midday sun, and all the colours look a bit bleached.

Screen shot 2015-01-25 at 1.03.56 PM

The back shows the quilting better. I’m quite proud of the invisible join in the two pieces of fabric!

Still to do: make the binding strip and sew it on, hem it down all round and attach the label. I enjoy doing the binding, so that’s not going to be too painful. Monday should see it finished, and then I can trot it down to the post office and mail it off. I must remember to take a shot for the Chiconian Quilts gallery….

I think the next thing I’m going to make is a garment of some sort. The gorgeous grey and white Riley Blake damask print I bought with a gift voucher from Hawthorne Threads in the US has arrived, and I’ve bought a metre of matching grey homespun, as it’s not quite enough on its own. I think a little summer dress is called for.

After that, I have another big quilt to work on as well as Worldwide Friends, but that’s a story for another post.

Broken Bottles #13: Finished, finally

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.31.33 PMIt’s done.  OK, I still have to sew on a label, but the quilt’s finished.

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.32.32 PMThe quilting is just spacey enough that it’s still soft and drapes well. The broken glass starburst isn’t too overpowering on the front, and adds a bit of interest and texture on the back. I had just enough of everything, and a nice bit of the green shot backing cotton left to do something else with. There isn’t a single jelly roll strip left over, and the two spare blocks which I made into a heat pad are doing service on my desk as a pad under the camera.  I like a tidy result…. Oh, and it’s a Friday Finish!

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.31.55 PMTime to go and defluff the sewing machine and put a new needle in. Amistad’s the next quilt in line, woo hoo!

Broken Bottles #12: Quilted, quite

Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.49.13 PM Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.49.26 PM Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.49.37 PMIt’s done. The quilting is finished.

A little unpicking, a little re-sewing, but nothing too drastic. It’s finished, trimmed out, de-threaded, and the binding is made, ready to sew on tomorrow. By the end of the day, it should be done, labelled, finished. I must go and dig out a label transfer and a bit of white fabric…. Weather permitting, once it’s done I can hang it on the clothesline as usual to get a better photo. My hands are still a bit sore from all the heavy work of the past few days, but luckily sewing doesn’t seem to make it worse.

Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.50.00 PMAlso today, I treated myself to three new dressmaking patterns. Rather good value, actually, since they were half price, and three of the two were for multiple garments. So for $27 I have patterns for a tunic and medium pants, a wrap dress, a wrap top, wide leg pants, narrow leg pants, a coat, a jacket, a vest, and a simple dress / pinafore / jumper in two lengths.

First up will probably be the wrap dress, since I don’t have a really pretty dress to go out in, all my pretty outfits are separates. And for the dress, I’m going with a fabulous slinky matte jersey splashy print in teal and aqua on a white background which I have hoarded for a few years but never done anything with due to lack of overlocker. It’s loud, but this IS the tropics, after all… And then I shall make something from my cream and chocolate floral silhouette print, and then, and then….

Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.50.24 PMScreen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.50.35 PMIt’s good to be back at the sewing machine. The baby vegies are fine on their own, I have projects lined up, and time to play.

The Tree of Life 20: Done, done, done!

The nice thing about pain is that it feels so good when it stops.

I feel rather the same way about this quilt. It was painful while I was doing it, but it feels so good to see the finished thing, and know it’s finally done. I’m sort of proud of myself for pushing out of my comfort zone and achieving a respectable result on something that was a whole lot harder than anything I’ve done before. Every last stitch is done. It’s ready to be folded up and put away till it gets packed for our trip. Except of course that I need to keep it available for family bragging, since you guys out there in WordPress Land are the first to see it!

The finished quilt. I'm really pleased with it

The finished quilt. I’m really pleased with it

Back detail: reverse of the quilting

Back detail: reverse of the quilting

Detail showing 'cloud' quilting

Detail showing ‘cloud’ quilting

The label

The label

The binding went on like a dream. I’ve got three channels sewn into the binding at the top of the quilt, which  lie flat when not in use. And the label’s done too.

I need to give my hands a rest now. There’s been a lot of hand sewing in the last week or so, and the pills are not staying on top of the arthritis. So tonight I will luxuriate in idleness. The Husband is on night shift, so I will hog the entire sofa and all the cushions, I will eat dessert and watch TV.

Tomorrow and Tuesday are work days, so I won’t have much chance to look at Happiness, but I may do a little Car Quilt stitchery in my lunchbreak.

And now, I have an appointment with the TV remote control and the refrigerator…

The Tree of Life 15: the birds of the air, and a stage completed.

The front is finished at last.

The Tree of Life complete with fish, birds, fruit, flowers, leaves, roots and branches.

The Tree of Life complete with fish, birds,
fruit, flowers, leaves, roots and branches.

Detail of branches, fruit, flowers and birds

Detail of branches, fruit, flowers and birds

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it looks. The appliqué process hasn’t drawn up the fabric quite as badly as I feared, but there is a noticeable difference on the sides, where it’s clear the edge bows in towards the middle as a result. I may do a spot of judicious tweaking of seam allowances and trimming to make this defect less obvious. I’m glad I made the leaves smaller, as otherwise I feel it would have looked very crowded. I’m very happy with the pears instead of grapes, and I’m pleased with the birds, which add a lightness and playfulness the fairly formal arrangement otherwise lacked.

The backing, which exactly matches some fabrics on the front.

The backing, which exactly matches
some fabrics on the front.

I was pondering what to do about the backing. Not in any sense of what it would look like – there’s no way I was going to piece something – but what colour to use. As luck would have it, I was able to buy wideback in exactly the right shade of turquoise to go with the turquoise patches on the front. I’ll use the same thing to bind it, a fairly narrow binding, I think. What is chiefly on my mind at the moment is how to quilt it. It clearly needs it, to even out the texture a bit. But I’m not a big fan of close quilting, so I’m doing quite a lot of internal debating. I’ll outline each branch and root and leaf and fruit and flower. I’ll probably run a line up the centre of each leaf, too. I’ll outline the birds and fish, and the red containing circle.  After that, I’m a bit stuck. I badly want to get this quilt finished, so really simple quilting would be the answer there. But I also want to do justice to the design, and something a bit more elaborate is called for in that respect.

Here’s what I’m thinking: The top half, the ‘sky’, I will quilt with big billowy curved cloud shapes, up to the outer margins of the tree. The bottom half, the ‘sea’, I will quilt with long, meandering lines to look like ripples in the water, up to the margin of the roots. Bearing in mind that my quilting skills are modest at best, that I don’t have a very sophisticated sewing machine, and that my workspace is limited, does anyone have any other suggestions? Just be aware that if I lose courage at the beginning of this process, the quilt is going to get plain cross-hatched diagonal quilting over the whole background, stopping short of the outlined design elements!  And if it does, I make no apologies – finished is better than perfect, eh?

Off to press my wideback and cut it to size.  I’m looking forward to your thoughts.

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.