The Tree of Life 19: There are waves now

I have spent most of the day hand quilting.

It’s time to stop, I’m getting tired, my fingers are stiff and sore and I’m beginning to draw blood with monotonous regularity.  But I have finished the ripply lines for the sea in the lower half of the quilt.  I’m pleased with how it looks.  Tomorrow, I will do the sky. And then, then, my friends, I’ll be done.  All that will be left is the binding, putting in a hanging channel on the back, and labelling it.  There will be major gloating and whoopeeing.  I will take a nice photo of it hanging on the line (assuming the weather obliges, which seems likely), stick it in my archive, maybe stick it on my spanking new Pinterest quilts board, and then breathe a sigh of relief.

Meanwhile, some detail shots to whet your appetite.  It’s been a toss-up about whether to include these, as they do rather expose the defects in my work. On the other hand, if I can’t be candid with my blogging community, there’s no hope! I mean, is any of you seriously going to send round the stitch police?

Birds detail

Birds detail

Flower detail

Flower detail

Fish detail 1

Fish detail 1

Fish 2 detail

Fish 2 detail

While I was out briefly this afternoon on a rather fruitless errand, I passed our local op shop (known to non Aussies as a thrift or charity shop). I scored a nice pink basket handbag, but I also found these rather smashing ties.  They are just begging to be picked apart and turned into something handsome: a cushion, maybe?  I like how they are already slightly patchworky in appearance, which is essentially what caught my eye.

Ties

Ties

And now, some of you have been having a look at my new Pinterest boards.  For those who wanted a look but haven’t been able to find me, and were offered options along the lines of Pasta, Corgis, Holidays, Sneakers and other bizarreness, here’s the link:   http://www.pinterest.com/katechiconi. I’m not altogether clear why my user name, which is the usual talltalesfromchiconia, won’t produce anything in a search, but there you are.

And while I watch TV tonight, I’m going to add a few more inches to the Woolly Thing, which may itself be ready for an unveiling in a month or two!

Right, off to make the Husband, who’s had a bad day, something delicious and unhealthy for his supper.

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.

The Tree of Life part 15: it’s aliiiiive!!

No, Dr Frankenstein has not been tinkering with my quilt. 

Bird templates

Bird templates

But there is certainly a whole lot more going on suddenly. I’ve cut out and positioned the rest of the leaves. Sewing on to follow, o joy. I’ve made templates for all the birds, which was actually lots of fun. I’ve made sunflowers, which look a bit crude and simple right now, but are going to be embellished with satin stitch when I sew them down, which will hopefully take care of that issue. And I made three attempts at bunches of grapes. No go.Whatever I did, they looked like amorphous dark blobs, and had to be explained rather than explaining themselves.

Tree, fruit, flowers and leaves

Tree, fruit, flowers and leaves

So I’ve come up with a super-easy and if I may say so myself, rather brilliant alternative. I had some nice fabric featuring simplifed colourful pear halves on a dark brown background. They were in oranges, yellows and greens, and worked very well with the tree’s colour scheme. So I’ve made cut-outs of half a dozen of them, and I feel they work very well – better, in fact, than the grapes would have. And then, with the fruit, flowers and remaining leaves pinned on, I wanted to see how the birds would look, and I’m loving it!

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Detail of fruit and birds

The paper templates are pinned on too. I think the birds need to be white. There’s so much else going on that I think they’d fail to stand out as they do if I made them a different colour. Any thoughts?

I was at work the last two days, which is why there hasn’t been the usual long blog about what I’ve done. But I was not idle. The Car Quilt is reaching the point where I’ve got to start considering borders, hurrah! What you see in the photo is going to be outlined with a row of dark blue hexies, and then the borders are going to be pieced strips of all the fabrics featured, perpendicular to each edge rather than parallel. This centre piece is currently 33″ x 36″ (80 x 90cm).

Car quilt progress

Car quilt progress

At least, that’s my thinking right now. I reserve the right to change my mind at any time!

The Husband is working this afternoon, and has a bit of a dash on to try and get home in time for weekly Saturday night dinner at the Dowager’s.  It’s been very hot and pretty humid today, so I’ve been glad to be inside, in the airconditioning.  I occasionally feel guilty about having it on and using so much power, but about 10 minutes after I turn it off, my conscience goes: “yes ok, whatever, put the damn thing back on!”. And I do. It’s currently 33C (91F), and humidity’s around 55%. If I could send some of this heat over to you guys currently freezing your bits off in the US, I’d do it in a flash. And in return, I’d like a short burst of that icy wind, please.

Tomorrow’s yard work in the morning till the heat gets insane, and then retreating indoors to my sewing machine. With luck, I’ll get all the leaves sewn down, and can make a start on the fruit and flowers. I hope you’ve all had a good week and are ready for whatever the weekend brings.

More tomorrow.

The Tree of Life, Part 1: planning

I’m in the planning stage for what may be perhaps the second most complicated and labour-intensive quilt of my life (for the most labour intensive, see https://talltalesfromchiconia.wordpress.com/chiconian-quilts and scroll down to My heirloom quilt).

I promised my brother a lap quilt.  I asked him what sort of colours he’d like, and what sort of design.  I got all sorts of visual source material… He wants a Tree of Life, something that speaks of the beauty of creation. He wants branches, trunk, roots, leaves, fruit, flowers. He wants sea and sky, birds and fishes.

Oh. Um…

I’d envisaged a fairly easily assembled  lap quilt with a clean, modern colour scheme.  He has a fairly limited notion of the technical limitations of patchwork and quilting, but a fairly clear notion of what he wants. We now have an agreed design. I just have to make the thing. Somehow…

The Tree of Life design. Copyright 2013 Kate Chiconi (in the unlikely event someone else wants to put themselves through it...)

The Tree of Life design.
Copyright 2013 Kate Chiconi
(in the unlikely event someone else
wants to put themselves through it…)

So, here’s how it’s going to look. The entire background is going to be made up of 3.5″ squares, and everything else will be appliqued on.  It will graduate from deepest blue at the bottom up through various other blue shades to turquoise at the halfway point. After that it will go from pale, palest blue up to the blue of a summer sky. Fish will swim in the bottom half, and birds fly in the top half.  The tree will be contained by a circular frame which will have to be laid down as a bias strip applique, since piecing that curve and keeping it circular would be virtually impossible.  I will have to construct the tree in sections, and the leaves individually. The roots are going to be fun, too… I draw the line, however, at creating individual grapes for the bunches of grapes. The outline and some highlighting will have to suffice.  The flower petals, though, will have to be individual.

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Auditioning the sea and sky fabrics for the Tree of Life quilt

I haven’t even begun to consider the backing, or how it’ll be quilted.  At present, I’m auditioning and assembling blues and turquoises for the background.  Once I’ve got the whole background pieced, the fun will start, but it’ll be easier working to scale than trying to envisage it from a small drawing.  I’ve tried scaling up, but it becomes a dreadful mess of graph paper, sticky tape and things not quite lining up.  So I’ll address that problem once I have a full size background I can stand back from and squint at.

For those of you who believe in the power of prayer, a few wouldn’t go amiss. I’m going to need all the Divine intervention I can get if I’m to complete this thing with my sanity, patience and creative urge intact.  Having said that, though, won’t it be totally gorgeous when it’s done?

I’ll keep you posted on my progress, or perhaps (probably!) lack of it, as I go along.