The Cloths of Heaven 19: border control

I’ve finished piecing the borders.

The work of the last few days has been pretty repetitive, and frankly, much too dull to post about. But now, I have all four side panels pieced, so I can show you the outcome of the earlier poll. I give you Radiant, in all its glorious colours!

Borders finishedYou can see now what I was aiming for; the overall impression is still blue/green, but there’s a gorgeous red glow surrounding the centre.

Speaking of which…..

Borders and centreI can’t get far enough away in the room to take a shot straight on to the design wall, hence the slightly annoying angled shots.

None of the sides are attached yet; tomorrow it’ll be time to start cutting the backing and batting strips, sandwich the panel, and then quilt, prior to attaching them to the centre. I’m still slowly churning out yoyos for the outer border; up to 56 so far.  Only another 150 or so to go, then…

I’m feeling really happy with how this quilt is coming along. I love the challenge of bringing to life something that has only existed in my head, and this is a lot more complex than most of my work!

I think if I can keep up the momentum, I should be able to get it done in time (with a little space to draw breath) for second week of February, and the handover in Sydney to another niece who can carry it home to her sister!

The Cloths of Heaven 17: clarity

I had to do a bit more work, but now I see my way clear.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.19.54 amThank you to everyone who participated in the poll. ‘Radiant’ was a clear winner, which confirms what my own instinct told me.

Behind the scenes, I also tried it the other way, with green radiating out to red. This is how it looks, beside the red glow version.

Screen Shot 2015-12-30 at 11.16.48 amI want this quilt to retain its blue/green primary colour scheme, but with red/purple highlights. To me, the red glow version achieves this better, not least because the corners will then be darker blue and green. If I go with the green glow, the whole balance shifts towards a red/purple overall impression, as the corners would then also be red/purple. Not what I want. I also think that the red glow version frames the centre better, rather than blends into it. Sometimes you just have to do the work to settle any internal doubts…

Right, back to the sewing room. I have a whole load of setting out to get on with!

The Cloths of Heaven 16: order vs chaos

I have a dilemma. No, it doesn’t hurt, but it’s annoying.

I have now cut all the squares to make up the side and corner panel for Cloths of Heaven. I’m happy with the mix of jewelled and dark colours, and now that the press-cut-press-cut-press-cut agony is over, it’s time to start sewing once again. Here’s where the dilemma comes in.

Construction pageThe original concept for the quilt was that the colours for the side and corner panels would be mixed, jumbled, random and otherwise haphazard. There’s a pin on my Pinterest board for this quilt which contains all these colours and more, co-existing in beautiful but random harmony, hence the original idea. I knew I’d have trouble with true random because of my compulsive eye not allowing certain colour adjacencies. What I didn’t envisage was that while I was setting out the squares, my subconscious would take over, enter into a conspiracy with my hand, and give me a totally different idea for the side panels altogether. And I’m pretty sure I like it more!

What do you think? Below is random (as far as I’m capable of random!), and above is the other idea. It radiates. I really like the idea of a glow surrounding the central panel. I think the corner squares will remain muted in blues and greens, but if I go with this route, I’ll widen the glow effect so it reaches nearly the full length of the panel.

Screen Shot 2015-12-29 at 3.37.05 pm

Here’s how both options would look against the centre panel: radiant at the top, random at the bottom:

Radiant side panel Centre panelScreen Shot 2015-12-29 at 4.03.51 pm

What do you think? Is it better radiant or random? I don’t promise to follow the consensus, but I’m interested to know how the options strike you. Have your say!



Aimée 3: a visit to Dresden

Yes, OK, not literally, more of a metaphorical excursion!

Screen shot 2015-01-15 at 12.57.08 PM Screen shot 2015-01-15 at 12.57.46 PM Screen shot 2015-01-15 at 12.58.24 PM Screen shot 2015-01-15 at 12.58.56 PMThe corner squares for the final border on Aimée are the design known as Dresden Plate. Normally, with this design there’s a lot more border and less central plate. In this context, I prefer the look of the simple ‘daisy face’ version I’ve done here, much more plate-like in my opinion!

I don’t produce my Dresden Plates the usual way, by machine stitching a vertically-folded piece of fabric up one side and pressing it flat so the seam runs up the centre back, giving you two folded side edges. I make mine the EPP way, with fabric stitched over a stiff paper template. This is one I’ve used many times before, having drafted it by hand originally.

The 3″ fabric square is stretched and folded over the template with the curved edges on the bias of the fabric, so that the curves can be eased a little. As usual, I don’t cut the fabric to size, I trim it out afterwards if necessary. I find having a little extra to fold over and manipulate makes life easier.

The ‘daisy petals’ are whip-stitched together up their side seams, forming a ring, which is then appliquéd to the background fabric. Mark the centre of the background with a pin to assist with placing the ring centrally.

Once that’s done, insert the fabric for the centre of the plate between the ring and the background through the centre – again, I use a square, it’s more forgiving if you want to move things round a little. Pin in place, and appliqué round the inner edge of the ring, being careful not to pass the needle through both layers of background fabric, just the plate centre. Once it’s all stitched, trim carefully ¼” from the stitching on the back of the panel, cutting out the daisy shape from the background fabric and the circle from the plate centre fabric.  Press carefully, then unpick all the template basting and pop the templates out. Job done.

Must get on, I have three more to do.

Broken Bottles #8: It’s time for grovelling once more…

Screen shot 2014-05-14 at 5.24.07 PM

Look at that, no dodgy points showing. And I didn’t even plan it that way…

The top is complete. The white border is in place. 

Now, of course, I have to go and buy backing (tremble, Husband, I’m going to Spotlight!). And then it’s time for the bit where I make excuses not to clear away furniture, vacuum the floor, press the quilt top, piece (if necessary) and press the backing, put the batting in the tumble drier for 5 minutes to make the creases drop out, and then get down on the floor and grovel. It’s hard on the back, hard on the knees, hard on the fingers and hard on the patience. I’m going to pin it fairly closely this time, as I want to make sure that all those nice pointy points stay put, that the backing doesn’t pucker or bubble and that no matter what quilting design I ultimately go for, everything stays flat, flat, flat.

Now, I’ve got a few things on in the next week or so, so once I’ve scored the backing and that’s good to go, I’m going to have to put Broken Bottles aside for a little while. It’s not even an excuse, it’s just life getting in the way of quilting, shock, horror. So there’s going to be a bit of a quilty hiatus in the immediate future. I’m hoping, though, that the vegie garden will get a look-in, because some of the other things I have to do relate to that. That, and a visit from my sister and her husband, on their way north. They’re making a long, leisurely trip of it, so we’ll have the pleasure of their company for a few days. I will therefore be on extended kitchen and chauffeur duties, since the Husband will be at work.

The lovely Mrs R down in Dorrigo is about to start the 9-patch squares she’s making for me to go into Amistad, our friendship quilt. She’s hoping to get them to me in a week or so, and after that, the heat is on. Amistad beckons, and I’m not in the least reluctant to start! But I will finish Broken Bottles first…

Next stop, the fabric shop. Hurray!

Broken Bottles #6: Pointy (im)perfection

Screen shot 2014-05-12 at 3.40.31 PMSo, that’s the central panel done.

It does look good, though I say so myself, but now my eye is drawn irresistibly to the points that don’t match up exactly. We’re talking less than an eighth of an inch here, but still, I notice. So I’m just going to get over myself and admire all the ones that do.

Now I can play at border options. I want to be sure I’m happy with what’s going to happen before I start cutting, so I’m going to fiddle around with it a bit longer. And then once the top’s done, I can buy the backing fabric, cut the binding and away we go again.

I’m having second and third thoughts about the quilting pattern. Some of you have said that you don’t see a traffic accident in the shattered glass image, which is good. But once the thought had occurred to me, I couldn’t stop seeing it. Anyway, I’m going to suspend the decision until I’m ready to go, and may find something better in the meantime.

Right, time to break out the border fabrics.


Broken Bottles it is.

Luckily not too many of you voted for projects I totally didn’t want to do, but had on the list anyway.

Screen shot 2014-05-08 at 10.11.00 AMBy quite a lead, Broken Bottles is the winner. Which is good, because my conscience would have been nagging me incessantly if I’d gone with Amistad.

So, without further ado, I’ve hauled out the BB fabrics and have done a preliminary sort to get them into Light/Dark pairs, which is how the pattern works. I’ve even gone to the extent of carefully pressing (as opposed to my more normal careless ironing) each strip to try and avoid distortion, since I need to sew them along the long edge and I don’t want to end up with a series of banana shapes. It’s not a difficult quilt to make, and if I continue to be careful it’ll turn out well. But it does rather rely on lining points and seams up. Oh well, time will tell if it’s going to be straightforward or a frenzy of warped edges, missed match ups, pricked fingers and red faced cursing!

I’m definitely going to stay-stitch around the outside once it’s all together. It’ll stop seams busting open and prevent some stretch, which is good, because I don’t want wavy edges. Once I get a border on, that’ll help matters as well. Or perhaps two. I’m still debating that part, and there’s plenty of time to consider.

Meanwhile, I’m going to do a tiny bit of cheating and work on Woolly Thing in the evenings while I watch TV. There’s still so much to do, and I don’t want to start Fluffy Thing till it’s done – too many pots on the stove is not a good thing. And from the poll results, it seems you guys agree with me on that!

I still can’t believe someone thought I should make more fabric baskets when there were quilts to be worked on! That would be altogether too virtuous for me.

It’s not Friday…

…but I have finishes to show.

Still pretty windy out there. I'm a bit happier with this now there's some pink and orange going on.

Still pretty grey, gloomy and windy out there. I’m a bit happier
with this now there’s some pink and orange going on.

Not quite as wishy washy as they looked in the previous post

Not quite as wishy washy as they
looked in the previous post

The back of Happiness, made from 100% stash and scraps.  I’m quite proud of not rushing out and buying a piece of bland generic wideback. Now to sandwich and pin, and then it becomes my evening hand work. Once I’ve decided how I’m hand quilting it, of course.

So far, it's 38 x 37" or thereabouts.  Still a way to go before it's a lap quilt.

So far, it’s 38 x 37″ or thereabouts.
Still a way to go before it’s a lap quilt.

The blue border on Car Quilt. Now I can start piecing the 4-patch border on the machine. My new day work. After that we’ll be back onto hand work, as I have to applique the blue border to the 4-patch border. I ran out of the dark blue fabric 2 hexagons before the end. After an extended rummage in my still unsorted scrap boxes, I located a piece which was the same dark blue, but without the overprint. I don’t think it shows, since you can’t really see the print anyway unless you get up close and personal.

The cyclone? Not interesting. It’s finally achieved cyclone intensity and has therefore been named Hadi. (I dunno, I’m assuming male, as the other one in the Gulf of Carpentaria has been named Gillian and they alternate between male and female these days). However, Hadi is a has-been and looks set to head back out into the Coral Sea where it can play with the big one brewing over the Solomon Islands. Certainly the wind has dropped drastically from about 70kmph last night to about 20kmph this morning. My banana tree is getting whipped to shreds, and the passionfruit vine is dangling off the fence. On the upside, the Brugmansia flower is hanging on, and I’ll be able to show you what it looks like in a couple of days if a) it develops properly and b) the grasshoppers leave it alone.

Right, off to start piecing the 4 patch border. Compulsive, moi?

Things to do on a rainy day

The Wet is finally here, and with some emphasis!

Mackay gets a large bath. Image courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology.

Mackay gets a large bath.
Image courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology.

Looking out of the window with European eyes, you’d think it was mid afternoon in February, somewhere in northern Europe: England, the Netherlands, France. It’s grey, gloomy, overcast, and the rain is almost solid. The gutters are gurgling and overflowing, there’s a river running through my desert garden, the banana tree has more water than it knows what to do with, and if I were in London at this moment, I’d be on the sofa in flannelette pyjamas, with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate. However, here, in addition to being massively wet, it’s also bloody warm. About 28C, to be exact. Not a day to be doing anything outside…

Left, sashing for Happiness. Right, squares for the Car quilt borders

Left, sashing for Happiness. Right, squares for the Car quilt borders

So I turned my attention to things inside. I’ve been holding forth with my rotary cutter, and the vertical sashing for the Happiness quilt is cut, plus I’ve cut all the 3″ squares for the border on the Car quilt. My fabric supplies of that one are a bit limited, so rather than make a narrow striped border, which will eat up a lot of fabric in seam allowances, I’m doing 4 patches, in 3″ squares. And it’s very dark outside, so I haven’t attempted any further hand quilting on the ToL, as I simply can’t see what I’m doing well enough.

And now for even more pleasurable stuff. My camera has been slowly dying, and it has now reached the point where it’s refusing to talk to my computer so I can’t upload any images. The Husband’s camera will talk to my computer, but I don’t like the photos it takes; they’re all either rather dark or badly over exposed when I use the flash. The most excellent Husband has therefore bought me a Proper Camera, my first ever. Behold!


Not even out of the box yet.
I think I have a lot of reading to do…

Now, of course, I have to sit down and read the manual, and pray that I can retain all the information. I am over 50, after all, and as everyone knows, as soon as you start to get grey hair, your competence with any kind of technology just leaches away. Or so my younger acquaintances would have me believe… Personally, I don’t think I’m doing too badly on that front.

Excuse me while I go and play with my new toy…

Car Quilt progress

The central section is complete, hurray!

The completed centre. It's basically a medallion quilt, since the rest is all borders.

The completed centre.
It’s basically a medallion quilt,
since the rest is all borders.

It’s about 33″ x 36″, which is too small for anything useful. It’s basically one jelly roll plus a fat quarter or so of the beige neutral that goes in the centre and between each flower. The plan from here on is firstly to add a border of dark inky blue hexagons all round. Then, I’ll be making a pieced border out of the fat quarters I have of all the same fabrics. It’s going to be 3 strips vertical, three strips horizontal, alternating all the way round. Making it fit will be a tiny bit tricky because of course the central panel isn’t square. Look out for some underhand business tweaking widths and lengths… After that… well, I haven’t got that far yet. Let alone think about how I’ll be quilting it. That’s going to be tough, because the fabric is all quite heavy and a dense weave. Maybe – shock horror! – I’ll make it a tied quilt instead. Hmm. Definitely something to consider.

So, the next job is the whole bunch of dark blue hexies I have to make and then sew onto the edges of this panel. I’m blowed if I’m going to make a whole string and then sew that on: much too hard. I’ll add them one by one as I make them, which will be a maximum of three 1″ seams at a time.

(By the way, the hand quilting on the Tree of Life is roaring along well, you just can’t really see anything so there’s no point in posting until I have a landmark to celebrate – probably by the end of the week.)

Excuse me while I go and rip out all the basting and take the templates out. One of my favourite bits!