Colours of Happiness #15: all together now

All the panels are joined. Glad that bit’s over!

Now I have just the binding and a label left to do. I’ll need to piece some fabrics for the binding; I have one which is perfect but there isn’t quite enough, so I’ve decided to make a feature of the issue. This fabric will bind 80% of the quilt, but one corner will be different. Sounds odd, but I think it’ll work and look good; for the extra I’ll use fabrics already seen in the quilt, so it should tie together well. I’ll make my usual straight-grain double fold, but using 2¼ inch rather than 2½ inch, which I find a bit too wide; the slimmer edge looks better to me.

Once it’s made and sewn on, I’ll have a couple of evenings of gentle hand stitching to stitch down the binding on the back, and then I can take photos and fold it away carefully till February.

Not so very long to wait…

Colours of Happiness #14: centre quilting completed

OK, that’s the hand quilting finished, loud cheers.

So we have the big centre starburst quilted with radiating diamonds, looking a bit like shattered fragments of glass. It’s a pleasing contrast between the spiky quilting and the soft, puffy, cuddly feel of the quilt.

In the little border cornerstones, there are tiny simplified lotus blooms, referring back to the Dresden plate flowers in the big outer corner-stones. In the 2 inch border around the centre there’s a simple zigzag, also like the outside of the large cornerstones. Works for me… the quilting doesn’t distract from the colour and layout, but it does hold the layers together nicely.

It looks good on the back too, which is always a bonus.

I’ve enjoyed the slow interlude of hand work, but it’s time to speed things up again. So, what’s next? Trim out the sections to get rid of the extra batting and backing, and then it’ll be time to cut the strips I need for joining all the quilted pieces together. Orange 1¾ inch strips for the back, and pink 1 inch strips for the front.

A nice change of pace from sitting at the dining table, hand quilting.

Colours of Happiness #12

Cornerstone No. 3 is done.

This is the Prosperity corner. That just leaves one more long panel and one more corner (Peace), and then I have the centre to think about. The long panel is about 2-3 days of work, the cornerstone 1-2 days. That means I could be ready to start the centre by the beginning of November, bearing in mind I have one or two other things on the go.

Once the centre’s done, it’ll be time to make the joining strips for the 8 seams, and stitch everything together. Then the binding, and it’s finished! I’d like to get it done before I have to start assembling the Go Teal it on the Mountain quilt, which will be demanding in a different way: no hand-quilting but bigger, heavier, and still very much an unknown quantity.

Right, on with the next thing 🙂

Colours of Happiness #11

Another chunk done 🙂

This is long side panel no. 3, and I’m in the groove now: Do the first three rows, rotate the panel and do the second three rows. It’s easier to work close to the bottom edge, because I can dispense with the weights I was originally using to give some tension to the surface. Closer to the edge, you can grip the fabric area you’re working on. By rotating the piece, I’m never more than three rows from the edge. Makes it all a lot quicker.

So, next will be the third cornerstone, followed by the fourth side panel and cornerstone, and we’ll then be onto the last and biggest and potentially trickiest piece, the centre panel. And I still haven’t worked out what to do there… I suspect I shall have to press it and sandwich it, lay it on the table and then just use my eyes and listen to what it’s telling me.

I hope the quilt has a clear idea, because I don’t!

Colours of Happiness #10

Another cornerstone completed.

This is the one for Family. Of course, all the other components are the same as the previous one, but the hand lettering is different. I’ve tried to incorporate the shapes and curves of the Bengali lettering into the English word. I think this one works better than the previous one. Shame the lighting’s so washed out, but that’s what happens when you don’t have good daylight.

I’ll do another long side panel next, before I proceed to the other two cornerstones. They’re beautifully mindless once I’ve done all the marking up, I can just sit and stitch and think about other things – or indeed, nothing at all – as I work.

And some mindless work may be called for. The minor infection I had last week has risen up, gnashed its teeth and turned into a bit of a monster. I now have a very tiring and painful kidney infection which is not responding to treatment nearly as fast as I’d like. I’m on my second round of antibiotics and this second lot is strong and the tablets are huge, like horse pills, over 2cm (almost an inch) long. So, a little non-taxing distraction is called for.

Next time, I’ll show you what I’ve been distracting my miserable and rather grumpy self with

Colours of Happiness #9

I’ve been working away on this behind the scenes.

I now have two long side panels and one corner panel hand quilted. I’m pretty pleased with the fish-scale overall design. The quilting design for the corner panel took me a long time to decide on, but I think it works. The leaf-points in the green strips under each flower also work well. I’ve done minimal quilting on the Dresden Plate flowers, and I’ve hand lettered one of my four ‘corner-stones’ into the orange strips in washable gold paint. It’s not shiny bright gold, more of an ‘old-gold’ look, and the metallic sheen isn’t very obvious, but it’s nice when it catches the light. The cornerstones are Family, Love, Prosperity, Peace, and the lettering shows them in English and Bengali. On the outer edge, it seemed to call for triangles, so that’s what I’ve done, only not the same as in the centre panel.

Two more long sides and three more cornerstones to go, and then I’ll be onto the centre panel. I really haven’t thought much about what to do there, because I think it’ll tell me what it wants when I get there. I hope I can live up to the quilt’s expectations… 😉

Back to assembling quilt sandwiches. Not quite the chore it is for a whole quilt, much easier in smaller sections…

Colours of Happiness 8

Let the quilting begin!

Sorry the pictures have such a yellowish cast: they were taken late at night under artificial light, but you get the idea…

I’ve sandwiched two of the long side panels and marked one of them up for quilting, using the ‘fish scale’ template I made. (You can just see it at the top of the picture above.) It’s 4 inches wide x 4 inches high, which will produce a nice soft quilted effect, puffing up between the stitching without making the quilt stiff. I much prefer light quilting, as I find close quilting tends to stiffen the drape of the quilt, even if it does look amazing.

You could actually quilt this design by machine, using a walking foot. If you click on the image, you can see that the template repeat produces a gently wiggly line running diagonally, something a walking foot is quite capable of negotiating if you sew fairly slowly.

I really love the bright pink thread: it’s the Gütermann hand quilting weight, in colour 2955. It looks brilliant against the orange backing fabric 🙂

It shouldn’t take too long to work each panel. They’re not too large, and the job is broken down into manageable chunks, so I’m confident of getting the sides and corners done by the end of October.

Then I just have to worry about what I’m doing for the centre… 

Colours of Happiness 6

Progress is being made.

I have three of the four chequerboard sides assembled, just the last one to go. So I took the opportunity of having a clear cutting table to work out what I was going to do with the corner squares. I got one assembled, and I’m pleased with it. I took a bit of a left turn with the colours, and as well as the gold/brown and orange fabrics and the floral prints I’ve used elsewhere, I’ve included some of my favourite shot green, which ties in perfectly and adds an acid note amongst all those pinks and oranges and yellows.

It’s probably a bit fanciful, but I think these corner blocks look like lotus flowers turning their faces up to the sun radiating in the centre. I’ll make the same block for each corner, identical except for pattern variations in the fabrics.

I also scored with backing fabric. I found the perfect orange/ yellow print, and then discovered there was only a metre left on the bolt. This lovely orange print alternative will look great with the hot pink hand quilting thread I’ll be using. Yes, that’s the plan. I decided I have plenty of time to do the quilting by hand even if I have to stop and let my paws recover for a day or so here and there. In the central starburst section I’ll be doing some kind of round multi-pointed mandala-type motif, yet to be designed.

On the corner squares, I shall outline the quarter-Dresden flower shape, do something wiggly in the straight strips, and in the chequerboard I shall do a fish-scale clamshell motif. Imagine a round top clamshell, but with a small upwards point at the centre of the top. Here’s the template I made for it. It’s the same sort of idea as the hand quilting for the Bonnard quilt.

So, one more chequerboard side and three more corners to make, and the piecing is done. Then I’ll cut the backing pieces and spray-baste the quilt sandwiches. And then quilting can start. The final stage is assembling the quilted pieces and binding. But that’s still a way off.

Onwards…

 

Colours of Happiness #4

What, you thought I wasn’t working on this at the moment…?

Yeah, right. So, as you can see, there’s been a bit of progress. I finished the starburst, I added a gold/ochre print border with corner posts, and I’ve made a bunch of sets of three 2½ inch strips sewn together to make the chequerboard border.

I think I’m going to put in corner squares of solid fabric. That’ll help to stretch the strip sets, plus I like the way it looks! I have large enough squares of some of the prints left over to let me do that, so it’s a question of choosing the ones I like best, and that work together. After that, who knows…? I haven’t yet decided if I’ll add another border and finish the quilt, or if there’s more to it. It’s evolving as I go along. I do want it to be at least lap quilt size, or around 48 inches square. Other-wise it’s just for pretty, not for useful, and I do like things to be both.

Next is setting out all the squares in the chequerboard. At the moment, the layout for the top border shown above is just placed, not sewn. There was lots of placing, stepping back, squinting, thinking, changing… and repeat. I like this layout, so I’ll repeat it on each side. You won’t be able to tell, I don’t think, as the strips will hopefully look random enough to avoid visible repeats. I know that the original long strips were mostly not very exactly sized (it’s the way I bought them, not my defective cutting!), so I’m not aiming for perfect seam matching here, more of a mosaic effect. Still, if I do match, it’ll be a happy accident! Lots more stitching to come as I piece these border panels.

I’m liking how the lighter colours at the centre of the starburst are shading out to more intense shades on the sides. I think if there is another border, it needs to be darkish, to finish off. And maybe a paler binding, for contrast….

And away we go again.