Time for Teal part 10

More beauties are on their way.

Time for Teal_01 Time for Teal_02_AnnettDespite being quite unwell, Annett has made and sent me two beautiful Dresden Plate blocks – exactly what I most need right now. I am so very grateful for her kindness, as it will save me time in getting the next border done. She’s sensibly given me extra fabric round the outside so I can trim them to size.

As most of you know by now, I am going to need spinal surgery of some kind in the near future, which means it’s likely my sewing time will be considerably reduced. There will be a bit of a hiatus in blogging during and immediately after the procedure, too. As I don’t know when it’s going to be yet, I’m planning to see if I can crank out a few more Dresden Plates of my own this weekend before I have to fly down and consult the neurosurgeon on Monday and Tuesday.

Also on today’s agenda is my first attempt at the Time for Teal Cake. If successful, I will get in a quick post about it, and also give the recipe if anyone’s interested.

I’d better get moving, cakes and plates won’t make themselves!



Time for Teal part 9

Here are the last two blocks for the centre of the ‘tea table’.

I had a couple of appliqué days, and tried a new (to me) process. Normally, I fuse my piece to the background and then stitch round it. But this adds an extra layer of thickness and stiffens the appliqué section. With the block below, it would have meant 8 layers on top of the background, and the design area would have been quite rigid.

Kate's mug and plate stack

Instead, I used tear-away stabiliser. I laid down all the elements in order on the background, one on top of the other. Behind the light area, I pinned a piece of stabiliser. Then I basted through all the layers, around all the shapes. Next came a small, narrow blanket stitch around all the shapes. Finally, I removed the basting, and on the reverse, carefully removed the stabiliser and snipped away all the excess fabric behind each shape.  Each of those elements has just one layer of fabric, and the block is still nice and flexible. The basting held the pieces in place, and the stabiliser prevented the rucking and channelling you get under the edge stitching when there’s nothing behind it.

Kate's teacups and doiley

I used the same process for this block, but the embroidery stitch around the edge of the ‘doiley’ kept trying to chew up the fabric, and I was lucky to be able to hide a dodgy patch behind one of the cups. If I use this stitch again in appliqué I may use fusible instead, and then the fabric won’t shift at all.

Finishing these last two blocks means that I now have the final arrangement sorted out. Voilà! Tea and cake, anyone…?

Tea Table Centre

Next job is to sandwich each block and quilt it, and then join them. These central blocks will have a pale cream/beige lightly patterned narrow sashing to try and give visual unity, although it’s a bit tricky given the range of background colours! Never mind, I’m sure it’s going to be amazing whatever I do, the blocks are all so lovely.

After that, it’s time to move onto Dresdens. Some more of you have volunteered to produce a block or two, which will be greatly appreciated now that I have to unfortunately ration my time at the sewing machine. I need 7 small (8 inch) and 5 large (10 inch) Dresden blocks, on a light background. I have a whole heap of fabulous scraps. Noooooo problem! After that, it’ll be the outer border, and another 21 blocks needed. I have a fair number of paper piecing blocks sorted out, and I’ll intersperse those with simpler pieced designs. We’re looking good!

Right, back to the sofa to unkink the back. I never thought I’d get bored with sofa-lounging. How times change!

Aimée 4: Pieced at last

The top for Aimée is together, and I can stop whipping out my tape measure and calculator every few minutes.

Screen shot 2015-01-18 at 5.17.25 PMSpontaneous design is very nice, and looks fun, but it does require a lot of arithmetic, never my strong point. If God had wanted us to do long division, he’d have given us calculators instead of fingers. And I don’t really enjoy working in base 16 (inches) when I’m used to base 10 (centimetres) in daily life. But this is the price you pay for making it up as you go along…

I have to head over to Spotlight tomorrow and buy 4 metres of backing fabric (since I don’t think I’ll find anything suitable in wideback, but I may be mistaken).  I have batting, I have thread, I’m good to go. For the binding, I’ve dug out some dark grey fabric with a cream spot, the same, you may remember, as I used a while back for my pillows. I reckon with a bit of nifty piecing-in of some of the red from the red border, I might just have enough.

Next stop, the sandwich. I shall, as usual, be pinning the quilt using quilting safety pins, and my 3 metre dining table.  I’m too old and my hip is too painful to crawl on the floor, and if I tape the backing and batting along one edge of the table, then offer up the quilt top to the same edge and pin from one side to another, letting the weight of the fabric pull everything taut, I’ve been getting a pretty good result and no sore back.  Once half the pinning is done, you untape the backing edge and carefully pull it across. Most of the time, there’s very little smoothing out needed. I can even pin sitting down.

Nearly time to tick another one off the list!

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.

Aimée 2

Aimée has grown a bit more.

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 5.43.13 PMI think I now have the final size, which was dictated by the width of the lovely Anita’s Arrowhead blocks I made yesterday (thank you for the link, Esther). In the corners, I will put dresden plate blocks, using scraps from the quilt, and I will fill between the corner and centre blocks with a simple striped fill – again, using some scraps and some new fabrics. There might also be a little more appliqué. I have auditioned more of the duck egg blues, and using too many of them simply makes the quilt look bland and wishy washy, so there’ll be a mixture of colours. The warm rosy red border was also visually necessary, and fortunately I had just enough of it.

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 5.43.35 PM

Close up of Anita’s Arrowhead and the red border

Any thoughts on what colour I should use to bind this beauty? All opinions considered, but I’ll end up doing what the quilt tells me in the end….

It’s done, it’s finished!

Regular readers will not need me to tell them how relieved and happy I am.  Morning Tea at the Quilting Bee is finally finished!

Morning Tea at the Quilting Bee.  Machine and hand sewn, Dresden plates, English paper piecing, hexagons, hand sewn and machine applique, and the dreaded scalloped edge...

Morning Tea at the Quilting Bee.
Machine and hand sewn, Dresden plates,
English paper piecing, hexagons, hand sewn and
machine applique, and the dreaded scalloped edge…

It’s been a long pull.  I conceived the idea just after finishing chemotherapy, and part of the reason for its very extended piecing phase was that I just can’t sit down and do 4 hours solid at a sewing machine any longer.  There are still chemo side effects to contend with; poor memory and a lack of concentration due to ‘chemo brain’, which has forced me to unpick, fix and generally rethink a lot of work because I’ve made stupid mistakes; and residual pain in my scar and arm which makes sitting with arms out to the sewing machine at times too uncomfortable.  Of course, there have been good reasons not to work on it too: meeting my husband, a whirlwind courtship, moving north to Mackay and getting married.  All, I’m sure you’d agree, very good reasons not to sew for a while.

But now it’s done.  And I’m very happy, not only for myself, but also because I’ve been able to do something for the wonderful people at the CanDo Cancer Trust – http://www.candocancertrust.com.au – in Coffs Harbour.  The hanging is theirs to raffle, auction, whatever, to raise money so they can help more people like me.

I’ll be sending it off by courier in the next couple of days, but it’s going to hang behind my worktable for a little while longer so I can gloat a bit…  Meanwhile, the black and white Magpies quilt for my friend Tracey is beckoning…

Smug self gloating in front of completed wall hanging

Smug self gloating in front of
completed wall hanging

Off to investigate the contents of my fabric cupboard…

No more excuses. Just do it.

OK, there’s no more faffing about. This thing has got to be quilted…

I knew it was past time to get started when I checked my quilting threads and sent up a silent cheer because I was out of the beige I need for the bottom half of the centre section.  I have been procrastinating (dontcha love that word, it’s so, um, applicable) far too long.  So I’m giving up my lunchbreak at work to make a dash to the patchwork shop to buy beige thread.  Of course, I’m not actually giving up lunch, that would be a sacrifice too far.

Morning Tea at the Quilting Bee: the top's done, the layers are sandwiched together

Morning Tea at the Quilting Bee: the top’s done,
the layers are sandwiched together

I’ve marked up some basic straight quilting lines on the bottom section: lines that radiate from a central vanishing point to give a subtle (I hope) sense of perspective. The top half will have echo quilting in all the different shapes that form the background. I’m going to outline the cake stand, cups, etc. I’m also going to outline quilt the Dresden plates around the outside, and around the central circle. The yoyos will get a triangular line around them which is following the curve of the plates. I’m going to do basic diamond quilting behind the teapot in the bottom centre and around the embroidered title at the top. I’m thinking I may have to do some more dense quilting in a slightly darker colour under the cake stand to create a sort of shadow effect. Maybe also under the cups and cakes. And if I’m feeling ambitious, under the cakes? What do you think? Am I going overboard here? Your thoughts/comments would be appreciated.

The edge of the quilt is going to be scalloped to follow the outlines of the plates, and bound in red bias strip with a small white spot. I’ve gone very plain on the back, pale yellow with a small white spot. Yup, there’s definitely a bit of a spot thing going on here.

It hasn’t got to be amazing, it’s not for a show, but it has got to be good enough that someone will pay money for it.  That’s the point. It’s to raise money for charity. Imagine you’re single, you live alone, 60km from the nearest relative and most of your friends. You discover you have breast cancer right after you’re made redundant at work. You get unemployment benefit/sickness benefit, but that’s not nearly enough to cover the bills. A big one comes in. You’re just starting chemotherapy, you’re very sick and finding it hard to cope with everyday life, let alone going into battle over this bill. And then there’s a miracle. A hand is held out, and it’s holding what you need, given without obligation and with love by some wonderful people who make it their business to help people in my position (CanDo Cancer Trust). The bill is paid, the worry goes away, you can concentrate on getting better. You write a thank you letter, but it’s not nearly enough. So if you’re me, you make something. Because you still don’t have money, but you do have a stash, and some time, and an idea which has been struggling to be made, which is perfect for the purpose. Surviving and getting on with living got in the way a bit for a while, but now I’m nearly there.

I must say, I always find the start of the quilting process intimidating. I have to clear the decks of all the bits, scraps, threads, etc, left over from the patchwork process. I have to put things away to make my workspace clear. Quilting can be quite physical: you’re pushing around a fairly large and often quite heavy object, trying to control its progress through the sewing machine so your quilting is tidy, even and in the right places. So I think it’s understandable that I’ve been putting off the moment when it begins. But now I’m out of excuses.