ScrapHappy July

It’s been a busy few days, and I missed yesterday’s deadline by just an hour or so.

As I posted yesterday,  awhile ago, Gun from Rutigt and I agreed that we’d each post a scrappy block on the 15th of the month, the aim to be not only to eat up our scraps, but also to be a regular reminder that scrap-eating had to happen regularly if we are both not to be eventually overwhelmed by our tiny treasures. The block can be any size, shape, colour or design. And here is mine. Finally…


It’s very random, not much of a colour theme happening. I just reached into a box of hexies, grabbed a handful and worked out where they would go. I concede that I’m cheating a little. The individual hexies used in this block have been sitting around a while – since before Worldwide Friends, to be exact. But they are all made from scraps, and making a block from them does use scraps up, so I think you’d have to be a bit of a purist to object!

And as you know by now, I ran out of time – it’s the time of year when I have my annual ‘has the cancer come back?’ checkup, and the amount of sitting around in waiting-rooms I’ve had to do in the last few days is phenomenal. And it’s not over yet, there’s another one next week… So, whole hours I could have spent concocting something lavish have instead been spent reading waiting-room magazines and playing sudoku on my phone. Frustrating… particularly when I realised I hadn’t brought any hand work!

Yesterday’s baking session also went totally pear-shaped. I was melting chocolate in the microwave, carefully, 30 seconds at a time, but still managed to not just burn it, but have it virtually catch alight, cracking the bowl I was using in the process and filling the kitchen with acrid smoke. That was the crowning moment, but the rest of it wasn’t exactly glorious, either.

So, I’ll see you again next month with another scrappy block. If you want to join us, let either me or Gun know, and we’ll link to your blog in ours, as shown below.

ScrapHappy July:
Gun at Rutigt
Kate at talltalesfromchiconia
Sue at From the Magpie’s Nest


Worldwide Friends: Crossing the final frontier

It’s done. Which is good, because I’m so ready for something new.

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The only straight shot that was usable on the windiest day this year!

It’s taken almost exactly seven months (a few days under – I started it on 10th November last year). It began as a piece of busy-work to keep my hands occupied and my mind peaceful when I went into hospital last year for a spot of surgery. It’s grown out of all recognition, well beyond my original idea for the piece, and has taken on a life of its own, becoming virtually common property amongst the worldwide friends who have contributed fabric, poetry, encouragement and vision. The Mackay Show deadline seemed like a good idea at the time, something so far away that it was easily achievable. But as always, time ran away with me and I’ve only just squeaked in, after subjecting myself to the sort of pressure I don’t really enjoy.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 11.09.00 amDon’t ask me how many hexies it contains, because I don’t know, and I’m not going to count them. In any case, the answer to that question is “enough”. Here’s some detail:

This quilt is the result of a collaboration between myself and blogging friends around the world. The design was triggered by Carla’s gift of an indigo furoshiki, or gift-wrapping cloth from Japan, which featured rabbits, waves and the moon. According to Japanese legend, the figure seen in the full moon is not a man, but a rabbit, who was placed there by a holy man in return for an act of kindness. This beautiful cloth gave the rest of the quilt its Japanese flavour and the name of the quilt is written in Kanji characters across the middle, which translates to Worldwide Friends. On the back are haiku in English about both quilt-making and the rabbit legend, some written by fabric donors, others by non-quilting friends in lieu of fabric. Many of the indigo fabrics are Japanese, others are from Indonesia, India and Africa as well as Europe, the US and Australia.

Techniques used
Front: English Paper Piecing, hand appliqué
Back: Machine piecing, English Paper Piecing, hand appliqué
Hand painted calligraphy on front in gold resist medium
Handwritten calligraphy of haiku on back panels in ink
Lightly hand quilted in ‘big stitch’ quilting to stabilise layers only
The quilt is faced with hexagons on the reverse rather than bound, to retain the hexagon shapes at the edge.
Hanging tabs are integrated into the top seam, as this is a wall hanging
The quilt is effectively double-sided, allowing it to be turned to display the haiku on the reverse.

The Worldwide Friends:
Carla, Australia
Tracey, Australia
Nanette, Australia
Dale, Australia
Rita, Belgium
Jan, Wales
Lynn, France
Viv, France
Gun, Sweden
Cath, USA
Sue, USA
Esther, Netherlands
Emmely, Netherlands
Jule, Germany
Annett, Germany
Carole, UK
Kirsten, UK

This quilt is now, at last, ready for entry into the Mackay Show on 25 June, and I am so ready to start another project!  My first priority is to produce the three blocks I’m making each month as part of the Foot2Freestyle block swap. After that, I have a birthday quilt to make for mid-October, a large bed quilt to make for my niece to celebrate her marriage (already late, but she forgives me), and then, finally, I’m free to choose. The list of candidates is considerable…

But first, a day off… maybe.

Worldwide friends: three-quarters of the front

I have only about another 64 flowers and 64 fillers to go and the front will be finished.

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That little section at the top shows how high the top strip will be, and it’ll be the same again at the bottom. It’s 75″ wide and will be about 72″ high.

That’s another 512 hexies to make. 448 to stitch together into flowers. It’s not so bad if you say it quickly! But what it does tell me is that the back of the quilt will not be as complex as the front, or I’ll never get it done in time. There will be hexies on the back, but I think they’ll get appliquéd to a background. There will be a hexie border all round, there will be haiku panels, but it will be mostly larger pieces of fabric. I have another furoshiki featuring carp, and this may well form part of the background piecing.

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The assembly station for the next 16 flowers… Some of those papers badly need to be retired and recycled…

This broad strip is the majority of the front of the quilt. There will be a strip 2 flowers high along the top, and the same along the bottom edge, making the quilt almost square.

I’m on my second 1,000m spool of thread. The EPP papers are mostly on their third usage in this quilt alone. I’ve had to discard two needles which were too bent to be comfortable to use any more.

I need to give some thought to embroidering the kanji symbols for the name of the quilt on the front furoshiki section. I suspect that plain old satin stitch will be the answer. I need them to look substantial, and a satin stitch using 3 or 4 strands of floss should do the trick.

Right, I’d better go and cut some more squares!

Worldwide Friends: progress report

The central band is nearly done.

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Click on the photo and see if you can find your fabrics!

As you can see, the part on the right of the centrepiece is now complete. On the left, I have a block of 15 or so more flowers to make and attach, and then the whole left side strip will be finished and I can attach both side panels to the centrepiece. At that point, the front will be halfway done. The next stage will be strips for the top and bottom, probably three flowers deep. I have plenty of fabric left, and it’s going pretty well; not quite a production line, but I think I have identified the quickest way of making and assembling the pieces – or at least, a way that works well for me.

Screen shot 2015-01-07 at 10.24.13 AMYesterday, I received another package of Friendship Fabrics for this quilt. The lovely Esther at ipatchandquilt has sent me these pretty pieces, which I will be able to use on the front. Esther has a gorgeous, colourful blog, and her machine quilting is just phenomenal, so do yourself a favour and go over there and browse extensively.  It also shows what a small world we bloggers inhabit; she’s the other side of the world, but teaches art at the same high school in the Netherlands where my brother-in-law was a teacher many years ago!

I’m still surprised at how motivated I am to work on this quilt. Normally, by this stage of a large hand-pieced quilt I’m feeling a bit ‘meh’ about it, and am casting around for something else to get excited about. Not this time. I have the lovely scraps and pieces of fabric which arrive in the mail, and the participation and comments of others to keep me on track.  Not to mention that everyone else will lose interest unless I show good progress on a regular basis!

I have one of my UFO/unstarted projects in hand as well, something I can sew quickly on the machine as a break from hand stitching. It’s a job which is easy to pick up and put down, and I’m sort of making it up as I go along. Too early to show progress yet, but I hope to have something to post about soon.

Onwards. There’s a box of squares waiting to be turned into hexies.

Worldwide Friends: Fillin’ time

I’d intended to do a photographic post today.

Mackay is looking spectacularly gorgeous on this second day of summer, with all the flowering trees doing their stuff. But events conspired, jobs took twice their allocated time, and a visitor who should have been here 10 minutes stayed 45. So it will have to wait a few more days until the schedule permits.

Finally, I have some quiet time. The Husband is snoring gently in preparation for night shift, the solar panels are paying for the airconditioning to be on, and I don’t have to get to work in the kitchen for several hours yet.

Screen shot 2014-12-02 at 2.27.53 PMSo, obviously, I’m working on Worldwide Friends, and today I’m working on the fillers. You know what I mean, the hexies that sit between the flowers, giving the eye a rest from unrelieved dark indigo flowers. That’s not to say the fillers aren’t also indigo, they are, but they contain lighter areas to throw the flowers into contrast.Most of the ‘holes’ in the above layout are waiting for fillers. And I need loads of them.

Screen shot 2014-12-02 at 2.28.34 PM

Detail of the centrepiece, a delightful furoshiki or cloth gift wrap from Japan featuring gambolling hares. The lettering will be embroidered, the paper squares just show positioning.

I’ve put the cart well ahead of the horse with this project – the design wall is already in play. I have only about 10-15% of the hexie flowers I need, but I’ve been unable to resist starting a layout, instead of waiting till I had a respectable pile of flowers. Unlike other hexie projects I’ve worked on, this quilt has a centrepiece, and I need to ensure that the layout of the flowers works with the elements on the centrepiece, a lovely furoshiki brought back from Japan for me by Carla at Granny Maud’s Girl.  The layout shown here is only about 25″ (70cm) across. This is going to be a big quilt, and it’s clear I have a long way to go, but once the fiddly stuff in the middle is sorted out, I’ll just carry on adding chunks of hexie flowers.

To everyone who has already promised some indigo scraps: Thank you!  It adds so much to the interest and excitement of making this quilt to know that there will be little suprises arriving from time to time with bits of indigo fabric to add into the quilt.

Right, back to the needle and thread.

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!