Carla’s cushion

Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl has designed the most gorgeous cushion.

I was so pleased to be asked to test the pattern for her, and I’ve found it easy to follow; it answers questions before you need to ask them, and it’s versatile enough to work with fabrics of all kinds.

If you go to her blog post, you’ll see her version, a fabulous riot of gorgeous colours, corralled by an elegant set of 4 English Paper Pieced blocks, and trimmed with velvety pompoms. Mine is different. Far quieter, using leftover pieces of the paler colours from my Bonnard quilt, and devoid of pompoms, but elegant and pretty all the same, demonstrating that the same pattern works well with very different fabric designs and colour choices. Like Carla, I’ve made a concealed zipper opening for the back, but the pattern also suggests alternative closures if zippers are a technique too far for you. My cushion will join the Bonnard quilt in due course as a gift to my sister.

Carla has the pattern for sale in her Etsy and Craftsy shops. If you click on the link above and go to her post about this, you’ll find links to both in her sidebar. If you’re looking for a small, interesting but not too demanding hand-stitching project which gives you the option to go bright or pale, dark or light, high or low contrast, lavish or simple, this is for you. Enjoy!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, I’m not being paid to say nice things about it ‚Äď owning this lovely pattern is reward enough.

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Hand-stitched heaven

Nothing at all ominous about my sudden silence ūüôā

Quite to the contrary. I’ve been labouring away at some lovely hand-stitching. Carla at Granny Maud’s Girl has designed an EPP pattern for a beautiful cushion (pillow) cover, and asked if I’d look it over to assess the instructions. I loved it so much I had to actually make it up! I dearly love a bit of EPP, and normally I do it in a leisurely and intermittent fashion.

This was different, since I wanted to give Carla feedback as quickly as possible, so she can finalise the pattern. It isn’t launched yet, so I’m not showing you the whole thing, but this should give you an idea.

Now I just have to add batting and a backing and I can quilt it. After that, I’ll assemble the cushion, and it will go to my sister to join the Bonnard quilt I’m making for her ‚Äď I’m sure you recognised the scraps!

If you love this as much as I do, hop over to Carla’s blog and maybe leave her a comment or drop her an email to express interest. She hasn’t posted it yet, but I’m sure she will soon.

I’m sure some interest will help her get it finished ūüôā

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…

ScrapHappy1

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 ‚Äď 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.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 11.08.32 am

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

It’s taken almost exactly seven months (a few days under ‚ÄstI 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:

Background
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 ‚Äėbig stitch‚Äô 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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 8.29.10 am

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 appliqu√©d 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.

Screen Shot 2015-02-13 at 8.28.43 am

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.

Screen shot 2015-01-09 at 5.32.10 PM

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.