In the Arms of the Angels: feathers…

I’ve been making some progress behind the scenes.

Firstly, the scroll that goes at the top of the centre panel. It’s slightly padded with a batting layer, which gives it a bit more dimension, I think. I chose a pale green-beige batik that looks a bit like stone, and I’ll get the words embroidered in serif capitals if I can, in teal thread. It’s not as dark as it looks in the photo – indoor lighting 😦

And then the wings… There’s going to be lots of feathers. They need to be stiff, like real flight feathers, and layered so as to have depth, instead of being just flat and one-dimensional. This is going to mean a fair bit of weight, so I had to create a stiffened foundation shape on which to stitch them so that they don’t pull at the surface of the quilt. This foundation will itself be sewn to the background by hand with invisible stitches, so that it doesn’t affect the quilting and is invisible on the back.

I’ve used a fairly stiff non-fusible interfacing between the front and back layers of each feather, so that the shape is firm and sword-like. Once the feather is turned through, it’s topstitched around the edge to keep it crisp, and will have a further topstitched shaft down the centre. The feathers are overlapped slightly, as in nature, and the colours are varied to give added visual interest. I’m mixing a grey and beige overprinted with a little silver for the leading edge feathers, with lots of different beige and cream prints to give texture as well as colour variation. It’s very labour intensive, but I really like the effect.

And Kathy’s lovely pale background block has arrived, which is really going to help with the soft broken-colour I’m after. One thing I’ve realised is that I need to keep the tips of the wings as free of the pale background as I can or they’ll blend in too much, so the tips of all the feathers have to stay separate, but I may also need some sort of ‘shadow’. I’m thinking some very fine grey tulle laid over the background under the tips of the wings may give the effect I’m after, as it’ll allow the background colour to show through instead of being solid. Anyone have any other suggestions for achieving what I want?

Still lots more to go… Meanwhile, keep those background, border and cornerstone blocks coming, my lovelies!

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Words Under Pressure #14

Today, it’s Words, not sewing, not gardening, not recipes… 

Hawk’s Lullaby

Come home, my bird,
Bend your strong wings
On the high, white air
And turn towards your nest.

Fold your hunter’s head
And close your light-pierced eye.
Your barred and dappled feathers
Settled, be at peace.

Rocked peacefully in the height
Of the wind-riding nest,
Sleep, dreaming always
Of tomorrow’s far-seen horizons.

The bold wide world is yours,
The limitless rumbling clouds
And tumbling wind.
And I am waiting.

Come home.

Go the Pies: and now for the sandwich

I pushed myself a bit yesterday and it was very late by the time I got to bed.  But it meant I got the top finished, and I’m very happy with how it’s looking.

The finished top, hanging on my design wall. My sewing room's too small to get far enough away, but you get the idea.

The finished top, hanging on my design wall. My sewing room’s too small
to get far enough away, but you get the idea.

The seams are (mostly) lined up, nothing’s too obviously crooked, the colour scheme – or lack of it, if you prefer – is fun, and it came together fairly painlessly, with the exception of the magpie panel, which was my own stupid fault.  A quick shopping expedition has produced  fabric for the back, and I’ve bought enough of the same wideback to make the binding as well.  I like a binding to be crisp and frame a quilt, and the black binding will do that.

One of the feathers

One of the feathers

Anyone who’s been watching the progress of this quilt will notice there are a couple of additions. Magpie feathers.  I couldn’t resist the urge to scatter a few around. The contrast between the soft edges of the feathers and the crisp edges of the spot and stripe patterns was pretty, and they add an interesting graphic punctuation to the whole thing and lead your eye around.

My favourite transfer paper. Nice clean images, every time

My favourite transfer paper. Nice clean images, every time

I had fun with my transfer paper, which, now that I’m using it properly and exercising patience, is giving good results.  I’ve tried a couple of brands, but the HP Inkjet version for white fabrics is the favourite so far.

The black backing. It's actually a nice inky black, not brownish, as my bad lighting make it appear.

The black backing. It’s actually a nice inky black, not brownish, as my bad lighting make it appear.

Today I have to press the backing and unfold the batting and let the creases relax out of it.  If there are any really stubborn ones, I find a couple of minutes in the tumble drier does the job.  Once that’s done, I have to piece the large magpie panel into the back, bearing in mind that it’s going to get quilted over.  I’m just going to do simple straight line quilting on the diagonal, not too closely spaced so the quilt stays very soft and drapey.  I’ll probably outline the magpie and the feathers, perhaps by hand as I’m not sufficiently happy with my FMQ to do it on the machine.  The diagonal quilting lines will stop short of the images so I can make them pop out a bit more.

It’s been fun so far.  I’m going to get in a stew with the quilting, as I usually do, but it’s a small quilt and will be done soon.