Bee, Myself and I #16

It’s Hatbox time again 🙂

Actually, if I’m honest, it’s slightly overdue, since I normally post about this project on the last day of the month. But what with the recent trip, and being totally obsessed focussed on the caravan quilts, I didn’t allow enough time to get the last two hatbox blocks done by the usual date.

However, here they are at last. These are absolutely the last two of the series, which I find I’m rather sad about, having got into a really good, smooth groove with making the other blocks.

Next month, I’ll show the final layout of all the blocks, and perhaps even the start of the hand quilting which is next on the menu for this quilt. I’m going to enjoy that, because I do like a bit of hand quilting, especially when the piece is not too large and heavy. Time to start building up my quilting calluses!

Lynn at Tialys is also making a hatbox quilt wall hanging, but started later and has fewer to make, so she’s finished her blocks and is on to the quilting part. Click through to her blog to have a look at hers, they’re all gorgeous, being made from Liberty fabrics. She’s in a later timezone than I am, so maybe wait a little before you go over there to give her time to get her post up.

Bee, Myself and I is a forum for ‘selfish sewing’; any stitchery which is purely for pleasure and not for anyone else. The original concept belongs to Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl. To find out more, you can click through on either her blog link, or using the button a fair way down in the left hand column.

Time to return to stash all the pieces that didn’t make the final cut.  

Quiet Play 3: The finished thing

And here it is, as promised, the finished cushion.

Quiet Play doneIt measures 27 inches square and contains a firm cushion pad (the kind used for floor cushions) so it doesn’t become floppy. I originally wanted either hot orange or hot pink for the binding, but fell in love with the tomato/vermilion white spotted fabric when I saw it, and I think it works well. I love how the whole thing ties in with my existing colour scheme, and I especially love how much more comfortable it makes me when sitting up in bed checking my emails and blog in the mornings. Friends and family who occasionally Skype or FaceTime with me in the early morning or late evening can look forward to becoming familiar with seeing it behind me!

Quiet Play closeupI loved the fabric instantly when I first saw it, but as a fat quarter piece of a very large scale print, it didn’t lend itself to a quilt application – who’d want to chop this piece of loveliness up into small bits? Continuing minor annoyance with my previous cushion gave me the inspiration, and after that it was just finding the time and impetus to make a start. It only took me 15 months to get going, and after that, just 29 days of stop and start to get it done!

There’s only one downside to finishing this… I’ll have to come up with another small handwork project!

Quiet Play 2: quilting done

Our local library had a book sale, and I loaded up…

I cannot resist a new book. Hence small progress with the quilting of the Big Cushion front, but it’s done now. Not the world’s neatest or most even hand quilting, but lovely and textured and nubbly!

Quiet play quilting doneIt’ll need a 3 inch border all round to fit the cushion pad I have, but that’s OK; I have a very, very pale yellow with a small white dot which gives the impression of rich cream. With this as a border, the cushion colour scheme ties in very well with my grandmother’s flower garden hexie bed quilt and the green bedroom curtains. The back will be the last piece of my favourite lime shot cotton, again with a 3 inch border. I’m not sure what I’m going to bind it all with; it’s more or less asking for a hot pink or orange but I don’t have any in my stash, and I don’t like an aqua binding against the lime background. A bit of thought is required….

One more post, and this project will be done 🙂

Quiet play: the big cushion

Having made excellent progress with my cross stitch project while I was travelling, it was time for another kind of stitchery.

Big cushion quilting progressThe Big Cushion is about half done. I’ve outlined all the coloured areas – not just the outlines, but all the colours – and have made a start on the background quilting. This is going to be simple echo quilting in ever decreasing outlines, using the same orange variegated thread as the original outlining. It’s slow, peaceful work, easy to pick up and put down, with the result that I can slot a bit in here and there and make surprisingly good progress there too.

For a sense of scale, the whole thing is about 22 inches square, and that bird in the centre of the image is about 3 inches across.

I think I’ll be propping myself in bed with it pretty soon!

Work for idle hands

I had a hand stitching project to play with while I was away.

Well, you didn’t seriously imagine I wouldn’t be sewing for a whole eleven days, did you? Really? You did? No, I fear the depth of my stitchy addiction is much greater than that, and I don’t do well without a handwork project while away from home.

Cushion half done

Stitch detail Thread detailI did a lot of hand quilting of a not very neat but hugely enjoyable sort. This nearly-finished square is going to be a cushion cover, a large one of the sort you prop behind your back while you drink your morning coffee in bed, which I do every day, so it’s going to be well-used. The fabric was a gift from my friend Mrs R over a year ago. I knew what I was going to do with it immediately, but the piece sat at the bottom of my project pile until this trip. It’s easily portable: needle, thread, thimble, scissors. No hoop. I don’t need to worry about a tidy back, either, as it’s for a cushion. The gorgeous variegated orange thread from Aurifil was a no-brainer too, it’s meant for this job. Watch this space for the finished thing… eventually.

I took along Cloths of Heaven on the trip. The plan was to get Niece No. 3 to take it home with her to Niece No. 1 in the UK at the end of her visit to Niece No. 2 in Sydney, but it turned out she was taking in most of south-east Asia on the way, and I didn’t want my labour of love turned into a grubby rag in the bottom of her rucksack, so I bit the bullet and sent it over by courier. Having it with me, though, meant I could show it off to several appreciative people, which did my morale no end of good.

Selfish stash While I was draping it all over her shop counter, I bought several pieces of fabric from the lovely Carolyn at Misty Threads in my former tiny home town of Dorrigo in northern NSW. If you’re a quilter and ever get the chance to visit, do yourself a favour and nip in to see her. She has thousands of gorgeous fabrics, notions, a longarm quilter in the back, a comfy sofa for gossiping and lots of helpful suggestions.

The three small pieces are intended for my Selfish Sewing, which I will be starting soon as part of Carla’s Bee, Myself and I (click on the button in my side bar to go over there and see what it’s about).

Fabric for Coral Reef Coral Reef detail 2 Coral Reef detail 1This larger piece will be another hand quilting project. The fabulous fabric (not at all my usual colour choices but I couldn’t resist it – I do live next to the Great Barrier Reef, after all) is by Brandon Mably for Westminster Fibers (he’s Kaffe Fassett’s partner and is producing some impressive designs of his own these days). A plan is forming, but I’m not quite ready to share it yet. It’s interesting that I can now contemplate working with yellow, a colour almost entirely missing from my stash. I think F2F has been good for me in that respect, opening up colours I haven’t traditionally wanted to work with.

My sewing time this month has been seriously eroded by travel. I’m off again for 3 days at the end of the month to catch up with a number of fellow bloggers assembling in Melbourne for what promises to be an epic meeting. Before that, though, I have to complete an only-just-started secret sewing gift for one of the assembly. I’ll post about it once I’m back so as not to spoil the surprise.

I’m longing to get back to my sewing room, but first, a bit of highly necessary housework 😦

The Cloths of Heaven 24: over the line

Today is my birthday, and as a reward, The Cloths of Heaven is finished, at last.

The Cloths of Heaven final, frontThe Cloths of Heaven centre detailI started it on 30th October last year, and it is finished today, three months later. I originally gave myself 6 months, then brought the deadline forward considerably when I realised I could get it carried back to England if I did so, rather than taking my time and having to entrust it to the mail service.

The Cloths of Heaven border quiltingI’m tired, I admit. The last couple of weeks have been intensive, the quilting has taken its usual toll on my hands, but it has been absolutely worth it. The process of building this quilt has helped to clarify for me that increasingly, my creative process on these large pieces is more about the quilt being tailored to the intended user on several levels, and less about simply making something pretty or interesting, or even doing something just to see if I can. I’m making a creative statement about the person, if you like, rather than simply making something useful and attractive but generic.

The Cloths of Heaven labelI’ve enjoyed the growth of my skills and the exploration of ideas and processes intensely, including the involvement of those of you following this blog, who have been kind, encouraging, helpful and, frankly, indispensable in keeping me on track! I’m very, very happy with the finished quilt.


Some stats, for those who are interested:

Started 30th October 2015, completed 31st January 2016
Finished size: 88 x 88 inches
Fabrics: 100% cotton, mostly generic fillers and solids, but the blue, green and red batiks are from the Fossil Fern range by Benartex. I’ve been calling the colours Reef, Rainforest and Bushfire in my mind. The clouds are made of fine grey polyester tulle.
Construction: machine piecing, hand and machine appliqué, hand and machine quilting, hand lettering.
Threads are 100% cotton Gütermann Ne50 in dark blue and dark jade for construction and hand quilting weight in dark blue, dark jade, dark magenta and pale lilac. The silver used on the constellations is a Sulky machine embroidery thread in bright silver.
Assembled in 5 units (centre and 4 sides) using the quilt-as-you-go process, where sections are pieced and quilted before being attached to each other with sashing strips.
Hand finished binding and label, hand stitched yoyos in the border.
Label was created in Word, saved as a .jpg file, and the image reversed in PicMonkey, then printed out on transfer paper and heat bonded to white fabric.

For more detailed information on each process, you can find all the posts about The Cloths of Heaven stages 1-24 by typing ‘Cloths of Heaven’ into the search panel in the bar on the left.

It has been suggested that I should enter this quilt into a show. That’s very kind, but I know this quilt is not ‘show quality’. It’s original and different, but not, as we know, perfect! Furthermore, by the time any of the shows come round, I hope it will have been lying on my niece and her husband’s bed for some time fulfilling its intended purpose. But what do you think about entering it into the Blogger’s Quilt Festival?  All I have to do is write an entry post and show photos, which shouldn’t be too taxing. Tell me what you think about doing that. I have never entered anything in it before, and am even having trouble deciding which category it should go into. I feel a bit shy about exposing myself that way. What if I don’t get any votes? :-/

I’m going to have a short break from big sewing. There are lots of small bits and pieces I want to work on for a while; more scrappy blocks, a secret sewing gift, some more F2F blocks, a bit of embroidery and finally, I’d like to start my selfish sewing: the first block for Bee, Myself and I (see the link in my side bar).

There’s a new quilt already knocking on the door in the back of my mind, and it involves creating a lot of original paper pieced designs. I’m resisting the urge to dive straight in and am sticking to pencil and paper for now…

We’re off on our travels on 6th February, back on 17th. I’ll be posting along the way from time to time – come on, you didn’t seriously expect me to disappear from view entirely, did you?


The Cloths of Heaven 22: Let’s go round again

It’s ready for the final addition: the border.

Can I just say again? I love this quilt… It’s been such a satisfying piece to produce because at each stage I’ve been able to achieve what I wanted, and if change was necessary, it was always for the better instead of watering down the concept.

Cloths of Heaven side panels

It doesn’t really taper in towards the bottom, it’s just the angle I had to take the photo at. And I simply CAN’T get the colours to look right in indoor light…

I’m OK with the small inconsistencies, the bits where things don’t quite line up. This will happen when you have lots and lots of long edges. Fabric stretches, a little here and a little there, and some is worse than others. It happens when pieces are handled a lot, as in quilting, and become slightly warped. It happens when you are trying to line things up blind, where seams to be aligned are on the inside of a multi-layer sandwich and all you can see is the plain fabric on the outside. I can hear it now: Vergeet niet, lieverd, perfectie is voor de Lieve Heer. Thanks, Ma.

I love the quilt the way it looks now, and it’s tempting to stop. But this size (76 inches square) isn’t quite large enough to cover a queen bed with a good overhang. So I’m going to add the 6 inch border, yoyos and all.  Thankfully, the quilting design that’s now nudging away inside my head for liberation requires fewer even than my second estimate. Think sinus waves, of varying lengths, in different thread colours, each line strung at intervals with yoyo ‘beads’.

There will be a short interlude for loads of pressing and cutting…