In the arms of the angels: she soars

So, it’s done.

You know how you make plans to sew all day? Yeah… No. I’ve scraped together a total of a day and a half over the past three days, mainly because the stitching had to be done standing up, with the quilt hanging on the wall so the wings were in the correct position. It’s hard on the back and my poor tired feet. But it’s been enough. The idea I had for making the wings strong and powerful-looking has worked. They’re not flat and limp, but have bulk and dimension. The wing panels are backed with stiffening, and in stitching them down, I’ve applied lateral pressure to bow this stiffening down the length of the wings and make them pop out. You get a good shadow under the wing, so I haven’t had to fake a shadow with a piece of grey tulle laid onto the fabric underneath it. I’m really, really pleased with the effect, and am very happy with the overall result.

Do you like the tiny stars, adding a little sparkle as the light moves over them? I wanted something that tied back to the text on the label, and this seems to fit the bill. They’re applied with fabric glue as I’d have gone totally bonkers if I’d had to stitch them on. I’ve stitched a hanging pocket on the back, as this isn’t a bed or lap quilt, and you can see that I’ve added a pretty minimal binding, just to finish the edge. It’s not going to get much wear and tear, so a narrow binding will be OK.

It’s time to launch this quilt. I’m delivering it today to a director of the Trudy Crowley Foundation. She’s already expressed her determination to do battle in the auction to ensure she becomes its new owner. However, Trudy’s own father is also in the running, so let the bidding war commence! The auction will take place at the Twilight Dinner to launch the Foundation on 30th March. I hope it’ll prove worthy of its purpose and raise loads of money to help launch the Foundation and the work it was set up to do. And finally, thank you to everyone who has contributed blocks, ideas and encouragement. I couldn’t have done it without you.

Here are your wings, Trudy. Now, go fly.

“Once you have tasted flight, you will forever walk the earth with your eyes turned skyward, for there you have been, and there you will always long to return.” Leonardo da Vinci


ITAA: it works!

It’s been head down and bum up in the sewing room the last few days.

I have the main background panel finished and waiting to have the borders joined onto it. I’ve quilted it fairly densely with wavy lines, but more randomly than I usually do, so it’s a softer, more watery effect. I also have the two long side panels assembled and sandwiched and now one side is quilted.

And I’m delighted to say that the silver quilting is working very nicely, thank you!

I did a lot of tests with tension top and bottom. With the walking foot on, a decreased top tension, Sulky silver thread in the top and cream in the bobbin and a long stitch length, it works OK, so long as you keep your eye on it. The main problem, I find, is with the needle eye. Any trace of a rough edge there and the silver foil shreds off the carrier thread and the whole thing goes to hell in a handbasket (whatever that means). You also have to be generous with the silver thread. You need a long tail to hold onto when you start stitching or the machine has a strong tendency to chew it. But isn’t the effect pretty against the dark blue, in that big puffy layered cloud effect?  It looks lovely on the back too, where it’s cream on cream and you just get the texture.

My plan is to also use this design across the top and bottom, but I still need to work out how to join several repeats of the design. I just drew big puffy cumulus clouds on a piece of card and cut it out, drawing round the edges with a Sewline white ceramic quilt marker, which is my favourite quilt marking tool. I hadn’t considered the need to join the design side to side, so that’s something I need to sort out.

Once I have the two side borders done, I’ll join them to the central background, and then I just have two long strips to finish. “Just”, she says… Once it’s all together and bound, I can sew on the banner and the wings with their shadows. And let us not forget the label and a hanging pocket.

It’s a way off, but I can see the end in sight.

ITAA: that’s better!

Sometimes, the best thing is just to start over.

In this case, not the whole quilt, of course, but the banner that’s been bothering me. And I’m so glad I did, because I’m much happier with the new result.

As well as a new banner, I’ve adjust the layout a little. I picked up Sue’s three blocks yesterday from the new house while we were there measuring up, and they’re gorgeous, as you can see.

They completed the layout, but I did need to move things around just a little to make the colours balance. Below is the new final (for now!) layout of the outer border. I’ve looked at it so much now that I can’t really see it any more, so if you see anything that looks discordant, do let me know.

I do want to keep the TCF logo at top right, but apart from that I think the other five cornerstones can move around if necessary.

Looking at the layout, I’m pretty sure I’ll be needing to make those ‘shadow’ sections from tulle to lay under the wings. They just need to have a bit more dimension, to stand out a little more. Time enough for that later. I’ve cut the backing and backing for the background, plus the reinforcement strips. A bit of spray basting, and I’ll be good to start quilting 🙂

I can’t think of anything I’d rather be doing on this hot, windy and overcast Australia Day. To all my Australian friends, stay cool, have a good Australia day, enjoy the cricket/tennis/concerts, or whatever else you’re doing to mark the occasion. 

Speaking of starting over, today is the 12th anniversary of my Australian citizenship, and I don’t regret a second of it. Here’s to the next 12 years!

ITAA: taking stock

Sometimes, you have to accept that something’s not working.

That’s where I am with the banner I’ve made for this quilt. Everything about it is suddenly wrong or too hard, on several levels. So I’m moving on, and I’m going to do something different. Something I can make myself, that doesn’t need embroidering, with the letters set on a straight line. Something that doesn’t jump off the quilt more strongly than the wings. Good. That feels better already 🙂

I’ve bordered all the cornerstones I have, and they’re looking great. The last one, Sue’s heart icon (plus her square border block), has arrived at the new house, and we’ll be picking it up tomorrow when we go over there to do a bit of measuring. That’ll be all of them apart from Lynn’s final border block, which is on its way from France.

Nanette’s last two blocks arrived today, which has allowed me to assemble the back-ground section. With all the blocks in, I could pin the wings in place and see how they looked. A bit of re-arranging followed, to ensure that the wings didn’t blend into the blocks behind them too much. It doesn’t look balanced in its new layout, but it does look perfect when the wings are on! I also have on hand a metre of fine grey tulle which I’ll use to create a ‘shadow’ under each wing, to give extra standout and dimension if it’s needed.

So now, I’m ready to sandwich, baste and quilt this background. Still debating the quilting design… It’s a toss-up between something soft, airy and imagery-relevant (clouds), or something soft, a little less imagery-relevant and forming a more robust foundation to sew the wings onto (wide horizontal ripples). I think I’m going with ripples, I’m worried that the weight of the wings will pull the background out of shape, and a stiffer foundation will be better. I might reserve the clouds for the dark teal border/frame.  Oooh, what about if I quilted the border in silver? Hmm, I foresee some fairly extensive testing ahead!

So, that’s the result of a couple of days of fairly hard looking and thinking. What do you reckon?

ITAA: postal progress!

We’re just shy of having everything we need to start assembly.

Lots of squishy mail in the last couple of days. I received a light background block today from Margaret; I’m awaiting one more from Nanette for the background, and then I can assemble it, sandwich and quilt it.

I’m awaiting three square dark border blocks, one from Nanette, one from Sue and one from Lynne, and then I can finish the bottom border. I also received a dark border block today from Margaret which completed the top border, so that one’s good to go.

Nanette sent me these two long border blocks yesterday, which complete the border pieces needed for the left side.

Margaret also sent this beautiful appliqué shell cornerstone, so now I’m only waiting for Sue’s heart cornerstone block and then I’ll have everything and both long side borders can be assembled.

I need to go fabric shopping (oh no!) for a couple of metres to do the border sandwiches; each cornerstone is going to be backed with a different cream fabric, but the bits in between need to have something cream but different from the centre background panel fabric, which I already have.

This shows what it’s looking like right now, but you can see that what I’ve detailed above plugs most of those gaps. It’s feeling a bit strange to finally be talking about assembly and quilting; the timing of this is really preying on my mind because of everything else that’s going on, so I’m getting far more worked up about it than I really need to. There.Is.Time….

A few more days and I can assemble the background. Yay!

ITAA: Happy Things

Two more cornerstone blocks in today 🙂

Lynn has made two of the cornerstones I need for the quilt.

You may recall that these cornerstones represent things which made Trudy happy. There’s the Trudy Crowley Foundation she initiated and set up, her work for Ovarian Cancer, her family and friends, a glass of bubbly, the pretty shoes she adored, and the beach, her happy place. So we have the TCF logo, the ovarian cancer ribbon, a heart to represent the ones she loved, a shell for the beach, a fabulous high-heeled shoe and a glass of bubbly.

I’ve done the TCF logo and the ribbon, Lynn has made the shoe and the glass, Sue has made the heart and Margaret has made the shell; the two last are on their way so I can’t show them yet.

Paper pieced pattern ©2018 Kate Chiconi

Paper pieced pattern © Maartje Quilts in Amsterdam

The shoe pattern is available free on the internet, and if you want the glass, just email me, I’m happy to send you a scan of my hand-drawn pattern.

I’ve also made a few extra blocks for the background and border, in case blocks on their way don’t arrive in time for me to start assembling, quilting and bordering. Rest assured that anything that arrives after that time will find a home in future quilts, so your work hasn’t been wasted. With the house move going ahead, my time is so tight now that I may need to make these difficult decisions, so I hope anyone affected will forgive me. I’m not showing the blocks I’ve made, as I’m still hoping they won’t be needed. Also, I’m still waiting to hear from the embroiderers about whether they can do the banner. I’ve virtually resigned myself to having to cut out and place each letter individually using iron-on transfers. That’d be fine, but embroidery would look a bit nicer and save me some time. Fingers crossed…

So, some progress. I hope that in the next few days I’ll receive the shell and a background block from Margaret – I’m looking forward to seeing the shell she’s made using appliqué, it should be lovely!

While I wait, I should look at some F²F³ blocks too, don’t you think…?

ITAA: walls start to go up

It’s coming along.

So far, I have about half the blocks I need for the pale background, and half what I need for the border. More blocks are on the way from the lovely generous contributors, and of course, I’m making blocks myself, as you can see here.

Still needed:
4 background blocks.
3 rectangular border blocks
4 square border blocks
4 cornerstones


On the way:
Background blocks: 2 from Jenny, 1 from Margaret. I’ll make the last one.
Rectangular border blocks: 1 from Lynn, 1 from Nanette, and I’ll make another one.
Square border blocks: 2 from Sue, 1 from Margaret, and I’ll make one.
Cornerstones: 2 from Lynn, 1 from Sue and 1 from Margaret.

If I can get all the centre background blocks, I can actually assemble, quilt and add the wings and other bits to that section, so I’m crossing my fingers that they’ll come first. It would be good to have a section complete and ready. One less thing to worry about…

I’m also waiting to hear from the embroiderers about the banner. There are technical issues with getting the banner into the frame that holds the fabric while it’s being embroidered, and I reckon I can probably get around that by basting a border around the banner to extend it. There are other issues surrounding actually doing the embroidery of the letters. The text runs on a curve, both top and bottom line, and this will require the piece to be repositioned frequently. If they feel they cannot achieve a satisfactory result and turn the job down, I have a solution for that too. I’ll make the text as a transfer, and if I have to cut out each letter individually and place it on the curve, then that’s what I have to do. I can give it the dimension I wanted by hand-quilting around each letter to make it pop out of the background. Fiddly, but it’ll do as a Plan B.

We’re getting there!