Isfahan isfa-hinished!

Sorry about that. I dearly love a pun.

Here it is. My Friday Finish.

Isfahan, complete with scrappy binding

Isfahan, complete with scrappy binding

The tufted back and label

The tufted back and label

Now I want to get cracking on the tunic top for my holiday. And after that, sandwich, pin and quilt Happiness. And then I have to cut fabric for my travel hand work. Trouble is, I’m not sure what it is I’m taking! More thought needed on that one. I think the clam-shells work needs more space than I’ll have on the plane. And I’d need to buy fabric to work on Steampunk. not to mention drawing and cutting out templates. The cross stitch project will probably be done by then. Oh, the decisions…

Right, back to work

Advertisements

Totally tufted

It’s done. Imagine me screaming quietly…

Another shot where the blue's all wrong, but you get the idea...

Another shot where the blue’s all wrong,
but you get the idea…

Look, it’s not as hideous as it would have been trying to hand or machine quilt through the fleece. And it’s been a valuable lesson in why NOT to use fleece for backing. But it wasn’t fun, as such. Each row of hexagons took half an hour. There’s a fair bit of my DNA in this quilt, in the form of weeny bloodstains where I stabbed myself with the needle. I accept that I’m clumsy, and that the needle is unusually sharp for one of this size, but even so, it started to get boring.

There's a nice loft to the quilt thanks to the batting and fleece.

There’s a nice loft to the quilt thanks
to the batting and fleece.

I rather like the dinky little cross stitches in the centre of the hexies.

I rather like the dinky little cross stitches
in the centre of the hexies.

So, now all I need to do is cut the fabric strips for the binding, sew the strips together, and get cracking. There’s still the adventure of sewing the binding to the quilt because of the fleece, so I think I’m going to reverse my normal process, and sew the binding to the back and hem it down on the front. That way, the fleece is trapped between the binding fabric and the front fabric and won’t catch or creep. I hope. More on that tomorrow.

And that’ll be Isfahan done by the end of the week, and ready to tuck into my suitcase. Not one, but two quilts to hand over to my brother in the UK on our return journey. The Tree of Life for him, and Isfahan for Pa. Trying to get the Broken Bottles quilt for my lovely sister-in-law done too was never on the cards, but it’s close to the top of the queue when I get back, and will be mailed out to her by sea mail.

So now I’m going to soak my aching hands in hot water and ask the ever-obliging Husband for a cup of tea and a home made bickie.

My lucky day!

I don’t win things. Ever. Except today, my luck changed.

By doing what comes naturally – commenting on posts, all posts, any posts, not just liking them – I’ve managed to become one of the top 5 commenters on Factotum of Art’s lovely blog. Michelle is celebrating her 500th follower today, and is giving away all kinds of quilting fabulousness – and I’m a beneficiary! Go and have a look at what she’s up to, here.

I’m with Michelle here. I enjoy that people Like my posts, but I really love it when they Comment. It opens a dialogue and sometimes you make unexpected friends in unforeseen places. But I digress. I’m now in the happy position of waiting for fabric from Hawthorne Threads in the US, which should arrive just before I go on holiday. I suspect that same fabric may form part of my holiday handwork – if it doesn’t, it’s only because I found something I wanted to work on more! Of course, I went for Amy Butler: Floral Couture in Mandarin from the Lark collection, Tapestry Rose in Sapphire from the Hapi collection and Josephine’s Boutique in Ink from the Cameo collection.

That's 16 count Aida, so it's weeny!

That’s 16 count Aida, so it’s weeny!

Our first wedding anniversary is rushing up on us, and I’m making something to commemorate it. So far, there’s not a great deal to look at, but as soon as it starts to take shape a little more, I’ll do a Work in Progress blog. We had a small, quiet, informal wedding, and no photographer, thinking that the world is full of smart phones and digital cameras, and we’d end up with plenty of photos. It’s true, we did, but we have nothing to commemorate the day in a formal – and slightly more dignified – way. This is my way of resolving that lack.

4 rows done. Loads more still to do...

4 rows done. Loads more still to do…

I’m tying away at Isfahan like a mad thing. It’s quite hard work pulling 4 ply tapestry wool through dense quilting cotton, then needled cotton batting, then fleece, so I can’t do too many ties before my fingers get bloody sore, quilting calluses or no. I’m about a third of the way through the centre hexagon section. After that, there’s the borders, and finally I can bind it. It will be ready for me to take with me when we go away. I ‘m tempted by the idea of binding it in turquoise, to pick up the flashes of turquoise in some of the fabrics. I’m talking about the same fabric I used as background in the Son of Isfahan post. I’m wavering… What do you think? Turquoise or a scrappy binding from leftovers of all the fabrics except the dark blue?

And yesterday my package from Busy Fingers Patchwork in Queensland arrived. They do epp templates of all kinds and sizes, and at very reasonable prices. I’d ordered 1,000 2″ clamshell papers and here they all were. So I’m committed now. The Winter quilt will be hand pieced and clamshells. I was going to laboriously baste the fabric onto the papers, but have discovered this video by Sue Daley, which explains how to shorten the process by using appliqué glue. I shall give it a try, because if it works for me, the quilt could be ready in a fraction of the time. Because applique glue isn’t permanent, you can pull out the papers and recycle them, which is even better. You do still appliqué the shapes together by hand, so I won’t be short of a long-term handwork project!

Right. Back to work.  More tomorrow, probably.

The Tufty Club

The name won’t mean much to you unless you were a child in England in the 1960s. Which I was…

The Tufty Club badge.  Even the typography is lame...

The Tufty Club badge.
Even the typography is lame…

Tufty was a squirrel character who helped to teach children road crossing safety. You joined a club, got a badge, participated in excruciatingly dull and lame activities, but this was the 1960s, don’t forget. We didn’t have much TV, no computers, internet, Playstation, mobile phones or even personal stereos (remember the Walkman?). We read comics and books, played outside and endured long stretches of such hideous boredom that even Tufty started to look interesting…

But I digress. Tufty is what the back of the Isfahan quilt is starting to look, and ‘Tufty’ is forever linked in my mind to the Tufty Club.  Hence the name and the teeny bit of nostalgia. My apologies.

Little soft tufts on the dark blue fleece backing.

Little soft tufts on the dark blue fleece backing.

Small, tidy cross stitch on the quilt front

Small, tidy cross stitch on the quilt front

I decided the best way of doing the tied quilt was to have the neat stitches on the front and the ties on the back. I didn’t like the look of perle cotton or embroidery floss or ribbon ties, I wanted it soft, so I’ve gone for 4 ply tapestry wool. Come in from the back, leaving a tail, do half the cross stitch, back down, leave a loop, back up to the front, finish the cross stitch, back down, leave a tail. The tails and loops should be about an inch long. Cut the loop to form two more tails. Take two tails on each side and do a square knot. Then separate the 4 strands of ply to make a fluffy tuft. Trim off any straggly bits. There you are. I’m still debating cutting the tuft even shorter. The cross stitch on the front is neat and unobtrusive, and the tuft is soft and blends in with the fleece. So, 5 down, only another 155 to go… Oh, and I bought a new needle to do it with, as all my existing darning needles were too blunt to go through fleece, batting and quilt top without needing pliers to pull through. This new one’s  nice and sharp; you still need to wiggle it a fair bit, but it does the trick.

Outside, the sun is back, the wind has dropped, and the plants are beginning to cautiously stand up straight again. The grasshoppers are still wreaking havoc, and I have had to bite the bullet. We’ll be adding a tiny bit of something stronger to the pyrethrum/soapy water mix we use to slow them down. This will be used in a targeted way, on grasshoppers only, so we don’t murder the good bugs too. I want to end up with some flowers and fruit out there… Speaking of which, the passionfruit is perking up, and produced this for my delight and enjoyment yesterday:

The passionflower.  Isn't it ridiculously outlandish?  And this fandango produces such unpromising but delicious fruit.

The passionflower. Isn’t it ridiculously outlandish?
And this fandango produces such unpromising but delicious fruit.

Having sandwiched, pinned and started the tying on Isfahan, I feel I can take it a little easy over the next day or so. But I probably won’t. You know me, can’t leave a project alone

Meet Isfahan

The quilt formerly known as Car Quilt.

The second border has been appliqued on. I'm leaving it this size.

The second border has been appliquéd on.
I’m leaving it this size – my fingers have had enough!

It’s now 50 x 46″ and therefore large enough to qualify as a lap quilt for my father. At the age of 91, he’s reluctantly moving back to the UK to live with my brother. After 30 years in Spain, the climate is going to be a bit of a challenge, so this quilt will help to keep him warm, tucked around his legs as he reads or watches TV. Bright colours and modern prints are not really his thing, and he’s always loved the rich warm colours of Persian rugs, so this is his own personal Isfahani rug. Besides, it goes with my brother’s décor!

I’m backing it with dark blue fleece for extra warmth, which would make hand quilting exceptionally tricky. So it’s going to be either machine quilted, or it’ll be my first tied quilt.  I’m inclining towards tied, and am considering what colour to use for the floss ties. I’d do a tie in the centre of each of the beige ‘breather’ hexagons, so it’d end up being tied every 3 inches or so, which is plenty. I’m also having a poke around in my  scraps to see what colour I can use for binding. It really needs more dark blue, but I don’t have any left. What I do have is a fair bit of each of the featured fabrics, so it may end up with the scrappy binding of all time.

Brugmansia (Angel Trumpet) flower, just out and a tiny bit sorry for itself.

Brugmansia (Angel Trumpet) flower,
just out and a tiny bit sorry for itself.

The sun is out again today, although the wind is still strong and gusty.  I went out hopefully with my camera to try and capture some flowers.  The passion flowers have either not yet opened, or are on their way out, victims of rain, wind and grasshoppers. The Brugmansia flower is all the way out, but has been beaten against nearby leaves by the wind, and is looking a bit brown around the edges. Still pretty, though. I’m hoping it’ll survive long enough to get a bit more colour.

That’s it for today.  Tomorrow I shall cut the fleece to size, pin the layers together and if time permits, start doing the ties.