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…

The Cloths of Heaven 15: the centre completed

Yay! The hardest part is done.

Completed centre

Star brightI have got through all the hand stitching and quilting in one piece, a bit sore in the hands but hugely satisfied at how my internal vision of this quilt is being realised. So often my imagination outstrips my skills and results are clumsy or dull. This one is making me very happy – so far!

Fabrics for bordersThe next step is to cut all the squares for the panels that surround the central square. The colour scheme is going to be expanding, to incorporate eggplant, burgundy, dark cerise and purple into the existing green and blue colourway. The colours of the squares will be randomly distributed, but will tend to get darker towards the outer edge. On the outer edge of each surround panel will be the yoyo/suffolk puff borders. Quilting for these outer sections is going to be simple and quite plain. There is no image to enhance with the texture of hand quilting, and I don’t want it to distract from the colour work and image in the centre, so I’ll probably go with my favourite machine stitched cross hatching, or something equally plain.

Making the yoyos is going to be quite a labour. I have to make some samples to work out their coverage before I’ll know how many will be wanted, but the border is 6 inches wide all the way round, and I’m thinking that’s equivalent to 3 yoyos deep. I do have a clever plastic thingy made by Clover which is designed to make yoyo manufacturing a lot easier, so I look forward to testing it out.

Right, time to go and get pressing.  I may even need a couple more fabrics – oh no! what a tragedy: I’ll have to go shopping!

Aimée 7: in the home stretch

I was lucky, I got 5 solid hours on it on Saturday, so I was able to finish up all the quilting.

Screen shot 2015-01-25 at 1.03.06 PM

Just the binding to do, and then it’s finished. The photo was taken in the hot midday sun, and all the colours look a bit bleached.

Screen shot 2015-01-25 at 1.03.56 PM

The back shows the quilting better. I’m quite proud of the invisible join in the two pieces of fabric!

Still to do: make the binding strip and sew it on, hem it down all round and attach the label. I enjoy doing the binding, so that’s not going to be too painful. Monday should see it finished, and then I can trot it down to the post office and mail it off. I must remember to take a shot for the Chiconian Quilts gallery….

I think the next thing I’m going to make is a garment of some sort. The gorgeous grey and white Riley Blake damask print I bought with a gift voucher from Hawthorne Threads in the US has arrived, and I’ve bought a metre of matching grey homespun, as it’s not quite enough on its own. I think a little summer dress is called for.

After that, I have another big quilt to work on as well as Worldwide Friends, but that’s a story for another post.

Aimée 6: hearts and darts

It’s about 30% done.

I sat and contemplated a bit before I started, and then the quilt told me it was all about hearts and arrows – or darts, if we’re being all clever for the title. Curiously appropriate, given that the name means Loved or Beloved. Each border gets a stitch-in-the-ditch outline to stabilise it, and then I start working into it. All 5 heart appliqués are outlined, and there’s chevron quilting to echo the Anita’s Arrowhead block. It’s all straight line quilting using a walking foot; there are curves in the hearts, but a bit of care and going slowly ensures you can still use the walking foot for these too.

Screen shot 2015-01-23 at 4.51.50 PMScreen shot 2015-01-23 at 4.52.51 PM Screen shot 2015-01-23 at 4.53.48 PMAs always, it’s lightly quilted. I don’t really like dense quilting, I think it stiffens the fabric too much and you lose some of that nice soft drape that lets the quilt settle around you.

I admire lavish and technically expert quilting, but not for a lap or bed quilt that’s going to get used for snuggling up under – and that’s all my quilts. I don’t make wall hangings, mini quilts or other non-functional pieces. I suppose that’s one reason I’m not sufficiently motivated to do the endless practice that FMQ requires. Maybe one day…

I still have the rest of the borders and the dresden plates to do, but that’s work for another day.

Another two days should see this baby quilted, and then it’s just the label and binding.

AHQ: formation quilting

The quilting is finished.  

Screen shot 2014-11-01 at 4.56.53 PM Screen shot 2014-11-01 at 4.57.05 PM Screen shot 2014-11-01 at 4.57.46 PM Screen shot 2014-11-01 at 4.57.32 PMI decided not to just keep on making concentric squares – the quilting isn’t quite flying geese, but there is a sort of flight-y, arrow-y direction to it, which is appropriate: its intended recipient is a Leading Aircraftwoman.

Over the next few days, I’ll deal with all the loose threads, trim it out and attach the binding and label. And then it’s good to go, together with a number of goodies to fill out the mailing box and give her something else to smile about!

I’ve located the box containing Steampunk, so I’ll be cracking on with lots of hand sewn pieces for that over the next few weeks. It’s been ages since I’ve been able to do any work on it, so I’m looking forward to getting out all those fabulous reds, golds, rusts and bronzes for the next wheel…

Trouble is, I’ve also located lots of other project boxes too!

Broken Bottles #13: Finished, finally

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.31.33 PMIt’s done.  OK, I still have to sew on a label, but the quilt’s finished.

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.32.32 PMThe quilting is just spacey enough that it’s still soft and drapes well. The broken glass starburst isn’t too overpowering on the front, and adds a bit of interest and texture on the back. I had just enough of everything, and a nice bit of the green shot backing cotton left to do something else with. There isn’t a single jelly roll strip left over, and the two spare blocks which I made into a heat pad are doing service on my desk as a pad under the camera.  I like a tidy result…. Oh, and it’s a Friday Finish!

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.31.55 PMTime to go and defluff the sewing machine and put a new needle in. Amistad’s the next quilt in line, woo hoo!

Broken Bottles #12: Quilted, quite

Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.49.13 PM Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.49.26 PM Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.49.37 PMIt’s done. The quilting is finished.

A little unpicking, a little re-sewing, but nothing too drastic. It’s finished, trimmed out, de-threaded, and the binding is made, ready to sew on tomorrow. By the end of the day, it should be done, labelled, finished. I must go and dig out a label transfer and a bit of white fabric…. Weather permitting, once it’s done I can hang it on the clothesline as usual to get a better photo. My hands are still a bit sore from all the heavy work of the past few days, but luckily sewing doesn’t seem to make it worse.

Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.50.00 PMAlso today, I treated myself to three new dressmaking patterns. Rather good value, actually, since they were half price, and three of the two were for multiple garments. So for $27 I have patterns for a tunic and medium pants, a wrap dress, a wrap top, wide leg pants, narrow leg pants, a coat, a jacket, a vest, and a simple dress / pinafore / jumper in two lengths.

First up will probably be the wrap dress, since I don’t have a really pretty dress to go out in, all my pretty outfits are separates. And for the dress, I’m going with a fabulous slinky matte jersey splashy print in teal and aqua on a white background which I have hoarded for a few years but never done anything with due to lack of overlocker. It’s loud, but this IS the tropics, after all… And then I shall make something from my cream and chocolate floral silhouette print, and then, and then….

Screen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.50.24 PMScreen shot 2014-05-29 at 6.50.35 PMIt’s good to be back at the sewing machine. The baby vegies are fine on their own, I have projects lined up, and time to play.

The Tree of Life 15: the birds of the air, and a stage completed.

The front is finished at last.

The Tree of Life complete with fish, birds, fruit, flowers, leaves, roots and branches.

The Tree of Life complete with fish, birds,
fruit, flowers, leaves, roots and branches.

Detail of branches, fruit, flowers and birds

Detail of branches, fruit, flowers and birds

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it looks. The appliqué process hasn’t drawn up the fabric quite as badly as I feared, but there is a noticeable difference on the sides, where it’s clear the edge bows in towards the middle as a result. I may do a spot of judicious tweaking of seam allowances and trimming to make this defect less obvious. I’m glad I made the leaves smaller, as otherwise I feel it would have looked very crowded. I’m very happy with the pears instead of grapes, and I’m pleased with the birds, which add a lightness and playfulness the fairly formal arrangement otherwise lacked.

The backing, which exactly matches some fabrics on the front.

The backing, which exactly matches
some fabrics on the front.

I was pondering what to do about the backing. Not in any sense of what it would look like – there’s no way I was going to piece something – but what colour to use. As luck would have it, I was able to buy wideback in exactly the right shade of turquoise to go with the turquoise patches on the front. I’ll use the same thing to bind it, a fairly narrow binding, I think. What is chiefly on my mind at the moment is how to quilt it. It clearly needs it, to even out the texture a bit. But I’m not a big fan of close quilting, so I’m doing quite a lot of internal debating. I’ll outline each branch and root and leaf and fruit and flower. I’ll probably run a line up the centre of each leaf, too. I’ll outline the birds and fish, and the red containing circle.  After that, I’m a bit stuck. I badly want to get this quilt finished, so really simple quilting would be the answer there. But I also want to do justice to the design, and something a bit more elaborate is called for in that respect.

Here’s what I’m thinking: The top half, the ‘sky’, I will quilt with big billowy curved cloud shapes, up to the outer margins of the tree. The bottom half, the ‘sea’, I will quilt with long, meandering lines to look like ripples in the water, up to the margin of the roots. Bearing in mind that my quilting skills are modest at best, that I don’t have a very sophisticated sewing machine, and that my workspace is limited, does anyone have any other suggestions? Just be aware that if I lose courage at the beginning of this process, the quilt is going to get plain cross-hatched diagonal quilting over the whole background, stopping short of the outlined design elements!  And if it does, I make no apologies – finished is better than perfect, eh?

Off to press my wideback and cut it to size.  I’m looking forward to your thoughts.