The Cloths of Heaven 2: groundwork

Much work but little visible progress.

That about sums up where I am. It’s like doing revision before an exam; I’m having to do a lot of prep and look at all sorts of different things to check them in advance so that when I’m actually making the quilt I don’t come up against any nasty surprises.

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Test panel on the same fabric I’ll be using.

I’ve found metallic markers that will write nicely on well-starched and pressed fabric with a double or triple pass to allow the pigment to build up. That resolves my concern that I’d have to paint or embroider the poem. I’ve found the perfect pale grey, sheeny voile to make the clouds and landscape in the central panel, which layers beautifully for different levels of opacity. I’ve found a lovely brilliant silver embroidery thread – it’s quite fine, meant for sewing machines, but it seems to behave OK in a hand sewing needle. These finds have help to clarify for me that silver for the lettering looks much nicer than gold, which has a brownish tinge against the dark blue. The silver really stands out, is cleaner and has more sparkle.

The problem of how to create an even circle of the correct size without ugly flat spots or bulges in the outline kept me busy for a while, but rather than do my usual trick of finding something about the right size to draw around (who has a dish 32 inches across anyway?), or the string, pin and pencil version, which always results in a wonky circle, I’m resorting to something vaguely scientific.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.05.05 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.04.41 pmThe fabric is folded in half top to bottom and then again side to side. Knowing that I want a circle with diameter 32 inches, I halve that for the radius, set my ruler on the point where the folds meet, and mark 16 inches plus a generous seam allowance, moving the outer end of the ruler an inch or so each time to make a new mark. Once that’s done, pin the layers of fabric together carefully so they don’t shift, and cut around from folded edge to folded edge on the seam allowance line. When you open it out, you should have a perfect circle. This circle can then be used as the template for the inner edge of the 6 inch border round the outside, and the line extended to create the outer edge of the border.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.04.11 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.05.22 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.05.41 pmThe next fun bit will be creating the templates for the landscape. I have a drawing, but it’s only 8 inches across. I need to increase it 4:1, so once again I’m going old school, ruling a 1 inch grid on the drawing. I have stuck sheets of paper together to create something the size of the finished piece, ruled a 4 inch grid on that, and now I can scale the drawing up.

It works well, I did it on my Tree of Life quilt a while back, and as I lack computer skills and fancy programs, resorting to pencil and ruler is the way to go. Experience with the other quilt has also reminded me that appliqué of any kind makes the fabric contract and draw up. A circle becomes ever so slightly oval, and a square no longer square. I need to make the outer edges of the appliqué overlap the outer edge of the circle a lot and the seam allowances generous, so I can re-draw the circle afterwards to true it up.

Tomorrow I’ll scale up the drawing and make the templates. Who knows, I may even actually start sewing!