Keeping my nose clean*

On long, quiet evenings when the Husband is on night shift, I often cast around for something to do, mostly to keep myself out of the biscuit tin (cookie jar).

In this situation, there’s a strong tendency on my part to get into mischief (snacking, rearranging furniture, ‘tidying’ things that I should have left well alone…) unless I keep busy with legitimate projects. So I’ve made myself some handkerchiefs. I showed you the fabrics a while ago, and expressed the intention of doing so, but like so many things, it fell by the wayside of more interesting or urgent projects. Last night, lacking the Husband’s company and any other undemanding sewing project, I got out the lawn fat quarters I’d acquired, cut 12 inch squares, and got cracking.

hankiesI do like a narrow hem and mitred corner on a hankie, and these lovelies have them, thanks to careful scoring/creasing and corner trimming. The creasing of the fold lines really is key to producing a nice tidy mitre. I’ve also found managing the narrow (¼ inch) hem and sewing line 1/16 of an inch from the fold is considerably easier if you use a walking foot. I could probably have bought hankies for a fraction of what I paid for the fabric, but it wouldn’t have been nearly as much fun, and I wouldn’t have ended up with the lovely scraps.

Now all I have to do is wait for an opportunity to give them a test drive. Shame nose-blowing season is over in the Southern Hemisphere… gloat, gloat 😉

*Slang for staying out of trouble, in case English isn’t your first language!

Aimée 2

Aimée has grown a bit more.

Screen shot 2015-01-14 at 5.43.13 PMI think I now have the final size, which was dictated by the width of the lovely Anita’s Arrowhead blocks I made yesterday (thank you for the link, Esther). In the corners, I will put dresden plate blocks, using scraps from the quilt, and I will fill between the corner and centre blocks with a simple striped fill – again, using some scraps and some new fabrics. There might also be a little more appliqué. I have auditioned more of the duck egg blues, and using too many of them simply makes the quilt look bland and wishy washy, so there’ll be a mixture of colours. The warm rosy red border was also visually necessary, and fortunately I had just enough of it.

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Close up of Anita’s Arrowhead and the red border

Any thoughts on what colour I should use to bind this beauty? All opinions considered, but I’ll end up doing what the quilt tells me in the end….


Which is what I’ve decided to call the the quilt for my sister.

Aimée means loved. It is also, coincidentally, pronounced exactly the same as the name of the village in France where my sister lives, although the spelling is quite different to look at.

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It’s working quite well for me; I’m loving the way this little quilt is coming together. The dark grey with white spots is not sashing, it’s a flange strip, just to add a little variety and texture. I’m really loving the Toile de Jouy print in duck egg blue, too, and am quite proud of the mitred corners, which I normally avoid like the plague. But the layout demanded it, so I knuckled down. I’m thinking about a few options for the next row out.

I’ve done hearts and pinwheels. Time for something else, I think…

Go the Pies: done in 10

It’s officially a record. This is the fastest quilt I’ve ever produced. I started it and did my first post about it on October 31.

Sandwiched, pinned and stabilised

Sandwiched, pinned and stabilised

Yesterday morning, I was at this point. It was fully pinned, and I’d stabilised it by doing the long central lines on both axes of the diagonal. Lots of quilt wresting, rolling, swearing, sweating (it was a bloody hot day), but I’d made visible forward progress.

All that's left of half a kilometre of thread

All that’s left of half a kilometre of thread

By 4pm yesterday I was here. I’d used up two entire 250m spools of Gutermann 100% cotton, not a single breakage, and all I had left was what was on the bobbin. Not bad going. I still have some good scraps, of course, which will be featuring elsewhere, and enough to make a mystery gift for Tracey to go with her quilt. Happy early Birthday, my lovely! I’m really looking forward to seeing you next week.

My portable hand sewing kit. The round thing at the front is my handmade needlecase, and the scissors are only the length of my thumb

My portable hand sewing kit. The round thing at the front is my handmade needlecase, and the scissors are only the length of my thumb

So then it was time for this. I actually enjoy the process of hand sewing the binding. I’m doing tidy mitred corners, it all went on nice and smoothly. I find a walking foot’s by far the easiest way to make sure that the 5 layers you’re sewing together (backing, batting, top, two layers of binding) behave themselves. I’ve marked a clear quarter inch on the foot itself, and just make sure the fabric runs along that line. I couldn’t finish the hand sewing last night, we were going out for dinner for a family birthday, but got straight down to it after I’d waved the Husband off to work at 7am this morning.

The back, showing a ghostly echo of the magpie and feathers

The back, showing a ghostly echo of the magpie and feathers

And now it’s done.  I’m liking the ‘ghostly’ back, even if my quilting does look like Etch-a-Sketch drawings, and there are several fairly wonky lines. After all, as every quilter knows, Done is better than Perfect.

The finished front

The finished front

I even managed the outline quilting of the Magpie and the feathers with my walking foot. Slooow. Stitch stitch stitch stop raise foot turn a fraction lower foot stitch stitch stitch repeat ad infinitum… But I wasn’t prepared to expose myself to ridicule by attempting FMQ for these important features of the quilt. LOTS more practice needed before I’m ready for that. I should probably consider a range of place mats for the table for my FMQ samplers.

So I’ve cleaned my machine, the table, the floor and my desk. The machine actually has its cover on. The ironing board is put away and I’m about to sort the scraps and put them away. Does a quilter really use this sewing room? It looks awfully bare. No, not bare. Just ready for the next one!

Till then, or till the next recipe, photo or poem.