ST&D: and…. rest

So. It’s done.

This has been such a fun quilt to work on. My well-known propensity for coming up with dreadful puns is well to the fore in the quilts I design for Ovarian Cancer Australia. ‘Teal’ has so many possibilities for punning, and I still have a long list to play with. But once I came up with the name Signed, Tealed & Delivered, the postal theme of this quilt quickly made itself known. It has been exciting to put the concept out there and ask who’d like to play too. I’m constantly surprised and delighted at the response, the generosity with time and fabric of the participants, and their willingness to move out of their comfort zones and try new ideas and techniques. It’s good for me too, as I have to try new things in order to achieve what is swirling around in my brain 🙂

I’ll be taking this quilt to the post office on Monday. I’d thought about sending it down to Melbourne with my visiting nephew when he returns home, but that’s taking it right down to the wire, and I’d like the team at OCA to have the quilt in good time.

I’m going to be taking a good break from teal for a couple of months. I have a number of quilts on the back burners, Footsquare Freestyle (F²F) is starting again soon, Mackay Show is coming up in June and there are quilts promised in the family, so I won’t be idle (no surprise there, then).

Once again, grateful thanks to all who have contributed, whether it’s a block, or several, or moral support or advice. This quilt wouldn’t have happened without you.

And now, I must go and sweep my sewing room floor, and dust, and put all those tiny snippets and threads of teal in the bin. Time for something different, for a while.

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ST&D: all together now

Yup, the quilt’s assembled.

Getting over the hump of those two big joining seams is always my least favourite bit. It’s such a sweat wrangling them through the sewing machine three times: first to attach the front and back sashing on one piece, then to attach the front sashing to the other piece, and finally to stitch down the sashing flap on the opposite side on the back. But now it’s done.

I have the label made and the binding cut – I just need to join all the pieces, press it in half and then start stitching it down. Once that’s done, I have a couple of days of lap-work, hand hemming the binding down on the reverse of the quilt and sewing the label onto the back. Good job it’s cooler just now.

At one point I thought I had all the time in the world to get Signed, Tealed & Delivered done; everyone got their blocks in really early, and I made a good start. And then the Dratted Knee. Still, by virtue of doing a little bit every day and just plugging along, it’ll be ready in good time.

I want to say thank you everyone who has participated, both those who have contributed from the very first quilt and new sewing friends. This quilt has turned out better than I could have dreamed, and that’s down to you. OCA are very excited about getting this one for their silent auction at the May fundraiser.

I’ll post again once the quilt is done, so you can see the final product.

ST&D: Two thirds assembled

I have the top two thirds done.

As usual, I’m assembling the blocks in sections and joining those, which gives fewer huge seams than doing it row by row. The quilt’s 5 blocks across by 6 down, so I do a 4 block and 6 block section on each third, join those and then I only have 2 very long seams to do instead of 5, a definite bonus. I stagger the seams so the first third has a 4 block on the left and a 6 on the right, the second section has a 6 block on the left and a 4 on the right, and so on. I don’t know for sure if this makes a difference, but I thought it seemed a good idea.

So, one more third left to do, and then I can stitch on the binding, make the label, apply that, and hand hem the binding down. Not too long to go, and I’m definitely going to make the deadline 🙂 I’m liking the teal sashing on this one, rather than cream. What do you think?  It’s a pretty feathery print, with a tiny touch of warm pink which doesn’t show up at all in the photo.

The knee’s recovering a lot faster than I feared. It’s painful, sure, but not as disabling as I thought it might be. Certainly not enough to stop me sewing completely, although I do have to ration my time at the machine or I come to after an intense session with the knee stiff and yelling loudly at me.

Onwards and upwards…

ST&D: all quilted!

Phew!  That’s a relief….

I have all 30 blocks of Signed, Tealed & Delivered quilted at last.

I was getting nervous about getting it done in time, but now I only have the standing-up jobs of cutting the sashing strips and trimming out the blocks to finish in the next few days, and the mostly sitting-down job of assembling it all to worry about. The outside binding strips are all cut already, and I think I’ll try and get the label done in the next couple of days too, so adding that when I stitch down the binding will be easy. Luckily that final stage is something I can do sitting down quite easily 🙂

I’m happy with the quilting. Wavy lines are not something to get too precious about so it’s pretty quick, the design really suits the nature and theme of the quilt, and I really like the texture you get from alternating directions.

So, tomorrow’s job is cutting 1 inch sashing strips in teal for the front and 1¼ inch sashing strips in cream for the back. If I get time, I’ll print out the label transfer, and iron it down onto cream cotton. Normally I apply the label at the bottom left hand corner, but I might put this one in the centre of the big ‘O’ on the back. I’ll see how it looks once the quilt’s assembled.

Incidentally, today is our 5th wedding anniversary. I looked back at the day’s post this time last year. Oh yes…. Cyclone Debbie had just passed by and we celebrated by cleaning mud off our floors, cutting up fallen trees and washing filthy wet towels. Things should be a lot more civilised this year. Except… I’m carefully watching that huge low pressure system wandering up and down our coastline. Just now, it looks like Townsville may be the favoured spot where it makes landfall, but you never know.

And it’s Good Friday, too. Hurray, Hot Cross Buns for breakfast, my favourite! 

 

ST&D: 60% quilted

Another two rows done.

This particular quilting design does get easier as you go along. You realise that actually it’s not really necessary to mark up this design on your block top. You learn the time intervals at which you move the block from side to side to get the wavy line fairly even. You realise that very dense appliqué or piecing should not be closely quilted or it will stiffen, so you open the lines out in these areas. You learn – quickly – that it’s a really good idea to clip your starting threads (assuming you don’t use leaders and enders, I don’t) because otherwise the sewing machine will pounce on them and chew them enthusiastically at the start of the next line. You get in the habit of placing a pin in the starting edge of the block to indicate whether the wavy lines are horizontal or vertical for this particular piece’s place in the layout, so that the chequerboard effect is consistent and you don’t get three verticals in a row. And you give your walking foot some love. Clean out the matted fluff, wipe off any spray-baste residue, give it a good dusting.

Past the halfway point now, just two more rows to go. Signed, Tealed & Delivered is going to be sashed in teal on the front and cream on the back, just because. All cream is a bit dull to work with. I found some very pretty fabric for the front sashing, and it’ll make a nice change.

A bit of mindless quilting has been just what I need as a break from marketing strategy and copywriting. Sadly, it’s time to get back to all that. I have an entire website to edit and rewrite.

Anyone would think I was getting paid for it…

ST&D 31: let the quilting commence!

It’s been a whole lot too long since I worked on this quilt.

Remember this? Yup, Signed, Tealed & Delivered, the Ovarian Cancer auction quilt that’s due in 2 months. Eeek!

I’ve swapped things around a little since this photo, but you get the idea…

Since my last post about this quilt, when I showed the final blocks from Margaret, I’ve neglected Signed, Tealed & Delivered dreadfully. Porch curtains, holidays, hand quilting Bonnard and the Hatbox quilt, needle-point, weather and holiday reports, you name it and I used it as an excuse. Time to buckle down and get on with it.

Behind the scenes, I did cut enough batting squares for the first (top) row. I also cut squares from what I had left of the airmail sticker fabric and the striped airmail-edging fabric I’m using for the binding. There was never going to be enough of these to do the whole back, so I also got some nice dark cream fabric with Xs and Os on it (representing hugs and kisses, of course!), as I thought this was a good ‘sign off’ for a quilt with a postal theme. I cut the remaining squares from this.

Then came the first dilemma. How was I going to combine these fabrics for the backing? When you use all one fabric, it’s just not an issue. I tried probably half a dozen layouts, and when you’re climbing up and down stepladders with a mouthful of pins and a handful of squares, that particular exercise gets old quickly. Finally, I made a central squared ‘O’, with airmail stickers at each corner and airmail stripe for the rest of the shape. Filling the centre and round the outside were squares of the XO cream. Enough already! It’s the back of the quilt, after all… It all took far too long, and next time I won’t torture myself with fabric choices, the back will be all the same 🙂

Then the quilting dilemma: I’d originally intended to quilt each block with an individual design, but looking at each block and assessing what that would entail in terms of designing, marking and quilting each one made me think again.

I realised that the postal theme was all about straight edges and angles: paper, envelopes, stamps and labels were all straight-edged, with angled envelope flaps. The postcard blocks were also angular. I wanted something texturally soft, to contrast with this.

So I’ve gone with parallel wavy line quilting, an all over design which softens the visual effect and gives a nice rippled hand feel. I’m alternating the direction in which it flows on each block. It has the extra benefit of being nice and quick to do, and requires no marking up, hallelujah!

I’d originally though of cross-hatching, but I didn’t like the way the lines would fight with the lines of some of the block designs. Plus, you know, lots of marking up…?

Recently I saw a Craftsy video called ‘Next Steps with your Walking Foot’ by Jaquie Gering on the subject of walking foot quilting. Most of it is stuff I already know and do, but I was interested in what she had to say about preparing your quilt or block before quilting. Historically, she hasn’t been a fan of spray basting, having some chemical sensitivities, but now she wears a respirator to do the spraying and likes the results. She said that starching as well as pressing the quilt top and backing and pressing her batting made all the difference in reducing wrinkles and puckers in the quilting process. Gasp! I thought that was total anathema, as it would crush the batting pile, but I gave her process a go. Well you know, she’s right. So long as you don’t bang the iron down heavily in one place, but glide it lightly and use extra steam, the batting’s fine. And the starching makes a huge difference – it’s a game changer. Doing the extra steps is a bit more of a faff, but you get an almost inhumanly perfect and flat quilt sandwich. I mean, look at this:

Smooth, flat and taut, with not a pin or stitch in sight.

So anyway, I’ve made a decent start, and got a production line going. As always with my QAYG quilts, I’m going to wait till they’re all quilted, and then measure them all to find the smallest one, which will determine the trimmed out size for all the blocks. Some blocks came in at exactly 12.5 inches and some with extra, so I’ll see what the quilting does to the smallest and work from there.

Oh, and I need more spray baste, cream thread and a cream fabric for sashing the back, but how much of the latter I don’t know. I seem to have lost my piece of paper with all the size calculations, drat it. Quilt math, my least favourite part of the exercise.

I feel better now that I’ve actually got some quilting done. The job has been cut down to a manageable size 🙂

ST&D: 29 and 30, all safely in

The final two blocks for Signed, Tealed & Delivered have arrived safely.

It was a slightly worrying wait, because Margaret had put so much work into the cross stitch ‘postal frank’ block that if the parcel got lost it would be a real tragedy. But it and her postcard block are here, and I’ve been able to finalise the layout (I think!).

So without further ado, here’s how it’s going to be laid out. As always, you’re invited to comment if you think a particular placing doesn’t work. And as always, your comments are appreciated but I may not act on them since I may have a particular reason for placement.

I’m wondering if I might not sash this quilt with teal for a change, and perhaps even a patterned fabric; it’s been cream for all the previous ones, with a cream backing. There’s no reason why I can’t do teal on the front and cream on the back. You’ll recall I have that fabulous airmail stripe fabric for the binding. I’m considering cutting the binding early, so I can see how much I have left over. There may even be enough to do a couple of backing squares, and I have a piece of lovely airmail sticker fabric Margaret kindly donated, which would make a couple more backs. I’ll see how it goes…

So, next steps are: cut the binding strips; assess the remaining stripe and airmail sticker fabric and cut squares from them for backing; cut the rest of the backing squares from cream; buy teal and cut for the sashing strips; cut batting squares.

And then, my dears, it’ll be time to start quilting!