The eyes have it

Sorry about the radio silence, me hearties

I’ve had an eye infection that has stopped me reading or using the computer much, a lovely little staph infection in my eyelid that kept on draining painfully into my eye, made it swell up horribly, and needed topical antibiotics to beat it into submission. I’ve had to strenuously avoid the temptation to lurch around doing bad pirate impressions. Well, fairly strenuously. I did let a few “Ahrr hahrr, maties” slip. Weeeelll, you’ve got to make the best of things like that, haven’t you? Perfect excuse, and all that.

It’s finally on the mend. Maybe now I can finish the Opal quilt and make a block or two for Parterre (yes, I did miss the BM&I post at the end of the month…).

I have something shiny and new planned for the next 10 months or so. Not exclusively, but I have an end date to work towards. But first, I need to spend some quality time with pencil and paper. More about that soon.

Good job I can see what I’m doing once again….

Parterre 2: the how-to, and the first block

With everything ready, I had no excuse.

Et voilà! This is Block 1 of dunnamany, but at least 36.

So, on the offchance that you might want to know how to make it, here’s a few words and pictures.

Cut a piece of tear-away stabiliser a bit larger than the finished block, and lay it on top. You should be able to see the layout through it fairly easily. If not, thicken the lines with a black marker. Mark the corners of the block on the stabiliser.

Cut all the templates out of your chosen fabrics. In an ideal world, you should starch the fabrics first, as this makes it much easier to cut the shapes out. Note: I wanted two cream fabrics in each background so I’ve created a template for only half of the background. You can make it all in one piece if you lay the edge on a fold. I use a fine lead mechanical pencil on the right side of the fabric in most cases, and then cut very accurately on the line with scissors.

Once you have everything cut out, you’re good to go. I’m using yoyos I already have, but to make them in the correct size, you need to use the 4 inch template I’ve drawn. It’s also quick and easy to make them using a yoyo maker: this is the one I like, by Clover.

Start in the middle with the two background pieces (or one large piece if that’s what you’re going with). Lay them in place and pin to stop them sliding around. Then lay over the leaves, overlapping the seam allowances at the bottom, folding the top one under. Finally, add the two corners. Pin everything in place, flip the stabiliser over and check the back to ensure the seam allowances are even and fully overlapped.

If all is well, baste down the leaf and inner edge of the corner pieces and remove the pins. Leave the pins in the background and at the bottom of the corner pieces.

Blanket stitch down the basted edges and remove the basting. Lay down the length of ribbon and lightly dab glue stick on the back. Stick down on the centre line of the background, bottom edge flush with the seam allowance. The top edge will be concealed by the flower. Top this with the 3 inch flower circle. Baste the flower circle in place and blanket stitch both this and the ribbon stem down.

Lay down the last two corners and baste in place, turning under the seam allowances on the arms to give a finished edge. Blanket stitch, and remove basting.

Turn the block over, tear away the stabiliser and trim out the seam allowances and excess fabric behind the flower head. Finally, apply glue stick to the back of the yoyo, stick it down in the centre of the flower and blanket stitch around the outside. In case you’re wondering, that yoyo is dark blue, not black.

And you’re done!

Parterre

Wikipedia: “A parterre is a formal garden constructed on a level substrate, consisting of plant beds, typically in symmetrical patterns, which are separated and connected by paths. The borders of the plant beds may be formed with stone or tightly pruned hedging, and their interiors may be planted with flowers…”

I have been dithering and procrastinating about this one for far too long. So it’s a relief that I finally have the templates drawn and cut for my next Bee, Myself and I project, which will be known as Parterre.

I first had the idea a couple of months ago, in the middle of doing something else. At the time, I could only scribble down a quick sketch and some notes. It’s times like this when I miss the fabulous multi-coloured ballpoint pen I had as a child, with six different inks in it. Does anyone else remember those? But I digress. This has been nagging at my brain for weeks and weeks, like a tiny stone in the shoe, and finally it got too much.

Today, I sat down and made the templates, drawn out first on quilter’s graph paper, then transferred as individual pieces onto plain paper and spray-mounted onto firm card to make templates to draw around, with seam allowance included. Like the previous BM&I project (the Hatbox quilt), it’ll be raw edge appliqué, blanket stitched onto the background and trimmed out behind to reduce bulk. I won’t use fusible or glue, as you can’t then remove the excess fabric at the back. As before, I’ll add a layer of tear-away stabiliser at the back, layer all the pieces, pin and then baste by hand before stitching everything down. Labour intensive yes, but the result is a supple block with a tidy back, and no ugly channelling of the stitching. The blocks will finish at 10 inches square, and I haven’t yet decided how many to make! That decision can wait until I discover how tricky the block is…

I’ve done a pull of fabrics from my stash of FQs and larger scraps. The circular ‘frame’ around each block will be a slate grey chambray-effect glazed cotton. The backgrounds will be cream on cream prints, for visual interest with minimal interference with the prints. I have two reels of half inch jacquard woven ribbons (originally bought for gift wrapping) to form the stem of each flower, and dozens of yoyos left over from The Cloths of Heaven quilt, which will be the centres of the flowers. The leaves and flowers will be in contrasting or even clashing prints. This baby is going to be bright! I’m also considering putting a small button in the centre of each yoyo, and am still debating what colour to use for the blanket stitch; the red worked well on the Hatbox blocks, but I don’t want to cover the same ground. I’m pretty sure I won’t need to buy anything except perhaps backing material when the time comes to start the hand quilting.

I’m hoping I’ll get the first block done in time for Bee, Myself and I at the end of the month.