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.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.03.26 pm

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!

 

The Gardens of Chiconia 3

We’re frying down here.  Bureau of Meteorology for today in Mackay:

Forecast for the rest of Friday
Partly cloudy. Isolated showers during the afternoon and evening, mainly in the south. Isolated thunderstorms from the early afternoon inland. Winds east to northeasterly and light increasing to 20 to 30 km/h in the middle of the day.
Daytime maximum temperatures 29 to 35.
Fire Danger – High
UV Alert from 8:00 am to 3:40 pm, UV Index predicted to reach 12 [Extreme]

The garden is holding up pretty well, thanks to the kind neighbours who watered every other night while we were away.  Some things have given up and decided life in the tropics isn’t for them.  The begonias are a case in point. I had two lovely Rex begonias, one silver and one burgundy.  They’re fried: shrivelled and with burned holes in the leaves.  With the exception of the spinach, rainbow chard and capsicums, the vegies have called it a day.  Everything that hasn’t bolted is just holding on grimly without actually making any forward progress.  So over the weekend, I’ll be doing some wholesale chopping back, digging up and feeding greenstuff to the wormies, who have also survived our absence in the coolness of the tiled area between the bathroom and the loo.

On the upside, some of the little guys are loving it!

The coleus is flowering!

The coleus is flowering!

The dead stick, dead no longer. Just look at those leaves!

The dead stick, dead no longer. Just look at those leaves!

 

The flame tree, and all those leaves are brand new. I think it likes its new  home.

The flame tree, and all those leaves are brand new. I think it likes its new home.

The passionfruit has doubled in size. If it wasn't so great it'd be a bit scary...

The passionfruit has doubled in size. If it wasn’t so great it’d be a bit scary…

The lemon tree.  They've gone from marbles to small golf ball size.

The lemon tree. They’ve gone from marbles to small golf ball size.

The baby lime tree: just LOOK at all the new leaves.  I've thinned out the tiny fruit so there's only a few instead of about 10.

The baby lime tree: just LOOK at all the new leaves.
I’ve thinned out the tiny fruit so there’s only a few
instead of about 10, and I feel a lot happier about its chances.

The cordyline is staging a comeback from the grasshopper damage seen on the lower leaves

The cordyline is staging a comeback from the grasshopper damage seen on the lower leaves

My main wish right now is to have a couple more days in each week, so I can work in the garden and do my quilting… But as that’s not going to happen, I think the garden may be early morning and evening work, and quilting middle of the day in air conditioned comfort.  No way I’m going out there in 35C and extreme UV risk.

Storm season is coming, and we’re already getting the TV ads telling us to get ready.  This will be my first time going through it, so I’m relying on the Husband to make sure we’re prepared.

More soon from the Kingdom of Chiconia.  Maybe next time it’ll be a poem. Or a recipe. Or both.  Stay tuned.