The Harlequin Coat #7

And it’s a full garment at last.

The sleeves are in, after much swearing, stitching, ripping, re-stitching and poking of self with sharp pins. But they look decent, the inside is immaculately tidy and they aren’t going to fall out any time soon. The coat begins to look as I’d imagined, at last. I was silly to think the patchwork part was going to be the most time-consuming thing about this project…

Next step is binding all the open edges. The silk backing is fraying a little here and there, and stitching is opening in places, so the sooner I secure all that, the better. It’s going to be narrow, like the top edge of the collar, and double fold straight-grain binding for durability. Same inky blue as all the rest.

And finally, I’ve found some froggings for the closures!  Black satin rolled ribbon with turk’s head knots in place of buttons. I bought a pack of 6, so I have some flexibility. They had red as well, but I wasn’t quite as in love with the idea; the dark colour contrasts so well with the colourful background. Not sure yet how best to attach them, but it’ll probably involve insanely tiny  hand-stitching around the outside edge. Or maybe straight through the middle of each coil. Anyone got any suggestions or experience of these?

In the home stretch now. The final push will be the pockets, which need to be located once I’ve got this thing on and can decide where I want to put my hands!

Melbourne, get out your sunglasses and brace to be dazzled 😀

The Harlequin Coat #6

I’ve managed a few short sewing sessions.

The collar is bound and on. It looks so much better than I’d feared, and I have great hopes for the finished effect. Overall, things are looking really good, but I’ve realised that as it’s a winter garment, I need to be able to wear knitwear underneath. Which meant that in its current form it was a tad on the snug side. There was, fortunately, a simple solution, which was adding an extra strip down the front left (as you wear it) side. Most of this will be covered by the wrap-over, but it will allow for an easier fit. You don’t really notice it, so long as you overlook the extra strip of sashing.

The sleeves are still patiently waiting to be pieced in. It’s by far the trickiest job and I haven’t been mentally here for such fiddly work over the past days. I thought I might give you a sneak preview of the lining silk, though…

Hopefully in the next couple of days, I’ll feel up to the potentially fairly demanding job of inserting them. Can’t wait to try on the fully assembled thing!

I think I can promise this will be ready for our much-anticipated trip to Melbourne in June!

The Harlequin Coat #5

It’s all going rather well.

Perhaps I should be concerned, and anticipate some huge imminent disaster, but even the bits I thought would be scary (like spray basting the silk backing onto each piece) turned out fairly, well… straightforward.

So, as you can see, all 7 main pieces are sandwiched and quilted.  The bodice parts of the coat body have vertical quilting 2 inches apart, which splays outwards as it goes towards the hem, following the line of the coat skirts. The sleeves have straightforward vertical lines from sleeve head to cuff. The collar has parallel lines half an inch apart, following the curve of the top edge. For the quilting I used Rasant cotton-wrapped polyester-core thread in a lively shade of bright purple. Not that you can see the colour, really, but I know it’s there. The silk lining is also very, um, lively and I love it, but I’ll save the reveal of that for a later date.

Next job is to trim all the pieces out to the exact pattern size less seam allowance (joining edge to edge, remember?), and then start joining. I’ve already cut sashing strips. I know I said I was going to use black, but I’m actually going to use a very dark shade of navy. I tested both colours against the coat background, and the black was just too… dead. From a distance it will look like black; close up, you’ll be able to see that the colour has a bit more life to it. I’m also using a slightly narrower than usual doubled strip for the back of each join. Normally, I’d cut a 2.25 inch width for this and stitch in the ditch on the front to catch the doubled free edge on the back. For this coat, I think I’m going to hand stitch the free edge down for a more perfect finish, which means I need only a 2 inch doubled strip. More work, yes; more beautiful, also yes. Some projects are worth it.

Joining on the sleeve heads and collar is still exercising my brain, but I’ll work it out in due course. I also have to make the pocket fronts, but for that, I’ll need to be able to put the coat on to determine the most comfortable location for the pockets. Once that’s established, I’ll know what colours to use on the fronts.

Still plenty to do, but at this stage there’s no doubt this coat will be ready for our trip south in June. Exciting! I can’t quite believe how fast it’s going.

Let’s hope I haven’t just invoked Murphy’s Law…

The Harlequin Coat #4

It’s going well.

I’ve got the colours for the fronts and sleeves sorted out. The front strips are sewn together but I haven’t yet attached all the strips to each other. I’ve only shown one sleeve, but the other one is laid out too. That leaves only the pockets and collar strip to assemble.

Two fronts, one sleeve. Once again, the colours are rubbish, with everything taking on an orange cast and the darker patterns flattened.

Once they’re finished, it’ll be time to assemble the quilt sandwiches. I’m going to trim out fairly close to the seam allowances so I can gauge exactly where to place the pattern piece on the fabric – with luck I can align most/some of the seams. The plan is to quilt in vertical lines from shoulder to hem, following the pattern outline. So the quilting will flare out at the hem and be less dense, hopefully allowing the skirts to move more.

I’ve worked through various options for assembly. Currently, the plan is to proceed as follows:

  1. Make the two bust darts. Trim out inside if necessary and cover with sashing.
  2. Join the two halves of the back with a flat sashed seam.
  3. Join the two fronts to the back at the shoulders using a flat sashed seam.
  4. Join the two fronts to the back by the side seams using a flat sashed seam.
  5. Make the sleeve seams. (I have to work out if I can get in there with the machine as they’re basically two tubes. If not, hand stitching may be called for. Sash over the seam.
  6. Bind collar top edge and attach collar with a flat sashed seam if possible, using bias sashing if necessary.
  7. Insert the sleeves into the armholes, using bias sashing. Hand stitching may be necessary.
  8. Bind all open edges (hems, cuffs, front edges).
  9. Bind edges of pockets. Attach to front of coat.
  10. Attach closures/fastenings.

Anyone see something I’ve missed? The only thing that’s worrying me really is whether the final coat will be so stiff that the skirts stand out rather than falling in folds. If that happens, I’m considering cutting slits to allow the panels to lie flatter, and binding the edges. Hopefully this won’t be required, but I should be able to test it once the body of the coat is done and before the sleeves and collar are attached.

The lining/backing will be quilted into the garment and is silk (another first for me, and I hope it goes OK!), so that’ll make putting the coat on a bit easier.

I’m going to bind the edges in black to make the colours pop by contrast. I’m also looking at various kinds of corded or silk froggings for the closure so I don’t have to attempt buttonholes through so many thicknesses and batting. There are some lovely black or black and red silk ones on Etsy. I briefly considered trying to make my own. I’d love to have a go, but not for this project. Life is too short.

Onwards with the job of joining all those lovely squares…

The Harlequin Coat #3

Who knew it was going to be this much fun?

Well, this part, at any rate. I stared at a table thickly covered in colourful squares. In no particular order, mind you. No organisation, just a saturated puddle of brilliant hues. I looked at my design wall, back at the puddle, and I dived in.

Harlequin coat back panels

So now, here we are. One coat back panel is pieced, enough and to spare around the outside. Another is curated and is in the process of being assembled. So far, so hugely enjoyable. Of course, the photo is completely hopeless and flat, not even slightly representative, but it gives you some idea of the variety. Roll on the day when I can put it on and walk outside for a decent photo with natural colours.

Tomorrow, I will finish the second back panel and make a start on the fronts. It will be necessary to exercise some self control, so that I don’t end up using all my favourites on the 4 body panels, leaving the smaller pattern pieces to be made from fabric I don’t really love.

Bears, bees, birds, deer and squirrels

One of the unexpectedly fun aspects of this enjoyable task is identifying all the animals in the fabrics. It was to be expected that the Tula Pink Tiny Beasts range would feature a creature or two, but it turns out that they’re everywhere. Birds, bears, bees, butterflies, squirrels, deer and foxes are frolicking over my coat. Especially birds, it seems. I must try and remember to do a post about it, further down the line.

Once I have all the pieces made, the next task will be to sandwich and quilt them. I have bought a wool/polyester mix batting for this, in a pale charcoal colour. This will be warmer than cotton, but lighter and less lofty than pure wool, so it fits the bill for me. I also didn’t want a pale batting because I want the colours to be intensified and enriched by their dark backing, like underpainting on an oil painting. The backing/lining is a surprise. It has to function as lining, be non-boring and respond well to quilting.

Testing will be required… And I fear it is not only the fabric that will be tested.

Quilts for VanEssa 4: Scattered Showers half done

I have the top half done.

It’s another 3-4 hours to finish it up and cut the binding, another hour to sew the binding on, and then several leisurely hours to hand-stitch it down. I went right down to the wire with the yellow sashing on the back, retaining only a few tiny slivers of fabric from the length I bought. Which is as it should be, of course, but it’s a bit strange not to have generated any scraps!

I do have a few bits of the fruit pigeon print and the backing print, both of which are gorgeous. I’m sure I’ll think of something to do with them.

This quilt is a nice complement to Sunny Intervals. It’s quieter, plainer and less exuberant, although the backing is the same fabric,  bright and joyful.

Not long to go now.

Quilts for VanEssa 3: mine’s done

Well, we chose the quilt names!

We’ve been looking at the Bureau of Meteorology radar map a lot recently, and having said that putting this quilt on the bunk was like bringing in the sun, it came to me. Mine’s Sunny Intervals and his is Scattered Showers.

Yes, there definitely ARE too many pillows on this bunk. But it looks so pretty…

I asked the Husband if he wanted quiet grey sashing on his, or the same colourful stuff as on mine. To my considerable surprise, he wants the colourful sashing, wanted to be sure he was getting the colourful backing, and had some very useful opinions to offer on updating the layout of the blocks for his quilt. I’m so proud!  The Husband has become a proper Quilter’s Husband! Anyway, with mine finished, I decided I couldn’t wait to instal it in VanEssa, and I’m so glad I did. The sun is definitely shining in there now! I found the two pillowcases that went with the original duvet cover, a little faded from all the washing but still vivid.

And His Lordship the Mouse-dog has finally condescended to check out his new quarters. Initially he was a little fazed by the height of the steps, since she’s parked on a downward slope, but once up, he went straight to his floof and lay down. And then refused to come out. So I guess VanEssa has received the seal of approval. He certainly likes his grey and black ombre fluffly rugs.

Tomorrow I have to cut batting squares for the Husband’s quilt (the backing squares are done already), and then I can start quilting again.

I still can’t believe he wants the bright sashing… Fantastic!

Quilts for VanEssa 2

This one’s mine, and it’s nearly done.

I originally planned to sash both of the VanEssa quilts with a solid colour, either grey or a sort of absinthe yellow, but I was short of the yellow. However, I had enough scrappage left of the fabric I used for the backing to sash the front, and therefore I was able to sash the back with the yellow solid. And we all know how much I like a good scrap…

The quilt front, well on the way to completion. Top half is quilted and sashed, bottom half just quilted. I’ve gone for very simple and sparse quilting: a 4 inch central square and then two more concentric squares outside that. It works to hold the layers together but is still very supple and quiet to look at. So quiet, in fact, that it seems to be invisible in this photo…

And the backing, which I think works epically well! Who knew that a gigantic brightly-coloured floral print cut from a duvet cover at least 12 years old would unify all the different blocks and colours through sheer exuberance. Well, I suppose I had an idea it would work, but it was a tiny bit of a gamble. It’s rare that a quilt back is so much flashier than the front, but that’s certainly true here.

I think I’ll bind it with grey, either a solid or a grey and white print.

I should be able to finish this quilt in the next couple of days, and then onwards with the other one. 

Ovarian Cancer: CYTL ready to assemble

It’s quilted and trimmed out.

I’ve done my usual wavy lines, using a warm medium grey which recedes on both dark and light backgrounds.  All the blocks are trimmed out to exactly the same size, which is important to keep the assembly process as simple and pain-free as possible.

I’ve cut the sashing, with a dark blotched batik for the front in deep blue-green, and a brighter, more turquoise spotty pattern for the back, which will be fun against the pale grey, silver and white of the stork-print backing.

Tomorrow, I can start the assembly. I haven’t decided yet which fabric I’ll use to bind the finished quilt; it’s going to depend on how different it looks with the sashing.

Time to wind a whole load more bobbins!

Displacement activity

While the interminable waiting goes on, I try and sew.

It isn’t always a successful distraction; too much time to think, and the process of assembling QAYG blocks into a quilt isn’t demanding enough to require much attention. I have a talking book playing at the same time, but while the machine’s running, that gets drowned out, so I have to stop and start. Overall, the process can be more irritating than soothing, but even that is distracting.

Despite that, I have a decent chunk of the Hopscotch quilt assembled. I’ll probably get the other 6-section chunk at bottom right done today. Two more big seams after that and the assembly is finished and I can bind it. I’m glad this one is leaving the house, I don’t want to be looking at it in later years and remembering all that was going on while it happened. Not just this latest drama, but also the Rona.

Some quilts have happiness sewn into them. Some, not so much…