Heaven for Beginners #4: All done – and Finish #4!

I’ve been plugging away at the assembly, to some effect.

The Husband’s fingers just visible. Too much rain for outdoor photography…

It’s all together. Actually, doing it in small amounts, in many sessions is quite effective. It’s repetitive work, not terribly interesting, but requiring you to be meticulous and careful. You get bored quickly, so doing it a bit at a time means you don’t burn out and start getting careless. Work for an hour, go and do something else. Work for another hour, read your book… that sort of thing.

So, here is the completed ‘Heaven for Beginners‘ quilt*, ready for the lovely Caitlyn to take to uni. I hope it keeps her cosy and comfortable, provides napping and sleepover opportunities for friends and family, and gives years of cuddly service.

As I did on the Hatbox Quilt, I’ve made a ‘hidden’ label you can flip over to read. Not very hidden, given the fabric’s different from the rest of the backing, but still… I did a wash-test sample first, to make sure the archival-ink pen and tear-away stabiliser I wrote on will survive the washing process. All good.

Thank you again to all the F2F members who contributed blocks to last year’s session. As you can see, your hard work was not wasted!

Now, on with the next thing 🙂

 

*For the background to this name, see my earlier post.

Heaven for Beginners #3: 30% done

It’s moved on a bit since last time.

I have all the blocks quilted. I also have a third of them trimmed out and joined together. Most of the joining strips are cut, just a few more needed. Do you know, I think I might make it in time after all…

Of course, it helps that I’ve now done so many of these that I don’t really have to think, and measure and calculate. I know I have enough fabric; I know what sizes the strips need to be; I know the best order in which to join it all up. I think, too, that the quilt will be large and cosy enough as it is, without my needing to add a border around the outside. Which is another time saving, of course.

Only one small downside of all this progress: there won’t be any Bee, Myself and I sewing this month.

But that’s a small price to pay, I think.

Heaven for Beginners #2: quilting half done

Halfway there with the quilting.

It’s the Australia Day long weekend, and my LQS is closed. Which is a bit of a drama, as I ran out of thread, spray starch and 505 basting spray all at the same time. I managed to get the thread and a small (non-economical) bottle of the Best Press spray starch elsewhere, but the 505 spray baste is only available there. I still have a bit of an inferior product only kept for emergencies (which I think this now is!), so I’ll have to use that up, but after that, I’m at a standstill until tomorrow, which is very frustrating. I have only myself to blame, of course, for not watching my supplies!

Having said that, I’m pleased with how the quilting’s going. I’ve set myself a stupid deadline – of course – and am now aiming to have it ready by 8th February, as the niece for whom it’s intended is leaving for uni on 9th February. I’m not positive I’ll make it, lots of other stuff on, but I’m going to give it a darn good try. I still have to add a hand-width border around the outside of the whole thing, and then bind it. No pressure…

Meanwhile, the rain is falling outside and it’s a perfect day to spend quilting!

Heaven for Beginners #1: Quilting begun

I’ve made a start.

Line 1 of 6 is sandwiched and quilted, and I’m happy with the effect. Just the usual wiggly line, but I was extra vigilant with the spray basting, the blocks are nice and flat and pucker-free, and I like the fabric I have for the backing.

I’m happy with the block layout now – a few changes since the last time I showed it, but I prefer the balance and colour progression I have now. I’m still debating the border around the outside. I think it might need one to bring the size up a bit, but adding a border in QAYG has its own technical difficulties. I’ll see how it goes.

We went out for a drive with Mouse yesterday, and had tea and scones at the Old Station Teahouse near Cape Hillsborough. I think I’ve mentioned this place before; it’s an old wooden station building, set in the middle of gorgeous tropical gardens, and among other tasty delights, their home-made scones and raspberry preserves are magnificent.

Is that my puppacino coming…?

They welcome dogs in the garden seating area, and no sooner did Mouse arrive than he was being fussed and admired and petted. Eventually, we humans were able to place our order. Mouse was not, of course, allowed any scones, but he did get his car quilt to lie on, a puppacino was ordered for him (frothed lactose-free milk), and one of the ladies brought him some doggie treats they keep for their canine guests. No, not spoiled at all….

A reminder that we are about to begin F2F once again, for the 5th year running (see my previous post). If you’re thinking about joining in, do get in touch with a comment or email me directly if you received the email I sent out about it.

Time for some more cutting. I need purple backing squares…

Opal 3: change of plan

The blocks are all quilted.

I went with the wavy lines, surprise surprise…

I made the lines a little further apart than usual; despite the slight extra firmness this pattern creates, it’s still my favourite freehand quilting design, and I’m hoping the extra spacing will still allow it to drape nicely. Once they were all done, I offered up a sample strip of the black/ grey/ white floral print to see how it would look as sashing.

Um, nope.

I just didn’t like it.

It seemed to fracture the soft, gentle waves of colour which were unified by the grey, rather than separated. Too hard, too sudden. The back of the quilt is a mixture of pale pinkish-lilac-berry shot cotton and the same sort of blue as the back of the hatbox quilt, but a flat colour rather than a shot cotton. I have enough of the blue, I think, to do the sashing strips on the front. I did a test, and it’s much better. It blends with the grey, it’s the same tonal value and the overall effect is unified.

The next step is to join it all up. Not a very fascinating thing to post about, so I’ll hold off till it’s done. Another UFO approaching completion!  What’ll I do when they’re all done…? Not to worry, I don’t think that’s going to happen any time soon…

Back soon 🙂

 

 

Opal 2: framing

So, here’s where I’m up to.

In my stash there were oddments of grey and white Christmas fabrics. Now, I never use seasonal fabrics as a rule, but I bought them as a stack of eight FQs, having only seen the top spotty one clearly and the other patterns as little snippets on the edge of each folded fat quarter. At the time, I had visions of starting a grey and white quilt, but realising what the designs looked like, I abandoned it, using only bits and pieces where the cutting made the designs disappear. To me, those remainders are scraps, since I’ll never make anything from them, but they’re useful…

I think they work pretty well as the frames for the pastel scrappy blocks of Opal. The busy randomness of the scrappy blocks distracts from the Christmasy themes, and that particular shade of warm grey is muted enough not to distract too much from all the lovely colour.

Sandwiching each block and then quilting comes next. So, wiggly lines or cross-hatching? Wiggly lines make the quilt a bit stiffer, because the quilting’s denser. On the other hand, while cross-hatching is softer and less dense, it does need to be marked, but wiggly lines can be done freehand. Oh, the decisions. Still, there’s time.

Sandwiching will take a couple of days for cutting the backing and batting and then putting everything together. Must check I have enough 505 basting spray. How terrible to have to visit my LQS…

And for the joining strips/sashing, I’ll be using a black, dark grey and white splashy floral print left over from making the Lime & Soda porch curtain. It’s not a design I’ll want to use in a quilt, I think, but it will make a great narrow sashing for this quilt, or that’s what I’m thinking right now.

I may change my mind later!

 

So… what’s next?

There’s a slight feeling of anticlimax in my sewing room.

After the much-anticipated finish of the Hatbox quilt, I’m looking around and wondering what I’m going to work on next. There are plenty of options, but there’s also a slight sense of needing something undemanding. I have the perfect project!

Do you remember the $11 Rainbow Quilt? I made a whole load of scrappy blocks, but when it came down to the wire, some were strong, bright colours and others were pale and pastel. In the end, I made the $11R quilt out of the brights, but that left me with a pile of pretty pastels, 2 each of pink, blue, teal, red, yellow, green, lilac and brown.

Here’s how they’re looking. Now, the plan is to frame the blocks in pale grey and white fabrics, make pastel sashing using the same method as I did for the other quilt (ie, pieced onto till roll paper), and back the blocks with… something. I have some pale mulberry shot fabric, but I’m not totally sure there’s enough, I’ll have to check. Otherwise, I’ll have to mix it with other fabric, which would be in the scrappy spirit, so I’m not too fussed about that.

Hmm. We need a name for it, too. I’m thinking Opal works; it has all the pale milky colours of Australia’s classic gemstone.

Ahhh. That feels better. There’s a plan, and a project!

Oh, and by the way, Happy WP Anniversary to me. Yesterday, it’s been six years since I started blogging. SIX!! How did that go by so quickly…?

The Hatbox Quilt: from start to finish

It’s done. At last…

I’d have liked an outside shot, in the sunshine, but wouldn’t you know it? We’re grey, dull and overcast. Good job the quilt’s cheerful!

I first saw the original design for this quilt in 2008, when I bought Kaffe Fassett’s book Passionate Patchwork. At that point, my piecing and quilting skills were minimal, to say the least. I’d made exactly two quilts, badly, one by hand, one by machine. But that quilt, that quilt. I kept coming back to it. I had the page bookmarked for years. About 5 years – and several increasingly competent quilts – later, I realised that soon, I’d be up to the job. So I started collecting fabrics. I had a special box into which I stashed fabrics I thought would make good hatboxes. The collection evolved considerably over the years, having started rather traditionally, in the same spirit as the original, chintz-based design. Well, you can see for yourself that didn’t last.

Finally, in 2016, I was ready. To the extent, in fact, that I felt able to make some changes to suit my own ideas. So the blocks are a different size from the original, I’ve assembled them slightly differently, my fabric selections are very different, and I haven’t used the wide sashing, cornerstones and border which are a feature of the original design. This is partly because I wanted to be able to quilt each block individually and because this quilt is smaller, and the wide border and heavier sashing don’t work so well in this context, to my eye.

I liked the slightly mid-century vintage feel of this collection of hatboxes and the fabrics they’re made from. So I decided to hand quilt each one, to give each block the soft and crinkly feel of vintage hand quilting. For extra softness, I backed each block with fine cotton lawn, in a pretty cherry blossom floral, pink blossoms on a grey background. Both front and back feel gorgeous, incredibly snuggly and soft.

I’ve created a sort of ‘hidden label’ on the back; the information is there if you know where to look but it’s disguised behind a piece of the backing fabric, with the details on the inside. I know what it’s all about, I’m keeping it, so the label’s just for tradition’s sake.

Spot the hidden label…

This quilt has seen me through several homes and life stages from first intention to completion. I’ll never part with it, and it was worth every second, minute and hour of the considerable time I’ve taken to finish it. I’d do it all again in a heartbeat, and this time, I’d move a little faster for the sheer pleasure of seeing it finished. So there we are. But in case you were wondering what’s next on the agenda for Bee, Myself and I, my ‘selfish sewing’ project, wonder no longer. The blocks for Parterre will be taking its place.

More months and years of pleasurable stitching ahead!

The Hatbox Quilt: two seams to go

The three large strips are completed.

I’ve been stitching away at it quietly while I posted about other stuff. Now I just have to join those three sections together. They’re the two longest seams (lines 2 and 4), but it has to be done. And then the next stop is the binding.

I looked at an option where I added a narrow darker blue flange inside the blue binding to give a sort of piped effect, but I didn’t like how it looked. A flange can be a great way to give detail to a quilt binding, but in this case it fought a bit with the the hatboxes. I think it works best where there’s a plainer border around the quilt. So, normal binding it is. And I must come up with a label with some dates and so on.

It’s been a long time coming, but the end is in sight.

Silent, but not still

Me, that is.

I haven’t posted for a few days, but it doesn’t mean I haven’t done anything. It’s just that repeated posting about the same project with only small increments of change can cause reader-enjoyment fatigue, I think, unless there’s real, visible progress. Today, I thought there was something for you to look at 🙂

Although I do have progress to show on the Hatbox quilt, I’m going to break it up with some pretties from my back yard. There’s still beauty happening out there, despite the total absence of rain, the hot, dry winds and the unseasonal heat.

So, nearly two-thirds of the quilt joined up. One modest seam to do and it will be two-thirds. It’s going well and easily, and I don’t want to rush through it.

In the back yard, the three baby pineapples are growing. This one’s nearly twice the size it was last time I showed it two weeks ago.

The bananas are getting bigger and bigger, and I’m keeping an eye on them to make sure the fruit bats and possums don’t start paying them too much attention.

They have a ‘banana bag’ over them to protect them from animals and from getting too scorched by the sun.

And in the orchid house, this lovely is flowering. It has at least 10 more buds, so when more of them are out, I’ll show it again. So pretty…

Sadly, the grass is all brown and when Mouse does his daily zoomie up and down, he’s kicking up clouds of dust. The amaryllis, or hippeastrums, all bright scarlet, are flowering like it’s going out of fashion – which it may indeed be, if we don’t get some rain soon.

It’s a thing with plants, isn’t it?  If they’re stressed, they flower like crazy to get in one final try at reproducing themselves.

I think I may have to bring that orchid inside, out of the orchid house, so I can give it some personal attention and admiration. Flowers that pretty shouldn’t bloom unseen.

Right, back to the hand stitching. Before I know where I am, it’ll be time to bind!