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!

The Hatbox Quilt: homage to hand-sewing

I’m taking it slowly.

You know what it is? I don’t want this quilt to finish, I’ve loved the process so much. But all good things must come to an end, so I’m taking my time but gradually getting it done. Which means the sashing on the back panels will be stitched down by hand. Sorry if this stretches out the anticipated finish a bit, but I wanted to stay in the vintage-y, soft, contemplative spirit of the thing. I grant you, I wasn’t in that groove quite enough to do all the blanket stitching by hand (in which case you’d still be watching me assemble block 5, probably), but let’s take it slowly and pleasurably.

I’m also not going to hand-stitch the internal seams that attach the front sashing. That would be slightly deranged; going through all those layers of fabric and batting with hand-stitching? I don’t think so, not to mention the fact that it would be much less durable. But that final folded edge on the back? Yes, perfect for hand stitching with nearly invisible results, since I even have thread exactly the right colour 🙂

So, the blocks are all trimmed out, the sashing strips for front and back are all cut. I’ve got the first corner joined.

Let’s keep it moving. But slowly….