Anemone: facing the next stage

That’s a big chunk of work completed.

First on the agenda was to snip away the excess fabric on the back. It’s not really necessary, but I’d like this quilt to be as soft and supple as possible, so it was worth the investment of time.

Following a few more hours of work today, the quilt is sandwiched and trimmed out. It was a tricky one to sandwich because there’s no straight edge to line things up to, the light, soft fabric of the backing is harder to control than firmer regular backing, and the quilt itself needs to be handled a bit more gently than usual because of all the hand sewn seams around the edge.

The easiest way to manage the job turned out to be first sandwiching the backing and backing on the floor, then hanging that up on the design wall, batting side out. Onto that I pinned the quilt top, just along the top edge, and then I rolled it up and sprayed adhesive onto the batting from the top down, unrolling the top and smoothing out as I went along. I masked everything off with pieces of plastic drop sheet, which I seem to be able to get several uses out before they get impossibly gummed up!

I’d left the outer row of hexie papers in place to stabilise the edges, stop stitches unravelling and keep the folds crisp till they could be stuck down permanently.

Once the top was in place and smoothed out, I went round the edge unpicking the basting, gently pulling out the papers and sticking the hexies back down again.

Then I pinned each hexie on the outside edge through the sandwich, and finally, I trimmed out the excess batting and backing.

Now I’m ready to start assembling sections of the facing and stitching them in place along the outer edge. Finally, I’ll hem the inner edges down onto the backing. And then, and then, I can start quilting!

I’m having to take things a bit slowly just now. My back is going through a rather painful phase, and to top that off, I put my foot down a hidden pothole in the grass when I was walking Mouse the other day, and I’ve managed to tear the ligaments down the outside of my right ankle. There’s some quite spectacular swelling and bruising, and I’m lurching around in a rigid brace. Happy days….

Never mind. In a while, I’ll be able to sit contentedly and start hand quilting this baby ūüôā

Worldwide Friends: Crossing the final frontier

It’s done. Which is good, because I’m so ready for something new.

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The only straight shot that was usable on the windiest day this year!

It’s taken almost exactly seven months (a few days under ‚ÄstI started it on 10th November last year). It began as a piece of busy-work to keep my hands occupied and my mind peaceful when I went into hospital last year for a spot of surgery. It’s grown out of all recognition, well beyond¬†my original idea for the piece, and has taken on a life of its own, becoming virtually common property amongst the worldwide friends who have contributed fabric, poetry, encouragement and vision. The Mackay Show deadline seemed like a good idea at the time, something so far away that it was easily achievable. But as always, time ran away with me and I’ve only just squeaked in, after subjecting myself to the sort of pressure I don’t really enjoy.

Screen Shot 2015-06-07 at 11.09.00 amDon’t ask me how many hexies it contains, because I don’t know, and I’m not going to count them. In any case, the answer to that question is “enough”. Here’s some detail:

This quilt is the result of a collaboration between myself and blogging friends around the world. The design was triggered by Carla’s¬†gift of an indigo furoshiki, or gift-wrapping cloth from Japan, which featured rabbits, waves and the moon. According to Japanese legend, the figure seen in the full moon is not a man, but a rabbit, who was placed there by a holy man in return for an act of kindness. This beautiful cloth gave the rest of the quilt its Japanese flavour and the name of the quilt is written in Kanji characters across the middle, which translates to Worldwide Friends. On the back are haiku in English about both quilt-making and the rabbit legend, some written by fabric donors, others by non-quilting friends in lieu of fabric. Many of the indigo fabrics are Japanese, others are from Indonesia, India and Africa as well as Europe, the US and Australia.

Techniques used
Front: English Paper Piecing, hand appliqué
Back: Machine piecing, English Paper Piecing, hand appliqué
Hand painted calligraphy on front in gold resist medium
Handwritten calligraphy of haiku on back panels in ink
Lightly hand quilted in ‚Äėbig stitch‚Äô quilting to stabilise layers only
The quilt is faced with hexagons on the reverse rather than bound, to retain the hexagon shapes at the edge.
Hanging tabs are integrated into the top seam, as this is a wall hanging
The quilt is effectively double-sided, allowing it to be turned to display the haiku on the reverse.

The Worldwide Friends:
Carla, Australia
Tracey, Australia
Nanette, Australia
Dale, Australia
Rita, Belgium
Jan, Wales
Lynn, France
Viv, France
Gun, Sweden
Cath, USA
Sue, USA
Esther, Netherlands
Emmely, Netherlands
Jule, Germany
Annett, Germany
Carole, UK
Kirsten, UK

This quilt is now, at last, ready for entry into the Mackay Show on 25¬†June, and I am so¬†ready to start another project! ¬†My first priority is to produce the three blocks I’m making each month¬†as part of the¬†Foot2Freestyle block swap. After that, I have a birthday quilt to make for mid-October, a large bed quilt to make for my niece to celebrate her marriage (already late, but she forgives me), and then, finally, I’m free to choose. The list of candidates is considerable…

But first, a day off… maybe.

Worldwide Friends: the fruits of frustration

My holiday’s loss is the quilt’s gain, the silver lining to the cloud.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.21.58 pmHere’s where I left it on Friday evening. Both sides have the hexie strips assembled, waiting to be attached. On the left side, I’d got halfway through stitching the strip on, edge to edge. That needed to be completed, the papers removed and then the inner free edge hemmed down onto the back of the quilt. Then the whole process needed to be repeated on the right side.

Screen Shot 2015-05-28 at 4.24.39 pmHere’s where I got to today. The quilt has been flipped so I can work on the unfinished short side. On the right, the border is fully applied. On the left, it still needs to be stitched on. Two down, two to go.

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At the bottom, the hexies for the right hand edge are waiting to be attached edge to edge, then hemmed down.

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The left hand edge and the ‘mistake’ bottom edge

The quilt now has to be finished. I’ve put in the Show entry and paid the fee. I need to ring the Show steward and find out if there are any restrictions on the size or materials of the rod to be used for hanging. This is being entered as a wall hanging, and because it’s not a standard size, you have to provide your own rod.

We were going to have a guest on Friday evening, but that has been put off, so I now have additional time there. And with luck and a following wind, I may be excused¬†some of my jury serving time, so I’ll regain those days.

The final day for handing in the quilt is June 18. I reckon I’ll just make it, so long as I keep on keeping on.

Finally, I promised to let you know if the Aspirin & Arnica cream works to reduce the pain in my hands. It does! ¬†Also, it smells pleasantly of teatree oil, the texture is nice and light, with just a trace of grittiness (not sure if that’s arnica plant material or ground-up aspirin!), and I’ve made considerable inroads into the contents of the jar. Here are the details Ella Dee sent me – you can order the stuff from their Facebook page, or just ring them up.

I don’t suppose they’ll send outside Australia, and indeed, there are restrictions on sending things classed as medicinal in most countries, but I suppose it’s worth a try… They could always label the parcel¬†‘hand cream’!


Worldwide Friends: hexies, holidays and hands

The first side is faced.

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Proud of that tidy stitching!

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 7.05.00 pm It’s fiddly, but effective. I like the way it looks, and the way it allows the hexies to sing instead of imposing a straight edge. The two short sides will go more quickly ‚Äď because they are short and because I don’t¬†have to make and add in extra hexies to cover my mistake. The top edge will take a bit longer again.

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Layout for the first short side. No stupid mistakes with the trimming this time!

I have one day¬†left to work on it this week. On Friday, we’re heading north to Cairns for a long weekend of blissful motorbike riding, swooping around the dizzy bends of the Gillies range and over the heights of the Atherton Tableland. I’ll be posting about that, but I won’t be lugging the quilt with me! Instead, I will take some embroidery handwork, and you’ll see that in my next stitch along post on 31st May.

Next week I have to try and crack it. Starting 1st June I’m on jury service for 2 weeks, and while I may not need to serve every day, there’s no guarantee of being let off, and worse still, no guarantee that the case I’m allocated to will not run over time.

Thank you all for your sympathy for my poor toe, and the kind and helpful suggestions on how to deal with my painful arthritic hands, which are taking a punishing with all the hand stitching just now.¬†Ella Dee has come up with Aspirin & Arnica cream, which is a topical anaesthetic and herbal rememedy, and is sending me some to try. If it works, I’ll let you all know, and where it can be ordered from if you’re in Australia.

Right, back to work.

Worldwide Friends: Facing unpalateable facts…

Unpalateable fact No. 1: I am a total idiot sometimes.

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The problem…

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…the solution

The facing for one side is assembled, and I’m about to begin applying it. I made a stupid, stupid, stupid mistake last night, and trimmed off excess quilt in the wrong place, which means I had¬†to make and add extra hexies to the facing to hide the gap. I was tired, it was late and I cut before I thought. Note to self: never do anything terminal with scissors when you’re tired and not thinking straight. It looks OK, and I don’t have a problem with the bottom facing border being slightly deeper than the other sides on the back, which is just as well, or I’d be making a whole heap more hexies, which I surely don’t have time for.

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 7.28.51 amToday, as it’s raining (hurrah, brilliant news!), is an indoor day and I hope to make significant sewing strides without being lured outside by the siren song of the garden. I just have to make a delivery to the coffee shop, and then I can crack on.

My hands are getting pretty bad now. I wake every morning to find them stiff and aching, and it takes a while to get them mobile. Opening jars is becoming virtually impossible. I think they’ll hold out till WWF is finished, though, and after that, the next quilt on the production line is fully machine pieced and quilted until I have to hem down the binding.

Anyone out there have any quick fixes for loosening up arthritic fingers? I’m not talking drugs or supplements, but something more immediate: hot water’s good, but only a short term solution…

Motto for today: measure twice, cut once….

Worldwide Friends: running rings round rabbits

A tiny break from hexie-outlining was called for. The lure of the bunnies proved irresistible…

Screen Shot 2015-04-30 at 3.18.19 pmScreen Shot 2015-04-30 at 3.18.37 pmI decided it was time to outline the bunnies in the centre panel. The moon got the same treatment, and there’s a banner outline round the name. They’re slightly puffy, which is pleasing ‚ÄĒ bunnies should be soft and puffy, I feel. Quilting these printed images on their wholecloth background showed me how much trouble I’d made for myself outlining the hexies, with their multiple seams. Another time, I’ll be doing something a lot simpler for a hexie quilt. And I’m starting to be seriously tempted to do a plain wholecloth quilt, perhaps just a small one, but one where the quilting is the point. Just to see if I can, you understand…

There is progress, as you can see. Soon, I’ll be able to start making hexies for the facing. Failing major obstacles and the siren call of the garden, I’ll make the deadline.

I’d have liked to quilt the fillers as well, but there just won’t be time. Maybe I can do it after the show, just for my personal satisfaction.

Time for a new needle. I’ve bent the last one…

Worldwide Friends: back in front

The front of WWF is neatly folded on my work table.

The adventure that is the back of this quilt has begun. I’ve marked out the approximate area on my design wall, and am creating panels and pieces to be arranged within this area. It’s the loosest way I’ve ever worked on a quilt ‚ÄstAim√©e came close, but was still much more structured ‚Äď and I find it a little nerve-wracking, but remarkably liberating.

Screen Shot 2015-04-10 at 3.28.54 pmThe haiku created and donated by some of the Friends have been written out on a series of stone-coloured homespun panels, and will be arranged in a column the height of the quilt with a red border on the dark blue back-ground. The other furoshiki wrapping cloth brought back from Japan for me by Carla of Granny Maud’s Girl is featured, as are some other pieces not used for the front. I have some nice scraps of a Japanese large floral print with a dark blue back-ground which I am also using, and their lavish design contrasts nicely with the slightly severe and restrained colour palette of the front.¬†It’s rather good fun diving again and again into my scrap boxes to find suitable pieces, pinning bits up, taking them down and rearranging them.

I’m going to create a facing around the outside of red hexies, and this will be applied once I’ve done most of the hand-quilting, using whipstitch around the outside edge, and hemming where it’s attached to the body of the quilt. I need the slight contracture of the quilting to be in place so that the facing sits right.

It’s a joy to get back to the sewing machine for this part of the job. My hands are getting a rest, my fingers are healing and the pleasure of much more rapid results cannot be denied!

I hope the next post will show the completed back panel…

The kindness of strangers

There’s nothing like a quilt to shrink the world and bring strangers together.

Some¬†of the lovely people who’ve sent me fabrics for Worldwide Friends have sent still more when I mentioned¬†that I was going to need some more in order to finish the front. I had imagined simply buying some more indigoes from my LQS, but no, I had offers to send more, treasures picked out from personal stashes all over the place. A hand held out, and help freely given. You’ve got to love the quilting fraternity – or perhaps I mean sorority? I don’t want to seem sexist, I know there are many, many talented male quilters out there, I follow some of their blogs, but all the help and kindness I have received has been at the hands of women.

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 11.12.21 pmThe front of Worldwide Friends is in the home stretch. Today I received a second envelope from the kind and talented Jule, who has not one but two blogs to manage and write for, as well as all the beautiful handwork and photography she produces. Go and take a look at From the Boudoir and the UFO Garage & Fabric Depot, the two blogs I follow. She’s sent me some extremely beautiful indigoes, and rather than just show pieces of fabric, I’ve held off until I had made hexie flowers from them, just for something different. Thanks to the help of these and an earlier second donation from Viv, the final piece of the front is going to be as interesting and varied as the other parts.

A week should see the front¬†done. Then I must piece the back, sandwich everything, and finally, hand quilt. WWF is not going to be bound but faced, with a strip of hexies around the outer edge of the back, stitched edge to edge with the outer hexies of the front. I’m putting in a totally concealed rod pocket, hidden between the layers, with only slots in the outer edge of the quilt to show it’s there. The quilting needs to hold it in place without seeming to to do so, and some sleight of hand is going to be needed there.

It’s all new, unknown territory, and I really wish I wasn’t testing myself on an exhibition quilt, but there you¬†go. Quilters do these things to themselves…