Worldwide Friends: time for a sandwich

… the kind with pins in it!

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220 pins in place…

It’s layered and pinned. Now for the hand quilting.

I had originally planned to do a 4 stroke basket weave design, with the strokes 2″ apart in a 6″ square. But as I was pinning, the quilt told me this wouldn’t do. In places there are 6 or 7 layers of fabric piled on top of each other, and furthermore, the hexie flowers didn’t want straight lines carving through them. The rabbits weren’t keen either…

So. I looked at it some more, and thought some more as I pinned. The new plan has time-based options, parts A and B.

Screen Shot 2015-04-18 at 5.40.21 pmA is definite. I will quilt around the outside of each red hexie at the heart of each flower. This will also minimise the number of seams I have to cross. If time permits and my hands and fingers hold out, I will also do part B, which is to quilt around each filler between the flowers. A alone will give a puffier, looser look. The addition of B will be flatter and neater. I’d like to do B as well, but will be content with A if I run out of time. That’s 220 red hexies – and the same number of fillers if I do B. I think I will also outline the rabbits, the moon and the curved strip of lettering that is the quilt’s name, which will get done whether I manage part B or not.

The back will have a regular grid of fine blue hexie outlines all over it. On the front, the quilting will scarcely show, as I’m using dark blue quilting thread amongst all those dark blue prints. The original plan for the hanging pocket will not work now, so I’m still mulling that one over. I don’t have to decide until I reach the far side of the quilt, so there’s time. I thought I’d feel a pang of regret at giving up the original plans, but actually, there’s a sense of relief. So I reckon I’m on the right track.

Tomorrow I have to bake most of the day so I can deliver to the coffee shop on Monday. But quilting will commence on Monday afternoon. Cross your fingers for me.

Aimée 5: sandwiches without tears

…. and without a sore back or knees, bad language and grumpiness.

This is the table-sandwiching method for quilts for those who no long find grovelling on the floor fun, who value their spines and joints, and who want a fairly quick and foolproof method for pinning or hand-basting a quilt.

You do need a big table. It needs to be as long as your quilt is wide, or two tables placed edge to edge. I’m fortunate, mine is very long and not too wide, making it easy to reach from one side to the other from a sitting position without much stretching or leaning. If the surface is delicate and you are worried about scratches, first cover it with a blanket and then with an oilcloth or vinyl table covering, stretched smooth and taped or clipped down. This will enable you to pin through the quilt layers without destroying the table top. Mine is natural wood, and has had an interesting life, so a few more marks don’t matter.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.52.51 PMFirst, spread the top edge of the backing along one long table edge, and tape it down smoothly and tightly. Go to the short end of the table and secure part of the side of the backing, and repeat at the other end. This is where you will start. Arrange the rest of the fabric neatly over three chair backs at the other long edge, allowing some to hang down and give the fabric on the table tension.


Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.52.27 PMNext, spread over the batting and smooth out carefully. You don’t need to tape it, as it will cling to the backing. Again, place the surplus on top of the backing over the backs of the chairs.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.51.58 PMFinally, arrange the quilt top on top of the other two layers and smooth out. Pin or baste along the taped long edge of the table to secure all layers together in the correct position.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.51.31 PMWorking from the long edge, pin until you get to the centre of the quilt, or as far as you can reach, or until you arrive at the other side of the table, whichever applies. Use a chair on casters if you have one to speed up the process of moving along the edge. I place pins about the width of my palm apart if there are lots of seams. Fewer seams = fewer pins…

When you reach the halfway point, or to the other side of the table, peel off the tape. Place your hands on the quilt about halfway across, and draw the quilt towards you, keeping it flat on the table, and pulling the remainder of the three layers onto the table at the same time. Ensure you still have a couple of lines of pins showing on the table top to anchor the fabric and prevent sagging. Spread and smooth the layers, and start pinning again.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.51.10 PMI’m pretty lazy, so I don’t trim out the backing and batting to size first if I’m using a wideback or plain backing. I just plonk everything down lined up along one edge, and trim out as I go along. No grovelling, remember? No struggling with massive pieces of batting or fabric, either.

Screen shot 2015-01-20 at 5.50.51 PMI got Aimée sandwiched and pinned in about 2 hours from start to finish.

And I feel fine 🙂

Amistad Chapter 5: the distracting sandwich…

Since I’m no longer going to be project manager at a building site, I thought I’d get out my sewing machine again.

I need some distraction. We have an offer under consideration on another house, and the wait is a bit trying. So I thought I’d give myself an alternative form of frustration which I could actually do something about. Doing the quilt sandwich on Amistad fit the bill nicely. I’m sure I’ve mentioned before how much I love grovelling and pinning… not. While I’m waiting for the phone call, I may as well be making progress on something!

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 9.52.42 AMFor the backing, I’ve gone for a nice wideback in a rich cream with a pale cream overprint in a floral design which echoes the designs on the front. I find I prefer a plain, unpieced back – my mistakes show up less, if it’s not absolutely straight it doesn’t matter, and the trim-offs are always useful. And if it’s a print, quilting errors don’t scream at you either. I like to get things right, but I prefer to get things done, so I’ve slowly become a bit more forgiving with myself if there are imperfections. I’m never going to enter competitions, so it doesn’t matter, putting a quilt in the local show isn’t exactly trying for Houston, and every quilt is a learning process.

Screen shot 2014-08-12 at 9.53.00 AMI haven’t yet decided how I’m quilting this one. I think I may hand quilt it in big-stitch, and I’m considering a way of integrating names and a date to commemorate the friendship this quilt is named after. As always, it’ll be quite lightly quilted because I like drape versus the stiffness of much quilting, but perhaps this one will have a little more than usual. The top is very simple, and can carry off a bit of extra. I’m thinking of a big Baptist Fan or clamshell design…

Any suggestions?


Broken Bottles #10: Pinned, perfectly

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I used about twice the normal amount of safety pins…

It’s done, and I didn’t even have to grovel. I checked with my back and knees, and they told me that if I got down on the floor, there’d be industrial action and a few days of grief. So I took the whole shebang outside to my l.o.n.g patio table, taped the short edge of the backing to one edge, and drew the fabric tight across, putting the rest in a roll on the seats of 4 chairs to hold the tension. Then the batting, same deal, and then the top. Once I’d done the top half, I unstuck the tape, and rolled it the other way to do the lower half.

Screen shot 2014-05-17 at 12.03.51 PMI worked quite fast, as the wind is picking up and we’re promised rain later, but it’s done. The thing is totally flat and heavily pinned; wrinkles and puckers are not welcome here. Yes, OK, I had to put in two and a half boxes of safety pins, but I didn’t need to bend over. Instead of being in pain and over the whole business, I’m ready to get quilting! Or I would be, if I didn’t need to go and stuff up my back in other ways, digging up turf in the vegie garden…

Screen shot 2014-05-17 at 12.03.33 PMIn the event, I decided not to piece the spare blocks into the back, so it’s just plain. And gorgeous. Have I mentioned how much I LOVE that shot green? Maybe these two photos give you an inkling: it’s the colour of fresh, green growing things, and after quilting, my next favourite thing is gardening…

Right. Time for a cup of coffee, and then I have to go and tackle the back yard.

The Tree of Life 16: no more excuses

The cyclone is over.  It was stronger than expected and closer than expected, but we came through unscathed.



Ready to pin

Ready to pin

Ready to quilt

Ready to quilt

So the Husband was off to work on schedule, and I was left to look at the ToL backing, batting and top, and completely fail to find a reason not to pin them together. I don’t enjoy the grovelling around on the floor. My knees and back are too old for this game. But it’s done, despite a visit from the Dowager with a birthday present, lots of conversation, making a batch of bickies and serving them with coffee and assorted other displacement activities. I’ve put all the furniture back and vacuumed the carpet and loaded the dishwasher and had lunch. Further displacement activities, you see, so that I don’t have to start actually quilting. And of course, there’s writing this blog…

Thank you to everyone who gave me their thoughts on how the quilting might look. It’s been very helpful in getting me to actually narrow down the list of possible options. It’s also amazing how much less stressed I feel about the quilt now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The first part of the quilting’s going to be pretty miserable, but after that, I can have a bit of fun with my clouds and water ripples. And I actually love binding and labelling, so that’s all good too.

I’m keeping those Amy Butler charm squares out on my work table to act as  a reminder/incentive/goad when the going gets tough.

OK, I’ve cleaned all the lint out of the bobbin race, replaced the needle with a new quilting needle and adjusted tension and stitch length. Time to get cracking.

I’m going in!