Aimée

Which is what I’ve decided to call the the quilt for my sister.

Aimée means loved. It is also, coincidentally, pronounced exactly the same as the name of the village in France where my sister lives, although the spelling is quite different to look at.

Screen shot 2015-01-12 at 2.40.20 PM

It’s working quite well for me; I’m loving the way this little quilt is coming together. The dark grey with white spots is not sashing, it’s a flange strip, just to add a little variety and texture. I’m really loving the Toile de Jouy print in duck egg blue, too, and am quite proud of the mitred corners, which I normally avoid like the plague. But the layout demanded it, so I knuckled down. I’m thinking about a few options for the next row out.

I’ve done hearts and pinwheels. Time for something else, I think…

Happiness is …. a finished top!

Yup. Done it. And it’s still putting a smile on my face. 

Happy, happy! I love this quilt so much!

Happy, happy! I love this quilt so much!

Now I have to piece a back.  This is not going to be a work of art, but it should be nice and scrappy. The front is the star attraction; as far as I’m concerned, the back is to hold the batting in!

The wind's really picking up. It took ages to get two usable shots. Sun's still shining, though...

The wind’s really picking up. It took ages to get two usable shots.
Sun’s still shining, though…

The weather forecast is making more noises about a possible cyclone at the weekend. As we haven’t undone much of the preparation we did last time, getting ready should be fairly straightforward. 25 litres of drinking water, 80 litres of washing water, some dry goods, fresh fruit and we’re done.

Back to the cutting mat. I have a back to assemble.

Inching along…

Just a quick one.

Car Quilt blue borders: two sides done

Car Quilt blue borders: two sides done

Two edges of blue done on the Car Quilt. Two more to go, and I can start the next border.

Happiness: top half done except for outline sashing

Happiness: top half done except for outline sashing

Happiness: Strips for the bottom half - I just need to add the horizontal sashing and outline sash the whole lot

Happiness: Strips for the bottom half – I just need to add the
horizontal sashing and outline sash the whole lot

All the vertical sashing done on Happiness, and 4 more horizontal sashes to go. Then I have to do the outline sashing, and the top’s done. I’ve had a bit of a rummage in the Cupboard of All Colours, and there’s a complete absence of plan for the back. By which I mean, it’s going to be a hodge podge of scraps.

Once again, my sewing time got mostly eaten up. But I am inching forward!

Happiness is … almost halfway

I’ve had a few good hours at the sewing machine, and it’s coming together.

Bliss to be back in my creative groove. I’ve missed sewing while I was away – or at least, I’ve missed the speed at which one can assemble things on a sewing machine. I seem to have avoided the usual stuff-ups and the quilt is almost sliding togther. No cutting errors, no sewing errors, nothing the wrong way round. It can’t possibly last – can it?  I haven’t cut, pricked or burned myself today either. Almost like it was meant to happen!

Progress so far:

Top three lines are assembled. Next two need to have their horizontal sashing added.  The bottom 5 lines are still to be started.

Top three lines are assembled.
Next two need to have their horizontal sashing added.
The bottom 5 lines are still to be started.

I’m still totally in love with these two Amy Butler ranges (Lark and Cameo). They contain colours and patterns I wouldn’t normally consider, but which work together somehow. The white sashing is scrap left over from the Triple Trouble quilts. Hopefully I’ll have enough, but if not, I’ll just need a bit of extra.

Right, I have to go to the kitchen now and assemble some more gingerbread. I’m addicted to the stuff at the moment.  Tomorrow I’ll be making bread and peanut butter cookies, so there’ll be a little less sewing :-(. And I’ll be sewing dark blue hexies for the Car Quilt while I watch TV tonight. Unless I decide to do some more work on Thing. Or work on a paper-pieced design I’m trying to make work. I keep ending up with Y shaped seams…

You see the dilemmas you face when you have multiple WIPs?

Things to do on a rainy day

The Wet is finally here, and with some emphasis!

Mackay gets a large bath. Image courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology.

Mackay gets a large bath.
Image courtesy of Bureau of Meteorology.

Looking out of the window with European eyes, you’d think it was mid afternoon in February, somewhere in northern Europe: England, the Netherlands, France. It’s grey, gloomy, overcast, and the rain is almost solid. The gutters are gurgling and overflowing, there’s a river running through my desert garden, the banana tree has more water than it knows what to do with, and if I were in London at this moment, I’d be on the sofa in flannelette pyjamas, with a good book and a mug of hot chocolate. However, here, in addition to being massively wet, it’s also bloody warm. About 28C, to be exact. Not a day to be doing anything outside…

Left, sashing for Happiness. Right, squares for the Car quilt borders

Left, sashing for Happiness. Right, squares for the Car quilt borders

So I turned my attention to things inside. I’ve been holding forth with my rotary cutter, and the vertical sashing for the Happiness quilt is cut, plus I’ve cut all the 3″ squares for the border on the Car quilt. My fabric supplies of that one are a bit limited, so rather than make a narrow striped border, which will eat up a lot of fabric in seam allowances, I’m doing 4 patches, in 3″ squares. And it’s very dark outside, so I haven’t attempted any further hand quilting on the ToL, as I simply can’t see what I’m doing well enough.

And now for even more pleasurable stuff. My camera has been slowly dying, and it has now reached the point where it’s refusing to talk to my computer so I can’t upload any images. The Husband’s camera will talk to my computer, but I don’t like the photos it takes; they’re all either rather dark or badly over exposed when I use the flash. The most excellent Husband has therefore bought me a Proper Camera, my first ever. Behold!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Not even out of the box yet.
I think I have a lot of reading to do…

Now, of course, I have to sit down and read the manual, and pray that I can retain all the information. I am over 50, after all, and as everyone knows, as soon as you start to get grey hair, your competence with any kind of technology just leaches away. Or so my younger acquaintances would have me believe… Personally, I don’t think I’m doing too badly on that front.

Excuse me while I go and play with my new toy…

A quick burst of Happiness

You know how some things make you smile just to look at them?

There’s a big smile on my face, and it’s all down to a quick interlude with my Amy Butler Lark and Cameo charm packs. I had taken down the design wall flannelette sheet to give it a quick clean and get rid of all the threads from the back of the ToL quilt. After a couple of hours of quilting, I decided I wanted a quick break. I put the sheet back up. I started fiddling with the squares.

An hour later, I had this:

Happiness: the layout

Happiness: the layout

Doesn’t that just make you smile? Imagine the squares separated by 2 inch white sashing all round to spread the joy and make the quilt bigger. And I’ll bind it with leftover turquoise from the ToL quilt. Haven’t thought about backing yet, maybe something totally random made from whatever I have big scraps of. It’s simple, cheerful and a welcome break from the complicated intensive stuff. I love it! There are 4 squares of non-AB fabrics; I’ve used pieces of Philip Jacobs floral prints, which seemed to work with the rest. No prizes for spotting the ringers, though!

Then I got back to work on the ToL. I’ve finished outlining the top of the tree, branches, leaves, flowers and fruit, and the three birds in the tree. Next is the two birds inside the circle above the tree, then the birds outside the circle. I’m ‘saving’ the roots, grass and fish for later this week when I have more time. Once all that’s done, I’ll draw bark-y type lines on the trunk and branches, ripples in the water and clouds in the sky, and the next lot of quilting will start. I’m really happy with the progress I’m making. It’s going nice and fast.

My fingers are less happy, and have just announced it’s time for me to stop for the day. I can’t wear a thimble on thumb and first two fingers if I want to be able to hold a needle, and they’re the ones getting hammered. Same thing happened before when I did lots of hand quilting. I built some truly impressive calluses on my fingers which saw me through to the end and took weeks to wear off. Perhaps I should consider keeping them by doing more hand quilting. It would certainly save the initial pain!

Next time I take a break, I’ll start cutting the sashing…

The Tree of Life part 12: of trees… and guilt

No, I have not gone out and decimated some tropical rainforest.

The Tree grows apace. All branches are now prepared for appliqué, and I’m considering how best to do the job. The trunk has to lie over the ends of all the branches. But there’s no way I can appliqué the branches down first, since how they fit onto the trunk is critical. I could appliqué round the outside, and start and stop between the branches, leaving unsewn lengths to feed the end of the branches under. That’s one option. I could leave all the branches pinned on in place while I whizz round the outside of the trunk, capturing the ends of the branches under the edge of the trunk. That leaves a small problem: peeling off the fusible backing once I’m ready to fuse the branches down, since one end is going to be sewn in. Minor, but a consideration. And thirdly, fusing everything down at once and trundling round all the outlines in one fell swoop. I like this option least. Manipulating the top through my sewing machine will rub off the smaller fused bits (experience speaking here), and the edges will fray, and it’s generally not going to work so well. I think I may go with option 1. Do one piece at a time. Take time. Have the freedom to make adjustments. Ensure the branches are in the best possible condition when I sew them on. They are, don’t forget, one quivering mass of bias edges, ready to stretch if you just look at them funny. They stretch, fray and come apart at the seams. No, option 1 it is.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The branches, complete

So, the process is: Unpin everything. Take down the top from the design wall. Lay the centre along the length of my ironing board. Peel the backing off the fusible I’ve already ironed onto the back of the trunk section. Lay it out so it’s straight and butts up to the root section. Offer up the branches to the edge of the trunk and mark both edges with pins to show where to stop and start. Remove the branches and carefully iron down the fusible, leaving unfused areas at the branch junctions to help stick them down. Stitch down with satin stitch, all the way round, starting and stopping to leave the branch slots unsewn. After that, it’s a question of doing the same thing with all 7 branches. Holy cow… I’ve got a bit of work ahead of me, eh?

Now, does anyone have any suggestions for making this easier?  If so, I will receive them with glad cries and expressions of appreciation.  This quilt has been a learning process throughout, and I’m always happy to learn an easier/faster/cleverer way. (Yes, I know cleverer isn’t a proper word…).

And now for the guilt…

Cameo

Cameo

Lark

Lark

I’m in the middle of a serious quilt, I have loads of others lined up, I’m taking two weeks out of my quilting schedule in April, and yet STILL I’ve ordered some new fabrics.  Two packs of 5″ squares.  Amy Butler Lark and Cameo collections, which go amazingly well together, and are destined to be turned into a nice lap quilt, sashed in white.  I don’t have enough lap quilts… Yeah, right. But aren’t the colours lovely?  Don’t you love the cuteness of 5″ squares, just small, so the fabric doesn’t shout at you, it just sings quietly? Don’t you think they’ll be fresh and pretty all together, sashed with white? And maybe a nice aqua binding? I’m going to need a holiday from serious quilts when the Tree is done, and I’ve nominated these fabrics to get my creative mojo going again.

So, tomorrow will find me cursing the day I started this quilt. But I’ll get through.  See you on the other side!