Sea Glass #10: central square complete

This is more fun than I thought it would be!

Hand quilting can be physically demanding. It can make wreckage of your fingers, give you a backache from hunching over your work, and a slight sense of “will this never end?” if you’re working on a really big quilt.

But somehow, I’m managing to avoid most of those problems. Not the finger wreckage of course, that’s an occupational hazard (although my calluses are developing nicely), but I find to my slight amazement that I’m really enjoying hand quilting this rather large piece of work. All 6,400 square inches of it….

So, anyway, I’ve got the central flower basket medallion and Border 1 done. Now I have to address Border 2, which consists of large 16 inch pieced squares with a windmill at the centre of each.  I’m thinking of maybe something that’ll create a swirl effect around the windmills, with gentle curves, to create a contrast to the formal geometric woven design used for Border 1. Or it could be something completely different. I need to spend some more time squinting at it before I decide.

Something I need to consider with whatever design I come up with is that I don’t want to keep turning the quilt to stitch the design fully; it needs to be something that can be stitched in just a couple of directions so I don’t need to do gymnastics across the table top. It’s not a question of compromising the design, just being a bit clever about how it’s executed. Unless it turns into a freehand design, I’ll probably make another paper template to make marking up the quilt top easier.

It’s a good job the days are getting longer and summer is coming. I need all the good daylight I can get 🙂

Sea Glass #9: keeping my hand in

I won’t be going back to the radio silence of the past couple of weeks…

And stuff has been going on in the background, just nothing I wanted to post about yet. But I wanted to show you where I’d got to with the hand quilting on Sea Glass.

So, the four central flower basket blocks are hand quilted. That wasn’t quite as much fun as it might have been; there are lots of layers in parts of the blocks which made it quite tricky getting the needle through evenly and tidily. I was very happy about my ‘big stitch’ decision at that point! Once that bit was done, I had to work out how to quilt the first border. I was in the hand quilting groove by that point and thought I’d carry on.  I’m not using a frame or hoop on this job; I have the quilt laid out on my 3 metre (10ft) dining table with the area I’m working on flat and the rest rolled and folded on either side. This creates enough tension that I can quilt without needing a frame if I work on the edge nearest to me. The only downside is that I can’t use the table for anything else right now!

You can see the design I’m using quite clearly on the template. Because it’s geometric, it was pretty easy to transfer the design; I just punched holes through the direction changes and intersections of the lines, and marked through with either a fine pencil on the light fabrics or a white ceramic marker on the dark ones. If you click on the image below you can see how it looks when marked.

Lift the template, join the dots by drawing in lines with a ruler and the job’s done. Hand quilting these is quick and easy, they’re all going the same way. There may be a bit of subsequent filling in around the corners, but I’ll see how it looks later once the main part is finished. This is a big (80² inch / 2m²) quilt and I don’t want to make work for myself if it’s not necessary.

Now I just have to think of something for the next border 🙂

Swamp thing…

… is how I’m feeling right now.

Notice the sad effect of severely blocked sinuses and a nose that’s been blown into extinction…

I’m very sorry to have disappeared off the radar for so long. There has been a protracted period of bad health, first some fairly serious gastric issues landing me in hospital for further investigations, results still pending. Then, o joy, despite having an annual flu shot, I got flu. Correction. We both got flu. The Husband, being made of sterner stuff than I, was up and about within 2 days. I could not get my temperature down and it took 5 days before I was tottering around again. We both still sound like a TB ward and cannot sleep without a small mountain of pillows to keep us almost upright at night. We’re on the third bottle of cough medicine, the fourth packet of cold & flu remedy, and still the nose-blowing, whooping and wheezing ring out in the small hours.

On to more cheerful subjects.  I’ve actually sandwiched and pinned Sea Glass, and have made a start on hand quilting the central flower basket section. This is something I can do in short bursts without it being at all taxing, so it’s the perfect convalescent occupation. In addition, I’ve done some more hand quilting on the Hatbox blocks, but that’ll have to wait until the end of the month, at which time I hope to have some-thing decent to show you.

I must get back into the sewing room in the next couple of days, as the 15th of the month and ScrapHappy Day are approaching, and it wouldn’t do to have nothing done!

Anyway, I thought I’d just let people know I’m still alive, if not exactly flourishing. Hopefully normal service will resume soon…. Swamp living is getting rather dull.

Busy hands

It’s been a random sort of week.

I’ve finished Gallimaufry.

I sorted out a layout for the Hatbox quilt. It’s not final yet, but I’m fairly happy with the distribution of colour and background. If you spot anything you think stands out inappropriately, do say, because I’ve looked at it so much now I can’t ‘see’ it any more…

I’ve stitched another handful of hexie flowers into the Anemone quilt.

And last but by no means least, I’ve rearranged my sewing room.

Old room layout

New room layout

There’s less floor space and the ironing board is further away from my sewing chair, but the lighting at night will be better as I won’t have my back to the overhead light, and the morning light will be more indirect and less in my eyes. A few extra steps to the ironing board also won’t hurt! I also now have space at the end of my sewing table to set up my big old iMac there instead of stuck away in the corner, so I can listen to music or a talking book while I work. And while I was at it, I tidied up and threw out, dusted and swept.

Time to restart the Sea Glass quilt, now I have all of that sorted out. I have to stitch a backing together and cut the batting to size, and then make and pin the quilt sandwich… I’ll be starting in the centre blocks, and hand-quilting those before working my way out-wards and probably (but not definitely) machine quilting the rest. It’ll depend on how my hands hold up. As always with me, the quilting will not be dense, and will be big stitch, but even so, I think it’ll look good.

But first, I think I’d better clean out my sewing machine and treat myself to a new needle!

Sea Glass #8…. and rest

The top is finished.

sea-glass-finished-topSeriously, this is the best photo I could get today! There’s a sharp breeze, the line’s the only place I can show it due to size, and the result is a flappy quilt top. Still, you get a more accurate idea of the colours than in any of the indoor photos shown so far.

Next stage is to piece the back (not a lot of work there), and then sandwich, quilt and bind. I’m not convinced it’ll be done by the end of the month, especially as we’re going on a trip, but it’ll be soon.

However, I’m taking a break from this quilt for a few days to do some secret sewing which I can’t show, so service will be briefly interrupted. I’ll find other things to blog about 🙂

Be back soon.

Sea Glass # 7: Cushy…

You’ve got to love scraps.

sea-glass-cushion-front sea-glass-cushion-backHere is the nice squidgy cushion I’ve made from leftover bits from the Sea Glass quilt. It can sit on Cathy’s bed, as a promise for bigger and better things till the main quilt is done. Not that she ever gets much of a lie-in, of course, but it’ll be nice to lean against if she ever gets a chance to sit up in bed with a cup of coffee one morning…

It’s fully lined and the zipper is tidied away under a flap, so there’s no untidy bits or sharp pieces to dig in.

Now, back to the cutting mat, ruler and rotary cutter. I have many, many strips to cut before I reach the border!

Sea Glass #3

The outer blocks are done.

sea-glass-large-border-done

It’s not really this wonky, it’s just pinned to the design wall for the moment!

I have also frogged and recycled the first block I made, which was badly wrong, with points going the wrong way and colours mixed up. It’s right now, after loads of unpicking and a fair bit of salty language, and I defy you to discover which one in this arrangement it was. Now that the outer blocks are complete, it’s clear I don’t have a great deal of those fabrics left, so I’m pondering what would look best for the chequerboard blocks around the centre panel.

Once I have that clear in my head, I shall do some speed-piecing of those blocks, using the method that joins 8 strips along their length, the resulting piece sliced into rows perpendicular to the long seams, and then the rows re-arranged and mix and matched into squares for the best visual result.

I’m pleased with where I’ve got to so far. The contrast between muted and clean colours and splashes of white make the overall look sparkle, the lilac whirlies add visual interest, and it’s been easy to build the big blocks, after the initial stuff up trial block.

Thanks also to Kate at Manic Mumdays, who came up with a name both the maker and the receiver love!

Now, time to rootle around in my fabric and scrap boxes for the chequerboard border.