Twilight 5: all bordered out

The top is done.

I didn’t have enough full strip sets to do a continuous border in the same design, but I did have enough to do all round minus the 4 corners. With the scraps and ragtag of what I’d made, I constructed the corner blocks you see, which I’m very happy with. The two colours of shot cotton that you see at top and bottom corners came from small pieces in my stash, since Spotlight no longer sell shot cotton for some totally spurious reason. They used to have a very nice selection, but no more, which I’m very upset about.

I have also bought fabric for the backing, a dark petrol green/blue with a sheen on it. Almost a shot cotton in that the light sits on it differently according to whether you see shine or shadow. I needed 3.5m and bought 4. I hope it’ll also be enough to bind the quilt as well.

I so wish the photos could capture the colours in this quilt more truthfully. It has made the selection and placing process more time consuming, but also more rewarding. It looks… nice… in the photos, but in real life it’s actually quite beautiful, even to a non-purple-lover.

There’s beauty and practicality in a simple design. It looks clean and lets the colours sing, but it’s also finished a lot faster than a quilt with loads of piecing. I’ll be sending a photo to my niece to ask her whether she’d like geometric or organic-style quilting. I’m also debating the colour of quilting thread. I’m quite tempted by magenta, or maybe turquoise… Of course, it won’t show a great deal unless you get up close and personal, but one of the bright jewel colours really appeals.

But that’s a decision for another day.

(In case you’re wondering, there’s no Parterre block this month; I’ve had too much else on. I’ll be back next month with another bright flower.)

Bonnard back

‘Tis done.

It went nice and quickly. I did a bunch of strip piecing and then sewed a lot of random leftover squares together to make other strips. Jumble them up, make sure there’s one of the random strips in each set, sew it all up, stitch the red fabric to the sides and there you have it.

Next is cutting the batting to size from my big roll, and then sandwiching. Normally with a quilt this size I’d be pin basting, but I want to have a go at spray basting, as I think the pins will drive me mad while I’m hand quilting. The one slight problem is that I don’t have anywhere outside that’s big enough and clean enough to lay the quilt out flat. Our weather’s very hot, very dry and everywhere’s very dusty. I think it’ll have to be a couple of picnic tables on the back patio, working fast so I don’t die of heatstroke, and I’ll have to work section by section.

I’ve seen a video tutorial where you wind each of the three layers onto pool noodles with a dowel rod up the centre to stiffen them, layer them up as usual and then unroll just a short section of the backing, spray, roll the batting across it, smooth and spray, and then roll the top across it, and smooth and spray that. It seemed sort of straightforward (famous last words…), so I got myself some noodles in the post-Christmas sales for the princely sum of $4 each. Bonnard is wider than the length of the noodle, so I shall have to cut a section from a spare to add to the end to extend it. I’ll let you know how I get on, and provide a link if it’s successful.

Time to go and cut batting and fluff it up in the tumble dryer to get rid of the creases.

The Bookcase Quilt: happily ever after

That’s how books are supposed to end, isn’t it?

And that’s how the story of the Bookcase Quilt is also going to end. It’s done, despite a number of delays and obstacles in my path, and I’m very happy with it. It’s not my most immaculately made or quilted piece, but it’s perfectly personalised and tailored to its new owner. I’ve had a lot of fun making it, too.

So here it is. The eagle eyed among you will observe a few pins still in the binding as I had not at that point quite finished stitching it down. I had to get some photos while there was still reasonable light, as it’s going off tomorrow to my niece. The pins do make that side hang a bit strangely, but at least I have a record.

Screen Shot 2015-09-17 at 5.10.41 pmScreen Shot 2015-09-17 at 5.11.16 pmAnd now it’s time to move on to something else. I have my F2F blocks to make for this month, I have a large blue & white Bulldogs RFL team quilt to make for the 60th birthday of a friend’s husband, and I have a pile of fabrics and garment patterns singing a siren song, which I’ve firmly resisted so far.

I’m going to start with pressing all the fabrics and cutting the pieces for the Bulldogs quilt, all 240 of them.

Good job they’re all nice simple squares…

The Bookcase Quilt: No fine for overdue books

I drove my niece to the airport this morning.

With considerable regret, I might add, and not just because I wasn’t able to send off her quilt with her. She’s been a wonderful guest, entertaining, undemanding, helpful, happy to join in whatever fun was on offer, and deeply appreciative of my cooking. We had a very good time together, and I’m sorry she’s gone. I was considerably distracted from the matter in hand, the Bookcase Quilt, but as she pointed out, she’d happily wait, and I could send it after her once it was ready without killing myself to get it done before she left.

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The vertical seams are joined edge to edge with large zigzag stitch. The horizontal ones are held in place with masking tape just until I can get round to stitching them on Monday.

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Top row, waiting to be added.

So instead we had fun, I didn’t sew as much as I planned, and the quilt is lying in 3 pieces, waiting for the assembly to be completed. The quilting is complete. I didn’t stitch any detail into the owl bookends; I did some test pieces and wasn’t happy enough with the effect to risk messing up on the actual owls. I’m fine with them as they are now! Assembly has started: I have joined the three blocks across the top, the middle and the bottom, and the strips that conceal those joins on the backs are done.

Today and tomorrow I have baking orders, tonight is family dinner night and I have the meal to prepare for that, so the next time I’ll be able to sit down and work on it is Monday. That’s OK. If I can finish the assembly on Tuesday and take the binding with me to my sewing group to be hand finished, it’ll be done by the end of the week.

I wanted a photo of us both with the quilt, but will have to content myself with any photos she sends me of it in use: in the park, at the beach, at her yoga retreat, on the sofa with yet more books….

The Bookcase Quilt: the sound of an owl

What sound does an owl make? WOO HOO! Much like myself!  

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Pinned wonkily to my design wall, but you get the idea…

Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 4.45.54 pm Screen Shot 2015-09-05 at 4.46.12 pmI have finished all nine blocks for the front of the quilt. And speaking of owls, the owl bookends are prominently featured – I spent some quality time fiddling with the image in PicMonkey’s editing suite, and managed to boost the greyscale and contrast enough to make them work. I find the contrast between the realism of the photo transfers and the simplification of the book spines a little odd visually, but not enough to try anything more complicated!

The final block is a straightforward, simple one with no extra bits. I’ve rearranged the order of the blocks to satisfy my sense of symmetry a little more, and I’m much happier with this new arrangement.

Tomorrow I will press the backing fabric and cut from it the nine 20″ squares I need, and the same again from my batting roll. If I have time, I will sandwich and pin the nine sections together.

Time for a cup of tea and a bickie, I think…

The Bookcase Quilt: a tipsy shelf

Books never stand totally straight in real life, do they?

Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 4.24.35 pm Screen Shot 2015-09-03 at 4.24.16 pmI gave myself a slightly more challenging layout for this one. Piecing in the triangles so the books lay at just the right angle was fiddly – I had to unpick one seam – but not too taxing. Which is just as well, because it’s been a busy day, catching up on mail, shopping, doing laundry, picking up a good dozen palm fronds which had come down while we were away, watering, and checking some legal stuff. I was glad to retreat up to my cool sewing room and fiddle about with strips of fabric!

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I’ve also made the fabric selections for the last two shelves, but these are subject to change without notice: sometimes it just looks wrong second time round.

I have to download some family photos so I can see if there’s one I can print out as a transfer, put in a fabric ‘frame’ and place it on one of the shelves. My niece also has some fabulous owl bookends, but I’m not at all sure how I’d achieve those, they’re carved white stone. The final trinket I’m fairly sure of managing, since it’s a large white L, and even I can’t stuff that one up!

More soon: I have a serious deadline now, she’s arriving on Monday and leaving 5 days later!

ScrapHappy August

After last month’s unimpressive start, I made a point of being ready this time!

I have a lot of long skinny strips in my scrap baskets, bits of leftover binding, trimmings and offcuts. You can’t do much with them – except make a scrappy block. So here it is.  It’s a big one, at 17″ square, and the seams aren’t totally straight, but then, nor were the scraps! It’s not wonky, just a bit crooked, and I’m fine with that! Nor is it a very complicated block, but there are no rules here, and it’s done.

August scrappy blockIt’s up on the design wall next to last month’s hexie block, and already I’m loving the contrast between the stripes and the hexies, and wondering what weird and wonderful idea will emerge next.

Maybe something like the Scrap Vortex quilt being created in brilliant Technicolour by Amanda Jean over at Crazy Mom Quilts…. And then there’s Cath’s version over at Wombat Quilts. She’s gone for low value fabrics, and it’s gorgeous. Whichever version I went with would certainly take care of some of the tinier pieces! It seems everyone is catching the scrappy bug, and it’s such a good thing, because otherwise these treasures sit unloved and unused in a bag or box and never see the light of day.

Linking with

Gun at (in English and Swedish)

Sue at

Viv at

Helena at http://www.helenaå (in Swedish only, but lovely pictures!)

Titti at (in Swedish only)

If anyone else wants to join us, just drop me or Gun an email or comment on the 14th of next month, so we can add you to the list.



The Bookcase Quilt: shelving begins

Isn’t it fun when you unpack books you haven’t seen for weeks or months after a move, and reacquaint yourself with old friends?

Shelf 1Shelving books is one of my favourite activities, and today, I ‘unpacked’ the first shelf of the Bookcase Quilt, and have begun the process with the second. I’ve also made the final fabric selections for most of the other shelves.

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Penguin Classics




Wonder of wonders, I’ve also found a simple orange print fabric which reads from a distance as Penguin Classic orange, and have retrieved from my stash a cream on cream print which will work with it. I’m still debating whether to make iron-on transfers of classic titles my niece has read to apply to the spines of the row of paperbacks. It will add another layer of detail and realism which I think is going to be needed if the spines are to look like books rather than a row of orange and cream strips, but I’m not going to attempt Penguin logos, quite apart from the copyright issue!

The next shelf is one where the books are both upright and tilted, which is going to make for slightly more complex piecing, but is going to look great. I’m also looking forward to doing the one after that, where there are big, thick books piled in a stack which will have something appliquéd on top as a sort of paperweight.

Finally, a reminder that this coming Saturday is ScrapHappy post day, and Gun and I will be posting this month’s scrap blocks. If anyone has a scrappy block they’d like to celebrate, do join us by emailing or commenting to either me or Gun, and we will add a link to your ScrapHappy post in ours.


The Bookcase Quilt: holding auditions

I’ve cut dozens of strips of wildly assorted fabrics in an effort to maintain randomness.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 12.00.00 pmMy eye wants to group fabrics by colour, scale, style, etc. I’m working so hard to make this not pretty-pretty, but bookcase-y, but I’m having to fight my own instincts! I know very well it would look wrong to put all the orange fabrics together, and group the greens, etc, but my innate sense of order tells me this is what I should do. So I’m finding the randomising process surprisingly difficult.

Screen Shot 2015-08-07 at 12.00.25 pmI’ve arrived at three or four groupings I’m OK with. Nothing fights too hard, nothing matches too carefully, and I find them believable as book-type objects. They’ll look much better once the dark background and the black ‘nameplate’ for some of the books is added – you just have to look at the ones where this is already done to see the effect. I’ve also found it’s best to make lots of spines without stitching them together too early, as I’ve had several changes of mind about the placement of the strips.

One thing I will have to do further down the track is quilt in black to outline each book. There’s a lack of contrast between some of them, and the quilting will just add a little extra visual punctuation to separate the colours and make each spine individual. So I’m thinking the backing will need to be fairly dark to accommodate black quilting, otherwise it’ll look pretty ugly.

Something I still have to organise is some orange fabric for my Penguin Classics row of books; I have nothing quite the right colour, and it won’t need much, about 20cm.

Meanwhile, I have another huge baking order for delivery on Monday, so sewing will have to take a back seat for a couple of days. Back soon!

The Bookcase Quilt: Judged by its cover?

Work has begun on The Unexpected Bookworm’s quilt. Sadly, she’s seen the earlier post and knows what’s in store for her. I’m glad to report she’s delighted!

They say you shouldn’t. Judge a book by its cover, that is, but I find it impossible to browse a shelf of new books without allowing the cover of one book or another to say hello and help me decide to pick it up. I need to make the books in this quilt say hello too.

We’re not going for a uniform row of plain colours here, but something more like a real bookcase (or at least, my bookcases…), where the spines are a rainbow of colour and the books are short, tall, thin and fat. But unlike my bookcases, I’m considering grouping the books by their predominant colour. It would probably look pretty… but would it look real?

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 4.13.19 pmI’ve spent the afternoon cutting strips of coloured fabric. Without letting personal taste dictate, I’ve gone along my row of stash baskets, nipping out a piece here and a piece there at random. I don’t want this bookcase looking all designery and tasteful, I want it to look like the bookcases everyone in our family ends up with, jammed with masses of varied books on diverse subjects in sometimes incomprehensible order, tipped, stacked, piled and askew. I’m cutting the strips in 3 sizes: wide, medium and narrow, and they’ll be mixed up as to width and height. There’ll be knicknacks on the shelves too, but that’s for right at the end, and to be decided later.

Before I start stitching, I’d love to hear what you think about grouping the books by colour. Nice idea, or too perfect and organised for what I have in mind?

So for now, it’s unfold, press, slice, slice, slice again and stack.