Wikipedia: “A parterre is a formal garden constructed on a level substrate, consisting of plant beds, typically in symmetrical patterns, which are separated and connected by paths. The borders of the plant beds may be formed with stone or tightly pruned hedging, and their interiors may be planted with flowers…”

I have been dithering and procrastinating about this one for far too long. So it’s a relief that I finally have the templates drawn and cut for my next Bee, Myself and I project, which will be known as Parterre.

I first had the idea a couple of months ago, in the middle of doing something else. At the time, I could only scribble down a quick sketch and some notes. It’s times like this when I miss the fabulous multi-coloured ballpoint pen I had as a child, with six different inks in it. Does anyone else remember those? But I digress. This has been nagging at my brain for weeks and weeks, like a tiny stone in the shoe, and finally it got too much.

Today, I sat down and made the templates, drawn out first on quilter’s graph paper, then transferred as individual pieces onto plain paper and spray-mounted onto firm card to make templates to draw around, with seam allowance included. Like the previous BM&I project (the Hatbox quilt), it’ll be raw edge appliqué, blanket stitched onto the background and trimmed out behind to reduce bulk. I won’t use fusible or glue, as you can’t then remove the excess fabric at the back. As before, I’ll add a layer of tear-away stabiliser at the back, layer all the pieces, pin and then baste by hand before stitching everything down. Labour intensive yes, but the result is a supple block with a tidy back, and no ugly channelling of the stitching. The blocks will finish at 10 inches square, and I haven’t yet decided how many to make! That decision can wait until I discover how tricky the block is…

I’ve done a pull of fabrics from my stash of FQs and larger scraps. The circular ‘frame’ around each block will be a slate grey chambray-effect glazed cotton. The backgrounds will be cream on cream prints, for visual interest with minimal interference with the prints. I have two reels of half inch jacquard woven ribbons (originally bought for gift wrapping) to form the stem of each flower, and dozens of yoyos left over from The Cloths of Heaven quilt, which will be the centres of the flowers. The leaves and flowers will be in contrasting or even clashing prints. This baby is going to be bright! I’m also considering putting a small button in the centre of each yoyo, and am still debating what colour to use for the blanket stitch; the red worked well on the Hatbox blocks, but I don’t want to cover the same ground. I’m pretty sure I won’t need to buy anything except perhaps backing material when the time comes to start the hand quilting.

I’m hoping I’ll get the first block done in time for Bee, Myself and I at the end of the month.

The Cloths of Heaven 2: groundwork

Much work but little visible progress.

That about sums up where I am. It’s like doing revision before an exam; I’m having to do a lot of prep and look at all sorts of different things to check them in advance so that when I’m actually making the quilt I don’t come up against any nasty surprises.

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Test panel on the same fabric I’ll be using.

I’ve found metallic markers that will write nicely on well-starched and pressed fabric with a double or triple pass to allow the pigment to build up. That resolves my concern that I’d have to paint or embroider the poem. I’ve found the perfect pale grey, sheeny voile to make the clouds and landscape in the central panel, which layers beautifully for different levels of opacity. I’ve found a lovely brilliant silver embroidery thread – it’s quite fine, meant for sewing machines, but it seems to behave OK in a hand sewing needle. These finds have help to clarify for me that silver for the lettering looks much nicer than gold, which has a brownish tinge against the dark blue. The silver really stands out, is cleaner and has more sparkle.

The problem of how to create an even circle of the correct size without ugly flat spots or bulges in the outline kept me busy for a while, but rather than do my usual trick of finding something about the right size to draw around (who has a dish 32 inches across anyway?), or the string, pin and pencil version, which always results in a wonky circle, I’m resorting to something vaguely scientific.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.05.05 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.04.41 pmThe fabric is folded in half top to bottom and then again side to side. Knowing that I want a circle with diameter 32 inches, I halve that for the radius, set my ruler on the point where the folds meet, and mark 16 inches plus a generous seam allowance, moving the outer end of the ruler an inch or so each time to make a new mark. Once that’s done, pin the layers of fabric together carefully so they don’t shift, and cut around from folded edge to folded edge on the seam allowance line. When you open it out, you should have a perfect circle. This circle can then be used as the template for the inner edge of the 6 inch border round the outside, and the line extended to create the outer edge of the border.

Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.04.11 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.05.22 pm Screen Shot 2015-11-01 at 6.05.41 pmThe next fun bit will be creating the templates for the landscape. I have a drawing, but it’s only 8 inches across. I need to increase it 4:1, so once again I’m going old school, ruling a 1 inch grid on the drawing. I have stuck sheets of paper together to create something the size of the finished piece, ruled a 4 inch grid on that, and now I can scale the drawing up.

It works well, I did it on my Tree of Life quilt a while back, and as I lack computer skills and fancy programs, resorting to pencil and ruler is the way to go. Experience with the other quilt has also reminded me that appliqué of any kind makes the fabric contract and draw up. A circle becomes ever so slightly oval, and a square no longer square. I need to make the outer edges of the appliqué overlap the outer edge of the circle a lot and the seam allowances generous, so I can re-draw the circle afterwards to true it up.

Tomorrow I’ll scale up the drawing and make the templates. Who knows, I may even actually start sewing!



Thanks to the Husband’s hijack of my post for his own message, many of you know it was my birthday yesterday.

My word, did I score lavishly…

Both my computers, the desk one and my laptop, were old (8+ years) Apple Macs, and while I’ve updated software and done my best to keep them running happily, the hardware has been unable to keep up and they were both getting extremely cranky. Then, a week ago, the laptop took an unassisted dive off the table, fell on its corner, and was fritzed. Finished, dead, gone.  Inconvenient, to say the least, because I couldn’t retrieve a few things I had sitting on the desktop.

So the Husband decided I had to get a new laptop. And despite the fact that they’re stupidly expensive, I was going to get another Mac. And it’s here. A teeny weeny little 11″ MacBook Air, which is going to replace both my desk computer and my lappie. On the desk, it will be hooked up to a large monitor, mouse and keyboard. Carried around, it’ll be just a bit larger than a standard iPad, but with the convenience of a USB port so I can upload photos and hook things up, and a lid that closes to protect the screen. Two for the price of one, as it were…

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Think I’d better hurry up and make a nice cover for this ….

In addition to this lovely piece of sleek techyness, the Husband took me shopping to our LQS, where I scored these:

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A gorgeous blend of purple, rust and some blue. I feel a quilt coming on….

And to top the day off, I made this chocolate cake from The Pink Rose Bakery, and I have to say that Kirsten’s recipe is, well, awesome. Do yourself a favour and make it… I’m calling it Death by Chocolate, because you’ll think you’ve died and gone to heaven!

Right, that’s quite enough gloating. I have to go and do battle with the new laptop’s operating system, which is very, very different from what I’m used to. Nothing is the same….

Some of it’s a whole lot better!

Tree of Life part 7: Denizens of the Deep

Or in slightly less posh terms, Fish.  They’re done, all 4 of them.

Yesterday's fish

Yesterday’s fish


Today’s fish

Today's fish, detail

Today’s fish, detail

In position on the background

In position on the background

In a week where I’ve also done some fairly heavy lifting in the garden, laid a load of new patio paving (see my previous post), bought, written and posted the Christmas cards for both of our very extended families, baked pies, made cheesecake, soup and bread, and hung the solar fairy lights in the patio, I’m congratulating myself at getting any more work done on this quilt at all.  It was fiddly, and now it’s done.

Next step is to start strip piecing various shades of brown, beige, rust and olive for the trunk of the tree and branches, which is going to look much, much nicer than a flat solid colour.  Once that’s done, I have to (important drum roll, please) make the tree template.  Oh help… I’ve got a dreadful feeling I’m going to end  up cutting up my design drawing into squares which represent the background 9 blocks, and literally drawing onto each square of the background the lines of the tree branches. Then I’d have to trace off that to make a paper template to lay over the strip pieced tree trunk fabric.  Anyone out there got any better suggestions, bearing in mind that I don’t have an enlarging photocopier?

At this point I’m feeling so intimidated by the sheer amount of work which still needs to be done that I can’t get enough distance on the problem to search logically and intelligently for a solution.

Anyway, enough whimpering. I sound like some wet creature who can’t cope with problems she created for herself!  I’m off to the kitchen to make fish laksa with a nice fresh Basa fillet.  The fish theme continues, apparently…