Postcards from Barbados #5: turning homewards

Farewell once again to the island.

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Next stop South America

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Next stop Africa

It’s been fabulous, but now it’s time to go home and resume my normal life.  I’m going to miss my oldest friend, I’m going to miss the beauty of the island, the colour of the sea, the lushness of the gardens – and the cheapness of the rum!  But I’m missing my sewing room, my sewing machine, my own bed and my own garden, which I hope has survived the Category 1 Cyclone Ita which swept over it yesterday.  I hope my fruit trees are still standing and that the worm farm has not blown away.

We’ll be travelling for 3 days.  We leave this afternoon, land in London for half a day (to be spent with my brother, handing over quilts), leave London in the evening for Singapore (duty free shopping at Changi, such hardship!), land in Brisbane at sparrowfart the next day, and have a short wait before our last flight home to Mackay.  I won’t have a chance to check emails or blogs, but I’ll see y’all on Thursday or Friday (depending on whether I can stay awake long enough to read your posts, respond to your comments and do some liking and commenting of my own). The jetlag is going to be fierce…

The Tree of Life 15: the birds of the air, and a stage completed.

The front is finished at last.

The Tree of Life complete with fish, birds, fruit, flowers, leaves, roots and branches.

The Tree of Life complete with fish, birds,
fruit, flowers, leaves, roots and branches.

Detail of branches, fruit, flowers and birds

Detail of branches, fruit, flowers and birds

Overall, I’m pretty happy with how it looks. The appliqué process hasn’t drawn up the fabric quite as badly as I feared, but there is a noticeable difference on the sides, where it’s clear the edge bows in towards the middle as a result. I may do a spot of judicious tweaking of seam allowances and trimming to make this defect less obvious. I’m glad I made the leaves smaller, as otherwise I feel it would have looked very crowded. I’m very happy with the pears instead of grapes, and I’m pleased with the birds, which add a lightness and playfulness the fairly formal arrangement otherwise lacked.

The backing, which exactly matches some fabrics on the front.

The backing, which exactly matches
some fabrics on the front.

I was pondering what to do about the backing. Not in any sense of what it would look like – there’s no way I was going to piece something – but what colour to use. As luck would have it, I was able to buy wideback in exactly the right shade of turquoise to go with the turquoise patches on the front. I’ll use the same thing to bind it, a fairly narrow binding, I think. What is chiefly on my mind at the moment is how to quilt it. It clearly needs it, to even out the texture a bit. But I’m not a big fan of close quilting, so I’m doing quite a lot of internal debating. I’ll outline each branch and root and leaf and fruit and flower. I’ll probably run a line up the centre of each leaf, too. I’ll outline the birds and fish, and the red containing circle.  After that, I’m a bit stuck. I badly want to get this quilt finished, so really simple quilting would be the answer there. But I also want to do justice to the design, and something a bit more elaborate is called for in that respect.

Here’s what I’m thinking: The top half, the ‘sky’, I will quilt with big billowy curved cloud shapes, up to the outer margins of the tree. The bottom half, the ‘sea’, I will quilt with long, meandering lines to look like ripples in the water, up to the margin of the roots. Bearing in mind that my quilting skills are modest at best, that I don’t have a very sophisticated sewing machine, and that my workspace is limited, does anyone have any other suggestions? Just be aware that if I lose courage at the beginning of this process, the quilt is going to get plain cross-hatched diagonal quilting over the whole background, stopping short of the outlined design elements!  And if it does, I make no apologies – finished is better than perfect, eh?

Off to press my wideback and cut it to size.  I’m looking forward to your thoughts.