Who can resist a bargain…?

Not I, that’s for sure.

The post-Christmas sales are on. And since the fabrics were 40% off (yes, you did read that right), I indulged. A bit. OK, quite a lot.  But it was all sensible or necessary, I promise. Sort of….

So, here’s the identity parade:

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Lovely neutrals. I can’t pick a favourite, they’re all great.

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It must be obvious by now that I’m a paisley freak and that by extension, I simply had to buy this fat quarter….

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More of the lovely stuff I used for backing my Happiness quilt, plus a warm beige homespun, and a little more of that fabulous green shot cotton.

Also bought but not shown because it doesn’t photograph particularly well is 2 metres of indigo wideback for the back of Worldwide Friends. Looks like the back’s going to be blue too, but with a different feel.

Next year, I must make a few more AHQ quilts and laundry bags; I feel guilty every time I see that so many other ladies have been busily stitching away. And I must finish the Husband’s Star quilt. And Steampunk needs a good bit of attention. And I have the Kaffe Fassett Hatbox quilt I’ve been promising myself since forever. And there’s my Winter Quilt, all hand stitched batik clamshells in rich dark shades, not even started. And one day, I’ll actually make a quilt from all the denim squares I’ve recycled from the Husband’s work jeans. And so on. You get the idea…

Back to hexies. I’m slowly assembling the square block I showed in my last Worldwide Friends post. Once that’s done, I shall make the equivalent square for the other side.  It’s going to be important to watch out for patchiness in the colour balance. I don’t want it to look splotchy. My plan is for the quilt to be darkest in the centre and get a little lighter as I work outwards, since not all the fabrics are very dark indigo. So far, it’s working pretty well.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas and are ready for both challenges and fun in the New Year.

The Tree of Life 16: no more excuses

The cyclone is over.  It was stronger than expected and closer than expected, but we came through unscathed.

Layering

Layering

Ready to pin

Ready to pin

Ready to quilt

Ready to quilt

So the Husband was off to work on schedule, and I was left to look at the ToL backing, batting and top, and completely fail to find a reason not to pin them together. I don’t enjoy the grovelling around on the floor. My knees and back are too old for this game. But it’s done, despite a visit from the Dowager with a birthday present, lots of conversation, making a batch of bickies and serving them with coffee and assorted other displacement activities. I’ve put all the furniture back and vacuumed the carpet and loaded the dishwasher and had lunch. Further displacement activities, you see, so that I don’t have to start actually quilting. And of course, there’s writing this blog…

Thank you to everyone who gave me their thoughts on how the quilting might look. It’s been very helpful in getting me to actually narrow down the list of possible options. It’s also amazing how much less stressed I feel about the quilt now that I can see the light at the end of the tunnel. The first part of the quilting’s going to be pretty miserable, but after that, I can have a bit of fun with my clouds and water ripples. And I actually love binding and labelling, so that’s all good too.

I’m keeping those Amy Butler charm squares out on my work table to act as  a reminder/incentive/goad when the going gets tough.

OK, I’ve cleaned all the lint out of the bobbin race, replaced the needle with a new quilting needle and adjusted tension and stitch length. Time to get cracking.

I’m going in!

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.