The Aurora Borealis quilt that I had casually named “Spinners” has a new name – I decided on “Bifrost Bridges” because in Norse mythology, Bifrost is a burning rainbow bridge that links the human world with the realm of the Gods. Obviously, I did not include any of that information on my show entry because I have only just thought of it!
It has felt like I have been working on a never-ending project this week. First I spent half a day experimenting with couching threads on scrap fabric before couching on some odd bobbly yarn that I was worried might run out. For some nonsensical idea, I decided to couch sparkly thread on top of that.
The plan was to face this quilt instead of adding a conventional binding but I decided that its edges were too bulky to turn back neatly. Instead I went for a single binding, hand-sewn to the back and I have the finger callouses to prove it. I loathe sewing on sleeves and labels but decided to get that out of the way before adding any beads and sparkles.
Somehow there is something bothering me about this quilt, probably to do with how much time I have spent on it yet am am not entirely sure that it has worked. Quilting friends who have seen it in person were not exactly blown away by it. I can’t decide if it is too simplistic or too fussy or even whether it is a worthy “show standard” quilt. The trouble with having instant access to images of amazing quilts via social media is that I begin to question whether I can come up with anything that is more original, more technical or more unique.
I really am running out of time and patience with “Bifrost” – ideally I would like to encrust it with tiny glass beads but I will have to content myself with a feature area for now so it can get posted to its first show on time. I can always go back and add more later…
This week I was in Switzerland for 2 days at Bernina International in Steckborn. It was a little like a top secret visit to a (sewing machine) factory in a James Bond film. I was impressed to meet many wonderful, creative people involved with design, manufacture and training. I was there to receive instruction using the exciting new Q24 Bernina Longarm machine which I cannot say too much about at present as it has not yet been launched in the UK. All I can say is that I had a wonderful time, enjoyed good coffee, excellent chocolate and I am really looking forward to representing Bernina. I just hope they don’t commission me to make another Smart Car Cover!
After catching up on emails back home, I held my breath standing at the quilt frame and braved the zany Northern Lights quilt. Having adjusted the hopping foot I only broke one needle but that upset the tension and resulted in some tedious unpicking. Some intersections are a bit thready but I am planning to do a bit of couching or beading over those. I did not risk using a ruler so it is all freehand and although it does not look like it, I restrained myself from quilting the whole thing with a variety of tiny fillers. Mentally, I am referring to it as “The Marmite Quilt” as I am unsure whether people will love it or hate it…
I am trying not to panic about how quickly the year is unfolding. I have to complete this quilt and get the Book into a near finished state by the end of this month. Although I am not teaching in schools, my kids are on a mid-term break so my time is not really my own. As they get older they get busier so I really need to keep track of who needs to be where and attempt to co-ordinate trips. When I take them to the cinema this week I will go via a wool shop to see if I can pick up some interesting yarn. If the “Marmite” quilt gets finished and bound for its first show I will be happy – then maybe I can add a few more embellishments before entering it into another one;)
There are often times when I wonder what I was thinking…
I sewed all of the blocks together on the zany Aurora quilt and they matched up almost perfectly, except for two of the over-sized quarter square blocks that I seem to have trimmed oddly. I wanted to use a double layer of wadding to get a high loft and normally I would use a layer of cotton and a layer of wool. However, I had been put off wool after I had a batch of wadding that was ‘beardy”. I just knew that it ought to be cotton so it would be easy to block while damp so it would hang square. I could easily have used two sensible, thin layers of cotton but I chose to double-up with extra dense Warm Plush.
I started dutifully stitching-in-the-ditch with invisible thread and immediately broke a needle. I broke a whole packet of needles and was quilting like a nervous wreck, holding my breath the entire time. It was good job I was wearing specs as the needle tips were shattering and pinging randomly. Fed up with seeing nasty little needle rips in the quilt, I finished off the SID on the domestic machine, sewing very slowly.
I have now put the quilt back onto the Longarm and raised the hopping foot which I HOPE will make a difference so I can tackle some free-motion quilting. Currently, my show quilt for 2015 looks like a baggy, beginner’s project!
Another bad habit that I have is trawling for junk on Ebay and Gumtree. I managed not buy a tiny camper van or sweet shop scales but I did go and see a bargain oil-fired Rayburn cooker. It will probably be 100 years before my husband agrees to have it installed in our kitchen and I have a nasty feeling that it may be too small to heat all of the radiators but I daresay I can always trade it in for a bigger model when the time comes. Meanwhile, it can replace the obsolete chest freezer in the garage as a place to store camping gear!
All week I mass produced bias strips, pressed and fancy-stitched until I finally had enough oversized wonky squares to trim down into blocks and setting triangles. I did not actually know what size I was aiming for until I could figure out the largest square I could make from the ones that were destined to be setting triangles. I had started off with 20” square pieces of fabric that were eventually trimmed to a mere 12.5” then I worked out the other sizes accordingly in a backwards, roundabout way. By the time the quilt top is all connected I might even have to add an outer border to make sure its overall size fits certain competition categories. This maths may have been a bit challenging but not nearly so grim as Freya’s Higher Maths Prelim exam;)
There are lots of large offcuts from this quilt that might come in handy for some sort of project later on. I could use them for notebook covers or employ them more purposefully as crazy scraps in another freeform quilt.
The pieced blocks are bulky – they all have a layer of fusible interfacing, loads of stitching and thick bias strips. I will use a skinny needle and a straight stitch plate to sew them all together. The quilting looks like it could be fiddly – I don’t have a firm plan yet, just some scribbly sketches which are likely to morph. I have a pile of paperwork to attend to before I start on the next phase.
I have resigned my role as the UK’s rep for APQS after 5 years. I would like to be clear that I have parted on good terms with APQS and handed over to Ani and Kay. I do have other irons in the fire, as well as that Unfinished Book and all will be revealed before too long…
Excitingly, the trip that Ellen, Kay and I will make to Paducah in April is shaping up nicely. Almost all of the arrangements for flights, hotels and car-hire are sorted. We just need to book a couple of classes and decide which quilt shops to visit. I think we are all looking forward to a trip in the Spring that is just for fun:)