Tuesday, February 28, 2017


It's over two weeks since my last post, so I think I will do a general update today. A little of everything -- embroidery, hand piecing, machine piecing, quilting, and binding!

As many of you know, I badly wrecked my back last fall. Now, it's healed very well, and I would say it is better than it's been in years. But a strange by-product has been that hand stitching is clearly bad for my back -- somehow I sit and tense in very awkward ways when I hand stitch. So I can't do it. An unfortunate casualty of this new situation has been my guild challenge quilt, that I started in September. You can see the challenge fabrics here. It was due yesterday, so I think it is now safe to show you what I was doing before my back went out:

I started by embellishing the large scale print with hand embroidery. Stem stitch around the petals, pistil stitch in shaded tones around the centre, and I have some silver lined, forest green glass beads for the centre.

Here is another one:

My plan was to make six "vignettes" like this from the one fat quarter. Four are mostly done.

Then I also started fussy cutting the smaller white print...

...to make hexagon rosettes:

The small ones on the right are the finished size. Half inch (12 mm) hexagons! I wanted 20 rosettes in total.

What's the plan? A half-scale version of the first two rounds of Brinton Hall:

Last fall I was going flat out with my full scale version of this quilt. I already knew the pattern well, so I thought it would be doable in the allotted time. It will be awesome, I thought, to have both the big and little versions together in the show! Well, as I said in December, "Woman plans, God laughs."

Nevertheless, eventually I AM going to figure out a better ergonomic approach to hand stitching, so this is all packed away until then.

And my machine sewing projects are really coming together. The centre of Allietare is down to four pieces:

This is my "quadrants" strategy for a diagonal-set quilt. No seam is longer than 5 blocks. I plan to fussy cut the borders, so there is still a way to go.

Then those muscles were getting sore, so I decided it was time to finish quilting the border on Hen Party:

You can still see the shadows of the previous straight line quilting that puckered so badly. It took me weeks to unpick it, months of dithering, and one day to quilt it again! I like this fat, free form stipple a lot better. And, I think I've finally got the hand/eye/foot coordination figured out for free motion quilting. No stitch regulator here!

In my stash I had a striped fabric that I knew would be perfect for the binding. It ties together all the main colours of the quilt:

Imagine my dismay when I pulled the piece out of the box, and it fell apart! I thought I had yardage, but in fact I had three fat quarters left over from kits. But nothing else works as well, so I'm piecing it all together. This binding will be machine sewn.

The binding on my Cardinal Stars quilt, however, is still only half done:

This was about one quarter sewn when I wrecked my back, and there is no way to switch to machine stitching it now. Long sessions with it have proven too painful. Now I'm thinking that maybe if I set myself to do no more than two threads a day, I will eventually get it done.

In any case, Allietare is going well, Hen Party is finally going well, other projects to be updated separately are all going well, so it's not like this focus on machine sewing is a big sacrifice. My tentative plan for my summer break is to put new effort into figuring out machine applique, both raw edge and turned. But for now, I have plenty to do.  :D


  1. The Alletaire Quilt is so lovely. I love the fabrics you have chosen to make it. So sorry it hurts to do the hand work that would complete both Brinton Hall quilts. It's frustrating to have enthusiasm for a project and then not be able to work on it as long as you'd like to because your body can't handle the strain. I notice with my hand quilting that I can't quilt as long as I used to. I can, however, quilt in the early morning and then again in the evening (if I haven't overtaxed my eyes by reading). It's always something new to adapt to.

  2. I'm so sorry about your back and it now allowing you to do much handwork. It is always sad when pain limits what we can do. Your flower vignettes are gorgeous and your little hexies are so perfectly cut. I always love the kaleidoscope effect created when cut this way. Your Allietare is fabulous! Of all of Bonnie's mysteries I like this one best and your fabrics and colors are beautiful.

  3. I'm sorry to hear that your back is still a battle, but you're clearly proving that when there's a will, there's a way.

    Alletaire is absolutely striking. That's going to be some WOW quilt on your bed, or wherever it will reside. Love the colours. Stipple quilting was clearly the way to go on Hen Party. Too bad about all of the unquilting that had to happen first. Piecing the binding is worth it if the fabric is the perfect fit. I do that as well when necessary. And Brinton Hall is right up my alley. The hand embroidery on the fussy cut fabric, set into fussy cut hexies will be extraordinary, whenever it gets done. Don't give up on that one.

    1. Thank you! I did consider some abbreviated version of the challenge quilt, just to get it done, but then I decided to stick with the plan. I think it will be worth it. And...since the 30" limit for the challenge no longer applies...maybe I can add at least one more round!

  4. I'm sorry that you had been battling back pain and that made major changes in an activity that you love so much. I know you'll figure out a different approach to be able to keep stitching and working on your goals.

  5. I love Allietare! Strange that hand sewing bothers your back. One would think sitting at a machine would be worse. I love to do hand sewn binding; if we lived closer I would gladly take that on for you. Maybe with a bit more time it will become more comfortable for you.

  6. I'm so sorry your back limits you these days but hope you'll continue to improve and figure ways to modify your quilting. I love your Alletaire quilt and your challenge piece. I'm glad you'll have the opportunity to make it larger now.

  7. such a shame the back stops you from the hand stitching if I was nearby I would certainly finish the binding for you. Seems Mary and I share the same thoughts.The Alletaire quilt is coming along beautifully. Love the fussy cutting but again it is hand stitching, hopefully you will find a comfortable position to make you able to hand stitch soon

  8. Your Alletaire is wonderful--love the colors! I hope you can get back to your stitching without pain soon--those are such lovely projects not to be finished. Take care!

  9. Plenty to do is an understatement! These are all, as usual, lovely. I'd be happy to join the hand-stitching finish team if we could all meet up in the Tardis. The quilt will indeed be awesome. Such a shame about your striped fabric and good on you for persevering with joining. You are, you know, awesome yourself.

    1. LOL, thanks, Jillian! It has been one crazy hurdle after another with Hen Party. Today I found that I miscalculated the binding width, and I'm going to have to hand sew that one too. It will be the last family quilt, the resistance is insane. But hopefully, with slow steady work on the bindings, I'll figure out a better ergonomic approach as well. Spring is coming, time for a change!

  10. Monica, I LOVED seeing your challenge fabrics and reading through your ideas was such a WOW. How do you think of all those details?? Truly, it all will become a masterpiece and I know that you can do it! Bummer news about the binding for hen party. I do hope that a couple of threads will work for you. Perhaps, you will build some "muscle" and be able to do more in time. My heart skips a beat every time I see your Allietare; it is so lovely!

    1. You know, my reply to your question was getting long, Terry! Maybe I will write a post. Thanks so much! I really appreciate all the encouragement. :D


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