In the late summer I offered to finish off, back, and bind a queen-size hand embroidered crazy quilt my friend Ruth has been working on for the past many years. She almost finished, then lost interest and put the quilt away. I know she intended going back to it, but I also knew she probably wouldn’t get there. So I offered to complete it for her – with my sewing machine using decorative quilting stitches where she’s done hand work, but it would work.

Yesterday I dug out the quilt from the closet, this morning I opened it up and started by trimming the quilt edges to make them straight, machine basting flapping bits of fabric – there’s quite a bit of beading near the edges – broke a needle on one. My next task will be to remove beads near edges so I can properly machine sew where I need to.

I also need to add fabric to three corners, and figure out a way to decorate a seam that joins a panel across the quilt near one end – lace, silk, bits of crochet, whatever bits and pieces I can find in my collection of stuff that kind of goes with what Ruth has used.

Hand Embroidered Crazy Quilt

Here’s my problem – the quilt needs a backing. I can set up a backing using a light cotton (the quilt is VERY heavy already and doesn’t need anything weighty on the back). But how am I going to stabilize the top to the back? I can’t stitch over existing embroidered edges because it would look awful and there are beads on lots of those edges. Do I tie top to back with bits of yarn? I have to do something.

If anybody has any idea how to attach a back to something like this, I’d love to hear your suggestions because I’m stumped, I must say. The underside of the quilt does need to be concealed because there are thread ends and raw edges throughout that will ravel and come out if left exposed.


Charm Pack Quilt – 2

Just finished piecing the charm pack quilt. Three borders – two narrow and one wide. The overall finished size will be 47″ x 60″ – a good lap quilt size.

Quilt Top Pieced With Borders

Now my problem is the back. I have 53″ of potential backing fabric (the same fabric I used for the dark wide border). To make that work I have to extend the length by 12″ in order to have enough hang-over to be able to quilt the project. I have enough leftover blocks to create a strip and with borders I can make the insertion strip the required width to give me the length I need for the backing.

The width also has to be extended – I have a workable 42″ in the width-of-fabric – I need a finished width of  51″. I will have to extend the width another 11″ – 12″. That will mean using almost a third of the blocks in the unused pack for an insertion strip.

The easiest way of doing this is just to extend one side of the length and of the width but that  will end up being trimmed and I want the entire inserted strips to be included in the back with the trimming coming from the major background fabric. Those extension strips will need to be inserted approximately 8″-9″ from one edge of both length and width.

That’s for tomorrow. Done enough for today. Got further than I expected.

Charm Pack Quilt – 1

A couple of weeks ago my physiotherapist handed me a Northcott charm pack with blue/turquoise fabrics – forty-two 5″ squares in 10 different coordinating colours. Not enough to make a quilt on it’s own. I went through my stash pulling out blues and turquoise fat quarters, half-yards, and scraps to cut another forty 5″ squares which would get me closer to what I’d need for a good-sized lap quilt. This quilt isn’t for me – she wants it to use in her new house.

Charm Pack with Quilt Backing Fabric

I thought about a lot of possibilities – finally decided to do a disappearing 9-patch. I didn’t want to invest a huge amount of time executing fine detail – setting up a 9-patch didn’t take long, cutting the blocks into quarters went quickly, arranging the resulting blocks is now my challenge. Because I didn’t think the blues/turquoises had enough life, I decided to use a golden yellow (with hints of blue) as an accent colour. I placed the yellow blocks at the centre of the 9-patch so they were all cut into quarters when I spliced the 9-patch blocks. Here is my current layout:

Disappearing 9-Patch using Charm Pack

Not big enough for a good size lap quilt – so far just a 5×7 array. The question I’m deliberating right now is whether to extend the quilt with a narrow border in light blue along with a wide dark border (I actually bought a second charm pack, in case I didn’t have enough for the quilt center – I could use the charm pack squares to piece an intermediate 2.5″ border then finish with a wider dark border). Or, I could add sashing between blocks/rows and space out these elements – but what colour to use for sashing?

I have to keep thinking about this – not sure what to do,  yet.

Oh, and I came across some appropriate backing fabric for half-price so I picked it up.

As I was leaving the physiotherapist’s office Tuesday, I noticed the additions to the tree in her yard. I think there’s a pottery studio in the garage – used by the previous owner – these faces bits of the potter’s work (top face missing it’s left eye).


Amaryllis 2 2018

I got a second amaryllis for Christmas – so far the first stalk has completely bloomed. There’s a second stalk well on the way and I think I’m seeing a possible third stalk peeking out….

Amaryllis 2 2018

Crazy weather – it snowed last night, then turned to rain, then the temperature dropped well below freezing leaving black ice patches. I haven’t been out yet today, but just about to venture forth.

Kantha Jacket – Completed

Just finished the jacket. Yesterday, I assembled the double-welt pockets, stitched the shoulders, added the collar, pinned in the sleeves. This morning, I sewed the sleeves in (bound the seams), stitched the sleeve underarm and jacket side seams (bound those seams), and finished with a hidden binding on the bottom edge.

The buttonholes took a bit of crafting – in the end I used a double thread (a black combined with an almost navy) to provide a bit of definition to the buttonholes so they show (a single thread wasn’t really visible). Last the buttons.

Kantha Jacket – Front

Then I tried the jacket on – it fit, but the sleeves were about an inch and a half too long. I removed the cuffs, shortened the sleeves and restitched the cuffs. The sleeves are now a little longer than 3/4 length – I can bring them down by lowering the cuff should I want to.

Here’s the jacket back:

Kantha Jacket – Back

I’m pleased with the result. It fits like the jacket I bought in San Francisco three years ago – a useful addition to my wardrobe.

Double Welt Pocket

There are lots of ways of constructing a double-welt pocket. I never attempt one without first doing at least one test run! Here’s a sample I mocked up late yesterday.

I want the pocket opening to be on a slight diagonal rather than cutting straight across (this way I can make a wider opening in a shorter width distance). The 1/4″ welts are small but set up a stabilizing contrasting detail against the very busy fabric.

Double Welt – Front of Fabric

In this practice pocket I didn’t interface the welt fabric – I need to do that and I need to use a small (slightly stiff) interfacing on the jacket fabric itself so that the pocket opening is crisp and flat.

A normal double-welt pocket uses a pocket bag – but because I want to use patterned fabric on the inside as an accent to the solid of the reverse of the jacket fabric that won’t work – too much bulk. Instead, I’m going to cut out a single piece for the pocket, do a Hong Kong finish around the edges, attach it to the inside of the top welt fabric, then straight stitch the pocket piece to the front forming the pocket. In addition, I’m going to position the top of the pocket piece to match the angle of the double welt and align the pocket piece on the vertical.

Pocket on Back Side of Fabric

I used the dimensions suggested in Andrea Brown’s tutorial – begin with 7″ x 3″ welt pieces. But the resulting 5″ opening is a tiny bit too narrow. I want to end up with a  6″ opening which might actually bring the pocket to the side seam – or very close to it. But because the welts are small, that should look OK.

Now to add the pockets to the jacket front pieces – easier to do before they’re attached to the jacket than after the parts are sewn together.

Socks from a Hand-Dyed Skein

Finished this pair of socks last evening. Too bad I didn’t take a photo of the skein – the colours were luscious – and distinct. But unwind and ball the yarn and you get this kind of blurred mixture which is relatively boring when knit into socks. I tried choosing embedded colours for cuff, heels and toes but they don’t blend – they stick out.

Here’s what hand-dyed yarn can look like: you can get large swaths of colour

Hand-dyed Yarn – Sectional

or it can look like this

Variegated Hand-dyed Yarn

In either case, they knit up looking more or less like my socks.

While the colours are enticing, I find this yarn much less satisfying to use than commercial balls dyed to create an actual pattern. Socks with hand-dyed yarn always seem to take a lot longer because there are no pattern shifts to indicate the progress you’re making.

So back to another patterned ball of yarn….

Kantha Jacket

Last spring in San Francisco, Sheila and I visited Gumps. At the front of the store was a rack of lovely casual bright print jackets by Meiko Mintz constructed out of Indian Kantha cloth. I didn’t bother trying them on – the price deterred me. The jackets were something I could easily make for myself (if I could ever find the quilted Kantha cloth).

A couple of weeks ago, I came across an inexpensive king-size Kantha bedspread on Amazon which I ordered. It arrived amazingly fast – within 10 days. More than enough fabric to make a jacket.

Kantha King-Size Bedspread (folded in half)

First it had to be washed… I thought about the process for more than a week – I knew the indigo (or whatever dark blue dye had been used) would run and likely kill the white stitching which I didn’t want to happen.

I was able to fit the large bedspread in my home washing machine. I added colour collector sheets to the wash.

Colour Collector Sheets

I used four just to make sure I would catch as much loose colour as possible. I added some Oxyclean (to get rid of whatever dirt was in the fabric), and an unscented detergent to cool water. (I probably should have added a cup of vinegar but I wasn’t sure how it would react with the Oxyclean – I will hand wash the jacket with added vinegar once it’s done to stabilize the colour before wearing it).

I caught a LOT of dye:

Colour Collector Sheets – After Washing

I started the garment by making a pattern from an existing jacket (which I happen to have bought at Gumps three years ago). A simple style with a Mandarin collar, turned up sleeves, pockets (too small to be useful – mine will be quite a bit larger). The thing about the jacket, which is reversible, is it’s finished with a hidden binding. Because my fabric is already quilted I will do a hidden binding finish using a batik that complements the plain fabric on the back of the bedspread fabric.

Here’s the jacket cut out and ready to begin sewing (I’ve already added the turned up cuffs to the sleeves – I constructed them separately and attached them to the sleeves so the print shows when the cuff is rolled back).

Jacket Front – Cut Out

Because of the way I’ve incorporated the the fabric detail, large patch pockets would obscure the design. Instead I’m going to make double welt pockets and use a single layer of printed fabric for the pocket on the inside of the jacket, blind binding the pocket fabric, then stitching it to the front, leaving just the double welt showing on the outside of the jacket. I’m still not sure whether I want to add a solid, darker blue strip to the bottom of the jacket – I have enough fabric to do that, although it would be an add-on and an extra seam – still thinking about that.

The finished jacket will be just a single layer, with machine stitched buttonholes. I’ve so far not looked for buttons – have to check my button collection before I go shopping.

More as the project unfolds over the weekend.