Monday, 2 May 2016

While I'm waiting...

I found out over the weekend that yes, the publication of StarMark would be delayed - by two to three weeks. For those of you who've pre-ordered, I hope you can find something else to fill your reading time...

Like Debi Alper's De Nada Nirvana, the third book in her Nirvana series which has had a ten-year gap to publication. (I've spoken of Debi on the blog before - she is an author, an amazing editor, a friend and encourager to writers everywhere and co-runs the Writer's Workshop Self Editing Your Novel course with Emma Darwin.)

Or dip into Jody Klaire's Above and Beyond Series - she's a fellow Binkie and I'm sure you'll love Team Aeron and Mrs Squirrel.

But let's not dwell on what we can't change...let me update you on the rainbow quilt. I first mentioned it in this blog post, but I don't think I'd got to the point of piecing the completed blocks together.

Can I say at this point, what a lovely bunch quilters are? They made me - a complete quilting novice - most welcome in their established group, and were ready to offer advice and assistance whenever I asked for it. (And when I didn't, but that stopped me making some pretty rookie errors.) I enjoyed my four weeks on the course very much, and I shall pop back to show everyone the quilt when it's finished.

Back to the actual quilt. It took me a week to sew the blocks together, and on the last day of the course, I went prepared to add the border, buy the backing fabric and the wadding so I could ask for help on putting it all together. Petrina, the teacher, showed me all sorts of tricks to make sure everything was flat and smooth, and by the end of my last session, I'd got the three layers ready for pinning.

Ready for the pinning - falling blocks of rainbow colour

I'd fallen in love with the fabric I wanted to use as a backing pretty much as soon as I looked at it - swirls of rainbow coloured batik dots on a navy and grey base. Because it had so much pattern, I felt it would make the quilt reversible, and still kept the colour I so wanted to have. The problem with going by instinct on any fabric though is that you don't look at the price - and this one was one of the more expensive ones. I gritted my teeth, told myself I'd always promised to make a rainbow would be an heirloom...I'd never be happy if I compromised with something cheaper that I didn't like as much...and bought it anyway.

The backing fabric folded up so you can see it

And then, with every coloured square pinned through the three layers, I got ready to quilt. Now most quilters run lines or patterns all over the quilt's surface - it attaches the three layers so there is no bunching of the wadding layer. But I couldn't bear the thought of cutting through my very striking rainbow squares with a coloured thread. Plus, I wasn't sure I could physically manhandle the sheer volume of fabric and still stitch a straight line! So I'm hand quilting the whole thing instead. I'm echo-stitching (ie running the stitching just inside the seams) each block of colour, with a view to possibly 'stitching the ditch' of some of the black-to-black seams.

Ready to quilt...

So far, I've done a few squares each day, working from the centre of the quilt out, and it's looking reasonable. The top looks very neat, the underside...well, even with the quilter's loop to keep my fabric flat, I've found that I must be pushing my needle through at an angle, because the stitches on the reverse aren't as small or neat as the top. But the backing fabric is so busy, it's not as noticeable. And I'm working on the theory that every quilt is unique and my slightly wonky stitching will add...character. Yes, let's go with that. It'll be a characterful quilt.

After the quilting, there'll be the binding to add and finish it, but I think that's a fair way off. Oh - and then, J wants to make one. (We're cutting up the fabric today - it'll be an exam leave project I think.) And T has asked for one too...

I might make another for myself - couldn't resist  buying a Bali Pops jelly roll in the colours of my bedroom... Yes, I know the rainbow quilt's for my bed too, but I might want a change every now and then!

Just a few of the Bali Pops strips
 I think you can definitely say I've caught the quilting bug. And it'll keep me busy in the run-up to StarMark's publication; I have a couple of ideas for quilted gifts, so watch this space...

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