Comet Quilt – Completed

Finally finished. Yesterday I attached the hidden binding (mitring the corners) and hand stitched it to the back.

Comet Quilt - Top

Comet Quilt – Top

I’m happy with the colour flow from top left to bottom right. The bronze “sparkle” in the background fabric shows nicely, as well – I didn’t see that as a possibility when I ordered the fabric. There’s also a blue speckle which is brought out by the medium blue shades in the brighter blocks.

The back turned out nicely, as well.  I was able to incorporate the single pink triangle there. In the photo, the blocks look darker than they are – that’s because in a brighter light (it’s a dark cloudy day today – a large snowstorm is forecast to start around noon) the bronze sparkle in the blocks from the background fabric do show.

Just about every scrap of fabric I had leftover from the front got used in that strip. I was lucky to be able to complete the 125 blocks I needed for the stripe.

When I was making the quilt back  made sure I’d have enough fabric from the offcuts to be able to make the hidden binding. I like how the elements of the back come to the edge of the quilt that way rather than being interrupted by a conventional binding.

Comet Quilt – Back

This morning I pulled out two complementary jellyroll packages from the stash. Now I have to figure out some way to use them in a quilt. That’s my next project.

Comet Quilt VI – The Back

All those bright blue triangles I had leftover when I remade so many of those HST blocks? I used them to make more HST blocks for the insert on the back of the quilt!

25 of 125 blocks

The quilt top is 54″ x 68″. I need to make the back 4″ larger in both length and width: 58″ x 72″ or thereabouts (I’ll be using the off-cuts to do a hidden binding after the quilt is quilted). My HST blocks finish at 3″ so I needed 25 of them for the length (one extra row just in case), and 5 blocks for the width (15″ to make the back panel wide enough: 42″ + 16 1/2″) will do it.

I needed 125 blocks to construct the insert strip. The strip will be bordered with two dark strips – a finished 1″ strip using the last small scraps I had of the Sparkle fabric (not a single bit left), and one other (finished width 1/2″) yet to be determined!

Back strip under construction

I have assembled two of the 25 blocks elements – 3 to go. I should get those done today. Tomorrow I’ll put the quilt back together, set up the sandwich and then think about what kind of quilting design would complement the Comet Quilt top – no idea about that yet.

Comet Quilt – V

Here is the quilt top – finished – borders in place. Final size ~ 50″ x 70″ (I’ll measure it when it’s finished).

Quilt Top – Completed

It has taken a lot of fiddling, and looking at the photograph I can see spots where I could make more block swaps – but this is it. No more replacing blocks – I’ve done enough. I’m prepared to live with this outcome. Besides, the quilting will integrate the blocks; I will use some kind of variegated thread that both blends but contrasts with the fabrics.

Leftovers from remade blocks

I realized quite early on the bright blue blocks were going to be too bright so I remade almost all of them, substituting darker fabrics, particularly in the upper right quadrant. I haven’t counted them – I don’t want to know how much extra work I actually did. I’m happy with the reconstructed blocks, I was able to make enough to distribute throughout the panels surrounding the central panel.

I was keeping one eye on the Moda quilt pattern as I worked and that was a mistake – I thought it would make the process simpler (give me an idea about how many blocks to make, what pairings to set up) – it made it more difficult. Because I wasn’t using the suggested fabrics I had to reconsider and rework selections/pairings I’d made even after large sections were stitched. The quilt pattern uses large blocks in the outer regions – those elements turned out to be difficult to incorporate and keep the whole flat – I would have been better off to have constructed the quilt from 3 1/2″ blocks throughout. Next time I attempt something freeform like this, I will put the stimulus photo away and work from scratch basing decisions on the fabrics and the colour movement I want to achieve.

Now onto the back – I have absolutely no idea what to do with that. I think I’ll take the top to the fabric shop to see what I can find. I know, without looking, I have nothing in my stash that will suit the quilt top.

Comet Quilt – IV

Comet Quilt – More sections added

It’s a dull day today, hard to get a good photo without more daylight, but this image does give a sense of how this quilt is building out.

I added a row at the top and along the left side, a panel across the bottom and another (built from two smaller panels) to the right. Along the way, I found myself taking bits apart and changing out blocks to better the colour movement down and to the right.

The next section is a panel, constructed from segments of the background with just a few HST dotted here and there. This panel will extend the length of the whole by about a foot giving a good throw quilt size.

The final borders are constructed from background fabric – and I’m pretty sure I don’t have enough. With a bit of luck the yard I bought online the other day will arrive soon.

Comet Quilt – III

Central Panel – Done!

There it is. I’ve just finished assembling the central panel.

It took a careful, precise pairing of blocks in rows, making sure I pressed the seams in an appropriate direction so I could juxtapose the blocks when stitching the rows. Not a task for the disorganized. Fortunately I’d taken lots of photos of the arrangement on the floor so I could refer to them as I was painstakingly sewing these blocks together.

I’m happy with this layout – I got rid of a lot of the “squareness” in the pattern and what’s left will be dulled when I add the darker bordering elements which are all much darker.

I also managed to align the points pretty well (not perfectly – I can see a few small irregularities) – even another quilter would have to have an eagle eye to spot them.

So, tomorrow – since there is no aquafit (the pool is closed for the next 10 days – probably longer – COVID-19 precautions, right? We’re all working hard here in NS to keep the lid on the virus – we’re getting spread but so far it’s not escalating exponentially…). I have NOTHING else on my calendar. I’ll be able to get up and get to work on the next set of bordering panels.

[BTW: The pink bit in the lower right corner is a post-it note saying “Bottom Right” so I had a reference point to keep me oriented as I was assembling the panel (I built up the panel starting at the bottom rows simply because I could reach them more easily without having to worry about inadvertently shifting blocks).]

[BTW 2: Yesterday I bought some of the striped fabrics specified in the original quilt pattern – I’m thinking it might be interesting to try this quilt again as a “postage stamp” quilt ending up with 1 1/2″ blocks. That’ll be a challenge because the HST will be very small – same number of blocks, however. I think those striped fabrics were an interesting aspect of the original design and I want to see if I can make them work without following the pattern!]

Comet Quilt – II

I’m progressing – I haven’t begun sewing yet – I’ve spent the past three days walking around the panel arrayed on my floor, moving a block here, changing a block there.

This morning I removed 8 HST with the bright blue with dots and remade them using some Stonehenge fabric (in dark blue and teal tones) which I bought yesterday. Then I placed them into the array. They register as medium in colour supporting the “bright” centre of the panel.

Comet panel – Laid out

The “squareness” of it is now more or less gone. I have the light moving toward the bottom left corner. The adjacent panels will continue that colour movement. I’m now ready to assemble these rows.

In the meantime I’ve begun laying out segments to fit around this piece which bring elements of the medium and darker blue shades into mostly background strips and blocks. I have sewn a portion of one of the side panels and lain out two others. These pieces become constructed, more and more, from the background Sparkle fabric, until finally the borders just use background (fingers crossed I actually have enough – I ordered another yard yesterday just in case because I have a suspicion I will need more than I have).

Side Panels Under Construction

I finally have a handle on the ratio I’m working with. My quilt will turn out 78% of the original (that’s because I changed 4 1/2″ blocks to 3 1/2″). Knowing that ratio now lets me construct the panels elements and borders which I intend doing after I sew the main centre panel together.

That’s for tomorrow.

Comet Quilt

I’d seen a photo of the Comet Quilt some time ago and thought it would be fun to try creating something like that – a light centre against a dark background. I went through my fabric stash and pulled out a pile of light batiks, a bunch of medium, and a few dark.

I was wondering what to actually use as the dark background fabric when I happened upon the Moda (Ruby Star Society) Comet Quilt pattern.

The Comet Quilt (Moda)

I discovered the actual background fabric used in the quilt and was able to find some online so I ordered 2 yards.

And then the fabric pile sat there while I worked on the three Skyline quilts. I was intending to work on a wall art piece next but the fabric pile started calling to me – I looked at the Moda pattern to get an idea of how I wanted to work on this. I wanted a throw size (~50″ x 70″) – quite a bit smaller than the pattern was describing. So I had a couple of choices – fewer blocks, or smaller ones. I decided to duplicate the 18 x 23 blocks using 3 1/2″ half-square triangles (finished size 3″).

This is where the whole process becomes quite complicated. I’m using a set of my own fabrics (not those in the pattern) so as I read through the pattern to guesstimate of how many HST I would need I realized I was not going to be able to manage any kind of match-up to the blocks in the pattern. I cut the same number of light blocks, medium blocks, dark blocks. I matched up some light/light light/medium, light dark, medium/dark, dark/dark combinations, marked the stitching lines, sewed the blocks, cut them apart into HST, pressed them, and trimmed them carefully to 3 1/2″.

Then I cleared a space on my studio floor and began laying them out:

The Comet Quilt (Moda)

I put the Moda instructions with photos aside and just played with the blocks trying to create the “startburst” for the quilt centre.

I’ve been taking photos, moving blocks around, taking more photos, moving more blocks. this is where I am at the moment – the central 11 x 11 block centre panel. I’m sure when I see this tomorrow morning in the daylight I’ll move blocks again.

In some ways this improvisation is easier than trying to follow the pattern layout! I can just make decisions based on the blocks I have and see how the panel turns out.

What’s obvious is that my “medium” colour tones are brighter than the fabrics used for the original. So my quilt, overall, will be brighter than the Moda original.

Once I’m satisfied with a layout for this panel, I will sew the blocks together, first into rows, then stitch the rows. I have to do that, because I will need to plan the outer panels based on the size this panel works out to be. The Moda pattern will give me an idea about how I will want to use my dark/background HST squares but I can’t cut my background fabric yet because I don’t know the size required for the remaining elements!

That’s just what it’s like when you improvise.

Small Projects

Last week Ruby handed me the sleeve from an old Persian lamb coat – wondering whether I could make a small zippered handbag for her.

I cut a strip from the sleeve, discovered some original lining inside (still usable), added a bright red zipper and a bit of leather lacing for a handle – and there you have it: a small Persian Lamb handbag – finished size close to 7″ x 9″. I also put a small zippered pocket on the inside! (I used a leather needle and ordinary polyester thread – the machine handled the stitching just fine.)

Persian Lamb Small Handbag

She should be happy with that.

After finishing the last pair of socks I picked up this ball of Antarctica yarn which came in a “mystery bag” of sock yarn I ordered from Hobbii (in Denmark).

It’s one of those balls you want to use up quickly but I realized I’d be more than bored knitting this yarn…

Ugly Yarn

It’s a lovely texture yarn, nice to work with, but the colours are so bleh! So I added a bright leftover that I intended to interweave through the Antarctica yarn:

Ugly Yarn + Bright Leftover

This is what the sock is turning out like. By chance, the heel more or less fit in the green section, almost the whole heel, so I decided to keep knitting with just the original yarn.

Developing Sock

Right now my plan is to continue the foot in the Antarctica yarn, introducing a bit more of the leftover somewhere past the instep for a short distance – mainly to extend the yellow section (which will knit 20 rows – I counted that in the leg).

If I’m lucky, I’ll be able to end the toe in mauve to match the cuff –

Skyline #3 – Completed

Finished the third quilt a few days ago. It didn’t take as long to quilt as I’d anticipated in large part because instead of quilting single blocks I was able to quilt two at a time using the 360 x 260 hoop. I probably could have quilted 4 at once using the large “Garden Dream” reversible hoop (360 x 350) but it was just as fast to re-hoop blocks as it would have been to fight to take the hoop from the arm and turn it around and hope the positioning was close. The problem with that large hoop is getting the second side to align with the first. So I rarely use it for quilting.

Skyline #3 – Top

I am happy with how the layers on layers of circles turned out. There are actually five complete circles but they’re not obvious in part because the four quadrants are all different. But that’s also what helps with the layered effect.

To quilt it, I used a floral design I’d created for another quilt doing my best to overlap the stop/start positions where the design ended and began in adjacent blocks. Overall, the effect is to appear to have been done using a long-arm quilting machine.

Skyline #3 – Quilting Detail

Again, I used a strip from the original Hoffman “Skyline” fabric as a strip in the back – making sure I had it right side up in relation to the front of the quilt.

Skyline #3 – Back

The three quilts together as a set I’m calling “The Sisters”!

Skyline #1
Quilt Top Skyline #2 – Quilt Top
Skyline #3 – Top

Three very different quilts all from the same fabric.

Now on to something else.

Skyline #3 – 3 / Christmas Fruit Cake

Skyline #3

This morning I managed to complete 24 more blocks (14 left to get me to 63 which I’ll get done tomorrow).

49 Blocks – 7 x 7

I’m not going for a traditional drunkard’s path layout – I want a relatively random layout with probably 5 complete circles (at the moment I have three) and the rest partial circles which creates the illusion of layers of circles. The colour flow is working out but I won’t be satisfied until I have all 63 blocks on the floor and I can photograph them and move them around.

If I stay with a 7 x 9 array (63 blocks) I will end up with a 40 1/4″ x 51 3/4″ panel. Since I want the final project to be close to the size of the other two quilts – 48″ x 64″ I can either do a narrow 1″ sashing with the dark blue grunge I used on the wedges and a 3″ border strip from the Skyline fabric. That gives me the width (40 1/4 + 2 + 6 = 48 1/4″) but short on length (51 3/4 + 2 + 6 = 59 3/4″). If I were to add a 10 row to the bottom, I’d end up at 57 1/2 + 2 + 6 = 65 1/2″.

Or another way to solve the size problem is to add two more rows and a column to make an 8 x 11 array (46″ x 63 1/4″), a wee bit shy on width and length but close enough to the other two that I could live with that. In this case I’d need 25 more blocks. I have the fabric to do that – I bought the end of the bolt, another 1 1/2m of the fabric, so I have more than enough to create the needed blocks.

What I’m liking about this latter idea is that it mirrors the more modern finish I’ve used on the other two quilts. To finish the panel with sashing and a border will make it look more like a conventional quilt even with a hidden binding.

So after I’ve laid out the 63 blocks and stitched them together I’ll audition the sashing/binding idea but I’ll probably take time to construct another 25 blocks….

Christmas Fruit Cake

Christmas Fruit Cake 2020

Canadian Thanksgiving was last weekend. I always make fruitcake just after Thanksgiving so two weeks ago I bought the candied fruit, raisins, dried cranberries, put it in my 27c Tupperware bowl with lid then added a pint of dark Barbados rum and left the mixture to soak for a week.

Today was the day. I’ve ended up with 10 2lb loaves (plus a single small cake) which will get wrapped in waxed paper, stored in a ziplock bag, and kept on the bottom shelf of my refrigerator for the next two months.

Right now, the cake is kind of “cake-y” but in two months time it will be dense and moist from the rum working it’s way from the saturated fruit into the cake. Just in time to give it away for the holiday.

That’s my single big Christmas preparation – all done.

This is my Fruit Cake recipe in case you want to give it a try. A very forgiving cake.