Once again I was blessed with Jennifer Paganelli’s newest collection of Fabrics, Color Brigade, to produce “something special.”
And here it is .. a collaborative project, with several contributors to the work… who I’ll tell you more about.
This started pretty much the minute we were given a sneak peek of Color (remember the American spelling Eddie!! not British/Australian) Brigade. I had the concept in my head. I could feel it growing, but I couldn’t quite see it.
Almost instantly, I stumbled across this massive screen in a local op shop (Thrift store/ Charity shop). Luckily a couple of large chaps helped me load it into my Pathfinder and I drove home in third gear because I couldn’t move the gear stick … with the rear door closed it was touching the windscreen. To give you some idea of size, my husband is hiding behind it in one of the pictures… I won’t tell you which one… he may have been neked!….. he is 6 ft 2 tall. It’s a VERY solid piece of furniture.
Once the fabrics arrived and I saw them in real life, the vibrant colors, the strong designs, the way they stood on their own yet worked together as a collection, I knew exactly what I wanted to do. It was easy; they deserved something ‘different’ something modern, something bold. Also that I wanted to share the excitement and the thrill one gets being picked to work with Jennifer’s amazing designs before the fabrics go on sale. I asked Chantelle Walker, a very promising young Australian Quilter and massive JP fan (Of Chantelle’s Sewing Adventures on Facebook) and her mum Tracey Walker both members of the Real Quilters FB group, and real life dear friends whether they would come and sew with me.
My older sister and her fiancé arrived for a three week stay from the UK… I hadn’t seen her for over two years. Neither of us can afford the airfare, Australia – UK isn’t cheap. I spent every second I could with her. We don’t know if or when we will see each other again. It was a valid interruption. They went home.
Second interruption: Organising a sewing date.
I work full time night shifts, Wednesday through to Saturday night … finishing Sunday at 0700, Chantelle has school and Tracey works full time too!
We DID coordinate our schedules successfully. They arrived, we poured over reference books for inspiration. I knew I wanted a Modern Quilt, something outside of MY comfort zone, but very much Chantelle and Tracey’s cup of tea -Giant Blocks. We eventually chose nine.
Then we got to work, deciding which fabrics to use in which blocks and where so we didn’t loose important patterns in the fabrics and so they met with all three of our approval… I think that took most of the morning.
Tracey organised us, and did the math. With a pencil stuck behind her ear and military precision she planned and oversaw the entire proceedings. Books open for reference, handing the right fabrics in the right order and instructing what size/shape and how many. Tracey became Director of Operations, production line manager, quality control officer and supervisor. She also acted as personnel manager and Union negotiator. The work force would have been skiving off to roll around in fabrics in my sewing room and drinking cups of tea every five minutes if she hadn’t cracked the whip!
I cut. Sounds easy… “I cut” …have you EVER had a large project, with little room for error and been in charge of the sharp thing??? They don’t usually let me near sharp objects… let alone sharp objects and precious fabrics.
Chantelle sewed… and sewed…. and sewed….
We finally had our nine blocks!
Next INTERRUPTION:The dog ate my homework.
The dog didn’t really eat my homework… the cat killed the screen.
The screen is padded, solid wood, very heavy… takes two men to cart it around.
Padded panel, means perfect for sharp clawed Special Jeffie, whose hobbies include extreme fly screening (see picture of ginger cat halfway up flyscreen), to test his skills by climbing up it and standing on the top.
If the screen is too straight, the folded angles aren’t acute enough, it becomes unstable. It certainly doesn’t stand up in a straight line with 10lbs of Devon Rex clinging desperately to the top. Down it went, breaking the solid wood surround. Luckily Jeffie was unhurt and there were no grandchildren found underneath it.
Waiting …… waiting….. waiting…….. for husband Ian to fix it. Waiting …. waiting….. waiting…..the screen went into the man cave. Waiting …. waiting …. waiting. Hubby went to the hardware store. Waiting…. waiting…. waiting……. hubby works. Still waiting …waiting ……waiting.
Eventually, with much muttering about G Clamps, fixatives, hardening times from him and as much whinging from me as a Pom can possibly do, the screen returned in one piece. Ok, three pieces. Three intact pieces joined together.
SO … the interruptions continue. Three birthday celebrations to clean/cook/hostess. Work. My eldest son, his partner and their baby moving out of our house and in to their own new apartment… work. Each and every time I needed to work on this thing I had to find two people to move it for me.
The circle interruptions weren’t working for me. I had been throwing around bubbles/ random shapes in my sewing room for a while- literally and metaphorically speaking. Totally random didn’t fit, so I created a representation of the block below using circles and outcuts from larger circles. Then it started to come together VERY quickly- sashing’s on, borders on, 3 separate quilt sandwiches made, basted, quilted.
And then it hit me, no one had painted the screen white to represent the sashing between the blocks. Sewing rooms and paint don’t mix so it became a case of waiting …… waiting….. waiting…….. for husband Ian to help. Waiting …. waiting….. waiting……The screen went into the man cave. Waiting …. waiting …. waiting……. hubby went to the hardware store. Waiting…. waiting…. waiting……. hubby works. Waiting …waiting ……waiting for it to be painted. Waiting … waiting … waiting…. to dry. Waiting …waiting …waiting…. for it to be moved into the dining room onto the dining table. But now for the EXCITING BIT:
But before I could start with the staple gun there was the small question of double welting – the double piping for around the edge between the quilt and the wood. I needed about a mile of the stuff. I HATE bias cutting anything. I HATE sewing piping. I LOATHE making double piping… and in steps another Real Quilter, Karin De Jong of KJ’s Design – Sewing & Upholstery. A good friend and my Upholstery Guru. She taught me everything I know about attaching quilts to pieces of furniture.She kindly offered to come and make me the piping. She arrived, we had coffee, we went to the sewing room and the cord wasn’t there! I didn’t have the cord, I had leant it to Jade. I had completely forgotten, and she wasn’t home. ARRRRRGHHH …. Karin took the fabric home and returned next day with beautifully soft, pliable fully bias double piping for me.
Through out the whole process my main idea bouncer off of, go to person, support, mopper up of tears and cheerleader has been Jade Walton another “Real Quilter” and real life bestie, of Four to Adore, and she quite literally saved the whole project from being attacked with a 12 inch carving knife.
The piping had arrived! The screen was laying on my 10 seater dining table (over hanging a little on each end), the air gun was attached to the compressor. I was READY TO ROLL! However, my mind was a complete blank, could not for the LIFE of me remember how to switch the damned thing on. It may have been stress by this stage, needless to say I completely flipped out. Had Jade not walked through the door at that moment either the screen would have been dead… or me.
Alan, my moon and stars, supervised and soothed me whilst I worked, he loves Jennifer’s fabrics. He thinks they are good enough to eat. He ensured I took regular breaks, to cuddle and feed and love him… as did his 7 siblings. My sewing room is “fur free” but not my dining table. Whether it’s dinner or a screen for upholstery on the table, the furbabies own it!
I won’t mention how my new air powered staple gun jammed every 3 to 5 staples, needing to be opened, unjammed and reloaded every time throughout the 450 staples I used for this. I won’t say a word about shooting myself in the foot through my ugg boot with a staple, I won’t mention how I had to wait all day for hubby to find me his hot glue gun to attach the double piping with, or how he went out to baby sit the grandchildren and the glue gun had a UK plug on it, nor how my 76 year old mother drove to my place in the middle of the night with their adapter. I won’t mention the week of heavy rain we have just had and how I can’t move Quilt Interrupted without help… let alone drive it anywhere to photograph it.
I shall just remember the amazing team work,the fun,the friendship and the FABRIC! And most of all I shall remember to name my next piece of work COURTEPOINTE TRES FACILE.
All my love and hugs,
aka Nanny Gruff