That’s going to leave a scar …

So, as I think I’ve stated before, I really prefer to do hand stitching at night and leave the machine work for daylight hours (not that I see many of those since my retirement but that’s another story). One of the reasons is that it’s much more relaxing. The other is that I am much more likely to do stupid things, like cutting a strip off the tip of my finger with the rotary cutter.

2020-10-24 rotary cutter injury
2020-10-24 Finger 1

I make no apologies for it being out of focus — in the two seconds it took to get the picture it bled so much that it dripped onto the recliner (no big deal, it needs a wash anyway).

There was way too much bleeding for a simple plaster to cope with so I found some Combine dressing and cut that down to a reasonable size. Unfortunately I was unable to locate either my medical tape or my gauze/crepe bandages so I did what any quilter would do — I pulled some selvedge strips out of the scrap bag and improvised.

2020-10-24 Improvised bandage
2020-10-24 Improvised bandage

And now I’m off to take some Panadol and go to bed. I hate to think how long it’s going to take me to soak it off in the morning.*

* Twenty minutes.

Fine fabrics for fine dolls

As I stated in an earlier post, I tried to make a chemise out of cheesecloth but with limited success — the fabric was too coarse and too thick for a chemise at this scale.

I was searching for some cotton batiste and found the Australian Needle Arts School where they sell various fabrics suited to embroidery and smocking. I ordered 0.5 metres of four different fabrics to try out (I wanted a fifth but it was out of stock). I picked up the parcel yesterday and was amazed at how light they are in comparison with quilting fabrics.

Fine pique, Swiss cotton-linen, Imperial voile, Swiss Batiste
Fine pique, Swiss cotton-linen, Imperial voile, Swiss Batiste

Left to right: Fine pique, Swiss cotton/linen blend, Imperial Voile, Swiss batiste. The other one I wanted was Imperial Batiste — if it becomes available later I’ll get some to try.

Although it’s hard to tell when the fabrics are folded like that, the variation in thickness, weight and transparency is considerable.

Comparison of weights per linear metre and per square metre:
–Swiss Batiste: 40 g/m, 137 cm wide = 29.2 g/m2
–Imperial Voile: 80 g/m, 114 cm wide = 70.2 g/m2
–Swiss cotton/linen blend: 170 g/m, 137 cm wide = 129.1 g/m2
–Fine pique: 220 g/m, 150 cm wide = 147 g/m2

Ignore the wonkiness of the M in the following pictures — I can’t find my block letters so I quickly hand-cut an M to illustrate how much light passes through each fabric.

Swiss batiste
Swiss batiste

The Swiss batiste is amazing — it’s so light it almost floats and so fine it’s almost transparent. Even though it’s very expensive ($42/m) it’s the one I’ll be using for the finest outfits for my own dolls. I think that the main problem will be trying to find a lace light enough to suit it. I may resort to doing white embroidery using silk thread to simulate needle lace … but probably only once.

Imperial Voile
Imperial Voile

The Imperial voile is much finer than the voile I’ve previously bought at fabric shops in Canberra, but a little less fine than the batiste. Given that it’s half the price of the batiste, this is the one I’ll probably buy the most of.

Swiss cotton-linen
Swiss cotton-linen
Fine pique
Fine pique

The pique and the cotton/linen blend are a little thick for a doll’s chemise but they will be great for Empire (Regency) style dresses. I want to make a gown with an heirloom band down the front (ruching, ribbons and lace) so one of them will be the guinea pig for that, and the other may get some embroidery. It’s a shame that the woven stripe doesn’t show up in the photo of the pique because it looks lovely.

I also have a couple of metres of cotton muslin I got at Spotlight a couple of weeks ago — thicker than the cotton/linen blend but finer than quilting cotton, so I’ll try that too. I also found some 3 mm cotton twill tape while I was there, so I’ll be replacing the ties for the hip pads I made last month.

Retrospective: 2010 My Father’s Quilt

Welcone to the ninth and last in my series of quilt retrospectives. I was going to post this last year but my posting schedule lapsed, and then I decided to leave it for this month as it’s the tenth anniversary of my father’s death.

My father's quilt
My father’s quilt

Length: 155 cm (61″)
Width: 140 cm (55″)
Design: original
Batting: high-loft polyester (unknown brand)
Pieced and quilted: July 2010 by machine (Janome MemoryCraft 8000)

My father’s health failed in mid-2009 and my brother and I alternated going up to see him and caring for him for the next year or so until it came to the point where I realised I would have to move up and look after him until he died.

He was so frail by that point that even the mild Brisbane winter was too cold for him, and he was using blankets and rugs to wrap around his legs when he was in the living room.  I decided to make him a lap quilt  — large enough to wrap around his legs, but not so large or so heavy that he couldn’t lift it himself.

Both top and backing were flannel, so that it felt warm to the touch.  I chose red for its psychological warmth, mixed with black for strength (and to give the quilt a more masculine look).  The batting was polyester, because I knew the quilt would have to stand up to frequent machine washing, and high-loft for warmth.

The quilt top went together very quickly, of course.  I machine quilted the borders but decided against quilting the centre and instead used small machine tacks (asterisk stitch) at regular intervals, which softened the contour.  The binding was attached by machine and sewn down by hand.  Because of the thick batting it never lay flat, but I didn’t mind – it was never meant to be hung on a wall or over a bed.

My father liked it and certainly appreciated the warmth.  My foresight in choosing a polyester batting was rewarded when I was able to get the quilt washed, dried and back on his lap inside two hours of a spill.  He died only three months later, but I’m glad that I was able to make something that helped him in those last few months.

Lessons learned:
1.  High-loft polyester will never lie flat.
2.  When doing machine tacks, either start and finish with a lockstitch so you can cut the threads, or make an intermediate stitch far enough away to ensure thread tails are long enough to knot and bury.


That is the end of my retrospective series: nine quilts finished before I began the blog.  There was actually a tenth quilt, a variable star design in Quilt-As-You-Go technique, which hung on my office wall for a couple of years before I gave to a co-worker who had admired it, but I never took a picture of it so there was no point making a blog entry for it.  I still have a large pile of WIPs/UFOs that date back to the early 1990s but I’ll talk about them as they become nominated for Finish-A-Long goals … if I can bestir myself to get back onto a schedule.