You probably won't remember, but back in the first of these posts I mentioned that the final three of these blocks hadn't been without their problems:
I cut 48 squares of Summersville, 24 each of 'Town' and 'Avenue'. At least, I thought I'd cut 48 (I needed 49 but decided not to cut the final square until the end in case I'd missed a building I wanted to include), but it turns out that I only cut 46; at the end of this series of posts I'll tell you how I solved the 'I thought I had enough fabric left for more square but I don't and it sold out years ago' dilemma. Oh, and the 'I did have enough fabric for more squares but it's plainly from a different bolt of fabric as the background colour is a different shade of cream' dilemma. It wouldn't do to show all my hand right at the start, now would it?!
Once I'd embroidered all the squares I had cut and interfaced, I confidently went back to the box marked 'Summersville' and got out the remains of the Town (big houses) fabric. I must admit that I was a little surprised to find half a metre left with a little bit cut out, and lots and lots of 7" wide pieces which were left from when I'd cut out the initial 46 squares. I knew that the half metre was the first piece I'd bought because I made a pin cushion with a bit of it and that's what sparked the idea for this quilt.
I cut three 7" squares from the fabric (and three 7" squares of woven interfacing) and then put them over the banister for a couple of days until I was ready to fuse them. Every time I went past I kept thinking that there was a pink tinge to the background, but as that was generally at night I blamed the energy-saving bulb in the ceiling light and thought no more of it. It wasn't until I'd started embroidering the first of these 'new' squares that I thought more about the background colour and put it next to one of the existing blocks. That's when I got a surprise:
The new square is on the right and even in this photo you can see how different the background colours are. It came as quite a shock, let me tell you! There was no way I could use the three new squares without them standing out like sore thumbs, even though there's going to be background fabric and other blocks between the embroidered squares. In person, the difference in the background colours is much more marked than the photo suggests and is obvious even when they're across the table from each other! (I know, I tried it!)
I realised that the solution lay in the 7" wide pieces that I were left from the original piece of Town and sorted through them to see if I could find pieces which would work together (and which had buildings/vehicles on which I wanted to include) and found three pieces of each. When I (eventually) piece the quilt top, these will be pieced with a strip of background between the buildings piece and the road piece so they're the same size (6" finished) as the other embroidered blocks.
The council decided to brighten up a shabby corner of their town and so painted the two tower blocks in block 47 in bright shades of yellow, orange, purple, green and blue. Now they're once again fit for habitation, the flats have been rented out to key and low-paid workers (emergency services, medical staff, teachers, porters, cleaners, etc.) who otherwise couldn't afford to live so close to the centre of town. As well as being renovated outside, the buildings have been fitted with the latest solar technology (you can see it on the left-hand building's roof) and the stairs for both buildings (the orange windows on the left-hand building and the purple windows on the right-hand building) have been fitted with sprung floor stairs to harness heel strike energy, which help keep running costs low. The same technology has been built into all the floors in the building (including the floor in the dance/aerobics studio) and the exercise machines in the gym feed generated electricity back into the building's power supply. The units on the ground floor are rented (at a minimal cost) to start-up businesses and part of their rental agreement states that the business must directly benefit the surrounding community to help further regenerate the area without pushing up house prices. So far, there's an artist's studio (which runs after school clubs - their graffiti club is particularly popular), a cafe (they run cooking classes for the community as well as providing a free daily meal to customers of the local food bank) and a physiotherapist (she runs community fitness classes in the left-hand building's gym in addition to her physio clinic and the local grannies love her chair-based body popping classes). The council have now bought the two buildings next door and plan to renovate them to the same standard. Good luck to them, I say! (The caretaker of the buildings has a work's van, painted in the same colours as the buildings she looks after. Snazzy, don't you think?!)
The owner of the toy shop in block 48 asked the local primary school bairns what their favourite colours were and used the results as his paint choice for both his shop and his mother-in-law's house. To say that his mother-in-law isn't particularly keen on having the outside of her house look like an episode of the Teletubbies is a bit of an understatement, but he assures her that it'll 'weather down' and look 'just the ticket' by next winter. As if having a house which resembles the Teletubbies (she won't have it that one of them is purple, not blue) isn't enough to contend with, her husband has bought himself an 'I'm going through a second mid-life crisis' sports car to match it! It's no wonder she's taken to having a strong gin in the early afternoon...
Block 49 contains a building close to all our hearts: the fabric shop! It's co-owned by a pair of friends who have been sewing together for decades and is painted in their favourite colours. When a pair of houses on the High Street went on the market for a knock-down price (if you'd seen the insides of them then you'd know why the price was so low!), they decided to club together and buy both of them. The building on the left-hand side is the shop, with four studios above (rented out to local textile artists, one of whom is a longarm quilter) and the right-hand building is their retreat house. They run day workshops, weekend and week-long retreats, as well as people being able to compile 'a la carte' retreats: they stay for as long as they wish and join in the workshops being run at the time or work on their own projects as they wish. The enterprising duo have rented out both back gardens (they're right in the centre of town but they have a surprisingly substantial plot. The age and size of the buildings suggests that they would have been merchants' houses and, as such, were prominent landmarks when they were built and so required room for stabling and such like.) to a local gardener/plantswoman and she has converted one side from a tired, overgrown space full of old bricks and rusted bikes into a wildlife haven which is full of flowers as well as a surprising number of fruit trees (dating back to the original garden on the site). She uses the other side as her nursery and vegetable garden and she sells plants from it as well as holding regular classes, including 'Grow Your Own: From Patch To Plate' and 'Cut And Sniff: Flower Growing And Arranging For The Petrified'. In fact, her classes have had such an impact that the local GP surgery has started sending patients (and staff!) there for 'classes on prescription' and there are plans to start their own flower garden in the grounds of the practice.
And that's all 49 blocks done! I've taken a photo of all the blocks together (this isn't how they're going to be laid out in the final quilt top), but it doesn't make for the most interesting photo because, as planned, most of the embroidery doesn't hit you between the eyes from a distance. You can pick out some bits, though:
I've been doing a spot of gardening (or pretending to garden, but really just enjoying being outside) and Archie has been keeping a close eye on me, mainly to see whether, while I've got my coat and shoes on, we're going for a walk once I'm finished.
|Hang on...I think I hear a biscuit calling my name!|
P.S. Have you seen Lucy's wonderful Stitchy Pie pattern for a clever needle book? I've seen lots of versions since the pattern was released and, trust me, you're going to want to make one of your own. At least one! You can find it for sale on Lucy's blog or in her Etsy shop. Go on, you know you want to!
P.P.S. My friend Lynne has a new (and superb) book out and there's a blog tour going on at the moment showcasing patterns from the book. I'm lucky enough to have a copy of the book and I can honestly say that it's well worth the money: there are lots of wonderful patterns (so many that I can't narrow it down to one favourite!) and merely flicking through it has me itching to pull some fabric and get started on
P.P.P.S. If anyone has a clever idea to stop bird seed germinating on the ground (the 'no grow' stuff is much more expensive and the birds are already eating me out of house and home without giving them that!), then please shout! You can read more about it on this Flickr photo.