Firstly, thank you for all of your lovely comments on my wholecloth quilt; you made my day! In response to the comments about the difficulty - you'll notice if you look closely that my quilting stitches aren't perfect - and that simply doesn't matter. In fact, it's a great way to practise them - it's the overall effect that makes this quilt work, not the individual stitches!
I didn't blog before bed last night; given it was 4.15am when I finished playing with label designs, I decided otherwise! Before I moved onto labels, I got the beach quilt top joined into one piece. First I fused the umbrellas with Lite Steam-a-Seam2 (this is my first choice of fusible, it fuses extremely well, is lightweight, the edges stay sharp and smooth, and I love the temporary hold you get by pressing it in place with your hand) and then appliqued them using clear monofilament (from Superior) using a small blanket stitch.
I effectively appliqued the sections together, too. I trimmed the top of the beach to a 1/4in allowance, then pressed the seam allowance to the back - as long as the curves are smooth, it doesn't matter whether it's exactly on the original line. Then I place the sky face-down and use a Hera marker (with a fair bit of pressure) to mark the seamline, so it can be faintly seen from the front. Then I lay the two out flat and smooth, and position the beach over the sky, so the pressed edge of the beach roughly aligns with the line I made at the bottom of the sky. Then it's just a matter of pinning. Lots of pinning. About one every 1- 1 1/4 inches.
To join these together I used a sand-coloured BottomLine thread, and the blindstitch. Unfortunately the blind stitch does too many straight stitches between the little zigzag onto the top fabric, but the 820 has a clever little feature which allows the machine to only sew every second stitch. This has varying effects on different stitches, but on the blindstitch, it means I get a perfect one straight stitch between each zigzag. The top picture shows the 'normal' blindstitch; the dark green dot indicates what part of the stitch is being sewn; I added the bright green dots to show the rest of the stitches which will remain, and the red crosses to show those which will remain unsewn. The second picture shows the 'new' blindstitch, with each green dot indicating a stitch, and I circled the button on the touch-screen which makes the change:
I did the same to join the water to the beach - but of course changed to a very pale blue thread. I then decided to applique an extra fish in one spot where I wasn't completely happy with the transition between two pieces of water fabric - and once that's done, I can sandwich it and start quilting.