Monday, 14 August 2017

What I found

When I dug in my bag of shirts I came up with a blue floral which, while much more sedate than the original fabric it is filling in for, will do okay, I think.

It doesn't have quite the same sparkle. but interestingly it allows some of the other fabrics to step up: that orange-y plaid in the bloc above really benefits from it.

Before I found it, I played around with the last blocks made with the original blue/purple floral.  The block at the bottom started there, then went up onto the side...

...and then ended up on the bottom again.

However it is now taking a bit of a back seat as I concentrate on trying to finish All at Sea.  

Tuesday, 8 August 2017

Lettering revisited

Since Ann's post introducing the next AHIQ challenge, several people have asked about my method of printing words, so I thought it might be useful to do a quick recap.

I use this lovely set of letters, found on ebay, but there are plenty of modern versions easily available. I have often wondered about using printers letterset blocks, but the cost of a whole alphabet would be pretty steep.

Julie of Pink Doxies did a really useful post  about her exploration of surface design and as a result of what I read there I decided to try Liquitex for my  printing.  I use the inks plus their fabric medium - one measure ink to one of fabric medium.  In practice this is two or three drops of ink (the bottles have droppers) to one little squeeze of the medium.  I do it by eye and that seems to work okay.  If I know I won't have time to print everything I want in one go I count the drops of ink to reproduce the colour.  When I printed the lighthouse names for All at Sea I actually did it in three batches, and managed to get the same colour each time this way.  

I should also maybe mention that when I started I did a little sample of printing on a scrap, let it dry and then scrubbed it hard under the tap.  My printing stayed put but the fabric did not end up all stiff, so that was good enough for me.

My method is not very high tech: I mix the inks on the lid of a plastic box, apply to the letter with a paint brush (common or garden, stolen from the kids variety) and just press onto the fabric.  I did buy a couple of empty stamp pads, thinking that might be the way to go, but when you think about it, that method would use quite a lot more ink and in the end I didn't use them, preferring my paintbrush.  It's slow but I have a lot of control this way.

When I started I was lining my letters up by eye, but that proved a bit hit and miss, so now I use the edge of a ruler as a guide.  I put the stamp down so that its bottom edge just touches the top of the ruler,  like this:

And that's it, really. Nothing to it.

Just popping back here to add a note: if I think I have put a bit too much ink on, I just use a scrap and do two stampings, the first on the scrap, the second on the good fabric.

Sunday, 6 August 2017

Definitely Sunday

Sometimes in the summer I find I lose track of which day it is - usual routines breaking down and all that stuff.  As a consequence I haven't done a Slow Sunday Stitching post for weeks, despite having the best of intentions.  Today, however, I am on the ball!

All at Sea is coming along nicely.  In fact, the end is in sight.  I'm still quilting, but now it's just those bits around the edges that didn't make it into the hoop.  I know this bit always takes longer than you'd think, but nonetheless there that finish is, waving to me in the distance.  I even have my binding made, ready to go.

Friday, 4 August 2017

Famous last words

I don't know whether having to clear everything into a box between sessions is always a good thing, but I do like that each time I get a project out I see it with new eyes. So the bits which sat on the left in my last post have migrated onto the right hand side of things today.

You might argue that it's all fairly arbitrary, but in this case I have figured out that I am interested in the placing of the dark yellow bits and for that reason this version feels better to me.  I added another little black strip and two sizes of bigger hourglass. 

Virtually my last thought in the previous post was that I had more of the blue floral fabric than I had thought, but it turns out that completely the opposite was true and without realising it I have used every last scrap. I was convinced there was one more piece lurking in the box, couldn't find it, enlisted extra eyes to check but have to accept now that there isn't even one tiny triangle-sized piece left.   I have a couple of sets of blocks pieced but not joined together, then that's the lot.  I have started looking at what else I could introduce to replace it but nothing seems quite right.  I revisited some of the fabrics that were in the initial pull but they all seem a bit too loud or harsh for the way this feels now.  If I can I'd like to keep things soft and gentle.  For now I'll just keep working with what's in front of me, but if I don't add something in I'll just run out of some of these others too.  Maybe there's something in my bag of shirts that will fit the bill.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

A few more butterflies

At the start of each month I make myself a little list. Nothing too detailed, just a round up of what I think I might like to get done: it might just say 'quilt x, piece y'. Occasionally it says 'finish x' or finish 'y'.  I'm not overly ambitious but I do like a list and mostly at the end of the month there are little ticks by some items.  In July, I am sorry to say, I achieved almost nothing I set out to do. My mistake was to think I might finish quilting All at Sea, rather than just continue working on it. Ah well.  

The one thing I could put a tick by was this butterfly project - the list just said 'do some more' and that is just what I have done.

They are simple little things, but seeing them all laid out like this makes me happy.  

Since it's the beginning of the month I'm linking up today with Ann and Cathy for their Kaleidoscope of Butterflies and since it's the middle of the week I'll link up with sew, stitch, snap share, which you can find on Linda and Julie's blogs.

Monday, 31 July 2017


It's a good thing I quite like making these hourglass blocks, as that's pretty much all I've been doing.  

I've sewn one column of slightly bigger hourglasses down the left-hand side of my starter piece, but other than that I've just made the three bits you can see in the picture, plus a pile of odds and ends that haven't yet turned into something bigger.

When I get tired of hourglassing I sit and ponder, and shuffle things about.  Looking on bright side of things, I am still working with the floral fabric; there was more in that blouse than I thought.  

I am hoping that I can keep going at this, albeit it slowly, and also get my head around this quarter's AHIQ challenge.  I guess we'll have to see how that goes!

Thursday, 27 July 2017

Considering my words

While I plod along with the hourglass project I am beginning to consider Ann's AHIQ challenge to make a piece that includes words, so I thought I'd stick down some of my thoughts.

I love words.  I love to talk (and talk, and talk), I love to read, I love my dictionaries, I am pretty fond of a nice list. No surprise then, that I have already included words in some of my quilts.

I have realised as I made these pieces that my interest is, specifically, in using words to add an extra layer of rhythm to what I am doing, rather than to convey any overt message. I like the challenge of including text but don't want the words themselves to distract or become the main focus.  I don't know if I achieve what I am aiming for every time, but that's the general idea.

This means that the ideas I have stored away fall mostly into two categories: names and descriptions.  The lighthouse quilt is an example of the way names might work, and the quilt that became At the Edge was build around dictionary definitions of colour.

In Yellow Birds, the words I chose were intended as descriptive, but also, in the end, contributed to a quilt with quite an optimistic, upbeat feel.

Using words in this way generates loads of possibilities: I might, for example, add labels to my little butterflies (though I don't think I'm going to).  I have a favourite photo of plant labels with botanical names that I have often thought was the starting point for something; I have several dictionaries/word books which provide fruitful pickings; I have more lighthouse-related ideas I'd like to get to and then there's always the weather...

Of the three quilts I've done so far, however, At the Edge was the only one where I planned to include words right from the beginning; in the other two it was more a case of 'I need something extra, what can I do?' So the interesting (maybe difficult) thing for me will be to start with an idea of the words and then see what else needs to go with them.  I am telling myself that if this proves to be a right royal pain in the neck I can always go back to making something and seeing what words might fit, but I'd like to start with the words if I can.