Monday, 20 March 2017


Strictly speaking I'm no longer stuck, rather than unstuck, of course.  

I'm short of time this week, but snatched a couple of hours this morning and did pretty much what I said I needed to do, ie added a bit of blue and put some verticals in where I had a horizontal.  I'm pretty happy with where I have got to. 

And it works from all angles, I think.  Here's a different view.

As it stands this is now about 60" square. There is a chance I'll stop here, but am toying with the idea of going round once again, if the fabric will stretch to it.  I am now completely out of the pink shirt as well as a couple of the other fabrics.  I have added a couple of new ones in the outer pieces but may still not have enough for what I have in mind.  I guess I'll just have to give it a go and see what happens.  

Friday, 17 March 2017

Getting stuck...

Well, this has been a slooooow week. I've been well and truly stuck, though I think I've got myself sorted out now.

What seems like ages ago I added the chunk at the bottom here...

 then swiveled things around... 

...and added a couple more rows.  Then everything came to a grinding halt.  I tried all sorts of things, including  going back and making a load of extra strips, but nothing pleased me.  So I put it all back in its box and let it stew for a day or two.  

In that time I came to think that maybe my strip sets needed to be a bit longer. I was still making them the same sort of size that I had started with, but now that the sides are longer it all ended up looking too bitty.  Luckily I could just add a bit to some sets, though I've run out of two fabrics, so anything using those will stay the size it is.  

Here's a less cropped view than usual, to show how it looks when I'm working. Mess all over the floor.  Ho hum.

I'm working on two sides at once now (left hand and bottom in this picture).  I want to manage how I use the remaining fabrics and this lets me juggle things more effectively I think.  As always, looking at the photos gives a useful perspective.  In the picture below I can see too much brown in the bottom left - I need to add some blue, I think, and maybe sneak in a bit of green too.  I'm also thinking I might shunt things over to the right and let the vertical lines from the side carry on down.  

For now though, it's back in the box for the weekend.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

Still doing what I'm doing

I'm just quietly stitching away, trying to get a bit of quilting done each day.  Having said I would be able to keep track of exactly where I was, by counting my squares, it turns out that's not as easy as I thought, so I haven't bothered.  I can say I'm about twenty big 9 patches down, so that's still 60-odd to go.

I'm also making slow progress with my Alabama Chanin-style piece.  This is going slower than I would like, because it turns out that if the light isn't good I'm finding it hard to tell the difference between the stenciled bits and the fabric.  I wanted the stencil to be close to the base colour, but hadn't though this might be a catch.  With the benefit of hindsight I should have chosen to go just a shade or two lighter, but it's a bit late to worry about it now, so I just stick with doing it in daylight.

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Breaking my own rules

I'm still rotating this, still adding bits and pieces.

In the normal course of things I avoid putting two pieces with the same fabric next to each other, but today I broke that rule.  You can see there are two strips of the biggish check next to each other in the bottom right corner above.  I tried every other fabric I had next to the inner one of the two but couldn't come up with something I liked.  I don't know why I stuck the second strip down, but I did, and then I decided that actually I didn't mind it there and it could stay.  It may be a slightly sad reflection on the rest of my life that this felt a bit risky when I did it, but the more I look at it, the more it seems just fine, and not really risky at all.

After adding those bits I decided I wanted to work in a slightly bigger chunk, rather than just swiveling with every addition and ending up with a log cabin.  I like the log cabin feel to it so far, but just don't want to get too predictable.  So you can see I'm working on a section at the bottom (of this photo, not necessarily of the quilt).  It's not all stitched together yet but I'm there or thereabouts.  Then I will swivel again.

Monday, 6 March 2017

Buying organic fabric in the UK

At the start of January 2016 my New Year's Resolution was to change my fabric buying habits, with a view to 'greening' my stash.  I wanted to focus on organic/fair trade fabrics as much as possible.  Fourteen months later I'm still shopping this way, but it's not always easy.  The positives about it for me are:

  • my hobby is now much better aligned with my habits in the rest of my life
  • I buy less and the more I stick to my principles, the easier it gets
  • I spend less time aimlessly browsing fabric stores online.  No point looking if you are not going to buy.
  • There has definitely been an impact on my quilt-making.  I have turned to recycled shirts as a way of adding the texture and variation I miss in the organic ranges and am learning to mix reclaimed fabrics in with quilting cottons from stash.  Turns out I love this way of working.
The biggest down sides are the obvious ones:
  • Much less choice, especially if you are not looking for feature prints.  
  • Some things are harder to go without than others. For me, it's Grunge, Carolyn Friedlander, Janet Clare,  that I miss the most. (I should say that I'm not rigid and do occasionally buy something non-organic, but I am finding myself less inclined to do that as time goes on).
I know that for quilters in the US there is a good selection of organic fabrics available, but often I see something lovely, try to track it down and sadly come to the conclusion that it isn't available over here.  The solution used to be saving up the pennies and ordering from American stores, but  the current exchange rate has scuppered that .  So I have been gathering together a list of all the places I can find organic fabric in the UK.  Most have relatively small ranges, but there is plenty out there if you know where to look, and I have also learned to check everywhere before I buy as prices can fluctuate quite significantly - some are a bit steep but there are also bargains to be had.  

Anyway, here's my current list.  If you are in the UK and minded to try a bit of ethical shopping, do go and check them out, especially some of the smaller sites.  

Quilting shops

Shops specialising in organic fabrics (they are not specifically aimed at quilters, but there are fabrics suitable for quilting.)

In addition to the larger ranges, like Cloud9 and Birch Organics, its worth looking for Daisy Janie, Monaluna, Saffron Craig, and small organic ranges by  Amy Butler and Robert Kaufman.

I am not claiming this is an exhaustive list, just that it's what I've found so far.  If  you know of  any other shops, please chip in with a comment and I will update the list.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Just stacking coins

Nothing earth-shattering going on here, but some steady progress.  I've spent a fair bit of my time just making coin strips and little pinwheels, but every so often I've stopped,had a bit of a tinker and added a bit somewhere.

Firstly, on the left-hand side, which got straightened up in the process..

Looking at this I realised that I had come to think of that mucky green strip as the bottom of the quilt, but when I started this I said I would go for something that worked whichever way round it landed, so I rotated it before working on the next additions (which went on what are now the left-hand side and the bottom).  

And so it goes on.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017

AHIQ - share your improv #18 and some Chinese Coins

Now that I've got a better grip on what I am doing, I am enjoying this challenge.

Out of the box today came this piece

and good assortment of coin strips and little pinwheels. I have been making bits and pieces for the past few days but didn't have the space to lay stuff out and have a good look until today.  

After playing around for a bit I decided that I'm not going to stick to the vertical, but will add in horizontal strips if I fancy it.  Like this:

So I filled in the gap down the side to get this:

It doesn't look too bad in most of the photos but I am finding that one of the things about using every last bit of a shirt is that quite a few pieces are cut on the bias (sleeves especially) so sometimes there is quite a lot of stretch.  It's not too much of a problem.  I could keep trimming everything to keep it even but have decided to roll with it, making little adjustments where I can,  until a particular area is running out of control and then I will piece in wedges to bring it back to order.   

Of course this may not work and the whole thing may run wild, but I'll worry about that when I have to and  not before.  In the meantime I will just keep going.  I am enjoying this a lot, and definitely learning stuff too, which is the whole point isn't it?