Saturday, 31 December 2016

Tuesday, 27 December 2016

AHIQ - share your improv #16 and a new start

Well the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft agley, which is to say I have managed not one tiny bit of piecing since I last posted.  Quite a bit of quilting, but nothing else. Ho hum.

I do, however, have a tiny bit of a plan. I have had this bundle of shirts in my mind for a while now - and now that I come to think of it I have also pondered a yellow quilt at various points but never made one.

So I think it's about time both these shirts and the colour yellow got their turn. I have been digging around in my boxes, pulling out anything that might conceivably work and I have come up with this:

Now that I come to think about it, there's something pleasing neat about starting a new quilt with the New Year and hopefully I will have managed to cut into something here by the time January's AHIQ linkup rolls around!  In the meantime, here's the last link up of 2016, for all those who have been more successful with their pre-Christmas sewing than I have.

AHIQ December link up

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Looking back, looking forwards

2016 was the first time I ever set down even vague quilting aims for the year ahead but it has proved to be an interesting exercise and since Yvonne is encouraging us to share our plans for 2017 I thought I'd use the opportunity to reflect and maybe lay out some tentative goals.

It has been a bizarrely productive year for me: I have completed 5 quilts, which I know doesn't sound like much to many people but is a lot for me, and made another 5 tops which are now waiting their turn in the quilting queue.  

Some of my resolutions fell by the wayside pretty quickly but the one I stuck with best was my resolve to 'green' my stash as much as I could.  I had a brief moment of panic about what the implications of Brexit would be (prices have gone up and my favourite fair trade fabric source is closing down) but apart from that I have concentrated on organic lines.  This has its disadvantages (lack of choice, especially if you don't want lots of 'look at me' prints or cute stuff) but also an unexpected upside, which is that I have definitely bought much less fabric.  I looked a lot, to start with, and then talked myself out of things, but after a bit I didn't even look.  It has also pushed me to use the bag of old shirts I had accumulated.  

The other aim I expressed that has worked for me was to keep looking for opportunities to interact with other quilters.  Last year I tried Stash Bee; this year I had a go at joining in with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, but gave up after about three months. I love the idea, but the reality was that my scraps just didn't seem to work - not enough of them for a start, so I acknowledged defeat.  Quilty 365 on the other hand really sparked something. I didn't imagine at the start of this year that I would spend an entire 12 months making circles, but look at the tops completed this year - there's definitely a bit of a theme going on.

So, aims for 2017:
  • Work on finding rhythm.  I've been productive this year but somehow it has often felt scrappy and haphazard and sometimes downright unsatisfactory.  It's down to me to work out how to juggle things (time and space)so that this feels better.
  • I will try to keep up my approach to fabric buying.  I can't bring myself to completely give up on non-organic lines, but will keep up the focus on organic, fair trade, and recycled stuff. 
  • There are a couple of things I've done this year that I would like to revisit or rework.  I've thought this before and not followed up the idea, but maybe writing it here will encourage me. 
  • I still like the idea of finding ways to collaborate/link up with others. If anyone out there has the inclination to play around this idea with me, do feel free to get in touch.   I wish I could find a satisfactory real life option, but I'm not holding my breath on that one. 
  • Finally, I just aim to keep going, keep trying, keep recording what I do, keep learning through my interactions on this blog and by seeing what other quilters are doing.

A final note - the AHIQ linkup will happen next week, just in case some of you are still sewing.  I'm secretly hoping I might sneak a bit of time in between now and then!

2017 Planning Party

Wednesday, 14 December 2016

Surprising myself

Anyone who reads this blog sooner or later comes up against my preference to go large. Habitually I find myself wanting/needing to impose a lower limit of around 60" square.  But yesterday I looked at my little shirt-circle quilt, currently 52" each way, and decided to stop. 

This wasn't an easy decision. I wanted, really wanted to keep going.  I tried out all sorts of different ideas - more borders, more squares of shirting, a sort of piano key thing, but guess what?  When I stood back and was honest with myself none of them added anything at all, beyond size.  I couldn't come up with a single option that convinced me to carry on.

I could/might add the little blue strip you can see at the bottom but in the fullness of time a binding would serve the same purpose.  I have left it in this picture just because it makes it easier so see the quilt against the dark floor.

Maybe stepping away will lead me to a solution I can't find right now, or maybe I am really done but I can't pretend I am entirely comfortable with my decision, so if I am missing anything obvious, please feel free to point it out to me (as long as it doesn't involve making more little circle blocks!) 

Sunday, 11 December 2016

A bit more quilting

Quite a lot of this is done now; I'm thinking that with a fair wind it may be done some times in January, even allowing for things slowing down a lot in the next two or three weeks.  

The quilting doesn't show up much on the back, as I have used lots of prints, but there is one piece where you can get a good look at it.  I rather like the patterns here.

So my Slow Sunday Sewing today is just to keep going!

Saturday, 10 December 2016

Saturday photos #81

I wasn't going to do a photos post this week (yet again) but yesterday found myself sitting in a car wash with my camera on the seat next to me...Well, it kept me entertained for 5 minutes!

Friday, 9 December 2016

Moving to the dark side

So, I went in search of dark (ie floor coloured fabrics).

I found: a mid grey Oakshott cotton, a Grunge fabric (though I don't know what the colour is called) and an old shirt.  Here they are:

The Oakshott didn't float my boat and although I do like the Grunge, I decided to go with the shirt.  I started with recycled stuff so it seems the right thing to keep going in that direction if I have the choice.  I think this will work as it is not actually a solid, but has tiny stripes of red and yellow and white running through it. This shot makes it look dark blue but in the cold light of day it is darker and more black than blue, to my eye at least.

I have managed to add strips using squares of this fabric and my left over circle blocks to three sides. I cut them the same size (ish) as the original squares and then added little bits of the sashing fabric in to get things to the right size.  One more side to go and then I'll be back to trying to figure out /what next?'

Linking up with 

Monday, 5 December 2016

Sashing and a border

Finished the sashing...

and added a border.  

I know this looks slightly heavy but I'm sticking with it because a) it will be thinner by the time I'm done and b) I'm thinking I'll use this fabric again to do another round.

What I wanted to do next was some version of this:

But...nothing I've tried looks right between those squares.  I've tried squares of the fabrics I used for sashing, I've tried a couple of random prints, but nothing looks as good as the floor.  Funny, I'm sure I've said that before.  Next step, I guess, is to go and have a rummage in my boxes again; maybe I've got some scraps of solids that would be big enough.  I'm trying to crack on now before things close down for Christmas so fingers crossed I can come up with something that works.

Linking up again:

Wednesday, 30 November 2016

A decision, a mistake and some sashing

What have I been saying about a lack of rhythm at the moment? Today I laid out all my 9 patch blocks, moved them this way and that and decided that I quite liked them like this.

I get the argument for placing the red squares symmetrically, or in a cross, and did look at that, just couldn't bring myself to do it somehow.  However, having spent all that time fiddling about, I promptly sewed them together wrong: the top left red shouldn't be in that corner at all.  So now I have to unpick.  Bah humbug.  

In view of the fact that they are making people's vision blur, I have decided to have a go with sashing to break them up.  I often like other quilters' sashing but haven't really used it myself, so these seems like the moment to give it a go.  I may even try a border next.

Monday, 28 November 2016

Considering the next step

I am considering my little 365 circles, which are now pieced into 9-patches and ready for action.

I have been inclined to keep them together and then use the spare squares around the edges somehow.  (Here's a reminder of how that looks though I should point out that this is not my chosen layout. In fact, at this point the individual squares weren't even sewn together, I had just bunged them down on the floor to get quick photo.) 

I am,however, having a moment of doubt (Mr Sew Slowly just told me it was like an optical illusion - when he tries to look at it his eyes can't find a place to settle; now I have to decide whether to take any notice of him!)

Sewn together they would make a 36" square - not big enough - so now I am looking for things I can add. 

I have a good selection of shirts that would work. 

I like the idea of continuing with old shirts, but have found other bits in my stash that might work.

Food for thought, at least.

Linking up with:

Sunday, 27 November 2016

Still handquilting my circles...

Mind you, given that this is the first of three circle quilts this year, I may be able to use that as a post title until sometime in 2018.

I've not posted about this for a while as I'm trying to avoid endless pictures that all look pretty much the same, but I have been quietly making progress.  I have spent ages worrying about whether I like the way I am quilting this, but have reached a point where I just have to let that go; I have done far too much to reconsider.  It's the blank areas I'm not keen on really, so if push comes to shove I can go back and put in some extra stitching at some point.  

It would look better laid out flat but there was a cat lurking, and I just didn't want to have that argument today!

For the first time in a few weeks I'll link up with Kathy today for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Saturday, 26 November 2016

Saturday photos #80

It's been a few weeks since I've put up any photos on a Saturday as I'd got to a point where I just wasn't feeling it: no new ideas and not much interesting in repeating myself, to sum it up.  I'm having a (slow) think about whether I want to set myself some new aims and get going again or whether I'll just do a post, like this one, when something has sparked my interest.

I had a day out on Thursday, to Middleport Pottery, home of Burleigh ware. They make pottery there the same way they did in the 1880s (though with modern kilns rather than the bottle kilns they started with), which is to say by hand.  No automated processes, no assembly lines, just a handful of highly skilled workers doing things the way they have always been done.  It was brilliant - £8.50 for the factory tour was a blooming bargain.  I know Stoke-on-Trent would not be high on most people's list of places to visit, but if you are ever in the area, do yourself a favour and take a couple of hours to do this.

I missed it last month but will link up this month with Soma for Wandering Camera

Wednesday, 23 November 2016

AHIQ- share your improv #15

Ha - no sooner have I complained about life lacking rhythm at the moment than I forget entirely that it is a) the fourth Tuesday of the month and b) any Tuesday at all. In my head I am still somewhere about a week and a half back, so apologies for messing up.

Of course this means I don't have an AHIQ post ready, having posted my finished top yesterday, so I'll link up with that post and then go away and try to take myself in hand and get life back under control!

Monday, 21 November 2016

Done for now

Well there are no washing line photos, on account of how it has been belting with rain all day, but this is done for now.  Here's a kitchen floor photo instead.

For those of you interested in such things, I do have a little fabric left, but many are completely gone and if you could see it close up you would be able to tell that quite a few of the triangles across the top are made up of two, or in one case three, little pieces.  But I made it to the end, which is all that really matters.

This goes into the box to wait for quilting now and I'm going to take a few days to concentrate on my current quilting project and to consider my little squares with circles before I start on something new, although I am already eyeing up a particular pile of fabric.  

In the meantime, I'm linking up with:


Friday, 18 November 2016

Nearly but not quite...

Nearly there, and the fact that I am ready to be done is definitely concentrating the mind on this one.  Here's an in progress shot,with thanks to Monica for her comment about the white crosses in the last post...

...and here's where I ended up.  The bottom row is actually still in two pieces and not attached to the rest, as I need to dig out my big cutting mat and tidy things up a bit, but come Monday morning it will be all systems go.  

At the moment this is almost exactly square (around 70" in all directions), though I don't think it looks square in the photos; that's what comes of standing on your sewing machine case to take the pictures.

 At the moment that top edge looks sort of unfinished to me so I am going to add just one small row across the top, probably just the height of one of the triangle strips or slightly more, but I've got quite a lot of leftover bits and bobs so that shouldn't pose a problem.

In the meantime I'm linking up with:


Wednesday, 16 November 2016

Moving bits around again

I am ready to be done with this now, though I'm not sure why I suddenly feel like this.  Anyway, it has pushed to me work hard and though I didn't quite get where I wanted this morning, I have made good progress.  I would say this row across the bottom is 75% done now. Most of it is actually sewn together, and I just need to settle on what I want to do in the left hand corner.  The chunk with the blue and white triangles was originally next to the completed piece, then I tried it right next to the edge, and right now, as you see it's somewhere in between.  Looking at this photo I am wondering about dropping it down and adding something above it, or maybe replacing the blue and white with blue and red triangles.  Something to think about anyhow.

Monday, 14 November 2016

And so it goes

I seem to have lost my rhythm a bit, with quilting and blogging; isn't it funny how sometimes it's easier to make yourself do something almost every day than once a week?  If I don't keep moving, I sort of  

Of course there are always good reasons for the disturbance to my patterns - this time it's just work stuff - but it still annoys me rather that I can't keep the rhythm going.  Ho hum.

Anyhow, another wee chunk got done this morning.  I have stopped panicking about how much fabric I have, as another root through my stash turned up a 25cm piece of the palest blue I have used and a different red/white gingham-y fabric, so they have been added to the pile and I'm pretty confident that will see me home. 

The red/blue/white triangles at the bottom here are actually three (or maybe four) different little sets, which I just slapped down to have a look, but the rest of this piece is stitched together now and I probably have enough cross blocks made to get me most of the way across the bottom.  I had thought I would need to add a bit at the top too, though not as much maybe, but I'll make a call once I've finished down here.  

In the meantime...

I'm linking up with:

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Chopping up the rejects

It is a moot point whether I will have enough fabric to get where I want to with this quilt now. I can definitely get somewhere, but whether it's where I wold really like to be only time will tell.  I have (I think) plenty of whites and plain blues, particularly the darker ones, but a lot less red.  I am right down to the tiniest scraps on several fabrics, but I am piecing the tiny bits together and getting as much out of them as I possibly can.  

I have revisited this block, which I wasn't so keen on when I made it, and which I'd put aside.  

It seemed too big now for what I wanted but I went at it with my rotary cutter and ended up with 3 pieces that I like better.
I'm thinking that just crosses and triangles in a row across the bottom would get a bit too samey, so these bits, I hope, will just mix things up a bit.  Here's the first bit I've had a go at piecing, plus a lot of odds and ends that are being auditioned...

Monday, 7 November 2016

Quick update

This is just a quick update; I haven't got a lot to say really.  I have filled in the gap across the top now and am making new bits and pieces so that I can add to the bottom (and may the top too).  This is what it looks like now.

I am pretty happy with it but will like it better once it is no longer wider than it is long.  I realise it looks not too far off square in this photo, but that's a trick of the camera.  

I'll link up with Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday.

Friday, 4 November 2016

A year of circles

If I'm going to be precise, my year of circles is not up until Monday, but I know I'm busy this weekend, and want to get my post done in time to link up with Audrey, so I am going, uncharacteristically, to complete ahead of time.  

In fact I have already finished my last lot of circles.

Of course the eagle-eyed among you will spot instantly that this is nothing like 366 circles, so to recap:  I started last November 8th, making denim squares with blue circles appliqued, but somewhere along the line (132 days in, to be precise) I got a bit bored so took a break and turned them into this.

So these two tops amount to 299 circles in all - not a year's worth exactly but not bad, I think.  However playing around with circle-y ideas also led directly to this one.

I can't really count it as part of Quilty 365, as I did way more than a circle a day when piecing it, but in my head it kind of belongs with the other two.  

To sum up then, I don't think any of what I have done is exactly in the spirit of the original challenge as laid out by Audrey, but it has been a very interesting exercise for me and I'm glad I participated.   Focusing on one simple shape has sparked off loads of ideas, so I may not be done with circles yet, but repeating the same basic unit every day for a year is definitely not for me: I started off with good intentions but have moved further and further away from this as the year has gone out and have ended up making the last circles in big batches.  I still like the idea of something more diary-like (like Cathy's Marginalia) and might feel drawn to try that at some point, but I'd have to find a way to keep myself going!

In the meantime I have to figure out how I turn my little shirt circles into a quilt - I'm not making more circles now so that will be my next task after I finish piecing my red, white and blue.  

Quite a few people are still circling, or like me are coming to an end.  Audrey's link up is a great way to see loads of different interpretations of this idea.  

I'm also linking up to 
TGIFF and Finished or Not Friday, 
which are both at Busy Hands Quilts today.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Across the top

I'm still plodding on with this quilt, but after a week of not working on it at all, it took me a while to get going again this morning.  Technically speaking I could look at the last photos on my camera and lay things out according to those - after all that's half the reason I take lots of pictures (in theory). Sadly though I never seem that interested in going about things the sensible way, so instead I pretty much start again from scratch.  

In the end, though, I did get the top left corner filled in.

You can see it's slightly wider than the pieces below it.  As I am going to add this one big strip across the top of the quilt, and will be trying to match up the diagonal stripes on both sides I am deliberately leaving myself a bit of room for manoeuvre.  

Next up is the gap in the middle at the top.  This may be a bit tricky.  I want to treat this as one big piece, but at the same time want the pale red strip (the fabric at the very bottom of the picture above) to stop just over halfway across. My first go at this had too many crosses - it seemed too static...

So now I am playing around with something more like this. Right now I'm not sure about the triangle strips, but not much is sewn together here so I'll just keep plugging away at it for now.

Linking up with:

Friday, 28 October 2016

A scrappy finish

So here's a quilt that I've been making but not blogging, apart from a couple of peeps at the quilting.  It was a present for a friend, who really wanted something scrappy and loved the version of this that I have on the spare bed.  

I can't remember where I first saw one of these, but I think it might have been quiltdivajulie's  Dumpster Diving.  (Update: Julie reminds me that her quilt was 'part of the "lego" craze started by Tonya Ricucci (author of Word Play Quilts and former blogger at Lazy Gal Quilts'.)

This one is 70" square.  Strips were mostly cut 1.5" but sometimes I left them at 2" rather than waste fabric.  All scrap, including the binding.

It was pieced around other projects: I tried hard to be organised and used it as a leaders and enders project,  which I've never done before.  As long as I remembered I was doing it, I found it quite an efficient way to keep these blocks ticking over.  

I started quilting it at the end of July, finished it on 14th October, handed it over on 26th.

Finally, a reminder that it's not too late to link up any improv/modern utility quilting you've been doing with AHIQ, here or on Ann's blog.

Tuesday, 25 October 2016

AHIQ - share your improv #14

Having focused on little bits yesterday, I'll just share the bigger picture today.  This is where I have got to (yesterdays bits are not yet sewn together).

In trying to get enough floor space to take a photo without gratuitous shots of kitchen detritus I laid this out so that from my usual standpoint it was actually vertical (and then crouched on the table to get the shot above).  Vertically it looks like this:

It's not the first time I've got this far in a quilt, looked at it from a different angle and decided maybe the top isn't where I have thinking it was.  In this case I suspect that its current proportions are influencing me: I prefer a long, thin rectangle to a short wide one.  It could go either way, I think.  

What is really clear from both these shots is that while it is wide (or tall) enough - about 80" right now, it is nowhere near  tall (or wide) enough, so I'll have to think about what I do with that once I've finished the current top row.  

And now, if that hasn't fried your brains, it's your turn to share. 

Monday, 24 October 2016

Plugging a gap

The last few times I've posted I have pretty much just finished a section and then shared it, so I thought this time I'd share some of the playing around I do along the way.

If I've used up most of my little bits and pieces I always replenish the pile before I do anything else, but this time I had a reasonable stock.

At this stage I also know that there are patterns that have emerged that I want to repeat, so I will be looking to add the two blue fabrics that provide the vertical strips as well.  

I have also noticed that in a lot of places I have used the crosses in pairs (often two red/blue or two white/blue). Again, at this stage I will bear that in mind as I go.

Sadly I didn't have enough time today for any actual sewing, but thought this might be of passing interest.  Also, taking the photos is always a good exercise, so hopefully by the time I can work on this properly something coherent will have started to form in the deep recesses of my mind.

In the meantime, a reminder that tomorrow is AHIQ link-up day so hopefully some of you reading this will have good things to share!

Linking up with