Sunday, 25 June 2017

Retracing my steps

I am making slow progress with my hand quilting.  A combination of hot weather (gone now) and the usual distractions of family life has meant I've lost that habit of doing a bit every day; my quilting times seem to have been used for other things. That's fine, and I'm probably halfway through this anyway, but I'd like to give it a bit more attention.  However, I think I'm about to take a break from piecing for a week, maybe two, so I'm hopeful that I will be able to catch up a bit.  

Since I last posted, I have gone back and added a bit to the first couple of lighthouses I quilted.  I wasn't quite happy with the light beams - too much unquilted area in the middle of them.  Here's one I haven't tweaked yet...

...and here's one with an extra line down the middle of the beam.

I like this better.

Friday, 23 June 2017

Nearly there

There was just one wee gap left to fill...
 ...and I had quite a few bits and pieces waiting to be used... I made a few more, tinkered around a bit and filled it.
I've even made on sewing all my bits together.  I think I have an order that will work, though there are lots of partial seams ahead.  The first few went without incident, so fingers crossed.  All being well I am on track to finish in time for next week's AHIQ linkup on Tuesday.

Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Quick update with no waffle

I am still making triangles, and making progress. There's not much more to say about it right now, so I won't waffle on, but here's the latest bit all filled in.  

I rather like this one!

Linking up with Linda and Julie for Sew, Stitch, Snap, Share.

Friday, 16 June 2017

Storing up trouble

As promised I went away and made more triangles, and refilled the gap up in the top left-hand corner.  This time I just used triangles instead of including a little lob cabin block.  I can't quite decide if I like this or not, but if I change my mind it's easy enough to rework.  I think once I've got things straight on the other side, though, that it will look fine as it is.

And here's a quick look at the bigger picture, so to speak.

As yet I haven't sewn many of these chunks together.  That's because what is pleasing to my eye will be a bit of a nightmare to piece - lots of partial seams and so on, but I am trying not to think about that yet, since I really need to get the whole lot done before I can work out the best order to sew in.  There may, though, be a week of blog silence at some point soon while I go off and bang my head against a wall somewhere.

In the meantime I've gone back over to the right-hand side of things and am playing around with this.

Since it's Friday I'm linking up with NinaMarie for Off the Wall.

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

I brought this on myself!

Ho hum, I'm still plugging away at this but one of the results of deciding that the triangle strips are functioning as the quiet spaces in this quilt is that I am spending ages, and ages, and ages making endless wee triangles.  Strangely I don't seem to mind this too much, despite my generally short attention span, though I do get a bit demob happy when I can stop making the strips and actually put together a chunk of quilt.  

After lots of tinkering I filled in the gap (bottom right in the picture below) that I had been puzzling over...

so that the left-hand side of things was looking like this.

But no sooner was that done than I decided that little piece was exactly somewhere else - down on the bottom right, in fact.

So I moved it.  The bottom right now looks like this and the top left has a neat rectangular gap, which I will have to fill in again.
But before I can do that, I need to make more triangles.

Sunday, 11 June 2017

Slow quilting, slow progress

Although things slow down a bit once the weather gets nice I am still quilting away, but this particular quilt seems hard to photograph.  Nonetheless, in the interests of record-keeping if nothing else, here are a couple of pictures.

Linking with Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Attention to detail

Yesterday I did quite a bit of sewing and, uncharacteristically, took loads and loads of photos.  But when I looked at them later I found them distinctly unedifying.  I can see what I am doing in them and why but since I am still en route, rather than arriving at the destination, it mostly just looks a bit of a mess. 

So I thought, instead of inflicting that on anybody else, I would have a go at a post that's been ambling about my brain for a while now, about the pleasure of working with recycled clothing.

I started using old shirts (and the occasional dress) for several reasons:
  • I was buying them and they were taking up space, so I needed to use them or stop the buying
  • I particularly like stripes and checks and this is a great source
  • They are cheap!
  • I had become increasingly interested in the idea of Modern Utility, that sprang from an AHIQ discussion.  For me personally a part of this desire to combine beauty and function circled around the questions of where my fabric comes from, how and where it is produced.  Recyling is an effective and green way to build an interesting stash
This year I challenged myself to start with a pull of shirting for every project. I didn't say anything about initially as I wasn't sure it was workable, but turns out it is and more than that, I am learning lots through this approach. I particularly enjoy the challenge of pulling out quilting cottons to go with a pile of shirts and I like the character that including the recycled material seems to give.  

One of the totally unexpected side benefits of working like this is the pleasure I get, as I take a piece of clothing to pieces,  from noting all the small details. Pockets, cuffs, collars seams are all fruitful ground. so I've had a dig around in my shirt bag and found a few to share.

Last week I shared a butterfly, this week I have a penguin:

Look at the way the edge of this sleeve placket has the fabric from the body of the shirt used horizontally...

and this little detail at the bottom of the side seams.
I like that while using a tape across the seam where the collar joins the body of the shirt is common practice, every tape is different.

And I like that even the most practical of checks can hide a little flower or two.

I particularly like the shirts where the underside of the collar is different from the top.

Best of all I like that by the time I have dismantled something and noticed all these small touches, I feel more connected to the fabric that I am going to work with.  It may just be fanciful but it seems easier to work with something that I have got to know in this way: there's something very comforting and familiar about it all.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Sewing not ironing

Finally, I think I've got it.

Here's the bottom bit with an added stripe:

And here's the left-hand side, with a nice big area of triangles and some wider strips - mostly laid out and not yet sewn, but only because I've got to work out what happens at the top next and I want to add one more bit along the bottom. 

Everything's a bit wrinkly, but it gets folded up and put in a box, and if I ironed it every time it came out my blog would have to be called 'Ironing with a bit of sewing on the side'.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Small pauses

There's not much sewing going on here this week, but I have continued to mull over this question of space.  Last time I posted I used the expression 'negative space', though I realise that it's not quite right.  It really is more about creating little resting spaces for the eye, visual pauses, like the places in a musical score where you can take a breath.  

My plan is now two-fold: I am going to use some bigger pieces of the striped shirtings but I am also playing around with putting together larger areas of triangles.  This picture has both of these options going on, just to give you an idea.

I think this combination might get me where I want to go.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

Butterflies two ways

I had hoped to take some photos for Ann and Cathy's Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up this month, but despite chasing around the lake yesterday afternoon I have failed to get a single butterfly picture this month.  There are plenty of them, mostly Common Blues, as well as loads of damselflies, but nothing that was prepared to sit still and look pretty for me.

However, I have been disembowelling a lot of shirts these past few months and the more I do, the more I find myself noticing and appreciating the little details. It's a subject to which I may return,  I thought I'd share this little snippet from one of the shirts I'm currently using in the two-block quilt.

It was a large man's shirt and, I think, this was a detail on the short sleeve.

I am still slowly accumulating these butterfly blocks as well.  They look different every time I lay them out,  but this is how they came out of the box today. I like them.

Monday, 29 May 2017

Considering negative space

Last week's AHIQ posts by Monica, Ann and Sharon and a comment here, also by Sharon, have prompted me to think about making choices as I work, and specifically to consider negative space.  It's pretty clear from my quilts that it's not a concept I spend a lot of time pondering; my approach seems generally to be not so much 'less is more', but rather 'more is more'.  However there's a time and a place and maybe this is it.  

I had moved my latest chunk down to the bottom and paired it with one of the big blocks, but it's not quite working for me - just a bit too busy I think.  So I sat there, pondering the image of the existing blocks floating in white space, or grey space.  Eventually I came to the conclusion that I will try using my striped shirtings in bigger pieces (for as long as they last), to try and add extra quiet space around the quilt.  I haven't sewn anything together, but you can see I've laid out a couple of bigger bits, just to see what I think.

My intention now is to separate those two bits at the bottom, either with a triangle strip or, more likely, with one of these shirting strips. 

Thursday, 25 May 2017

Another day's work...

Just a few quick shots of what I've been playing around with.

Thinking about ways of filling in the spaces between the big blocks and also pondering the questions of what needs to go on vertically and how many triangle bits I can bring myself to make.

I've now got this bit in the bottom left-hand corner, though as it happens that's not where it's going to end up, just where I had floor space.

Linking up with Linda at Kokaquilts and JulieLou for sew stitch snap share.

Tuesday, 23 May 2017

AHIQ- share your improv #21

I'm still plugging away at this.  The fourth big square is finished.

and I've made a couple of smaller ones too.

I think the challenge with these very square blocks is still how to stop everything looking static and lumpy, so before I put the bits away yesterday I tried moving things around a bit to see what I thought.  

I don't know that this makes much difference, but it all helps.   Right now I am wondering if I can introduce a few more vertical pieces and keep varying the size of my housetop blocks;  tomorrow I may have other ideas.

Since this is AHIQ week, I want to say thanks to everyone who is joining us in this latest adventure.  I have seen some projects here and there over the last month and, as with the Chinese Coins, am fascinated to see how different people go about tackling the theme.  It's definitely provided me with some food for thought already.

Friday, 19 May 2017

Still making bits

I think the bit-making phase of this quilt is going to be a long one; that's what I get for deciding little triangles were the way to go instead of enormous strip sets.  

But progress is being made. I have now made three of the big blocks

and the fourth is underway. Each one is different. The individual quarter blocks are not measured so vary in size.  When I come to sew four together this dictates what happens.  If the two quarters match, I sew them together without tweaking; if they don't then I add a strip, or some triangles.  Then I look at the next two.  I like the variations.

 Right now my floor looks like this.

I should note that I am not making assumptions about layout yet, but this arrangement is the easiest way to fit everything into a photo without taking in swathes of mess around the edges.  I am pretty sure that the centre piece in the picture about will be in the centre of the quilt, but beyond that it's all still up for grabs.  

Now there is a pile of little triangle-y bits waiting for me, so back to work.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017


The bulk of my time now is going on making bits and pieces.  I've done a pile of smaller housetop blocks, like these:

and loads of little triangle bits.  I like how they look, but it does take ages to turn out a decent number of them.  

To keep myself interested I stop every so often for a play, like this.

I'm not making any firm decisions, but it's fun to move things around and get a feel for what I like and I guess it's all groundwork too.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

One door closes...

another one opens, and it turns out that behind every door is a top waiting to be quilted.  Next in the quilting queue was All at Sea, which was nicely backed and basted and ready to go as soon as I finished the denim circles.

Not much more to say about it yet, but here's a picture.

As usual, I'm sharing this for Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts.  

Friday, 12 May 2017

Another small step

Pointy bits added, top right and bottom left, and then the two sides joined together.  Then I've added another row of triangles across the bottom, only these are a bit bigger.  I went back to my stash and pulled out a minty green Grunge for this.  It works well with the other fabrics and provides another little quiet space amongst all the pattern. That's the theory, anyway.

I don't want to make all my bits the same so the next one, (bottom left in the picture below) has just got one little strip on the top right, though I'm thinking I'll add some across the bottom too.  The third set I haven't done anything with yet.  

Next up, I clearly need to make some more blocks and some more triangles strips.  I'm thinking of mixing up the sizes a bit too.

Linking up with NinaMarie for Off the Wall Friday.

Tuesday, 9 May 2017

Denim done and dusted

The denim circles are finished.

Here's the back.

And the funky binding.

I started this on 8th November 2015, as part of Audrey's Quilty 365, but got impatient and finished it on 6th May 2016.  Looking at it now, the little coloured strips in some circles mean I can still identify those that mark family birthdays and a handful of other significant dates that happened in the 6 months that I was making the circles.

I started quilting it on 16th April and finished it yesterday, 8th May.  I have no idea how it got done so fast.  The lines of quilting are not widely spaced - they are one or two finger widths apart -  so I can't explain it that way.  In any case, done it is.

The front is made from recycled denim (doesn't that sound a bit fancier than 'old jeans'?), recycled shirts and tiny scraps of every blue fabric I could lay my hands on.  

I used Sew Simple's Supersoft Eco Blend wadding ( it's a 70/30 blend made from 100% recycled material) and quilted it with Aurifil Lana 12 in 2 colours.

Finished size is 66" x 55".  

All it needs now is a name.

Monday, 8 May 2017


The big question circling my brain for the last few days has been what should I add to my housetop blocks.  A quick gallop through my thought process would go: pinwheel, hourglass, pinwheel, a different version of log cabin, hourglass...What this amounts to is that I was having a hard time letting go of what had been in my head way back when, even though I had abandoned the initial plans.  I'm sure that you could shut your eyes, pick one of the options and, with a bit of application, come up with something that worked.  But I didn't do that.  Instead I engaged my brain and tried to understand why I couldn't settle.

The answer I came up with was that in all cases what I pictured in my head was too static - just a collection of big, square blocks with different things in them.  Again, that's I'm pretty sure tha's not how it would be if I sewed them, but it's definitely what happened when I just conjured up a mental image.

So I moved away from square-based options and made this long, thin, pointy thing instead.

This, in fact, is not unlike the long, thin, pointy things I was in love with before I even started, so it pleases me inordinately that I have ended up here.

Of course nothing is simple: my housetops are nice and big, but when I made a big pointy triangle strip I didn't like it, so this one is teeny. It seems like my mind just likes lots of little pieces; wherever I start from, they sneak in somewhere along the way.  Ho hum.  

I added the strip down the left hand side first, but now I've added one at the top on the right too.  I have a cunning plan.  I also have socks that match my sewing.

I'm linking this post up with Linda and Julie for Sew, Stitch, Snap, SHARE.

Sunday, 7 May 2017

Slow Sunday binding

The long and short of it: it's quilted and now I just need to do the binding.

That's what happens when I take a break from piecing!

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Three,six, nine

I have gone from 6 housetop blocks to 9...

and from 9 to 12. 

I don't like the middle one here, (I want to separate those two red strips with the little birds) but it doesn't matter as they are reorganised every time I get them out of their box.

I have laid them out in random formations and in more orderly groupings. I have had them facing in and out, left and right, up and done. I have even contemplated slicing into them.  Right now I'm still just fiddling about, to be honest, getting a feel for things (can you tell?)

I could just keep on making on doing what I'm doing; it's good, clean fun, and I'm not doing any harm,  but really I need to decide what direction I'm heading in next so that I don't waste fabric making blocks I don't end up using.