Tuesday, 27 June 2017

AHIQ: share your improv #22

I'm done!  

I'm very happy with how this has turned out, especially given that it has caused a few headaches along the way.  I know I set this challenge, but it didn't really feel like that as I was working on it - there were definitely one or two moments when I wished I'd suggested something easier, or hadn't felt the urge to make those big log cabin blocks. But sticking with it was good for me. Working with the bigger pieces took me a bit outside my comfort zone, and figuring out how to combine them with the triangles taught me a lot: who knew that the triangles would read as the quiet spaces?  

Now I just want to quilt it, but there is still a backlog so I'm going to take a week or two off piecing (mostly), mull over possible new projects and put in some extra hours with my needle and thread.

A quick general note about these challenges: we have working on the theory of one every three months, just because that seemed manageable.  But, and I can't emphasise this enough, you are welcome to link any (improv) project at any time. I know some people are still working on the first challenge and that's fine. Others have already done a piece for the second challenge and that's fine.  Still others have improv pieces that are not a response to a challenge at all and that too is fine.  If you've done something you want to share, just go ahead and link.

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...

...so 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.