Tuesday, 24 April 2018

AHIQ - share your improv #32

I am a bad blogger.  Or rather, I am a blogger who has ignored one of the simple rules of blogging, but more of that in a moment. 

After my last post I was not particularly happy with the tight bend in the bottom corner of this piece.  I had my flying geese pieced but didn't like how they looked in the area where the curve was at its tightest.  I could have gone back, drawn it out on paper and pieced it that way, but I'm not in the mood for that, so decided to play around with alternatives.  You can see below the same geese with an extra section of wedge-shaped bits. 
I quite like this, so went ahead and added the wedges.
I  tried the geese again - still not floating my boat- and then added a larger piece of the lovely Cloud 9 gold fabric that I've used in small amounts already.  I quite like this, though am not absolutely decided it can stay.  Now to the bad blogger part.  What did I do next?  Did I take photos so that I could share what this looked like?  You would think so, wouldn't you, but no, the next thing on my camera is a photo of tulips.  In fact there are 30 pictures of tulips. 

After I came in from the garden I carried on working on the other side of the quilt.  I want another big sweep of flying geese but first am adding more curvy bits.  The little bit at the bottom here looks a bit funny, but I'm only expecting a tiny bit of it to be visible by the time I'm done. 
I must have sewed for another hour, but at no point in that process did I step back and take a picture of this in its entirety, so that left hand side will have to wait until next time. 

As a side note, I am now wondering about making some really tiny flying geese (playing with scale), which leads me neatly onto this month's AHIQ link up.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Enough is enough

I am still quilting, and quite frankly I've had enough.  It's time this was finished.  In fact it should have been done weeks ago.  It's not that I'm in a hurry exactly, but every time I sit down to quilt the phone rings, the cat is sick, the doorbell goes or I unexpectedly have to take my car to the garage because the manufacturer has decided my airbag might explode and hurl pieces of metal at the passengers.  Like buses, my interruptions are all coming at once.  
But I'm putting an end to all that and I'm announcing it here because that seems to work for me.  I only have this tiny  bit left to go and I am going to finish by next Sunday, and if that means we run out of shampoo, or milk, or that I forget to put the bins out, or to clean, or cook, or that I have to stay up all night next Saturday, so be it.  

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Thursday, 19 April 2018

Filling in the spaces

I'm trying to work on this in a logical way now, rather than adding bits randomly all over the place (not that I ever work like that). So I'm going to fill in the little gap top left and the bigger bit on the bottom left next and then worry about what happens over on the other side.
This is where it's got me to.
It's slow work, doing the geese this way, but it seems to be working, so that's okay.  I don't really know what I'm doing next, either in this funny shaped bit on the left or over on the other side, but I'm hoping inspiration will strike while I mow the lawn.

Linking up with Linda and Julie for sew stitch snap SHARE

Monday, 16 April 2018

Geese and curves

A week of inactivity and I've been itching to get back to this, so given the chance I got my head down this morning and sewed like a madwoman. 

I added a curved section on the bottom right...
 then some geese on the outer edge, top right...
 and then a few more just below them.
I'm using the floor tiles as a size guide (I'm aiming for 3x3) and am sliding the pieced bit around within my 9 tiles to think about where the edges will be.  I'm still wandering about the tight curve on the left hand side, but have, I think, a reasonable idea, in general terms, of where I'm heading.  You will see I am still partial seaming like it's going out of fashion.

The weather is meant to be good this week, not before time, and my garden is about to come into its own, but I am hoping I can keep this moving along nicely now.

Tuesday, 10 April 2018

Pondering changes of scale

I'm not piecing much this week - being more than ready to finish the thing I'm currently quilting, I  am spending most of my spare time hand stitching, in an attempt to get it done.  But I have done a wee bit more, and this piece continues to simmer away in the back of my head, even when I'm not working on it.
Everything is stitched, at least partially, to something else, except for the section of wedges with the pink-footed goose in it.  Looking at this now, I am wondering if I need a change in scale, so that some of the wedges are shorter.  Of course the bird names dictate the size of the piece, to some extent, but I may look at my bird list for more shorter names, or maybe make some wedges without the printing.   On the other hand, maybe this is just my natural inclination to go smaller whenever possible! 

Thursday, 5 April 2018

The beauty of proper planning is not lost on me but...

In real life I'm a big fan of planning.  In fact I'd go so far as to say I enjoy it.  Going on holiday I'm the one who figures out the best time to get the ferry, where to stay overnight, what we'll do about food en route, accommodation at the other end.   But sewing - that's another thing entirely and all my planning instincts fly out the window.

So, it occurs to me that there is a logical way to go about a project like this, ie plan it, lay out all the pieces on your design wall/floor and then figure out the best way to sew them together.  See - I do know that, really I do.  But can I do it that way? Not a hope.  

Instead I am back with the partial seams.  

At least I like where this is going.

Linking up with Linda and Julie for sew stitch snap SHARE #23

Saturday, 31 March 2018

None of the above

There's nothing like writing a post all about making a fabric choice, sharing the options and then discarding them all and going with something completely different.  Actually, there is something exactly like that and I've just done it.  There were a couple of these fabrics  which I like a lot and really wanted to slide into this piece somewhere, but for the life of me I couldn't quite get to the point where I felt really, truly happy with any of them.  

Instead I used a piece of the stripy shirt fabric that's already in the quilt to join my two segments together, and then got on with looking at how the flying geese might work.  I got to this.

Tuesday, 27 March 2018

AHIQ - share your improv #31

Hard to believe this is the 31st AHIQ link up, and even harder to believe I've managed to avoid the spellchecker changing it to "share your improve" all this time.

Sadly I haven't much to share this time. I have lots of good stuff in my box, but that's mostly where it's had to stay.  I have printed a few more bird names, but frankly I've spent more time on the tram and in the car in the last two days than anywhere near a sewing machine.  I console myself with the thought that it's all stewing away in the back of my head, so this is a creative pause, nothing more.  

One thing I have done.  As Patty noted on my last post, this project may end up with some odd-shaped pieces and I am trying to think ahead about this.  The idea was to have one fabric that went into all those places, so I've been auditioning.
Some here are too dark, or too light, or too purple (I will use it in little thin strips), but a couple I quite like.  Some look much better in the photo than I thought they did in the flesh and of course at least one is a scrap, maybe a fat quarter but not much more, which would cause its own problems.  Decisions, decisions!  

Friday, 23 March 2018

Tight curves and flying geese

A bit more progress.  I'm piecing the wedges and bird names into chunks, but not joining too much together yet.  As things stand the curve on the left is going to be quite tight, so I'll have to think about what happens over there, but I still like it.
And here's a first go at the other element of this. I like these too.

Thursday, 22 March 2018

Pink-footed geese and other birds

A tiny bit of background for the latest project.  I have dear friends who have relocated to the far distant reaches of Scotland, more specifically a place called Findhorn Bay, which is both remote and beautiful.  It's also particularly important for the migrant wildfowl and waders it attracts and my task is to try and make a piece that references that. Since I haven't been there yet, I am relying on photos, but luckily there are plenty of those available

In my last post I mentioned that I had a little scribble I'd done when I started thinking about this new project.  You can see I was just doodling on the pack of a cardboard envelope.  Not very enlightening, I know, and of course where I end up may bear no relation to this at all, but it's a starting point.
I have started by printing bird names onto some of the fabrics I pulled, and then cut some wedge shaped bits to piece with.  I like this shape because it reminds me of feathers, of the spread of a wing, but also of the sun's rays.

Linking up with Linda and Julie for Sew Stitch Snap SHARE.

Tuesday, 20 March 2018

Starting something new

For once I am starting something with a purpose, rather than just because I fancy it, as my lovely friend Sue has asked if I will make something particular, or rather with a particular theme in mind.  I have been mulling it over and have come up with a vague plan and a not particularly helpful little doodle, which I will share here once I find the cable to transfer it from my phone.  In the meantime, here are the shirts (yes, I'm still starting with shirts).
 And here are some of the fabrics that might go with them.
Of course some of these will probably be rejected along the way and others may be drafted in, but it's a start.

This still relates, loosely, to the AHIQ prompt around scale, as this does not need to be a monster quilt.  Let's see if I can manage something smaller, if not actually small.

Tuesday, 13 March 2018

And just like that...

Playing with Scale is done. 

Of course it wasn't really 'just like that' - in fact I don't remember the last time a quilt caused me quite so many headaches.  I have stopped and started, tried lots of things that didn't work, but hopefully I've learned some useful lessons.

Here's a shot that reminds you roughly where I got to last time.
I knew I was close to the wire with my fabric at this point - for instance I didn't have enough of any single fabric to cut another big triangle - and for quite a long time I thought I was going to use that Coin strip in the top right hand corner to fill in a gap.  They were one of the various things I had tried and rejected at various points along the way; of course if I hadn't tried so many things that didn't work, I would still have had plenty of fabric, but that's the way of it.

But the Coins still weren't working for me.  I think if I'd incorporated some elsewhere in the quilt I'd have been okay to use these ones,  or if they had covered a bigger area (maybe two squares wide rather than just the one) so it's not the Coins in themselves I rejected; it was more a question of scale, which seems appropriate, though that doesn't make it any less annoying. 

At this point I was really scratching my head, and could have gone back to my fabric boxes to find an extra piece of something or other, but I finally concluded that if I pulled the Coin strips to pieces I could use those bits of fabric to piece enough strips to make four more string blocks.  If you look closely at the finished top you might be able to spot those last four.

So I ended up here.
Having really struggled with lots of aspects of this make, including the colour scheme, I have ended up with something I like a lot, even if it's by the skin of my teeth.

Tuesday, 6 March 2018

It's sunny and I'm feeling fine

It finally feels like I am settling into this and I don't think it's just that it was a sunny day, though that always helps.  It may be partly that I have enough blocks now to get a better sense of the bigger picture, and to be able to tweak away at any given section until I find exactly what I want.  
Of course this is not the finished article; I'm a shed-load of blocks short of where I need to be, for starters.  There's a spare circle block which may or may not make it in and two of the four you can  see here may be moved, though only a tiny bit.  However, I am happy enough with the bottom part to start stitching things together into bigger chunks - no photos of this because, for utterly boring reasons, I am working in the tiniest space ever, but it is happening. And I'm still making those strings.

Linking up today with Sew, Stitch, Snap, SHARE.

Sunday, 4 March 2018

Pulling up my quilting socks

It's been a while since I've posted my quilting progress, mostly because there hasn't been much.  Last year I hit a pretty steady pattern, doing about 2 hours of quilting most evenings.  This year I haven't come close.  On one level that's okay; this is meant to be what I do for fun, after all.  On the other hand I do like to finish something once in a while.  So it's time for me to pull up my socks and get this one moving along.  
I may not be doing much actual stitching but I am doing a lot of thinking about quilting.  As part of that I wanted to look at the Welsh and Durham traditions in the UK, and have just acquired this book: 

I bought it to learn about the quilting, but there's so much more in there.  There's history and culture: I have learned that many Welsh quilts were made by professional quilters, some of whom travelled from farm to farm, replenishing the housewife's stock of bedding, using fabrics and wadding she supplied, and then moving on.  The best of them could make two quilts a week!!!

There are also many beautiful examples of piecing to enjoy and lots of inspiration.  So I may be taking time out of my stitching this Sunday to enjoy the pretty pictures and do some more pondering.

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Chopping circles, piecing scraps

One of the things I like least about my way of working is knowing exactly what I want to do, but not having enough fabric to do it.  Perversely this is also one of the things I like best - being forced to find creative solutions, work my way around a problem.  This week there has been a lot of that. With the benefit of hindsight I could have done with one extra fabric/shirt in the mix for this quilt.  Several of my choices were fat quarters (like the map fabric) or scraps left over from other things (like the brown plaid shirt) and life would be easy now if there was more of them.  For instance, I thought I would like circle blocks if the circles were slightly larger, but there was no way that was going to be an option.  Then I thought about returning to the idea of quarter circles - you will see what I've done in the photo below.  I didn't need new fabric for these, as I just chopped up the circles I already had and then added an extra round or two.

I still need to work out what goes around them, but I have been saving a couple of biggish pieces so hopefully that will not pose too many problems.

Practicalities are also driving the string blocks now, so I am making more of the smaller ones -piecing scraps together where I have to.  This scraping a finish when you half think you can't make it gets quite exciting!

Tuesday, 27 February 2018

AHIQ - share your improv #30

You would think, wouldn't you, that if I was setting a task for other people it might be one I found straightforward myself.  But no; this is causing me all sorts of headaches, though I'm not disputing that it may be good for me.

I've gone through countless iterations so far.  Some I like, some I don't.  I've added circles, taken them away, added them again, taken them away again.  I've made some coin strips but don't know if they get to stay either.  Since there's no rhyme or reason to all this yet I will punctuate the rest of this post with photos, but without commenting on them.
What I have been musing on though, as I crawled around the floor shuffling things about were some more general issues.  

The first thought that has occurred to me is that size really does matter.  I like the idea of circles, didn't mind making them, but was distinctly underwhelmed when I added them in.  Now that I've tried this repeatedly I have come to the conclusion that they are the wrong size rather than the wrong shape.  I think if they were just a tad bigger I would like them better.  Can't do that, though - nowhere near enough fabric.  Or maybe if they were small, but that would be extremely fiddly and is therefore most unlikely to happen!

Then I moved on to thinking about negative space.  I know it's got its uses and that every quilt needs little places for the eye to rest, but even when I can see it might be a good idea I just don't have it in me to leave well alone.  So this leads me to look for alternative ways of achieving this; the circles might have been one, now I am trying to mix in a few more triangles that are a single fabric rather than pieced.  More black would be another thing to try, I think.

I wonder whether negative space is better suited to modern trends in machine quilting?  I know people do/have always done wonderful whole cloth work by hand but most negative space I see is taken up by machining.  I can't quite imagine those very precise, clear lines on top of my wonky piecing rather than the more organic feel of hand quilting but have started to wonder about ways I would fill big areas of space if I had them.  For now though, I guess I'll just keep adding stuff in.  

(I wrote this post on Monday.  Last night Mr Sew Slowly felt the need to get up and make toast in the middle of the night.  This is not on the whole a habit to be encouraged, but as I lay there trying to get back to sleep I had a bright idea about my circles - maybe there's something I can do here).

I'm looking forward to seeing how other people have approached this, but of course you are welcome to link up any project you are working on.

Thursday, 22 February 2018

Stops and starts

Hmm, this is clearly not going to be straightforward.

I am still quite happy with my wonky string blocks, but am already oh so bored of making them.    Here's one step on from where I was last time.
So I thought I'd make some circles, as some of you suggested.  They would provide some variety in the making and, in theory, might provide some little spots of calm in what is a very busy quilt.  I could have gone about this in a number of ways but thought I'd try something I haven't done before, so they are inset (following this tutorial).  Occasionally I like to have a go at something that requires precision, just to prove to myself that I can do it (or not) and this time it worked out fine.  
 I made three then had a play.  I've deliberately not made them exactly the same size as the existing squares and you can see the different ways I thought about making them larger: plain black strips, black with the green insets or using a string style edging.  
And after all that work I wasn't convinced they added anything.  I've not absolutely decided yet, but for now I've stuck them in a corner and gone back to playing with just the two elements (you can ignore the little coin strip on the right hand side). 
Nothing for it, then, but to make more strings.

PS Since I'm only a day late I'll link up with Sew Stitch Snap SHARE too.

Friday, 16 February 2018

Persistence pays

I don't think I've ever had as many interesting/useful suggestions in response to a blog post as I got to my last one.  Thanks to everyone who took the time to comment; you have definitely moved my thinking on.  It is well within the bounds of possibility that I may throw the kitchen sink at this quilt now, and that in the fullness of time you will see Chinese Coin strips and circle-y blocks alongside my triangles.  

The one thing I did like about that formal-looking string block was the colour balance.  It was the first time I had looked at those fabrics and felt like they were really working for me, so I decided not to give up on my strings, went back and tried again, working  at overriding my newly-discovered tendency to be straight and tidy (and there's a sentence I never thought I would write!)

So, newer string blocks, much more me, I think.

Consequently they work better with my triangles, though you will notice I've replaced some solid pieces with extra strings.

I've got a couple more of these on the go, then I might switch things up a bit.  Wild seems quite appealing right now, if I can make it work.

Monday, 12 February 2018

Not the smoothest of starts

This is taking a while to get going.

Following on from last time, I cut the rest of my big print into triangles, but that didn't seem to amount to much, so I made some more using my black and green grunge fabrics, and now have nine pairs.

Now these weren't doing it for me at all when they were all laid out on the kitchen floor, but looking at them on the computer screen I am revising my opinion so they may survive as they are.

Clearly this doesn't amount to a whole quilt, and my first thought was some smaller flying geese (you can see one lurking below the two orange-y blocks).  My second thought was that I might go a wee bit mad if I went back to fiddly little triangles, albeit it rectangular rather than square. 

Now I'm wondering about simple string blocks.  I made one, to see what I thought.  The strips were cut freehand, some with a rotary cutter, some with scissors, but it is irritatingly orderly.  Never mind.  I'm going to look at it for a while and then decided whether to make more.

Friday, 9 February 2018

Not what I was expecting

When I decided I was going to  work with this group of fabrics I had a vague notion of what I might try.  Using the black and green print ticks the 'scale' box for me in terms of the AHIQ challenge, but I also wanted to stick with bigger pieces than usual, and to keep it fairly simple.  I had in mind something pared back, maybe just rectangle pieces.  

I cut myself a rectangle.  I started with that print, because that's the hardest fabric to work with (for me).  And I stuck my rectangle on the floor and started off just putting other things next to it and seeing what worked and what didn't.  Here's an example.
Did I come up with anything that floated my boat?  Nope.  Not even remotely.  Looked like this would be trickier than I thought. Then, as I grabbed my rectangle I somehow managed this
which I did rather like.  So I tried cutting triangles and joining them back together with a strip of something different.  I got this
 and then this.
Like I said, not at all what I was expecting, but I like it enough to keep going.

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Revised fabric pull

Ann made a good point on my last post, about having more than one fabric with a different scale in my piles.  With that in mind, and pretty sure I wanted to find some more earth tones, I went back to my boxes.  I've put back (for now at least) some of the greens, specifically a couple of solids and tiny prints, and pulled out some other options.

I have two piles, this one of shirts

and this one, from normal stash.

I've even washed all the yardage, hence the creases!

This feels more like something I can work with, so here goes..

And in the meantime, I'm linking up with Sew, Stitch, Snap, SHARE.  

Friday, 2 February 2018

Back to the beginning

Several thoughts have occurred to me.  

The first is that my practice of never buying more than 1/2 yard cuts fits very well with my habit of working with relatively small units.  If I try to make bigger blocks this might cause me some issues.  That's not to say I won't give it a go, I'm just giving myself a mental warning.

The second thought is that I have made several quilts already where I mixed up different sized versions of a block, like this or this, so it might be interesting to try to move beyond that in whatever I do this time.  Though I'm not going to beat myself up  if that seems the best idea when I get down to it.  This leads me to think I am definitely going to throw at least one large scale print into the mix this time around and I have been trying out some combinations of shirts, large-scale prints and whatever else I can find.

This was take one:

The black and green print might be hard to work with and I'm not at all sure I want to make a whole quilt that's just those two colours, but what if I added in earth tones, like this

This might work, though the balance is not right at the moment (too much black for me) and I'm not absolutely sure I would  like a quilt in these colours  - an extra challenge or a step too far?

Or I could get a bit more cheerful - something like this.

Hum...not sure.  And maybe I won't go with either of these, but I need to make a decision of some sort and I can't starting thinking about where I'm heading until I know what I'm taking with me.