Thursday 12 October 2023

Another finish

Some time ago I gave up trying to think of clever names for my quilts and just started numbering them, so this finish doesn't have a proper name; it is just #4.22, which is to say the fourth quilt I pieced in 2022.   At least the numbering lets me place it easily but if anyone wants to suggest a title, do feel free.

You will see that this is not a top that had to languish for long before it was quilted (unlike the one in the previous post).  I used to work steadily through in a chronological order, but now I am mixing the older quilts and more recent ones.  Some tops I am just keener to see finished than others. 

This is the second in what turned out to be a run of four quilts playing around with quarter-circles. The spikes were an addition to stop me getting bored with the piecing and represent the "why do something nice and easy if you can make it fiddly and complicated?" school of quilting.  At least I felt quite Christmassy as I was making it, both because of the colours and because the spiky circle-shapes reminded me a bit of baubles.  And also because it was actually Christmas! 

There's a lovely mix of patterns in these shirts, including the Indonesian-style one, which adds to the festive feeling for me, a slightly subdued Hawaiian one, with blue and red flowers, and that red tartan, which I had pretty much concluded I was never going to use.  Just goes to show every shirt has its home, in the end. I often fall out of love with something as I work on it, but that never happened with this top: I liked it then and I like it now.

I quilted the horizontal bars with straight lines and the photo below shows how I approached the baubles.
The backing is one big piece.  This is unusual for me but I found a few good duvet covers second-hand recently and there are so many seams in the top that it felt like a good idea not to add more on the back.  Binding is from stash.  I think it is a Charley Harper fabric from years ago. That's how the bindings go now - it's mostly a question of what's still in the boxes.  Not much left now, then I'll be making binding from shirts, I guess.
This was started right at the end of last year, round about 22nd or 23rd of December.  and piecing was finished on 15th February this year.  I have lost track of when I started quilting - some time early summer - but it was finished on 5th September.  

The wadding is organic cotton, the thread was from stash.  Next time I start a quilt I will be buying thread as I am almost out, but it's been years since I've had to do that, so it's probably about time.  

It's not the biggest quilt ever- about 60" wide by 70"long, but it's big enough to wrap up in, which is what matters most.

Monday 11 September 2023

Time Slips Away: Done and Dusted

The first of my two recent finishes. This is Time Slips Away, the last quilt I started before covid struck and the last quilt I finished in my old house. Also, thanks to covid, this is my least blogged quilt ever.  I just about managed to sew and was thankful for it, but blogging was mostly beyond me. As a result, it is a piece of work that I have generally overlooked.  When I pulled it out of the drawer to sandwich, I realised I didn't have a strong sense of it at all, but fortunately, looking at it after all this time, I rather like it.

I think this represents part of a transition phase for me - there are a few shirts (3 I think) in this, but there are also a number of pieces of proper yardage whereas now it's almost entirely shirt/recycled clothing.

The fabric that kicked this all off was a little shirt, probably from around the 1970s, with a swirly floral print (you can get a proper look at it here). When I got to the quilting, I tried to echo this by sewing overlapping circles so that I got a sort of petal effect.  This seemed like a good idea and I covered the whole quilt in next to no time. Only then I had the bright notion that I would do a second round of stitching, just inside the first.
Undoubtedly this has given me a much more flower-like feel in the end, but about halfway through I started wondering what on earth had possessed me. Who in their right mind quilts a whole top and then does it again?  On a practical note, while I like how it looks, it definitely makes the finished item ever so slightly stiffer than I am used to.  Not enough to bother me, but I wouldn't want to go any further in this direction - I prefer my quilts to feel drape-y and inviting and ready to use.  

I started piecing on 11th March 2020 and, despite lockdown and consequent home schooling, finished piecing 25th June 2020. It was the last quilt I pieced in my old house and the last thing I sewed at all until the December. I have to admit I don't know when this went into a hoop. I have been working on another one and this has taken the longer of the two, so probably since around the beginning of the year, on and off.

The wadding is organic cotton and as usual I used whatever perle cottons I had that were a close enough fit.  This is a habit I will have to reassess soon as my store of half-used threads is growing smaller and smaller.  The binding is a grey print from stash - again, I will have to reassess eventually, but for now there's still plenty of fabric in the boxes.  In fact, given how long it is since I bought yardage it's a bit scary how long my boxes are lasting.  I am given maybe three or four half yards most years, but given that I use them for both bindings and in quilt backs, I had expected to run out ages ago.  

My favourite parts of this are the lines created by the black triangles, the pinwheels, which happened accidentally at first and then accidentally-on-purpose, and the way I had to use teeny-tiny pieces to get to the end.  I have done this lots since but this was one of the first times it got so close to the wire and I was both relieved and a bit pleased with myself when I got to my finish.

Tuesday 22 August 2023

Catching up

Not sure where the last month went.  Well, that's not true; I have a pretty clear idea of what I've been doing with my time but it's not interesting enough to go blogging about it.  Apologies to everyone whose last comments I failed to get to, I won't make a habit of it, honest.  

I have been quilting a lot, rather than piecing, for practical reasons, and have two quilts finished but am having issues with photos, again for reasons I won't bore you with.  However, before I put my machine into hibernation, I did manage to get Wild Things across the line.

I thought, way back when I last posted, that I was happy with the length of this, but when I looked again I felt it needed just a smidge more, so I added plain chunks top and bottom.  You can tell this is reaching the end, since instead of saving these few final pieces in case I want to chop them up, I am happily using them as they are. 

I figured that I could use up my last curved blocks too and laid out the long columns of stripe roughly where I thought I wanted the edges of the quilt to end up.  You can see my problem - I had a gap to fill. There were still some crosses floating about.  Enough, in fact, to get me about three-quarters of the way there, but I still had gaps.  Bother.  

So back I went to my bags and boxes and tried to find something that would do.  In the end, this black and brown check seemed to fit the bill, so in it went.

And just like that, I was done. The finished top looks like this.

I'm still a couple of weeks off being able to piece again and am feeling distinctly fidgety about it, but am trying to give some thought to what I might try next.  This is the fourth circle quilt in a row, so maybe it's time for a change. 

Monday 24 July 2023

Repeating myself

 Here I am, still short of time but plugging away when I can.

I have spent a while trying to figure out how to extend the chunk I finished last time.  Is this the middle of something?  The bottom?  The top? I have been moving and shuffling and quite a lot of just sitting and staring.  It is still the case that I like some permutations of these blocks a lot and others not at all.  This makes things simpler in some ways, but I also don't have enough fabric to make more than one or two extra now, so I need to be very sure of my decisions before I sew things together.  
After a lot of general fiddling, I decided I would extend the central line of crosses and make another piece very similar to the first chunk.  
That sounds easy, but there were many, many versions before I found one I was entirely happy with.  In particular I was trying to watch the placement of the dark blue and dark red fabrics and, more generally, to keep an eye on the spread of light and dark across the whole thing.  

This is what the two finished chunks look like together.  I'm pretty happy with this, but its not there yet as it is a good-ish length (maybe 55-60") but skinny.  Time to go wide.

Thursday 6 July 2023

A bit of progress, I think

 So, the stripes came out and the crosses went in.

And I started to play with what might happen around the edges of this first chunk.  More crosses?  More claws?
Maybe more of both. Or maybe that, plus some stripes.

Wednesday 28 June 2023


This stripe is an interesting thing. I liked that it worked as a counterbalance to the checks and little fussy prints and I thought the darkest of the blues would help echo the darkest blue shirt and stop all the mid-tones predominating. Sadly, I didn't like it as much as I thought I would once it was in the quilt, so I went ahead and took it out.  But I can see that it looks much better in the photos I shared than it does in real life and the arguments for its inclusion are still valid, so I fully intend to keep it in the pile and start adding it back in, though possibly in smaller bits.  It's not in these photos, but I reckon next time I post, it will be in there again.

I still like the notion of separating my curvy claws with something, so I have had a go with the crosses.
This seemed to be worth persisting with, so I kept going.
Of course nothing is carved in stone, but right now I think the six blocks on the left will be staying as they are.  The right hand bits are more by way of an experiment.  I am playing around trying to work out how symmetrical or asymmetrical I want to be, taking into account that in some versions I like how the blocks interact a lot, and in others I do not like them one tiny little bit.  I don't feel like I'm stuck, just playing still, but it does also feel like these blocks might turn out to be a bit contrary.

Tuesday 20 June 2023

Trying stuff out

I am moving slowly. After a few false starts, I decided that one of the issues I was having with my group of fabrics was that there was something rather similar about them - a preponderance of small, busy prints - that was making them hard to work with.  I dug out a much paler shirt and a nice stripe, to see if they would help.
I haven't found anywhere yet that the pale one looks at home, but I had a go with the stripe. Here are a couple of versions.
This definitely reminds me of claws, now that Yvonne has pointed it out, and I am now thinking of it as "Wild Things" but it is also reminiscent of the spiky teasles in my garden. Using the strip between the curves accentuated this and I quite liked it, so I kept going.
You will see that I got bored of just making curves and started making crosses as well.  I like the crosses still, but as of today, I have started taking the stripes out, in the places where I had done actual sewing.  I have been trying to put my finger on why I decided to do this and the closest I can come to an explanation is that they pull my eye too much toward them, so I see the stripes but the curves are fenced off from each other.  I'm not sure I want strips of old pyjama to be the star of this particular show, so out they go.  Of course I may revisit, but for now the crosses are staying, the stripes are going.