Thursday 18 April 2024

Chugging along

This is chugging along alright at the moment.   I joined a couple of my chunks together (that's the bit at the top in the photo), and kept making other bits at the same time.

Joining bits to make bigger bits is the easy part.  Some of my fabrics here (mostly the pale oranges)  I am treating as interchangeable.  Others, principally the dark, dark blue, which has tiny, fine orange stripes running through it, and the darkest floral, I am using more carefully.

Since I liked how the pieces looked lying on the floor together, I thought I'd have a go at finding a simple way of joining them together.  I wondered about using a horizontal line of hourglasses, but it felt a bit too crowded.  Interestingly, I don't hate them in this photo, but in real life it didn't work for me.

So I took them away, but left the denim strip.  I am happier with the hourglasses running vertically down the left side. As things are right now, all of this is sewn together, except those hourglasses. 
I am thinking that I might stop with the deep blue verticals at this point.  I am running out of big pieces of the shirt and what is left would probably work better in hourglasses, given that I have a collection of odd shaped bits and bobs.  The question is, then, what I do next.  Your guess is currently as good as mine.

Monday 8 April 2024

Using up the rejects

While I was trying to figure out how to make something I liked out of the octagons, I made various other bits and pieces too.  I tried combining them with little crosses and also made a handful of hourglass blocks.  Neither of these worked, but now I am looking those rejects and wondering if they might belong together in something else.  The crosses were mostly in reds and dark blues, whilst the hourglasses came in red and orange-y fabrics.  So I have pulled some extra shirts and a pile of denim scraps and am giving it a go to see what happens.  

I didn't hate this first piece, so have kept going and now have three chunks. As you can see, they are pretty simple so this didn't take long.  Now I have to decide whether to make a few more, or start to think about how they might talk to each other.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Quilting when stale

I am aware that my quilting muscles are rusty.  Decisions take longer, I do more unpicking, get further through a project and then change my mind over big choices.  That's okay.  I have decided to start with simple things.  My first pass, though, was a complete non-starter.  I had seen a lot of very pretty octagon quilts and thought I would pull some scraps and fiddle about with something similar.  

What I learned, pretty quickly,  is that either I needed to bite the bullet and cut these in a proper, regular fashion, using a template, or to become wilder, push the shape away from its natural geometry.  I can see that a half-hearted improv octagon is not a good thing. Sewing them together in groups didn't so much look like improv - more like poor sewing.  I tried adding strips in to break them up, which I didn't mind too much, but it wasn't exciting me and I couldn't find a way forward. Shame - there are some nice fabrics here, but stuck is stuck.
It doesn't feel like I have time to waste wrestling with this at the moment, so I'm sticking it in a bag.  Maybe I'll revisit it, though that feels unlikely right now.  Instead, I'm just going to start again with something new. 

Wednesday 20 March 2024

A finish: #1.22

As mentioned, I have a couple of finishes saved up to share.  Here is the first one. 

I seem to be getting much better at moving things through the system, since this is barely two years from start to finish.  This is, admittedly, because there are a couple of tops I seem to have pretty much decided never to quilt, but if I don't feel it when I sort through the piles, I don't see the point in giving months of my time over to working on something.

This is a simple little quilt really, but for some reason it is really ticking the boxes for me right now and has gone onto my bed as a result.  I think the orange has something to do with it, plus those strips of my once-favourite green trousers and the lovely blue plaid shirt with the deep, deep blue stripes. The Indonesian batik fabric that is in the checkerboard bits posed some problems when I was piecing. It was so busy and unusual that I couldn't find a way to balance it with other fabrics for a while, but I am happy with how it worked out in the end. It sits well, I think, with the dark blues and the other orange/red areas help too.

I started this on the 20th January 2022 and finished piecing on 31st March, so that's as close to exactly two years as makes no difference.  It is pieced with shirts, plus the green trousers scraps (most of this went into this top) and some orange Oakshott fabric that I have had for years.  I looked hard for a shirting that would do the job for me, but nothing worked and this lovely orange seemed right at home.

The backing is some of the duvet cover that you can see in this quilt top and I used a different part of said cover for the binding as well.  

The wadding is organic cotton and it is quilted with perle cotton. As usual I used what I had rather than buying in specially, though this will be the last time I can do that without at least one or two new purchases.  I echoed the flying geese in the centre in some areas of the quilting, just to make a change from straight lines. and am quite pleased with how it worked out.  

The finished piece is around 65 inches in all directions, give or take.

Thursday 14 March 2024

A quick gallop through the last 4 months

It's been an age, I know.  Cricket finished, winter cricket started, I have been working much more than previously and other caring responsibilities in the family have eaten into my sewing time.  That's life.  I have been sewing still, even more slowly than usual. 

I turned this pile of shirts, a skirt and a duvet cover

into this quilt top.  Using a duvet cover offers a much bigger piece of a single fabric than I am used to having.  I had used one side for a quilt back, so was only using the front, but even so there seemed to be loads of it.  You would think this would be a good thing but in fact it rather stumped me for a while.  I felt like everything I tried still looked more like a duvet than anything else. Hopefully I have managed, in the end, to produce something more than one step away from someone else's used bedding! 
Next up, a lovely pile of mostly green shirts.  I've had the one on the top left for ages (since some time during lockdown) and finally had enough other greens to give it a go.

This came together quite easily really.  I made a pile of one sort of block then, when I got bored, I started making log cabins instead and before I knew it, I had a finished top.
I also have a couple of fully quilted finishes, but will save those for the next post, in an attempt to build a tiny bit of blogging momentum.  

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.