Monday 15 July 2024

A finish: #2.22 Weeds

I don't know if you remember this top from July 2022.  I spent a long time considering whether my applique skills were up to translating the teasel in my photograph into fabric, but in the end didn't think I would be able to produce something I was happy with.  However, along the way the idea of weeds inveigled itself into my brain and wouldn't go away.  In the end, I gave in and printed the names of lots of the weeds I have in my garden onto the quilt top.  Here's a view of what that looked like.

and here's a view of the finished quilt in its entirety.

In a departure from my habitual, straightforward quilting I had a bit of a play and tried a different version of something floral in every strip set.  In one or two I just followed what was already on the fabric, in others I added stylised leaves or flowers.  It was a lot of fun but has been surprisingly difficult to photograph.  This is the best shot I have managed.
It has ended up a biggish quilt - around 75" x 65" and is pleasingly weighty (that's the denim and old trousers).  

I started this on April 9th and finished piecing on  July 15th 2022.  I've been quilting it for a while, can't really remember when I started.  Nonetheless it is finished within 2 years (just) of completing the top, which is pretty quick for me.  I bound it using fabric from stash, quilted in perle no 8, mostly odds and ends, also from stash.  The wadding is organic cotton.  

My favourite things about this are the green that came from my best-ever trousers (that's the strip with Chickweed printed on it in the photo) and the inclusion of the  Monaluna print which I used to make the dress my then-4-year old daughter wore to my wedding (and she's nearly 14 now, so that tells you how long those scraps have been sitting in a box).  Also, the colours of this please me inordinately - greens, blues and browns just float my boat.

In other news, I am pushing on with my blue hexagons but more of that in my next post (which may even happen before the end of the summer!)

Thursday 13 June 2024

Hexagons and crosses

The plan is this: to use the crosses that I liked from the piece I've just finished and find a way to combine them with some more of my octagon blocks.  I don't want to make more octagons, but there has to be a way to use up the ones I've got that feels satisfactory. I'm adding a couple of extra shirts to the ones I had originally pulled and also added some of the scraps from the last top, mostly orange bits and pieces.

Maybe something like this?
or this?

I don't know how these will fit together, but I like them well enough, so I'll keep going and see what happens.

Thursday 9 May 2024

Done for now

It's hard to believe that it is May and this is the first quilt top I have completed this year.  Never mind.  Things can only get better!

Here is a progress picture of my central chunk of piecing with a couple of rounds of strips.  The right-hand side was sewn on at this point but the bottom, top and left were still being tinkered with.  I found I didn't much like it when two pieced sections sat next to each other.  A small overlap was okay, but after that everything got rather busy and, because there are lots of mid-tones, tended to run to mush.  So my strips are a mixture of small sections of piecing and bigger bits of single fabrics.  

That's fine in principle but of course I was running out of big bits, so figuring this out using what I had took ages.  The bit that caused me the most problems was the final strip I wanted to add at the top.  I tried all sorts of variations, including the strip that is sitting at the bottom now and every random length of shirt I had left.  I had a denim and the floral print, joined by a little cross and everything I tried to go above them worked with one half of that combination, or the other, but never both.  I was starting to think I was going to be tinkering with this forever.  Then serendipitously I was tidying up the bags with the octagons that I rejected a couple of months back and had an 'ah-ha' moment.  They did just the job.

It has ended up being quite a big top, so it wasn't easy to photograph and you will see that the right-hand side is flapping a bit and I haven't got it flat, but that is about my hanging system rather than the quilt.  Nevertheless,  I think this is still a fair picture and I am definitely happy with it as a finish (for now).
Now that I have sneaked a few of the octagons into this top, I am motivated to get them out and have another play.  Maybe this time I'll find a way forward that I like. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Strips and chunks - it's all progress

I'm still going with this.  The hourglasses went on down the left-hand side and are looking just right to me.   I also added to the right-hand side, cutting the strip I was adding so that I could keep that curve in the denim.
It feels to me right now as though the area with all the dark blue stripes and grey bits is a self-contained thing, so I'm not planning to add any more blue verticals, just that one piece horizontally across the bottom (or what is currently the bottom ). I'm also going to stop adding in the grey floral, except in hourglasses, so no more big bits.  Practically, I think the next step is going to entail just adding strips top, bottom, sides, rather as if this were a medallion with a very big middle. Since  I don't want it to feel like a medallion particularly, I will be trying to pay careful attention to how the strips and hourglasses fit together so it's not too obvious.

Here are the next two strips going onto the left and right-hand sides and also some of the random bits I am trying out around the edges.  

When I started, the floral bottom left felt a big loud and shouty and like it should only be used in smaller pieces, but somehow, now that the quilt is bigger, I feel much more comfortable considering using great big chunks of it.  Of course, given that it was a shirt, I only have enough fabric for a couple of those chunks, but that's definitely enough to have an impact. 

As this stands, I am not far of a length I would be happy with but am some way short of a satisfactory width.  Never mind.  

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.