Thursday, 26 January 2023

Piecing and playing

 I'm still working away at this, though my chunks are slowly getting larger.  

For a while I was looking at my various bits and pieces and thinking mostly in terms of separating them in some way so that they didn't feel too busy. It was that impulse that led to my previous post, thinking more carefully about the values of my fabrics.  I added some extra beige triangles into one area and definitely felt that improved things.  However, I was still wondering how I would replace my large areas of floor with a more fabric-based alternative.
Then something interesting happened: I was discussing this with a friend who challenged my assumption that I needed that space.  What would happen, they wondered, if I just let my blocks run wild.  So I tried it.
You know what?  It needs more work, but I don't hate this.  Nothing is sewn together and I won't remember the order next time I get it out, but the general principle stands.  This has me thinking about challenging the assumptions I make as I quilt: there are some types of choice I have been making for so long that I don't question them at all any more and maybe I could, from time to time, step out of that comfort zone.  Let's see how this goes.

Tuesday, 17 January 2023

A bit more light and shade

Using black and white versions of my photos has helped me to figure out that if I use plenty of my light beige fabrics and the shirt with red and white plaid, I can build in more contrast without too much of a problem.  I made a line of triangles with a beige background instead of the dark blue - see how much better that is?
And here's a chunk where I have started to add in the plaid
I've got quite a few of these bits now: one bauble and some strips.  I'm playing around with different layouts but nothing is decided yet.  They look like they are stitched together, but as yet they just sit on top of each other while I see what I like.This one has some of the beige triangles.  I think that they look a bit lost in this photo, actually, but am finding that they work well when I add more of them to an area.
I am also wondering about adding in a few extra bits of the very dark red.  Lots of possibilities still, but at least now I have some sense of a direction.

Tuesday, 10 January 2023


I know Christmas is over, but these blocks remind me of baubles and it's a thought that is pleasing me on this dreary, wet January afternoon.

I am slowly adding in a number of different elements.  The strips with little red insets showed up in the photos I shared last time but I am also now making strips of blue with red triangles. Put together, it goes something like this.
I had to pause once I had several bits like this, as grouped together they were not working quite as I wanted them to (yes, I know I should have a picture, but I was too busy concentrating to remember that).  The issue, in short was that it all felt a bit busy.  I took some quick phone photos and had a look in black and white.
The thing this makes quite obvious is that I need to think a bit about how I am using my lightest/darkest fabrics, to try and build in better contrast.  Too many mid-tones here are leaving things a bit mushy.  Of course, in reality there is a measure of contrast that comes just from the colours.  Quite often I find that is enough for me, but other times, and this is one of them, you just need a bit more.  I'm not sure that I need to find extra fabrics; it's more a case of using them better.

While I let this thought simmer, I am going to change tack and write out my 2023 plans for AHIQ

Wednesday, 4 January 2023

Circling the block: done and dusted

This quilt was my final finish of 2022, but I didn't get the photos done in time to post before New Year.  It was too wet to go out, so I had to wait for two people tall enough to hold the corners.  
It's not the greatest photo: once the weather improves I might try outside to get one without the ugly shadow.  One of my resolutions this year is to sort out a spot indoors where I can have a better setup for quilt photography.  I don't need anything fancy, but it would be nice for it to be more straightforward and less weather-dependent.

Anyhow, back to the quilt. it has been so long since I looked at it that it's rather a nice surprise now that it's finished.  You might say I have been looking at it all the time whilst quilting but it never really feels like that to me.  The quilting hoop breaks it down into a series of little fragments rather than a whole piece, so when it is done. I often feel slightly disconnected from it, almost as if someone else had made it.  

This was the first quilt I made after we moved and that now feels like a lifetime ago.  Maybe that's why the little houses found their way into the piecing.  They are one of my favourite bits.
I also love the slightly odd combination of the yellow-green and little pops of red, and the medallion-ish layout and the fact that I have used some of the Charley Harper fabric that sits in my boxes and looks at me reprovingly.  So it's all good.

I started this on 9th December 2020 and finished piecing on 11th February 2021. The starting point was the AHIQ Positive Thinking challenge. I'm not honestly sure when it went into the hoop but I know it came on holiday with me in early August, so let's say the beginning of that month.  I put in the last stitches on December 26th.

It measures somewhere around about 80 inches long by 70 inches wide. I used 6 shirts and the rest is yardage. Since this was finished I have hardly used any proper quilting cotton at all, except on quilt backs, so with the benefit of hindsight this seems like a transitional piece.  Although I like it, I can't imagine using so many commercial fabrics in a piece again.  

It's quilted with perle no. 8, in a random assortment of colours, and the wadding is Bosal Katahdin Organic Cotton.  

As the stash gets smaller and smaller it gets trickier to find bindings that work well, but in this case a muted blue/reddish/brownish stripe from an ancient Oakshott haul has done the trick.  I guess at some point I'll have to figure out what binding made from shirts looks like, but I confess it's not high on my list of priorities.  

Saturday, 31 December 2022

Still going...

And still in the early stages where I'm making little units and shuffling about but without a clear path in mind.  It's kind of fun though, and these bits have been making me feel decidedly festive.

I've added in some points here and there, just because I can
and am starting to get a feel for how these fabrics are working together.
These units are much smaller than the ones I started with in my previous quilt, maybe the smallest pieces are around 5 or 6 inches.  I'm hoping that this help me to go curvy without so many headaches getting the pieces I want out of my shirts.  Fingers crossed.
2022 has been my least productive year ever, both in blogging and quilting terms.  I have a quilt just finished that I will photograph when I get a chance, but that brings my grand total to 3.  I am hoping 2023 will be better, though I guess I'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, a very happy New Year to one and all.

Saturday, 24 December 2022

I said I wasn't stopping and I meant it.

Normally things would stop for a bit over Christmas but this time I am still going.  I have pulled a new group of shirts
and gone back to the beginning.  I tried several different combinations before I chose this pile.  One or two were tempting but I didn't think I had quite enough shirts; a couple more were really just about me wanting to use something particular and so trying to force a grouping that wasn't going to work.  This combination of blue, red and ochre seemed a bit muted but I kept coming back to it. 

Despite my complaints during the previous make about the problems curved piecing can create, I clearly don't feel I'm quite done with the curves because this is what happened when I started cutting.
I've made a good few of these now and am starting to shuffle them about.  It's still very early days so the shuffling is more by way of settling in than formulating a plan, but it's all progress.

Monday, 19 December 2022

Done for now

The last column down the right-hand side has gone on and this one is done.  Now it gets to join the waiting-for-quilting pile.   
Sadly it has been alternately way too cold and then way too wet for me to try an outside, washing line photo, so the floor will have to do. Never mind, I think this shot pretty much does the job.  I was right down to my last scraps of dark blue by the time I finished piecing.  I do still have or two checked bits still and could have found a way to use those if I had needed them, but I was pleased I didn't have to go back to figuring out.  Using all the scraps left from cutting curves has made this a slightly fiddly piece to work on, but the hourglasses felt like an elegant solution and, happily they sit well with the rest of the quilt.   The finished piece is (approx) 70 inches long, 60-something inches wide.

I'm off now to the next project.  No stopping for Christmas, since I've only just got properly started again, but I guess the piecing will be happening in fits and starts for the next couple of weeks. If you are taking a break, I hope it is a happy, peaceful time for you.

NB This was made in response to the AHIQ prompt set by Ann in July