Monday 30 June 2014

Something to be going on with part 3

or this one could be subtitled 'my brush with quilt-as-you-go disaster'.

For a while last year, when I was trying to figure out what sort of quilter I was (of which more another time) it bothered me that other people seemed to be producing a quilt a week, while I was more like a quilt a year.  So I read blogs, and looked at tutorials and came to the conclusion that quilt as you go was the answer - no more hand stitching for me, just nice little blocks whacked through the sewing machine. Oh what a bad idea it turned out to be.  
Started out fine.  I had some nice fabrics, cut some wadding, stitched away happily, thinking that when I had a bunch of blocks I'd just arrange them the best way I could find and hey presto.  Well it was hey presto what a pile of poo, I'm afraid (and I'm going to be honest now and show you...)

No matter what arrangement I tried, still a pile of poo.  I think because my blocks weren't of a uniform size I couldn't make the whole thing look balanced.  I hated it, but there was a lot of fabric committed there and I didn't have enough to start again, so somehow it had to be rescued.

After a week of looking at it and feeling very grumpy I decided to keep some blocks and work out what new ones I would need to balance it all better.  The reject blocks were chopped up and then added to, to make new chunks, so in the end everything that's in these pictures, bar one little rectangle, ended up in the final quilt.

Than my next disaster.  I put the first block under the machine, quilted it, and hated it.  Put the second block under the machine, quilted it and hated it.  Said to anyone who would listen, 'I hate how this is looking'.  Mostly they said something along the lines of 'it'll be fine...' but I quilted another block and hate, hate, hated it.  So I unpicked it.  Every last tiny machine stitch pulled out.  It took me days!  Much longer than doing it in the first place.  At this point I nearly gave up on the whole project.  Weeks wasted on the miserable thing.  But I stuck to it, returned to handquilting, and (months later of course) finished. In the end I liked it, but definitely no more quilt as you go for me!

Linking up with Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story and Needle and Thread Thursday at My Quilt Infatuation.

Needle and Thread Thursday
Fresh Poppy Design

Friday 27 June 2014

Any excuse

Now this is probably stating the more-than-obvious, but I love fabric.  I love colour, pattern, the way different materials feel, drape, sew  However, this sometimes creates a dilemma - namely when to buy and when to resist.  I don't have a huge stash, by quilters standards, so don't feel too conflicted adding to it but what about when you find a  fabric you love, that simply won't work for quilting?  In this case it was this:

This first picture doesn't quite get the colour, but I really loved this when I found it (and it was on sale).  It's a Finnish print on a huge scale, but it was 13% polyester ie made for furnishing.  Then I had a lightbulb moment - we had some conservatory furniture which had seen better days, which is a polite way of saying the cushion covers were only fit for burning.  So I did this:

 Mind you, that makes it sound easier than it was .  I needed to use the old ones as patterns to cut the new pieces but they were stuffed with foam chunks and when I opened them up everything was covered in a kind of foam dust, where bits had disintegrated.  It was pretty vile and I'm still finding bits of it in the garden now.

I used another print for two chairs. This was my first attempt at something like this and I made some silly mistakes along the way, like getting the first piece I cut the wrong way round and messing up the front corners a couple of times, but I'm so pleased with how it's all turned out. It looks so much better than before (I did take a picture of the old covers but it's too shameful to admit I hadn't done anything about them before this!!)

Wednesday 25 June 2014

Speeding to the finish, slowly

This is a peek at Annie's quilt, which is soooo close to being done, just quilting the outermost border and binding it.  Maybe a week away, if I work hard.  Mind you, I always underestimate how long the very last bits take!

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Monday 23 June 2014

Something to be going on with part 2

This is a quilt I finished last year.  It is Eden's Birds and was made for a three year old girl, so is big enough for a cot bed.   I was really happy when I finished this - I wanted to make something she would like at 3 but not be embarrassed by at 15 and I hope I have succeeded.  Certainly DD, who is 22, loved it.  

This was the first time I had hand quilted using perle rather than quilting thread and I was completely converted.  I loved the colours and the way the thread has a slight shine.  In fact I loved everything except trying to find the right needle, but I still haven't solved that one.  

The fabrics are a mix.  I started with this fabulous Lily Ashbury print from Trade Winds...

and mixed in some other Lily Ashburys, from different collections and fabrics from stash.  Most of the plains I use are Oakshott cottons, because, like the perle, they have a sort of shine or glow that really makes a quilt sing.  And yes, I know they are not the cheapest out there, but as lines come to an end there are usually bargains to be had.  This works fine for me, as I am rarely buying for something specific. The pink, yellow, mauve and blue fabrics in this quilt were all sale fabrics.

I'm linking up today with anything goes mondays:

stitch by stitch

Saturday 21 June 2014

A start

My first go at playing with the Harper fabrics, mixing them in with Oakshott cottons and some Kaffe Fassett stripes.

I don't know yet where this is going, but rarely do at this early stage - I just make some bits I like and then start seeing how they go together.  These may get used as they are, or might end up chopped into pieces and looking altogether different!

Starting a new quilt is exciting and a bit scary: where these fabrics will take me?; will this be easy or will I hate what I do and spend weeks trying to work out how to save it?; will I waste fabric and then need more of it than I have left.  My usual rule is that I buy half a metre of something but then don't let myself get more, so if I run out, I have to improvise.  In theory I like the challenge.

Wednesday 18 June 2014

Work on the wall

In the normal way of things I am working on two things at once: I'll be quilting one and piecing another.  You would think that the piecing would happen much faster than quilting (I hand quilt) but it doesn't seem to happen like that and for the last year or so I have managed to move smoothly from one quilt to the next.  As it happens I am almost at the changeover point on my latest projects.  Annie's quilt should be finished in the next couple of weeks and the one I'm piecing (call it Sue's Trees for now) just needs a back then it's ready to go.  

I want to wait until I've finished Annie's to share it here, so I thought I'd show you what's on my design wall, waiting to get going.  The lovely bird fabrics are from Birch Organics range of Charley Harper prints.  I had to search high and low to get these, having failed to notice them when they came out  - thank god for the wonderful Web.  I love his simple shapes and great colours. I'm itching to get moving on this one now.

Monday 16 June 2014

Something to be going on with

I realise that if I  blog as slowly as I sew I should pretty much give up on the whole idea right here and now, so here's an old-ish quilt, just to be going on with.  

I haven't figured out how to get a picture of a whole big quilt yet - so most of it is the best I can manage!  I made this one for myself, mostly out of fabrics from the  African Fabric shop.  I'll post about my process (ha, I have a process!) at some point, but for now, this is just pretty picture - hope you like.

Thursday 12 June 2014


So...I've been thinking about blogging for a while now, and talking about it, and thinking some more.  I've played around with what to call it, been put off by having to learn all the slightly technical stuff (even though I know it's probably easy enough if I just pay attention) and got totally bogged down looking at fonts and colour schemes and the like.  In the end, I have decided to just go ahead and take the metaphorical leap into the unknown.  

And now, here I am, first post, new day, good intentions...we'll see.