Sunday 30 November 2014

Sunday stash #9

This week it's all about the grunge.  These came from the closing down sale at Pink Chalk, where I exercised significant levels of self-control (though the hit on the postage plus the VAT as the parcel enters the country help with that).
I like to use them instead of plain solids sometimes, just for a bit of added oomph.  No reason for these particular colours, they are just the first ones that caught my eye.

LInking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash.

Saturday 29 November 2014

New York in a fog

Not really a fog, but my frustration with my photography has reached new heights - or maybe plumbed new depths - this afternoon.  I must have taken 20 photos yesterday, and I have just had to delete more than half!  Blurry, blurry, blurry.  It is driving me nuts.  I will have to do something about this soon.

But enough whinging.  The quilt itself is making slow progress.  I have, I think, got over my vertical/horizontal dilemma. I am going vertical, but not in great big chunks.  I've sliced and diced again and am now working with chunks more in line with the first pieced section.  Like this:

And this:

Linking up, better late than never, with Off the Wall Friday.

Tuesday 25 November 2014

Playing in New York

I've just been playing around the last couple of days, waiting till I know what to do next.  So I've made some log cabin blocks

and some other bits and pieces.

I've been playing with my other bits of the New York Fabric too, trying to see whether they're going to work better vertically, like this

which was my first instinct, or horizontally, like this...

For now I've left it like this

but no decisions have been made!

As an aside, I am finding as it gets darker that I am struggling to get good photos.  I'm only using a point-and-shoot, but either the exposures are longer and I am wobbling, or the flash is turning things dodgy colours or the daylight comes in from one side, so half is washed out.  Bear with me, I'm going to show a blurry one if it's all I've got to illustrate my point, but I'm taking loads of extras in the hope that I'll get something in focus!

Linking up with Blossom Heart Quilts for Sew Cute Tuesday, with Sew Fresh Quilts for Lets Bee Social and with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Sunday 23 November 2014

Still sewing the blues

This week I've been sporadically stitching away at my second attempt with denim.  This time I tried making a more traditional sandwich, with a backing, batting, denim.  The back was a scrap, the batting is a 70/30 cotton/polyester, made entirely from recycled materials. 

For those of you who have been asking about sewing through denim, this was way harder than my first go.  So hard that after an hour or so I cut the backing fabric off, which made it a much more pleasant experience.  I think if I wanted to back it again I would look for a fabric with a much looser weave; the stuff I used is pretty stiff and dense - bad idea.  

Without the backing this is much easier, especially since it's machined together, so there's no overlapping of the denim to deal with. I'm not sure if these photos show the slightly more raised surface you get with the batting underneath, but it does make a difference, honest.

I could stop here - I've learned what I need to from this, but will probably go on stitching until it's all pretty, just because I like it.

Linking up with Slow Sunday Sewing again.

Friday 21 November 2014

New York under the knife

Last post I said I thought I knew what I wanted to do next with this, so here's what happened.  I realised that although I love the New York fabric, I was treating it with too much respect. I felt that in one piece like that it looked, well a bit lumpy, which is to say like it had been dropped in amongst the other bits I was playing with but didn't really want to be there.  Not dynamic enough I guess might be another way of trying to describe this. 

Looking closely at it, I saw that it is effectively made up of hundreds of different, tiny grids - that's right, they are windows (d'oh).  These are not great photos, but see what I mean?

That was my cue and this is what happened next.

Yup, I chopped it up and sewed it back together again.

Linking up with Nina-Marie for Off the Wall Friday.

Wednesday 19 November 2014

New York, New York

That's not the name of this quilt (which for once I know already) but I had to get that post title in somewhere: On the Town is a favourite movie and that is a great song.

I've been playing around with inserting a stripe of some sort between the city fabric and the strip of rectangles.  Tried light grey, very dark grey and a black print with a bit more colour.  Didn't like any of them, but here they are anyway.

This I did like:

I made another strip, but smaller.

And now I don't like it again, but this time I think I know why and I'm pretty sure I know where I'm going next...

In the meantime I'm linking up with Lorna for Lets Bee Social - go and visit for Blogathon Canada, there's some great giveaways and a whole load of new blogs to check out. Also with Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Monday 17 November 2014

New York city, first pass

A quick update on this one.  I had in my head that this would be a pretty straightforward make; I have been imagining something based on Chinese coin quilts - simple rectangles in greys,black and whites.  First cut of the New York fabric looked like this.

Then I started on the rectangular chunks.

Of course these things are never simple, so I don't much like the side bit right next to the city fabric - I'm off to try putting something between them and see what that's like.

Linking today with Anything Goes Monday.

Sunday 16 November 2014

Stitching round the birds

I haven't got much to show this week.  Charley has moved on a fair bit, but I'm not sure if you can tell...

When I started I wasn't quilting around the birds, but I have seen the error of my ways and am both doing them as I go and using my little odd bits of thread to go back and quilt the ones I missed. They look much better with their stitch-y outlines.

I have also machined together some bits of denim, and sandwiched them with batting, for my next experiment, but no stitching yet so currently it looks like this:

Not the best photo, but it's been so dark I need the lights on and then my poor wee camera is not too happy. Grey damp days: great for stitching time, not so good for pictures.

Linking up again with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching - there's some great stuff there, so do pay a visit (if that's not already where you've come from!)

Saturday 15 November 2014

Saturday photos

I went for a lovely walk in Calke Abbey, one of my favourite places, as I've said before (here).  Usually I take about a hundred tree photos (yes, every time) but this time I started looking at all the  walls. I've added in one photo taken there a couple of months ago - yup, it's the one with the flowers.  

Thursday 13 November 2014

Starting something new

After a week of hand quilting and playing with my denim bits (still ongoing) I felt ready yesterday to start piecing again. This is going to be for my oldest son and I started with this piece of fabric:

He's a city person through and through, so New York felt like a good starting point.  Here's my first run through stash looking for black/grey fabrics. (Sorry for blurry photo!)

The little squares are from an Oakshott charm pack and I think I'm going to use them to sneak some colour in.  Apart from them I'm going monochrome - he decided black and red were his colours when he was about 6 and nothing much has changed since then.  It'll be interesting to see if I can restrain myself and keep to this palette or whether I crack at some point down the line!

Linking up with Needle and Thread Thursday.

Tuesday 11 November 2014

Things I've learned #3

Strictly speaking I think the next one in this series should be "always put the cover back on your rotary cutter" (I know, I know) but that is pretty much self-explanatory, like "don't run with scissors" so I shall move swiftly on to "don't decide too much too quickly". This applies, for me at least, to both colour choices and to design decisions.  

So, pick some fabrics, but keep an open mind; sometimes you need something unexpected and you can only see this as you go along. Equally, even if you have an idea of how you think your quilt is going to look, be open to things changing. I usually know when I start roughly what I think I'm doing but the finished quilt sometimes bears no resemblance to where I started.  

Some examples:

In Two Hungry Birds the flying geese only occurred to me about a third of the way through;

In this one I had a pile of beautiful, carefully chosen reds and purples, but added in the little scraps of turquoise from stash;

 And when I started this, the little elephant was going to be the centre of some version of a medallion quilt.

I guess the gist of what I'm saying is that if everything is planned and decided up front, you know what you are going to get, but for me part of the fun is to let the quilt tell me what to do as I go along, to watch what is happening, think about what is missing (or surplus), keep changing the plan, and to trust that the end result will be satisying.

Linking up with Show and Tell Tuesday at i have to say.

Sunday 9 November 2014

Quilting the blues # 1

When I posted the beginnings of this piece here, I said that it was the start of an ongoing project, collaborating with my sister.  There was no pressure, no hurry as we are not getting together to look at the next stages until Christmas.  But then I got a bit carried away.  I had meant to spend this week quilting my Charley Harper top, but it has languished untouched because I have been having far too much fun doing this.

This is the finished piece - I'll need to think at some point about the unfinished edges, but here I've just layered them over each other and stitched them down however the fancy took me.  Practical questions aside though I'm very happy with the look of it.

Linking up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching and ayliN-Nilya for Monday Makers.

Saturday 8 November 2014

Saturday photos

I'm still feeling autumnal and this year am definitely going through an orange-loving phase.  Actually it's blooming cold today and probably more like winter but I'm going to put that thought out of my mind for as long as is reasonably possible.

Wednesday 5 November 2014

Things I've learned # 2

This is the second in a short series of posts reflecting on the things I have learned along my quilting journey that have made the most impact on how I work and that I hope might be interesting. 

This is an idea I also came across first in The Fabric Makes the Quilt (as mentioned last week) but that has been reinforced many times: if it's too small, add a bit on, if it's too big, chop a bit off.

The way this works for me is that I rarely buy more than half a metre of any fabric, even things that might be classed as blenders/basics. Of course I often get to a point where I  wish I had just a few inches more of something, but the trick is not to cave in and buy more.  Instead I have to go back to stash and find something similar enough, if I have it.  If I don't, then I have to make it work with a fabric I wouldn't otherwise have considered, or resort to searching through my scrapbag and piecing together tiny bits to make up the shortfall. Take a good look at the borders on this one:

Generally the 'chop a bit off' part of this approach I find pretty easy while the 'add a bit on' side can be more challenging, but once you get the hang of it, it stops being scary and becomes quite exciting and satisfying - definitely worth having a go!

Linking up with Lorna for Let's Bee Social.

Sunday 2 November 2014

Birds and the blues

As mentioned on Friday I have broken my usual rule this week (one quilt in the hoop, one being pieced, nothing more) ans added in a new little project.  

My sister and I have been talking over the idea of making some sort of coat/jacket inspired by Japanese boro and by French denim workwear.  This is in its very earliest stages and given that we live a couple of hours apart is not going to move along that quickly, but I have started playing around with scraps from old jeans.

I'm also still working away at quilting Charley Harper, which currently looks like this:

It seems to be moving along quite fast, though this is probably mostly because the last couple of things I quilted were on the large side, and this is quite a bit smaller.  

Linking up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Sewing.  

Saturday 1 November 2014