Sunday 29 March 2015

A quick peek at Little Elephant,

Not much achieved this week, or not in hand stitching terms.  One of the downsides of working on lots of things at once is that I may have done quite a bit, but if the effort is spread around several projects, none of them seem to have progressed that much.  I'm not sure this way of working suits me, but am sticking with it for now and will try not to whinge!

Anyway, here's an update on Little Elephant.  

This is how much I've done.

And this, top right-hand corner, is what I've got to go (plus the borders). In the normal course of things I would be hopeful of finishing in the next month (ish) but as it stands, who knows?

Saturday 28 March 2015

Saturday photos #16

This week I've been sticking my camera into the kitchen cupboards.  When I started editing I thought this had been a bad idea - it was all too bitty and messy, but then I had a go and focusing in on the colour in each photo, which I like a lot more.  I was quietly cheered that zooming in like this didn't produce lots of hideous fluff or dust or smears of sauce, although there is a cracking fingerprint on one of the purple glasses.  

Friday 27 March 2015

Back to the wall

See what I did there? Not intentionally, but I did notice before I hit publish that my post title could be read two ways.

Today was the day for more holes.  I started by cutting the little squares and trying them in various layouts.  I could, maybe, have just dropped them onto the top and then sewed them where they fell, but I went for just a bit more control.

I cut their middles out, but turning the edges to the back and tacking is a fiddly job, which I wasn't in the mood for today.  I know it's only quick and dirty at this stage, but I am up to my eyeballs in hand stitching everywhere else, so put it off and instead played around looking at different fabrics behind the holes, like this,


and this.

I know which one I prefer at the moment.  What do you think?  I'm going to hunt around and see if I can find something much lighter and something much darker and try those too.  

Wednesday 25 March 2015

A bit more wall

Today I  just picked up from where I left off, and sewed together some of the bits I had laid out last time.

I sewed a piece on the bottom and then added to each side, ending up like this.

At some point I decided not to use the green vertical stripes every time I joined something on, and also not to extend them the full height of the piece each time I did use them.  Not sure why, just felt right.

I think I'm going to cut some more holes next.  I did think I would leave that until the end, but don't want them to feel like an afterthought; the theory is that if I add some at different points as I go along they will be an organic part of the process, just like the cutting and sewing.  Goodness only knows if this is nonsense or if it will work, but it's what I'm planning to do.  

As a brief aside, I know that most people who read this will know nothing about cricket, and care less, but I love it and my team (the NZ Blackcaps) just made the world cup final for the first time ever, so a huge yay!!!!!!!! for them.  Sadly watching them get there was no fun - too nerve-wracking by half but that's sport for you.

Linking up with Esther's blog for WOW (WIPs on Wednesday).

Monday 23 March 2015

Chopping stuff up, sewing it back together

When I last posted about this I had decided it was boring and that cutting into it was the next step.  I cut some strips of a green I hadn't already used and got my rotary cutter out.  I laid a strip on top of the piece with holes in it; usually I just shut my eyes and go for it, but this time I was more careful than usual because I needed to make sure there was enough space between the holes I had already cut to fit in my new seam allowances.

Then I pinned my strips (again I often don't pin, but positioning was more important than usual), stitched the strip down and then cut along the seam allowance.

Next step was to sew one of the 'new' pieces to something else...

and straight away I felt happier with how things were looking.  This is where I left it, with no additional stitching done, but bits laid out so I can see how I might pick up when I come back to it. I am going to leave making more holes for now, and add them in once I've got a good chunk done to my satisfaction. 

 Linking up with Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday, even though mine is a design floor, and Aylin-Nilya for Monday Makers.

Sunday 22 March 2015

Slow Sunday stashing

I'm still stitching the denim, still quilting Little Elephant, but no progress photos this week.  Instead I thought I'd offer up some eye candy - lovely new threads I just bought for the denim pieces.  I picked up a couple more red/orange/purple skeins but have also been thinking about trying other colour schemes.  I know that deep blues/purples fade right into the background, so pretty soon I'm going to give these lovely greens and yellows a go. I'm hoping they will stand out enough to give a good account of themselves.

Saturday 21 March 2015

Saturday photos #15

I drive past this derelict building most days.  It's Victorian - would have been an industrial building of some sort - small factory, warehouse, something like that. It's for sale and I sort of wish someone would buy it and make it beautiful again (though the planning permission says they can put something silly like 20 small houses on the plot as well, which wouldn't be quite so pretty!)

Friday 20 March 2015

Build me a wall

I have been sewing this week - and taking pictures, but also temporarily losing my camera. 

Having sewed together some strips, I played around with little bits of paper, thinking about stone-y shapes and also, about size.  I tried little squares and roundish ones...

and decided to go with the little squares.

Next up I cut some shapes from fabric instead of tracing paper, and sewed them on...

and then, just for fun, had a play around, sticking my hole-y bit on top of other fabrics to see what it looks like.

Here is is half done (top grey holes have been cut out, bottom ones are little squares, sewn on but not yet cut).

I also carried on piecing a couple of other strippy pieces BUT, and it is a big but, although I like the colours, like the strips, like the holes (and will make more) this is getting boring!  Landscape strips, stone wall holes...fine as far as it goes, but it's gone far enough.

What next then?  Time for get my rotary cutter and start chopping things up a bit.

Monday 16 March 2015

And bigger and bigger

I'm not sure why, as I haven't finished stitching what I have already, but I seem to be in the mood for adding to the denim.  I found some darker bits in my pile this morning and now it looks like this:

Guess I'd better get stitching now!

Linking up with Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday.

Sunday 15 March 2015

A big bit of denim

This weeks's Sunday progress report on my hand stitching: Little Elephant continues plodding onwards, but is un-photographed this week;  the denim moves forward too.  In fact I spent hours and hours on the denim this week, even though in theory the quilting should be the priority for various reasons.  I sewed several already stitched bits together into quite a big piece, and have stitched more since they were joined.  I've used the muted purple/blue thread quite a lot (even though in the pictures you can't tell it's there) but have also added more orange/red areas.  I have also used one little bit of the red that went into the first jacket.  

Next up I need to rummage through my big bag of denim and find some more of the darker stuff.

(I am going for concise, literal post titles this week - what do you think?)

Saturday 14 March 2015

Saturday photos #14

Yesterday was wet, again, so I went looking for spring, to cheer myself up.

Friday 13 March 2015

A start, but not a wall yet

Having decided that I am going to carry on making holes, I thought I'd better make a start on something to make them in.  So I've started cutting into the fabrics I pulled and stuck on the wall.

These are just strips, cut freehand but I have deliberately gone even wonkier than usual, so there are some bigger curves.  I'm going to make a couple more chunks like this and then play with cutting into them.  At the moment this seems quite a literal interpretation of the theme, but I'm not too worried about that, as long as I like how it's looking.  In any case I know that this will probably look completely different at the end from how I am envisaging it now!

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Making holes

Thinking about the fabrics for my wall challenge I have a notion that I want to make some holes.  It may not come to anything, but I remembered a tutorial I saw on the great maryandpatch blog for making what she refers to as "elegant" holes and thought I'd give it a go.

I didn't get it quite right the first time (that's what you get for doing something from memory instead of checking properly before you start) but was close enough to think it was worth having another go.

I made some little square-ish rectangles...

 and then had a go at something more like a circle.

The holes have just been laid down on top of a piece of yellow fabric so that you can see them better, and because it's prettier than the cutting mat or the carpet.  I started using scraps in case I made a mess of things or didn't like it, but this is easy to do, and has some possibilities so I shall keep playing for now.

Monday 9 March 2015

Fading into the background

I'm still stitching away at the denim, and have decided to add in some of this purple thread.  I like the look of the heavily stitched stuff I have done before, but wanted to try introducing areas that were more muted too.  

This thread is very pretty, but it's colours are close enough to the denim for it almost to fade into the background.

This makes it hard to photograph, but I'm hoping you can get the general idea.

Linking up with Patchwork Times today for Design Wall Monday.

Sunday 8 March 2015

It's a long walk out of the jungle

and there's a lot of quilting to go before Little Elephant is done.  I thought I was getting on well, but having just laid it out and had a good look I have to admit to myself that I'm barely halfway through.  

I thought this might be a good time to reflect on the wadding I am using (Sew Simple EcoBlend - a 70/30 cotton/polyester mix, using entirely recycled materials).  I picked it because it was a recycled material, which really appeals to me and so far have been quite happy with it. It's quite flat, compared to the wool I was using before, but has a pleasant, slightly felty feel to it. Here's a close-up.

It's not quite as beautifully easy to quilt as wool - mostly I notice that every so often it feels almost like my needle gets stuck in there, or that it brings a little bobble of wadding out onto the surface of the fabric.  Not a big deal, I am just picking these off as they appear. For a while I was worried that similar bits were working their way through the fabric unaided, as I was getting bits that looked like this:

Luckily it turns out that these are happening mostly around the edges and I'm sure they are just drifting off the wadding where it is not quite covered at the moment.  There has been absolutely no problem in the areas that are now quilted. Phew.  The quilted areas have a nice drape and sitting under it to work is warm and cosy, so all things considered I will definitely use again.

Meanwhile, back with the denim, I have sewed a couple of bigger bits together this week, using some smaller, already stitched bits and some as yet unstitched, which I am now working into.

Next I think I'm going to join these together.

As usual I'm linking up today with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Saturday 7 March 2015

Saturday photos #13

Not the most inspiring round up of photos this time, but then in my wisdom I decided to spend five minutes in the garage!

Friday 6 March 2015

It's all about the colour

Getting started on the walls project.  I rummaged around in the garage (which is where I keep my boxes of fabric) and came up with two sets of colours.  I think I had in my head something quite literal, so was looking for greys, browns, that sort of thing.

After a few days of looking and thinking I came to the conclusion that neither of these was quite right.  I didn't mind either, but equally didn't feel that excited by them.  So I've had another go, keeping quite a few of these but broadening it out a bit.

As you can see I've pulled some prints this time, and quite a few murky yellows/yellowy-greens.  I'm feeling much more interested in this selection, so will set off and see where I get to.  I guess some of these may not make it into the quilt and other fabrics may turn up that aren't here, but it's a fair jumping off point.  

As a side note, I've noticed that I'm much happier once I throw some prints into the mix.  I like the idea of a quilt made just with solids, but haven't yet looked a a grouping of solid fabrics and not wanted to shove some pattern in there.

Monday 2 March 2015

Sometimes my brain hurts

And this is one of those days.  I have always had the same pattern: one quilt being pieced, one being quilted, and for a while there was a pretty smooth, immediate transition from one stage to the next.  Then my piecing got faster, and my quilting, obviously, didn't.  So there was a queue.  Now, in addition to this backlog, I have a new, blog-related dilemma.

I have just started a quilt that won't be blogged for a bit, but that doesn't give me a lot to say!  There are, after all, only so many pictures you can post of quilting in progress.  So I have been working away on my denim bits at the same time, and they will eventually come together, but since we finished the first jacket I am back to slow stitching little bits, which again, you can only post so many times.  

Now I am fine with the pace of things generally, but I do like to post fairly regularly, mostly because it is helping me to connect with people and I am building some lovely friendships as a result of it.  So what do I do?  Well I have decided, in my infinite wisdom, that I will add an extra project.  This may be more than I can juggle, in which case my posts for the next few months will be charting my descent into chaos and mayhem, or I may rise to the challenge.  

Before Christmas I did a Saturday photos post with some lovely stone walls, and LeeAnna from Not Afraid of Colour suggested a joint challenge: in the course of this year we are going to make two quilts each, with walls as a starting point. The first will be whatever takes our fancy, and for the second each of us will take some aspect of the first and develop it further.  

Now I haven't made any decisions about this yet, so this is really more of a 'what will be on my design wall in a bit' post, but here's the set of pictures I have pulled together as a starting point.

Sunday 1 March 2015

First jacket

I've been madly hand stitching all weekend, finishing this off, so here is our first pass at a denim jacket-y kimono thing, with hand stitching (and yes, I know there must be a better way to describe it...)

This started life as a quick and dirty make.  When we first discussed making something using the stitched denim we weren't sure how the stitched pieces I have been making would affect the weight, and hence the drape, of a garment.   We decided to start with a very simple, kimono-style shape, and thought we'd run through, see how everything went together, tweak it if necessary and then get on with a proper version.  In the end we grew to like this as we went along, so it got more care and attention that planned.

Of course there were mistakes/problems, things we will do differently next time, but there were also happy accidents.  The piece of denim we used was not quite long enough, so we patched in some big pieces cut from a pair of jeans.  This is something we would do deliberately another time.  Then one piece was cut twice the same way (instead of one left-handed, one right-handed piece), so we just flipped piece B over and used the reverse side of the fabric - hence the red. Again, we might consider repeating this if we were using a fabric with a good-looking reverse.  

In the end the stitched pieces worked fine, but they were a hindsight here, so next time we will sew them into bigger bits, we think, and then cut pattern sections directly from those, rather than attaching them afterwards.

I also wonder, looking at the photos now, if I would like more of the stitching, especially on the front panels.  (I also wonder why I didn't iron this properly - but ironing has never been my forte).

This is planned as the first of several, though we are going to attempt a different style of jacket next time round, so if you have any observations, please feel free to chip in.

And finally, my favourite bit of the whole thing?  My darning!  Go figure.

PS: If you have a couple of minutes go and check this out.  Some great buildings that would make great quilts.

Linking up with Kathy's Quilts for Slow Sunday Sewing