Saturday 30 April 2016

Saturday photos #62

This set of pictures should have been up last week, but I got distracted by my tulips.  Since I love being beside the sea just as much as my flowers I decided they deserved a showing now. 

Friday 29 April 2016

Less square, more long

I'm still adding to my circles quilt.  I thought I was going to do the medallion thing, but after I added a row to the bottom and laid out the next column on the left hand side I wasn't so sure...

In the end I added an extra row to the bottom and am now getting ready to add one at the top.  I like this shape better.  As I add each row I am slowing moving the emphasis from mostly denim towards the blue 9 patches and the shirt fabrics.  

I'm probably still a little way off the sort of size I was aiming at, so am wondering about a border of some sort, though at the moment I don't have something specific in mind.  I'm hoping that if I have a play I might feel inspired.  Having said that, looking at the photo now I might also stop here.

Tuesday 26 April 2016

AHIQ - share your improv #8

Welcome to the 8th AHIQ improv link up.

I haven't done much since yesterday's post.  I cut enough denim squares to go once round my existing piece, and made a few blue 9 patches.  It's surprising how long cutting all those squares took.  Usually I do a bit at a time with that sort of job, so I don't notice but I wanted to look at it with a whole round laid out, so that wasn't an option this time.  

I've got two slightly conflicting thoughts about this at the moment.  The first is that I rather like the plain squares - sort of quiets things down a bit and am tempted to leave them.  The other is that I want to find a way to add more of the shirt strips:  one way to do that would be as little squares, or as joining pieces between some of the denim bits.

I'm wondering about going for a bit of a medallion moment: maybe leave this round pretty much as is and then go around again, getting more shirty and maybe adding some more crosses too.  Job for today, then, if I get the time, is to cut some shirt squares and see what I think.  Sadly, however, there are business tax-y things that need to be done first.  

Monday 25 April 2016

Circles, crosses, squares

Making some progress on the denim.  I have spent some time unpicking (and I hate unpicking) and replacing just a few of my circles with little 9 patches.  I've also had a go at a couple of sort of X blocks.  

Now that the original chunks have been reworked and sewn together, into a piece 16 x 6, I am thinking about what next.  I have quite a lot of plain denim squares laid out, and a few more 9 patches.  Some of the plain bits might get circles, or Xs; I might add some more strips of shirt bits or some squares cut from the same shirts.  Who knows?

Finally a reminder for anyone who's making it up as they go along this month: the AHIQ link up goes live tomorrow.  Do join in and show us what you've been doing.

As well as Patchwork Times, I'm linking up today with Love, Laugh, Quilt for Monday Making.

Sunday 24 April 2016

Speeding up a bit

I always do this when an end is in sight...start trying to sneak in more time for the quilting.  Build Me a Wall is, if not nearly done, definitely heading in the right direction.  I laid it out on the floor so you can see the bits round the edges still to do.

Of course these things always take twice as long as you think they should and I don't need to hurry, but still...obsessive?  Me?

Saturday 23 April 2016

Saturday photos #61

If you have been looking at these posts long enough you will remember that I did a tulip post last year, but I love my tulips, and plant new ones every year, so here they are again, along with some other pretty bits from the garden.

Friday 22 April 2016

A finished jacket

I kept changing my mind about how much to add to this, but have decided enough is enough, so it's done for now.  The idea is that more patches will be added, but this will be as and when repairs are needed.

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict and TGIFF, hosted this week by my friend Mary at Fleur de Lis Quilts

Tuesday 19 April 2016

AHIQ - pushing the boundaries

It's been a while since I did an AHIQ "why don't you try this" post but I am prompted now by the arrival of this:

As a regular visitor to Julie's blog ( I was already an admirer of her free pieced barns so have been looking foward to seeing her book describing both the journey she went on in making the See Rock City quilt and her methods for free piecing.  

So what do I like about this book? I love Julie's attitude to inspiring the reader. She gives us, in detail,  her techniques and thought process but at every stage encourages us to do our own thing.  I particularly like the injunction to take off the spine, ring bind the pages and write all over them (though as someone who was brought up NEVER to write on books I will have to work on that part). 

I like that she works scrappy - seeing that as an approach that leads to creative solutions.

I liked being able to read the story of See Rock City all the way through, following the success and the glitches on the way to the final quilt.  I actually read this straight through in one sitting, even though I'd only opened the book for a quick first peek.

I like that she walks us through the making of 4 barns, step by step.  This is both a great project for those who want it, but also I found helped me to get to grips with how she breaks down her initial sketch into individual units for the piecing.

The best thing I can say about any quilting book is that it inspires me, makes me want to go out right now and make something and Build-a-Barn has got my head whirling with ideas.  This leads me on to the "why don't you" part of the post.  Julie looked at an existing strand in quilting (the free pieced house) and re-imagined it to fit her own tastes and interests.  Another book out this month, by Lara of Buzzin' Bumble (of which more another time) resulted when Lara couldn't achieve the effect she wanted using traditional applique techniques, so invented a new one.  

We can't all be trail blazers, but the challenge, I think, is to look beyond the obvious and not to say to ourselves "well, I'd like to make it look like this, but I don't know how to get that effect", not to discard aspects of quilting as not for us (I am guilty of having thought this about EPP, but this instagram feed has recently been making me think again).   There are so many techniques in quilting and indeed in other forms of sewing, like garment-making that we could regard as options for improv, tools to enable us translate the ideas in our heads into fabric - let's be encouraged to keep pushing the boundaries. 

Monday 18 April 2016

Rethinking my circles

This is fun - I'm suddenly all excited about the denim circles again.   There's been something liberating about deciding I could start working on this now and I have been happily moving blocks around and cutting more shirt strips.  

So far I haven't made many firm decisions, except that I have sewn one or two strips in where my 9 patches are very different sizes.  Of course once you start actually sewing the seam allowances kick in, so some have ended up much smaller than they looked when I laid them out, but I like them still.  

I've also made a couple of extra little blue 9 patches and in a couple of places have taken out a circle and added one of these.  I'm thinking I will do more of this, once I can get to my stash tomorrow and dig out some blues. Looking at the photo now I don't know if this is all that clear - when everything is blue it can be a bit hard to spot the details, but not much I can do about that!

I'm also thinking about Ann's suggestion of adding some X blocks or lattice blocks (I'm afraid I don't own Cultural Fusion Quilts so I had to google these). 

Something is definitely working itself out in my head.  Hopefully I'll be able to make some more units of various sorts in the next few days and get on with things.

Sunday 17 April 2016

Smaller tops are quicker to quilt

Okay, I'm sure you've all figured that one out for yourselves, but I just lay Build Me a Wall out to take a quick photo and saw that somehow it is about three-quarters done.  This is a lovely surprise, but then it is about half the size of the last few things I've quilted, so if I'd engaged my brain I might have guessed it.

It looks like this.

Saturday 16 April 2016

No scraps

At the beginning of the year I was already two months into the Quilty 365 project and, full of post Christmas enthusiasm decided I would also join in with the Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  Only one problem with that: turns out I have hardly any scraps.  I thought there was a lot sitting around, but  I use my leftover fabrics on my quilt backs so my scrap box contains mostly teeny tiny little snippets, quite a lot of which is only good for the compost/mulching the garden.  Oh well, I thought to myself, when for the second month in a row I couldn't even find enough of a colour to make some tiny 9 patch blocks, this clearly isn't meant to be.

At the same time I have to admit that much as I like my circles, I don't want to make any more, at least not of this particular version.  So maybe I can combine what I have from the two projects?

I have started playing around with the strip sets I had cut from old shirts, using them as fillers. 

I'm also playing around with the idea of having some 'blocks' that are not denim: I'm not sure if the strips are quite what I want, so I'll keep playing with that.  Maybe more little squares (though I think I would make plain ones, not use the one that I've put down here).  I did tiny 9 patches for the days that I was ill in February, (bottom left of the photo) so maybe that's the way to go.

Actually I realise I may well end up making more of the blue on denim circles to get where I want with this, and that's fine; it gives me time to think about what else I might want to do.

In the meantime I'm linking up for the first time with Oh Scrap at Quilting is More Fun than Housework.

Saturday photos #60

I've been by the sea for a view days and have done a lot of pootling about on the beach, in glorious sunshine, but also in drizzle (there was a fair bit of that), in a gale and in a hailstorm that lasted ten minutes.  This time I started to think about all the plastic I saw: it was everywhere and not just lids and old bottles but endless tiny fragments.  I suppose that as the tons and tons of rubbish we have added to our oceans is battered and worn, we will eventually end up with sand that is made multicoloured by our waste.  As this thought occurred to me I took a quick snap of every piece I could see around my feet...

Monday 11 April 2016


I am sticking to my decision to slow down, and am still catching up on my 365 circles, though I am nearly there.  When I am up-to-date I am going to lay them all out and decide what next.  The options are to just keep going, or to start working on turning what I have into something (I think if I took this route I would try to keep doing a circle a day, but maybe with a different slant).  As yet the jury's out on this one.  

In the meantime, I have been playing around with the charm squares which have been stored in the box where I keep the circle fabrics - just exploring colour combinations.  

I like this:

and these

Maybe one of them will turn into something.  In the meantime, I guess this is where I need to start figuring out how I keep track of this sort of stuff!

Thursday 7 April 2016

Wandering camera #2

So once again it's time for the Wandering Camera link up over at Whims and Fancies.  I'm going to use this as an excuse to post some photos I took in London a few weeks ago, (one of which has already been included in a Saturday photos collage).  

These giant metal structures are gasholder guide frames - the black one is Gas Holder No. 8, - near Kings Cross, built in the 1850s.   If you want to know more, or see pictures of the whole structure, (my phone couldn't come close to capturing the whole thing) you can click here - it's worth a look!

Photo Linky Party

Tuesday 5 April 2016

Thinking, more than stitching

Having just finished piecing the circles quilt, I thought I'd take a moment to stop and think.  Two things prompted this: the bout of flu I had in February and Stephie's interviews with Ann (  and Audrey (  The flu stopped me dead in my tracks, and since I got back to the sewing I have limited myself to two activities: piecing the circles and quilting Build Me a Wall.  Other projects, including the 365 daily circles and my attempt at particpating in this year's Rainbow Scrap Challenge were shelved.  
At the same time I found myself first of all drawn to Ann talking about the idea of making just one quilt at a time and then Audrey describing how she juggles multiple projects.  Both of these approaches have their own appeal: I like the notion of simplicity and focus that comes with sticking to one thing and when I started I habitually had one quilt being pieced, one being quilted.  But the more I interacted online, the more I shared ideas and saw other people's work, the more the ideas flooded in, until I felt like I couldn't contain it all in my head.  

Now I find myself thinking about where the balance lies for me, where I am most comfortable on this spectrum.  I am wondering if the answer might lie in a combination of approaches. What if I limit what I am sewing at any one time (though I'm not putting a number on that limit)  but try to be better at recording ideas and inspiration so that I don't have to hold everything in my head.  I have no idea how this will work out, as I am not a natural diary keeping, sketchbook user, etc, but I do know that I would like to be working with a calmer head, so I'll give it a go.  

With this in mind I am considering what I want do next, but in the meantime I dug out my 365 circles and laid them on the floor.

I am way, way behind here, and had thought I would give up, but now I'm thinking I might use this next week or so to see if I can cover the ground needed to bring me up to date.

Sunday 3 April 2016


I'm still quilting away and making good progress, I think, but for today's Slow Sunday Stitching post I thought I'd show these lovely buttons, which I'm just about to add to the denim jacket.

The first one is one and I like how it is looking.

Saturday 2 April 2016

Saturday photos #59

Prompted by a conversation with Julie I have been out, in the pouring rain, photographing barns, ancient and modern.  This is just what I could find within a 5 minute radius of where I am, so I may return to this when I find myself with more time, or sunshine, and with a bit of forward planning.

Friday 1 April 2016

All over bar the quilting...

Everything went smoothly today: I put together the bottom row...

and then joined the three big pieces together.  It was dry and fairly bright so I tried getting a photo outside, but the wind kept thwarting me...good colours though.

Then I came back inside and had another go.

I'm so happy with this, though I haven't got a clue how I'm going to quilt it!

Linking up today with Confessions of a Fabric Addict as well as Off the Wall Friday.