Friday 21 December 2018

Over and out

This is my last pre-Christmas post, though I shall still be wandering around the internet seeing what other people have been up too.  

Here's progress to date:
There are a few more bits like this too.  

I think I need to have a think about how they are going to relate to each other now, so I can do that in the next couple of weeks.  I also have a cunning plan to keep things ticking over.  There's no prospect of  laying things out, which is just fine, but I know I am going to need more stars and more of the flying geese, so in quiet moments I will try to cut the bits for them.  I'm fine if I can't get to a machine, but this would let me get going again in the new year without a struggle. 

I wish you all a joyful holiday period: time to reflect and enjoy the things, and people, you like the most.

Monday 17 December 2018

4 more sewing days till Christmas

I'm jumping straight into this one, trying to make the most of the last few days before everything stops for Christmas.  This is probably a good thing, as it's stopping me from overthinking the connection between this piece and Yellow Birds.

I decided to have one good look at that quilt and then not to look again until I feel like I've found a rhythm with this; I think if I keep checking back it could prevent me from finding my way.  What I took from that one look was a mental list of the different elements in the piecing: log-cabin-y bits with the birds at the centre, flying geese, some little strips of squares and rectangles and quarter sun blocks.  Oh, and words, which were a late addition last time but which I got printed up right at the beginning of this one.

I kicked off by cutting some bits of the lovely birds and starting to piece around them.  Sadly the pale fabrics lose a bit when the flash fires, but I'm sure as the light improves next year you'll be able to see them better.
I'm mostly still just making these bits and some geese, but have sewn one slightly bigger piece.
I am currently undecided about the suns.  I might try just making a couple, rather than a whole pile.  I am also wondering about throwing some stars into the mix.  Lots to consider!

Wednesday 12 December 2018

Off I go again.

My aspiration to make something simple seems to have amused some of you, but I will rise above it.  I will concede that my brain tends to complicate from even the most straightforward of starting points but I am hoping that this new project will be simple-ish, at the very least.  

I have never revisited an idea, but that's what I'm going to do now, which is why I am hopeful that this might not be too tricky.  Here are my starting point shirts:
They haven't photographed particularly well, but there are blues and yellows, and yellow-y browns.  

Then I rummaged through my boxes and came up with this lot.
Looking at this photo, it seemed like I needed more yellows and I have, since I took these photos, added a very dark blue shirt, a black one, and a grey and yellow stripe.  I have also unearthed quite a lot of scraps (almost all yellow) from this quilt.  I am thinking I want to keep some elements from that quilt but make it more about the dusk than the dawn.  

Let's see if this goes as planned!

Wednesday 5 December 2018

Map challenge, done for now

I can honestly say there were moments when I thought this quilt would never be done but I think I have most probably finished the piecing.  Somewhere along the way I stopped taking photos of every version I rejected but suffice it to say I found the last few inches tricky.  In the end I used entirely dark blue strips down at the bottom and a combination of leftovers pieced together and the dark green shot cotton to compensate for my shortage of fabric.  
Once the bottom was sorted out I added the dark blue strip on the left hand side, which sort of squares things up, but also felt right in terms of the balance of things. For the same reason (balance, not excessive wonkiness) I added one more row of across the top, echoing the darker blue at the bottom.

And just like that I was satisfied and it was done!

Next up I think I am going to do something nice and simple.

Friday 30 November 2018

Two blocks challenge: done and dusted

My piecing has slowed down this month, but at least my quilting has benefited.  Here's the quilt I made for the AHIQ two-blocks challenge.
I bound it with a really pretty Monaluna print that, honestly, I would have liked to use for something else, but of all the options I tried it was the best by quite a distance, so binding it became.

I started this on 25th April and finished piecing on 27th June 2017.
Started quilting on 1st October and finished on 29th November this year.
The wadding is the 70/30 all recycled mix that I am using for most of my utility quilts and it was quilted with this handquilting thread, which was new to me.  I was perfectly happy with it, though to be honest I bought it mostly because it came on wooden reels rather than plastic.  

Mr SewSlowly says it looks "old-fashioned" in a way that leaves me not entirely sure if that's a compliment or not, but I like it a lot. The thing I like the best is that it is a finished quilt, in a year when finishes have been few and far between!

Monday 19 November 2018

A quick detour

I am still thinking about my map quilt, but haven't done much.  Instead I have been putting a bit of extra time into the hand sewing, since I have a quilt heading towards done.  I have also made two cushions (or pillows).  I've never tried this before but it's been kind of fun.  

Here's one with a pillow (or cushion) pad, though not one that's quite big enough, just one that was lying around.
 And a second one, which is smaller.
I have one more of these in the works, but I'm still quilting it.  

Tuesday 13 November 2018

Scrapping the bottom of the scrap barrel

For once this quilt played nice and yesterday I had a happy couple of hours just quietly chugging away without too many dilemmas.  I went from this
 to this.
But now the fun starts.  The photos are a bit misleading in terms of proportion and in real life this is not long enough by maybe 6 inches or a bit more.  At the moment it looks slightly squat, which doesn't please me.  However, I am about out of most fabrics.  I have plenty of dark blue, and of the lilac and dark green in the little squares and I have about ten squares , mostly of the light blue shirting and the plaid, cut and not yet used.  No more of the white sashing shirt though.  

The obvious answer would be to work with the dark blue, but I am wondering if having too much dark at the bottom might mess the balance of the whole quilt.  I'll probably tinker around just to be sure but failing that I guess I either have to look for another fabric or consider doing something completely different across that bottom strip.  For now, I'm letting it stew.

Saturday 10 November 2018

Not too far to go

Again, not much to say about this, except that it's growing.
The dark blue bits on the left look a bit heavy, but they'll slim down once they're stitched into place. Suddenly it feels like there's not too far to go.

Monday 5 November 2018


No sewing last week as it was half-term and there were all sorts of kid-related shenanigans going on instead.  I try to plan ahead for these moments and have piles of mindless piecing ready, so that I can keep ticking over, but this project doesn't lend itself to that approach.  As a result I was extremely happy to get back to it this morning.

I have decided to stick permanently with the rotated version of this quilt, although I haven't yet worked out a satisfactory way to add the extra bit of length it needs as a result.  I mostly worked today on accumulating more pieced chunks to work with.  I have run out of proper pieces of two fabrics now - you can see how a lot more of my basic squares are made up of scraps now.

These two pictures give a rough idea of where I'm headed - there's not much more sewn down than there was last time, but you get the gist.

Saturday 27 October 2018

Looking at things sideways on

My last progress post/update on this map quilt was over on the AHIQ blog (if you haven't already, do check out the other posts and see all the different takes on maps that are going on).  I was distinctly unhappy with what I had done, so I have unpicked the offending section and rather than trying to improve it I have left things to stew in the top right corner and moved on to other areas of the quilt.  
I 'm happier with this.  I was going to say that it's probably not going to get any wider, but then I looked at it from another angle.  I like it this way up too, but that would change the dimensions I'm aiming at.  Just so you know, in the first picture it's about 65" across and I was thinking of heading for about 80" in length.  
I think I'm going to make just a few more of my big chunks before I make any firm decisions about where they go.  That way I can mull this over but also, as is so often the way at this point, I'm running low on fabric.  I should see how far I can get and leave myself some wiggle room.

Saturday 20 October 2018

Missing the right bits

Slow progress.

I have added to the right hand side - and am not trying to figure out what happens above and below this piece.  
Quite a lot of the bits in this picture had not yet been sewn together, so the wider blue and white strips will end up rather narrower than they look.  The bit I'm struggling with right now is the top right-hand corner.  I would like the blue to extend around it, but can't find quite the right combination of bits.  Up until now I have just been using what I already had made, but I think the next step will be to make something specifically for the space.  

Monday 15 October 2018

A whole lot of shuffling going on.

I still like the dark blue, which is a relief.  Right now I'm doing quite a lot of laying things out on the floor, like this...
to try and figure out where I want to use the dark stripes and where I want to stick with the pale ones.  Occasionally when I like something I'm pinning bits together, so that I don't forget next time I get them out and every so often I am biting the bullet and sewing.  
I'm still trying to avoid letting everything get too 'block-y' and this sort of placement creates little gaps to fill, which I hope will help with that.  Partial seams help too (and seem to have become a habit now).

Thursday 11 October 2018

Third time lucky

Well this has been interesting.

Having said I needed something extra, I started playing around with some different shapes.  I tried triangles
then I toyed with the idea of something circle-y, based on these vintage samples of furnishing fabric
but realistically I wasn't going to have enough fabric for this approach.

I'm not sure what led me back to my boxes, but I went furtling about in the one containing shirts and came up with this,
which led to this.
I like it, so I'm going to do a bit more and see how it goes. I'm guessing it will come down to whether I can balance the blue and the white stripy bits satisfactorily.

Sunday 7 October 2018

Fits and starts

It appears this is one of those projects that involves a fair bit of puzzling things out, though I hope my little strips are going to provide at least part of the answer. 
My issue currently is that although I like my individual pieces and the stripy fabric that is joining them together, I don't want it everywhere, otherwise each block is framed with the stripes and the whole thing ends up looking too- well, block-y.  Yes, I know that's not a word, but hopefully it conveys my problem.  If this is just a collection of big rectangles outlined with stripes then it becomes static, so I need to find ways to keep some movement.  I'm hoping the newest pieces will help with that, firstly just because they are a different element but also, on a more practical level, they are a way to stop any individual line of the stripy fabric extending too far, of disrupting the grid. 

This picture is quite a good example, even with the extra strip sets, of how easily this could feel static and lumpen. 
I think I need to add something more.

Wednesday 3 October 2018

Quick update

Not much to say about this, but here's a bit of progress.  

My pile of "blocks" is growing
and I have started making these little strips too.
I am hoping these will let me sneak in some little bits of the purple and green fabrics as well as using up my smaller scraps.

A practical aside: I don't know which part of the gmail/blogger interface is to blame but comments are being emailed to me multiple times at the moment.  This means I have become hopelessly confused about which one I have replied to.  I am trying methodically to work my way through it, but will almost undoubtedly slip up somewhere, so apologies in advance to anyone I accidentally ignore.

Sunday 30 September 2018

Chinese Coins: finally finished

Phew!  I though I would still be working on this at Christmas but Chinese Coins is done.
I usually choose the binding when the quilt is finished. This fabric, though,  was in the initial pull and I have kept it floating about in my eye-line rather than tucking it back into a box because I have always been sure I wanted to use it.

There have been (numerous) times while I was working on this that I wondered what I was doing.  This little quilt seemed dull and the freehand cross-hatching seemed like a good idea gone bad and was taking longer than even I could enjoy.   I wondered if I should have ruled all the quilting lines, worried that the variations in the grid would look sloppy, at one point nearly put the whole thing back in the cupboard (something I never do: I start, so I finish).  

But guess what.  Quilted, bound, completed - I just love this quilt.  I love the gentle colours and the shirt fabrics, I love the shapes and the quilting - just love it all.  Mostly I see things I would change at this point, but for whatever reason this one seems just fine exactly as it is.  Just goes to show you can't second-guess these things.
The details

Started 3rd February 2017 as part of the first AHIQ challenge, set by Ann.
Finished piecing 31st March 2017.
Started quilting 17th June 2018.
Completed 27th September 2018.
Finished size 69" x 71".

Made from a big pile of shirts and fabrics from stash.  
Bound with a stripe bought in the Oakshott warehouse sale about 8 years ago.  
Wadding is Sew Simple Supersoft Eco Blend (70/30, all recycled).  
Quilted, using ordinary quilting thread, with a mostly free-hand crosshatch pattern.  

Linking up today with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Thursday 27 September 2018

Remember it's a quilt...

Well I've been all around the houses with this.   None of the fabrics I showed in my last post felt absolutely, definitely, no doubt about it right.  So I went back to my boxes and tried almost everything.  I tried solids, big pattern, small pattern.  I tried variations on blue, yellow and brown again.  Then I tried green, then grey, then pink, purple, red.  I tried pretty much everything.  
This was the one I liked the best.

But when I spread the fabric out and tried it over a bigger area, I liked it less.  Humph.
All the fabric went back in the boxes and I tried to figure out why nothing was working.  In short, I wanted something that would fit effortlessly in with the blocks I had, but I could find it; all my blocks seemed to float above the fabrics I was finding.  I wondered if the answer was to use more than one choice. (As a side note, some of these fabrics may still sneak into the quilt somewhere,just not here.)
Yesterday the boxes came out again.  I considered a dark grey, an old Carolyn Friedlander with gold triangles.  Both had their merits but neither ticked all my boxes.

Then I had a moment of insight (yes, it happens from time to time).  When I started this project my note to self read 'not literal, just a design prompt: lines, shapes, repeats, spaces'. Yet here I was, thinking literally: these spaces needed to be a different fabric because they were 'roads' not 'alleyways' or 'walls'.  But this is a quilt not a map.  So I tried this.
Much better.  Onwards and upwards!

Friday 21 September 2018

Then there were five

It's windy here.  That should have nothing to do with quilting, but I like to work with the back door open as much as possible, so spend some time yesterday just chasing my fabric around the kitchen floor.  Luckily this seemed amusing rather than irritating and I still got my fifth piece done.
This arrangement doesn't signify anything; I tried the blocks lots of different ways but in the end the photo I have used is the one with the least interference from sunlight.

I had said that once I had five blocks I would start to consider how they might be joined, so that is what I did. I had a stack of fabrics that had been in the initial pull but hadn't yet been used, so out they came and this is what they looked like.
Sadly, the one I most wanted to use (top left) is the one I think works least well and the one that I probably like the best (bottom left) is not a full half metre, so there's going to be some compromising somewhere along the line.

I probably should have got further, but for some unaccountable reason I decided that the tail end of a massive storm was the best moment for trimming my horribly overgrown front hedge...

Monday 17 September 2018

Simple shapes and repetition

This is chugging along very nicely at the moment (now that I've said that, watch me grind to a halt!)

I'm not overthinking it, just making little units, then joining them into bigger ones, and so on.  I seem to be using two basic shapes: squares, which I'm sewing into four-patch units, and rectangles, which are just being joined into strips.

So at first it looks like this.
 Then like this.
 And in the end I have this.
Actually, I have four of these chunks now, but the sunlight, visible in the top right hand corner of the photo, pretty much wiped the fourth one completely, so I have cropped it out.  

At the moment I am thinking that I will make one, maybe two, more and then have a play and see what the next steps will be.  

Saturday 15 September 2018

Saturday photos #92

In case any of you wondered, we went to Lundy.  You will notice that a side benefit of this was that there are lighthouses.  The two pictured here are North Light and the Old Light.  There is also South Light, which is pretty much exactly the same as its twin on the northern-most point.

Sea, sky, the granite grey of dry stone walls and a handful of buildings, bracken slowly turning from green to its autumn gold, the yellow of gorse, purple of heather and still some green on the ground. We were a mile and a half out from the tiny village and all other people and that is what we saw from every window, in every direction.  Bliss.

Thursday 13 September 2018

I never said I was consistent

In my last post I wrote about liking routine and looking forward to getting back to mine.  What did I do next?  Abandoned my routine completely and headed off to an island without the internet, in fact without electricity (in our little bit of it at least) for a few days escape with my sister.  Pictures on Saturday.

However, I am showing a bit of discipline now that I am back and this morning completed another map chunk.  Here it is on its own...
 and with the first one.
I'm straightening the sides when I finish each one, but paying no particular heed to their size of shape.  Despite this, these two are almost exactly the same length.  

Thursday 6 September 2018

A happy accident

So, here's a quick run through what I managed to get done yesterday.

I started with just the two wee bits, added one more rectangle to the shorter one, thinking I would sew them together.
I was rotating the lower piece to see which way round I preferred it, got distracted and stopped mid-swivel.
I like this better.  

What next? Fill in that gap.
This is where have the map theme has really helped me work out what to do.  I don't want to be overly literal, but have been thinking about the challenge in terms of breaking my inspiration pictures down into their component parts:squares, rectangles, strips.  If these things matter then in this piece the little plain strips mark the walls between each dwelling, the stripy strips mark the alleys.  I'm hoping that the bluer fabrics in my bundle will represent both the courts (open spaces in the centre where people had access to the communal privies) and the roads.  

I got as far as this.
Works for me.

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Off and moving

I have given myself a talking to; no more fussing about the hand quilting - I just need to get on with it.  I've worked hard over the last two days, squeezing in few lines of stitching every time I got a few spare minutes. I'm making good progess but today I felt a strong urge to piece.  I'm up to date with my proper work, so I figured I could justify it.  I cleared a tiny space in the spare room (all that was possible at that moment), slapped a cutting mat down on the floor and my Featherweight in a corner and made a start.

Tomorrow I'll have more time and a better set-up but it was so, so satisfying to do even a tiny amount of cutting and piecing.
The size of my first pieces was determined entirely practically: I just tidied up the smallest piece of dismembered plaid shirt into a rectangle and took it from there.  

I was a bit concerned that I didn't have quite enough in my fabric pull and may still do a quick run to the shop to see if I can find another shirt but in the meantime I have pulled out a bag of scraps in the yellow-gold-ochre colour range and will use those to add a bit of variation.
That's all I achieved, took me as long to clear up the mess as it did to sew, but I finished the afternoon a happy woman.