Tuesday 29 May 2018

Too square, too straight

I'm not working on this project much - still hand quilting most of the time - but I have been thinking about it a lot and once or twice I've got my bits out of the box and shuffled them round.  It turns out this has been a useful approach.  

Here are the blocks I had made, laid out randomly.  
I've now taken out those yellow squares.  The yellow was one of the things I liked about my original fabric pull, but it's not working for me here.  Maybe it will be back, but not in this form.

I've played around with adding sashing of some description.  This photo is probably my favourite shot of this project, but clearly ten wee blocks and one little strip of sashing don't add up to a quilt.
 I've played around with adding an extra shape.
But then it hit me: the problem I have with this (and I had it last time I worked with strings too, so I should have figured it out sooner) is that it is all too square, too straight, too tidy.  I haven't been too fussy about the size of  my foundation squares and have cut my strips freehand, but things still come out looking pretty neat.  Of course I know that a big mass of string blocks look quite different from a handful and can acquire their own glorious mad energy, but right now this is all a bit static for my liking.

So at least I understand my problem; now I just have to figure out what to do about it.

Tuesday 22 May 2018

AHIQ - share your improv #33

Not much piecing has gone on here in the last few days, though there has been plenty of other sorts of sewing.  I am taking a brief pause from the current project; I like it well enough but keep having an urge to shove in something really unexpected, like huge swathes of pink, so I'm leaving the poor thing in its box until I've got myself under control and have some sense of what I'm doing.

In the meantime though, I am quilting for all I'm worth.  Another week, maybe two, and my little Findhorn piece should be done.  
I had forgotten how quickly a small piece seems to move towards completion - I rather like it!

Friday 18 May 2018

Bigger, smaller, quieter

Today I decided that I'd make some blocks with less contrast.
And here's what they looked like mixed in with my first batch
I'm not making big decisions, but I like to lay stuff out when I've been sewing for a bit and have a play - sooner or later I'll like something enough to keep it.  This version seemed a bit too regular, so I had another go.
I wanted to make one or two bigger blocks, but haven't for the entirely mundane reason that the phone book I am using for backing papers has really narrow pages and I couldn't find anything else. So I made a few smaller ones, just for the heck of it.

Tuesday 15 May 2018

First decisions

Well, this is not going to be what I first thought, which was (possibly) something incorporating log cabin type blocks.  I did like the little block I mocked up for the previous post, but there were several things wrong: the first was that it just felt a bit predictable; the second, that cutting my fabric to make squares or rectangles would be quite wasteful, if I wanted to preserve the swallows whole; and finally it made the assumption that the whole quilt was about that one fabric - I think I want to try and find a way that it plays equally in relation to the other choices but doesn't hog the limelight, if that makes sense.

Anyway, since this was the fabric giving me pause for thought, I wanted to get the first cut over with.  Once I sat and looked at it properly, it seemed to make more sense to cut on the diagonal (picture included here so you can see what I mean), which has led me neatly back to string blocks. 
So what I am trying, for now at least, is these little blocks (6" square).  Some with three strips, some that just have one corner replaced and some that are a single fabric.
I'm using the swallows up first, but adding in the other fabrics as I go along. 
Of course this may be no indication at all of what the final quilt will look like, but it's where I'm starting.
(An interesting aside, is that the fabric I am least comfortable with so far is the one that comes from the same range as the swallows, which is designed to co-ordinate perfectly.  Probably says more about me than it does about the fabric!)

Friday 11 May 2018

I love a nice shirt

I don't know if it's something to be celebrated or lamented but  where once I had specific clothing shops I loved (in the days when I visited bricks-and-mortar shops for clothing), then favourite online quilt stores, nowadays it's the British Heart Foundation second-hand shop gets my heart beating that wee bit faster.  In short, there's little I like better than a nice shirt and more specifically, a nice shirt that I can chop up.  

Yesterday morning I went hunting for something to throw into the mix for this latest quilt-to-be and this is what I found. It's hard to tell in the pictures but the second one is a pale grey-blue with a nice sandy stripe and the third is almost exactly the same shades of mint and brown as the shirt I had already pulled.  
The bronze one on the left may or may not fit into this quilt, but I like the colour a lot, and honestly, when it's only £3 for a whole shirt, why would I leave it behind?

So now I have to focus on where to start.  A lot of the ideas that have been floating around my head recently have been circles/curves again, but given that the Charley Harper fabric has big dots I'm thinking this might be overkill, so I'm playing around with other possibilities.  I don't want to be too uptight about it but would like to stretch that print as far as possible, without cutting every swallow in half, so squares or vertical strips make the most sense.  
For the moment I am just looking at things on the floor, but eventually I'll have to take the plunge and cut something.  Maybe on Monday.

Wednesday 9 May 2018

New beginning

Off I go again. Though I am trying to prioritise the hand quilting and some non-quilting stuff, I have squeezed in half an hour to play with fabric.   I had in my mind a very pretty pale green and pink combination that Audrey has been working with, but my stash didn't yield anything very helpful.  I did find these two shirts, which my sister gave me for Christmas (yes, for chopping up; I wouldn't be so churlish as to cut into them if they were meant for wearing).
So I've got mint green, but no pink.  Then, rooting through my boxes I found  some Charley Harper.
Now it felt like I was getting somewhere.

So back to the boxes, to pull out things in the right colours: browns, greys, ochre, sand, and more minty greens.
 Here's a different view.
It's often the case with my first pulls that they are very pleasing on the eye but a little bit too nicely matched, and I think that's true here, but that dark brown with the little flowers introduces a little touch of a much deeper blue, which might be the answer.  Here's the same pull with a big piece of that deeper blue.
This, to my eye, has much more potential.  This is more yardage-heavy than I would ideally choose, so now I am going to let it stew for a day or two and maybe have a hunt around for one or two more shirts in the meantime.

Friday 4 May 2018

A productive week

My finishes, like buses, all seem to come at once.  Of course this is not finished, as it still needs quilting, but the piecing is done.  I learnt my lesson on the left-hand side and didn't try any clever stuff over on the right, just stuck with geese and wedges.  Since we are still in the time frame for the AHIQ playing with scale challenge, please note the change of scale, from big to small geese, and, for that matter, big to smaller wedge-y bits too. I do like to stick to a brief!
Not only that, but it is backed, sandwiched and ready to quilt.  This needs to be done by September and given that I am currently quilting slower than the slowest snail I thought I'd better let it jump straight to the front of the queue.  I've never quilted something straight after I made it before, so it will be interesting to see if I like it.  

Tuesday 1 May 2018


One of my weaknesses as a quilter is that I can waste time trying to make something work when I know it's not really right.  So I filled in the left hand edge with gold.  Didn't like it.  Or rather, I like the fabric a lot (never could resist a bit of sparkle), but this was just too much.  
So I added in another row of geese, another little slice of wedge. 
Obviously I would have ironed and trimmed, but  I still didn't like it, so unpicked (again!) instead.  

In the end, I just went on filling in that gap as it got smaller and smaller, until it had gone. The thing I like about this is the repetition of the purple strips, which I think helps this version to sit more comfortably with the rest of the quilt.
Still tinkering, I have moved the geese that were in the top right hand corner in the first pictures to the bottom right.  Initially I had intended to run a curve of geese all the way from the top to the bottom but when I laid it out it looked too final, closed that side off, so I had to think again.  Now I'm planning to add some smaller geese, still going up but not hugging such a tight curve. Nearly there, I think.