Monday, 15 July 2019

Not far to go

Today the good news is that I found my last strip of brown fabric.  It's not huge, (those tiles are 13" square, to give you an idea) but then I don't need much.  I could probably have coped without it, by using more of the black fabric, but it's good to have my options open.
I made this chunk, which I think is the bottom right-hand corner. 
I'm not tidying up the edges until I'm sure of what I'm doing...which might be something like this.
I need to get the position of the top cross just right.  If it's too low or too close to the central one it seems to make the whole thing feel a bit squat, though I am finding that the foreshortening that comes with taking photos on the floor makes it hard to demonstrate that with a picture.  Anyway, I know where I think it belongs so it's just a question of working backwards from that point to fill in the gaps.

Nearly there, I think.

Monday, 8 July 2019

Today I took photos

Well, I have managed to keep sewing but if I want to keep up with the blogging I will have to do a better job of taking photos. I sat down on Saturday, all ready to post what I had done on Friday only to discover the pictures I was sure I had taken did not exist.  Bother! 

I have done better today, when I got this chunk sorted out.
 This is what it looks like as part of the bigger picture, so to speak.  
I am running very, very low of most fabrics now, but have a little pile of crosses done so I'm pretty sure I can get to the finish line. I will probably have to resort to lots of tiny crosses to fill in my gaps, rather than a few bigger ones, so it will be more work, but I don't mind that too much.  I've given up looking for the extra brown bit.

One a completely different note, I thought I'd share this picture of a Banded Demoiselle.  We have loads of these damselflies in the garden and never tire of admiring them, but they seldom stay still.  This poor chap had died, but I was grateful to be able to get up so close. 

Tuesday, 2 July 2019

Checking in, catching up

Normal life has resumed and I am going to try hard not to take another three weeks to get back to blogging and blog reading.  That seems to have been  my pattern in the last year, pause...still pausing...slow, slow, slow return to normal.  This time I am back at the sewing, so I am now knuckling down to the blog-related end of things.

Here are a couple of quick update photos.  The first is how things looked when I first got my bits out of the box and laid them out
 and this is a smaller area, but all these bits are now sewn together.
I'm still doing a lot of shuffling around, mostly figuring out where I want the bigger crosses to sit in relation to each other.  Once I have the feel for that I am using smaller ones from my pile of ready-mades to fill in the gaps.  

It definitely feels like I am in the swing of it now and I am much happier.  In fact I am coming to like this slightly odd mix of colours a lot.  My only minor frustration is that I know I have one more strip of the tan/brown fabric somewhere: I came across it, realised it would be needed, put it somewhere safe, but not, unfortunately, somewhere obvious.  So I am spending a fair amount of time in unproductive searching. In the meantime I have switched to other fabrics, since every last inch of the original fabric has gone.  

In quieter moments I am also considering the next AHIQ challenge, which is up and running, for anyone who wants to join in.

Tuesday, 18 June 2019

Tiny crosses fill my days

I am not expecting to piece much next week, so am pushing hard to make progress while things seem to be working.  I am reminded that there is always a big gap between that moment when I think I know what I am doing and how I will get to an end and actually reaching that end.  In this case, the space in between those two points seems to be filled with tiny little crosses.  

This big chunk was sewn together today. I added a bit above the smaller black cross, to drop that section down, and filled in a lot of spaces with my little crosses.  I'm pretty happy with how this is coming now.
Here, just for my own satisfaction, is a close-up of a section, just to give a better look at some of the fabrics that are bouncing the light back in most of the pictures.
I am keeping an eye on the green and brown and black as I go, since they seem to be doing a lot of the heavy lifting, but mostly it's just me, my machine and cross after cross.  Isn't it funny how I think I have a short attention span (I do) but then I'll sit and do something utterly, tediously repetitive for literally hours if the end result seems to justify it.  There is, as they say, nowt so queer as folk.

Saturday, 15 June 2019

Keeping track

There's not much to be said about this right now, but I'm posting just to keep track of progress.
Again, this is not the final layout but I am playing around now with how the pieces fit together and won't be making more of the bigger bits unless I have a specific space for one. Instead I'm thinking about how to use the small, smaller, smallest blocks to hold everything together.  There's a bit of the bright green sneaking in, and little squares of black and tan.  

Using all these light fabrics is making this piece hard to photograph - lots of the detail in the prints just isn't in this picture at all and the blue and green shirts are virtually indistinguishable. I think it's because it's so very dark I've ended up using the flash and the light is just bouncing straight off it.   I'm hoping that when I finish and hang it on the line the light will work better. If it ever stops raining I may try some line photos anyway, but right now there's no prospect of that, just water, water, everywhere.

Tuesday, 11 June 2019

More like it

I have made better progress in the last couple of days and the addition of those extra prints is definitely helping to take this (and me) to a better place.
Once I get a fair number of bits I like to lay them out every time I am working.  They are different each time for a while, but I know that eventually I will look at some particular combination, two blocks sitting next to each other and think, 'yes, you'll do' and those will become one bigger piece.  It is also helping me to think about what I need to do next.  I can't just go on making bits without any clear idea of whether I need them.  Well, I could, but it would be a bit of a waste and just leave me searching around for an alternative to replace the fabrics I had started with.  

Looking at this (and knowing that I have another of the big black crosses almost finished) I am thinking that I need some more of the medium-sized and smaller blocks and that at the moment there are not enough bits of the tan fabric.  I will  make extra black/tan/green crosses and also see how many squares I can cut out of  my remaining magpie fabric.  Once I've got  these extras I can start looking at the bigger picture and thinking how the different colours are moving around the top.

There's a long way to go, but things are starting to click.  I might even be starting to like those ice cream tones again.

Friday, 7 June 2019

Going backwards to go forwards

I feel like I am finally getting somewhere, though I am mostly unpicking what I have already done and reworking it.  Both the bigger pieces here have had changes and I like them better for it.

These bits are now all fine by me.
I have quite a pile of spare parts, all sweet, now waiting for pairs that will keep me going in this direction.  I plan to make more of the smallest size blocks, and still have fabrics that need to be added, but for the first time I am pretty sure I will be carrying on with this.

In conversation with commenters on the previous post I have realised a couple of things.  The first is that although I often see quilts made with solid fabrics that I very much admire, in my own quilting I am less comfortable with lack of pattern.  It seems to add an extra layer, or set of options, that pleases my eye, to add some depth and movement.  I wonder why this is.  

The second is that it is all about combinations.  If you can find the right partner(s), any colour can be made to work.  My usual method is to pull out literally everything and just keep auditioning until I find something that I like, then to build on that (looking for similar colours/tones but with variety of scale, pattern etc).  It would probably give some people a headache to work this way but it usually gets me where I need to go and definitely comes up with better solutions than deciding I know up front what will work. 

Monday, 3 June 2019

Possibly, maybe...

Possibly, just possibly, this is going somewhere okay.

I spent a week away from the ice cream colours thinking, basically, that this was a big fat no.  Too sweet, too mushy, too much like hard work.  Blah.  But somewhere along the line I decided to see if I could track down a green I liked and when I found one (in a shop, not a box, I have to admit) I found some other things I thought might work too.  Since I went organic I haven't really done this, but these are all organic so I placed an order.  My thinking was that the black and white prints needed a bit more help; I wanted just a smidge of that green that's in the magpie print but also a few bits that had more pattern to them.  All the shirts have stripes or a check, but they're all so subtle they might as well not be there really.  

Here's what I got.
I pulled apart one of the chunks I'd made already, ripped out a couple of the pastel shirts and added in a bit more variety.  Like this.
It's not that big a difference (see below left for an untweaked block) but I like it a lot better.  It is genuinely a coincidence that I am adding in an extra bird fabric - bought because the colours were right and it was on sale.  Now I think I just need to get more iterations with these new additions, so that I can start to develop a bit of rhythm.
That's the theory, anyway.

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

A lighthouse moment

No movement on my sugar and spice quilt, but I finished the last of the cushion (or pillow) covers that I started last summer.  Or rather I thought I had finished but now that I look at it on the screen I am thinking I'll go back and add some stitching to the light.

My intention is to make some more of these; I have at least one more lighthouse quilt in my head, but I rather enjoy picking a single lighthouse - this one is South Foreland.
The back is a shirt.
It all needs a good iron, but of course I don't know where my iron is.

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Melting ice cream

Putting my blocks together on the floor it became pretty clear to me that I don't really want them touching each other - they just blend into an overwhelming mess of sweetness, a bit like a pool of melting ice cream.  In fact, the more I looked at them like that, the less I liked them and as I went to bed last night I was wondering about sticking the whole lot in a box and hiding it at the back of the garage.  

However it's not in my nature to let myself off the hook, so today I got on with adding a bit of something more, to see if I could get to somewhere I felt happier with.  The black print seems to work well
and, digging in my boxes for something with that emerald green from the magpie fabric (didn't find anything) I came across a white-based print that also seemed to fit. 
I have been playing around with combining the sweet colours and these two and don't mind the result, especially when I up the quantity of bird shirt I'm including.   At the moment I don't love it but I don't hate it either.
It seems a bit bloody-minded to buy a pile of ice-cream coloured shirts and then complain that they are too sweet, so I will stop doing that now, but I'm thinking that I may still need an extra something...

Monday, 20 May 2019

Sugar and spice

I started off thinking I might keep this quilt really, really simple and used scissors to cut some square-ish bits. I let the size be dictated by the magpie fabric - this was as big as I could get before I started hitting another bird.
 I used this as a rough guide for some more.
At some point, still just cutting squares and not making any decisions beyond that, I noticed a couple had fallen on top of each other.
So I followed that thought, which got me here. 
I should add a disclaimer at this point, to the effect that no fabric was ironed in the making of this block.  I would iron, if only I could remember where the iron had been tidied away to.  Ah well.

I made some more.  I am cutting with no attempt to keep things straight/neat for the moment.  At some point I will probably add strips and wedges to square up before I try joining any of these together.
Now, I like these but a whole quilt would be too much for me.  Too much sugar in one place.  So I need to find some spice, or contrast, which means either a slightly mismatched colour, possibly, or some choices which extended the value range.  I have added in the bird shirt I bought a few weeks ago, but need something dark now.  Obviously I have the black fabric with the flowers but I haven't figured out yet how to use it.  It could just go into the mix with everything else or I could use it in some other way.  For now I'm just mulling things over, as there's no great hurry.

Thursday, 16 May 2019

Feeling summery

I know that the process of selling and buying a house works a bit differently in the US but here, once you are on the market, nothing else can happen until you have a buyer.  So I had a plan for this hiatus and to be fair it was not a bad plan.  In fact elements of it will probably still happen.  But in the meantime I decided a bit of shirt shopping was in order.  

I found these
and, hanging all together on one rail, I found these.
It is lovely and sunny here at the moment and they made me think of ice-cream.  Not a palette I have tried before or would have thought of in other circumstances, but there they all were, calling my name.

So I took what life offered me, scooped them up and packed them into my extra-large shirt-shopping bag.  

Back home I have had a dig around in my boxes and come up with something that might work.
It's certainly worth a go.  

Thursday, 9 May 2019

Taking Flight: done and dusted

Hooray!  Just when I needed it, I have a finish and I don't know whether it's just because everything else has stalled or not but I'm really happy with this.
I like the wonky string blocks, I  like the places where the corner triangles make little butterflies, I like my blue border with its freehand vine quilting, I like those funny little leaves. Yep, I pretty much like everything about it.

Here's a peak at the back
here's the binding, which is a lovely Cloud 9 print

and here's a closer shot that lets you see all the lovely shirt fabrics properly.
The details:
I started this on 9th May and finished piecing on 4th July 2018.
It reached the top of the quilting queue on 12th March this year and was finished on 8th May.

I started with, I think, 4 shirts but also a pile of squares cut from other shirting (that's where the pretty yellow check came from) plus the Charley Harper piece with the swallows and everything else was pulled from stash.

The wadding is organic cotton and it is quilted using a selection of perle no 8.

It is 60" x 75", roughly speaking.


Sunday, 5 May 2019

A bit of binding

Today I am starting to bind Taking Flight, which feels like a big achievement right now. In fact, I shall see if I can take a couple of days over it, just to prolong that feeling of satisfaction at nearly reaching an end.  
I am also thinking a lot about piecing, but not doing any.  

Tuesday, 30 April 2019

Not a lot going on here

I'm just dropping in here to say that I'm not really doing much sewing, though I have nearly finished prettying up my wee house so hopefully I'll be back to it fairly soon.  I am hand quilting still, just not piecing, so who knows, my next post may be a new start, or a finish.  

In the meantime, I've popped up a post on AHIQ, winding up my go at the Red is  a Neutral challenge.  

Also, apologies to everyone who commented on my last post and to whom I haven't yet replied - normal standards will be resumed as soon as possible! 


Monday, 22 April 2019

Progress and a sigh of relief

I have been all around the houses with this quilt, but I have finally moved it on a bit.

Since I last posted about it I have contemplated adding smaller blocks, adding a darker block, adding sashing using my darkest red shirt.
I also spend a lot of time pondering why I felt the need to do anything.  After all this is a perfectly satisfying block and a whole bunch of them just sewn together in a perfectly straightforward way look rather lovely.  Yet I couldn't quite bring myself to do it.  I needed to tinker.  I needed to make it my own in some way. 

I rather liked the smaller block (it's 6.5") but only till I thought about how many I might need to make.  The grey didn't add anything, so the red shirt seemed like my best option.  Just to be sure, I went back through my boxes and found this, mucky greeny-brown, which also seemed to be making a case for inclusion.
 In the end I have ended up with this.
I would concede that this is only the tiniest tweak and am not even claiming that it looks better than it would have done without my butting in, but somehow I feel much better and there is a lesson for me in that.

I might add a border or I might stop here. Tomorrow I'm hoping to sew the final seam on it (currently it's two big chunks) and then I'll see.  Right now I'm mostly just feeling relieved!

Sunday, 14 April 2019

At least I'm quilting

I'm still not feeling the piecing, though I have made four more blocks.  I could just sew them together and call it done but really I'd like to find a way to make myself love the end result so I'm letting it stew.  In the meantime I am fiddling about with scraps, doing a bit of dressmaking and quilting Taking Flight.  I'm well along the way with the quilting - everything inside the blue border is done, so I've just got the border itself and then one more round of blocks outside it.

I decided to try something new-to-me in the border and am drawing, freehand, a winding stalk with little leaves, which echo the pieced leaves in the body of the quilt.
 Here's a view from the back.
I wasn't sure if this would be okay but I rather like it.  Good think really since I definitely don't want to  do any unpicking!

Monday, 1 April 2019

Now I'm bored

One minute you are happily chugging along, making strip sets, chopping them up, marvelling at the new patterns they make when reassembled, next minute...I got my blocks out this morning, laid them out, as is my habit and suddenly thought, 'no, I'm over this now'.  Short attention span, see?

However, I have this group of bits, which still pleases me and I am thinking that one more row would get me within spitting distance of a reasonable size (floor tiles are 13" square, so I'm somewhere between 60" and 65" across at this point). So I will keep going, at least until I have made four more blocks.
This isn't any sort of deliberate layout and I will sew them back into squares before I worry about that (just too much of a fiddle at the moment).  I am torn between wanting to impose some sort of order and exactly the opposite.  The compromise will be to have a think about the fabric combinations that go into the last four blocks.  After that, I'm not sure.  Maybe I will retrieve my enthusiasm and end up making another 18 blocks, but I wouldn't hold your breaths!

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

A little bit of stashing

I may not be buying much at all in the way of yardage, but I still stock up on good shirts when I see them.  Mostly that means plaids/stripes in colours I find pleasing, but look what I found this week. Three lovely shirts and not a plaid in sight.
Ironically I was only in the shop to drop off a big bag of books and dvds that son number 2 had told me I could clear out but I'm glad I checked out the rails.

Also new, though not from a charity shop, are these lovely little stamps.
I don't have any particular plans for them, but how could I resist? 

Friday, 22 March 2019

The questions you ask yourself

I have been surprised by enticing I have found these blocks.  I think it's the sense of unpredictability; try as I might I can't look at a strip set and imagine how it will look when it's cut up and reassembled, so each time I do it it's almost like magic.  

I have been aware, somewhere at the back of my mind, that they are very tidy blocks (for me) and that usually I would look at all these straight lines and feel slightly uneasy, want to tweak things or mess around.  That I have kept going without fiddling is definitely due to that sense of wonder I get from making these (maybe I'm easily pleased, but it's a fine feeling).
I am also influenced by the fact that I will be selling my house shortly and expect not to have a good sewing space for a while.  Not sewing at all feels like a bad option, so I am thinking that working in a more block-based way may be a temporary answer.  This piece might be seen, then, as an experiment in that direction.  

However, Soma commented, quite fairly, on this uncharacteristic neatness and now she has me wondering.  Here are my questions: am I happy to keep these going, with just little changes in the individual blocks to keep me happy; should I try the same block but deliberately be less neat; might I leave these as they are but add something in? Pros and cons and no answers here at the moment.

Monday, 18 March 2019

Short attention span

So...I liked the chunky strip sets I was making last time, but they didn't keep me interested for very long and I found I was doing that thing of unintentionally cutting pretty straight lines, which was giving me very orderly-looking chunks at that.  Thoughts of triangles and circles were whirling about my head so I decided 'nothing ventured, nothing gained' and started chopping.

I made some triangles, then put them back together into these.
For some reason I find it very entertaining to make all those crosses and concentric squares in this way, so I kept going.
When I get bored of doing this, I'll figure out what next, but for now I'm having fun.

Friday, 15 March 2019

When life gives you plaids...

Sometimes life just doesn't play nice.  Off I went to the charity shops, looking for dark, dark reds and some pattern that wasn't plaid. What did I find?  Nothing really dark, no patterns, but a whole pile of lovely plaids and stripes.
I have taken this as a sign and am going to work with what I have.

I think that if the plaids and stripes dominate my reds, they will balance all the plain and plain-ish fabrics I have in my pile of other colours.  I've started by making some sets of strips - wider than I would normally use but I'm trying to apply some of the lessons from Playing with Scale and not always start with the skinniest options.  Here's an example.
I'm planning to make a pile along these lines and then figure out what next.  I might use them as a version of Chinese Coins, might cut squares from them, or triangles or...who knows?  At least I am handling my fabrics and getting a feel for the colours and how they work together.

Monday, 11 March 2019

Playing with Scale: done and dusted

I may be (still) behind with a lot of things, but my quilting is going just fine and as a result I have my second finish of the year, which makes me feel a whole lot better about everything else.
It's quilted with wonky concentric diamonds, largely following the shapes in the piecing. 
As usual you get a better idea from the back.
The binding is a black and white print - random letters, I think it's an old Cloud 9 print.
And the details.

Finished sized 65" square.

Pieced from a pile of shirts (you can see where I started here) and fabrics from stash.  The wadding is an organic cotton, new-to-me option.  There's been a wee bit of bearding showing on the black fabrics as I quilted, but it's pretty much settled down already so that wouldn't put me off using it again.  The quilting is done with perle no. 8 - I just pulled out everything in greens, browns, black, white, that I had in the box and got on with it. 

This was started on 30th January 2018 and the piecing was finished on 13th March that year.

I started quilting on 3rd February this year, finished on 9th March.

I feel like I met the challenge, to play around with scale pretty well, since I worked with much bigger units than I normally would and also used that large-scale black and green print.  And I made my first string quilt into the bargain, so all round I'm pretty happy with things.