Friday, 22 October 2021

All out of fabric

This one is done now.  I added what I thought might be a final row across the bottom, to echo the triangles near the top.  

That got me almost, but not quite, to where I wanted to be. It was looking fine but it just wasn't quite as big as I like.  I eyed up my (tiny) pile of remaining fabric and figured I could go round just one more time.  I didn't do anything fancy, because the more cutting and piecing you do, the less fabric you end up with.  Instead I used up my left-over, previously pieced, odds and ends and then just cut wide strips from the remaining shirt fronts.  As is often the way, this practical decision pleases me from an aesthetic point of view too.

Here's the finished top, blowing in the wind.
Now I plan to quilt like a mad woman for a few days and let my brain settle, then it will be back to the beginning again.  

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Happy accidents

I definitely feel like I've hit my stride with this now.  I added another chunk down the left-hand side, then more of the black and white bird fabric at the bottom.  

Then, in a most satisfying development, it turned out that the things which looked best over on the right-hand side were those little blocks based on flying geese. They were a happy accident: I made the geese, left them lying around, looked down and they had obligingly arranged themselves into the pairs, with one facing each way.  I love a bit of serendipity.
Almost there now.  I have, I hope, enough fabric for one more round but no more than that.  

Friday, 15 October 2021

The rules, roughly speaking, are as follows...

No sooner do I think I know my mind than things change.  Those triangles, which didn't look at all right down at the bottom, were somehow the best fit when I came to working the next row across the top.  Go figure.  
The sharp-eyed amongst you will notice that although this is now, broadly speaking, a medallion quilt, I am not being entirely consistent about working in rounds.  More a 'mostly medallion' quilt, I guess.  
I have been thinking about trying to articulate the 'rules' that I feel emerge as I piece.  It's not entirely easy, since I seldom think them through, but looking at this I can see that, loosely, I am not putting two sets of wedges side-by-side, or two long runs of plain strip (except where there are coping strips).  The black fabric is only being paired with orange, and most strips are cut so that they run vertically.  There is probably at least one exception to each of these, but I did say they were loose rules.

Monday, 11 October 2021

A game of fits and starts

One step forwards, two back.  Or sometimes one back and two forwards.  That's the way it's rolling around here at the moment.  This is mostly, I reflect now, because I wasn't listening to the quilt.  This had, quite early on, a medallion feel to it, but I had just done a medallion so I tried everything I could think of to avoid working in rounds.  Some things I tried were okay, but nothing fantastic emerged.  Still reluctant to give in I toyed with idea of building out on just two sides.  But you know what?  When I stopped thinking like a fool and just sat and looked, it was quite clear to me that this quilt wanted to be, if not a medallion proper than at least a fair imitation of one.

Amongst the bits I have made but rejected are these pointy triangles
and some Flying Geese which turned into these bits.

I rather liked those but sadly they looked too busy and didn't seem quite right there.  I'm keeping them though, on the offchance.  In the end, I settled for something simpler
The very pale strips were added in an attempt to counteract the distinct curves this has developed, due to a combination of some denim that I'm pretty sure had a bit of stretch in it and my habit of cutting every last bit of fabric from a shirt, on the bias if that's where it needs to be.  I quite like them though, so it's all good.

Sunday, 3 October 2021

Photos, what photos?

There is a reason I can't build up a backlog of posts, to be published at times when I'm not sewing.  It has to do with my ability to keep track of where I put things.  Today is a case in point.  I had a couple of sessions worth of work done on this project but hadn't had time to blog.  Now that I come to write a post, do I have the camera card with the necessary photos?  No, I don't.  So I will have to ask you to imagine the steps between the previous post and where I am now.  
I know that those steps involved at least one piece being sewn on and then removed again and experiments with both flying geese and a pointy kind of triangle.  Those bits are still knocking around and may still get pressed into service, but for now they were not what I want.

I am much happier with how this is working now, though it is definitely still at the 'groping for something that works' stage.  More things are being tried and rejected than are succeeding. I would be able to demonstrate that, if only I had the pictures!

Tuesday, 28 September 2021

Off we go again

Kicking off the next quilt.  I pulled these shirts, just because they pleased me.

I have it in mind that I would like to try adding some denim into a quilt and these seem like they might work.  Three shirts, though, isn't enough for a whole quilt, even with a load of denim added in, so I found a few more bits.

I started with some random wedge-y bits.  This was my first go at putting them together.  Don't like it much.  Correction, I do like the individual chunks,(3 of them) but not the way they look here.  I added the scraps of black floral and while I think they will do a job for me, the piece across the bottom is somehow too heavy and lacking in movement.  Luckily it will be easy to separate them again.
I should probably have made more pieces before I started sewing things into bigger bits, but I just wasn't feeling very patient.  I have learned my lesson.  On the bright side, I do like how they work with the denim.  It's early days, of course, so some wins and some hiccups is neither here nor there.  I shall just keep going and see what comes of it.

Sunday, 19 September 2021

Done and dusted: Sugar and Spice

All this time quilting is paying off, as I have another finish.  This is a quilt that was pieced in 2019, so I am definitely catching up with myself, albeit slowly.  

I had a song-and-dance trying to get photos.  No prop for the clothesline, as previously mentioned, and no indoor options, so in the end I got creative with a length of downpipe and some clothes pegs.  (The builders are coming in October and once they're done my priority will be an indoor wall set up for quilt photos.  Something not weather-dependent.)  

Once I had things set up I took quite a few photos, trying to get the colours right.  I find these light pale shades don't always photograph so well.  I think some of these are okay though.

I like this picture of the back too, because the quilting shows up nicely.

I too-ed and fro-ed with this while I was piecing it: it pleased me very much that all the shirts came from one rack, in one shop.  When I saw them all neatly lined up, with their sugared almond colours, it felt as if they were calling me to take them home and turn them into something.  On the other hand, once I had started I was nearly overwhelmed by that very same sweetness and, briefly, came almost to dislike it.  Once I had figured out what I needed to add in to balance the sweetness, though, I came to love it.  I love that it has not one, not two but three different bird fabrics in there, that the magpies, which I had held on to for ages, found a home and that they let me to the little sparks of emerald green.  I love that in the end nothing about this felt predictable to me, but everything felt right.  

The details  

Started on 15th May 2019, the piecing was done by the 18th July.  I started quilting round about June this year, and finished on 12th September.

Made from that lovely shirt pull (yellow, deep coral, blue, green, pink and the print with little parrots on), plus a small selection of organic prints from stash, including the Charley Harper magpies. The batting is organic cotton, which is pretty much my favourite right now and the quilting was done with no. 8 perle cottons, again from stash.

Wednesday, 15 September 2021

This one's done for now

Like buses, my finishes are all  coming at once.  I have a finished quilt waiting to be photographed and this top too has gone as far as it is going to go.  It is a fair size - I think about 65" - and , more to the point, I am down to tiny scraps and in some cases there's not even that much left.  

Indoor pictures skew things, but my enterprising sister used the prop for the clothes line to mend a shed, so this is my only option until I acquire a replacement prop.  In reality it is not so wonky, just marginally longer than it is wide.

These colours are still much prettier than those I am normally drawn too but overall I nonetheless rather like how this had ended up.  The touches of much deeper red, burgundy and blue are enough to lift it for me, so I'm feeling pretty happy with it in the end.

Now off into the drawer it goes and I have to start thinking about the next project, though first I have a quilt to sandwich.

Tuesday, 7 September 2021

Going round again

As is so often the case these days, I seem to have trouble getting back to blogging.  Best of intentions and all that.  However, I had a lovely break in very beautiful places, swam lots in unfeasibly cold water and saw some much missed friends and family, so I do feel refreshed and ready for action. 

I have pulled the symmetry project out of its box and added a couple more rounds - not far to go with this now, I think.  Practically speaking I am down to scrabbling about in the odd shaped scraps for most of these fabrics, and although stubbornness might sustain me for a couple more sessions, that will be it.  
I am managing to vary things just enough to keep myself interested, although I have also been considering taking another run at this challenge but approaching it differently.  I often make a lot of chunks and then shuffle them about until the arrangement pleases me; I think I could make the chunks symmetrical but not worry so much about the overall arrangement.  However, there are other ideas calling me too, so who knows what next.

Occasionally I add a note here to thank all the no-reply commenters.  On my last post I had a particularly lovely, generous comment from Tawa, and couldn't respond directly, so I am hoping you might read this - thank you so much for taking the time, it made my day.  I am grateful, of course for all the comments I get, and if there is an email I always reply.  If you don't get a response, it means you are 'no-reply'.  If you feel inclined, you can add an email address in your comment, or send it to me separately.  

Friday, 6 August 2021

School's out.

School's out here, so my sewing is slowing right down.  I'm not complaining.  In fact I'm pretty fed up that our summer break now lasts just over four weeks - it's just way, way too short.

We're off for a couple of weeks tomorrow too, so piecing will stop and probably blogging too, though I am travelling with quilting.  Last year I took a quilt and a hoop but left the box with thread, scissors, needles, thimble behind.  Fingers crossed I do better this year.  I am not expecting much by way of internet for the first week (going on last year's experience) but may try to stick up some pretty pictures at some point.  In the meantime, here's where I'm up to.

Tuesday, 27 July 2021


I wasn't planning to go awol, but last Sunday my kids got the message to self-isolate for ten days, as someone in their class had a positive Covid test.  So without warning we were house-bound again, and all my sewing was out of reach.  Never mind, we have come out the other side unscathed and they are back at school for the last two days before the summer holidays finally begin.  

I find it discombobulating to step away from a quilt for a week when I'm in the middle of things;  I guess that's why I only work on one thing at a time.  What happens after a break is that I mostly don't like what I see.  So I got this out of the box...
and knew straight off that I wanted to take off the big triangle borders.  To be fair, I probably would have made the decision after a 24 hour pause too, but when you've been itching to sew it is particularly peeving to spend your first half hour unpicking instead. 
I feel slightly shame-faced about the wrinkly state of things here, but I seem to have abandoned the iron almost entirely these days.  

I thought I would do two columns of geese next but when I put them in place they got rather swallowed up, so I added a round of the grey and burgundy print instead.  Next time round they still didn't look quite right, only this time I remembered to take a photo.
See what I mean?  I rather wish I had a darker red in the mix, but I'm working with what I had so instead I think I'm going to try this.
I might go looking for a darker red or failing that add in something in a different colour., just something to make things a little bit less - I don't know - predictable?

Wednesday, 14 July 2021

Out with the old, in with the new

Symmetry.  Hum.  It took me a little while to figure this one out, but I've made a start.  I don't know if you remember this quilt top.
Initially I quite enjoyed making these blocks, but got bored pretty fast and as a result didn't love the final quilt.  I have been sorting through my piles of tops recently and  decided I need to get a bit ruthless and occasionally just decide that something didn't merit the time quilting would take.  So, grasping the nettle, I pulled this out and started cutting it up.  I used some bits to make a new block.
It may not be perfectly symmetrical, but it's as close as I am ever going to get.   The colours here reminded me of this shirt:

A quick dig around turned up these extra shirts.

It occurred to me that this might be a good time to have a play around with a log cabin-y kind of thing. So I did this.
and this.
I'm pretty happy with this start.  And, so far, it is symmetrical.

Tuesday, 6 July 2021

The Shipping Forecast: done and dusted

A few weeks ago I said I was closing in on a finish or two.  Here is the first.  It's hard to believe but I started this in September 2017!  It took a long time to piece but even longer to quilt.  I started it last year but fell out of love with the quilting process, not helped by the Covid blues and only came back to it after several months of looking at it and muttering under my breath.  It is big, which didn't help!  However I have stuck to it this time and now it's done.  Big sigh of...relief?  There are a lot of things I like about this: I like the shipping forecast that I printed and I like the feeling of waves that all those little triangles give.  I like the lighthouses.  It's a shame I didn't love every step of the journey, but maybe that's in the nature of these strange times rather than a reflection on this poor old quilt. 

I quilted it with a wavy sort of pattern, not planned or marked, just made up as I went along.

The details:

Started piecing September 2017, finished on 30th January 2018. It is 93"x72"

Started quilting 1st September 2019, stopped and started, finished 30th June 2021.  That is by a country mile the longest it's ever taken me to quilt something.  

This is made mostly from scraps and shirts.  The wadding is organic cotton and it is quilted with a mix of threads, mostly variegated Sulky 12wt, though there are some bits of Aurifil wool thread in there too.

Thursday, 1 July 2021

Done for now

And just like that, it turns out this top is finished.  I thought I was going round again, or maybe adding more of the solid gold, but when I laid it out and looked at it today I thought again.  I think I'm happy with it just how it is.
This is the first quilt I have made where every single last scrap of it was shirt.  No additions of any kind.  

Thursday, 24 June 2021

Locking, locking

No blogging from me for over a week, because every time I turned my laptop on, I got about 30 seconds and then the screen would tell me it was locking.  It's pretty tricky to fix something if you can only do it in 30 second bursts.   Funnily enough my car charger went on the blink at the same time.  Turns out the way to fix that is to turn off the power, unplug the ethernet cable, wait 5 minutes and plug it all back in.  Sound familiar?

Anyhow, just as inexplicably as it started to play up, the laptop has now decided to behave, so here I am again. Turns out I've been doing plenty of sewing, though I can't quite remember how it all went, so here are a few photos, probably in the right order, to bring things up to date.

So far, so good.  

Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Looking at things from more than one angle

This is progressing ok, I think.  I added the blunt triangles to both sides of my favourite block

and then to both ends.
Since then I have made more long rectangles and more blunt triangles, just accumulating bits really.  
I added extra triangles, at the bottom just because I like them and at the top because it made the long pieces fit better.
And a little band of the gold-y fabric.  Then I put it away.  When I got it out again this morning, it landed on the floor the "wrong" way round and guess what?  I think maybe I prefer it like this.
That's a bit of a surprise, but I am rolling with it for now. 

Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Long rectangles, blunt triangles, a possible way forward

The sun is shining and I am mostly in the garden.  I am sewing a bit though, as a respite from the weeds.

I am trying out a few more blocks similar to the rectangle I liked last time. 

These are all made from shirt arms; their size is dictated purely by the size of the fabric.  It results in slightly bigger pieces than I tend to,which is not a bad thing.  I'm sure given enough time I'll figure out a way to incorporate some little bits.

While these were in their box I mulled over all sorts of possible directions for them, some complicated, some less so.  For now I am just trying this.
My thinking was that the blunt-nosed triangles would belong with the block on the left, but looking at this picture I don't like that as much as I did this morning.  I can, however, see a way forward, so all is good.

Wednesday, 2 June 2021

Warming up

Starting a new quilt is a bit like getting ready for a run (though I don't run - dodgy knee).  I can't just sprint straight off from the front door, I have to do a bit of bending and stretching, cutting, tinkering and looking before I get properly underway.  

This time round I don't have any idea of where I want to head, so I have started by cutting some simple shapes and seeing how they feel.  

I wondered if I might make some nine patches, so I cut some squares.
The strong colours in this plaid might make this tricky to get right.  I'm not saying I won't, but cutting these few squares made me think twice, at least.

Then I thought, maybe another Coins variation.  These two fabrics sit nicely together.
Then, for some reason, largely to do with dropping one piece on top of another and liking what I saw, I made this.
This last piece is my favourite so far, but mostly I'm just figuring out how the different stripes and plaids relate to each other.  Some, all or none of these may end up in the quilt, but they are mostly biggish pieces so if I don't keep them as they are, it won't be too wasteful to find new configurations for them.  

Friday, 28 May 2021

Here I go again

A week of quiet quilting and I am ready to go again.  I wanted a week of gardening but it has been wet, wet, wet, so instead I quilted.  I currently have two quilts, in two hoops, in two different places.  Neither is far off being finished, so it has been time well spent.  When my hands needed a break I made piles of shirts and shuffled them about.  This is the one I have decided to use now. 

This is just shirts.  My usual practice is to pull some fabrics from stash to go with them, but I don't normally have quite so many shirts in my initial pile.  There are ten here, so I am going to start with just these and see how it goes.  When I get stuck or feel that the quilt needs something else, I can head to my boxes for help.

Interestingly, after all these years of only buying organic quilting fabric, my stash is much smaller than it was.  This hasn't been a deliberate policy, but obviously the choices are much more limited.  My shirt stash, on the other hand is now quite substantial!