Saturday 31 December 2022

Still going...

And still in the early stages where I'm making little units and shuffling about but without a clear path in mind.  It's kind of fun though, and these bits have been making me feel decidedly festive.

I've added in some points here and there, just because I can
and am starting to get a feel for how these fabrics are working together.
These units are much smaller than the ones I started with in my previous quilt, maybe the smallest pieces are around 5 or 6 inches.  I'm hoping that this help me to go curvy without so many headaches getting the pieces I want out of my shirts.  Fingers crossed.
2022 has been my least productive year ever, both in blogging and quilting terms.  I have a quilt just finished that I will photograph when I get a chance, but that brings my grand total to 3.  I am hoping 2023 will be better, though I guess I'll have to wait and see. In the meantime, a very happy New Year to one and all.

Saturday 24 December 2022

I said I wasn't stopping and I meant it.

Normally things would stop for a bit over Christmas but this time I am still going.  I have pulled a new group of shirts
and gone back to the beginning.  I tried several different combinations before I chose this pile.  One or two were tempting but I didn't think I had quite enough shirts; a couple more were really just about me wanting to use something particular and so trying to force a grouping that wasn't going to work.  This combination of blue, red and ochre seemed a bit muted but I kept coming back to it. 

Despite my complaints during the previous make about the problems curved piecing can create, I clearly don't feel I'm quite done with the curves because this is what happened when I started cutting.
I've made a good few of these now and am starting to shuffle them about.  It's still very early days so the shuffling is more by way of settling in than formulating a plan, but it's all progress.

Monday 19 December 2022

Done for now

The last column down the right-hand side has gone on and this one is done.  Now it gets to join the waiting-for-quilting pile.   
Sadly it has been alternately way too cold and then way too wet for me to try an outside, washing line photo, so the floor will have to do. Never mind, I think this shot pretty much does the job.  I was right down to my last scraps of dark blue by the time I finished piecing.  I do still have or two checked bits still and could have found a way to use those if I had needed them, but I was pleased I didn't have to go back to figuring out.  Using all the scraps left from cutting curves has made this a slightly fiddly piece to work on, but the hourglasses felt like an elegant solution and, happily they sit well with the rest of the quilt.   The finished piece is (approx) 70 inches long, 60-something inches wide.

I'm off now to the next project.  No stopping for Christmas, since I've only just got properly started again, but I guess the piecing will be happening in fits and starts for the next couple of weeks. If you are taking a break, I hope it is a happy, peaceful time for you.

NB This was made in response to the AHIQ prompt set by Ann in July

Tuesday 13 December 2022

Wider and wider

Well now.  I finished making my square corners into something more curvy, except for that top left one.  That has a dark blue piece that I was trying out sitting on top of it, but in the end I decided to leave it be.
I worked my way down that left-hand side and then made another set of mis-matched circles to run down the right-hand side.

Hold on just a minute.  I realised I was making my quilt wider and wider, knowing all the time I wouldn't have enough fabric to add anything like the same amount to the length.  I'm sure a really short, fat quilt would have a use, but it's not really what I aim for.  The solution was easy enough: I turned the whole thing through 90 degrees so now those sides are the top and bottom.  Then all I had to do was figure out a slimmed down panel to go on the sides.  
I used a single row of quarter circle blocks and went back to that little piece with the hourglass that I was playing around with earlier.  Of course I didn't have enough of the dark blue/black floral so used what I had left of the other dark blues as well.

I'm pretty pleased with this solution so now all I need to do is piece a run down the other side and bob's your uncle.

Tuesday 6 December 2022

A post for Mean Jean

Jean, who is a no reply commenter, left a comment on the subject of trying a free-style wedding ring quilt that I thought I would answer with a post.

In general terms, I would say go for it.  I have thought a couple of times that I would try something similar, but my quilts seem to have minds of their own and that isn't where I have ended up.  If it doesn't quite come off, then take what you have and figure out how to get something you like - this can be fun too.

My big central blocks are much bigger than I would normally work and come in at around 12" square.  The smaller quarter circles are only about 6" or 7" (and some of them are more rectangular than square).  Their size was dictated mostly by the size of the bigger scraps I created cutting the largest curves. I reckon you could get two, maybe three large curves from a shirt, but there wouldn't be much left.   

I think it would be entirely feasible to make a wedding ring/pickle dish style quilt with shirts.  Here are some of the ways that I get around having limited amounts of each fabric.

1) Use every last scrap.  I piece the smallest pieces back together as often as is feasible.  I have also been known to unpick cuffs, to include button plackets, even, on occasion to salvage tiny pieces from the collars.  Some of these are easier to do than others, but it's surprising how far you can stretch a shirt. 

2) If I have two similar shirts, I will patch them together and then cut into them again.  Sometimes I even do this with two wildly different fabrics.  If there are tiny pieces that don't match, I don't think of that as a bad thing, though I will try to repeat a combination if I can.

3) If I want to cut big pieces, I sometimes ignore things like side seams or pockets.  I get away with this because I hand quilt though; I'm not sure how it would work for a machine quilter.

4) Sometimes I can find something in what is left of my stash of quilting cottons that works as an acceptable substitute

5) Occasionally I head back out to the charity shops (goodwill) and search for an extra shirt.  I don't take swatches or try to match, just scan the racks until something jumps out at me.  It won't be perfect, but most of the time I end up with something that fits in just fine.

6) This isn't for everyone but I have been known to use a garment that one of us has been wearing (this is a secret I haven't shared with my family and they haven't noticed yet)

7) Keep going until you run out of something and then stop.

In a nutshell, then, what I'm saying is that there is always a solution to a shortage of fabric and figuring it out can be an oddly enjoyable part of the creative process.

Tuesday 29 November 2022

Curving again

 Curves, square, curves, square and now I'm back to the curves.

I did this bottom corner first and it turned out okay, so I kept going.
This is three out of four corners done, but the top left just has something sitting over it at the moment.  

I have also pulled another shirt- here's a close up and you can also see it in the two photos above.

It's rather lovely and, more importantly, seems to do the job I need it for.

I played around briefly with something like this.

It's an idea I may come back to (it's a good way to utilise those odd little scraps) but for now I am concentrating on piecing a double row down each side.  I probably should have done ends first, but I like how that run down the left-hand side is looking, so I'm going with the flow. As I go I am thinking about juxtaposition: where I'm happy to have two pieces of the same fabric hit each other and where that doesn't look quite right.  For a long time, I preferred not to let pieces run together but more and more I find I quite like how it looks.

Tuesday 22 November 2022

It's all progress, right?

A bit of progress here, though mostly of the one step forward, two steps back variety.  Who cares, it's all progress right?

I have been playing around with my smaller blocks and have sewn some of them into sets of four.  I kind of like how this looks, but there are a couple of issues too.  The first is that I have used almost all the sensible-sized pieces of fabric and what is left is mostly the funny, curvy little strings you get from cutting lots of curves.  I have a good pile of blocks but I definitely won't have enough to go all the way around the centre.  
Not to worry, I wasn't particularly determined to make this symmetrical anyway.  So here is a view with just a single run of curves.   
This is more workable, or would be if the proportions felt right.  As it is I have two problems with it.  The first is that those borders (for want of a better word) seem too small and skinny for the centre.  It shows a bit, I think, in this photo but in real life it's much worse.  They look more like an afterthought than something deliberate. 

I fiddled and fiddled but no version of this pleased me.  Eventually I have started to think I need to go back to that centre and do something to help the two parts sit together better.  I am wondering about heading back from my square to something more circular (again!)  The little blue strip in the top right gives of hint of the direction I am considering. 
One another note entirely, I had several lovely comments on my last post from people I don't know and who are no-reply bloggers so I can't respond directly.  Thanks for taking an interest and bothering to comment- it's always lovely to hear what people think.  

Wednesday 16 November 2022

Hardly sewing

I am hardly sewing, no point in fudging the issue.  I thought I might be up and running again but stuff keeps coming up.  So I am posting what I have, and considering whether I can come up with a way to keep both the quilting and the blog ticking over.  

In the nearly three months since my last post, I have had this out of the box a handful of times, mostly to look at it, feel completely stumped, and put it away again.  No rhythm.  Sometimes, though, I moved forward a step or two.

I had a vague plan that involved going around the outside of my four-patch with chunky wedges, to make it back into a circle.  Trying to be realistic, the pile of shirts I was looking at were not going to yield enough fabric for this plan, but I wouldn't quite give up on the idea of a circle, so I went about it a different way.   
It ended up like this.
And then I got stuck.

In the end, I turned my circle back into a square.

Then, as the edges of this picture show, I started playing around with my smaller blocks, to see where they might fit.  

Wednesday 24 August 2022

Hedging my bets

I haven't quite made my mind up yet where this is going, so I have been working on two fronts.  First off I made a few more of the big blocks. This is my favourite.
It is very clear that if I want to make many more of these I will need to add in extra shirts; I can only get two or three of those big curves out of a shirt before I have to start piecing bits back together again. I'm not ruling that out but in the meantime I have  started making smaller blocks as a way of using up the weird leftovers I was creating.
I don't know how/where they fit into the scheme of things yet, but it feels like they will come in handy at some point, and they are kind of satisfying to make.

Wednesday 17 August 2022

And then there were four

My posting adventures continue, since this is posted from an iPad, something else I don’t usually try.  Here are a few more blocks. 
A number of people thought they had a bit of a double wedding ring vibe and I agree. I have been looking at quite a few vintage quilts, but mostly very simple, restrained colour palettes and repeated bocks. Those our my favourite double wedding rings, but I don’t want to make one. I guess all that browsing has seeped into this quilt though. 
On a practical note, curves and shirts are tricky partners: what you ready want are nice expanses of fabric to slice your curves from, but mostly what you get are lots of compromises and extra piecing. In the end, I think this will give  the quilt its own particular character and it certainly stops me getting bored! 

Sometimes I am sewing together two pieces of the same fabric, sometimes I’m using a contrasting bit and sometimes,  as with the yellow block, I do one thing and then change my mind and try again.

These blocks are quite big, for me - maybe 10 inches or thereabouts. If I kept making them I would have a top in pretty good time. On one level that sounds appealing but I’m not sure now whether I’ll make more of them or start tinkering about. The good money is on tinkering.


Thursday 11 August 2022

First pass at the sun

I am posting from my phone for the first time ever, so this may or may not work,  but let's give it a go. 

I've done several quilts in a row that used not only similar shapes (chunky wedges) but also a similar approach (broadly speaking the medallion). I'm not sure whether I'm done with the edge but have decided to have a  play with some curves this time round. 

This is my first attempt. 
I am thinking,  I guess,  of the sun and sunflowers, but mostly,  as ever,  just trying to find shapes and colour combinations that please my eye.

And here's a second block. I can see that there is s hint of a chunky wedge here,  but what can you do?  It's clearly not going quietly.


Friday 5 August 2022

All the yellows

Ann's newest challenge landed just as I was thinking about what to start next so I have pulled out a great big pile of shirts and dived right in.  Here is a photo of every single yellow and orange shirt I could find, plus some others that seemed to sit nicely with them.

Seems like a good place to start, so off I go.

Friday 15 July 2022


At long last I have got this top to a place I am happy with.  I'm not entirely sure why I've struggled so much, to be honest.  A lot of disruptions haven't helped, nor has working with what was probably slightly too little fabric, but I like the shapes and the colours a lot and have never had one of those moments where I just fell out of love with the whole thing.  Nonetheless, this is only the second completed top of the year and we are already in July.  

Here's the photo of quilt on shed

and here is a close up of quilt with teasel.
It is, theoretically a weed, but this is the wilder part of the garden and the goldfinches love them, so I seldom pull them up, even when they are photobombing my quilt pictures.  Also, look what a lovely colour match it is for this particular quilt!

It has to be said that I really, really like this quilt, so maybe all the time it took to get here doesn't really matter at all in the end.

Monday 11 July 2022

Done and dusted: my orange summer

My piecing may be slow, slow, slow, but at least I am keeping the quilting ticking along and as a result have a finished quilt. More to the point, I have a finished quilt that feels cheery and summery and perfect for the current weather. Here it is, nicely attached to the front of my little shed.  
I don't think it's as satisfactory a location for photos as the washing line, but I used to prop that up with a length of downpipe, which has now been used, strangely enough, for its proper purpose.  Until we devise an alternative prop, the shed is the best option.  
Having always worked through my quilting pile chronologically, last in, first out, I have changed my approach this year.  I am now working on two hoops, instead of one.  The first will always be something that's been waiting ages, but the other can be anything I fancy.  This particular quilt was only pieced last year, but I am still in an orange kind of place, so it pushed its way to the front of the queue.  It has made me happy, working on these colours and fabrics, so it was definitely a good choice.

You can see that I was really feeling the orange when I pulled fabrics for the back.
Mostly my backs are made using fabrics from the oldest part of my stash - so before I started only buying organic yardage and shirts.  I have started to contemplate what I will do once I run out of this stuff.  I am not keen on piecing all my backs from shirts and things like vintage sheets sound like a good idea, until you try to track them down - they are hard to find here and also expensive.  

I am really pleased with how this quilt turned out - I love the denim/orange combination and, strangely, haven't found the denim hard to quilt.  It has slightly more weight to it than an all-cotton quilt, but when the weather turns cold, I rather like something a bit heavier.  
So, down to the nitty-gritty. 

This was started on September 14th 2021 and piecing was completed October 14th.  I am surprised to see that this only took a month from start to finish. I think I started quilting it during the first week in January, and have been working in fits and starts until last week.  It was finished on June 29th 2022. 

I started with shirts and denim, and added in bits from stash.  You might recognise the black floral fabric from here.  Handquilted using perle no. 8.  I didn't buy anything special but just pulled the best options I had already.  I have been doing that for a while now, but think I will have to restock soon. The binding is a very old Oakshott stripe that has been in my boxes for at least seven or eight years now.  
My favourite parts of this quilt are the two strips of flying geese, and, specifically, the places where the geese change direction.  I will be making those again at some point.  

Friday 24 June 2022

Locked out

Apologies for blog silence and my failure to respond to (and make) comments - I've had no computer for a little bit. It just switched off one evening and never switched back on.  Now I have one again, but sadly not masses of progress to share.  Current progress looks like this.

I can't claim there's a particular reason for my slow pace, but the weather has been good and the garden has called my name.  It will rain soon, so I am, almost literally, making hay while the sun shines.

Friday 27 May 2022

A bit of whingeing, a bit of sewing

Whingeing first, plus an apology.  I turned comment moderation on, because I was sick of having idiotic spam comments under my posts.  Somehow that messed with the bit of blogger that sends things to my inbox.  So I read your comment, I ticked that it was a bona fide, not at all bot-sent, quilt-related comment, and boom, it was on the blog but nowhere else.  You might think that getting on the blog is the most important bit, and you would have a point, but I rather fear that there will be a few commenters who haven't had responses from me because it took me a while to realise the inbox version wasn't turning up.  If this has happened to you, I apologise.  Anyway, for now I have removed comment moderation.  My brain is currently quite scattered enough -I don't want to go losing comments left, right and centre!

Anyway...on to the quilting.  Perhaps this is also reflective of my distracted state of mind.  That's to say progress is slow.  Here are just a couple of versions that have been laid out in the last few days.

I have played around with adding a variety of different bits and pieces.  The denim strips with skinny inserts will stay, I think.  The jury is out on those very dark bits at the bottom of the photo above.  
I tried adding bigger bits of that pretty, used-to-be-a-dress print,but they have gone already.  They just made it all a bit too busy for my liking.  

I am still looking at this from all sides and still looking for the best way to put in the extra green.  I only have the two pieces you can see above and enough for maybe one more wide-ish strip which forces me to think carefully. With the benefit of hindsight I wish that the two bits already in the quilt hadn't ended up looking almost the same length.  Maybe I will unpick.  Then again, maybe not!

Wednesday 18 May 2022

Which way is up?

I am still working on this from all sides, but realise that the photos are taken from a single point.  This is just because of where the table and chairs are located; I tend to just swivel the chair I am sitting in and climb onto it to do the pictures, where as when I am working I roam all over the place. 

Here are some progress shots.  Mostly these are just bits lying on the floor.  Every so often I go so far as to sew something to something else, but there's still a lot of shuffling. Nevertheless, in the interests of full disclosure, this is how it's been going...

What I want to do next is find a place for another strip of green and dig out some scraps of the dark green I'm using for the geese- I'm pretty sure there are more bits of it somewhere.

Monday 9 May 2022

Turning things around

Slow progress here. Firstly, I have had covid.  Nothing horrendous, but nobody else in the family wanted it, so I was coralled in the spare room until I could produce a negative test.  I did some hand quilting but that was my lot.  

Once they let me out again,  I pulled out some shirts I thought were worth trying with my existing fabrics, but nothing has really excited me. You can see below a few of the things I tried - mostly variations on blue or green, because that's what I have.  I have also tried random other things - burnt orange, a gold bit, a red and blue plaid.  Nope, nope and nope again.  

I have also considered adding blocks with a variety of different shapes - circles, squares, string blocks but again nothing I feel so sure about I want to waste time, or, more to the point, fabric on trying them out.  

The thing that has worked best so far, in terms of at least letting me take a small step forward, is literally turning things around.  Like so...
There may be disadvantages to working on the floor (weird perspective in photos, for instance) but it makes it really easy to look at a piece from a different angle.  All it took was one big step, the bottom became the left hand side and somehow I could see a way forward. I am thinking I might keep taking sideways steps, so that I end up with a piece constructed from all 4 sides, without an official top or bottom.  I did it once before, with this quilt and it worked well.  

Of course from a practical point of view, I still need to augment the fabric pile but that's a problem for another day.


Monday 2 May 2022

Am I missing something?

 Hmmm.  I have some bits made that I like.  In fact, I have quite a few.  I have been happily shuffling them about on the floor and have, I think, a vague sense of where I want to go.  
I have also done some unpicking and made some bits that just didn't work.  See that green strip above?  That's gone now.  I'm still using the green, but not in the centre of a block that wants a blue strip.  You can get the gist of what I am doing, I'm sure.
But here's the thing, the sticking point of the moment.  I kind of feel I haven't got enough.  Maybe I need another fabric or two, since I have abandoned a couple that were in my original pull.  Maybe I need another shape in the mix.  I can't quite put my finger on it.  What I know is that I shuffle and shuffle, but always get to a point where I haven't quite got what I want next.
I have pulled out a couple of shirts that might go into the mix and am doodling away, trying to think about shapes that I could try out too. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday 19 April 2022


This quilt is still the boss of me but I am fine with that.  I hadn't planned to do anything else with the chunky wedge shapes that I used in this and this, but nonetheless happened.

and then it happened again.
I also hadn't planned to start sewing things together straight away, but look what happened next. 
I hadn't planned to use denim. So unprepared was I for denim, in fact, that I had to cut up a pair of my own jeans.  They were a little stained and only fit for the garden, but they were most definitely still in use.  Not any more!  Whoever is in charge, it's still not me.