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.

Saturday, 9 April 2022

I am definitely not the boss around here

Well, this is a new experience for me.  I've had quilts tell me what to do before, many, many times.  But I've never been bossed about by a shirt, before I even started turning it into a quilt.  That is what has happened this week.  

I wanted to start working to a colour scheme inspired by a photo, the latest AHIQ challenge.  I had an initial pull from my shirt bag, which looked like this:

and also wanted to dig out the scraps of this green, from my last top.
It all seemed pretty straightforward, until I found this shirt on ebay.
It's lovely.  Just the right shade of green, and with brown and a soft pink running through it.  I was a little smug.  Ha! Did this shirt want to play ball and work with my other greens?  It did not.  It sat on top of the pile glaring at me and absolutely refusing to play nicely.  

I am, maybe, a little wiser than I used to be, so instead of insisting it did what I wanted and forcing the issue, I have given in.  This shirt is not going to be paired with lots of other greens.  Instead I will be pairing it with browns, 
with pinks and with a creamy yellow shirt with fine pink and deeper yellow, and blue-green stripes.
This pile consists of 6 shirts, one half-metre of quilting cotton and a dress made of a beautiful Monaluna quilting cotton that my daughter wore when she was five.  Let's see where it takes me.

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Sneaking past the finish line

This top has sneaked its way to a finish without much by way of a progress record, I'm afraid.  I lost heart trying to take pictures in a tiny space - most of them showed too much of the surrounding mess and the piecing itself got lost in the mix.  However, it is a completed top, which is the point of things after all, so I'm not beating myself up too much. 

Here are the couple of progress shots I managed.

It turned out to be somewhere between a log cabin and a medallion, in terms of the construction.  Seems to be a spot I'm quite comfortable sitting in.  There were lots of things I wanted as I was piecing, but this was definitely one of those quilts with its own ideas.  So, I wanted more of the green and tried adding green triangles into hourglass blocks and as flying geese, neither of which was any good.  I wanted to use tumbler blocks again, but the quilt wanted those hourglasses.  As usual, the quilt was right.

My favourite bit of the whole thing turns out to be the plaid which has worked well both in strips but also mixed into the hourglasses and as inserts in longer strips.  I think it helps to keep everything coherent but also to move the eye around nicely.
This is the second orange quilt I've made recently.  I am currently collecting shirts for a green project for AHIQ but I'm not sure I've got quite enough yet.  If not, I will have to come up with something else for the time being, so I'm off to dig around in my shirt stash and see what I can find.  


Thursday, 24 March 2022

Time spent quilting is never wasted

And just to prove it, while my house was in chaos I did at least manage to quilt my way to the first finish of the year.  This top was only made last year and in the normal course of things would be nowhere near the front of the queue.  However, just before the builders came I made a few backs as a precaution.  Of course making more than one was an act of pure optimism but I was on a roll.  Then I tucked them all ways in a drawer, rolled up with their respective tops, thinking they would be easy to grab as and when I needed them.  This was the first one my hand lit on, so it is the one that made it into the hoop.

What to say about it?  Well, it's the first quilt I've ever made entirely from shirts.  This wasn't a deliberate policy and I think there were pieces of quilting cotton in my initial pull, but none of them quite worked in the end, so it was shirts all the way.  

I haven't done it for a while, but I used quite a lot of button plackets 

just because it felt like this was a quilt that could take it without descending into tweeness.  I also used most of the fabrics used to line the yokes, which is often different from but complementary to the main body of the shirt.  
The picture bottom right shows a lovely shirt, with a slight sheen.  I used the front and the back of the fabric, pretty much without thinking about which way it landed in any given moment.

I had enough fabric to keep going (final size is about 67" square-ish) but it seemed to be done so I stopped.  Pleasingly, this meant I had enough left to do the back too.

This was started on 27th May 2021.  Piecing was finished on 1st July.  I put it in the hoop during the first week in January 2022 and it was finished on 15th March.  The wadding is organic cotton, the threads were what I had, but all perle cotton and mostly no.8.  The binding is this lovely wobbly stripe from very old stash.  I think maybe it's a Janet Clare fabric?

One of the nice things about shirt quilts is that people seem more comfortable with them - they already feel not-quite-new,  I suppose.  Either that, or my guys have become so used to piles of quilts that they just don't stand on ceremony any more.  Either way, within a day of finishing it, I came in to find it had already been put to use and then left, draped rather fetchingly, across a chair.  Hooray.

Saturday, 19 February 2022

Filling in the centre

As someone who is emphatically never going to do quilt maths, it might not have been the brightest move to start this quilt by building a frame and only then thinking about what went inside.  I got to a solution I was happy with eventually, but as you can see it took a bit of figuring out.

In addition to the question of sizing, it took me a while to find a fabric combination that worked.  In the end the low tech method of just plonking pieces down until something worked got me where I needed to go.  It took a while, as the orange fabric in my checkerboard has a strong presence and wasn't all that inclined to play nice.  I tried prints and plains and lots of combinations but mostly it was instantly clear that they were off the mark.  I also considered a centre with more piecing.  The reason I went with this simple little line of geese was that it seemed to balance some of the busier fabrics nicely.  It also let me introduce several new fabrics into the mix in a painless way. 
This is where I got too.  
This is already big for my tiny space, so I have to move it for photos.  While I am working on it I fold it in half, either vertically or horizontally, and just work on one edge.  It's a strange way of going about things, but so far, so good.

Monday, 7 February 2022

Still here, after a fashion, and sewing

 I have still not reclaimed my sewing space - in fact I have pretty much had to vacate the house the past couple of weeks, but am feeling generally positive about the changes I can see taking place.  In the meantime I have borrowed a tiny (and I mean tiny) corner in which to try and push on with a bit of quilting.  It looks like this
I spent quite a while before I started sewing looking at the piles of fabric I shared in the last post.  They went back into the bag and came out again, with various changes.  I reached a point where I knew some of the fabrics I thought were definitely in but still couldn't quite get started.  Maybe it was the change in my sewing situation, but maybe it was just that things needed time to simmer quietly.  In any case, eventually, when I wasn't even thinking about quilting at all, a picture popped into my head.  It looked like this:
so I went ahead and made it.  The orange-y fabric had been messing with my head rather, as it is both a strong colour and quite a busy pattern, but pairing it with the dark blues has balanced it out nicely.  The squares are cut freehand but are about 4-4.5 inches, so this feels like the middle of a quilt rather than the outside edges, so I still have to figure out what goes inside and how to build out.  I've never started with the middle before, so this should be an interesting process.

Thursday, 20 January 2022

Time, no space

 I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, but currently have nowhere it is easy to piece (floors back to concrete, walls back to plaster, dust and mud all over the place).  I had thought I would just ride it out, but there's still a way to go.  Maybe I can come up with a project that I can manage in a tiny space.  All I've done so far is shuffle a lot of shirts around and come up with a couple of piles I quite like.

This one would be good to go.  I like the oranges and range of prints I have in this, and know there are other things I have that would fit if I need them.
This one probably needs a couple of additions before there's enough fabric there to be feasible, but I really like the stripy shirt second from the left and the fabrics on either end which both, by change, have cranes on them.
That stripe, which doesn't photograph well, has deep pink and green stripes in it as well as the creams and yellows, so there is plenty of room to expand the colour scheme if I need to.  

Of course I need to figure out what sort of starting point I feel like, which may well inform my decision over which pile to go with.  I may also see if I can track down something to add to the second pile and I guess that might make a difference too. 

Incidentally, I know this approach doesn't fit with the challenge I set for AHIQ this time around, but there's still time for that one.