Thursday 9 May 2024

Done for now

It's hard to believe that it is May and this is the first quilt top I have completed this year.  Never mind.  Things can only get better!

Here is a progress picture of my central chunk of piecing with a couple of rounds of strips.  The right-hand side was sewn on at this point but the bottom, top and left were still being tinkered with.  I found I didn't much like it when two pieced sections sat next to each other.  A small overlap was okay, but after that everything got rather busy and, because there are lots of mid-tones, tended to run to mush.  So my strips are a mixture of small sections of piecing and bigger bits of single fabrics.  

That's fine in principle but of course I was running out of big bits, so figuring this out using what I had took ages.  The bit that caused me the most problems was the final strip I wanted to add at the top.  I tried all sorts of variations, including the strip that is sitting at the bottom now and every random length of shirt I had left.  I had a denim and the floral print, joined by a little cross and everything I tried to go above them worked with one half of that combination, or the other, but never both.  I was starting to think I was going to be tinkering with this forever.  Then serendipitously I was tidying up the bags with the octagons that I rejected a couple of months back and had an 'ah-ha' moment.  They did just the job.

It has ended up being quite a big top, so it wasn't easy to photograph and you will see that the right-hand side is flapping a bit and I haven't got it flat, but that is about my hanging system rather than the quilt.  Nevertheless,  I think this is still a fair picture and I am definitely happy with it as a finish (for now).
Now that I have sneaked a few of the octagons into this top, I am motivated to get them out and have another play.  Maybe this time I'll find a way forward that I like. Fingers crossed.

Tuesday 30 April 2024

Strips and chunks - it's all progress

I'm still going with this.  The hourglasses went on down the left-hand side and are looking just right to me.   I also added to the right-hand side, cutting the strip I was adding so that I could keep that curve in the denim.
It feels to me right now as though the area with all the dark blue stripes and grey bits is a self-contained thing, so I'm not planning to add any more blue verticals, just that one piece horizontally across the bottom (or what is currently the bottom ). I'm also going to stop adding in the grey floral, except in hourglasses, so no more big bits.  Practically, I think the next step is going to entail just adding strips top, bottom, sides, rather as if this were a medallion with a very big middle. Since  I don't want it to feel like a medallion particularly, I will be trying to pay careful attention to how the strips and hourglasses fit together so it's not too obvious.

Here are the next two strips going onto the left and right-hand sides and also some of the random bits I am trying out around the edges.  

When I started, the floral bottom left felt a big loud and shouty and like it should only be used in smaller pieces, but somehow, now that the quilt is bigger, I feel much more comfortable considering using great big chunks of it.  Of course, given that it was a shirt, I only have enough fabric for a couple of those chunks, but that's definitely enough to have an impact. 

As this stands, I am not far of a length I would be happy with but am some way short of a satisfactory width.  Never mind.  

Thursday 18 April 2024

Chugging along

This is chugging along alright at the moment.   I joined a couple of my chunks together (that's the bit at the top in the photo), and kept making other bits at the same time.

Joining bits to make bigger bits is the easy part.  Some of my fabrics here (mostly the pale oranges)  I am treating as interchangeable.  Others, principally the dark, dark blue, which has tiny, fine orange stripes running through it, and the darkest floral, I am using more carefully.

Since I liked how the pieces looked lying on the floor together, I thought I'd have a go at finding a simple way of joining them together.  I wondered about using a horizontal line of hourglasses, but it felt a bit too crowded.  Interestingly, I don't hate them in this photo, but in real life it didn't work for me.

So I took them away, but left the denim strip.  I am happier with the hourglasses running vertically down the left side. As things are right now, all of this is sewn together, except those hourglasses. 
I am thinking that I might stop with the deep blue verticals at this point.  I am running out of big pieces of the shirt and what is left would probably work better in hourglasses, given that I have a collection of odd shaped bits and bobs.  The question is, then, what I do next.  Your guess is currently as good as mine.

Monday 8 April 2024

Using up the rejects

While I was trying to figure out how to make something I liked out of the octagons, I made various other bits and pieces too.  I tried combining them with little crosses and also made a handful of hourglass blocks.  Neither of these worked, but now I am looking those rejects and wondering if they might belong together in something else.  The crosses were mostly in reds and dark blues, whilst the hourglasses came in red and orange-y fabrics.  So I have pulled some extra shirts and a pile of denim scraps and am giving it a go to see what happens.  

I didn't hate this first piece, so have kept going and now have three chunks. As you can see, they are pretty simple so this didn't take long.  Now I have to decide whether to make a few more, or start to think about how they might talk to each other.

Tuesday 2 April 2024

Quilting when stale

I am aware that my quilting muscles are rusty.  Decisions take longer, I do more unpicking, get further through a project and then change my mind over big choices.  That's okay.  I have decided to start with simple things.  My first pass, though, was a complete non-starter.  I had seen a lot of very pretty octagon quilts and thought I would pull some scraps and fiddle about with something similar.  

What I learned, pretty quickly,  is that either I needed to bite the bullet and cut these in a proper, regular fashion, using a template, or to become wilder, push the shape away from its natural geometry.  I can see that a half-hearted improv octagon is not a good thing. Sewing them together in groups didn't so much look like improv - more like poor sewing.  I tried adding strips in to break them up, which I didn't mind too much, but it wasn't exciting me and I couldn't find a way forward. Shame - there are some nice fabrics here, but stuck is stuck.
It doesn't feel like I have time to waste wrestling with this at the moment, so I'm sticking it in a bag.  Maybe I'll revisit it, though that feels unlikely right now.  Instead, I'm just going to start again with something new. 

Wednesday 20 March 2024

A finish: #1.22

As mentioned, I have a couple of finishes saved up to share.  Here is the first one. 

I seem to be getting much better at moving things through the system, since this is barely two years from start to finish.  This is, admittedly, because there are a couple of tops I seem to have pretty much decided never to quilt, but if I don't feel it when I sort through the piles, I don't see the point in giving months of my time over to working on something.

This is a simple little quilt really, but for some reason it is really ticking the boxes for me right now and has gone onto my bed as a result.  I think the orange has something to do with it, plus those strips of my once-favourite green trousers and the lovely blue plaid shirt with the deep, deep blue stripes. The Indonesian batik fabric that is in the checkerboard bits posed some problems when I was piecing. It was so busy and unusual that I couldn't find a way to balance it with other fabrics for a while, but I am happy with how it worked out in the end. It sits well, I think, with the dark blues and the other orange/red areas help too.

I started this on the 20th January 2022 and finished piecing on 31st March, so that's as close to exactly two years as makes no difference.  It is pieced with shirts, plus the green trousers scraps (most of this went into this top) and some orange Oakshott fabric that I have had for years.  I looked hard for a shirting that would do the job for me, but nothing worked and this lovely orange seemed right at home.

The backing is some of the duvet cover that you can see in this quilt top and I used a different part of said cover for the binding as well.  

The wadding is organic cotton and it is quilted with perle cotton. As usual I used what I had rather than buying in specially, though this will be the last time I can do that without at least one or two new purchases.  I echoed the flying geese in the centre in some areas of the quilting, just to make a change from straight lines. and am quite pleased with how it worked out.  

The finished piece is around 65 inches in all directions, give or take.

Thursday 14 March 2024

A quick gallop through the last 4 months

It's been an age, I know.  Cricket finished, winter cricket started, I have been working much more than previously and other caring responsibilities in the family have eaten into my sewing time.  That's life.  I have been sewing still, even more slowly than usual. 

I turned this pile of shirts, a skirt and a duvet cover

into this quilt top.  Using a duvet cover offers a much bigger piece of a single fabric than I am used to having.  I had used one side for a quilt back, so was only using the front, but even so there seemed to be loads of it.  You would think this would be a good thing but in fact it rather stumped me for a while.  I felt like everything I tried still looked more like a duvet than anything else. Hopefully I have managed, in the end, to produce something more than one step away from someone else's used bedding! 
Next up, a lovely pile of mostly green shirts.  I've had the one on the top left for ages (since some time during lockdown) and finally had enough other greens to give it a go.

This came together quite easily really.  I made a pile of one sort of block then, when I got bored, I started making log cabins instead and before I knew it, I had a finished top.
I also have a couple of fully quilted finishes, but will save those for the next post, in an attempt to build a tiny bit of blogging momentum.