Sunday, March 04, 2018

Marching on

Finally, that's February over with. I think maybe I should have been a bear in winter, because I tend to go into a kind of hibernation.Once Christmas is over with I look around and find everything dark and dreary, I don't deal well with the cold, and although snow looks pretty on postcards, having to trudge through the wet and slushy stuff in town or trying to keep upright on icy pavements... nah, not my kind of thing.


I don't seem to get much sewing done, unless it's by hand and tend to end up snuggled under a blanket with a good book or some knitting.

Once March makes it's debut things start to lighten up again. There might still be snow and cold - "the beast from the east" is still causing trouble - but the days are getting longer, and with more daylight I also find my way into the sewing room. So I'm back in the saddle again and have spent a lot of this weekend by the sewing machine and made a lot of progress on this quilt. Just two borders left to quilt and I can add the binding.

With more daylight hours suddenly my head is full of ideas, but I have ambitions to finish three more quilts before I start a new one. And it's not just because I feel an obligation, I really want these to get finished soon.

And then I have plans to get to grips with all my scraps. I have them sorted by colour, and I have some ideas, but I bet they wont make more than a dent in my scrap pile... we'll see. at least the inspiration to sew seems to be coming back, and that feels good!

Friday, November 24, 2017

Scrappy mats

I tend to work on several projects simultaneously and of course my sewing table tends to end up in a riot of colour with half finished lengths and left over scraps everywhere. When I had finished a quilt top I have yet to share here I started sorting through the scraps and found that I had cut too many squares for the flying geese. I had 35 squares left and laid them out in rows, 5x7 and realized that this would be just the right size for a placemat. Before I had finished the thought I was sewing and in no time at all the placemat was there.
While I was at it I also stitched the remaining narrow strips from that project together, adding a few extras and ended up with four mug rugs. Now that's the kind of tidying up I like!

Grey and yellow tablecloth

As I was sorting and folding fabric one day I noticed that I had quite a few pretty yellow ones that went well together and I started pulling them out and looking for other colours that could go with them. I decided on that true and trusted combo of grey and yellow. I ended up with a pretty stack that lay on my table for weeks while I waited for inspiration.
I picked a length of Kona Snow to go with them and eventually cut squares from all the vellows and grays, adding a wedge of white to each square, stitched on at varying angles. I tend to find improv quite challenging, but this was not too bad and I quite liked the finished result.
I thought this would make a nice tablecloth, so I quilted it in big loose curls, using a thin batting to give it a nice drape. I had a piece of grey with a pattern of yellow dots that worked well for the back, and just needed a bit of the unexpected to finish it. After searching through my stash for ages and not finding anything, my gaze fell upon a strip of leftover pink Bali from another quilt I'm working on and that proved to be just right as a finishing touch.

Monday, November 20, 2017

Dotty purse

I found this Jelly Clip Purse frame from Lecien at a show a while back, and one day I just decided that the right time for using it was now. It came with a pattern and in no time at all I had cut the pieces, stitched the darts and stitched the pieces together. It took a bit of poking to glue the purse into the frame, but it wasn't too difficult. The most complicated parts were in fact choosing the fabric and deciding to start, which just proves that one should just do it!
And that goes for quilting too - I have been quiet here for a while, but there might be more sharing now, just wait for it...

Open out

I had to try my hand at the Open-out Box Pouch by Aneela Hooey a while ago, just forgot to share the evidence. I must admit I struggled a bit with the zipper, ripping and restitching a few times, but after basting it in place before stitching I finally succeeded.
I really like the design, though, as it works as a tray with easy access to your sewing gear while working and closes to a flat pouch, so I might make more of these now that I know how.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The naming of a quilt

I always try to give each of my quilts a name of their own. Sometimes the name is clear to me before I even start cutting the fabric, at other times, I really have to work on finding that name. The names can be quite straightforward, for example when I fell in love with Amy Butler’s collection Ginger Bliss and made a quilt using that line, it became the Amy Quilt. OK, but then I made another quilt using Amy Butler fabric I couldn’t use that name again now, could I? Most of the fabrics in that quilt were from her line Daisy Chain, so that one came to be known as The Daisy Quilt.
At other times I use fabric from a lot of different sources, and the name needs to be something that sums it all up. The quilt I made with fabric that reminded me of holidays in Italy became Italian Dreams. My previous quilt contains star blocks and one of the fabrics reminds me of space stations or satellites, so the name came to me as I was sewing: Stars and Satellites.

My current quilt has been a challenge to name, though. I tried stating the obvious: “The Triangle Quilt”. Meh, didn’t like it. I looked at the colours, blue and green, a cool, yet refreshing, group that made me think of water. I looked for other words associated with water, aqua, hydra, pond, pool, refreshing, fresh, cool, but nothing stuck. I looked at the shapes again, thinking that triangles could be trines, trigons or pyramids. The darker blue ones stand out from the rest and I nearly went with “Blue Pyramid” until I googled it and discovered that it is a variety of marihuana plant (all the things you can learn from google…), so that didn’t seem appropriate.

The idea of water stuck with me though, especially after I started quilting it, using big spirals reminiscent of rings or ripples in water.  I started looking into symbolism, how water is interpreted in folklore, dreams and so on. After a while I came across an old acquaintance: “The Lady of the Lake” from the Arthurian legends. I remember devouring stories connected with this era some years ago, and in particular Marion Bradley’s Avalon trilogy. There are different versions of the legends and the Lady of the Lake has several names, Vivien being one of them. This is a name associated with wisdom, and according to the urban dictionary it also means: “The girl you meet in your dreams and can't help but to fall in love with. The love of your life. A strong, independent, beautiful woman at heart, as well as to everyone she meets. One you never want to lose. She looks to be realistic, true, and cares so much about what she wants in life. To have her is a gifted responsibility; a true priority number one. She may turn away from you at times, but if you say what you mean, you will always be there for her. She lives to care and love. You don't mess with her feelings, you play no games with her. She'll leave you right quick. And it'll be the biggest mistake of your life.”

A bit too much, perhaps? And giving the quilt a woman’s name like that would mean having a lot of explain to do. No, not quite there yet. But as I was preparing the binding it suddenly hit me: Avalon! Avalon is the name of the mysterious world of Vivien, only reached through the mists of the lake and with associations of water, mystery, healing, refreshing etc. Perfect! And thus a new quilt was named.

Stats: Inspired by this quilt by Patchwork n Play. I had no pattern, but picked fabrics from my memory of what that quilt looked like (without consulting the photo) and what I had in my stash, except for the solid Kona Limelight which I bought especially and also used for backing. I cut strips and used the 60 degree line on my standard ruler to cut triangles and made a preliminary sketch in EQ, trying to place colours randomly. I sorted my triangles according to colour, but mixed them up within each colour and picked randomly from the piles as I was stitching the rows together. I quilted using free motion spirals, making them as big as I could without losing my grip, before I moved on with smaller swirls to a new area and starting a new large spiral. No planning, I just let the quilting happen along the way, but I think it kind of works, and as I said earlier, it all reminds me of ripples in water when I look at it from a distance. The binding is that dark blue/turquoise that nearly ended up giving a name to the quilt, and is a favourite Tilda fabric I bought several yards of some years back. I still have a little left.

So there you have it. Avalon. My favourite quilt at the moment. It’s a keeper.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Stars and satellites

I have had this bunch of fat quarters lying around for a while and decided it was time to use them all in a quilt. The line had a lot of prints on white, making for a pleasantly patterned background. I decided on a block with a small star nestled into a bigger star and stitched the star points randomly. I guess some of them are a lot smaller than I'd imagined, and you have to use a bit of imagination to see them all as stars. The fabric line is "Comma" from Zen chic and there are some quite large patterns in some of the background fabrics, which blend the stars into the background a bit as well.
For the background I used large pieces of some of the fabrics I used for the star points, allowing them to shine a bit more on their own. Increasingly I find that if I'm making a quilt using an entire fabric line, it's nice to use that fabric on the back as well, using up more of the fabric and giving it all a sense of coherency.
I did a light swirly quilting in orange rayon on the background fabrics, letting the star points stand out a bit more, and finished it all off with some black and white binding. The large molecular shapes in one of the prints reminds me of space stations or satellites - not that I know a lot about space tech... but I ended up calling it Stars and Satellites.

Friday, April 28, 2017

Batgirl gets her wings

Meet Batgirl! I don't really know where the inspiration foe this little doll came from, but gradually the idea of making a doll with bat-wings has been emerging from the depths of my imagination. Partly from the works of Tilda, whose dolls tend to have angel wings, I think. And partly from all the magical Halloweeny creatures created by Calamity Kim, (check out her new blog) although this little critter is a much simpler, less elaborate creation. Somehow things have melded together and she just had to be made.
I combined patterns for a cat doll and a mouse doll in one of the Tilda books and changed the profile of the head slightly to make it look more bat-like (I couldn't say batty, now, could I...). Bats have more of a snout than a car's triangular nose, so I just added french knots for the nostrils. That, and the little fangs - not quite grown out, she's just a little girl, you know - and she looks like a bat to me. The wings complete the picture, of course. I drafted them from a picture of a bat found online, added batting and pipe-cleaners inside to give a bit of structure, and there she is! I stitched together a little party dress for her, moths seemed appropriate - I bet little batgirls just love moths... (or 'moffs', as she would say...). The dress is short sleeved, but that's OK:
If she feels cold, she can use her wings as a cloak. Sweet little thing, isn't she?

Saturday, April 22, 2017

Spring runner

I bought some Jane Sassaman fabric a while before Easter. I have always loved her style - gorgeous quilts, and when she started designing fabric I was first in line and I have used them in several projects over the years. Some of them can be a challenge to use, though because the motifs are so large. I hadn't decided on a particular project when I got these home, but I went for a quick fix, using a large floral as the center of a table runner. I fussy cut the mid panel to show off those big flowers, added a narrow border in matching yellow/green Fossil Fern before adding a wider border in the blue triangle print. I used a thin batting and quilted it using some loosely meandering lines criss-crossing along the length of the runner. A quick and easy fix that got my quilting mojo back and ended with a bright and colourful Spring runner just in time for Easter.