Monday, January 28, 2008

Scrap happy

This weekend my guild arranged a get together - "bring your sewing machine, fabrics and whatever you would like to work on and let's have fun together" the invitation read. While trying to decide, I happened to glance into my scrap bag. It seems to have grown a lot lately and I had thought to myself that I wanted to do something about it. So that's what I brought.
While the rest of the gang got started making fancy quilts and bags, I sorted my fabric by colour and started piecing the scraps together. We had lots of fun, chatting and giggling and the piecing went like a dream. I ended up with this large blue piece and
this yellow one. The idea is to treat these like yardage and cut them into patches. I will do the same with my red and green scraps too, and use them all together in a quilt. Maybe combined with black? Or some other plain colour. I will have a while to decide about that, though. There are still lots of scraps left...

Friday, January 25, 2008

New book inspiration

I just bought a new Japanese book: "Quilt Works" by Hitomi Hanaoka. It is full of those lovely taupe handbags that Japanese craft designers do so well, and there are several styles I wouldn't mind having a go at. With well illustrated instructions and metric measurements

they aren't too hard to work out, although there will always be some guesswork, my Japanese language skills being what they are: non-existent! What really got my creative juices going though, was this quilt. There is no pattern, but I just loved the idea. The quilt seems to be made of men's suits and shirts - lots of lovely wool fabric, some shirts, buttons, a tie and even a belt. In the lower right end corner, buttons from these items of clothing are gathered in a little shimmering cloud. Here and there you find little stitched sketches of everyday items from a man's wardrobe and everyday life: a journal, a watch, shoes, slippers, a coat, a shirt... You get the sense that this is a tribute to a man who has meant something special to the quilter. A quiet, subdued tribute to an unassuming man, a husband, father, brother. I read a lot of love in it - hours spent thinking about him, coming up with ideas, gathering material, handstitching and putting it all together into an interesting piece of work. I might be putting too much into it - that's one of the things that may happen when you try to traverse a language barrier. But somehow that's part of the charm too - I don't understand the words, so I can make up my own story about it.

And the thing is that this has inspired me to start planning a quilt as a tribute to a special man in my own life - my grandfather. He was a wonderful man who put a lot of sunshine into my childhood, and once the idea of a special quilt struck me, I was amazed that this has never occured to me before. From the thoughts that have been spinning around in my head the last couple of days I already know that my quilt will end up being very different from this Japanese one - more colours, quotes of thing he used to say, memories of stories he would tell and episodes from the sweet, wonderful and happy times we had, cooking, singing, chatting, travelling... I started talking to my mother about it on the phone today and together we came up with lots of memories of things I might include. While writing this it has dawned upon me that my grandfather has been dead for almost thirty years, and yet he is still part of my everyday life - his love, his ideas and most importantly: his sense of humour is always there inspiring me. I have a feeling that creating this quilt will be a slow process, but one I will enjoy a lot.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Time to smell the flowers

The last traces of Christmas have been hidden away and we are half way into a hectic January. The last week has been frantic, and I'm going to spend some quiet, reflective time at home this weekend. I will do a little sewing if I feel like it - the first panel of my autumn quilt is almost done after a few bursts of sewing activity. There has been little time for that alas, but I have decided not to obsess about it - I will sew if I feel like it or do something else if that strikes my fancy - I have no deadlines looming, and that feels good.
Maybe I'll take some time to jot down a few ideas and sketches of things I want to make. I have a few ideas for handbags, and there is a blue and white quilt lurking in the wings of my mind. I might even get over the initial hesitation and place the first pencil marks in my new journal. I just couldn't resist the flocked design of this Tricia Guild journal - beautiful colours, interesting texture, pretty striped ribbons - what's not to like? It's just the idea of ruining its pristine beauty that is stopping me for a little while - it is so pretty that it should only be used for pretty thoughts...
Oh, well... who am I kidding? My thoughts are rarely pretty, but hopefully colourful and creative, and I will put this journal to good use once I get started, I'm sure. In the meantime I'll spend some quiet time curled up under a quilt and

smell the flowers. Ranunculuses have such gorgeous flowers, don't they? Like the layers upon layers of skirts and petticoats of a fairytale ball gown - who would have thought they were related to the humble buttercup?

Sunday, January 13, 2008


Lots to do lately and not much time for creating, but at least I have some work up on my design wall. The advantage of using wall space like this while working on a quilt is that you can spend a few minutes every now and again moving pieces about and gradually getting to a pleasing layout. While passing through the room something will catch my eye and I'll see that one area is not working, move a few pieces, and with a sigh of content tell myself: "yes, that's better". So, little by little, the design is coming together.
There is one problem with my cramped living conditons, though - my design wall doesn't have enough room for the entire quilt. I have two panels up on the wall now and there is a third to go.
Here's my plan: I'm going to stitch the pieces for the left panel together, move the pieces of the center panel to the left and put up the pieces of the third panel when that's done. Think it will work?
I have made sure that I have squares of all sizes in a variety of colours, so I should have what I need to make the third panel interesting, and I'll be able to do a little shifting of pieces between panel 2 and 3 while I'm at it. Looking on what I have so far, I see that there is still some room for improvement before I start stitching, but I can hardly wait. It looks sooo much better in real life too, so I believe it will turn out all right in the end.
I decided to go with the leaf prints, but not the turquoise. The black in the leaf prints will echo the black in the border, so there will be a relationship between them. The turquoise will find it's way into some other project eventually - there is hardly a quilt without it here...

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

On the wall

The first part of the new quilt is up on my design wall and I'm beginning to reconsider. The fabrics are lovely in rich autumny colours all designed by Lonni Rossi. I usually mix and match fabric from all sorts of different collections and makers, but these just seemed to belong together with their bountiful harvest theme. The design is from Kaffe Fassett's book "Kaleidoscope of Quilts" and consists of three different panels of squares in three sizes.
The colours of these photos are a bit more matte than in real life, and the green does looks better with the rest of them. But after looking at it from a distance the thing still seems a bit bland. And as luck would have it, I didn't have enough fabric for all the small squares, so I'll have to come up with something.
I have a couple of fabrics with autumn leaves, which fit in with the theme and colours, but might be just too detailed compared to the rest.
I was thinking of adding a border in black, and in fact I do have a black version of one of the fabrics and that might work. Maybe I should add some black squares as well? Or maybe I should use a black without brown in it?
I have been tempted to add a few turqoise squares - like water glimpsed through the leaves...? But that might just be too much...

I will just have to keep the squares up on the wall and mull it over for a few days. That usually helps, even if my design wall is just a flannel sheet with grommets in two corners, hooked up on my bedroom wall...

Saturday, January 05, 2008

Looking back

As I sit back and contemplate the year we've just left behind and how quickly it has passed, it's only natural to think about what I have achieved, isn't it? I won't go into the achivements on the work front, only say that more success means more time and energy spent there and less quilting time. Sigh. You can't have everything, can you ;-)

Looking on the picture of the three stems of Amaryllis (or is that Amarylli in plural?) I realize that I neglected to post much about my redecorating project this summer. The view from this angle is very different from last January with the dark blue, rag rolled walls and bright colourful curtains. The look now is also colourful, but maybe a bit more subdued. I wasn't quite sure to begin with, but I really like the new wall colour and my IKEA curtains (one wouldn't normally call them subdued of course, but compared to their predecessors...) The redecorating was a huge undertaking for me, having to move a whole wall of books and paint each and every shelf and let them dry before the wall unit could be reassembled alone took the best part of a week. And then there was the rest of the room. And the decluttering. It seems to me I've spent months on this! And I did it all singlehandedly. I have always had help from friends during previous redecorating and moving stunts, but it is easier when you have an empty room to paint. Because of lack of space to put all my stuff in, I knew I had to deal with one corner of the room at a time and move everything back before I could deal with the next area, and that would mean my friends would have had to keep coming back, helping out in small bursts at a time, which seemed too much to ask for. Not that they wouldn't have done it, mind you - and I knew that if I had breathed a word of my plans they would have been 'round in their overalls with paintbrushes at the ready in no time. Instead I chose to do it while everybody else was away on holiday, creating quite a stir when they visited afterwards and saw what I had done. That was fun!
I'm going on and on about this now, and I was really going to talk about my quilting efforts in 2007. Well, this is it:

-more or less, anyway. I think I have written about most pieces as I have been working on them, so I won't go there now, but it doesn't look too bad now, does it? And come to think of it there have been some knitting and embroidery projects too, some of which are still WIPs of course. So all in all I think 2007 has been a productive year for me. And there will hopefully be more to come in 2008. On the quilting front I have at least three projects on the go at the moment, my Grandmother's Garden quilt, the Autumn Window and the just started Autumn Garden. I will have pictures of that in the next post.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Small surprises

My mum is off on holiday tomorrow, and here's a folder I just made for her to keep things like tickets, passport, insurance card etc. in. I made one for myself a while ago, and find it very handy to have everything in one place - it's easy to whip out of your bag to find just the right document while struggling with your luggage at the airport. While searching for the right fabrics I came across a half yard of bathing beauties fabric I've had for years. It was a gift from a friend, and it is sooo cute that I have been reluctant to cut into it. But I was in the right kind of mood, so I just got on with it and whipped up this little bag for mum while I was at it. Perfect for carrying your suntan lotion and whatever down to the pool, isn't it?

Here's a view of it inside out to show the binding that finishes it off and makes that nice square bottom so that it can stand upright. It turned out that I didn't have enough of that orange fabric (an old IKEA-print - funny how I remember where all the pieces of fabric in my stash come from - obsessive or what?), so I had to join it with another. I didn't explain that it wasn't careful measuring and trimming, just pure luck that the join ended up just at the right place so you get a dark bottom and bright sides inside.
Mum was quite chuffed with her surprise presents - I really will try to make the effort to make small surprises like that for people more often - it doesn't take that much time and gives so much pleasure!
I have also been busy cutting lots of squares from that autumnal series from the last post, but I'm beginning to realize that I mightn't have quite enough fabric for the quilt I have in mind, so I will have to come up with a clever solution there. I will get the pieces up on the design wall tomorrow, and then we will see...

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

It's 2008 - let's create!

Happy New Year !

I woke up this morning (well, noonish...), eager to create, and this spread of fabric was what I had in mind. So in between phone calls and chores I have been cutting squares to start a Garden Quilt. The pattern is in Kaffe Fassett's book Kaleidoscope of Quilts. There is a Tapestry Garden Quilt and a Morning Garden Quilt. Mine will be an Autumn Garden Quilt, of course, with the lovely Lonni Rossi fabric I have had lying in wait for quite some time. There is also a bit of green and some brown/black to go with it.
I have several quilts in mind with all the fabric sorted, ready to go, so if I am to have any kind of new year's resolutions it is to get those plans off the drawing board and actually create something.
Let my motto be: "It's 2008 - let's create!"