Wednesday, August 26, 2015

I seem to be able to make any border difficult, it's a gift.  I wanted that madder fabric to form a complete diamond around the centre, but that meant either piecing another complete row around the whole thing, (not going to happen) or extending the madder square into the border.

I added the gold strips to the outside of each quarter, then pieced the single strips of squares that would join the quarters, with the madder square joining the gold strips.

 Four quarters finished, just that centre strip of squares to add.

Once that was done it was a simple matter to add the two outer borders, and my top was done!

GypsyQuilter sent this link to a TATW pattern made using the tube method; it would be a great way to put the design together in the least amount of time.  I quite enjoyed my bumbling approach, one fabric at a time, but it wasn't the fastest way to work.  And I have a serious mountain of leftovers.  Maybe I'll throw together a Scrappy Bargello from Bonnie's site, or a Scrappy Trips; both are a fun way to use up a pile of strips quickly.


Friday, August 21, 2015

It's a glorious Spring day outside, even though we officially have one and a half weeks of winter left.  It does this every year and, while I'm sad to see the end of my favourite season, the soft yellow sunshine and the birds and flowers make me happy too.  Spring is lovely, even if we only get 2 or 3 weeks of it.

I've been having a lot of trouble with my hands lately, I've had to ration the amount of time I spend doing anything.  They hurt all the time, but I simply can't sit around and do nothing, so I spin for a little while, sew for half an hour, so the dishes, work on the computer in small increments.  I'm trying to knit slowly, type slowly, not lift anything too heavy; in short, I'm trying to be mindful of how I use my hands, what seems to damage them the most, how I can modify movements to prevent more pain.  I'd like to say I'm enjoying being mindful, but I'm not; I want to race off and achieve things, like I always have done.  Which probably is why I have the problem in the first place.

In the last couple of weeks I worked on a Trip Around The World quilt, from 2"strips.

The die cut strips were wonderful to work with, and I think I'll invest in a couple more sizes.  It was so simple to cut all the strips I needed, and then some.  I'll be working with this lot for quite a while.  I can see that an electric cutter would be even better for my hands, so that will go on the Great Christmas Wish List 2016.  Not going to happen this year....

 However, I wasn't happy with the centre of the quilt, from that single line of pinky-orange. I built the quarter on the right first, to get the colours I wanted, and it was fine except for the bottom left bit.
 I lived with it for a few days, but in the end I unpulled the bits that were worrying me and replaced them with a sequence I liked.  It's not a big difference in the photo, but the original light fabrics on either side of the pink squares were just toooo light.  So my Inner Goldilocks kept sampling different things until it was juuust right.
So now, many strips later, I have three quarters in place, and I'm getting together the pieces for the last quarter.  The border is probably going to give me fits when I come to it, but I'll worry about that when I get there.
So many strips left over!!  This is a good thing I think......

Hmm, I do like all those saturated colours on the background of blue;
maybe I should hunt out my blue background UFO and get it finished, before I start another project?


Tuesday, August 04, 2015

 My sewing room is covered in fabric, and I just don't know how to get it organised. 

 I have so many small pieces left over from cutting quilts, many of them less than half a FQ. 
What do I do with them, how do I decide whether to store them or cut them into strips or triangles or squares?  I'm completely undecided about how to tackle these leftovers.

I did used to cut them up into several sized strips and put them into the scrap drawers, but then I found I was sick of seeing them in each scrap drawer.  And now I don't particularly like making random scrap quilts, so I don't want to go back to that.  I'm thinking that I need to choose a couple of quilt patterns that use one size strip, and then cut everything up into that size.

I have two strip dies for the Accuquilt, and I love them. 
All these 2" strips were cut in about 2 minutes; there are five strips of each fabric.  All I had to do was layer the scraps and then send the die through the machine.  It cuts 4 strips, and I can do 5 layers at a time comfortably, so that's 20 with each pass.  It certainly is a quick way to deal with all the leftovers.
I am planning several quilts based on 2" strips, and this is one of my favourite blocks ever. 
 I've already made several quilts in this pattern, but I love piecing it, and the cutting is a breeze. I like the fact that it takes two main fabrics, putting the colour combinations together is pure fun.
I have 3 blocks finished, 8 blocks kitted completely and loads more pieces cut, so this project is well underway.  I still have to decide how to use the scrap pieces that I don't want to cut into strips, and there are plenty of them.  Maybe I will choose a triangle die and cut them into a bazillion triangles for an Ocean Waves or a Pine Tree quilt.  Decisions, decisions.


Saturday, July 25, 2015

I'm declaring my quilt a success.

I love the colours and the pattern, and the border.  It was interesting to make, from start to finish, even the problems at the beginning when I couldn't get the colour values right.
I had to eke the border out of three half metres of fabric, 2 of which I'd already sliced strips from for the body of the quilt.  Mereth suggested making these joins in the border, to help blend the fabrics into each other, and it worked really well.

I put the very dark green/blue in opposite corners to balance the border, and I really like how that looks in the finished top.  I wasn't going to have a narrow inner border, but there were 4 strips of dark blue left over from the jellyroll; I cut them in half, so  I had enough inch and a quarter strips for a very narrow border.  I like how it separates the border from the centre, it's only a small pop of deep blue but it really adds to the overall effect.
 I really enjoyed working with these fabrics, I loved the patterns and the play of colour within each fabric.
I didn't have a lot of blue and green, so I included quite a few grey fabrics, and some light apricot browns and blacks.  The overall effect is a blue/green quilt.
So Operation Batik was a success; I'm ready to start another one straight away.


Friday, July 24, 2015

Yesterday we went to Jamestown and I did indeed buy more batiks, including a piece that will do for the border. 

It's the top left piece, and I don't like the pattern, but the colours are just right.  I only got half a metre, and I will piece it with a couple of other fabrics I already have, to make a scrappy border.  That's the main task for this weekend, hopefully I will have that done this morning, and then I can play around with all the leftover pieces and clean up a bit.
After congratulating myself for using up so many cheddar/orange fabrics I then bought the rest of the bolt of  that cheddar fabric, because it was 25% off.  Looks like I'm going to build the stash up again, I never learn.  And that beautiful reproduction over on the right will make lovely borders, it was a backing remnant, again 25% off.  Bargain!

Right now I have a hankering to chop up some fabric, lots of fabric.  I haven't decided what to attack, maybe my several drawers of Pretties, which I haven't touched in all the years I've been collecting them;

or I just may pull out the tubs of vintage flannel and twill and brushed cotton, and make a new bed quilt.   Should I choose blues?

I fancy some more quick and easy piecing, so it will be big pieces and letting the fabric do the talking, whichever set of fabrics I choose.


Thursday, July 23, 2015

It didn't take long to get the rows finished, apart from having to unpick a few bits that I sewed wrong.  I thought I was being really careful, but my attention must have wandered.  However, it took nearly 5 hours to sew them all together, what a marathon.

29 seams, at 10 minutes per seam to pin, sew and press.  I don't know why I'm surprised at the time it took, but I am.  I have lousy time management skills, I always underestimate the time involved.

It needs a border, and it could be wider, but I've exhausted my stash; I'm off to the shop to see if I can find a suitable border, and some more blues to replace what I used in this quilt.

I don't know why I have so much green in the batik stash, especially as blue and brown are my favourite colours. I can see that I will have to make a real effort to pad out the stash with blues, having used so many in this quilt.  I'm not comfortable working without a large range to choose from, but I don't like buying batiks online, as I can't judge the colours properly on the screen.  I need a shopping trip in Adelaide!

It's so cold in my sewing room, I'm going to have to start wearing fingerless gloves.  I draped the sewing table in a wool blanket, so it's like a cave underneath, and installed a small 5-fin oil heater.  It's got many heat settings, and I have it set low, so that I can rest my legs and feet against it if I need the extra heat.  Or wrap my hands around the fins to thaw my fingers.  It was all going really well, until Dolly discovered it.  Now I have to sew with a dog squeezed in under the table with me, lying on the foot pedal and generally getting in the way.  Bless her....


Monday, July 20, 2015

I'm using the tutorial from Exuberant Colour for my crosses; Part 2 is first, scroll down to find Part 1. The actual sewing will be straightforward,  it's arranging the colours that is taking up so much time.

My problem is that I'm not judging the value of the fabrics very well; something looks light to me, and on the design wall it turns out to be medium; or a medium value becomes very dark. 

I need to place fabrics in just the right spot to maintain the cross pattern, or I just get big blended areas of colour, and that's not what I'm after. 

I didn't want to add any pale neutrals to this mix, I wanted it just colours of blue, green and all shades in between, but I had to admit that it looks better with some really light crosses sprinkled in.  Mereth donated some lighter blues from her tiny batik stash, and they've helped add some interest and movement to the whole.
One of the hazards of using batiks is that pieces cut from one fabric can look so different; I may take out this predominately beige piece and replace it with a square that has more blue in it, but I won't decide that till I have the whole thing laid out.

My design wall isn't big enough for me to lay the whole thing out, so I'm constructing the rows for the top half;
when I get them done I'll switch them round and lay them out upside-down on the bottom part of the design wall, with some of each strip on the floor; then I can build the remainder of the top half up where I can reach it easily.

It's starting to be fun, and I'm eager to get this finished so I can go on to the next one; something really simple is in order, maybe a Many Trips Around The World, or just rectangles.  I'm enjoying playing with different fabrics for a change.

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