Monday, March 21, 2011

Every now and then I get the urge to make crumb blocks, and I cover every surface of the sewing room with little strings and snippets and scraps.  I sew together all the little shreds that I've saved in various containers, and I'm happy, happy, happy.

Blocks start to materialise on the design wall.  I love the way the tiny pieces look next to each other.  I plan to make lots of crumb quilts, and to keep sewing until all the containers are empty.

Then suddenly there are no more nice pieces to sew; everything left in the boxes is dull, the wrong shape, the wrong colour, not big enough.  I get grumpier and more disillusioned.  I hate crumb piecing.

It's harder and harder to finish a block.  I just don't have the  right size or colour strips.  I start putting bits in the bin, instead of trying to fit them into the jigsaw of my blocks.  I HATE all the mess!!

At that point it's time to pack it all away and let it sit in the cupboard for a while.  I know that I will accumulate another pile of interesting scraps, and then I'll be able to finish the blocks I started, and make a whole new stack of them.  You can't rush crumb piecing, it's a progression, not a straightforward process.  My quilt will be all the more interesting if I take longer to make it.  It's definitely not a quilt-in-a-day.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Autumn weather has arrived, for which we are very grateful.  It's cool and rainy and grey today, perfect for quilting and messing about in the sewing room.  Which is what I am doing.Yesterday we shifted all Mereth's potplants from our brother's place to hers, so today is a day to take it easy.  Some of those potplants weigh a lot!
I hope to get some quilting done later on.  The dogs like to dig around in the quilts that are protecting the lounge, and end up sitting on the lounge fabric with the quilts all rucked up beside them.  I want to make a BIG cover for the lounge out of these old twill pieces, something that can be tied in place.  It won't be pretty, but it should keep all the pawprints off the furniture.

That's Dolly's inscrutable camera face there; one moment she's looking at me, all eager and happy, tail thumping and ears pricked.  As soon as she sees the camera she freezes and looks away; too many flash photos have made her wary.  I've only ever accidentally 'flashed' her, but she doesn't forget things like that.

My Square In A Square quilt is finished.  It wouldn't have a pieced border, even though I tried to give it one.  I left everything pinned up on the design wall all week, and it just kept saying NO.  So I went with simple, and I like it like that.  The green toile is really old, a backing length from the stash,and a much prettier colour than the washed out photo. I love being able to find what I need in the stash; even when I think there's nothing that will do, I can usually dig up something.

So I get to cross another UFO off the list, and choose the next one to work on.  I like seeing an empty box and a finished quilt, it inspires me to keep working on these older projects.

Have you read this post on Bonny's blog?....
I think most of us serious quilters, at some time or another, have  felt overwhelmed by our fabric and books and projects and finished quilts.  It can be paralysing to think 'What do I need another quilt for?', and so you don't start another project, or even finish an old one.  The thing that  keeps me sewing is knowing, from past experience, that I always feel better after a sewing session.  It puts my world to rights, when I sit at the sewing machine and feed the little pieces through, and build them into a useful product.  There is always a place for a quilt, but it may involve being selfless enough to give it away.  The collection of quilts for Japan, and for the flood victims in Australia, is a wonderful way to reach out and touch people who's lives have been shaken into a new and terrible pattern.  I love having spare quilts to give away at times like this; no need to start sewing from scratch, I can just pull something suitable from the shelf and it's ready to go to a person who needs it.

If I get overwhelmed by my stash I put some of it on Ebay, or give it away.  When I sell the vintage fabric in my collection it's always for more than I paid, so that offsets part of the loss I make on the modern fabric.  I feel better for having lightened the stash, and I get something back, even if it's not the full price.  And it's a warning to me, when I want to buy more fabric online -  I don't want to be selling a 'must-have' fabric for cents on the dollar in a few years time.  I have had some wonderful emails from the people who buy my fabric, thanking me for making vintage fabric available to them, or for pricing new fabric so that it's affordable for them.

If buying fabric is a form of self-medication then you have to look at it like any medication.  It does it's job at the time.  There's no refund on a bottle of pills, no selling it on to get your money back.  I think getting 'a  fair price' for stash just doesn't happen.  Getting the money back shouldn't be the concern; getting your life in control is more important.

My sewing stuff is my comfort, my past-time, my medicine, my connection to my ancestors and to so many other women who also love the same things I do.  I could never contemplate getting rid of it all.  But I've learned to stop the impulse buying, and to appreciate what I have as an asset, and that is so much better than living with guilt because I've blown the budget, again, on something I really didn't need to have.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

We have a 3-day weekend here in South Australia (Adelaide Cup day - who needs a holiday for a horse race???) and I intend to make the most of my time off.  I want to get the UFO blocks set together, and the pieced borders done.  I'm pretty sure that I have nothing suitable for a final border, so it may get put back in the cupboard until I can go shopping at a real live shop.

I found a suitable green fabric in the stash, a bit lighter and a lot brighter than the other green.  In every spare moment this week I cut and sewed blue and green fabric together, and I'm now up to this stage.

I have a few more units to sew, and then I can start sewing rows.  The squares in the pieced border have been my leader-enders, so I have a stockpile of those already.  I'm a bit worried that I'll run out of blue fabric, but I'll deal with that problem when/if it happens.  I'm all about the sewing right now.

I still haven't decided on a spacer border to separate the body of the quilt and the pieced border.  Every time I walk past the design wall I hang up a different coloured strip, to see what takes my fancy.  Haven't chanced upon the right one yet, but I'll keep working on that while I put all the pieces together.  It makes good sense to me to let my subconcious deal with that problem while I'm feeding more pieces through the sewing machine; most times the solution will occur to me without a lot of concious effort, and that's always a bonus.

It's a lovely autumn day, a little bit cloudy and not too warm, so I hope to get into the garden later on, and take the dogs for a walk too.  And make some soup, and cook a chicken curry for tonight, and sort through my knitting supplies, and tidy up the kitchen cupboards, and .......

That's a good list of things to concentrate on for today; tomorow there will be a whole new lot of priorities, and then there's still another free day after that. I love long weekends!


Monday, March 07, 2011

Alas, not much sewing was achieved over the weekend but I did get other things done so I can't complain.  I had a scrabble around in the UFO boxes, and pulled out these paper pieced Square in Square blocks, and decided they needed to be finished.

They are about 7 years old, and it's high time I dealt with them.  I love the strange navy prints in the blocks, but I only ever had a few FQs, so it can't be a big quilt. I have 18 blocks made, and it will have to be enough.  It took me two and a half hours to take all the paper out, so the idea of making any more with that method doesn't thrill me.

I had a quick play in EQ7, and I think I'll be going with this idea.

I'll make a few of the setting triangles to see if I like how they look in reality, and I'll try and find a suitable green for the sashing in the stash, but.....  I don't think there's anything there.   I made a trial of the triple sashing with something I thought might work, but it's too strong a colour.  Need more greens!  I may have to go shopping.

The other day we were driving out to visit Mereth's DS at Bowmans Park and saw this fellow walking down the road ahead.
He made a quick skedaddle up the nearest tree, and then froze, obviously thinking his camouflage was pretty good.  Shame his stripes are running the wrong way while he's upright on the tree, he's designed to blend into the twigs and dappled light of the ground under the gum trees.  He's a Lace Monitor, and his spots and dots and stripes are just gorgeous.


Thursday, March 03, 2011

I seem to have no spare time lately, so there hasn't been much sewing happening.  Yesterday I was working on loading things onto my site, but the connection was so slow I gave up and sewed these UFO blocks together.  It was supposed to be a single bed size, but it kept asking to be bigger, so I made another 15 blocks.  It's wonderful to see something come together so quickly, and with no effort on my part.  Squares and rectangles are a delight after hundreds of itty-bitty triangles.

I made these blocks from 2 very old charm packs, and used nearly all them.  I had to add in some light strips from my stash, which helped the colours look a little less drab.  I don't know why I ever bought these cahrm packs in such drab country colours, they are so not my usual choice.  But the gold/brown setting fabric makes them look a lot better.

I'm mulling over ideas for a border; something quick, as this is supposed to be a donation quilt.  I'm thinking a simple triple border would be best, but no fabrics are springing to mind.  I haven't got time to rummage through the stash drawers;  I'll probably grab the first red or brown print that I see and throw it together.  This isn't how I like to sew, but I don't have a choice right now.  I need more time in the day.

I'm already trying to decide what the next UFO project should be.  I need to pull out an old project, something over the 5 year mark.  That's a long time to store a pile of blocks and fabrics, and it would be great to see some of them completed at last.  It's years since my last big clean out, so I'll have to get ruthless.  This weekend should be a good time to give all the project boxes a good shake-up!

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