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.


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.


Friday, July 24, 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....


Tuesday, July 21, 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.


Friday, July 17, 2015

I didn't finish clearing up the mess from the last quilts; somehow I was sidetracked into playing with my batiks, and now there's a new layer of fabric and scraps on top of the old mess.

I suppose I should get all militant and tough, and force myself to clean up, but I doubt that will happen.  I have a horrible cold/flu, and the batiks are a distraction and a bright spot while I indulge in being ill.
I cut up a whole jellyroll, but that wasn't enough variety, so I cut strips from a heap of FQs and added them in to the mix.  Then I raided another jellyroll and pulled out anything that would go with what was on the design wall.  I still wish I had more variety, but I think I have enough pieces to make a 72" square quilt, and that will do for starters.

I don't feel comfortable working with batiks, I love the fabrics close up, but when I step back from the design wall it just looks like mud and grunge.  Sigh....  I just feel like no-one has told me the rules for this game yet, so I have no idea what is going wrong.

I know the answer is to keep working with these fabrics, and keep making quilts and learning, but it's a bit discouraging to go back to beginner status.  Maybe it wasn't such a good idea to start this when I'm sick, but at least it's taking my mind off my physical symptoms. 


Monday, July 13, 2015

It's finished!

I'm so pleased with how this turned out, I keep wandering into the room just so I can admire it again.
It was so easy to add the pieced border, because the seams in the blocks matched the seams in the borders.  And I love that the three blue corner triangles in the border echo the three corner blocks in the quilt.

 It seemed to take forever, but it's only been 2 months.  I just haven't had a lot of free time this year, so I haven't been able to sew like I normally do.  Maybe this is the new 'normal', but I hope not; I miss my long days in the sewing room.

I still have huge piles of the yellowy-cream neutrals that I was hoping to use up.  So many times I've bought material online, thinking that it's a nice stone-coloured print, and it turns out to be yellow.
I really like the grey-brown tones in the French General ranges,
 or brown-pink neutrals.  I don't like yellow-tinted backgrounds at all, so they never get chosen for my projects.  This quilt top used up 4 yards of them, but I have plenty more.  Maybe I'll kit up another version of this quilt, and let it sit on the shelf till I want to tackle it.
My design wall looked empty, so I put these blocks on it.  I would love to charge straight into another quilt, but I need to clean up first.  I've been working on four quilts that used the same blues, so I didn't want to put away any of the fabric until I was sure I wouldn't need it again.  I've cut all the pieces I need, and it's time for those piles of fabric to go back into the drawer.

I'm so jealous of Bonnie's new FQ storage, I would love to do that too, but I haven't found the perfect storage box yet.  I'm always on the lookout, but no box I've found has the right dimensions.  I'll keep searching.


Sunday, July 12, 2015

The Split 9-patches are close to finished, I just need to find time to sew the last few rows together.  I seem to have made this whole quilt in 15 minute stretches, in between work and family visits.That's not how I like to operate, I love being able to sew for hours at a time, but it just hasn't happened.  Those 15 minute efforts add up to a finished top in time, so I just have to stick with it.
I set up the blocks ahead of time, so that whenever I had a moment I could sew a few more.  I laid out the pieces on the pages of a book next to the machine, 20 at a time. 

Then it was just completely mindless sewing to chain the bits together. 
As soon as all the pieces for one block were joined in strips of three, I cut them apart and set them aside.

When I had the whole lot done I pressed the seams on half the blocks away from the corner square,
 and on the other half towards the corner square.
 That way, no matter which way I rotated them in the quilt, they would still fit together with the seams nesting.
That meant that I could arrange the blocks on the design wall so that the seams were opposed most of the time; unfortunately, I came up with this good idea after I'd already pressed a heap of blocks in another arrangement.  Sometimes when I was sewing the rows  I just had to sew a lump of seams together and press them as flat as possible, but it wasn't too bad.

To make it easier to sew the blocks together I built it in quarters on the design wall, so I was only working with rows of six blocks at a time.  That allowed me to sort out how to press the seams as I went along, and it wasn't hard to keep track of what I was doing.  That was important, because I had to keep leaving it and coming back later.  That's a recipe for disaster usually.

As I sewed all the rows together I tried out various border ideas, and this is what won; Flying Geese.
I have all of them made,  I just need time to sew them to the quilt; I really hope I get that done this weekend.
I'd like to move onto another project as soon as possible.  My record for this year is pretty dismal, and I started off so well.

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