Sunday, March 27, 2016

 Finally my English Squares top is finished. You would think squares are the easiest pattern you could ever get, but I had to constantly evaluate this and take out fabrics that I really wanted to use and add a whole lot more neutral and lights to get the effect I wanted. I had a couple of tries to get the border squares the right size and cutting the centre medallion was scary because I only had a very limited amount of fabric.

Some tops I struggle to finish and then want to bundle them into a cupboard and not look at for at least six months, but I've left this up on the design wall at the workshop.  I like looking at it so much, and  I get a thrill when I think "It's done! At last!"

So many different fabrics, and some of them were tiny scraps that I could only get a couple of squares from. They were precious, and it seemed right that they should end up here.
The centre fabric in this photo was from the backing of the second or third quilt that Keryn made, back in the early eighties. I only had a few scraps of this- no doubt donated in one of Keryn's clearouts, and this top was a good place to finally sew it up. There are fabrics in here ranging from the fifties to some I bought last month, an amazing variety.
I'd like to say that it used up all the tub of fabric that I was working from, but alas there still seems to be quite a lot left over. Plus I have stacks of 3 1/2" squares that I cut for the border, before realising that they were too big and overwhelming, and 3" pieces were the way to go. I'm currently piecing them together into strips to go on the back of this, so they won't be wasted.

I hope everyone is having a Happy Easter with family and friends.  Isobel is old enough to really enjoy it this year- she was happy enough to sit next to this big bunny but when he picked her up she gave him such a fishy look..."Who ARE you?" She's not going to be won over by eggs and trinkets...


Tuesday, March 08, 2016

I've been a bit disappointed in my achievements so far in 2016- normally I have  a spate of finishing early in the year and it motivates me to keep on going. I've completed two tops so far, but that's not enough. I've decided that there are some projects that are weighing on my mind ( not to mention cluttering up my shelves) and are stopping progress on all my sewing, so the easiest thing would be to just deal with them. Once I'm no longer expending mental energy trying to work out where to go with these stalled ideas I'm sure I'll feel a lot more enthusiastic about everything.

The first one I decided to tackle was this  project from 2012. I call it English Squares, and it was based on some photos of an old quilt in a small museum. It was folded so I couldn't see the whole thing, and once I'd pieced hundreds of the squares I decided it was all too boring for words and put it away.

On one of it's trips to the design wall I thought it might be nice to have some sort of pieced focal point in the centre, or maybe some applique...but that  never happened and it all got packed away again. However I was looking through a tub of large floral fabrics and was struck by the colouring of this Mary Koval print from many years ago....hmmm, just the colours I was using in the English Squares.

So I began the brain hurty task of working out what size I wanted the panel to be in the centre, mostly decided by the fact that I only had 12" of this fabric. Then I had to choose what proportions to make the overall quilt; did I want it square or rectangular, with the panel set in the centre or slightly higher towards the pillow area, and what about the borders? If I have an antique quilt that I'm reproducing this process isn't so exhausting, but I had very little photo information to use as a jumping off point and it's quite hard to make all these decisions as you go.

I finally settled on a size and then a frame to go around it, with a 1/4" strip of warm brown right next to the print. Other people might just sew a little flange into the seam to provide that bit of colour, but I'm a longarmer, and I hate dealing with that little flap when it comes time to quilt.

All righty, now we're getting somewhere! I threw whatever pieced squares I had up on the design wall and then started sewing them into larger sections, but I can already see that I need to go back and make a heap more ninepatches before I can finish this.

Here's where I am now, that whole upper piece is joined together, and I'm trialing some bigger squares of the same fabrics for a  border. (The centre squares are 1 1/2" finished, the ones in the border are 2 1/2" finished ) The jury is out on whether that will be the way to go, but if I change my mind  then these strips will end up on the back of this quilt.

 These photos look as dull as ditchwater, but the fabrics are nice in person. I think this will be a quilt that is interesting to examine close up, but looks boring from across the room.

So it's still pretty boring sewing, but  I have a plan now. It's so hard to move forward without a sense of direction, but at least now the end is a little bit easier to visualise.


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