Saturday, March 28, 2015

I'm easily distracted when I'm fishing through my old projects. I was looking for a top I'd started with four-patches, so I could join in with the current craze, and came across these blocks. As I pulled them out they landed on a bolt of fabric I'd chosen for something else, and Keryn said "Sash them with that, it will look great!" Talk about spontaneous decisions....

So in between other projects I cut sashes and posts, and started sewing this together. I have a small design wall in my sewing room, and I left it laid out on that, and just did a bit here and there. Very no stress and no hurry, and I enjoyed simply looking at it.

Then I chose the border fabric, stitched that on, and it felt like a little top had magically come into being. I always say I don't make small quilts, but over the years I seem to have accumulated a few little ones, usually made from blocks that have been abandoned and I just want to finish them off quickly.

The strange thing is, I usually fall in love with the idea again, and now I want to make a lot more of these blocks and make a large quilt from them. I just adore them, and they were very easy to cut out and sew. For every project I finish I seem to think of two more, I'll never get anywhere at this rate. But who cares? Where am I actually going? I just love the process and the fun along the way. If ever I stand in my sewing room with all my projects done and no fabric left, I can't imagine that what  I feel would be happiness.....

In other news Pippi decided yesterday that the temperatures had dropped sufficiently to justify sleeping under her quilt, as opposed to on top of it. I found her snuggled into a nice little mound on the bottom of the bed, sighing with contentment- she hates the hot weather almost as much as I do.

I blogged about these blocks back in June of 2013, and when I got to the end of that post I found a picture of Pippi, wrapped in the same quilt, how odd. And then I realised that the border fabric for another quilt I referred to was the same fabric I used for the border on this top.

Had I subconsciously linked the blocks to this fabric way back then? I might be impressed with the mind's powers, except I can't be trusted to leave the kitchen while boiling eggs these days.....


Saturday, March 21, 2015

After we finished  four customer quilts last week  I decided to throw one of my tops onto Millhouse. Along with my commitment to binding an old project every month, I also want to quilt more of my own works. We have cupboards full of beautiful tops, and it's so easy to put a customer quilt on the machine and neglect our own.

For something easy I chose Floribunda, one of Bonnies patterns. I wanted to do an edge to edge, and I knew that would suit this busy top. No sense putting custom work on a top unless it will show up, and these florals would hide any detail.

I chose one of Keryn's designs, Winter Rose, to keep the floral theme going.

Remember all those blocks I rejected for the front? They found a home on the back, along with lots of other floral fabrics, cut into 9 or 10" squares. And STILL there are more of these fabrics in my stash, sigh. Not enough for another quilt like this, but they're lurking in odd corners.

At the beginning I thought I might use other pastels for the background instead of just yellow, hence this pale green block. I didn't really like the effect, and I didn't have enough pallid fabric anyway. So the block ended up with the others on the back.

I forget how satisfying it is to hang up a newly finished quilt and look at all that glorious texture. There are so many memories bound up in this, of the places I bought the fabrics, the piecing, the setting together, making the back and now the quilting. I marvel at all that fabric out of my stash, about 13 metres I think, and the great feeling of knowing that I made something lovely out of all those bits and pieces. And now if I can only get around to binding it in a timely manner, it will be completely done.


Sunday, March 15, 2015

I based the idea of my  blue quilt on a photo I saw on a blog, and then I couldn't remember where I'd seen it. I finally worked out it was Jo's Country Junction, and I found the post in question. Lots of inspiration in those vintage quilts. (Go and visit her blog and read the archives, soo much entertainment there! And check out their new book too)

This is something that we miss out on in Australia, you don't commonly find old quilts anywhere, unless it's at a dealer or a quilt show. We did have at least one quilt in our history- our Mum clearly remembered a yo-yo quilt that her grandmother had made but it wasn't valued and was lost or fell apart. And technically I suppose it wasn't a 'proper' quilt anyway.

I once found a beautiful crazy quilt at a second hand store in the eighties, but they wanted $75 for it and I was too poor to even think about spending that much on a textile I couldn't use because it was so fragile. Keryn and I call these items 'archival' which means that we're rescuing them so they can be preserved, but they can only be stored away, never used. It would be nice to save them all, but we're not a museum, and we have to be selective in what we buy now.

The place where Jo saw those quilts was called Clear Lake, and I somehow started thinking of the sqinsq top as Blue Lake, and that reminded me of the tin paintboxes that we had as children.
 Most of them were quite small, but a friend of our Mum passed on a clearly superior one when her family had finished with it. It was huge, and while some of the pans were empty, the names were still printed underneath, fascinating things like Viridian and Vermillion and Scarlet Lake and Madder Lake.

Keryn and I and our brother used that box until there was nothing left and no doubt Mum just threw it out without a backward glance. I do wish we still had it and I could read those names again, just to relive the tremendous excitement we felt when we opened the lid and saw all those little rectangles waiting. I went on to have a huge obsession with art and painting and that window into the romantic names of colour was one of the earliest memories of my interest.

So I've decided that my top will be Blue Lake and the brown one will be Madder Lake, but beyond that I don't think I'll venture. Unless I find another pattern because I think I've had enough of the large square in squares...


Saturday, March 14, 2015

Phew, the blue square in square top is done and I can work with something other than mid blue for a change! Perhaps there were so many of these fabrics languishing in my stash because I found them quite boring to work with in the first place. I love the finished top, but it almost put me to sleep sewing it! At least there are now three metres less of them in the fabric drawers.

When I was laying these blocks out on the design wall and trying desperately not to have similar fabrics next to each other, I realised the beauty of the true two-colour quilt. If you were only using two fabrics in the whole thing you could start to piece it together right from the start. You could build it row by row and never have to worry about 'placement' because it isn't relevant - every block is identical. I might have to test that out, and see if the tedium of only two fabrics is more than balanced by the ease of construction. It really did take me two days to get these blocks settled (I worked on other projects while I ruminated on the design wall) and it would be nice to skip that step altogether.

Another thing that annoyed me with this top was the pressing; I tried alternating the seams but still ended up with huge bumps at the intersections. In the end I pressed the joining seams open, which I don't like to do. For my next version of this pattern I might press the sqinsq units open and the block seams to one side and see if that works.

As Keryn can testify, I'm even more picky over the "perfect" pressing order than I am about "placement". I'm really not OCD about everything- observe the untouching points in the top- but I'll trade touching points for 'nice and flat' because that matters to me. Pick your battles, and your obsessions...

I was going through this book yesterday, and guess what I found?

Another large square in square quilt. I like the half square triangles around the edge, and I do have lots and lots of greens in my stash.....I hope I don't do something I'll regret later!


Saturday, March 07, 2015

 I'm determined to keep up with Julie's  Binding Blitz this year and finish at least one binding a month. This poor little quilt has been folded up since (ahem) 2008. The binding was made at the same time, so what excuse can I trot out for neglecting to finish it before this?

  I love the look of the soft  purple binding fabric against the white border, and it took about an hour to sew, as I machined the whole thing.

The top was made from pastel fabric swatches from quilt shop samples and the bits of white on white material that had somehow accumulated in my stash. I never buy WOW because it's usually too thin for my liking and the seams shadow through. Some of them also have a hard painted finish which I dislike.
Today  I would just put them in the op shop pile, but back then I was more dedicated to Using Stuff Up. And this little cot quilt did use up every single bit of both pastel squares and WOW fabric, so I was very pleased at the time.

The Statler  was still a great novelty when I quilted this, using a butterfly panto of Keryn's. I quilted a lot of tops in those early months of owning the longarm; it quite went to my head how easily these languishing UFOs could be finished!

Well, not quite finished though, because I didn't keep up with the binding , and in the blog post above I mentioned that I'd just caught up. This little quilt was another wave of unbound projects, some of which I'll be finishing this year, hopefully. I'm glad Julie has motivated me to actually do something about them after all this time.


Friday, March 06, 2015

 I've finished eighty of my large sq in sq blocks and I threw them up on the design wall. I like the variations in the blues; none of them are anything other than mid value but some of the fabrics seem quite dark next to the paler ones. I drove myself mad over a two day period, arranging and then rearranging so that I didn't have the same fabrics next to each other. In the end I had to ignore ones that were adjacent diagonally or I would have ended up rocking in a corner muttering "They're touching, they're touching....." Therein lies madness. No doubt when I've got two more seams to sew I'll find some pair that I've overlooked, but I've had enough!
 I've sewn a chunk of sixteen blocks together and I like the effect of disappearing stars here and there. I'm looking forward to getting these set into one piece, and as we have a long weekend coming up I'm hoping I can cross this off the list.
 I have a nagging suspicion that it's going to end up too small for my liking, but if I decide to make more there is still  plenty of this mid blue to cut up.

I treated myself to a new book the other day, Sujarta Shah's   Cultural Fusion Quilts. I can hardly wait to try some of the techniques in here, my mind is buzzing with ideas already. But first I have to finish some of the other projects that I'm working on, or I'll be swamped.

Inspired by the four-patch madness infecting blogland I dug out an old project using shedloads of the little beggars and I'm using them as Leader-enders. That makes about five things I'm working on at the same time and I'm starting to feel overwhelmed. This weekend should be a good time to get at least two of them finished to the top stage, so that's my little challenge to myself. Let you know how that pans out.....


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