Friday, 25 March 2016
Hmmmm. A tidy house deserves some hand stitching, wouldn't you agree? It's a rare treat to be able to take such a wide snap of our home. In this picture you can see the bunting I made for my old shop in the main street of Newcastle years ago, the baby rocker I made with Tully before Finlay was born (she now uses it as her little sofa), and the old green cupboard made by my great grandfather that homes our craft and homeschooly things. And can you see that chest poking out on the right of the green sofa? That came came over on the boat from England with Tim's mum. And here, laying claim of the dining room table, is my Pinwheel Posy quilt, slowly coming together, one hexie at a time. I do love our home.
Every so often I need a quilt that just follows a simple idea. Use an entire fabric line, let someone else choose the colours, stitch according to one simple rule. Over and over. It's a lovely, meditative thing, to have a quilt that doesn't need thought. It's also wonderful to have one that challenges and excites, but those quilts aren't for meetings, or sitting through swimming lessons, or sipping wine with a movie on the weekends. And they're not for taking over the dining room table and being available to the myriad of wonderful interruptions on a Good Friday afternoon.
I cut a 2.5" strip of each print, making it the perfect jelly roll quilt, and cut the 'jewels' as you can see below, with little waste. I love using Loominous, a woven collection, because it's basically reversible, so I can flip petals to keep stripes heading in the same direction. I've used jewels that have 2" long side, and a 1" short side, with 1" hexies.
I've been experimenting with sewing the quilt together in rows already constructed, or adding the flowers piece by piece. Mostly I like the former, because once a row is made, it's joined to the quilt with one long, uninterrupted thread, and it's easy to come back to when those inevitable interruptions arise.
And each time I finish a row, I stand back in wonder at how I'm only one more row through! Surely it must be two or three! And then I take a deep breath and remind myself that this quilt isn't for rushing. It's for resting and waiting and praying in the sunshine.
May the spirit of grief, yet hope; contemplation, yet joy; death yet life, bring you colour and peace this Easter!
Wednesday, 23 March 2016
This hexie block, like many quilts, grew from a happy convergence of ideas and circumstances. A request from my sister-in-law to make quilts for their beds, my current obsession with anything with a 60 degree angle, and a bundle of Tiger Lily by Heather Ross, a whimsical purchase last year that I immediately felt guilty for. I had no plans for this fabric, I had just wanted the "Small Roses" in Yellow and this bundle ended up being the best way to get it.
I've pulled the bundle out a few times over the past six months and sat uneasily with it. It's such a warm collection, with no relief from aqua or blue. It's almost too sunny for my usual taste.
When I saw this block on Pinterest, it struck me as a great one for fussy cutting big prints, like these forest designs in Tiger Lily. I already had 2" diamonds and hexagons (which I cut in half), that meant the centre hexagon sides needed to be 4". So I asked Tim if he could cut me some 4" hexagons (hexies seems too small a word for these monsters!) on his newly completed laser cutter. Too easy!
The excitement surrounding a laser cutter than can cut EPP shapes for me warranted diving back into my stash and giving Tiger Lily another go. I decided to fill it out with other prints and solids, within the same colour palette. There's something about adding solids to this line that helps it breathe a little for me. I don't really need another hand piecing project at the moment, but writing it on a list just didn't get it out of my head. I just needed to make one block. And then I could put it aside. Promise.
4" hexies are a huge 8" across. Big for English Paper Piecing, but not so huge by normal quilting standards, and certainly not too big for this print. Those girls in the tree fit inside the hexie perfectly, don't you think? Each finished block is 8" along each edge. It's nice having an English Paper Piecing quilt where the fabric does half the work for you!
I sat auditioning border prints until I was happy with these ones above. And then, as you'll see below, I swapped out the low volume print. It needed something with a different scale. All the flowers were the same size, and, well, floral. The crosshatch I eventually settled with gives it a nice balance.
I love 2" diamonds, mostly because they so nicely fit in a 2.5" strip. I fit 6 diamonds almost perfectly along a strip cut from the short edge of my fat quarter.
I stitched the border together in sections, first attaching the brown inside border to the top two sides of the pink diamond, and then joining the pink and white crosshatch.
I called this quilt-to-be "Cherished" because I thought it would be perfect for any much loved kids line with beautiful illustrations, or those big, elaborate prints we find so hard to cut into. For a single (twin) sized quilt, I need 28 blocks and 4 half blocks. I hope to make these slowly (very slowly!) over the next year or so. That's if I can stop myself from designing a million other fun quilts that only a laser can cut!
Sunday, 20 March 2016
And all over a sudden, almost overnight, I went from escaping here for the air-conditioning, to escaping here for the sunshine. From cursing its hot beams radiating through our thin tin roof, to welcoming them through the northern window that fills most of the wall next to my sewing machine.
Perhaps it was the change in the weather, or the finishing up and shipping off three more quilts for Free Spirit. Or maybe even the big fuss over on Instagram about the impending changes to my feed, but I woke this morning with the desire to write. To think about words and the state of things, without limiting it to the space before the ... or how to caption a picture so that you don't just flick away.
English Paper Piecing has become more than just a summer fling. And something about my Free Spirit Quilts becoming my 'day job' has made me feel completely justified in working on more than one EPP quilt at a time. Afterall, it's my relaxing-in-the-evening sewing. I'm allowed to follow my whims, right? And even before this Pinwheel Posy quilt is all stitched up, I have another in mind that's ready to explode out of me if I don't hurry up and give it form. And hey, it's the weekend. Maybe I'll just succumb.
A completely new and exciting adventure for me is Scraps In Tubs. I know. Not new or exciting really, but all the happy feelings come mostly from me actually diving in and doing it. About a month ago, my mum came and helped me sort through my monster of a scrap stash. It was like a virus, making its way into all corners of the house (mostly with the help of our oh-so-helpful two year old.) My mother never passed on her organising genes to me, so I asked her to give them to me in a weekend, and we had a lovely time together wrapping yardage around comic book boards, and reorganising my scraps into these spider-proof, toddler-proof tubs. We threw out anything ridiculously un-useful, and then added my fat quarters and big scraps in the mix too. Now I only have two places for fabric storage, rather than five or six. Oh, it's so good!
I've been slowly going through the boxes and putting all kinds of favourites and not-so-favourites alike through the 2.5" square die with my Accuquilt, for the aforementioned next-in-line hexie quilt. If only I could hand-stitch as quickly as I can cut 2.5" squares!
I started this blog 5 years ago next month! Back in the very epicenter of baby-rearing chaos. It feels a little strange, a little too good to be true that today we say goodbye to the baby days. All those hundreds of times that I wrote, and said, and prayed, "This too shall pass", and it actually did! Who would have thought?
Some mothers are absolutely, wonderfully themselves with little ones underfoot. But me, I'm enjoying me right here in my Autumn sunshine and my tubs with lids.