Tuesday, 4 July 2017

Improv floating squares: some progress

I'm still improvising on Score 1 in The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters by Sherri Lynn Wood.
I've set my limits to:
  • only use solids
  • only use two colours plus the filler fabric
  • use one of the two colours from one section in the neighbouring section, and try to avoid squared off sections - this last one is tricky!
  • cut the squares in two sizes in each section, although I seem to have introduced a third size in most of them at some point. ..... Hmm!
It took me some time to understand how I wanted it to be. In the first two sections (on the left) I used much more filler fabric, where I could have been using squares. I find the other four sections much more satisfactory. Once I'd worked out a strategy for sewing the squares together the sections came together really quickly. The arrangement is still random. I'm enjoying working from this book where ideas are given and suggestions made rather than pattern instructions to achieve a known result. It is a learning experience, but I still have to trust my own judgement completely. Somewhere in the book Sherri writes that you can make a quilt top in 2 hours! Why have I been staring at this on my design wall for the last three months without setting a stitch?

I've been doing it off and on for ages; the last three months I didn't sew much at all. This weekend, however, I went crazy and made the pink and green section and then the green and blue section, changed the orange and brown section, and added some filler pieces in an effort to get the sections to fit together. 

The AHIQ invitation for this last quarter was to combine two blocks in a piece. I thought about it! I thought about a lot of things recently without getting much done. But life's like that sometimes. I'll leave you with a quote from the nineteenth century Scottish poet Robert Louis Stevenson:
"What is this life if full of care, 
We have no time to stand and stare."
That just about justifies my lack of progress in the past three months.

I'm linking to 
Pop over there to see a wonderful display of improvised piecing,
especially those designs using two blocks.

Happy sewing


Sunday, 30 April 2017

Improv Chinese Coins: a finish: "Season of mists ..."

The AHIQ  invitation for the first quarter was to use Chinese coins as the basis of a quilt. They could be developed in any way we wanted as long as Chinese Coins were the starting point.

Ann gave links to some examples, which I found inspiring and which led to some left-over batik jelly roll strips being sewn together, without any definite plan. I then cut free-hand through  the whole thing intending to rotate one piece and then sew them together again. 

As there was an odd number of strips, after rotation the middle one stayed in the middle which didn't look good to me so I turned the pieces back to the original position to insert another strip of batik. Firstly I cut through the panels to make a branching structure. Sewing the inserts in the side panels was tricky: bias strips would have worked better, but I was using 2.5" jelly roll strips, so cutting on the bias was not an option. The vertical insert naturally went in much more easily. 

This was beginning to resemble a tree, or magma rising through the Earth's crust. I settled on a tree,

 with leaves:

The leaves in the photo above are double-sided and I sewed them down with a zig-zag stitch along the central nerve of the leaf. Others are single fabric and machine appliquéd directly onto the background with blanket stitch.

The 3-D effect of the leaves is clearer in this photo


Top: assorted batik scraps
Wadding: pieced scraps of cotton wadding
Backing: pieced scraps
Thread: background Aurifil 40 wt.; leaves Aurifil 50 wt in colours matching the leaves.
Dimensions: 19" x 16.5"
I'm linking up to
Click on the button to see more improvised Chinese Coins.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 22 April 2017

From 9-patches to Wonky Stars

Each month Angela at soscrappy gives a colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, and this month's colour could be the rainbow itself. It's multi-coloured scraps of fabric in this month's challenge. I've passed on this one, as I have very few multi-coloured fabrics, and they don't qualify as scraps.

Instead I've been trying to catch up on the previous months with purple:

and red:

wonky star blocks.

These started with the nine patches I made in February and March, to which I added more coloured squares and the white wonky stars. My plan is to continue using the colour of the month to make eight more 14" blocks this year. I hope to keep repetition of fabrics within the block to a minimum, but supplies are limited - 48 different fabrics in one colour is asking a lot!

Right after my last post I finished the red scrap basket, which now contains my red scraps.

Pattern from Fiona at Bubz Rugz.
height:  7.75"
base:     7"x 8"

Talking of scraps, which we do every Saturday in the RSC link-up, on 8 April I attended a lecture and a workshop by Jen Kingwell. Yes really, the Australian diva of scraps visited my home town in the little old Netherlands to intoduce a group of some 20 interested ladies from all over The Netherlands to her way of working, and especially to her pattern "Utah".

Most of Jen's quilts are sewn entirely by hand, and the Utah units are no exception: within the units all seams are curves which I've decided are easier done by hand, but I shall be joining the resulting 4" squares by machine!
Jen Kingwell pointing out the details of her quilt "Halo"

The lecture included a guided tour round her quilts which were on display in the exhibition area. Hearing first-hand what the inspiration was and how they all came together was truly inspiring. I am writing a post on the exhibition and my progress with the "Utah" blocks (of which this is an extract) and will publish it in a few days.

I'm linking to

SoScrappy   and   Quilting is more fun than Housework

so pop in there to see more delightful scraps.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 1 April 2017

Marching through red

March's colour in the RSC was red, and I've been "seeing red" all month without getting angry!

These red nine-patches are from 2" strips, mostly left from Bonnie Hunter's 2015 mystery Aliatare augmented with a few more recent acquisitions. 

Next up are leader and ender hour-glass blocks, also made using 2" strips and cut with the companion angle triangle.

A couple of weeks ago I described the fun I was having making slab blocks using really tiny pieces. Well, here they are again with some larger pieces, layered and quilted ready to be trimmed and then transformed into a scrap basket. 

Not entirely red, but a quilted basket needs contrast, doesn't it? 

I followed a tutorial form Fiona at Bubz Rugz, but while she only took an hour to make hers, I've taken the best part of two weeks and I still haven't finished! Partly because while she appears to have used squares and rectangles, I started with odd shapes. In addition I don't think I've spent more than ten minutes each day at my sewing machine in the last three weeks.

Lastly the Jacob's Ladder blocks have not incresed in the last two weeks; they are as they were in my last post. Thanks to Chantal I now have the correct name though: Hovering Hawk. 
Hovering Hawk
Thank you Chantal! Thank you too to everyone who made a suggestion about the name; you were all pretty close, usually with just a slight difference in the orientation of the small triangles.

Saturday I'll be linking up to

 Click on the button to see more red fun.

Happy sewing


Friday, 31 March 2017

Improv Chinese Coins

Ann and Kaya who host the Ad Hoc Improv Quilters (AHIQ) suggested making improvised Chinese Coins this quarter. My Chinese Coins have looked like this for about two weeks now: the coins (that I showed last month) and a tree,

inserted tree: bias cut fabric would have been better; fitting the branches in distorted the background.
and some double-sided leaves to attach once I've quilted it.

Double-sided leaves: some finished, others simply fused and waiting to be zig-zagged together. More needed.
"Once I've quilted it" being an important phrase here - for me, deciding on a quilting motif is always a challenge and inevitably leads to procrastination.
It's completely put together from scraps. Not only the top, but also the wadding:
 and the backing are pieced:

The leaves are strengthened with double-sided fusible interfacing, so I'll be able to attach them along the central nerve or at one end allowing the underside to be partly visible. I'm hoping they will appear to "float" but it's important I think to get the rest quilted first.

The strata in the background, the "coins", are from a 2.5 inch fabric roll. Having joined them together I cut them in half intending to turn one half upside down and go from there. However that didn't work because with an uneven number of strata the middle one stayed in the middle, and didn't look good. Here followed some pondering and turning pieces round, trying more fabrics before I decided to leave the orientaion af the strata as it was and insert a strip. This became the trunk of the tree, but only after I had inserted branches into the two panels. The trunk and branches are made from a 2.5 inch strip cut longways freehand. Using a "jelly roll" meant I couldn't cut the strip on the bias which would have been easier to insert; it was quite a struggle forcing the straight fabric into the cuts I had made.

While thinking about quilting this mini I also made a few more coin blocks on a different scale. (I needed a rest from all that thinking!)

These strings are six inches long, and of varying width. I've decided to make a rainbow collection of them, following the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour each month; although this month's colour has been red and not yellow/orange! Even choosing the colour was ad hoc! The number I make each month will depend on how many scraps I have in the colour of the month that are at least six inches long. In my view a piece of fabric is only a scrap if it is really really small. I've no idea how they will all come together over the year.

There isn't really much to show here for two whole months' work, is there? Still, I'm working on it and have learnt plenty. I'm looking forward to next quarter's invitation, and hoping I can push my limits even fuurther.

I'm linking up to
Click on the button to see some improv masterpieces.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 11 March 2017

RSC 17 Looking for red

Angela at Soscrappy has given red as the colour for this month's scraps. Time to look out red scraps.

I have a bucket under my cutting table for the bits I don't want on the table. This bucket

was full, that is piled up and overflowing, of pieces of assorted colours and sizes. I spent a couple of hours yesterday evening separating


from crumbs

from larger pieces

but hardly made a difference to the bucket.

Unfortunately I didn't find any red strings, just a couple of strips from which I could cut 2" squares
However, I found a few red triangles, probably the cut off corners of stitch and flip blocks, and some extremely odd shapes from which I cut the jagged edges.

Now I'm off to make crumb blocks from this treasure trove!

That was yesterday, ... and here they are!

These crumb blocks are destined to go onto a QAYG  basket for red scraps, but more about that later.
My plan is to make a basket each month and put that bucket back to its original use: hand laundry!

Last week I showed my outsize Jacob's Ladder blocks and now I have made three from the "other" Jacob's Ladder pattern that I had drawn from a photo by Sharon Mck Mason at 24 Quilts and which originated in "Better Homes and Gardens" but I don't know when. Incidentally I don't think it bears much resemblance to the original Jacob's Ladder, except for the diagonal line of squares; if anyone knows this block by another name please let me know.

For size comparison here are the blocks together:

I'm linking this to 

grab button for SoScrappy       

 Click on the button to see more photos of scrappy patchwork.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 4 March 2017

RSC 17 February aqua

Angela at soscrappy gave aqua as the colour for February and this week I made a few more 9-patches and some half hour-glass blocks as leaders and enders
Leaders and Enders!
and a couple of Jacob's Ladder blocks.

12" Jacob's Ladder blocks, pattern from Quilter's Cache

I'm not really happy with these for my rainbow project this year because the blocks are too big and the pieces are too big: 4.5" strips don't count as scraps in my book, at least not in the length they need to be here. Bad choice!

However I did find a photo on Internet, labelled Jacob's Ladder, but a 4-patch variation with small triangles and lending itself much better to using scraps. I have drawn the pattern,

and shall be making it each month using either 2" or 2.5" strips in the month's colour for the "ladder" and another for the corner squares. Nothing to show yet but let's hope that this works!

The two blocks I have just made are going into the orphan box, but I plan on using them in a blue/teal/green and white quilt, and that won't come from my scrap box!

I'm looking forward to March's colour which is still a mystery now RED.

Linking on Saturday to
Click on the button to see more scrap fun.

Happy sewing