Saturday, 26 August 2017

Neutral storage

The colour for August in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is Neutral. My scrappy project thie year is to use my scraps to make scrappy storage baskets and at the beginning of this week I was able to add another basket to the row.

All are in use, but have themselves depleted the scrap supply - what I wanted, of course - and are squishy and falling about. Maybe placing the quilting lines even closer together would have given more stability; maybe another type of wadding would have worked better. I have used what I had and the result tends to fall over somewhat when empty. Tough!

This basket has less "made fabric" than the others and more ends of strips and and long pieces from trimming backing. What all the baskets have in common though is that all are unlined. That's what drew me first to this pattern from Fiona at BubzRugz; it is quilt-as-you-go and then the sections are joined in the usual way for a bag with a flat base, with the backing serving as the lining. It's not as neat as it could be, but I'm not selling or even giving these away, they are solely for my own use and I'm not bothered about a lining; in fact I'd rather do without the hassle of turning the whole lot through a small hole in the lining.

I'm linking to
Click on the above button to pop over there and see more projects with scrappy neutrals.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 19 August 2017

Neutral basket in the making

Neutral is the Rainbow Scrap Challenge colour for August. I didn't think I had enough neutral fabric for a basket, and I didn't! Not strictly neutral, at any rate. Some of these look decidedly brown, but are a mix of beige and grey, and some are ecru and grey.

I deliberately avoided any other colours, even though I have a lot of "neutral" with some other colours left from making Bonnie Hunter's mystery quilts. By her definition "neutral fabric" can have other colours in it, as long as they amount to less than 50%. This does give a more dynamic effect than solid white as here below where the neutral features orange hens, brown sewing notions, red lines, multi coloured polka dots and ecru buttons.

So my neutral bag will have some other darker shades in it, I could say for effect, but in fact without them I wouldn't have a neutral bag at all!

I'm linking up to 

so hop over there and see more neutral projects.

Happy sewing


Saturday, 12 August 2017

Catching up with green and yellow

For the Rainbow Scrap Challenge (RSC) Angela at Soscrappy sets a different colour every month and for several years I've tried to make something in each month's colour. May's colour was green and June's was yellow. Here are my green and yellow scraps. Very late!

scrap baskets: pattern by Fiona at BubzRugz
When my laptop packed up in April this year salvaging what I could from it took a lot of time; time that otherwise would have been spent sewing. Instead of interesting sewing I was moving files to an extension drive or to the recycle bin. How boring! One thing that initially couldn't be salvaged was my camera software; officially it has to be reinstalled from the CD. An impossible task if your laptop doesn't have a CD drive! Fortunately my husband found a way of extracting the software from the old computer, but that was the last he did before wiping the laptop clean towards the end of July. So now I'm able to post my rainbow progress, such as it is.

Now I am no longer struggling with software and data I have time for sewing again and am now only two months behind with the RSC colours! I have no more Jacob's Ladder blocks to show, and no more wonky stars; to be honest I've been using scraps faster than generating them. I think those will have to wait until I've made more projects, but first I have more quilting to do

On Saturday I'm linking up to
grab button for SoScrappy

and on Sunday to
Quilting is more fun than Housework

Click on the buttons to visit there and see lots more beautiful scrappiness.

Happy sewing


Friday, 4 August 2017

Allietare! finished, at last

I have a second finish to report this week. This one was really a UFO, as it was the Quiltville mystery from December 2015 of which I finished the piecing well over a year ago. It took me another six months to get the borders done.

After my frustration while quilting Star Light, Star Dark I decided on simple all-over "circles-on-a-string" in the centre section which was so easy (but still with the odd pointed bit in a circle here or there!) and on a vine with leaves and bunches of grapes in the corners (a nod to Chianti here) for the outer border.

I could have used any colour thread on the border but because my quilting often has those erratic hooks in it I decided to match the thread to the border fabric. Have you ever tried sewing black on black? Well mistakes certainly wouldn't have been noticeable; when I finished the first leaf I couldn't see where it had begun. When you sew white on white the stitches have shadows; you can't see the shadows on black. It's a shame about the Chianti but it was not to be! More unpicking, and then I quilted "tramlines" with the walking foot - easy and .... boring!

Tramlines! Alas no Chianti!
I was really happy to have this finished and ready to be used this winter.

Fabric: assorted from stash, mostly scraps
Thread: Aurifil light grey (
Wadding: cotton from my LQS
Size 1.75m x 1.75m

I'm linking up to 
So pop over there and see what else has been finished this week.

Happy sewing


Star Light, Star Dark finished

This is my variation of Star Light, Star Dark from the QAL at Quilty Habit last summer.  The challenge was to use only three colours, six or seven fabrics in light tones and six or seven in dark.
I finished the piecing quite quickly, but when I got to that point I still hadn't decided on the quilting designs. The only thing I was clear about was that it needed doing in two halves to be joined later. (On 1 October last year I showed this in more detail)

I started with the dark half and tried to use a different quilting motif in each section. Each section has six or seven different fabrics and I wanted to use a different motif on each.

The centre star (yellow) was done with the walking foot, and having only half a quilt to turn the whole time was a Godsend.
square stippling in the big star; dot-to-dot from Angels Walters surrounding it; orange peel shapes in the centre of the friendship star; stippling surrounding it; baptist fan centre right; vine with leaves top left
The green section went OK too, though admittedly with a few wobbles. Then I tried doing feathers in the large dark purple star. What a disaster! I just can't backtrack, so there was such a build up of thread along the spine of the feathers I thought, "this bird would never get off the ground!"

Then I decided that there was only one thing for it - unpicking all the feathers - which took me every evening for a week. Then I tried swirls, after all I would only have to follow the motif of the print. No! What a mess! Fortunately this time I decided after just a couple of minutes that it had to go. Out it all came! Totally disheartened by my failures in the dark half of the quilt I moved onto the light section until I got distracted by Bonnie Hunter's Mystery quilt. That was in November! That was how it stayed for more than half a year.

Matrix rays from Leah Day in the big star; dot to dot from Angela Walters surrounding it; McTavishing top left
Until two weeks ago when I thought of Leah Day and all her online FMQ videos. That dark purple fabric wouldn't stand another unpicking session so I needed something simple and foolproof. I chose Matrix Rays, and the quilting was finished in no time. All that remained was to join the two halves and then a lot of hand sewing to cover the join on the back, and to sew down the binding.

Square Flower from Lori Kennedy in the centre of the dark purple friendship star
I was pleased with how this square flower turned out. I quilted square flowers in all three purple Friendship Stars, but this one turned out best. In the green F.Stars I quilted orange peels, and in the yellow spirals.

McTavishing in the big star; fantasy leaves surrounding it; more McTavishing in the freehand drawn heart (!!); string of beads bottom left (from Pinterest: origin unknown)
In the light purple block I used more McTavishing;  I used this quilting style three times in this quilt. So much for using a different motif on each fabric. I really found it hard to come up with enough quilting motifs.

Fabric: assorted fat quarters and scraps
Thread: Aurifil 40 wt. in matching colours
Wadding: cotton as supplied at my LQS
Size: 1.75m x 1.27m (69" x 50")
Finally one more photo to show why all the photos were taken indoors this afternoon.

I draped it artistically over the bench, took two steps back and took a photo just as the wind caught it. As I live on the ninth floor I didn't want the wind carrying it away altogether: I'd never catch up with it!

I'm linking up to
so go over there and see more of this week's finishes.

Happy sewing


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