Broken Bottles #5: Pieced, partly

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There was no way this quilt was going to match up without pins

Screen shot 2014-05-11 at 5.24.11 PMScreen shot 2014-05-11 at 5.24.33 PMScreen shot 2014-05-11 at 5.25.02 PMToo many points, bias edges, intersecting seams and, frankly, uneven strips. For which I do not take responsibility; this was a commercial jelly roll and aren’t I allowed to assume the widths would be standard? Not. Hence pins. Lots of pinning. Lots of trimming. Lots of easing. But it could have been so much worse. My patience is intact and my fingers are so far unbloodied.

As you can see, it’s looking fairly respectable. The thing is coming together quite well despite my complaining! If it were for me, I’d be a lot slacker about points and matching seams, but it’s for the lovely and inhumanly patient Yvonne, who is a person of great taste, warmth and style, and for whom I couldn’t possibly make a dodgy quilt!

Screen shot 2014-05-10 at 4.31.02 PMThe quilting pattern has come clear in my mind, though. I was thinking about a design that would communicate broken glass. Random triangular shapes were, well, too random. And then the brainwave struck. And here’s what I think it’s going to be based on. Radically simplified, of course, but it’s essentially straight lines radiating out with the occasional cross line. It wouldn’t stand out as much as this, since I’d quilt in green on green, rather than white on dark blue.

There’s just a tiny shadow of doubt in my mind about it. Is it just me, or does this look like a broken windscreen after something has impacted it…?  Do say if you think it’s a bit macabre; I’m just in love with the visual effect but I’m open to your ideas. If the general response is no, I’ll find another glass image to inspire me!

Broken Bottles #4: Chaos, ordered

It’s a sad situation, but I just can’t get far enough away from my design wall to take a photo of the whole thing.

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My sewing room is 3 paces across. I need to get 5 paces away to be able to take the entire design wall in. So I’ve had to slice it in three. Since these photos, I’ve moved exactly 3 squares, and that is going to be IT. The quilt has effectively designed itself. All I did was choose the light and dark strips that went together, and the rest has been utterly random (apart from the aforementioned 3 squares). It is becoming an exercise in relinquishing control, going with the flow and letting things sit next to each other that I would normally engineer to be apart in the initial layout. The quilt refuses to allow this sort of activity, and I’m going to let it take charge and just sew the seams.  I’ll probably sneak in some ideas of my own when I do the borders and binding!

Chaos is probably too strong a word, because there is a pattern and a flow. Order is also too strong, because it’s so spontaneous. It has moved away from the clarity and discipline of Avis’ original design because I’m using a much larger palette of colour, and there’s surface pattern in there too. I probably won’t do a quilt like this again, but I’m enjoying the process – and the speed at which it’s coming together!

Tomorrow, I’ll probably have this section mostly sewn together. Must go and ferret in the Cupboard of All Colours to see what I can find for the borders…

Broken Bottles #3: Squares, squared

It’s looking like proper blocks now. Which is kind of fast.

Not that I normally enjoy churning out blocks, preferring something a bit more freestyle, but it’s gone from random strips to squares, and it is now possible to see how it’s going to work. In case you’re interested, it’s from Avis’ Oh Sew Tempting blog:

(As you can see, WordPress still won’t let me insert a link, and I’ll probably have to try and contact them for help some time.  Anyone out there having the same problem, and if so, what did you do about it? This issue and the fact that it will only add photos at the top of the blog irrespective of where I put my cursor, no matter what I try, are extremely annoying when I’m trying to produce a nice-looking blog.)

Screen shot 2014-05-10 at 11.00.08 AMScreen shot 2014-05-10 at 11.01.07 AMScreen shot 2014-05-10 at 11.00.44 AMThese are the 8.5″ squares cut from the 4-strip sets. I can’t believe how little waste there is with this design, but you can see for yourself that there’s very little left over, nothing large enough to do anything with. You put one square down, face up, with a pale strip across the top. Over this, you place another square, face down, with a dark strip across the top. Line up all the seams and nest them. I pin the nested seams in place Screen shot 2014-05-10 at 11.01.36 AMto prevent slippage, but it isn’t totally necessary. Draw a diagonal line from top left to bottom right (or the other way round, if you prefer, but keep it consistent all the way through). Stitch a line 1/4″ on either side of the pencil line. Slice up the pencil line. Open out the square and press gently to avoid distorting the fabric edges. Do this with all the squares, pairing them randomly for the best effect. And here’s the finished pile. I have one square left over as the strip sets produced 45 squares and I had nothing to pair this last one with. But I’ll think of a use for it.

Normally, I’m a great one for carefully controlling colour and adjacencies, but this is strangely liberating, because by the time I sew the squares together, most of those decisions have been taken out of my hands by the randomising process! Potentially there could be some light or dark spots, which I don’t want, so I’m going to lay out all the squares on my design wall before I start assembling.

There will be an outer border, but I’m going to wait until the central section is done before I decide what colour it will be and how it will look.  I have a number of pale green strips left, enough for a very narrow border all round. Maybe white/pale green/white binding, something like that? As for the backing, well, my very favourite light green gingham would seem appropriate, if I can find some.

I’m already considering how I might quilt it. Which is a bizarre feeling only two days in, let me tell you. Normally a quilt makes its requirements known to me slowly, over time, as I assemble the top. It might even be time for me to get out my darning foot and do a spot of FMQ practice. I’m thinking random jagged geometric shapes in a fresh leaf green… The speed of construction just goes to prove the old saying: Virtue is its own reward. Because I’ve gone for the conscience quilt, and done the right thing, it’s coming together fast, and I’ll soon be free to work on my self indulgent one!

Tomorrow I’ll show the layout on the design wall.

Broken Bottles #2: The pairs

Lots of straight lines later…

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This is a bit dark, but you get the idea

I have 18 pairs of dark and light greens. They vary between very dark with medium light and medium dark with very light so I get a good range, rather than the geometric effect looking stripey. I’ve done stripey. It was fine, but I want something different. It’s not going to be as truly random as shards of broken glass, because there’s a strong repeat in the blocks, but it will, I hope, look like light catching on fractured glass surfaces, with brights and darks, vivid and dull. Or perhaps even that’s too ambitious. A pleasant green and white quilt will do nicely; I don’t want to force it, but with luck the range of colours will do the trick.

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The strip sets, dark and light

Every time I do a quilt that needs long strips joined edge to edge, I forget how much patience you need to make sure you don’t stretch the edges, and with what a light hand you need to handle the strips. I have managed to avoid stretching and distorting so far, but now I need to start joining pairs to other pairs to make quad strips, running dark – medium dark – medium light – light.

Once they’re joined, it’ll be time to cut them into 8.5″ squares, and we’re on for the next phase, which is sewing twin diagonal lines across pairs of squares and cutting them in half – ack, it’ll be easier to explain in pictures once I’ve done it.

Better go and fire up the steam iron again, there are still quite a few seams to be sewn and pressed before I’m ready to start cutting.


Broken Bottles it is.

Luckily not too many of you voted for projects I totally didn’t want to do, but had on the list anyway.

Screen shot 2014-05-08 at 10.11.00 AMBy quite a lead, Broken Bottles is the winner. Which is good, because my conscience would have been nagging me incessantly if I’d gone with Amistad.

So, without further ado, I’ve hauled out the BB fabrics and have done a preliminary sort to get them into Light/Dark pairs, which is how the pattern works. I’ve even gone to the extent of carefully pressing (as opposed to my more normal careless ironing) each strip to try and avoid distortion, since I need to sew them along the long edge and I don’t want to end up with a series of banana shapes. It’s not a difficult quilt to make, and if I continue to be careful it’ll turn out well. But it does rather rely on lining points and seams up. Oh well, time will tell if it’s going to be straightforward or a frenzy of warped edges, missed match ups, pricked fingers and red faced cursing!

I’m definitely going to stay-stitch around the outside once it’s all together. It’ll stop seams busting open and prevent some stretch, which is good, because I don’t want wavy edges. Once I get a border on, that’ll help matters as well. Or perhaps two. I’m still debating that part, and there’s plenty of time to consider.

Meanwhile, I’m going to do a tiny bit of cheating and work on Woolly Thing in the evenings while I watch TV. There’s still so much to do, and I don’t want to start Fluffy Thing till it’s done – too many pots on the stove is not a good thing. And from the poll results, it seems you guys agree with me on that!

I still can’t believe someone thought I should make more fabric baskets when there were quilts to be worked on! That would be altogether too virtuous for me.

What’ll it be, then?

The decks are cleared, the desk is clean, the sewing machine is defluffed and all the pins are put away. Finally.

Happiness is draped over the back of the sofa, preening itself because it knows it’s the prettiest thing in the room.

I find myself at a slight loss…

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The big question is, which project do I start next? Will I continue crocheting Woolly Thing? Will I start knitting Fluffy Thing?  Will I begin cutting out for Broken Bottles (overdue), or start work on Amistad (self indulgent, but gorgeous). Will I make the other 4 fabric baskets I need for the Cupboard of All Colours (black&white, brown, neutral and multi, yup, boring), or will I start the big scrap sort I need to make the thousands of 2.5″ squares for two scrap quilts for nieces (not urgent).

You’re going to decide for me. If I take your advice and it’s boring, then it’ll be your fault! Result anyway!


Thank you, and I look forward to potentially disregarding your vote. Well, you should be used to that, what with politicians, and all…

Addendum: Some of you have indicated that you can’t see the results. The poll was set up so that you could, and I lay the blame solidly at the feet of WordPress. I will publish the poll results tomorrow so you can all see, so keep voting, because your vote counts, as they say at election time.

The List

I’ve been feeling a bit glum due to lack of forward motion on various projects.

It’s not that I’m bored with them, it’s just that events and schedules have conspired to reduce my available sewing time.  So I thought it was time to review The List for the year.

Tree of Life: Finished. Waiting to be delivered in person in April.
Wervelwind, Vlucht and Komeet: Finished and delivered.
Happiness: Top half done. Needs more white fabric
Car Quilt (to be renamed when done!): centre section done, outer borders still needed for the top
Amistad: planned, fabric pulled.
Broken Bottles: planned, fabric pulled

That’s the quilts to which I have committed so far.  In addition, we have:

Mariella’s scrap quilt
Claire’s scrap quilt
Ohio Star UFO: see if it can be saved – the bits so far are badly distorted.
Hat Box quilt
Winter quilt (hand pieced)
Steampunk quilt (hand pieced)
Lap quilt for Natalie
Postage stamp scrap quilt for me.

Plus whatever I decide to do with the fabrics I bought at the Brisbane Craft & Quilt Show in October…

Now obviously the entire list isn’t going to get done this year, given that I’m not an especially speedy worker.  But I do want to finish Car Quilt, Amistad and Broken Bottles by the middle of the year. And then I’ll see.  I’ll need another hand-pieced project once Car Quilt is finished, so it’ll be either Steampunk or Winter. Steampunk will be smaller and therefore more manageable, but Winter’s been planned for so long I’d really love to start it.  Plus I have the Winter fabrics, but I’ll need to shop for Steampunk, and so far this year I’ve been really rather well behaved where fabric purchases are concerned.

Winter quilt fabrics: three Hoffmann Bali Pops in Grasshopper, Sangria and Zinfandel, plus Fossil Fern yardage in three colours.

Winter quilt fabrics: three Hoffmann Bali Pops in Grasshopper, Sangria
and Zinfandel, plus Fossil Fern yardage in three colours.

There’s a whole raft of other sewing projects, but if it’s a question of priorities, quilts come first, always. So the needlepoint, dressmaking, bagmaking and cross stitch projects will have to wait.

And of course, let us not forget Mystery Woolly Thing, growing fast but still not large enough….

Back to the Car Quilt.  I’d like to get at least one side done by the end of tonight.

Planning time again

With Happiness pinned to my design wall, just waiting for me to give it some time, I looked at my To Do List.

High on the “I know I shouldn’t but I just want to play with it” shortlist is the Chez Moi fabrics bundle.  This quilt is going to be called Amistad (Friendship), because a friend has made it possible.  I think I have just enough to make a 9 patch/1 patch alternating step and repeat layout.  It’s not going to be a big quilt, but big enough to wrap up in and feel friendship keeping me warm!  The plan is to use the large prints in the range for the 1 patch, and the smaller prints for the 9 patch.  I’ll then hand quilt around the design on the 1 patch squares, and do a spiral in the 9 patch squares.  Haven’t got as far as the back yet…

Amistad: fabrics and very sketchy sketch.

Amistad: fabrics and very sketchy sketch.

Then I’ve got the lap quilt I promised my sister in law a year and a half ago. She has been remarkably patient, and very undemanding in terms of what she wants.  I have a nice green jelly roll of lights and darks, and some green/blue Aboriginal Spot to bind it with.  So I’ve picked a gorgeous geometric format which Avis at Oh Sew Tempting was kind enough to design and post a tutorial about here.  I think it’ll look a bit different, because my greens are mainly darkish and lightish, rather than very pale and very dark, but it should work nicely.  Haven’t begun to consider the quilting yet! And depending on how it works out, I may call it Broken Bottles.  Because of the colour, you understand! It would be wonderful if I could get this one done before we go away in April.  That would mean that my brother gets his birthday quilt and his wife gets hers at the same time. I could carry them both with me and hand them over in person.  Hmm. Bit of time pressure there, then. We shall see.

Broken Bottles (maybe), jelly roll strips and Oh Sew Tempting's design.

Broken Bottles (maybe), jelly roll strips and Oh Sew Tempting’s design.

Tomorrow I’m off work, so after some morning chores, I’m free to indulge myself with several hours of quilting.  The Husband is on night shift, and will be disappearing out in the afternoon.  So I’ll be head down, machine roaring, iron hissing and steaming, happy as Larry. It feels great to be back at my machine, after over a week away from it!

Well, that’s my work list completely turned upside down, but I’m happy about it.  It’s actually looking quite healthy; things are being completed and crossed off.