Broken Bottles #13: Finished, finally

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.31.33 PMIt’s done.  OK, I still have to sew on a label, but the quilt’s finished.

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.32.32 PMThe quilting is just spacey enough that it’s still soft and drapes well. The broken glass starburst isn’t too overpowering on the front, and adds a bit of interest and texture on the back. I had just enough of everything, and a nice bit of the green shot backing cotton left to do something else with. There isn’t a single jelly roll strip left over, and the two spare blocks which I made into a heat pad are doing service on my desk as a pad under the camera.  I like a tidy result…. Oh, and it’s a Friday Finish!

Screen shot 2014-05-30 at 4.31.55 PMTime to go and defluff the sewing machine and put a new needle in. Amistad’s the next quilt in line, woo hoo!

Broken Bottles #8: It’s time for grovelling once more…

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Look at that, no dodgy points showing. And I didn’t even plan it that way…

The top is complete. The white border is in place. 

Now, of course, I have to go and buy backing (tremble, Husband, I’m going to Spotlight!). And then it’s time for the bit where I make excuses not to clear away furniture, vacuum the floor, press the quilt top, piece (if necessary) and press the backing, put the batting in the tumble drier for 5 minutes to make the creases drop out, and then get down on the floor and grovel. It’s hard on the back, hard on the knees, hard on the fingers and hard on the patience. I’m going to pin it fairly closely this time, as I want to make sure that all those nice pointy points stay put, that the backing doesn’t pucker or bubble and that no matter what quilting design I ultimately go for, everything stays flat, flat, flat.

Now, I’ve got a few things on in the next week or so, so once I’ve scored the backing and that’s good to go, I’m going to have to put Broken Bottles aside for a little while. It’s not even an excuse, it’s just life getting in the way of quilting, shock, horror. So there’s going to be a bit of a quilty hiatus in the immediate future. I’m hoping, though, that the vegie garden will get a look-in, because some of the other things I have to do relate to that. That, and a visit from my sister and her husband, on their way north. They’re making a long, leisurely trip of it, so we’ll have the pleasure of their company for a few days. I will therefore be on extended kitchen and chauffeur duties, since the Husband will be at work.

The lovely Mrs R down in Dorrigo is about to start the 9-patch squares she’s making for me to go into Amistad, our friendship quilt. She’s hoping to get them to me in a week or so, and after that, the heat is on. Amistad beckons, and I’m not in the least reluctant to start! But I will finish Broken Bottles first…

Next stop, the fabric shop. Hurray!

Broken Bottles #7: Turning the Corner

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Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 4.40.43 PMThe first border is on. I had some pale green strips left over, and have pieced together the first border from those. It’s not elegant, but it is in keeping. I just didn’t have enough to do beautiful broad mitred corners with these fabrics, so I’m saving that for the white border, which I’ll do next. I didn’t much enjoy this bit, trying to squeeze something out of insufficient fabric. There’s no margin for safety, and I can’t just go and get some more, the fabrics came from the UK. But however inelegant, it’s done. I think the white border will be twice as wide, and then the narrow dark green binding, once it’s quilted.

Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 4.48.14 PMMy sister sent me a photo she took of the forest floor in the rainforest in northern NSW a couple of years ago. She says it reminds her of Broken Bottles. I can see what she means, but perhaps her bottles are brown rather than green! I’d love a print based on this colour scheme and layout, perhaps with a little more contrast and some flashes of gold and orange, too. Which is weird, because normally I’m not much of a brown person…

I spent the morning on non-quilty activities. The second vegie garden pod is ready for its filling. We have one more to go, and perhaps a 4th if I can summon enough energy. I’ve stripped a load of turf, laid weedmatting and bark chips, we’ve decapitated another IBC and erected the frame over it. I must go and dig out my seed catalogue to think about what I want to grow. It’s too late to sow now, I’ll have to buy seedlings, but I’ll get ideas for later. Meanwhile, my back is yelling at me and I feel a cup of tea and a piece of gingerbread coming on…

Sorry, not a very exciting post today, but the progress is mostly invisible!

Broken Bottles #6: Pointy (im)perfection

Screen shot 2014-05-12 at 3.40.31 PMSo, that’s the central panel done.

It does look good, though I say so myself, but now my eye is drawn irresistibly to the points that don’t match up exactly. We’re talking less than an eighth of an inch here, but still, I notice. So I’m just going to get over myself and admire all the ones that do.

Now I can play at border options. I want to be sure I’m happy with what’s going to happen before I start cutting, so I’m going to fiddle around with it a bit longer. And then once the top’s done, I can buy the backing fabric, cut the binding and away we go again.

I’m having second and third thoughts about the quilting pattern. Some of you have said that you don’t see a traffic accident in the shattered glass image, which is good. But once the thought had occurred to me, I couldn’t stop seeing it. Anyway, I’m going to suspend the decision until I’m ready to go, and may find something better in the meantime.

Right, time to break out the border fabrics.


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.