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.

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.

Triple Trouble 12: we have lift-off

Announcing the departure of Flight 333, bound for the Netherlands…








The backing fabrics. Don’t you love those prints?

It’s my own personal Finish Up Friday.  The three baby quilts are done. Bound, labelled and ready to go.  All I have to do is go to the post office to send them on their way.  My three magic flying quilts…  It’s going to be fun seeing which niece gets which quilt, and whether there’s any correlation between personality and motif – but that’s a long term question. I wish these photos were better, but it’s lashing with rain outside, and getting dark.  Not a good place to hang the quilts on the line… So they’re hanging on my design wall, in my sewing room, with not very good lighting.  I’ll take some better ones in daylight for my gallery.

I’m getting faster at quiltmaking, without a doubt. I started these three on 20th December. In between, I had Christmas, a number of smaller projects, and hand sewing on the Car Quilt. The design process has always been the easy part for me, and the hard part has been working out fabric requirements or recalculating an existing pattern for a new size.  Practice is helping with that.  And I’m getting less anal about using all my fabric up.  Leftovers are OK. Leftovers make new quilts!  These three, while the white and backing fabrics are new purchases, were conceived after a rummage in my scrap box, a quick blast of inspiration from some of the beautiful paper pieced blocks I see fellow bloggers turning out, and a couple of minor rethinks because I didn’t have enough of something. My recycling was as follows:

Wervelwind: oranges from my first ever proper quilt, yellow from the quilt I made my Jindabyne nephew and his wife, yellow left over from the baby quilt I made for Donna’s little boy.

Vlucht: greens left over from Donna’s baby quilt, greens left over from my heirloom hexagon quilt, green from a couple of very unloved fat quarters which worked very well here and which would otherwise have probably been given away.

Komeet: lilac recycled from an old worn out nightie, pink paisley left over from the French Braid quilt I gave to Jen in London, two fat quarters I loved but couldn’t use anywhere else.

I’ve finally worked out what design I’m going to use for my other big quilt, the one that’s going to be the warmer winter one, with wool batting instead of cotton.  Heaven knows when I’ll be able to start it, but I now have the design in my head, I have more than enough fabric, and may even be able to make matching pillow cases (shams).  Still some thinking to do, but I’ll post with fabric choices soon…

And now, a sigh of relief. Time to clean my sewing machine and my sewing table, empty the thread bin, and start work on something else. The Tree of Life is waiting patiently for my attention….

Triple Trouble 6: heading south

... the geese are on their way south for the winter. Or that’s the impression I’m trying for.

Since the block is called Circle of Geese, I pondered goose-related imagery to bring movement to the quilt top. And one of the best known things that geese do is fly in a triangular skein/wedge when heading for warmer weather in the autumn.  So here it is (sorry about the poor lighting: the only space large enough to lay it out is on my bed, since the design wall is occupied by the Tree of Life quilt, and the bedroom lighting is not of the photo studio variety!):

Some geese are circling. Some are on their way already...

Some geese are circling. Some are on their way already…

Close up of the feature square. I still have to applique the triangles to the background.

Close up of the feature square.
I still have to applique the triangles to the background.

Again, the quilting is going to echo this shape, done in white so it doesn’t leap out at you.  More walking foot action.  I’m beginning to wonder what I’m going to do with the backs of these three baby quilts. And what I’m going to bind them with.  It’s not a big issue, but I’m making good progress, so it will become an issue fairly soon! I’m pretty sure the binding will match the theme colour, but as for the backing, I’ll wait till I get there.

The orange/yellow block quilt top is finished, applique done.  I shall keep the production line going till all the tops are done, and then sandwich/pin/quilt/bind them all at the same time.  The good thing about baby quilts is that you can use standard width fabrics for the backing without having to sew them together to make them wide enough. It means that I can, if necessary, just go out and buy a metre of this, a metre of that, and the job’s done.

The Dowager has admired my bags, and wants me to make one for her, using a tapestry panel she’s almost finished. It’s got a design of gerberas with pale yellow and royal blue in the background, so it’s quite vivid, and it’s not so formal that it would be incongruous on a fabric bag.  I shall have to have a poke around in The Cupboard of all Colours, aka Stash Central.

By the end of today, I hope to have the applique for the Circle of Geese quilt done, and possible also a storage basket or two. Perish the thought that I might actually do that AND sort some stash into them… Let’s wait and see.  The Husband was off to work especially early this morning, so I’m an hour or two ahead of myself.

So, two down, one to go, and then it’s back to the Tree.  Yes, well done, you have observed that I am procrastinating

Triple Trouble 3

This one was a lot easier.

Circle of Geese

Circle of Geese.
The colours are a bit brighter in real life; the flash washes out the image.
And the green geese at left and right aren’t as blue as they look here.

I know a bit more what I’m doing, so I don’t have the blank moment of wondering what to do next at each step. This block went a lot faster, despite having to cut more fabric – the process theoretically uses up scraps but in fact I had to use fairly generously sized pieces because I was working sort of back to front, upside down, and I couldn’t mentally flip the shapes! Confusion reigns, but the work gets done. I like this green one. At 12″ square, it’s a bit bigger than the other two, which are 10″ square.

I’m beginning to have a few ideas about taking the colour story further into the quilt, but without making a long winded production of it. Let’s see if I can explain clearly enough. Each of these blocks is in ‘motion’. They’re rotating, swirling, turning, whatever. I think it might look interesting if I scatter small blocks of matching colour across the face of the quilt as though they’d been flung or shaken off the whirling motif. Different sizes, scraps of the same colour used for the main motif, randomly scattered.

I’d be interested to know what you think of the idea.  To scatter, or to keep it plain and simple?  Tell me what you think!

I’m fairly weary this evening: we assembled most of a steel panel garden shed today, just a small one, but with the typical inscrutable instructions that you get with anything you have to put together yourself. I’m pretty good at Ikea furniture, but sheds are a bit out of my comfort zone. Still, it’s up, and done except for assembling and installing the door. Tonight I shall relax in front of the telly, watching Carols by Candlelight from The Domain in Sydney, with a big bowl of home made curried pumpkin soup in front of me! The Husband is out on the road heading home, having delivered his 51,000 litres of diesel. He won’t be home till 10pm or so, so I can do some more sewing on the Car Quilt.  Quite a large piece done now – I shall have to show you progress soon.

Outside fabric

Outside fabric

Inside fabric, plus two pockets for the things that always migrate to the bottom

Inside fabric, plus two pockets for the things that always migrate to the bottom

And I’ve made myself a soft fabric bag, reversible, with stripes on the outside and toning floral inside. It’s from a pattern by Novita Estiti at Very Purple Person, and it’s fairly easy apart from the bit where you have to turn the whole thing inside out through the handle! Still, it worked… eventually! She has some nice bag designs, and this one was simple enough for my tired brain and sore joints.

So, that’s been my day. What’s new in your world?

The colours of light

I haven’t seen as many rainbows here as I used to in NSW. 

Rain's on the way, but first, here's the pot of gold. If you look carefully, you can just see a faint second bow at the extreme left.

Rain’s on the way, but first, here’s the pot of gold. If you look carefully, you can just see a faint second bow at the extreme left.

It doesn’t rain as often, and when it does, the downpour is too heavy to allow that delicate filtering of light through water droplets which creates a rainbow. Although the sky and clouds are splendid up here, and the sunsets can be utterly breathtaking, I miss the sudden, fleeting and magical appearance of the bow of colour, sometimes double, like the one I captured in this photo.

So I thought I’d go out and find the rainbow for myself.

SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Pale orange Lollipop plant SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Pale green euphorbia SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA Agapanthus Blue erigeron Lobelia Indigo salvia Violet petunia Violet tree

They were all photographed within a few kilometres of home. I can’t exactly duplicate the rainbow, because these beauties are solid, and not made of light – and also, spring in the tropics doesn’t seem to run much to colours in the blue/purple spectrum much.  Any amount of red, orange, yellow and the full range of pinks, but blues are rare at this time of year.  Also, we’ve just had a thunderstorm, and the jacarandas I was counting on for some of the bluey-purple images have had their flowers battered to the ground by the rain.  So please forgive a slightly skinny selection at the cooler end of the range. I can’t decide which I like best, one of the showy tropical ones, or the sweet, small, delicate ones.  On the whole though, I think the first image, the poinciana is my favourite.

What do you think?