FINALLY after what feels like an age I have some finished quilts to post about! I polished off the binding on Indigo Pinwheels yesterday and finished the quilting of my lingering French Braid shortly after. I decided that was close enough to finishing some WIPs to allow me to cut into some new fabrics.
Here’s the finished images of Indigo Pinwheels. If you have a hankering to throw it over your own couch/bed/pet then it’s up for grabs.
And the French Braid is getting close to completion too (I forgot that thin stripes photograph horribly. Newsreader Syndrome.)
For the next quilts I’m making I’m using the rainbow gradient fabrics I mentioned in my last post, cutting stripes off each and sewing them together from greatest to least density of colour and then cutting an equilateral triangle out of the middle. The way it’s set up should allow me to sew the offcuts together into a second triangle so from one set of cuts and sewing I should get two inverse quilts – one moving from darkest at the centre to lightest at the edges and the other the opposite. I have a couple of action shots thanks to my lovely partner who was working in his studio at the same time as I was in mine.
I think this is the first new quilt I’ve started since the Fair Isle quilt in November/December. I’m enjoying working with such lush colours.
I had time to sew up the yellow and orange segments yesterday before I had to call time around 1am. Here are a couple of pictures to show you what I’m on about. The finished quilts should be hexagonal, around 200cm across.
I’m still working on the baby cardigan I mentioned last time – knitting is for travel, I’ve decided. I can’t sit that still when I’m at home. I should have it polished off in the next day or two and then I have a hat planned with a scarlet cotton. My quilts will wait until I get home again.
Good (very early) morning. I’m writing this in an airport and soon I’m going to court the sort of curiosity knitting in public always piques by rolling a skein of yarn up into a ball. For now though I figured I’d fill you in on what I’ve been doing lately.
I’ve basted and started quilting together Indigo Pinwheels. As you can see, little fibres from the Warm and Natural Cotton Batting have clung to the quilt top – I’m liking it better for dense quilting, but the shedding is quite annoying.
Here you can see my high tech painters tape solution to keep the backing still while I baste it all together.
After trimming there’s usually a 2″ border of batting and backing to account for shrinkage as I quilt.
I chose sympathetic but not actually matching patterns for the back and the binding. I’ve only started quilting – still several hours to go I expect – but at this stage I’m running very very large checks along the squares and densely quilting one pinwheel out of each square.
I usually try to keep my baby quilts fairly lightly quilted so they’re soft and snuggly (although this is personal preference only) so it’s nice to have a more adult styled quilt where I can make use of a more densely quilted style.
Something else I’ve done this month has been to make some minor edits to a skirt. When I bought it, it fit nicely around my hips and butt but was too big in the waist (just fractionally) and a smidge too long.
You can see that the waist gapes at the back a little and the skirt hits right on my knee. I added two small, short darts at the centre back and then just did a simple blind hem to lift the length by about an inch.
It’s a fairly small change but I feel like it’s made the whole skirt a lot more flattering and fixed up the lines.
One more little update (to explain the title). I went yarn shopping yesterday, intending to buy some yarn, a pattern and some needles to knit a little baby jumper. I’m not a big fan of the blue-for-boys, pink-for-girls, or of pastels in general so I went fairly bright:
I picked up the skein from the Holland Road Yarn Company, stopping by their store in the Grand Arcade in Wellington. If you’re a local and you like yarn crafts then I highly recommend a visit. I meant to stop in for 15 minutes but spent probably an hour talking about patterns and being a fake lefty (I knit backwards) with Jen. The yarn I went with has the loveliest hand – supremely smooth and I can’t wait to begin knitting with it. I also picked up a bright red cotton because the colour was too nice to pass up.
It wasn’t until I got it home that I realised I’d inadvertently bought some Christmas colours.
I don’t have an exact pattern in mind yet for the cotton, but maybe a loose and lacy hat, or a scarf. Something light to make the most of the colour.
I’ve been mulling this post over in my mind for ages and I’m still not 100% sure how to lay it out, but since I’ve been posting updates on my Indigo Pinwheels quilt which includes Japanese cottons as the main element I felt like it was timely.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about if it’s appropriate for me as a white woman to use fabrics which come from other cultures in my quilting. I know already that quilting has a problem with cultural appropriation – when I was looking, just as one of many examples, for a fabric with a skull print I kept being referred to fabrics with sugar skulls on them. There are already plenty of links which explain in detail why the Sugar Skull is culturally appropriative, especially used in this way – decorating a bolt of fabric, removed from its context, history, a time and place and with no acknowledgement of the history behind it. Personally, I’ve used recently some Japanese quilting cottons in my quilting, and a few months ago I visited Western Samoa and bought some lengths of fabric while I was there, including some Elei fabric (a style of printing traditionally used to decorate tapa cloth and more recently used on other fabrics) and some patterns which various people there told me are sometimes called Samoan but are more correctly identified as Hawaiian influenced.
I think the main things I am considering are if there is a respectful way I can incorporate these fabrics into my work, or if it is inherently appropriative to use these fabrics from another culture in my sewing. I think the questions of Japanese and Samoan fabrics need to be considered separately. Among the things I want to think about (and I want to stress I am constantly growing and developing in my understanding, so if someone wants to correct me on this and has the energy to do it I would be only too grateful) are the relationship that my culture, as a white New Zealander has to the culture the fabrics come from, if the ways I am obtaining the fabrics materially benefit people from the culture they come from, crediting the origin of the fabrics appropriately and if they are being used in an appropriate way.
To be honest, I am more comfortable using Japanese cottons for a few reason: Japan has a history of quilting – including Sashiko quilting (a form of stitching reminiscent of many contemporary Japanese quilting cotton patterns), so I feel as though using the cottons in this way is appropriate to their intended and historical use. Also, New Zealand’s relationship with Japan doesn’t have the same colonialism inherent in our relationship with Western Samoa. Also, when I buy my Japanese cottons I try to buy them from stores either based in Japan, or owned by people with Japanese heritage so the proceeds from the sale of them are going to people with some relationship to the history of the designs. It doesn’t, and I’m aware this is a fairly nebulous way of putting it, feel appropriative to use the fabrics in this way because it is aligned with the use for which they were produced and my buying them feeds back into the economy of Japan.
I’m more conflicted about using fabrics from Samoa. To start with, as far as I have been able to tell from my research, Western Samoa doesn’t have a quilting culture – American Samoa has some, largely introduced by missionaries. So the fabrics I have wouldn’t have been created with that end use in mind – I think that as uses go quilting is fairly benign, but I would still prefer to use fabrics in a way aligned with their intended use. Also, Samoa has a history of being subjugated by New Zealand and I’m very aware of this imbalance of power when I consider if I have a right to use Samoan fabrics in my quilts. Samoa has only been independent from New Zealand since 1962, and New Zealand’s history with Samoa contains incidents like the Black Saturday shootings and the grossly racist Dawn Raids. It feels a lot more like the classic definition of appropriation – co-opting an attractive part of a culture without having to deal with the negative parts of having that identity (the poorer education and health outcomes Pasifika people experience in New Zealand because of systemic racism). For now, I’m keeping the fabrics in my stash because I don’t want to discard them and feel wasteful. One thing I am considering doing in the future is making a quilt from some of them and donating some of the proceeds from it to a Pasifika Womens Refuge or advocacy group.
I’ve spent the last week working on some WIPs, trying to get them knocked out before January is gone – now I’m in my new studio I have one large plastic box which I’m keeping WIPs in and attempting to limit myself to only as many as will fit comfortably in it. So far it’s a very effective system – my desire to always be working on something new has been beaten out by my desire to keep things pleasingly streamlined and tidy.
I’ve finally finally finished the poinsetta blocks from the Fair Isle Quilt:
I figure if I can knock out one of the blocks each month it should be ready in plenty of time for next Christmas.
I also trimmed all of the Indigo Pinwheel blocks, and plotted out a layout for the quilt top. I tried to keep some semblance of order between predominantly light fabrics and predominantly dark.
It is so nice having a decent amount of floor space to use to design quilt tops – before I was always stuck trying to wedge things into my too-small lounge room floor. I’ve sewn together the top, and tomorrow’s task is to suss out an appropriate backing and binding fabric.
Here’s Bernie’s audition photo for sad etsy boyfriends:
While sifting through the WIP box I also found this chevron quilt top I started years ago (literally years ago) and decided to have a go at finishing it up. I’m not suuuuuper in love with the colours any more, but I don’t want half completed projects languishing in my stash much longer – I also have all the fabric already cut and it seems a waste not to finish it up. I saw someone on Pinterest refer to this pattern as a ‘french braid’ and I kind of really dig that.
I also threw together a few more of these coasters using leftover squares from the chevron quilt. Greens! Triangles! Binding which would be easier to sew with a walking foot!
Speaking of my fabric stash though, I added some new bits and bobs to it the other day. I ordered a bunch of stuff off local Trademe seller which turned up cutely packaged.
I also have a copy of Rotary Cutting Revolution: New One-Step Cutting, 8 Quilt Blocks on its way to me in the post which I’m quite excited about. I thought about grabbing a Kindle copy, but decided on balance I’d rather have a physical copy to put in front of me while I work. Hopefully it will have arrived by the time I write my next post and I’ll be able to let you know my first impressions!
I’ve been making slow but steady progress on my latest quilt top. As of tonight I have to piece six more blocks, and then the pressening can commence (and I can sew them together into a finished top.) I cut my fabrics into 6″ squares, then grouped them roughly into lighter and darker fabrics so that I can make pinwheels from them. I paired them off and ruled a line diagonally along one from corner to coner, then sewed with a 1/4″ hem along both sides of the line so that once I cut them free I had two matching 6″ squares made from triangles. Minimal cutting, minimal pinning. Perfectly lazy.
As you can see, I’m still cutting everything out on my lounge room floor because I hate my knees. Down with knees. Boo hiss.
Visible in the top right-ish of this picture is the feverish 3am maths I did to figure out how much fabric I needed for my next quilting endeavour (more on that later in the post.)
Once I’d cut everything I then matched all the squares up so that they were in sets of four where all the 6″ squares had one fabric in common and the rest different (you’ll see what I mean in the first completed square below.) It took a while. It took a lot of swapping. George, naturally, helped a lot.
Only 29 more to go. I actually lucked out and bought some cheap batting off Amazon (Warm Company Batting 90-Inch by 96-Inch Warm and White Cotton Batting, Full) and was so delighted that it shipped to NZ that I ordered two, which should serve to bat (is that the verb form?) this quilt, and the next two baby quilts I make AND have enough left over for me to make some little coasters or something using a cathedral window design.
Oh yes! Baby quilts. I’m making two baby quilts in two different colourways for a pal who is pregnant with her second child. One for the new baby and one for her toddler, because, speaking as an eldest child, things are rough when the baby starts getting all the gifts. I’m using Kelby Sews’ Chevron Tutorial and can’t wait to get started. I think I’m going to be doing 5.5″ and 3″ squares, so the finished quilts should be ~110cm x 150cm. I bought an extra fabric in the yellow/orange colour scheme because I’m not 100% sure on the foxes fabric (I put together a beautifully crafted collage of the fabrics below. I hope your like MS Paint) and how it’ll mesh with the others. If it isn’t a total goer then I’ll just add it to my stash.
Also, I finally got the good news I hinted at a few posts ago. I got accepted into a PhD program. In three-four years that’ll be Doctor Wonky Curved Seams to you.