Bigmouth Strikes Again (Best Laid Plans)

Sooooo… Christmas has come and gone and my Fair Isle Quilt is, sadly, not yet complete. I hold out hope it’ll be done for Christmas 2015. Ultimately the busyness of December did me in – I started my PhD properly this month and travelled both for work and for the holidays. However! Have some progress photos. It is coming together (I’ve sewn together the Poinsetta blocks since these were taken.)

Fair isle aerial view

 

Fair isle squaring up

Fair isle offcuts

So much chain piecing. So much squaring up. It was the squaring which took a lot longer than I had anticipated, I think. I have another 11 months to get it complete – or I could go for a midwinter Christmas I suppose!

BUT! I did complete two quilts in December, which isn’t bad going for only having been at home two weeks out of four. I finished up the matching set of chevron baby quilts, in time to gift them before Christmas. I’m supremely happy with how they turned out. The colours were lovely and bright, and the simple straight line quilting made them very soft – I didn’t quilt them particularly densely so they are nice and snuggly.

Blues full shot

Blues mid shot

Blues front back far

Blues up close

Yellow full

Yellow midshot

Yellow up close

Front back far yellow

Front back close yellow

Folded stacked close

I got a great deal on some Warm and White Cotton Batting which I wound up using in this quilt, rather than the bamboo batting I usually use. It’s a lot lighter – probably more suited for summer quilts, or quilts for warmer climates. I don’t know if I’ll buy it again because I like a certain degree of floofiness in my quilts, although it does make quilting sizable quilts on my small sewing machine a lot easier. Sadly the straight stitch machine is still a far off dream so I need to take that into account when picking out battings. I’m also getting better at mitred corners!

The quilt got the seal of approval from the wee babe it was gifted to and I got the world’s cutest thank you card from him, written with some help from his Mum.

Since it’s the 1st of January and all I figured I might make a little list of things to finish off and things I hope to start. Among my Christmas gifts was a lovely voucher for Spotlight so I might be making a trip there soon but I’m trying to stay disciplined and not start too many more things before finishing other stuff.

WIPs to finish:

1. Indigo Pinwheels. All the blocks are sewn and pressed, I just need to put the quilt top together, baste and quilt it.
2. Fair Isle Quilt.
3. More coasters to use up my scraps.

To sew/knit:

1. A black cable knit scarf
2. A large Picnic Plaid Quilt – since I’m on a roll with chain piecing.
3. A two-colour pineapple quilt, maybe in vibrant bold prints rather than solids?
4. I mentioned to my friend Alice a little while ago that I could have a hoon at making a quilt top modelled after the Holy Diver album cover. I think I might have my work cut out for me with that one, but it seems like a fun challenge.

Spinning my Wheels

I’ve spent the last few weeks doing too much travelling, and also moving house both into a studio and a summer pad. My apartment needs a whole bunch of earthquake strengthening so it doesn’t go all dominos when New Zealand inevitably gets hit by the Big One. This has necessitated a lot of stress and a lot of wine drinking. I have been trying to mitigate the stress by sewing in my new studio while drinking wine.

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I’ve been working more on the chevron quilts, and also on the Fair Isle quilt-along.I’m horribly belong in the quilt-along, but I’m going to beg off that on account of having been away for 2 of the 4 weeks it has been running for. The poinsettas are almost done, to give you some indication of where I’m at. In keeping with my vaguely music blog leanings, I’ve spent a lot of time listening to Dio’s Holy Diver (thanks Alice for the suggestion).

I’ve spent the last three days at home dealing with some family stuff which has come up. I was supposed to be staying with my Ma, but instead I’m staying with my parents. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling a bit useless because there has been nothing to do but wait for a time, and so I’ve gotten some sewing done. I’ve been quilting up the chevron quilts and all they have left is to hand stitch down the binding and they are ready to go to their new home. I quilted them with two seams on each side of each chevron alternating thread colours. I didn’t mark the sewing line, just judged it by the edge of the foot. Functional and reasonably pretty.

BlogpostNov21-5 BlogpostNov21-6 BlogpostNov21-7 BlogpostNov21-8 BlogpostNov21-9 BlogpostNov21-10  Among the sewing I’ve been doing has been some coasters from offcuts of the baby quilts. So far: the yellow and orange have been completed and I’ve resurrected my Etsy to list them if you are just desperate to own a piece of Megan Memorabilia yourself.

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All Chevrons Point to Yes

I come bearing photos and also updates. I’ve made some headway into Freshly Pieced’s Fair Isle Quilt Along. All my cutting is done and I’ve pieced probably half of the Poinsetta blocks. I’ve also sewn half of the all important Slayer block.

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Excuse the instagram-grab. Since I took this photo I’ve added the rest of the L, A  and Y to the mix. I didn’t exactly start paper piecing with an easy option, but it’s going alright so far. I’m enjoying having something to carry around and sew as I go.

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I also followed Lee’s advice and chain pieced everything. I moved into my new studio and as you can see from the photos, my sewing is being watched over by David Bowie’s crotch (or David Bowie’s Area as proponents of Areology would have it). Also, studio! Please note the all important bottle of wine.

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Oh frabjous day. I can leave my stuff out and come back to it the next day. I’m inordinately pleased by this. I haven’t had a dedicated space for sewing since I was 17 and co-opted out shed for it since it was full of disused tractors and abandoned renovation projects. I’ve made the most of the space by starting the chevron quilts I mentioned in my last post. The top of one is finished, and the other has been cut but has to be sewn into HSTs still. I’m going home to stay with my Grandma next week so I plan to take both with me then and hopefully complete the quilting and sew on the binding while I’m away. Grandma is usually knitting something and it’s really nice to have a companionable silence while we’re both being productive and creative.

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Here’s the half square triangles in the midst of piecing.

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And the quilt top. I wound up using a different tutorial than the one I mentioned initially just because of the size of the fabric lengths I bought.

My other project since I last posted as been a little snood for a doggy. A nice dusky blue, also from Morris and Sons (after I finished off the red cable scarf – pics to come). Here’s the start of it – hopefully I can furnish you all with some photos of a dog in a scarf before long.

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I’ve also been researching semi-industrial machines and I’m eyeing up the Brother PQ1500s. Does anyone have feedback about it, thoughts positive or negative?

Joining the Fair Isle Quilt Along

So I’m a bit late, but I’m going to be joining in with Freshly Pieced’s Fair Isle Quilt Along. I’m 90% of the way there with cutting (I’ve cut the cream background, bright red and green – just to cut the pink and the skull fabric I’m using. I’m making some changes to it – my boyfriend said the design reminded him of the line of Christmas jumpers Slayer did a few years back so I’m sort of riffing on that.

Here’s the fabric I’m using:

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Naturally George decided to help.

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In his defence, I was paying attention to the fabric instead of him, a terrible crime.

I’m planning to do a little bit of paper piecing for the one of the stripes across the middle – I’m out of town for the next week and I’ll be bringing it with me to see if I can finish it all by hand. I took Lee’s advice and separated all of my work out by type of block:

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I’m not sure if I’ll be able to keep the same schedule as the rest of the quilt along (especially as I’m leaving town for the next week) but I’ll update with my progress and try to keep up as best I can. Oh! Finally, I found a great new use for the shot glasses I got free for being such a booze hag when I came through duty free last time. I’m not really a shots kind person, but they are the perfect size to top up my iron when I’m steaming stuff.

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Indigo Pinwheels

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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.

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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.

Chevron quilt fabrics

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.

 

Home is Where the Camera Is

I’m home! Finally. And I have taken some more photos of the delightful circle/drunkards path quilt before it goes off to its new home. It was made for a friend whose new babe was born some months ago now, because I am a bit slow with these things sometimes, but conveniently it was her birthday a week ago, so I can probably pass it off under that guise and appear slightly less crap.

Folded circle quilt

I’ve been thinking a lot about quilting, and sewing and repetition. About what it means to give someone something handmade. All the thoughts have been churning around in my head for weeks, so expect this idea to be revisited and refined in future posts, but for now I want to talk, briefly and terribly, about repetition. Repetition as a concept has shown up a bunch in my studies. In my art history papers, because repetition is a key feature of art – performance art in particular. It also figures heavily in a lot of the Media Studies papers I’ve written. It crops up in a lot of Butler’s writing, about identity. This is probably the most academically vague and lazy thing I’ve ever allowed other people to read, but I’m curious about repetition in handmade items, handmade gifts. A quilt comprises hundreds of hours of cutting, sewing, breaking down large pieces into smaller bits then rebuilding them. There is a repetition to the cutting and sewing which imbues the finished product with meaning. A quilt isn’t just a gift of a blanket, it’s an indication that the recipient means enough to you to warrant a hundred hours of pricking yourself with another sodding safety pin.

Binding close up

 

I feel (hope) that sometimes a quilt/knitted something can be a reminder that there are people who care about you. A quilt isn’t just a blanket, it’s a tangible ‘you can ask other people for help and many will gladly give it’. Wrap yourself up in a hundred hours of work from someone who had never met you, but was willing to be that when you appeared, tiny and screaming in the world, you would be a good person worthy of love and something cozy for the cold nights.

Close up 1 CQ

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Binding plus front

Full circle quilt

 

My dreams of a studio, alas, have not come to fruition – so I’m still taking photos on my lounge room floor, strategically cropping my slippers out of the frame as I hold the camera above my head. I’ve started on a new quilt using the Japanese cottons from my last post and I’m waiting for my finances to pick up a little so I can order some fabrics for matching baby quilts.

Someone (I forget who – if you know please let me know in the comments) wrote a while back about mixing saturation and using that to distinguish light and darks and create visual interest in quilts. I’m broadly grouping my fabrics into lighter/darker and making pinwheel squares from them. I’m excited to see how this comes together.

Dark fabric Japanese Windmill

Lights Japanese Windmill