Blocks 51 and 52

In my stroll to the finish line of 64 blocks I’m evening up the number of ‘stars’ as opposed to ‘diamonds’, as the pattern of the finished quilt alternates blocks with the centre 4 flying geese reversed. The first of these ‘star’ blocks I finished in February and enjoyed putting together, even though in the scheme of the quilt in may be more green than most, I love the colour combination. I made a similar one earlier but with the diamond centre and a bit of brown, so I wanted to make another with the flying geese reversed. I did want to include brown in this but just couldn’t make it work. If this isn’t the only block in the quilt that consists of only 4 fabrics, it’s certainly one of very few. Lots of nice Moda fabrics again, including Prairie Cactus, one of my favourites.

Green

This next block, on the contrary, is not one of my favourites. It’s the subject of my last blog post reworked so that the centre square is a lighter shade of brown, repeated on the outer four corners, and with the dark brown triangles on the outer edge replaced on two sides with all that is left of one of my favourite fabrics for this project (salvaged from an unsuccessful block I took apart). The trouble is that I could not get the centre four squares right, no fabric I tried looked right, so in the end this was the best I could muster. I’ve nearly run out of this fabric so couldn’t afford to do too much fussy cutting, hence the purple remains and I don’t like it. I don’t like the overall effect in that when it’s gloomy and you stand back from the block, the centre four squares blend into the dark orange of the star so it looks like a big dark lump in the middle. I think it would have been better with a smaller print but there was only one in my stash that sort of worked, but alas not well enough. So this is the best I can do. Orange and brown

I think I’m going to have to have a recount of how many blocks I still have to do! Thought it was 10 but if these really are blocks 51 and 52 then it’s 12…

Bad idea

I started making this. It is revolting! I don’t know what I was thinking. As I near the end I wanted to use this pumpkin fabric, because I’ve made one block with a little bit of it in and thought I should make at least one more with it in so that block wasn’t alone. I thought all of this was okay except the four little squares in the centre block-within-a-block and eventually decided these were the best I can do. But yuck! In the light of day, this has to come apart. Maybe I can swap another fabric for these centre four and it will be okay, but I’m not convinced. I’ve known this in my heart of hearts for days but just haven’t acted on it. At least I know what I’ll be doing on the commute home tonight (provided I have a seat). What I don’t think I’ll be doing is taking apart any more flying geese, the cream and the dark orange are being re-used as it is and are a bit frayed. But I do wonder if the dark brown is too dark here, and if I still think that when I’ve tried replacing the four little squares I may have to change the centre and outer squares too.

Yuck

North American wildlife block

I didn’t really set out to make a specifically North American block, but searching for ‘woodland’ fabric on Ebay in an attempt to find more of a fabric I’ve used before but run out of, I came across material with moose, bears, and deer. It had autumn coloured leaves and some pine cones, so autumnal enough to fit my theme and I couldn’t resist! It wasn’t actually that easy to make it blend in with others, perhaps because the background is very white and I’ve been steering away from that to more tan coloured backgrounds, or because there’s something about the way the animals are drawn, can’t quite put my finger on it.

Moose

The centre came together easily but not the outer edge, and I’m not actually sure they go together. I like the fir tree patterned fabric but have only used it in one other, recent, block and won’t use much more of it (if any) in the remaining blocks because the green is quite different to other greens I’ve used. I think it’s a Moda fabric by Holly Taylor and I actually bought more to make a Christmas quilt or wall hanging with, but it’s completely out of stock anywhere I’ve tried, so I’m conserving what I have left. The dark orange I salvaged from a block I took apart and have been trying to find a way to reuse it ever since, but there are some tans and some greens especially that it shouldn’t go anywhere near.

Sorry the background to the photo’s a bit confusing, it’s the wicker lid of my laundry basket because I took it outside to photograph in natural light but didn’t want to put it directly onto the concrete because it had been raining, so grabbed this to use.

I’ve got 13 blocks left to make for this quilt and have started on the next block though I’m worried it’s using too much of one fabric in the same block. I tried deciding on my next blocks at the weekend but it’s getting a bit mind-boggling now, trying not to repeat myself, wanting to use more of certain fabrics I’ve got left over but not having ones to match them with, etc. etc. I’m keen to move on to the next thing so must stay focussed!

3 more autumn blocks

I made these over a couple of months, I think Nov – Dec., but thought I’d save them up to post them all together and a lot of time seems to have passed, with some intervening Christmas projects too. The last one is a rather wintery autumn, but I don’t care, I like it! Though whether the shade of green in it will tone with the other blocks is another matter…

I think these are blocks 47-49.

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The dark tan fabric that appears in all three, and the brown with a red and tan pattern that is in the first and last images, were both bought at the Knitting and Stitching Show I went to at Alexandra Palace in London in October and are by Moda. Don’t think I’ll be repeating the ‘Ally Pally’ experience, it was more expensive than the one at London Olympia I’ve been to in March and the heating was on so high I felt really ill at one point. I wasn’t the only one, judging from the red-faced persons fanning themselves; not much fun. Anyway, the fabrics with pine needles on are ones I bought in an online sale maybe last year and bought up what they had left to make a Christmas quilt one day, though I could have done with a bit more but it’s discontinued. I think they’re Holly Taylor for Moda. I really like her colour schemes.

In retrospect I’m not that keen on the middle one with the chrysanthemum, maybe a bit too brown, even though it is an autumn-themed quilt, there’s something depressingly 1970s living room about it, but I hope it’ll fit in with the rest okay.

I took all the blocks to show my Mum when I went to see the parents before Christmas, and we decided I need 14 more as well as the one I’m doing. So it must be 8 x 8 blocks though I forgot to count! The one I’m working on also has animals on it. Then I’m going to have to take stock again, count how many of the two different designs of block I have so I’ve got an even number at the end of it (!) and try and plan the next ones carefully. There are a few fabrics I’ve only used once and would rather include them in more than one block, for example, but then again there are some I used at the beginning that I wouldn’t choose now, like ones with a white background which aren’t great in an autumn quilt.

However, at home I’m making a baby quilt for my husband’s brother’s new baby, which was born on Saturday, so will of course prioritise that, then get down to the block planning. There’s also the pyjama bottoms I’m going to make for my brother and have bought the fabric for, so want to get on with those while the weather’s still cold, as it’s a warm brushed cotton fabric. So whether I’ll be able to plan blocks as well I’m not sure, could be it has to wait until February. Well, there are worse problems!

 

Autumn blocks 45 and 46 + some knitting, and project planning

I finished the first of these a few weeks ago but wanted to wait til I’d done two before posting them here. The one with the pumpkins is much the nicer of the two.

Sept 2018

The first one is all riggghhht, I suppose, but not wildly enthused, I’d pre-cut the central square literally years ago and wanted to use it and the 8 matching triangles I’d salvaged from other blocks I’d taken apart, as it’s discontinued. I don’t even know what brand it is, I got it from ebay years back. It should be a good blender fabric, with the red and green, but for some reason I struggled to match it to my stash.

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The dithering over the best colours to use was phenomenal! Lots of variations and photos (below) – at first I was convinced I needed the dark orange fabric in it, but it looks terrible next to the browns. Some of these are really yucky! I also tried different tan background fabrics for the outer flying geese before settling on the plain, even though it’s so close to the base colour of the small leafy fabric. Looking now at the slideshow, there’s one I sort-of wish I’d made instead, but I’m not changing it now!

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With the pumpkin one, I was really only stuck over whether to use the green rosehips metallic fabric or a darker green leafy one, but I think this turned out for the best. (It isn’t really that curved, I laid it on a small seat next to the window because it was the only place indoors I could get any light, and the chair seat curves down at the front). The brown fabric is one my husband kindly bought me a couple of years ago when a fabric sale came to our village when I was away. Given that he’s colour-blind and it’s not traditionally seen as a ‘man’ thing to do (one of the sellers asked him if he makes shirts!) I think it was good of him. I hadn’t meant for him to try to find autumn fabric, I’d specifically said to get something he liked with the mad idea of challenging myself to make something in colourways I wouldn’t myself have chosen, but instead he bought things he thought I’d like for my project. I confess however I didn’t really like this brown fabric, but am glad I’ve used it here now, it looks fine and it would be a shame not have used it when he’d gone to the trouble. He bought one in the same pattern but green but I couldn’t use it in this quilt, it’s the wrong shade, but one day I must make something for him with it, maybe a pencil case?

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It was about a week ago that I finished this but am deeply ‘into’ a jumper I’m knitting myself and little knitted snowman Christmas tree decorations for the Christmas tree festival the church I go to holds in the first week of December, so will need them for the middle – end of November. Also, not only is my husband’s brother’s sister pregnant and due in January, my schoolfriend is expecting in December, so I’d like to make little baby quilts for both of them. It’s in autumn I feel most inspired to design autumn blocks, but will probably have to let it go for now – though having said that, the baby quilts will be made on the sewing machine and the autumn blocks I can handsew on the train, so maybe I’ll do a couple. Except, I thought I’d knit Dad a cardigan for Christmas…

… too ambitious?!!!

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Jumper sleeve, in Rowan hemp tweed

Autumn quilt: funky owl 2. And a new project!

I think this is autumn block 44. Not my favourite, but as mentioned in my last post I’m at the stage where I know there are blocks I want to make so that there’s a balance of blocks in the quilt as a whole, and I have one other block that uses this fabric so felt I needed another so it isn’t all alone. It was retrospectively an unwise choice of fabric being so different from the others (though I do have a small repeating cartoonish hedgehog in a few), but a couple in amongst the others is okay and maybe gives it a bit of added ‘interest’! I’ve tried to tone it down by using quite quiet fabrics for the rest of the block, with only the four small inner squares having anything other than a blender-style pattern, so I think it works okay.Owl 2

I had a hunt through my photo library (boy does that need a clear-out!) and found the photo of its friend. Both had been in blocks I did earlier in the project but had to take apart and do again to make them work better in the quilt as a whole, both having been way too ‘busy’. The first one still was, a bit, but I think there was a limit to what I could do with the pieces.

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In other news, I’ve started making the sleeveless summer top I bought the fabric and pattern for last year. It’s taken me til now to get over the mental angst involved in making the first top I’ve ever sewn, which was year ago! So this is the second one. Apart from darts, which didn’t feature in the first top, this is going to be easier (famous last words…). I cut the pieces last weekend and did the darts and the top and side seams this. The darts aren’t brilliant, I had to unpick one and redo it because when I changed the stitch length as I neared the end (following YouTube advice) I must have somehow knocked the fabric skew and got a dogleg in the sewing, which means there are little holes you can see (though if anyone was that close to my bust I’d punch them). Then I forgot I’d changed the stitch length down and did the whole dart at length 1.0 instead of 2.5! I debated doing the same for the other one for consistency, but in the end decided not to and I don’t think you can see the difference. Stripey fabric with darts so of course the stripes then don’t line up – not a good idea, or doesn’t it matter?

Dart

From top no. 1 I learned that, for me personally, it’s not worth the difficulty of trying to do the overlocking stitch (have I got the right word?) to finish the edges of the seams, but just to use the pinking scissors. Last time trying to do the overlocking stitch I got it all snarled up and had to unpick bits and redo it by hand and the end result was messy, whereas pinking scissors do the same job but without the hassle, so long as you don’t mind the serrated effect, which I don’t. I had to alter the length of the top to fit to where I like it best, allowing for a bit of uptake on the hem, and have sewn the side seams nearer 7/8 inch than the 5/8 on the pattern, by the time I basted exactly on the line then sewed to one side of it, but the pattern size was slightly too big so that’s worked fine when I’ve tried it on. Happily the positioning of the darts in the pattern seems to look okay on me, because I’m really not up for trying to alter bust sizes on these things, that’s far too advanced! I now need to put bias binding at neck and armholes, which will be taxing and is for next weekend unless I have a burst of energy midweek (doubt it, in this heat and with an allotment to water), and then of course the hem to do. Be nice if this time I finish it in time to wear this year! The fabric’s a lovely Kaffe Fassett one, perhaps more subdued than some of his others! Cotton, but woven (I think), nice and light, and drapes better than standard cotton. And I love the colours!

Top before binding

Autumn quilt: block 43 and taking stock

I designed this simple block just before I went to stay with my family last month, so that I had two to do, even though I always take two but only have time to do one, and so it proved on this occasion! But I’d rather have too much than be ‘caught short’ with no sewing to work on. The purple fabric is from Moda’s Thistle Farm range, called Primrose Thistle, so tones with the tan fabric from the same range. I’ve made just a few blocks with dark purple in them, partly because that is the main colour in Lewis and Irene’s harvest mouse fabric I like, and partly because I think of the purple in berries and on copper beech trees as being autumnal, or at least the prelude to autumn.

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On Sunday I laid out all my blocks on the sitting room carpet and am now glad I have these few purple blocks, as they are the ones that ‘pop’ and stop the rest blending into such a mass of orange and brown, which was a problem I had. (Taking apart approx. 12 of the blocks which were too ‘busy’ and reusing the pieces to make simpler blocks also helped, though talk about reinventing the wheel the hard way!). I didn’t place them carefully so they aren’t lined up and the two designs aren’t placed alternately as will be the case with the finished item, but it gives an idea of where it’s going.

Autumn

As I’m past the half-way mark (or perhaps the two-thirds mark, we’ll see) I also wanted to see what needs to be made. I decided I needed another with the cartoonish owl that you can just see at the top left, as it’s an oddity and one stands out too much whereas a second will balance it but be more than enough. I’ve designed that one and am working on it this week. I’ve also got one to make using a fabric that’s been rescued from a dismantled block but is otherwise not to be found anywhere. Then I think one more with the stag from the naturalistic woodland fabric in the central square, as I’ve two with the fox from that fabric and one with the stag, so that will balance out; then at least one more with the fussy-cut pumpkins in the four small squares in the middle of the block. So that’s a few where I’ve got something to work on rather than a blank canvas, which at the minute I think is good. I think I’ve got 43 blocks completed (the one I’ve just finished is at the front of the picture but without the last row sewn on, which is why it looks badly proportioned to the eagle-eyed observer). Plus one in storage I’m undecided about.

Down on the allotment, we’ve problems with the fruit trees which we’ll just have to ignore until October, but otherwise we’re doing lots of watering to combat this prolonged spell of dry weather, and have our first potato crop! Very exciting, for me at any rate.

Squash are doing well, though I mustn’t speak too soon…

squash

They’re a newish thing in Britain and I don’t think they’d grow too well in the north of the country, though maybe they’ve bred varieties that would cope, I don’t know. There’s a lot that we planted too late this year because we didn’t have time to prepare the soil, but we’ll hopefully do better next year.

And the flowerbed is looking good, due to an injection of new plants at the weekend and a pick-up in watering now that I’m over my fear of drowning them and recognised that there’s not much chance of that in this heat! I managed to kill a lavender plant, maybe two as one’s on it’s way out, I think, through underwatering, so it’s been replaced and I’m keeping my fingers crossed. Be great if the sweet peas flower, and if the lupines and delphinium make it through the winter be even better next year when they’re taller. Good to have things to look forward to, and jobs to do that don’t involve dusting and ironing!

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