Sparkly leafy new autumn block

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I’m pleased to have made this autumn block, as it uses my favourite fabric to best effect – albeit second (at least!) time lucky. I had 4 rectangles of it I’d never used and 4 that had been part of another block I’d taken apart, so I wanted to use them in the position in the photo along with less patterned fabrics so you can really see them. The only thing that really worked was to have a square of it in the centre, so I’m afraid I cannibalised another block to get to it. I wasn’t sorry to lose the one I took apart because making  it was a mistake really, too many very patterned fabrics and quite a bright green and a bright orange in the same block made it over-the-top. This is one of my favourites now, but re-sewing pieces that were already trimmed from having been in another block is difficult and I certainly wouldn’t choose to do it; better to have got it right the first time! To my surprise the sparkly orange fabric is going well in some blocks, perhaps because it’s a darker burnt orange, rather than some of the brighter ones I’ve bought in the past: it often isn’t easy to tell from photos online shops what things are going to look like in real life, and when I went to a fabric warehouse sale last weekend I couldn’t find a single one that would have gone well in this quilt, such a shame.

I went for a wander earlier and the trees are beginning to change colour:

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Lots of berries on this piece of hawthorn:

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I don’t know what this shrub in the area between fields is, but not only are the leaves very colourful, the flowers are extraordinarily bright… maybe if ever I have a garden I can find out what it is and plant one.

Stripey jumper, two new autumn blocks, and a trip to Wiltshire

I finished the jumper made from a self-striping Noro yarn (a silk mix) that I’ve been working on quite fast because I wanted to wear it when the weather cools down, but to be honest am disappointed. The colours are still lovely but I wish I’d made it a size bigger, and all is not well with the neck. I’ve included a photo from the pattern book to show what it should look like, but in reality it’s far too high and I don’t know what I did wrong; I followed the instructions!

Patchwork-wise, I’ve finished another two autumn blocks, and am pleased with the colour combinations on both. I thought the mouse one might be too ‘avocado and aubergine’, but actually it’s fine. On the other one, I wanted to showcase the rosehip fabric, following on from previous blocks when a more heavily patterned fabric stood out against plainer ones, giving a better effect. In the end some of the other fabrics are reasonably heavily patterned, but it’s still okay. The orange fabric is new and the best I could get to be close to the orange in earlier blocks that was more rusty than bright, despite being covered in gold sparkles!

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When I finished it I laid out all the blocks I’ll definitely use, and as a whole the quilt is looking much better, though sadly weeding out the unsatisfactory ones leaves only 30 blocks! Sorry the photo’s dark (though it’s really bright sunshine outside) and of course as I’m standing on a chair with the camera stretched out up and in front of me, at a bad angle.

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Of the eleven discarded blocks left, I can see how two can be taken apart and some colours changed to make them usable, two won’t be used at all, and of the remaining seven I’ll take some apart and hopefully use some component parts in new blocks, and may keep one or two as they are. It’s a pain, particularly as the awful truth is there are some fabrics I should just never have  bought or used, which is a waste of money as well as time and energy, but there’s no point crying over spilt milk – I can be  more sanguine now I’m happier with the overall project!

We went to Wiltshire on Sunday and stayed for 5 nights, one night in a B&B near Malmesbury and 4 in a self-catering cottage near Salisbury. It’s a county I’d never visited, and am so pleased I went. I wanted to visit some of the sites associated with people I studied in Medieval History, so was really pleased to see Malmesbury Abbey, which was built on the site of an ancient holy place, and Old Sarum, the site of a now-ruined cathedral and castle, as well as Salisbury Cathedral, which was built in the 13th century when the cathedral at Old Sarum was abandoned. But there was so much ancient history, too. You felt it all around you because although Stonehenge is the famous stone circle and we decided not to visit because it is such a tourist hub and so cordoned-off that there might not be much pleasure to be had, there are actually lots of other, ‘smaller’ stone circles too, as well as the white horses etched out of the hillsides which you can see just driving along. We visited the stone circle that runs through the village of Avebury, and although there are only 30-odd of the original c. 150 stones standing, the scale of them is amazing. They reckon the stones were put there in 2600 B.C.! My photos don’t do it justice, but you can see the scale from the ones next to houses and people.

 

Photos of parts of Malmesbury Abbey:

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Stunning gardens at Stourhead, designed in the 18th century (having first diverted a river and dammed some medieval fish ponds, of course!), complete with grottoes and follies. Now owned by the National Trust. Must look fantastic in the autumn!

 

Lastly, Salisbury Cathedral – great place to see stunning embroidery! I somehow managed to omit taking a photo of the central aisle down the length of the nave, which was very long. There is an incredible font in the centre, commissioned in 2008, with constantly flowing water. The Chapter house dates to 1260 and has an amazing frieze running round it, above the benches were Chapter members sit, carved in stone and showing biblical scenes.

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New autumn block (and some shopping!)

This one came together quickly, in terms of which fabrics to put together, which makes a pleasant change for me! I’m pleased with the result, it’s got a proper autumn feel to it.170718

Where that big, bold fabric is concerned it’s better to put it with plainer ones, something I wish I’d come round to sooner! I’m going to try to make the next block in the same colours but in a different combination, though I don’t know what yet.

Oh, and once again I’ve been searching for more of a fabric that seems to have disappeared from the shops, though I only bough it in early May. It’s the beige background colour, from the Moda Thistle Farm range. I think I’ve ordered some but the online shop didn’t have a picture and the name’s slightly different to the one I saw in an online US shop but didn’t want to pay to order from overseas, it’s not that vital! Both were tonal sand but one had ‘seed’ in the title too, so we’ll see. I’m hoping that even if it isn’t the same I can still use it.

I went to a fabric warehouse sale on Sunday, in Henley-on-Thames; husband kindly took me. I got these lovely fabrics, to make tops with:

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The pale blue with swallows and the burgundy Japanese-style stripe were both half-price, so I got 2 metres of each. The lilac / purple stripe was more expensive because it’s a Kaffe Fassett design, but I loved it so bought 1.5 metres, which is enough for a sleeveless top using the pattern I already have, but I might use a different one. It’s a lighter weight cotton than the others in the shop were, something to do with the weave, which is exactly what I’d need for a sleeveless top. I won’t try to make that until I’ve made something with the swallow fabric first, because I don’t want to make a mistake and waste the one I like the best. I may make a long sleeve tunic with the burgundy cotton, I’ll wait and see how I get one with the swallow one, there’s no rush.

Yesterday Mum alerted me to a flash sale of pattern on the website http://www.sewessential.co.uk. I got two patterns, one for what they term a ‘kimono-style’ top, which looks like a t-shirt but the sleeves are of one piece with the front / back (I think), and the other for a scoop-neck vest top. If they come in time I might start the pale blue swallow one on Saturday afternoon.

We had a lot of thunder and scary lightning where I live last night, which I think went on for most of the night but cleared the air. In London this morning, it is muggy and horrible, eyes stinging and damp trickling through my hair (we don’t have air-con where I work), I hate it!!!

Funky Owl revamped and a new block

In my re-evaluation of early blocks which I wish I’d done differently, I decided I could make this funky owl, which I wanted to keep, less cluttered.

The one on the left is the original, the one of the right after I  reworked it.

The bright orange round the centre square is a fabric I bought early on (I think because it had the word ‘autumn’ in the title on ebay!) and in the light of what I’ve done and fabrics I’ve found subsequently wish I’d never gone near – though it’s not as bad as the yellow version of the same pattern!

If I’d had enough of the brown fabric with orange leaves I might have made all the flying geese around the outside with that as the base fabric, but I didn’t and there’s none to be bought anywhere that I could see. After a lot of faffing about and laying different fabrics alongside each other, I eventually decided to take apart the centre flying geese and replace the orange with dark cream / beige. Happily, I had the fabric I bought at the Edinburgh Knitting and Stitching Show but at the time didn’t know what I’d do with!

The main thing was to get rid of the busy patterns next to each other that create a diagonal of messiness at the wine-coloured corners. Although it might have been better to change the dark fabric in the centre flying geese, in the end I just remade those which had the multi-coloured  leafy fabric as the base and replaced it with the dark orange, which has a fairly plain pattern.

Not perfect, but better! It fits better with the other blocks.

It took a lot of fiddling with to get the pieces to fit, for some reason they didn’t want to very neatly, so I admit it’s better from a distance than close to.

The other block I took apart is this one, which I put on the reject pile:

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The red had to come out, but I thought the outside flying geese could be recycled, if I replace the camouflage-type triangles on the geese with the dark orange base with the same green as the alternate flying geese, so they created a more symmetrical pattern.

I took it apart and actually made the altered flying geese, convinced I could make something of them.

Here are various options I came up with:

None of them quite worked! The one in the biggest photo was, I think, the best, but having pale squares at the outermost corners sucked the whole thing in and made it look squashed, but putting the darkest fabric at the corners made the pale inside square too much of a contrast.

In the end, and after driving myself nearly made, all I kept of that original block was the bold autumn leaf fabric of alternate outer flying geese. It seemed to work with dark corners and middle and the rest paler. For the centre flying geese, I ended up  using another fabric I’d bought without purpose (though I’d bought it with three others with the same design theme and which it was intended to complement, so I must buy some more to replace it before it’s discontinued, as everything seems to be so quickly).

I think I’m pleased  with this, it showcases that fabric, which initially I loved (except for the purple), but it’s hard to get anything to go with it, and I realise now I should never have put anything with it except the plainest patterns.

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This weekend, apart from swimming, going to church, and having another bad driving lesson (sigh), we went to my in-laws on Saturday afternoon and my mother-in-law started making a top with me. I brought pattern and fabric, but of course didn’t get it right in both cases! It was very good of my m-in-law to help. By the end of the afternoon the heat in their tiny flat was such I was ready to keel over. We  got as far as cutting out the pattern pieces, my mother-in-law sewed the darts in the front then when I asked explained what she’d done, marked out the seams using tacking, and sewed back to front. Trying it on at that stage, unfortunately it doesn’t suit me at all and looks like a tent – not my finest fabric-choosing hour. Next session, m-in-l will have very kindly sewed on  one sleeve and will then use the other to show me what to do. There is then the notch-neck to do and we’ll take up the hem, as at present it is far too long.

Next weekend, however, husband has agreed to take me to a fabric sale at a warehouse 20 miles away.  A website that I occasionally use (I’m now trying to remember if I’ve ever actually bought from it) has a warehouse that opens Mon-Fri, no good for me as I work, but on special occasions opens at weekends. It’s opening for a sale this weekend to make way for autumn stock, so we’re going to investigate. I hope to get material for another top, which I’ll try to make myself using the same pattern but for the sleeveless version, and will choose a better fabric, which is  easier to do when you can see and touch the fabric instead of buying online. I’ll also look for possible patchwork bargains, and / or the cream fabric I used for that last block, and I fancy getting some thicker tartan / plaid / brushed cotton, but am not sure for what (other than some pj bottoms  if ever I make it that far) or whether they’ll have that in a sale of summer stock.

Something to look forward to to get me through the week!

Best do dishes now – 10 mins before Poldark starts!

 

Two blocks with new rosehips fabric (+ pink quilt update)

These are my latest two blocks, put together over the last 2-3 weeks, both using a new rosehips fabric I bought from Laughing Hedgehogs. I also got one in brown, which I’m working with now. I’m pleased to have got some more of the woodland animals fabric, which I think is nice and autumnal. Haven’t put all the blocks together for a while, to see how messy / overly orange it looks when they’re all together!

I’ve been focussing on the pink quilt at weekends, in between other commitments (what with swimming, driving lessons, and / or church events my weekends seem to vanish distressingly quickly), trying to make the back. Last weekend I realised that my plan A of 3 x 3 squares wouldn’t work because I needed fabric bigger than fat quarters, which is mostly what I have. So I decided on a 4 x 4 design, but am making the outer ‘squares’ larger, so that the ones in the middle of the four sides are actually rectangles, but once they’re cut down after quilting they’ll look square-ish. I had several disasters cutting fabric last weekend, it turns out bigger ones are hard to cut accurately with the rulers I had, so having wasted fabric and driven myself mad I sent for a 15 x 15 inch square ruler (bigger would have been better because the outer pieces are 17 x 17 at the corners and 14 x 17 in the middle of the sides, but the cost was against me) and more fabric. Some of the fabric wasn’t how I’d thought it would look in the online photos, so I’ve ended up with more ‘stash’ than I started with – argh!!! But still, I’ve eventually got the pieces cut, sometimes using two rulers alongside each other, and have decided where they’re going to be placed (taken a photo to remind myself) and have made up two of the four rows. I’d love to have all four made up and sewn together by this weekend, but me and the sewing machine are bad enough at the best of times, even less good friends at night. Yesterday I did 6 seams in total and two of them had to be pulled out again. I’m so nervous about quilting it when the happy day eventually comes, I may need to do deep breathing exercises in advance!

New favourite (block 7)

Bird 2This is my new favourite block (after the first one I did for this quilt), I’m pleased with the colours and having the bird, pine cones, berries and acorns, so feel it fits in well with my autumn theme (it took me ages to come up with putting in the red patches, but I think they really make it). I don’t think it fits well with the other blocks I’ve done, and only one of the colours I’ve used here has been used on any of the previous blocks, but I’ll make more and hope they somehow fit together in the end.  I think now I could have made the whole quilt in these colours, but too late now! And the key elements weren’t for sale when I first started looking for fabrics. I’m struggling to put together colours for the other blocks now, maybe I’ve given myself too many to choose from!