Adjusting to a new season in and out of the sewing room

Japanese Graden, Kew by Allison Reid
Peace and tranquility at the Japanese Garden, Kew – a photo memory from Oct 2018

I knew September would throw up a lot of changes but I hadn’t factored-in quite what an impact adjusting to them all would have on my slowed-down, lock-down self. In trying to accommodate increased social activity I know I’ve dropped a few balls, including writing for this blog. Sorry for the lack of regular posts – there have been plenty written in my head!

I’m definitely not grumbling about the way life is changing, just having to acknowledge that returning to a more normal, pre-Covid, level of activity is going to take some time to get used to.

Gratitude Log. First and foremost I am grateful for the roll-out and up-take of vaccines in the UK – over 80% of the adult population is now fully vaccinated. The vaccination programme has made the following events possible and I’m acutely aware that most of the World’s population have no where near the levels of Covid-safety I’m privileged to enjoy.

In the past couple of weeks I’ve been grateful because:

  • Both my husband and younger son have found employment and we are settling into new routines.
  • I’ve been on a sewing day – first in 18 months πŸ™‚ Felt so odd being in a public hall and not wearing a mask! Funny that I sat next to a lady and as we chatted we realised she’d been one of the customers I’d served earlier that week in Purple Stitches – we’d both been wearing masks in the shop so didn’t recognise one another!
  • The ladies mid-week Bible study group at Church has begun meeting in-person rather than on Zoom.
  • We’ve been able to meet up with family and friends for a variety of socials including birthday celebrations and an in-person meeting of our Housegroup.
  • I’ve begun teaching again. The first class of the four session Beginners Course took place last Saturday.

Whew! That’s a lot of social activity and I’ve just had to accept that it’s going to take introvert me a little time to cope with this return to a more balanced social routine.

Which makes me grateful for something else, namely my sewing room πŸ™‚ Definitely a place to retreat into, find rest in creativity or just find rest in pottering about, fondling fabric and playing with new ideas. Occasionally this sewing room space does become a place of work though. For the past two weeks I have been pressing, rotary cutting and collating novelty print fabrics. I managed to source 42 different cotton prints. After laundering them all I set about cutting them into 1,156 five inch squares! (I’ve only just worked that out – definitely better not to have known at the start of the process how many were needed!).

I have collated the squares into eighteen packs of 42 and twenty packs of 20. All are now listed in my Etsy and Folksy shops for UK customers. Alongside the packs of novelty squares I’ve listed my I-Spy Shadow Quilt pattern. I’m proud of this pattern as I designed it to be a quick and easy make and it has received positive reviews ☺️

Apart from the 42 novelty print squares all that’s required to complete the patchwork are two background fabrics – one a darker shade of the main background to create the ‘shadows’. The pattern has step-by-step instructions for strip piecing. Despite appearances there’s no fiddling about with sashing as the strips between the novelty squares are part of the blocks. The pattern is available as a pdf download on Etsy or as a printed pattern for UK customers on Folksy. (Unfortunately Etsy add tax onto the price of the pattern – obviously I don’t receive that money).

Handling all the novelty fabrics has got me fired up to make another I-Spy Shadow quilt. I think I’ll try making a smaller version using 30 novelty squares in a 5 by 6 layout. I’ll be posting my progress here and on Instagram @allisonreid.neweverymorning

Background fabrics along with the excess novelty squares I’ll be using.

Other projects that need attention this weekend are my blocks for the Beginners Class – can’t have the teacher falling behind on the homework! I’ve taught the Beginners Course several times, making at least five versions of Viv’s Dashing Stars quilt.

My most recent Dashing Stars quilt – I added borders to this one.

This time around I’m mainly using fabrics from my overflowing bins of blue scraps. I’ve decided to alter the pattern a bit by making Square-in-a-Square Blocks in place of the large feature fabric squares. I used this table on the Quilter’s Paradise site to figure out the cutting of the fabrics for the Square-in-a-Square Blocks. A very handy resource for anyone who ties themselves in knots doing quilt math!

Once I’ve done my Beginners Course homework and the prep for lesson two I will turn my attention to the ninth block of the Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail Sew Along. I’m making these blocks using scraps of blue fabric – surely I’ll be able to close the lids on those bins soon? πŸ˜€

I hope you have some time to be creative this weekend.

Linking with Alycia for Finished or Not Friday.

Happy Stitching!

Allison

PS. Catching up with reading blog posts is definitely on my list with the intention to re-establish Saturday Quilting Bring & Share posts as soon as I have brain space to absorb more than ‘absolutely necessary’ information!

 

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (269)

Welcome back to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share after our short Summer break. I hope you have a project to bring along and some time to join in the sharing of inspiration, tips, news and views with our Worldwide Quilting Community. Use the links below to find your way into the Community, leave an encouraging message in the comments boxes and enjoy absorbing some of what’s been shared over the past few weeks πŸ™‚

This week I finished the third version of the bag I’m designing (it’s listed along with a matching facemask in my Folksy shop). It was a bit of a slog as I was not only sewing but also taking step-by-step photos and amending the draft pattern as I went along.

 

I’m pleased with the adjustments I’ve made to the design. I’m particularly proud of the bottle holder πŸ™‚ Little things, little things…

Whew! It is a relief to have pushed the pattern writing process to a new stage. Now I have to edit the photos, integrate them into the pattern draft and polish up the written instructions…

Having finished a sewing project I took time this morning to clean the lint out of my machine and change the blades of my rotary cutters. Why do I always delay doing these simple but game-changing tasks? πŸ˜€

Then I scratched my ‘patchwork piecing itch’ by making the eighth block of Melva’s Pieces of the Santa Fe Trail Sew Along.

Grandmother’s Block

The Sew Along is ideally paced for me with a new block being announced just once every three weeks. The blocks themselves are interesting to make and at 12Β½” square provide a relaxing break from more fiddly sewing.

Just as well I am keeping up with Melva’s Sew Along. Looking around my sewing room and up at my design wall I can see I’ve got rather a lot of projects stuck at a standstill.

The EPP/applique English Country Garden QAL blocks are the February-April blocks, I still haven’t finished the May Marigolds; the blue EPP hexagon flowers were made many months ago to fill in the open spaces of the Irish Chain quilt languishing on the back of the sofa bed; and there are several other partially completed projects stored in clear boxes around the room/house. I think I either need to make progress with the projects on the design wall or replace them with a selection that will get me motivated. It feels like a good time to freshen things up; we’re entering a new season, the new school year is getting underway and several groups I belong to are about to resume after the 18 month Covid break. Are you gearing up for changes in projects and activities as we enter the last third of the year?

Before we get to the links just a reminder that I’m now sending out a newsletter a couple of times a month. There’ll be more links into the world of patchwork quilting as well being the place to hear about new patterns and workshops before they are launched. Newsletter 2 will be winging it’s way to in-boxes in a few days time. Sign up here to keep ahead of the news πŸ™‚

Here are some links that I hope will be of interest and spark your creativity:

Izzy has chosen a flower design to free motion quilt across a Plus Sign Patchwork. The curvy, swirling design makes a great contrast to the straight lines of the patchwork and creates a comfortable, smushy texture too.

The final part of Cynthia’s scrap sorting trilogy includes a selection of the quilts she has made from the scrap fabrics she keeps so well organised.

Watching someone else exercising their free motion quilting muscles is always entertaining (well! in my quiet world it counts as entertainment!). In this short video clip watch Leah Day quilt out ‘Loopy Angles’, straight lines and triangles take the place of loopy lines and circles.

On a fmq roll here so why not add another fmq link? πŸ™‚ This link will take you to Angela Walter’s ‘Tips for Quilting Negative Space’.

Inspiration comes from all directions… How about Van Halen’s guitar? πŸ˜€ Izzy has interpreted the design on said guitar to make a cushion cover for a VH fan.

Quilts that make you say ‘wow’! I have no desire to make a millefiori style quilt but I am fascinated by the process and the results Wendy shares in her blog posts. Her latest quilt ‘Fireworks’ took four years to make! It is EPP and hand quilted. All done exquisitely.

Following the progress of a blogger’s project via their posts makes me eager to click on the email notifications when they arrive in my inbox to see what’s occurring. Finishing the piecing, then quilting and binding someone else’s abandoned Double Wedding Ring quilt certainly provided an interesting series of posts as Sharon battled to keep the project moving, overcoming several difficulties along the way. Having willed the project on I’m so pleased to see the quilt finished. It certainly is a masterpiece in perseverance and well worth all the effort Sharon put into it.

Yvonne is an experienced quilter of negative space. She shares her quilting plan decision making process in this post.

When you finish a huge UFO quilt and decide it’s your favourite make ever! Take in Rebecca Grace’s pure pleasure at moving her Pineapple Log Cabin Quilt to the final stages of it’s construction πŸ™‚

Linking with Alycia for Finished or Not Friday. She has finished a scrappy quilt which looks just great.

Happy Stitching!

Allison

 

Writing Patchwork Patterns and Dreaming of Dandelions

Hey! Ho! I spent Bank Holiday Monday in my sewing room pushing through writers/quilters block to get my latest pattern ‘done’. No surprise that the pattern isn’t DONE but – putting on positivity hat – progress has been made. It took a lot of concentration and what felt like endless rounds of jumping from a printed draft, to the laptop, to my sewing machine and over to the photographic light tent…

You do have permission to copy my meme and use it as many times as you like! Let’s spread the word!

…. Which leads me to this serious aside about patchwork quilt patterns. It takes a lot of time, thought, fabric and false starts to create a pattern. Respect to pattern writers who manage to create original designs, produce patterns and then market them. As patchwork quilters we know the value of a well written pattern – whether a stand alone item or one from a collection in a book. We really shouldn’t be making ‘free’ copies of these patterns to share with friends, to use for workshops, or Guild get togethers. If the pattern writer hasn’t given permission for copying then any copies are in effect stolen – copying without permission is THEFT. Do we really want to be handing out stolen goods to our friends? As well as resisting the temptation to make copies we need to find polite ways of pointing out this issue of theft whilst saying ‘no thank you’ to copied patterns whenever they are offered to us. That may mean having awkward conversations with friends and Guild workshop organisers. I know from experience this is difficult and now I feel guilty when I look through my collection of patterns and find some which were most likely copied without permission. In fact it’s about time I destroyed those dubious copies and looked out for originals to purchase (direct from the designer if possible).

Time to step down from my soap box…

Those who follow this blog will know I’m more of a ‘starter’ than a ‘finisher’ so won’t be surprised to learn that even whilst concentrating hard on writing the pattern there’s been a bit of my mind considering new projects πŸ˜€ After a day of working on the pattern I was too tired to continue so the ‘shiny new project’ part of my mind got free-rein. I have a drawer (well! two drawers actually) filled with speciality rulers, some bought with projects in mind, others acquired as magazine freebies. I’ve been toying with the idea of making a row-by-row quilt using each of these rulers in turn. Maybe in doing this I’ll find real treasure in some and be able to part with others that really don’t cut the mustard?

As I’ve recently been seeing quite a few machine pieced hexagon quilts showing up in my social media feeds I was inevitably drawn to the multi-size Hexagon Cutter I’d acquired with an issue of Today’s Quilter magazine. And lo and behold! I found a 60ΒΊ triangle ruler too! Perfect!

What about fabric? Ah! Ha! Just the job – a Charm Pack I’ve been eyeing for a while now. There’ll be a bit of waste from the 5″ charm squares as I’ll have to cut hexagons measuring 4″ by 4Β½” but much better to use the squares than have them languishing in my stash! For the triangles I auditioned several solid fabrics before choosing the blue (it is a Kona Solid, maybe ‘Evening’?).

As I was drifting off to sleep I mused about introducing negative space into the design, which led me to think of Dandelion clocks against a blue sky… 😴

This morning I tested out the rulers on a couple of spare charm squares. Hum! Correct angles but sizes not quite compatible, doh!

The triangles were slightly too big. I had to centre them by making a crease in the hexagon block. Once I’d sewn the seams I trimmed down the triangle on the left. Back to the drawing board…

Just as well this shiny new project idea isn’t too straightforward because I really MUST FINISH writing that pattern before I start another project! πŸ˜€

Linking with Judy for Design Wall Monday and Beth for Monday Making.

Allison

 

Salmon Pink Blues

I’ve given myself a bit of colour bother! I went for a pick-n-mix tour of my local quilt store. I picked a fabric from the ‘Fantasy’ collection by Sally Kelly. I chose to mix it with a print from the Wildflower collection by Kelly Ventura.

The Fantasy fabric has a variety of dusky colour shades on a dusky lavender/grey background – I tried to find a colour match on a Kona colour card but can’t find one – something between Kona Lavender and Slate. The fantastical flowers and foliage are coloured in shades amongst others, of salmon, orange and pink. Three colours I have difficulty putting together despite them being adjacent to one another on

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