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!

 

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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Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (240)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share πŸ™‚ Bring along your project(s) and enjoy sharing in the conversations and inspiration being circulated via our Worldwide Quilting Community. I hope you have time to click on a few of the links below; maybe find a quilty blogger you haven’t met before, learn a new technique or discover a new on-line event to join making new friends along the way. Please do leave a comment or a like on the pages you visit – it is such an encouragement to the writers of the blogs we read.

Thank you for all the encouraging comments left me last week after I admitted to having lost my sew-jo. They were just what I needed to get the cover off my sewing machine and get stitching. On Monday I wrote about the string blocks that got me back into sewing mode alongside my plan to make a string block quilt for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2021. I received two messages from readers very politely asking if they might use the design for their RSC quilts? That gave me a real boost – so good to know my idea had given them the inspiration they needed for the Challenge. I think that definitely counts as a tick for my word of the year, SHARE πŸ™‚

Having found my sew-jo I now need to work on my ‘pattern-jo’. Boy! Have I been making heavy weather of writing a pattern for a table runner/wall-hanging project! πŸ˜€ This week I’ve managed to write enough to be able to test the cutting instructions for two of the blocks. Thankfully they came together as planned. Now to write the instructions for and make the third and final block…

Of course a revitalised sew-jo lead to a Dreami (drop everything and make it) project has sprung onto my design wall! This began as a solution to the problem of what to do with pre-cut fabric packs? I find it difficult to resist buying packs of coordinating fabrics, they look so lovely on the shelves in my sewing room but what to do with them? I came up with an idea for this pack of eight fat quarters (an on-line, lockdown purchase made last year).

Melange by Stof ‘Misty Morning’ fat quarter pack and yardage.

I wanted to use as much of the fabric as possible to make a good size lap quilt. The quilt plan grew in the back of my mind, some of the maths became my ‘go back to sleep’ thoughts in the middle of the night. This week suddenly felt like the right time to break into the fat quarter stack. After machine washing the fabrics I was pleased all measured just over 18″ x 20″ except for one fat quarter which wasn’t cut straight:

Never mind, with a bit of fiddling I just managed to get the necessary cuts from this wonky fat quarter.

The little basket in the photo contains all of the left-over fabric from eight fat quarters – I’m pleased so little fabric has gone to waste or been added to my scrap bins. The partially completed nine-patch block is the only glimpse I can give of the quilt just now but I hope it will come together very quickly and soon be ready for the big reveal.

Here are this weeks links into our Worldwide Quilting Community:

Cherry’s latest pattern, Oh! Sew Happy, is a cheerful row-by-row sewing themed quilt. There are spools, buttons, a sewing machine as well as a row of houses and the word ‘sew’. Lots of elements of the pattern could be used or adapted to make wall hangings for a sewing room or gifts for stitching friends.

Angela Walters has scheduled a series of live chats over on her You Tube channel (recordings will be available if the live times are not convenient for you). Here is the schedule: 21st Jan, Tips for Machine Quilting Feathers; 28th Jan, Help! How do I Quilt it?; and 4th Feb, The Business of Machine Quilting.

A post by Yvonne Fuchs aka Quilting Jet Girl led me to a skill building block of the month that has just got underway. Organised by Kim Lapacek the ‘Old School Block of the Month’ will have blocks contributed by twelve quilt designers through the year. Here are links to the introductory post and the first block post.

Looking for a speedy way to cut fabric? Katy demonstrates How a Die Cutter Works. And in a second post Katy shares information about the various die cutting machines and their accompanying dies manufactured by Accuquilt.

Rachel has made a serious dent in her collection of string scraps and has a finished Log Cabin quilt to enjoy. I especially like the scrappy border she improvised – another way of using up string scraps πŸ™‚

Happy Stitching!

Allison