Finding my sew-jo during lockdown

My planned 8 x 10 block layout for RSC21

Well! We’re not in our first or even our second lockdown here in the UK. Nope! We are settling into our third. I don’t know why this one has hit me hard. Perhaps the announcement last Monday, 4th January, came just a bit too soon after all the emotional re-adjusting we went through in the run up to Christmas? Plans to see family and friends petered away to a quiet, stay in your household, affair.

Whatever the reason my sew-jo disappeared. It took me ’til the weekend to uncover Julie the Juki ready to power through some patchwork piecing. During the week I did visit my sewing room a few times and fiddled about sorting pink strips, pressing them and cutting foundation papers to size (or what in my fuddled state I thought was ‘to size’).

Halfway through the first string block the bobbin thread ran out…. Then nearing completion of the block it suddenly dawned on me that the foundation paper was 8″ square. My plan was to have 8″ finished blocks! *Groan*! The papers should have been cut with a seam allowance, making them 8Β½” square. Rookie mistake! After a quick look at the scruffy, untrimmed edges of the block I felt the fabric strips were long enough and the seams stitched far enough beyond the paper that I would be able to square the block to 8Β½ inches. Thankfully that worked. For the remaining seven blocks I made sure to extend the strips and the seams well beyond the edge of the foundation papers and trimmed them all to the correct size πŸ™‚ So glad I only cut the eight paper squares needed for this months Rainbow Scrap Challenge blocks and didn’t get carried away cutting loads of papers, the wrong size, for future use.

These eight blocks will form one row of my RSC21 quilt. Thought I’d leave my pink slippers peaking in the photo!

The lockdown no-sew-jo has been broken, all be it a rather shaky break-through. Just as well I chose a forgiving block – no accurate cutting or seam matching required – whew!

Now I’m attempting to re-engage my brain cells by writing and testing a new pattern. It involves hearts… Will it be ready for this years Valentines Day or 14th Feb 2022? πŸ˜€

If your sew-jo has been missing I hope you re-discover it very soon πŸ™‚

Linking with Cynthia for Oh! Scrap (she’s making pink blocks for several rainbow scrap quilts) and Judy for Design Wall Monday (she is making Drunkard’s Path blocks).

Allison

 

Ending 2020 with a Patchwork Rainbow

I’m happy to have my first Rainbow Scrap Challenge quilt finished in the year I began making it – just! The monthly hunt though a box of scraps of the prescribed colour gave me a sense of making progress through the topsy-turvy year of 2020. The simple nine patch blocks fit together in a 10 x 12 layout measuring 60″ x 66″. The backing is an extra wide text print and I created the label in my usual fashion using a computer print out, light box and permanent marker.

I stitched two sides of the label into the binding and finished the project by hand stitching the remaining two edges to the quilt back. The binding fabric is from the Solstice range by Sally Kelly @sallykellyfabric . I felt I was committing a crime by cutting this beautiful fabric into binding strips but the rainbow of colours on a dark blue background make it just perfect for the quilt!

In the end I chose to echo quilt a gentle curve across the quilt following the flow of the patchwork pattern. The echoes are 2Β½” apart so the quilt drapes well and feels cuddly πŸ™‚ I used three different colours of Aurifil 40wt threads – 2314 across the yellow & orange sections; 2520 across the red, purple & blue sections; and 2902 across the aqua & green sections.

My final quilt of 2020 πŸ™‚ It feels appropriate to have ended with a rainbow, symbol of hope in the Bible, and a natural phenomena which moves us to look up in wonder. Before Christmas I shared thoughts on Advent as a season of waiting. The sense of waiting continues with the transition from this year to the next bringing few tangible changes. This morning I read a reflection by Mark Meynell* which included the thought that there are two types of waiting: passive ‘rainy day’ waiting; and active ‘house-guest’ waiting. I’m going to make a conscious effort to make my ‘stay at home’ Tier 4 existence a time of active waiting. Not necessarily making quilts (although there’s bound to be some sewing room action!) but a time of expectant waiting. Instead of staring at the rain and wishing it would stop I intend to be preparing for when the sun breaks through a gap in the clouds and a rainbow arcs overhead.

Rather than wishing you ‘Happy New Year’ (which may sound hollow to some and wishful thinking to others) I will instead go back to the theme of Advent: a sure hope in the promise of everlasting light that can never be extinguished by the darkness. Two thousand years ago John wrote with confidence, ‘… the darkness is passing and the true light is already shining’. Jesus is the name of that light and He’s still shining! Amen

Allison

* Mark Meynell, Colossians & Philemon For You, The Good Book Company

A quilt finish and a bonus cushion cover

An odd mixture of emotions today as we emptied the loft of stored Christmas decorations and absorbed the latest guidelines and rules issued by the UK’s Prime Minister. Very strange to think that maybe no one outside of our little ‘household bubble’ will step into the house to see the tree and decorations. But how fortunate we are to be a three, knowing that other members of our family are not alone in their homes either and hopeful that all can remain safe and well until the virus is finally brought under control.

Trying to take a positive slant: the social restrictions already in place have led to much more time being spent at home in the run up to Christmas than in previous years. No end of year lunches or get-togethers getting me out of the house has meant more time to sew in December than I can ever remember! I have two finishes to share. Firstly, the cushion cover I made to test a pattern.

Made from stash fabrics chosen to coordinate with our living room sofas. The cushion cover is 18″ square and has a simple envelope opening.

The second finish is my fifth version of the Beginners Course pattern, Dashing Stars. I used the background fabric to create a narrow 2″ border to give (I hope) the effect of the blocks floating across the quilt top.

I enjoyed hand stitching the binding – it’s just the right time of year to have a cosy quilt draped across my lap. I am very fond of Dashing Stars (5). It combines my go-to saturated Autumn colours with my growing partiality for text print fabrics. All the fabrics were purchased at Purple Stitches. The text fabric is an extra wide background cotton. I used the remainder for the pieced backing.

I used Hobbs Heirloom 80/20 wadding and stitched a 2Β½” wide diamond grid across the quilt. I’m very happy with how it looks and feels – super soft and cuddly πŸ™‚

No quilt is complete without a label! This label is part of the pieced backing.

Linking these finishes with Wendy for the Peacock Party and Michelle for the Beauties Pageant. Wendy is sharing photos of three of her Christmas quilts – the close ups of the felt applique are worth a peak πŸ˜‰ – and Michelle has used an old pattern with fabric from her stash to make a quick quilt and gain a sense of achievement πŸ™‚

I do hope you are able overcome any disappointments the Covid restrictions may have brought your way. Our public health officials are hopeful the measures taken now and the vaccination programme being rolled out will give us the opportunity to enjoy social contact with family and friends by the end of Spring. ‘Waiting’ and ‘looking forward’ are certainly themes that resonate powerfully in Advent 2020.

Allison

Saturday Quilting Bring and Share (237)

Welcome to Saturday Quilting Bring & Share. Bring along your project(s) and share in the stories, inspiration and generosity of our Worldwide Quilting Community. Click on the links and add your ideas and thoughts in the comments boxes at the end of each blog post. With Christmas fast approaching I’ve decided to make this the last edition of Saturday Quilting Bring & Share for 2020. Although I’m sure I’ll be sharing links in posts I write between now and the New Year πŸ˜‰ Don’t forget by subscribing to my blog an email notification will be sent to your inbox whenever a post is published πŸ™‚

My week has been dominated by deadlines: first and foremost the finishing of the Diamond Anniversary bed runner (see the photos here); then a quilt pattern to finalise before emailing it to a magazine while the sample quilt was collected by a courier (that sounds so cool to me! πŸ˜€ ); finally, finally, a couple of hours re-capping and preparing for an in-person class at Purple Stitches.

To calm myself down after all the deadlines were met I turned my attention to a bit of fabric sorting. My basket(s) of scraps from recent projects were overflowing. It was relaxing to untangle the mess, sorting the scraps by colour into my scrap bins. I even threw away a few! I know!

The Beginners Course at Purple Stitches was suspended during the November lockdown. Today the two participants were able to join me at the shop (perspex screens, masks and hand gel made this possible). It was such a pleasure to be sewing in a group and I had the extra pleasure of seeing student A progress to making and stitching binding to her quilt while student D conquered ΒΌ” seams to make Sawtooth Star blocks. So all in all a very satisfying morning.

During the class I had time to cut binding strips for my fifth version of Dashing Stars, the pattern used for the Beginners Course. I definitely feel like my sewing is winding down for the year.

There are two finishes within sight: I have the binding to machine stitch to the front of the Dashing Stars quilt before stitching it by hand to the back; there’s the sample cushion that also needs binding to be hand stitched; and I may have time to tackle the over large blocks I made for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge. If only I’d done some forward planning like Julie whose RSC quilt blocks all fit into a design she had in mind right at the start of the year. My ‘fly by the seat of my pants’ method has resulted in the need to unpick some of the thirty-six patch blocks to make more versatile nine patch blocks…

I hope you will find plenty to interest you in this weeks selection of links into the Worldwide Quilting Community:

Cross stitch Gingerbread Houses! Now we know it’s nearly Christmas! Wendy has been making these 3D houses since 2010 and has quite a collection. They are very appealing. Wendy highly recommends the patterns by ‘The Victorian Sampler’. I especially like all the little extras added to the cross stitch including buttons, beads, piping and ribbons.

Sharon has finished a quilt made of Christmas fabrics with a snugly flannel backing and a baubles quilting pattern. Perfect for this chilly season (in the Northern hemisphere anyway!).

Bobbi has been making zippered book sleeves to protect her books when she takes them out and about. She has provided a tutorial which is particularly helpful if you, like Bobbi herself, have been avoiding projects with zips. In three sizes, these would make an excellent last minute Christmas gift πŸ™‚

I found linking my emotions to fabric quite a test as I followed along Rachel Hauser’s Quilter’s Color Quest earlier this year. Rachel shares very clearly how she uses fabrics and designs to work through and express emotions. She used a design in 2016 to illustrate her feelings around the struggles of her severely disabled baby, Eleni. Since then Rachel has remade the design using fabrics to express a sense of hope. Early next year she will be launching the pattern and hosting a QAL – as Rachel says: ‘If you are a maker, you have a unique opportunity to use art to process big emotions. I know from experience that this can be so healing.’ Read more here.

I’m not that keen on batiks – can I hear gasps of astonishment and horror? – but… Leanne’s use of Island Batik’s ‘Love and Kisses’ range of fabrics has softened my opinion somewhat. Leanne has used the fabrics to make another of herΒ  Bloom blocks. There’s plenty of quilting inspiration in the close up photos shared in her blog post.

Jan’s use of partial Dresden Plate blocks to make a medallion style quilt is well worth a look. It looks like a Drunkards Path pattern but without the curved piecing.

Linking with Alycia for Finished or Not Friday. Alycia shares her latest finish Quilt of Valour and the story of Wade the Steer who makes regular visits to her back yard!

Happy Stitching!

Allison