Friday, 30 November 2012

The phoenix rises from the ashes

OK, grab something...a cup of coffee, tea, bottle of alcohol...this is going to be a long, picture heavy one.

Where to begin.

Well there are previous posts about this quilt here (and somewhere else on my blog but I can't find it and it's not that important so on I go).

It was a pattern that I have no idea why I bought at the time other than I thought 'I could do that'.

Like a lot of things in life: clothes, shoes, boyfriends; I look back and think 'What on earth was I on at the time.'

So this pattern got put to one side until a clear-out a few years ago, when I couldn't decide whether to chuck it or keep it.

No idea why but I decided to keep it and slowly work my way through it. The plus side was it used up an awful lot of scraps, even the teeny weeny ones. The flip side was it was bone-crushingly boring but also slightly addictive. I wanted to throw the towel in soooo many times but I just couldn't. It would have meant giving up and I don't give up very easily.

So I gave myself mental milestones.

You're a third of the way there now

Your're half-way now, it would be a waste of the fabric you've already used if you gave up

It's a really good way to get rid of some of those everso not to your taste fabric remnants the mother-in-law gave you from way back when and you can still look her in the eye and say you used them

Look, you're three quarters of the way there now...wasn't so tortuous was it?

Now you've paper-pieced all the parts you just have to sew them together

Really it's not so bad is it?

These mental milestones were played out over two and a half years of on and off until I finally had this. It still took me a week though to remove all the paper from the back and I left little trails of it round the house and even sat at a meeting at work and then glanced down to see I had tiny bits of paper stuck to my trousers.

 While I was glad I had finished it, I felt completely deflated. I knew there would be another mountain to climb if I was going to quilt it with the justice I felt it deserved. I was so ambivalent towards it I would have shoved it under my sewing machine and mindless meandered all over it just to be done.

So I did something I have never done before, I packed it off  roughly 4,836 miles (I know that because I've just Googled it) to the amazingly talented long-arm quilter that is Krista where she worked her magic on it.

It then hung in an exhibition of her work on Vashon can see it on her blog...before beginning its long journey back to me, where it arrived this week.

I don't think there are enough superlatives for me to describe the outstandingly amazing job she has done on it.

The texture that she has brought to the quilt is just jaw-droppingly drooling.

She very politely described my quilt as 'an extreme fabric diary'...

...which is what it was. If I look at the shot above, I see the subtle star centres which is how I thought I was going to make the whole quilt, with lots of gentle, floral fabrics. I even recognise the blue floral as a Laura Ashley dress I wore to a wedding 20 years ago.

But as time went on, I completely forgot what I should be doing with this quilt and my colour choices became more random.

So that by the time I got to paper-piecing the fans (far right in the shot below) I was consumed by 'press-on-itus', only thought of value and not colour, such was the desire to just get to the finish.

But for all my stop-start, what-am-I-doing meetings with this quilt, Krista has managed to marry it all together with her quilting.

If you look at the back you can see how beautiful it is.

It was pointed out to me that someone had pinned the quilt top on Pinterest with the comment "This is gorgeous, but all those sharp, precision-pieced points would show up even better against a background with more contrast, like solid gray, black, or white."

Possibly true. But I didn't come to this quilt with a laid out plan that I carried through from beginning to end. I started this quilt the same reason I start every quilt I make:

Because for so many reasons, I just love the whole process of quilting.
Because I discover something new about myself and my love for quilting each time.
Because I can always see the beginning but don't necessarily need to plan ahead for the ending.

My quilts are all just an expression of who I am and the journey I took to get there.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday and At the End of the Hallway

Friday, 23 November 2012

What is modern?

When I saw the Modern Quilt Guild  was having a quilt show, I decided to come out of my comfort zone and enter a 'modern quilt.'

Sometimes I'm not even sure what modern means and I get it confused with contemporary and lots of other words that get bandied around when it comes to quilting.

So I've just made a quilt that I think is modern, with things that I love: lots of text fabric and a tonne of colour.

I even blocked the quilt which has made a huge difference to the way it hangs. There are several different methods out there. I chose to wash the whole quilt and lightly spin it. Then I lay it out flat on a carpeted spare room, measured it square, then pinned it into the carpet and left it there for 48 hours by which time it was square, flat and dry.

...although it doesn't really show nestled on a row of strawberry plants...

And I quilted the living daylights out of it.

But now I'm wobbling.

(Bit like the quilting really)

Because it's not perfect.

Some of the Drunkard's Path corner blocks don't match up perfectly and the quilting is more utilitarian than award-winning.

And I don't want it to be dissected by Those Who Wear White Gloves.

And I suppose the final nail in the coffin is I wouldn't have a clue what category to enter it into: Minimalist Design, Use of Negative Space, Modern Traditionalism - I have no idea.

So I'm thinking this is my test run for this year and maybe next year I'll have a proper go at being modern.

Linking up to Finish It Up Friday

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Saturday, 10 November 2012

Tickled pink....


Chuffed to bits

Over the moon

Pleased as punch

On cloud nine

I was all these and more when I heard (thanks Susan!) my Camelot Quilt came first in the 'Hand-quilted' section of Amy's Bloggers Quilt Festival.

I know it's a harmless bit of fun but it's also an unexpected affirmation that others like what you like. When you're quietly stitching away in your little corner of the world, you don't really think about what others will think but then you show it to Mr Internet and suddenly it goes on its own cyber journey.

So my thank you is three-fold: to the internet for connecting all of us far-flung quilters together, to Amy for taking the time and trouble to help with that connection and a very, very big thank you to everyone who voted for my quilt. I am seriously shocked.

Thank you.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Hitting the Pillow Talk Swap Jackpot

Participating in Round 9 of the Pillow Talk Swap on Flickr I really hit the jackpot this time with the most amazing cushion cover from Fiona at Poppy Makes.

How about this for happy scrappy perfection.

A beautiful cushion cover, a bonus beautiful quilted basket.

Fabulous backing fabric with a zipper enclosure and some spare Drunkards Path blocks which I will use.

I cannot thank Fiona enough for the love and detail that she has poured into this.

My whole family had a collective 'wow' when I opened the package and it will definitely be one of those 'what would you save if your house was on fire' items.

Thanks very much Fiona.

Sunday, 4 November 2012

I think I might have made a modern quilt

I have long been an admirer of really modern, clean, minimalist quilts. Coming from the school of more is more, cram as many different fabrics in as you can to a quilt, it has been quite the challenge to make one.

However, friends have just had their first baby and I kind of regard them and their penthouse flat as modern and minimalist and wanted to try and make a baby quilt that fitted the scheme.

For the first time ever, I sketched a rough design.

The design was scary for me as there wasn't much of it.
I think minimalist takes courage - there still has to be a balance between all the components for it to look right.
There is definitely an art to it.
My usual quilts are definitely not minimalist.
I wondered if I could pull it off.

There was loads of negative space. My previous inclination would have to been to do an all over cross-hatch design or some mindless meandering.

Not this time. I used it as an opportunity to try out lots of different quilting patterns.

I'm not sure there is necessarily a coherence to my willy-nilly approach to switching from one pattern to the next but I still think it kind of works.

This is a view of the back - I partly used Essex Linen
The back gives you a better idea of the randomness of the quilting.

The daddy is a pilot and the mummy used to be a flight attendant, so I though the addition of this piece of fabric was apt.

Most of the fabric in the front of the quilt is an Egyptian cotton bundle from Empress Mills. I have no idea how much is in a bundle but they are just £4.50 a bundle and I didn't use all of it in this quilt - there are still some bits left over. It is a brilliant, clean white (not sure it comes across in the photos) and it is like quilting through butter. I shall definitely be getting some more.

I'm still debating whether to quilt in the dark columns or leave as is.

But for the moment I am just going to enjoy the fact that I think I might just have made a modern quilt.

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