Friday, 15 August 2014

A mixed bag: retail and reflection, plus a small finish.

Can't quite believe it is two weeks since we returned from holiday.  It's that strange period when you almost feel you haven't been away but you have only just finished doing the post-holiday washing and ironing (yes, I do still use my iron for more than just patchwork blocks!).

I think it is partly that I have had a really busy fortnight with family stuff (daughter's wisdom teeth out, younger son's work experience and exam results, mum-in-law's hospital appointment - you know the kind of thing) PLUS a fair amount of quilty stuff, the highlight of which was a visit to Festival of Quilts at NEC, Birmingham (UK) a week ago yesterday.  I had such a great time and was so tired after all the stimulating shopping and viewing of quilts and chatting quilts with my lovely friends, Sylvia and Susie.  It was like a whole year of quilt related activity packed into one day!

I only saw a smallish selection of the quilts on show, but I saw some amazing pieces of work. Unfortunately, although I remembered a camera this time, I was too mean to buy a programme and I don't know the names of the makers, so I'm not sure about the ethics of showing you photos without being able to give a credit. Sorry, I just hope some of you also managed to get there, or will have had a chance to visit a show near you this summer: it is so exciting to see other people's work and to be inspired to go further and do better with one's own efforts.  Plus, let's be honest, the shopping opportunities are great!

On that note I can show you some of what I bought, and I hope that will spur me on to make quilts with the fabrics before another year has passed and the next FOQ rolls around.

First pic is my absolute favourite at the moment: I must have subconsciously been thinking about the colours because, having picked out the bundles of FQs (Secret Garden by Nel Whatmore for Free Spirit) I also bought Fair Trade fabric and Aurifil threads which exactly co-ordinate!  I am a real impulse shopper at a show because it is all a bit mad, there is so much to see that is new and that I may never see again, so I tend to just react and buy what I like, then think about how I will use it later.  So it's great when the fabrics do all work can see in my stash the times when it didn't work out quite so well!

Some of the leftover plains may end up mingling with these fabrics from Creative Quilting, and the aqua threads look like they'll find some use with this selection too.

Apologies for this next photo which I forgot to rotate - some of the same colours cropping up again... plus some really strong brights to shake it all up a bit.  They make my mouth water and I'm sure I'll find a use for them too.

And a slightly cooler gathering, from a variety of places, just because they were lovely.

Having just had my first blogging anniversary, I want to thank everyone who has dropped by, and especially those of you who have been kind enough to leave a comment.  I have really enjoyed the process and the nudge it gives one to follow through and finish off.  I have been reflecting recently about how I have sewn all my life, but through my teens and twenties I used to feel that I was strange to enjoy sewing as no-one else I knew sewed.

In my thirties with babies I had two friends with a sewing/knitting background/interest and I discovered patchwork later that decade through classes at my LQS.  I still felt a bit of a misfit though as there wasn't really anyone of my age at the classes in those days.  In my forties I was fortunate to work at my LQS and subsequently teach there, and I found such friendship among my colleagues who were all equally fabric obsessed.  I learned so much from them, both technically and in the way they chose and used fabric in their own projects, as well as from helping customers choose.

It is such a bond, finding others who care about the same things as you, and I love meeting up with them to really talk about quilting, in a way that you can't with people who don't do it themselves, no matter how politely interested they may be.  I had a lovely day on Tuesday with Mary, a friend I used to work with but don't now see as often as I'd like, because of distance and other commitments.  She introduced me to Pinterest which I have just started playing with, and it is like being at a never-ending quilt show - there are so many really talented makers out there and it is wonderful to be able to see and share in all the great work which previously would perhaps have had an airing at an annual show and then be seen no more except by the recipient of the quilt.

Now in my fifties, I am a late adopter of the technology, but I love all the opportunities there are out there on the web for us to shop, learn and share ideas.  I no longer feel that I am the only one with a rather odd interest - I know there are many thousands of us addicted to making things with fabric!

Enough reflecting, my finish this week is a table runner made from the leftover blocks and bits from a small quilt I must have made ten years ago when stitch and flip corners and bonus triangles were first becoming popular techniques.

The little blocks finish at 2 3/8" square, sashing 1 3/8", and the runner measures 9 1/2" x 24" because that's the most I could get out of what I had left.    

It is so satisfying to use up what's left, and the very small number of strips remaining have gone in the scrap bag.

In case you are interested, here's a picture of the original quilt which measures 45" square.

The sawtooth border is made from the bonus triangles which measure 5/8" finished.

They are not perfect so don't look too closely (I didn't trim them down after stitching!!!) but they do what all pieced borders do, in my opinion, and that is add interest to the quilt for only a bit of extra effort.

I like the fact that they belong in the quilt, having been made as part of the main process; and the shapes are the same (ie HST's) but the scale is different.

So how about looking through your UFO's and leftovers and seeing what you can do with them this week? Unlock your creativity and make something from 'nothing' before rewarding yourself by cutting into new fabric and starting a new project!  I will be.

I am linking this week to Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, whose fabric choices always inspire me.

PS Picked these sloes on a walk with my dog earlier today; beautiful blue-ish bloom on the dark purple skins.  Sloe gin for Christmas!

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