Thursday, 11 January 2018

2018 - WIP roundup and a new start, again

Having failed to post a sign-out for 2017, here I am signing in for 2018 and wishing you a Happy New Year nearly two weeks after the event. I hope you all had a happy and peaceful Christmas, if not a totally restful one: we had a full house with elder son back from USA and younger one home from university.  I had forgotten just how much food is required when cooking for five and how much washing up there is!

It was lovely to have all my kids at home for a while, despite them rushing about a lot catching up with friends, and everything piled up to make room for extra beds etc.  Now the decorations are down and we are slowly getting straightened out, as I am sure you are too.  Not quite time for Spring cleaning but some re-ordering required.  There are some great posts out there about re-organising one's sewing space (I wish) and it is such fun to peek at other people's domestic arrangements: try this one from Amy Smart which includes a few other links to inspiring and organised quilters and lots of lovely photos.

It always takes me a while to pick up the threads, both literally and metaphorically, and get back into sewing, especially as my NY Resolutions this year include tackling some DIY and redecoration.  Our family bathroom is first on the list, but I struggle with having to make so many decisions at once: I think I love making quilts because one can change one's mind relatively easily along the way and allow the project to evolve, whereas the plumber has to know exactly what is required before he starts....

Anyway time to focus on sewing and where I am with my many WIPS.  I am not going to make a list here as that is just TOO depressing and quite boring for you.  My aim is to focus on just one thing at a time and to use this blog to set some deadlines so that I stand at least some chance of finishing at least a few of the  projects.  Then I can show you photos of completed quilts which hopefully will be much more interesting for all of us!

Apologies for the poor quality of the photos: damp and dreary outside and nowhere indoors with good enough light to get a decent photo of the whole quilt.

So the first thing I am concentrating on is quilting my giant Four-patch Star which I mentioned briefly in this post.  So far I have put in most of the long diagonal quilting lines, but I have been procrastinating over how to fill the spaces in between.  I think I have finally decided so watch this space for my first proper finish of 2018.... (though I am planning a sneaky Friday finish post for tomorrow).

I have three other quilts layered and ready to quilt and need to prioritise completing them in January (or what's left of it) as they have been in this state for several months.  Do you find that half the battle is actually deciding how you want to quilt a finished top?  I think this is why I am so much better piecing and so much more interested in starting something new, than in finishing a quilt.  If I have a clear vision early on about how to quilt a project I am far more likely to maintain momentum right through to a finish.

Maybe that should be my resolution for 2018: spend a little time really studying options for quilting and plan ahead while piecing the top so that I am in a position to make a decision quickly and get on with finishing. After all, it's not a quilt till it's quilted, and realistically I am never going to be able to hand quilt all the quilts I make.  I absolutely love the look of handquilting but at the moment it is just not an option.

Immediately before Christmas I really did not have much opportunity to sew (and over the holiday none at all, needless to say) but back in the distant days of early December I had an urge to 'tidy up' my scraps and do some relatively mindless sewing whenever time allowed.  In many ways this is my favourite sort of quiltmaking: to start with a muddle of strips which would otherwise go into the bin, and to make something useful and, hopefully, if not beautiful, then at least pleasing to the eye and heart.

Some time ago I had cleaned up my cupboard and cut all my odd scraps of calico (quilter's muslin to our American friends) into 2" and 1 1/2" strips and stored them neatly in a plastic box.  I had done the same with ends of yardage left over from previous quilts.  I have had in mind for a long time to make a quilt from one of Bonnie Hunter's marvellous books of scrap quilts.  I will show you which one when I have made the next part of the quilt, but for now here are the chequerboard borders in progress.  Feeling smug because I have split/opened the seam allowances to get a flatter finish: a bit fiddly but worth it in the long run.

And as if that wasn't enough to be going on with I had the urge to tame my neutrals too.  Here is what I started with:

Chain piecing and general mess making in progress:

And a neat pile of trimmed blocks to show for it.  This quilt is going to be similar to this one of Amanda Jean's from her book, No Scrap Left Behind, which is based on traditional string quilts.  Amanda Jean offered instructions as part of a quilt-along last year in June, which is also the name of her quilt!  There are photos of some really old examples of this quilt pattern if you look on Pinterest as well as newer versions, and it's a great way of using scraps without having a paper foundation to tear out at the end of the process.

It's fine if the scraps don't have parallel edges - I like the variety it gives to have some irregularity.  Using only neutrals was a fascinating experience as it is amazing the range of 'colour' there is in neutrals, and how one really starts to notice the detail in low-volume fabric which doesn't normally clamour for one's attention!  How about reviewing your scraps in 2018 and making something useful and beautiful out of 'nothing'?

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