a bunting we shall go…

Such a beautiful day here yesterday, I embarked on a little outdoor sewing.

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All this was prompted by a text from a friend declaring that no fabric bunting was to be found for her lunch party today.  I wrestled with the thought of sitting at my sewing machine inside, before realising I didn’t need to.  I pulled out my packed up fabric and got stitching.  I had forgotten how much I like the steady repetition of making bunting – cutting the triangles, sewing straight seams, pressing, assembling.  Pretty soon, I had a few metres ready to deliver, and she kindly sent a photo of it in situ under her pergola.

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The funny thing is, I found it quite difficult to assemble a coherent collection of fabrics to make even a few metres, which made me realise how far along my scrap busting journey I have come.  Yes, I still have plastic boxes of fabric, but now it is mostly small pieces, and I am definitely on the home strait of using it all up!  I have made four large quilts, and there may just be one more smaller one in there.

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I also found time to line this basket finally, having cut out the pieces 3 years ago!  It was buried in one of those boxes!  And I can definitely see some more bunting being made if the sun keeps shining.

 

colour inspiration…

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My home town has been yarn bombed today, which really made me smile when I came out of the station. There, amongst the greyness of the day and location, was a splash of colour tied to the lampposts.

I was on my way home from the Matisse Cutouts exhibition at the Tate Modern where colour and form took centre stage. I feel quite overwhelmed by what I saw, and need to digest it a little before further comment. I urge you to seek out this body of work, although photographs can’t do justice to the scale and vibrancy.

The exhibition particularly resonated with me, because I have been working on my own form of cutout. Developing from sketches and collages and nestling somewhere between art and textiles, these have been in my mind for many years since I took a class with Priscilla Jones, and it’s certainly a way to use up my scraps.

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rag rug return…

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Look what I found during my clear out this weekend; my recycled t-shirt rag rug. I started collecting t-shirts for this project about 4 years ago and shared the beginnings of it here, back in 2013. Since then it has been tucked in a bag, tweaking my conscience every now and then, patiently waiting for its moment in the light. Yesterday was that day.

I did a little teaching on Thursday evening, a dress-making class to cover for a colleague.  Perhaps being around all those eager beginners that rubbed off on me.   After a little reacquainting with the process, I managed a few rounds before bed, my enthusiasm for the project renewed. The pattern attaches the strands by hand sewing, but to speed things along,  I am machine zig-zagging the rug together.  Plait, turn, sew – it’s a steady job.  I’m quite intrigued because I can’t remember which t-shirts are in those fabric balls, only that I chose to use mainly pinks and pastels so that it can go in my daughter’s room so there is also a sense of nostalgia and delight as I see the pattern reveal itself as I go.

I am starting to appreciate the benefits of my mega clear-out. Not only am I being forced to reassess work in progress and discovering hidden gems of fabric, I am being reminded of why I do what I do. Of course, I value the recycling element, but I am also showing my family that not everything is instantaneous, or can be bought – that there is value in repurposing and in taking time to make something of quality and to appreciate it anew each time you use it.  I know they will recognise and love the stories about the previous life of these t-shirts. I also hope I am making something that will be used for years to come.

ease back in…

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There has been much pouring over plans of late, decisions to be made regarding door and window placement, ceiling heights and planning rules to comply with, not to mention trying to convey ideas to someone whose brain works differently to your own. However, I think we are finally on the home straight; bring on the building work!

Yesterday, having realised how long it has been since I created anything, I snuck off to my soon-to-be-no more studio, amongst the piles of “stuff” waiting to be re-housed (where on earth am I going to put it all?), to make something useful.

I am constantly rummaging in my bag for my sunglasses, and although I have a hard case for them, I never put them back there because it is so bulky.  I remembered seeing a lovely glasses case in the Poppy Treffry embroidery book and this was my goal.

If you don’t know Poppy Treffry, she is a British designer/maker, based in Cornwall by the sea and she uses quirky freehand embroidery to decorate everyday items.  She has a lovely knack of matching colour and pattern.

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It felt good, rummaging to choose fabric, cutting, having purpose.  I decided to make two at once and keep the best one as a gift.  I have already made amendments to the pattern, which was too big, so once I have finished, I will post a tutorial.

It felt good to ease back in….

 

very productive day…

I have been procrastinating and neglecting this spot recently, in part due to our building work which hovers on the horizon and many other reasons I could blame.  Then on Friday, I received this lovely postcard from Italy.

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It was from my partner in The Big Stitched Postcard competition. Oh!  I hadn’t even started.  Galvanised into action, my postcard was stitched, stuck and in the post within the hour!  Just like that, it became a priority.

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Recently, rather than create, I go and stand amongst the fabric, paint and equipment, trying to imagine where I am going to store it all when the structure is pulled down, but convince myself that the odd hour I have to spare is not enough time to produce anything.  Yet, the postcard happened in a fraction of that time.

So, as I stood there yesterday, a small epiphany occurred.   I have been immobilised by decisions about colour and fancy patterns, and fear of producing something less than perfect.  But wasn’t the whole point to document the process of making Scrap Quilts?  My fabric is already sorted into colours. Why was I over-thinking?

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Why indeed?   Stop thinking and start making.  I grabbed the pink box, emptied it on to the table, and started cutting for a simple strip quilt.  I spent an hour cutting strips the width of my patchwork ruler and then cutting those in half.  Then I cut random lengths from the strips, between 5″ and 8″, those were then joined into long strips the length of the quilt (about as tall as me), and then those strips connected to create the top.  All in all, it took about 3 (broken) hours and I had a quilt top.

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In between, of course, as is the way of family life, I had managed to collect a child from school, walk the dog, cook dinner and bake a cake, but I am astounded that all this happened in a day.  Indeed, another interesting factor of the Very Productive Day is that I moved my machine into the kitchen, and sewed in the evening whilst listening to the radio, once the children were in bed.  

Now I have plans for a blue version, and perhaps a monochrome one, to clear my fabrics in one fell swoop.  Here’s hoping for more Very Productive Days.

at it again…

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As the badge says, “I’m in” and I would like to invite and encourage you to click on the badge above so that you can be in too.  The deadline for registration is tomorrow, 25th February.  I apologise for the late notice, but I only stumbled across it myself today. This time, there are prizes to be won too.  Postcards are to be uploaded and posted off by 13th March, so once you are registered, you have a few weeks to create.  And who knows?  We may get paired up.

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Of course, this is nothing more than procrastination on my part – but a little sewing procrastination is forgiveable, I believe….

one year on….

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One year ago today, I started writing about making quilts, whilst sharing a little bit of life along the way.  My plan was a simple one – to buy no more fabric until I had used what I had available to me, and what better way to use up lots of fabric than to make large quilts (or so I thought!)  Well, incredibly, I haven’t bought any fabric for a whole year, and I have made a few quilts (and other items, which you can see here), but I haven’t really made a dent in that fabric pile.

However, I am going to have to do something drastic soon because we have decided, as we teeter on the brink of teen-dom with our children, that we need more ground floor space in our home (a.k.a. a place for the adults to escape the teens).  In a few months, if all goes according to plan, we will start an extension project along the side of our house, and sadly, this entails demolishing my studio (sob).

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So I find myself trying to balance the range of emotions that I am feeling about this loss.  On the one hand, for the greater good of the family, I am excited to see our home grow to its full potential, to include downstairs cloakroom, utility and den/office – after all, that potential is why we chose to move here eight years ago.  On the other hand, I am losing my haven, “A Room of One’s Own” and according to Virginia Woolf, this is precisely what is required if a woman is to create.

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If you do have a space of your own, you know the sanctuary that it can provide from life, the place where the rush of domestic demands can be quietened for a time.  In my studio, I don’t have to be tidy, I can leave work on the fly without fear of damage or interferance.  Often, I feel my hackles rising if I hear footsteps approaching my door, anticipating the request that will accompany them, disturbing my sacred time.  Entering my studio is a signal that I give myself, permission to be creative, and that is a potent and powerful concept to give up.

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I have a plan though.  There will be an interim period where I will share a creative space with the family, and endeavour to work alongside homework/television/computer, but in my mind, I know this will not work, my mind will not release me to my creative self unless I have a quiet place to escape. My goal is to build another wooden cabin, at the bottom of the garden this time, slightly further away from the house,  a true Room of My Own.