Oil barrels in Aguas Calientes and needle turn applique circles inspired by them
I’ve been pondering: what do you do when you want to design a patchwork block, where do you start? Colour? Shapes? Pattern? There’s always one big driver for me: colour. In most quilts I notice colour before anything else, it’s the thing that ‘sets the tone’: fresh, traditional, modern, warm, bold and so on. If the colour and colour combinations aren’t right it doesn’t matter what the blocks or pattern are like, or how perfectly it’s been pieced or lovingly hand quilted…colour is king and if it doesn’t excite me I’ll probably just turn my nose up and walk on by!
Oh go on, admit it, I bet there’s something that irks you too if it’s ‘not right’! What’s your hang-up, do tell?! (There are plenty of people that are turned off by sloppy piecing… *stuffs large quantities of badly stitched patchwork into Tesco carrier bag and hopes no-one notices. Slopes off quietly* )
Not enough of that lovely terracotta colour
I wasn’t remotely happy with the two diamond blocks above. Way too dark, way too busy and too square. And because I was so focussed on colour I made them in the most awkward way possible too: not with half square triangles as you might think, no that centre diamond is a quarter square triangle and the outer ones just fudged on! Nothing like making life easy…
Diamonds with black stripe
Int his photo you can see the antique Peruvian manta I’m using for the diamond inspiration here. Still not remotely happy, although that shaped diamond is better. The colours don’t show too well in this photo, but it doesn’t matter, it’s not ‘right’!!!
Embroidery on the manta where two strips of weaving are joined – I absolutely love these and I really want to feature inspiration from them in the final quilt
Needle turn applique circles and straight stitch embroidery
I think some of the fabric scraps I’ve collected are in the right palette, but it definitely needs some refining. My stash is non-existent so to get the palette I want is going to mean some investment; at the moment it’s like trying to paint a picture with three tubes of watercolour when you really need 20 to get the subtle variations you want. So far I’ve played with a lot of Kaffe Fassett fabrics, the shot cottons and stripes, but I’ve barely got any left and at the moment I’m imagining the quilt made entirely from them…shopping needed!!!
I wonder if there are any other shot-cottons you’d recommend? These ones are particularly soft, which is great for texture, but not so brilliant for trying to applique perfect circles as it’s fairly ‘stretchy’ too. If you’ve used any other designers/brands please let me know what which you think are best, obviously I’m looking for a good colour range too!
To change the subject a little, it’s been a bit of a quiet week on the blog as I’ve spent a couple of days making something for a soon-to-be-bride (next weekend in fact)…and I had a bit of a disaster with it which I’ll share in another post; I’m still recovering from the trauma!!! (It’s something she plans to wear on the day, but not the dress, thankfully!)
It’s a beautiful spring day here in Cornwall today, the perfect day for a walk, but I won’t be walking anywhere as a trip to my gp’s earlier this week means I have to go to the hospital for an x-ray on Monday, with a likely break/fracture to the metatarsal bone in my left foot!!! I’ve been hobbling about for weeks, hoping it would just go away – not a good plan, haha! I don’t really know how I did it, but the most likely time was when I went for a tumble over some rocks when I was out jogging on the coastal path a few weeks ago. I’m always falling over (a necessary part of being active in my opinion) so I didn’t think much of it , just proudly displayed my black and blue knees and shins to anyone passing!!!!
Whether the x-ray reveals a break or not I still won’t be walking for some time, so it’ll be the perfect opportunity to get on with more sewing, yippee!!!
Hope you have a fab weekend, happy sewing!
How was your weekend? Did you do any quilting or sewing?
I had a great walk with Kim, my 15 year old son, on Saturday, 7 miles of chatter and the time flew by. Get a teenager out of his bedroom and he can hold a conversation that includes more than a couple of grunts!!! Precious.
The weather was back to being pants again yesterday, so a perfect day to stay in and sew (Kim holed up in his bedroom as usual). I had this weird idea that I wanted to try and interpret the terracotta bull in appliqué. One of those mad ideas that you just have to see through…and as you’re stitching away you realise that you don’t actually need a psychiatrist to tell you you’ve lost your marbles!!!! You know for certain
Gouache painting and applique of the Toro de Pucara from Peru
Well, I learnt a few things for the quilt anyway! The foremost being that I’m not keen on that forest green. Green’s never been a colour that I get over excited about, so perhaps I’ll keep it to a minimum in the final design. I love the Kaffe Fassett shot cotton terracotta that I used for his body though, I like the subtle shift in colour from the top to the bottom.
Oooh, that reminds me, have you seen this gorgeous book Kaffe Fassett Quilts Shots and Stripes? That’s definitely one for my inspiration wish list! Anyway, I digress…
In this detail you can see how I used the circle motif that I was experimenting with earlier on in the project. I think that if I did it again, I’d do these down his chest as well, instead of trying to mimic the original decoration. I also have a better solution to those white ears that I might try too!
Detail of the appliqué Toro
If you turn your head to the side, you can see that I quilted the word ‘prosperity’, which is what the bulls are supposed to bring. In retrospect I think I’d prefer it embroidered rather than quilted.
Little Toro to bring prosperity
I do have a strange affection for him though! And maybe he does need a friend?!!
I also made this collage, just to look at the sort of colours I’m thinking of. There are postcards, photocopies and fabrics in this piece, ephemera I’ve had hanging around for a while. I was surprised at the amount of light tones in there, I haven’t collected many (if any!) in fabrics yet; so something else to add to the ‘to do’ list!
Collage looking at colours
I’m happy with the way this project is coming along, but I’ve got some others to finish first, more on those next time!
Have a great start to the week, back soon
Today I’m sharing 10 great new-to-me blogs that I’ve discovered this last week or so via Bloglovin’ and Google+. I think they’re quite a find!
I’ve been on a real on-line discovery and I’m getting all excited! As well as Bloglovin’ and Google+ I’ve also joined Craftsy, but more on that during the week!
I’ve had an account with Google+ for a while but never really found my way around it. I don’t know anyone that uses it personally, so rather than asking for a quick tutorial it meant I had to spend time exploring…and sometimes, well who’s got that much time! But with the demise of Google Reader I needed a new way to get a regular fix of quilt and stitch inspiration, so spent a bit of time looking around (I’ve still got lots of looking to do). One of the things I’ve discovered is that you need to join ‘communities’, groups of like-minded people who share what they love. This community of quilters is really friendly and active and these are just some of the great blogs I’ve found through it. There’s something for everyone here, whether you’re looking for tutorials, patterns or just a good old eyeful of candy! Check out these links and then come and join the group on Google+.
Just 5 Great Blogs
- That Girl… That Quilt - Jennifer makes colourful modern quilts and is running a quilt along you can join in
- The Quilted Mitten - check out Cristina’s lovely new quilt pattern, she’s put in a lot of hard work and deserves great success
- The Sassy Quilter - Paula has some good advice and patterns for newbie quilters
- Stitch by Stitch – Marelize is based in South Africa and is showing some inspiring machine feather quilting at the moment
- Fret Not Yourself - Ann’s made lots of scrappy quilts (one of my favourite styles), follow her progress and have a chat with her about her lovely scrappy log cabin quilt she’s making now
Of course, once you’ve found great new blogs you’ll want a simple way to follow them. Enter…
It’s a very clear, clean reader where you simply click a button to follow a blog and once a day (or however often you set it) you’ll be sent an email list of updates on your favourite blogs. No more trawling through your bookmarks to see what’s new, so it’s a great time saver. You can also group your favourite blogs in a way that’s meaningful to you, so if you follow hundreds you can easily check them by type, for example I’ve set up a couple called ‘trail running’ and ‘quilting’.
Bloglovin’ is also a great way to discover new blogs that might interest you. You enter a couple of pre-formatted search terms and are offered a whole list of blogs to check out, with a nice big ‘follow’ button beside them if you decide you want to. Here’s 5 that I discovered last week:
Just 5 Great Blogs
- Sarah Whittle – fab contemporary embroidery artist with lots of patterns available
- Diary of a Quilter - Amy Smart has giveaways, tutorials, patterns and lots of gorgeous colour on her blog
- Self Sewn - I love Clare’s blog, so much English Paper Piecing and hand sewing it’ll keep me (and you!) inspired for years!
- Handmade and Heritage - oh my!!! Birds, birds, birds! Embroidered brooches, block printed paper…just beautiful
- The Quilting Edge - Marianne has some creative improvisational quilting going on and a good tutorial on making wonky curves!
Oh and of course there is one other great blog you should follow on Bloglovin’…this one!!! Well, maybe not great (yet!), let’s just say I hope it’s improving and I’d love it if you came by regularly, so please follow me!
Say hello to Tupac and Amaru! (Tupac Amaru was the last of the Inca rulers). These crudely hand made Toro de Purcara (teracotta bulls) are souvenirs from Cusco, Peru. You see them on rooftops all over southern Peru, probably about the size of a kitten. Mine are much smaller (obviously made for the tourist trade) and sit on the shelf above my work table, looking at me licking their lips! Am I that tempting?!! I love them, kind of ugly as they are!
My Toro de Pucara
What are they ‘for’ though, and why are do they sit like sentinels on the rooftops? I remember a tour guide telling us they were an ancient tradition (predating the Spanish) to bring prosperity and fertility (of land and animals) to the home, which is rather wonderful.
Intrigued, I wanted to know more and I read somewhere (but I can’t find the source, so I’d say I’m a pretty rubbish researcher…and don’t quote me!) that they represent a ritual where a bull’s hide was cut until it bled, hot peppers were then hung around the neck to induce the bull to run like crazy across the fields spilling its blood as it went, to bring fertility to the land. The bulls, though lacerated and probably a bit peeved, weren’t actually killed. I imagine that the green decoration on the Toros represent the peppers and the wiggly lines the lacerations. What that lascivious looking tongue is all about though I have no idea!!! Maybe it’s got something to do with the prospect of a successful harvest and much salivating at something good to eat, who knows!
In my pursuit of inspiration for the quilt I decided to sketch them. There’s nothing like drawing something to really get to know it. You spend ages looking intensely, noticing the light, contours, texture, character…and if you’re any good you capture some of that in your drawing. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether these are successful or not then, haha!!! The other thing it gives you is time to think about the subject, your mind wanders off on fanciful journeys as your hand and eye seem to become one. I love drawing…
Toro in conte
Toro in pastel
Amaru the toro in pencil
Amaru in gouache and watercolour
Tupac and Amaru say goodbye!
Until next time it’s goodbye from them and it’s goodbye from me! Back soon