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Once Upon A Time… A Quilter Had A Plan

 

Star patchwork made with 6 point diamonds in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Star progress

The Plan

Once upon a time there was a quilter who had a plan, and the plan was a good one. She really enjoys English paper piecing so she decided to use her scraps to make a simple star quilt. A hand pieced quilt takes months to make, but that’s ok because that just becomes part of the plan. This quilt would be an ‘infill project’, something to work on for just a few hours a week.

Star patchwork made with 6 point diamonds in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

The last diamonds

Diamonds were cut and prepped and carefully put into a little case to take out with her to a weekly lunch date with a friend.  A quilt would take shape over a few months without her really noticing the time she spent on it. Multi-tasking at it’s best. Or so she thought.

The Best Laid Plans…

Do you have a tv? Lots of quilters enjoy a bit of hand sewing in the evenings, sat around the tv with their family. It’s probably the most sociable sort of sewing there is.

The quilter in question doesn’t have a tv but watches the odd film on her laptop instead. She usually sits alone, sewing along to whatever’s on Radio 4. But this week she discovered an old re-run of a tv series online: Prime Suspect. Do you remember it? Part nostalgia, part fascination: she was gripped.

She just grabbed whatever project was to hand to work on. So the star quilt grew. And grew. Until she ran out of scraps in the blue/green colour scheme she’d picked.

When she looked up, a few days later, she realised she didn’t have a ‘months’ long’ project anymore. Oh dear, that’s annoying.

Plain Sewing improv patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Plan B: Plain Sewing

Time for plan B: get on with the ‘Plain Sewing’ circle quilt instead.

Sorry

The comment form still isn’t working. Another plan that’s gone to pot! Drop me a line instead: email me.

Linking up with Judy for Design Wall Monday – and belatedly with Kathy for yesterday’s Slow Sunday Stitching.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

Free Template And A New Tutorial

PS last week I published a  60 degree diamond template sheet  so that you can make your own star quilt. There are instructions here for sewing too).

I’d love it if you take a look at a new tutorial I published recently How To Hang A Quilt With A Hanging Sleeve. It’s how I made the hanging sleeve for my wall quilt On The Edge. Is there anything you’d add, any tips you’d like to share? Let me know!

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Starry Landscapes And My Instagram

Hello and happy Wednesday!

Comments

Sad news: the comments still aren’t working around here, so it feels a bit lonely and like I’m talking to myself (actually, that’s nothing new!). Lack of conversation is the reason I didn’t post last week, but feel free to drop me a line while I try and sort the problem out. I’d love to hear from you.

Let’s change the subject before I start ranting!

Moving On

Fete‘, my latest finished quilt top, is still waiting for me to buy the wadding so in the mean time I’ve been faffing about with an old idea. Remember these stars from 2016? I made them when I was away camping on Exmoor last August (read more here and see some of the inspiring scenery).

English Paper Piecing - Joining Stars with Diamonds © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com All Rights Reserved

Exmoor Stars version 1 from 2016

Exmoor Stars

The beginnings of this patchwork reminded me of a night time walk on the moor when there was an incredible moon, magnificent clear skies and twinkling stars. Trouble is, I decided I didn’t like the patchwork (above) after all.

I think it’s something to do with the size of the diamonds (7cm) – and too much of the ‘dirty pink’ print, so I tried again.

Making a star patchwork with English paper piecing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. http://www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Exmoor Stars, version 2 with 5cm diamonds

I started fiddling about with it again recently and version 2 was born. This time I’m using 5cm diamonds.

Size Matters

Making a star patchwork with English paper piecing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. http://www.dawnchorusstudio.com

2cm difference!

2cm makes a surprising difference, one that makes me much happier. The smaller size diamonds means I’ll have a bigger variety of scraps to use, although I’m going to stick to a fairly strict palette of blues/greenish-blues (bye bye dirty pink). Collecting enough blue scraps from other projects will take a while, but that’s not a problem because Exmoor Stars is a ‘Janie Day’ project!

‘A what project?’, you ask? ‘Janie Day’ is a weekly lunch date with an old friend, Janie. I hope that clears it up! We both bring along something to work on; Janie usually knits and I sew. Last year I worked on my Quilty365 circles, but this year I haven’t really got into a groove. Until Now.

English Paper Piecing For Lunch!

English Paper Piecing on the go sewing pouch. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

All ready to go

Everything I need for Exmoor Stars is all prepped, packed and ready to work on for a few months. I enjoyed getting a minimal kit together  – what do you have in yours? I have:

  • cheap thread snippers (don’t want to lose my favourite scissors)
  • a few dressmaker’s pin, sewing needles and a random quilting pin (sometimes handy for keeping things together)
  • tacking and sewing thread
  • basted diamonds
  • a few extra templates and cut diamonds – just in case I get really busy!

It all fits in a lightweight case that my friend Roz made for me, which is much easier to carry than plastic boxes – especially when you travel by bike as I do. This little case is smaller than some people’s wallets – and nowhere near as full, haha!

Free Templates

I experimented with a number of different size diamonds before I settled on the 5cm size and then I decided to draw up a ‘master sheet’ so that I could print off several at a time.

Drawing up an accurate template sheet takes a while, so I saved it as a pdf to share with you. Save the file or print off the sheet for a future project and photocopy or print as many sheets as you need.

If you’re new to Epp my tutorial for making 6 point stars will get you off to a good start!

Download

I Love Instagram!

Fancy a chat? I try and post to Instagram (IG) every day and at the moment it’s the best place to find me until I get the comments sorted here. It’s such a friendly place and I love it far more than Facebook, Twitter and all the rest – where do you like to hang out? If you’ve got an IG account drop me a line and I’ll come and find you!

Walking On IG

I’ve done enough walking to make my legs fall off recently, in an effort to gear myself up for some strenuous hiking on the Cornish coast path this summer. Cornwall has 296 miles of coastline and I’ve done about 80 or so as a continuous line so far. My Instagram account’s full of pictures of the fantastic landscape I live in and this week I’ve been sharing landscape drawings I’ve done when I’ve been out about too.

Across The Valley. Brightly coloured pastel drawing by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Across The Valley – Monday’s drawing on a local walk. I shared pictures of the drawing as I was working on it, as well as the finished article.

The Saint Michael’s Way

Fridays or Saturdays are ‘long walk days’ but I’m cutting the miles down to about 13 this weekend, which means I can travel further afield. I’m heading to St Ives on the north coast to walk the St Michael’s Way (part of the Compostela de Santiago), which finishes on the south coast at the iconic St Michael’s Mount.

St Michael's Mount from The Scillonian ferry. www.dawnchorusstudio.com © Stephanie Boon, 2014

St Michael’s Mount from The Scillonian ferry, 2014

Make sure you check out my IG for pictures and drawings along the way – there are some spectacular views.  The forecast is for overcast weather with strong winds, so it should be clear enough but I hope I don’t lose my drawings along the way!

I’m linking up with Lorna for Let’s Be Social today, but before I head off don’t forget you can email me anytime, until I get the darn comment form sorted out!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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Plain Hand Sewing For Slow Sunday Stitching

Break Up

Well helloooo! It’s great to be back after such a long unforeseen (and unwelcome) break – I’ve missed you very much.

I buggered up the site. Well and truly broke it – you may have noticed. It was a simple enough job to reload a backup, but I couldn’t even log on to do it or leave a message to let you know. I had to wait for help from the host, but thankfully it’s all sorted now so we can get back to business as usual!

Work In Progress

I’ve been sharing pictures of work in progress over on Instagram in the interim, and if you follow me there you’ll know I finished my quilt top Fete. I’ve been sporadically working on Plain Sewing too, but I haven’t show any pictures because the changes aren’t that discernible. I thought I’d make an exception today.

Plain Sewing

Plain Sewing improv patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Enlarging the panel

It’s taking an age to piece this one together because I change my mind about the layout every five minutes. My latest innovations are the very contrasty string sections. I didn’t like the circles on their own because there didn’t seem to be any flow, but the strings change that and draw the eye around.

Plain Sewing improv patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

A string section

I love the particular strings in the picture above – it’s a triumph of make do and mend! The section’s small but includes pieces from a shirt, a pair of pyjamas, 2 pairs of linen trousers, a linen jacket, a tablecloth, a handkerchief, my childhood dress and gifted quilting cottons. I don’t think I bought any of the fabrics in this piece at all, which is gratifying. Trying to make all the disparate fabrics work well together is an art in itself.

Different Weights

It does have its disadvantages though. In this piece the different weight fabrics cause problems with surface bubbling, when weighty suit linens are stitched next to lightweight cottons, for example. But after all the practice I had getting my improv triangle quilt to lie flat I decided to make more of an effort with this piece too.

The bubbling didn’t bother me initially because I plan to do lots of close quilting and I thought it would add to the texture. Then I realised it would probably just look badly done! And we can’t have that, can we? No. So I’ve spent this week remedying that on the sections I’ve already made.

Remedies

Unpicking and restitching is obviously part of the repertoire, but even that’s not always enough. In some places I’ve equalised the weights of adjacent fabrics with iron on Vilene. It’s worked well, but there are other sections where that wasn’t the only problem.

Plain Sewing improv patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Iron on Vilene from the back

I’ve been piecing this in an organic way and unpicking it’s a nightmare in places – if I go down that route I might as well start again!

I came up with an alternative that involves rolling the seams on the right side to take out any excess fabric and then stitching them in place with little visible black stitches. I really like this approach because it adds to the utilitarian aesthetic – and it’s much more fun that unpicking!

Plain Sewing improv patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Rolling the seams and stitching them with black thread in an effort to make the piece flatter. (Centre vertical patch.)

Slow Sunday Stitching

The first panel is pretty much sorted now and I’m making sure the new ones are flat as I go along. I’m probably getting obsessive about it. I’ve managed to make a few new circles too, like the one below. This one was made from a linen napkin and I drew some threads out and had a play. I’ve got some more playful ideas up my sleeve and that’s what I’ll be stitching this afternoon.

Plain Sewing improv patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Drawn threads on a linen circle.

What will you be working on today?

I’m linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching, for the first time in an absolute age, coming?

Happy Sunday

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

Comments

Hi everyone! It’s been brought to my attention by Kaja that the comments aren’t working on the blog at the moment. I have no idea why so please bear with me while I try and sort it out. In the mean time, feel free to drop me an email if you’d like. Back soon.

The No Measuring Quilt Size Method For The Numerically Challenged

Deadline’s come and go, but self imposed ones seem to endlessly shift about. My quilt top ‘Fete’ is a case in point. It was meant to be finished last year (well, the whole quilt was meant to be finished), then I had to shift the date and planned to finish the patchwork by the end of January. So, yes, January’s come and gone too, but it is getting close to a finish and I hope to get it all done over the weekend.

I’ve been overwhelmed at the really positive response this quilt gets when I post progress pictures on Instagram; I think it must be my most popular quilt yet. A lot of you are curious about the technique I’m using, but I’m honestly just making it up as I go along!

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Patchwork quilt top in progress.

That gap wasn’t meant to be there.

I posted this picture the other evening and I definitely didn’t plan that gap when I was piecing the row. These things happen, so I just filled it in – it looks good and purposeful I think! It definitely adds to the sense of movement and fits with the other deliberate short rows.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Patchwork quilt top in progress

Fill that hole!

I never use a tape measure, a pattern, a ruler, a template, or a rotary cutter: it’s literally all done by eye. I make one triangle at a time, fitting it next to the previous one and the row below then take it to the machine to sew it together. Then it’s back to the floor I go to cut and fit the next one. It’s a fairly lengthy process, but I really enjoy myself and time just disappears.

Last night I started piecing at about 8pm and kept going until almost 3am – I just lost track of time. And in that time I finished a mere one and a half rows. I started piecing again this morning at 10:30am and finished again around 1pm I think. This little stint saw me finish up the final row to get the height (length) I wanted.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Patchwork quilt top in progress

It’s 66.5″ tall

Kaja suggested a bigger lap quilt is more versatile, and Deb suggested a wonderful way of ensuring it’s a good length: the no measuring ‘lie on the sofa and make sure it covers your feet test’! I’m pleased to report a successful test this afternoon. But I think another 6 – 8″ on the 49″ width will make it even better.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Patchwork quilt top in progress

Peekaboo! Deb’s no measuring technique suits the numerically challenged (i.e. me) down to the ground.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Patchwork quilt top in progress

A few more inches to the width? (Blimey, someone needs to tidy up their bedroom!)

If I add a border and bring the width up to 55-57″ it will easily cover the top of a double (twin) bed. Not quite in the bed-size department, but the extra few inches means it could be used as a ‘coverlet’ as well as a throw/lap quilt. What do you think, good idea? Or leave well alone?  What would you do?

I’m linking up with Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday today, I hope you’ll pop over and check out some of the awesome quilts she showcases each week.  See you back here soon – Sunday hopefully!

Happy stitching

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

 

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A gentle Journey In Circles and Slow Stitching

Grey, dreary and overcast. The weather matched my mood when I laid out my Plain Sewing circles  to see how far I’d got this month. It’s amazing what a little stitching a day does. I’m further along than I realised.

Patchwork quilt top, with circles and lots of hand stitching. Natural and blue colour palette. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Plain Sewing, work in process

Plain Sewing progress (apologies for the terrible photo)

I haven’t done half the things I planned to do by this point in the new year, so it’s good to see some progress. There’ll be enough patches to make a block as big as the first one by the end of January and I’m happy with that. It’s a gentle, slow journey and it’s about the only one I can keep steadily moving at the moment.

Favourite Patches

I love the patches below. They capture the essence of what I’m trying to express: the simplicity of plain, no fuss sewing, the mending, patching and darning of every day life. A metaphor for stitching and mending ourselves, layer upon layer, time after time, year after year. Holding it all in place, as fragile as it might be. As fragile as I might be.

Patchwork quilt top, with circles and lots of hand stitching. Natural and blue colour palette. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Plain Sewing, work in process

This patch is made from old clothes: a cotton shirt and linen trousers, and an old grey sheet. The soft linen thread I used to stitch the circle was given to me. I like the way things are circling around from person to person.

Patchwork quilt top, with circles and lots of hand stitching. Natural and blue colour palette. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Plain Sewing, work in process

Simple stitches holding things in place, covering up the worn and the threadbare.

Patchwork quilt top, with circles and lots of hand stitching. Natural and blue colour palette. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Plain Sewing, work in process

1793? I have no idea what that means. This little circle is from a linen table cloth I picked up in a charity shop years ago. I wonder if it marked an anniversary of some sort. I’ve always like it anyway.

Patchwork quilt top, with circles and lots of hand stitching. Natural and blue colour palette. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Plain Sewing, work in process

More table linen. This strawberry patch (sadly, the pun was intended!) is the corner of a linen napkin. A friend gave it to me recently and it had belonged to her mother. Maybe she embroidered the strawberries, I’m not sure.  The personal connection feels important.

Patchwork quilt top, with circles and lots of hand stitching. Natural and blue colour palette. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved Plain Sewing, work in process

Reworked. This is a patch I made earlier in the month but there was a section I really wasn’t happy with. I decided to patch over it with the blue floral fabric. It’s gone from being a bit of an eyesore to one of my favourites. That’s the beauty of improv: you can do what you like.

 

I’m taking things one day at a time, one stitch at a time at the moment, but plan to be back very soon. Take care and thank you, lovely friends, for all your words of support and encouragement over the last few weeks. It means a lot x

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

 

 

 

Linking Up

With Ann and Kaja for this month’s AHIQ, improvising patches, thoughts, words and eventually a quilt top. And I’m going to say hi to the Let’s Bee Social crowd over at Lorna’s and meet up with Kelly and friends for Needle and Thread Thursday too. See you there.

 

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Losing Stitching Time To Sleep

Sunday. The one day of the week we deliberately slow down, put aside some time for slow stitching and quiet thoughts. It’s a lazy day for some, resting after a busy week, de-stressing.

My body de-stresses in the most inconvenient way possible and it takes no heed of my head and the things I want to get done. It sleeps for too long, 12 hour stretches or more. This might be ok if I could get to sleep by 10pm, but no, it’s more likely to be between 1 and 2 am. Invariably I wake up with a ‘dehydration headache’, and if not a fury then a deep irritation that I can’t shake off for the rest of the day. Losing an entire morning is, ironically, as stressful as the stress that makes me sleep in the first place.

I woke up at 1.30 this afternoon.

Time, life, slips by. Let it go. I’ll find it again in my Sunday stitches.

Plain Sewing Circles

Plain Sewing, a quilt top in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Making patches for Plain Sewing. A reverse patch with reverse fabric and a reverse circle for needle turn appliqué

Plain Sewing Collages

Making a collage from stitched book pages and fabric. (The book is a 1940s needlework book). © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

I’m working on a series of collage artworks alongside my Plain Sewing quilt top. Slow stitching is a big feature.

Making a collage from stitched book pages and fabric. (The book is a 1940s needlework book). © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

The collage progresses. The black fabric and the transparent fabric are scraps from a childhood dress and the linen on the right is from one of Kim’s dad’s old suits. The book pages are from an old 1940s needlework book my mum gave me.

I’m linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching today. Kathy’s started a new project this week, taking one slow, steady stitch a day every day for a year. A reminder perhaps that if you look back over a long enough journey you’ll find you’ve moved forward more than you think.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

 

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A Jumper That Didn’t Cost The Earth

There are few things in this world that stop me stitching or making art, but every once in a while I decide to knit something. I haven’t made anything for a few years now because I have more hats, gloves and scarves than I need and knitting your own jumper is an expensive business. Knit anything in a decent natural yarn, especially with more than one colour, and you can easily spend £70.00.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t think it’s worth it, it’s just that I can’t afford to do it on a regular basis. Having said that, I can count the jumpers I own on one hand and I made 4 of them. I still wear them all because hand-made takes a long time, and lasts a long time.

Make It Don’t Chuck It

No-one wants to chuck something away when they’ve invested hours of work in it, from quilting to knitting or growing your own. That glut of courgettes you had this year: landfill, compost or chutney? That jumper you made a couple of years ago, it’s getting a bit thin on the elbows: landfill, darn it or reuse the yarn? The quilt you spent years making, the binding’s a bit worn: landfill, or make a new binding?

When we invest our own time in something (rather than exploiting some poor, faceless person on the other side of the world) we take care of it. Obvious innit?

Make Someone’s Day

And if we have stuff we don’t know what to do with we can give it to charity. Like, if you had a load of yarn but you don’t know how to knit…landfill ? Or charity and make someone’s day?! Yeah, you know where this is going:

A hand-knit stripy jumper. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Bargain knit

Someone Made My Day

I picked up some luscious Rowan Tweed yarn for a steal in a charity shop sometime before Christmas. As soon as I was out the door I shared photos on Instagram (which disappeared with all the others when my account was hacked), because I couldn’t believe my luck.

A hand-knit stripy jumper. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Colour and texture… simple things make me happy (mostly!).

I had enough to make a short jumper and settled on a Marie Wallin pattern in a Rowan book I already had (another way to save money).

Self portrait in a hand-knit stripy jumper. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

It’s cosy!

Self portrait in a hand-knit stripy jumper. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

It’s short, sweet and probably outdated, but it’ll do. And I don’t know what I’m looking at either!

There were 5 different colours of yarn in different quantities of 100g skeins: it was obviously going to be a stripy affair. I settled on random stripes, but knit up all the rib first and then divided what was left between each pattern piece.

This simple shape knit up pretty quickly in the big chunky yarn, so I decided to concentrate on knitting to the exclusion of everything else. I was pretty determined to get some wear out of it this winter. Didn’t think about how dated a 2008 pattern might look. (Does it? I don’t know/who cares.) Or what I’d wear it with… might have to make a skirt now. Or maybe a dress. Or Something.

Nuts and Bolts

  • 800g Rowan Pure Wool Chunky Tweed @ £15.00 the lot
  • Pattern ‘Kettlewell’, Marie Wallin in The British Sheep Breeds Collection (Rowan, 2008)
  • Pattern requires 600g (s). Used 650g (made sleeves 1″ or so longer, + extra for stripes)
  • Over: 150g-ish in pale pinky colour… damn, could have made it longer
  • Final cost £12.50 (I already had the pattern book and needles required).

And I’m happy. Which is good, considering. Anyone got any ideas for using up the rest of it?

What? You Came Here For Quilting?!

Ok, a short catch up. Plain Sewing, my ongoing daily patchwork ritual, is still on track. Pretty much. My Instagram friends have seen a few finished blocks that have a bit of hand sewing detail. Since then I’ve made some very simple blocks like the one below. The patchwork background on this one includes scraps from some old linen trousers and a cotton shirt. I love the texture and the soft drape it makes.

Plain Sewing. A patchwork quilt in progress, showing an appliqué circle on a patchwork background in muted neutral and blue. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Plain Sewing. Right and wrong side of the appliqué fabric.

I used the back of the floral fabric as another way to reveal something we usually take great pains to hide. Another way to reveal the ‘truth’ if you like, which is the drive for making this piece (more thoughts on that here).

What’s Wrong With The Back?

Why do we so blithely ignore the wrong side of printed fabric? It deserves more consideration I think. You never know what you might find, but some things to look out for include:

  • an interesting texture caused by the dye
  • a lighter colour
  • a softer pattern
  • a plain fabric
  • a change in the surface of the weave.

And it’s a good way to vary the stash without acquiring more fabric – great for the wallet and easy on the storage space. The only other quilter I know that does this as a matter of course is Maureen at Mystic Quilter. How about you, do you ever use the wrong side? Let us know below!

I’m linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social today. See you there.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

 

 

 

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Stitches That Hold Me Together

2017 looks set to be another turbulent year for Kim and me. Only one week in and everything’s upside down and uncertain again. I’m bracing myself, head down and quietly stitching our troubles away. For a few moments at least. I haven’t had as much time for quilting this week as I’d hoped.

Getting through the day can be a struggle at the moment and it’s often overwhelming. All I crave is a period of stability so that I can concentrate on those goals and plans I make, but it never seems to happen.  I end up putting them aside to deal with one crisis or another, and I’m running out of fight.

Crisis Number 1, 2017

It’s only a week into the new year and crisis number 1 has struck. Kim had to leave college this week due to ill health (for the second time), which might scupper his hopes for university. It boils down to finance: free education stops at 19 regardless of circumstances (he’ll be 19 early this year) and he needs the intermediate qualifications he was studying for to get onto a degree course.  We’re incredibly lucky to have free education at all, of course, but this is where we live and you don’t get far without it.

In the mean time we have to deal with the short-term financial fallout. All financial support for him will stop, and he’s too ill to work. We may have to move again. I just don’t know what will happen and it’s knocked me sideways.

Tracking The Week’s Progress

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved. Plain Sewing, hand stitched patchwork work in progress. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Tracked. I’ve managed to make the backgrounds for more circles on Plain Sewing this week. Almost enough for a second panel.

It’s at times like this my ‘project tracker‘ should be useful. If I manage to get through this period of instability I want to look back and remind myself of the sewing I achieved. No matter how small.  It’s made me feel better already this week. I feel like I’ve done nothing, but I can see I’ve stitched something everyday.  I’ve been making a little progress on Plain Sewing.

Finding Meaning

This patchwork’s becoming more and more meaningful to me and takes me on thoughtful journeys whenever I pick up a needle to stitch on it. It’s about glimpsing the things that hold us together. The repairs we make, the seams, the darning, the patching – to ourselves, and our relationships. It’s about the things we don’t usually see or share with anyone else (unless you’re like me and overshare everything!). I suppose I think of it as a kind of excavation really, or at least turning ourselves inside out to expose hidden truths.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved. Plain Sewing, hand stitched patchwork work in progress. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Crude stitches mimicking darning over a blue shirt patch. I use black thread to make it visible.

What Is Plain Sewing?

‘Plain sewing’ is a term you don’t hear much anymore (the link takes you to the text of beautiful old needlework encyclopaedia). It refers to the simple, practical stitches we used mainly for sewing garments, household linen and the like. Running stitch, oversewing, backstitch and hemming. I’ve always loved this kind of stitching. If you turn an old handmade shirt inside out you’ll see the drawn thread and the tiny straight, even stitches making a perfect seam. Narrow, neat hems seem to hold themselves up and fine imperceptible darning gives new life.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved. Plain Sewing, hand stitched patchwork work in progress. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

More crude stitching in visible thread. It’s not so easy to sew this badly, haha!

Then there’s the workaday, get it done, get it mended kind of stitching; the rough hewn stone, rather than the polished gem.

© Stephanie Boon, 2017. Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved. Plain Sewing, hand stitched patchwork work in progress. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Wonky circles and wonky backstitches.

The deft stitches of the maid, the seamstress, the poor worker – I feel connected by these threads.

And I hope the stitches I make over the next few months will be strong enough to hold me together.

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching.

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com

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Keeping On Top Of Those Quilting Goals

How I’m Tracking My January Progress

It’s 4 days into the new year already! How are your quilting goals going, fallen off the wagon yet?!

SMART goals are my Secret Weapon this year (read about my goals here)- and so far so good. (Trust me, I’ve fallen off the wagon on day 1 before now.) Success comes if you track your progress (allegedly) and here’s how I’m doing it:

I’ve adopted a really simple visual tracker that takes no time at all to fill in. (Secret Weapon number 2!)

Here it is:

Planning and organising goals - January 2017 tracker. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Keeping track of January’s quilting projects, in no particular order. Hmm, not had too much time this week already…

On the left is a list of my ufo’s and up above is the day/date of the month. All I do is fill in the square of the project and corresponding date that I work on it.

Seeing Is Believing

You can see that I’ve worked on Plain Sewing circles every day so far, which makes me a happy bunny. Why? Because one of my quilting goals is to make a circle block every day for the next three months. And I’m on track! (I know it’s only a couple of days but it does motivate me to keep going.) On the other hand I have a dodgy-looking ambition to finish On The Edge by the end of this week.  I need to get my skates on if I’m going sew the binding to meet that goal.

There are other projects on the list that I’ve no intention of working on this month. I could have left them off or put a line through them, but I decided to keep them visible. This way I’ve got a clear idea of what’s in my cupboards… lest I write in any new projects (by hand) along the way!

Complete Your Own Tracker – Download This One!

I’ve saved a version of my tracker for you to download and use if you’d like to join me. The blank sheet is suitable for any (and every!) month of the year. There’s a simple list of dates across the top with a row above where you can write in the days. Above that there’s a space to write the month and a place to make a key if you want. Finally, there’s a blank column on the left for your project list.

It’s A4, so it’s easy to stick into a notebook or onto a pinboard in your sewing space.  I’ve saved it as pdf file, but if you’d prefer it in a different format (Word or Pages) let me know in the comments and I’ll sort it out for you.

Bullet Journals

A complicated tracker isn’t much fun for me, the simpler it is the easier it is to complete it: I don’t want to spend hours faffing about, I’d rather be quilting! But if you’re one of those creative people that’s more motivated by something decorative, or with more details, you’ll find lots of inspiration from the bullet journalists.

They’re a bunch of people dedicated to organising and planning their lives in a ‘bullet journal’. Some of them have a serious addiction (some might call it a fetish) for decorative stationery and colouring in!  Check out Bohoberry for decorative inspiration and free printables.

If you prefer a more straightforward approach you might like to have a look at Ryder Carroll’s website BulletJournal.com. Carroll ‘invented’ the bullet journaling method of organising yourself. He gives really simple, clear instructions for using his “Analog System For The Digital Age” (fancy!) in the most basic way possible. I’ve picked up a few tips that I’ve started using that are transforming my usual scatter-logical note scribbling: indexing is a godsend, but I’m sure librarians came up with the idea first!!!

One Monthly Goal

The One Monthly Goal challenge over at Elm Street Quilts inspires and motivates lots of quilters. It’s a simple idea: you publish your goal/s for the month, link up at the beginning of the month and share your results at the end. Keep at it for 12 months to enter a prize draw at the end of the year, which is open to anyone anywhere in the world.

There’s still time to link up for January’s challenge, you’ve got until the 25th so head over to join in. Have you taken part before? How did you get on? Let us know if it motivated you to finish something in the comments. I’ve not joined before because I’m uncertain whether it’ll motivate me or completely crush me when I realised I’ve missed yet another goal! Maybe I should bite the bullet?

I am feeling pretty motivated to get on with last year’s Plain Sewing quilt top though, regardless of whether there’s a carrot or stick dangling in front of me!

Plain Sewing 2017

Plain Sewing, textile art by Stephanie Boon, 2016 © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Plain Sewing. Work in progress 2016.

In late 2015 I joined in the Quilty365 sew along with Audrey at Quilty Folk. The idea was to make one circle block a day for the next 365 days – enough to make a quilt at the end of 2016. I got carried away – and then got left behind! Life got in the way as it often does, but I managed to keep at it until April/May time I think.

The blocks I made don’t all go together so I’m making more than one quilt.  Plain Sewing (pictured above) has really sustained my interest. It’s pretty small at the moment and I was thinking about making a wall hanging, but ideas change. Over the intervening months I’ve accumulated more fabric, which means I can make it quite a bit bigger.

Plain Sewing, textile art by Stephanie Boon, 2016 © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Using an old linen suit and shirtings for my 2017 blocks. This is from the 2nd of January.

I’ve been given a man’s linen suit in a neutral ‘weetabix’ colour, a blue stripy shirt and a couple of other pieces of dress linens that will make great backgrounds for the blocks. And this is the month I decided to pick it up again: a new start in the new year. I’m planning on one block a day for the next three months to see where that’ll take me.

Plain Sewing, textile art by Stephanie Boon, 2016 © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

This was the first block of 2017.

Sewing a block every day became a kind of mediation last year. I sat quietly for an hour or so, focussing on the hand-stitching and needle turn appliqué, letting everything go. I loved the ritual of it and that’s what I hope to recreate this time too.

Plain Sewing, textile art by Stephanie Boon, 2016 © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Yesterday’s block, 3rd January, looks about as stressed as I was before I started stitching!

I’ve made 3 blocks so far and keep having ideas for another quilt (or three) developed from it. I’ll tell you about the inspiration for Plain Sewing in my next post. In the mean time I’m going to scribble my ideas in my newly indexed notebook and try hard not to invent another project to track just yet!

One Year On

There were so many inventive interpretations of Audrey’s simple idea and a surprising number of quilters made it right through. In her final Quilty365 link-up post for a few months Audrey talks about her year’s journey and progress so far. She’s making a wonderful hand appliquéd centre piece that you should see. It’s the delicious icing on the quilt!  Hop over and take a look.

I’m linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Bee Social and I’ll be back here on Sunday for Slow Sunday Stitching. Until then…

Happy stitching all you organised quilters out there – and to you too, even if you’re not!

Signature: Stephie © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnchorusStudio.com