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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

 

 

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Slow Sunday Stitching – It’s On The List!

Making New Year Quilting Goals

Have you made any quilting goals for 2017? I read Kaja and Ann’s hopes and plans recently and I was inspired. Since then I’ve sat down and filled reams of notebook pages with goals, ideas and hopes for quilting, blogging and personal stuff (like exercise and reading). Making lists is pretty scary, I tend to over do it then berate myself for not completing anything.

Making plans for 2017 - list of quilting projects. www.dawnchorusstudio.com © Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved

List making begins. I was surprised (and relieved) that my ‘tops in progress’ list is relatively small (There are 8 in total).

I can do without giving myself an ear-bashing so I’m sticking to ‘SMART’ goals this year, I’m sure you’ve heard of them? (I think I’ve gabbled on about them before.) Try this method if you didn’t tick everything off your 2016 list (ahem, no comment!).  SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.  It’s basically a checklist to help you get things done.

SMART Stitching

Take a very simple example: one of my blogging goals is to link up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching every week. I’ve linked up as often as I could in 2016, but I want to make a bigger commitment because it’s a really inspiring marker in my week.

So I asked myself:

  1. Is this goal specific? Yes: tick.
  2. Is it measurable? i.e. can I track my progress? Yes, I just need to check my publishing dates. Another tick!
  3. Is it achievable? Probably… I worry that I’ll be posting the same old thing every week and bore the pants off you (as I’ve mentioned before). So I made myself a promise that even if I feel I don’t have anything interesting to share I’ll pop over to Kathy’s and see what you’ve been up to (I know that’s something I overlook). A tentative tick then?
  4. Is it realistic? This is the one I have endless problems with! My goals are realistic in and of themselves, but I have a tendency to try and achieve about a million of them in a week! So I’m going to qualify this question from now on: is it realistic and compatible with everything else I want to achieve? (I guess that’s asking myself to prioritise). This goal is high up on the priorities, so yes, it’s realistic…tick!
  5. Is it time-bound? i.e. how long am I going to give myself before acknowledging success or defeat? I reckon if I look back over a 6 month period I’ll get a reasonable picture of how regular my posts are, so yes, it’s time-bound. Woohoo! I’ll give myself the go-ahead then.

I often do the checklist in my head, but this time I’m writing it out next to my goals so that I get a really clear picture of what I’m trying to achieve. It’s working so far – I’ve already noticed I’ve tried to cram waaaay too much into January and had to make rather a lot of adjustments to my expectations!

Making plans for 2017 - pile of notebooks. www.dawnchorusstudio.com © Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved

A very long to do list for January – it got a bit of a culling!

Follow up your goal setting with some goal tracking! My follow up post includes a tracking sheet for you to download and use.

Navel Gazing

Life’s thrown a lot of crap this way over the past couple of years and I feel like I’ve just been drifting along. I don’t really have anything concrete to look back on and say “well, despite all that you still achieved x, y and z”. I focus on the things I haven’t done instead, get worried and anxious that life’s racing by. So I’m curious to find out whether putting my thoughts in black and white will actually free up space in my head, so that when I sit quietly and stitch I know everything else is taken care of.

I always think there are so many high achievers out there (I mean people that get lots done) and I wonder how they do it, then I compare myself and question why I’m not one of them. I ask what is it that productive people do that I don’t. I ponder why I want to achieve more and question whether I’m really that unproductive, or just don’t acknowledge what I have done. This tick list is designed to give me the evidence. As long as I don’t lose it…

This time of year is all about the questions isn’t it?  So much navel gazing and not really any answers.  Do you indulge, or is it just me?

On The Edge in December

On that note I’m going to turn my attention to the last thing I actually achieved in December 2016!

On The Edge (Floating Squares) is on today’s to-do list. I’ve claimed the comfy chair in a cosy corner of the house and I’m going to tackle the knife edge binding and plan a hanging tube. Some quiet stitching to start the new year off the way I mean to go on: relaxed, calm and in control! (hahahaha!!!)

A cosy armchair for hand sewing. www.dawnchorusstudio.com © Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All Rights Reserved

My cosy corner set up for some Slow Sunday Stitching.

I’m linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching, but check out Kathy’s 2016 quilt review and her UFO list for 2017 too. What are your plans for this year – and how did you get on in 2016?

Happy New Year – and happy goal setting! (Don’t forget to download your goal tracker here.)

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

 

 

It’s Black And White – An Improv Bag

Hello! I hope you’re ‘having a wonderful Christmastime’! Things are good here, peaceful and very quiet. I realise that’s what I need more than anything else. Time to quieten the thoughts, find some serenity and lose myself in stitches. It’s been good for the soul. Time well spent.

On The Edge (Floating Squares) is all but finished. I’m quilting close to the edge now, fittingly, steadily filling in some gaps where the edge will meet the wall. I’m confident it’ll be ready to hang (hanging sleeve tutorial) by the start of the new year. And there it will be, in the centre of the wall like a beacon, a reminder of new beginnings.

Moving into a new home. Trying out a red and blue patchwork wall hanging on the wall above the farmhouse table. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Trying out On The Edge on the wall just after we moved home (hence all the detritus hanging around)

A Random Anecdote

Bear with me on this one… I had a blood test a week or so before Christmas due to a few minor infections in quick succession – my GP wants to make sure there’s no underlying cause. I’m still waiting for the results. Dr Bolton asked if I’d been feeling run down lately, I said no, but then remembered how stressed and anxious I’d been for the last four or five months and proceeded to give him the full unabridged details.

Eventually we discussed anaemia and I mentioned that my mother has a rare form of anaemia which has led to lots of blood transfusions and an intravenous drug called Rituximab. I tried to recall what the condition’s called and all I could think of was AHIQ! “Er, no, that’s not it, that’s a quilting thing”. He must have thought I was a complete idiot: she has a condition called AIHA (autoimmune haemolytic anaemia)!

Ahem, AHIQ!

It’s the last AHIQ link up of 2016 over at Ann and Kaja‘s this week, so maybe that’s why it was so prevalent in my mind. Or maybe it’s because I actually have some improv quilting to show you! I’ll save On The Edge for another day, today I thought I’d share a little improv Christmas gift I made.

© Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All rights Reserved Graphic patchwork tote bag in black and white.

Ad hoc improv tote bag. The black and white and strong shapes reminded me of early 20c Russian art, and constructivism in particular – have a look at Liubov Popova’s fabric designs and drool!

I don’t think I’ve made anything in just black and white before so it was a good challenge. It was an unexpected way to focus on shape and rhythm and I highly recommend it as an improv exercise. I say unexpected, but of course it’s not when you think about it. You’re paring right back down to the essentials; it’s like drawing in a way.

© Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK All rights Reserved Graphic patchwork tote bag in black and white.

A simpler reverse side. It’s like a loose version of piano keys.

Check out my tutorial on monochrome colour schemes if you’re interested in experimenting with a limited colour palette too. The exercises show you how to experiment with one colour plus black, white and neutral grey. Maybe you could make your samples into a tote bag?

And One For Me!

I was really pleased with the way the bag turned out and plan to make one for myself next. I seem to do a small fresh-food shop every other day or so, now that I’m living in town, and it’ll be more than useful.

A proper shopping bag feels like shopping ‘back in the day’. I remember my mum used to struggle with bags and bags of shopping and one of those trollies on wheels that you pull behind you (they seem to be making a comeback lately, and not just with the oap’s!). I reckon the struggle was her own fault for having to cater for a family of 6, but she’d rope us in as packhorses anyway. It’s memories like this that make me feel my age – even the little things have changed significantly since my childhood. And it all happened so imperceptibly. I quite like the idea of going back in time a bit (not too far though), carrying my homemade tote bag, French loaf sticking out, fresh fruit and veg nestled inside.

What were your shopping days like ‘back in the day’, was it very different in the US I wonder? We could create a shopping revolution with our handmade improv tote bags – are you going to give it a go?

I’m linking up with Kaja and Ann for AHIQ and Lorna for Let’s Bee Social, pop over and say hi.

Happy stitching

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

 

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Festive Robins and Rag Wreaths

Soon after we moved into our new home I began putting out food for the birds. After a couple of weeks they tentatively began to come to the bird table and recently they seem to have permanently moved in. We have regular outsize visitors including a wood-pigeon, at least 3 jackdaws and a crow, plus 2 magpies. They vie for space on the table, shoving each other off with their wings: it’s an entertaining sight. I’m beginning to know their behaviour well enough to give each of them names. When they’ve had their fill and fly back to the roof tops, the song birds come in.

Robin tea lights on a hand quilted red and white table runner

I love bringing out my hand quilted Christmas table runner at this time of year. I think the robins like it too!

There’s a blackbird, a robin and a wren and dozens of sparrows too. The robin sits on the handle of a garden lantern nearby, watching me watching him, making sure I’ll do him no harm before his breakfast. He sits for minutes at a time, picture perfect. If I had a snowy garden he’d be perfectly posed for a Christmas card.

Festive Decorations

But we don’t have any snow, sadly. So I’ve been enjoying the robins on my festive decorations instead. They’re slowly beginning to appear, from a string of fairy lights around the window to the sweet robin tea lights my friend gave me as a house-warming gift. I’ve put Kim’s red and white quilt on my chair and my hand quilted Christmas table runner on an old tool chest I use for storage (in the photo above).

More decorations will come out of the cupboard this week to be dusted off and put around the house. We’ll buy a tree too and bring it inside to decorate on Christmas eve. And I’m keeping my fingers crossed that I can finish On The Edge (Floating Squares) this week to put on the wall above the dining table. Progress has been slow but I’ve managed another peaceful hour or so today. And next time I show it to you it’ll be on the wall!

Drum Roll Please!

The run up to Christmas is busy for most of us and I’ve spent the last week or so making gifts for friends and family.  A little over a week ago I showed you a rag wreath I’d made. Several of you said you’d like a tutorial, so after a week of intense writing and photographing, here it is!

How to make a rag wreath. Purpler rag wreath hanging on the wall. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.co,

Learn how to make a rag wreath like this one – follow the link to the tutorial below

A New Rag Wreath Tutorial

I’d be honoured if you take a look and tell me what you think. Is the text clear enough, the layout ok, the photographs good enough?! I’ve been fretting about it and so focussed on it I can’t see the wood for the trees anymore. Most of all, I hope it inspires you to try your hand at one too – go on, there’s a whole week before Christmas and you know you want to!!! (Let’s be honest, there’s not much else to do now is there, haha!)

The tutorial is here, and over the next day or two I’ll add it to the ‘how to‘ page and link it up elsewhere so that it’s easy enough to find.

Now it’s finish, along with the gift making, I’ll be back again in the week to share a couple of other things I’ve been up to. I look forward to catching up with you too, I feel like I’ve been awol for too long!

I’m linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching and look forward to seeing what you’ve been up to too.

Happy stitching

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

Time To Get This Quilt Off The Easel

hand made quilt in progress hanging over the side of an artist's easel. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

The design wall, aka my easel covered in some wadding!

The improv quilt for my sister’s 40th birthday has been hanging over the top of my ‘design wall’ most of  the weekend while I contemplate how much bigger it should be. It’s about 50″ wide at the moment and another row or two will bring it to about the same size as my August Rain lap quilt which is 51″ x 59.5″. It’s a nice size for a small throw or for one person to snuggle under…but is it really big enough? Would 60″ or 70″ wide (and correspondingly longer) be more practical? What do you think?

Fete - a handmade quilt in progress. Inspired by summer bunting the quilt is made with improv triangle shapes in red and related colour prints. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Fete, state of play at the weekend. It’s moved on just a little since Sunday.

This is how the quilt looked at the weekend (minus the yellow cast in these pictures) and I’m happy with how it’s progressing visually.

Y-Seam

Fete - a handmade quilt being pieced. Inspired by summer bunting this quilt is made with triangle pieces in reds and related colour prints.

This detail shows a small section in the centre that had to be fitted in place with a ‘y’ seam. It’s fiddly work!

The last couple of rows created a ‘dipped curve’ in the centre, which I decided to fill with a ‘mini row’ (top row in the picture above). The awkward shape meant I had to stitch it in place with a ‘y’ seam variation. It’s a fiddly job, but not difficult: you just find the centre of the piece you want to attach, match it up to where you want to fit it in, then sew out from the centre towards the end. Then you turn your work over and sew the remaining half from the centre outwards in the same way.

The finished mini row looks good and fills the dip, but I’m getting a bit concerned that the top’s becoming a bit ‘bubbly’ overall. The more small rows I add the more I notice it. When I square it up on the floor with masking tape it lays flat enough so I’m keeping my fingers crossed it stays that way when I come to baste it.

Designing A Bit On The Side

I decided the design needed a bit more oomph so broke up the rhythm of the horizontal rows by adding a couple of short vertical rows to the sides. It makes the surface pattern more exciting, and the deliberate addition of complimentary greens in one of the rows draws the eye further up the quilt. It’s probably my favourite part of the quilt at the moment!

Fete - a handmade quilt in progress, inspired by summer bunting. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

A detail of the left hand edge where I’ve added a small section at 90˚ in complimentary greens.

I’m pretty sure where I’m going with this now so I just need to get on with it – once I’ve decided on the finished size. Don’t forget to let me know your thoughts on that.

Fete - a handmade quilt in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

And here’s the right hand edge where I added a longer section of pennants at right angles to the main rows.

Makower For Maxine

In spring of 2018 my other sister turns 50 (there are a lot of years between each of us!). She’s getting a quilt too. But with my track record I decided I need to get started sooner rather than later. I’m not planning on starting the quilt yet (see above!), but I thought I’d make a start on gathering some fabrics and scraps in the colour way she’d like: pastels, people, pastels!!! You don’t see many of those around here.

I was browsing in the fabric shop the other day (too much time on my hands obviously) and came away with this lovely print from Makower’s Heartwood Range (it’s called ‘Scenic’). I felt guilty for spending money as well as making an acquisition of new fabric, but I had an idea…

Piece of Makower printed fabric saved and sealed in a clear plastic bag, ready for a new quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Thinking ahead and starting a new stash for my other sister’s 50th birthday quilt!

Pastels look great with greys (well, everything does, as I discussed over here: Design a Monochrome Colour Scheme). I can definitely work with pastels and grey without feeling I’ve overdosed on sugar. Which is good, because it means my sister will get her pastels and I’ll get to use a print I love!

Print from Makower's Heartwood range (called Scenic), 2016. Woodland scenes in grey on cream background.

Print from Makower’s Heartwood range (called Scenic), 2016

The lino/woodcut style is right up my street, and just look at the wee birds. And the fox and the rabbit! I’m not sure which direction the quilt itself will take just yet but I have a few starting points I’d like to explore. I’ve got about 4 leisurely months before I need to start piecing in earnest, so plenty of time for percolation to occur. In theory any way. Best laid plans and all that. I’m curious, what’s the furthest ahead you’ve planned a quilt, and did you get it finished on time?

I’m linking up with Patchwork Times for Design Wall Monday, Kaja and Ann for this month’s AHIQ, Lorna for Let’s Bee Social and Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday. I’m looking forward to catching up, hope to see you there.

If you like a link party have a look at some more favourites:

Link Party page: Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Happy stitching everyone.

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

Improv Triangles, The 40th Birthday Quilt

Fete

‘Fete’ is my improv triangle quilt and people seem to love it, even my sister – the birthday girl! I decided to let her in on my progress because I lost so much quilting time over the summer, which means she’ll receive it late. I planned it in plenty of time, as you do, but life has a habit of getting in the way doesn’t it? I feel sad that it won’t be a surprise on the big day, but I hope it’ll be a memorable 40th birthday present all the same. And I’ve made fair progress this week despite the summer set backs.

I posted this picture of work in progress on Instagram about a week ago:

and this is how it looked the night before last:

Fete - a handmade improvised patchwork quilt in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK. All Rights Reserved Patchwork quilt in progress.© Stephanie Boon, 2016. Cornwall, UK. All Rights Reserved Patchwork quilt in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2016, All Rights Reserved. www.DawnChorusStudio

This picture shows the addition of two more rows at the top and the vertical triangles on the right hand side.

Hiding My Bulges

It doesn’t look like much more piecing has gone on, but each row can take about 4 hours, sometimes more – and it’s been one of those weeks! It takes longer to make a row if there are lots of small triangles to fit together, or I have to restitch the seams to make the top lie flat. Sometimes bulges appear a couple of rows below the one I’m working on, which come about due some over zealous pressing on the bias of the curves! (My can of starch is disappearing fast and stay stitching is my best friend.) They’re easy enough to sort out with a dart or a bit of unpicking, but it can be fiddly and time consuming. So, I’m pleased to have passed the half way stage this week, another small milestone ticked off.

Today’s Fete

It’s been raining cats and dogs all day so I’ve been getting on with some more piecing. All this colour has been a good way to shake off the blues.

Fete, a handmade improvised patchwork quilt in progress. Bright colours and shapes inspired by summer bunting. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Finishing up the row at the top

I made another row (the top one in the picture above), which is ready to shape and stitch to the one below. A few more hours at the sewing machine this evening will see the next row under way (hopefully!). And, I get to play with some new prints too…

Fabric Choice

I had to buy more fabric this week. I’m using as many scraps from my scrap baskets as I can but there seems to be a dearth of scraps in this colour range, and the bits I can find are only really big enough for the small triangles. The 5 prints I bought were by Lewis and Irene. I love their fabrics, but I don’t like making ‘matchy matchy’ quilts (it’s not fulfilling for me). Why did I buy them then?! Because my local shop doesn’t stock much else. I went to the new quilt shop I mentioned the other day (where I got to try out and buy a Hera Marker) hoping to pick up something a bit different, only to find it had shut up shop already. Gone in the blink of an eye. Such a shame.

Selection of Lewis and Irene quilting fabrics. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Lewis and Irene prints. I’m not sure the colour of the puppy dog one is perfect, but the dog is just like my sister’s little mutt so it’s perfect from that point of view!

Necessity is NOT the Mother of Invention!

I need to grow my stash again: I’ve worked it down to virtually nothing over the last 6 months. Paucity is the mother of invention when you’re improv quilting, but there comes a point when there’s nothing left to be inventive with and the acquisition of materials is the only way to get the job done. I was too impatient to order online and wait for a delivery so I took a wander down the road to my local fabric shop (oh the danger of living in town!). Lewis and Irene line the shelves, with a smattering of Makower for interest… Oh well, needs must!

Your Thoughts

Have you ever had to overcome the lack of something essential, like fabric?! I’d be really interested to what creative solution you came up with, over dyeing maybe? Or cutting up your spouse’s clothes?! Share your experience in the comments.

I’m linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation for Needle and Thread Thursday and Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts for Let’s Bee Social. You can find more of my favourite link parties listed on the page below:

Link Party page: Favourite Link Parties graphic © Stephanie Boon, 2015 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy sewing!

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