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Sunday Rolls On By (I Wonder Where!)

Fete, a handmade and hand quilted patchwork quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Tiny pennants, big stitches

Sunday Coffee

Sunday afternoon already. How did that happen? I’ve stitched a few hours away, hacked back my triffid-like tomato plants, cleared up my sewing space and packed Kim off to see his grandparents for a few days. I’ve fed the cat. I’ve daydreamed and thought about how I can fit some walking in this week. And I’ve thought and thought and thought about this blog! *Sigh*…

I just took my last sip of cappuccino and gave myself a metaphorical kick up the backside: stop thinking, just do it! So, this is where a few hours went:

Fete, a handmade and hand quilted patchwork quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Finishing up a section

I finished hand quilting the left hand side of this section of Fete this morning (not in the photo)  and I plan to quilt up what you can see here this evening while I watch The Handmaid’s Tale (anyone else as engrossed as me?).

By the time I’ve stitched this bit up I reckon I’ll have covered an unimpressive 1/7th of the surface…such a long way to go. It’ll be good to finish a whole section though; it usually motivates me to move onto the next. Roll on this evening, I’m giving my arm a rest for now.

Arm Ache

My arm aches. Actually, that’s an understatement. My arm has been causing me agonising pain at times, but it’s my shoulder that’s at the root of it. I can’t lift my arm out more than 90 degrees to my side or ahead of me, and I can’t raise my usually very flexible arm behind my back at all. Not without howling at any rate. My gp says it’s “frozen”. My physio says no long stretches of quilting. Or sitting at the lap top. Or drawing. *Sigh* (Again!)

I’ve been good, I’ve listened and diligently completed my daily shoulder exercises, and I’ve been rewarded with less pain and much more mobility in a relatively short time. I’ve read of other quilters suffering from carpal tunnel syndrome or tennis elbow, which has meant they’ve had to give up quilting for months on end. I’m not going to join the list.

It’s an odd ailment this ‘rotator cuff‘ injury. Quilting, typing, etc, doesn’t hurt at all so you don’t realise you could be making it worse. My physiotherapist told me that the very small movements in activities like quilting mean the shoulder muscles are kept in the same position for long periods of time, which leads to them ‘freezing’ and creating the excruciating pain that comes with the larger movements your shoulder needs get you through the day. Which affects everything else from getting dressed to carrying the groceries!  Personally, I reckon it’s all down to age, meh.

Age Will Not Stop Play

I decided sometime ago that advancing age wouldn’t stop me doing the things I love, like long distance walking. I really believe I have to do these things before something as inevitable as a crumbling skeleton or weakening muscles puts an untimely stop to one of life’s joys.

So, last Thursday I headed off to the north Cornwall coast for a couple of days hiking and a night’s wild camping on the cliffs. I thought I’d share a couple of pictures with you because it’s such a spectacular part of the country and fills me with inspiration every time I stretch my legs there.

Boscastle

Boscastle Harbour © Stephanie Boon, 2017 All rights reserved. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Spectacular cliff walking at Boscastle

Millook

Millook, North Cornwall on the South West Coast Path. Interesting geological folds in the cliff face. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Beautiful zig zag geology exposed on the cliff face at Millook

Cliff Tracks

 

Slate track bordered with purple bell heather on the cliffs of north Cornwall. South West Coast Path August 2017 © Stephanie boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Slate tracks bordered with colourful bell heather and gorse

Rocky Valley

Busy tracks around Rocky Valley near Tintagel. © Stephanie Boon, 2017 All Rights Reserve. www.dawchorusstudio.com

Tracks around Rocky Valley near Tintagel, smudged with the orange of monbretia.

I got home on Friday night and was already thinking about the next hike! Sometimes inspiration is everywhere, you can’t get enough of it and want to take it all in at once. But it’s not always like that, sometimes things just percolate for a while, bubbling to the surface every now and again, until a bubble finally bursts into a lightbulb moment.

Inspiration for my other sister’s quilt has been like that. I’ve been collecting nature themed fabrics for it, but I didn’t really have any idea how I’d use them. Until recently. It’s all that drawing in the woods. I noticed something and it’s stuck in my mind. It keeps going round and round and sooner or later I’m going to have to get out some scrap fabric and try out an idea.

But first… yes, first, I must push on with Fete.

Happy Slow Sunday Stitching everyone! I’m linking up with Kathy for the first time in an absolute age.

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

 

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There’s a Fete going on in Cornwall!

Hello lovely, patient friends! I hope you’ve all been enjoying the summer so far, the weather’s been pretty rubbish here, so at the first glimpse of clear sky I grabbed the chance to take some photos of what’s in my hoop at the moment. But more on that in a mo. First off…

Comments Are Working!

I’m sooo glad to tell you that I’ve moved the blog to a new hosting company and finally we have working comments again…we can have a conversation! I have to admit that as well as being really busy with all the walking, I haven’t felt very motivated to post over the last few months, because talking to myself was a little bit dull to say the least (even the blog emails weren’t working)! Hopefully that’ll change now.

Out Of The Hoop

Since I last posted I’ve taken Prosperity out of the hoop. I’ve only got the borders to quilt now (I’ve finished one of them) and I don’t always use a hoop for those, mostly because I’m too lazy to add extra strips of fabric to the sides to hold it in place. Let’s be honest here, who does that anyway?!

Hand quilted patchwork quilt 'Prosperity'. Improv design © Stephanie Boon, 2017

Just the borders to quilt now

One quilt out another one in. And that’s my sister’s 40th birthday quilt ‘Fete’.

Fete

The Basting

I thread basted this quilt with herringbone stitch. It’s so lovely to work on because you don’t have to keep removing pins every time you move the hoop along a bit.  And it really doesn’t take that long to baste this way, especially if you work at a table. I did in a couple of hours over 2 evenings and I could have done it in one go if I’d been feeling more industrious!

Hands quilted improv patchwork quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017 www.Dawnchorusstudio.com

Fete, basted and being hand quilted…at last!

Who else prefers to thread baste?  I imagine pins are much easier to remove if you’re machine quilting, as you wouldn’t have the trouble of trying to extricate thread from under small machine stitches? I’ve been enjoying snipping the basting threads as I go along, which means I get to see the gorgeous texture developing.

Fete, a hand quilted patchwork quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Hand quilting in big stitch style

The Quilting

I had a couple of attempts at a quilting design before I settled on this one. My first idea was to create an all over zig-zag pattern in a random style, rather than geometric and even. I didn’t like it. At all! It seemed to lose the flow and movement of the bunting flags. So I tried again.

This time I stitched about a quarter of an inch from the seams and then another parallel row about another quarter inch apart. I didn’t like that either for two reasons: 1. it still felt geometrical and ‘rigid’ and 2. it left some of the larger flags without enough quilting to hold the layers in place (for my taste).

I went with version number 3. This version comprises ‘random’ echo quilting, various widths from the seams, with the second row various widths from the first. And if the smaller flags look good with just one row, they get just one row! And the larger ones might get 3 or more. I much prefer it because the quilting works with the flow of the bunting, rather than creating a pattern of it’s on own top.

The Thread

Hand quilted patchwork quilt by © Stephanie Boon, 2017 www.dawnchrousstudio.com

Hand quilting on the Kaffe Fassett backing fabric

The back looks good too I think. I’m working in ‘big stitch’ with a cotton perle thread in blue. I chose blue because I didn’t want to see the flags too distinctly on the back. This was another decision I made so as not to detract from the pattern of the fabric.

The big, bold Kaffe Fassett design has as much exuberance as the front and the quilt could easily be reversed. The other thing I like about the thread is that a friend gave it to me. Her mum died relatively recently and she had lots of perle cottons in her sewing box that my friend was unlikely to use. It makes me happy to think she’s part of this quilt too.

Walking and Drawing

My desire to be creative seems to be on a bigger roll lately. Maybe having a break from being online so much has had its benefits? Instead of thinking about things I’ve been getting on with it. Perhaps all the long distance walking has helped too. It clears the head and allows you to see the landscape in a different way. I’d all but forgotten how much I love the simple act of looking and  painting too. I always draw, but colour and mark making is an enlivening experience.

 

Oak trees. Oil pastel on paper. July 2017 © Stephanie Boon, all rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Oak trees. Oil pastel on paper

Painting - Beech Trees In The Rain, © Stephanie Boon, 2017. all rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Beech trees in the rain.

Painting. Pines Through The Beech Trees. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Pines through the beech trees

Painting: Dead Tree at Trelissick (Beech Trees). © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Beech trees in fading light

Another old friend gave me a wonderful gift of a set of oil pastels. I’d never used them much before and I’m amazed at the range of marks I can make with them – I wonder where these sticks of gorgeousness have been all my life!

I’m using them to make the series of small woodland drawings/paintings you can see here (they’re just a little bigger than A4). I’m aiming for 10 or so and maybe I’ll even exhibit them some day!

Another Hike

Cliffs and beach at Duck pool. North coast of Cornwall. July 2017. © Stephanie Boon, all rights reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Cliffs on the north Cornish coast

I’m heading off to the north coast again tomorrow and I’ll be taking some art materials with me, of course. It’s a short trip, only two nights, but what with the weather and a load of appointments (more about that next time) just squeezing in 2 nights seemed to be better than none (it was meant to be 4). Things won’t be so frantic towards the end of the month and I’m planning another 80 mile stretch, this time on the south coast. When I finish that section, I’ll have walked the entire Cornish coast in one continuous route (that’s 300 miles). That makes me happy.

Come and join me on Instagram (I have 2 different accounts) to see more pictures of walking and hiking in Cornwall and how my quilting is coming along (slowly, haha!).

One last thing before I head off to pack my rucksack, please, if you find any glitches on the site just let me know (in the comments, haha!); I have every confidence I can sort it out with this new host! (And a few oddities are to be expected when you migrate a site from one host to another.)

I’ll see you on the other side of my hike, so until next time have a great end to the week and a fine weekend too.

Best wishes

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

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

 

 

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

Thinking About The Process Of Improv Patchwork

Hello there! Well, what a day. Momentous, whatever your perspective.  A billionaire reality tv host becomes president of the US. Some people in my social media feeds say they’re staying inside today, retreating from that reality! I’m happy to be inside: it’s been chilly here in the UK over the last few days and I’m finally beginning to feel at home in our new home.

We’re mostly unpacked and things have found their natural place, which means the sewing machine’s set up and the floor’s clear enough for some piecing.

Worrying About Time

Fete‘ is at the top of my list of piecing priorities and when it’s finished it’ll head straight to the top of my hand quilting list too. In short, I need to get my skates on because it’s a gift for my sister. Her 40th birthday is on the 2nd January and with all the unexpected setbacks, I’m seriously behind. Months behind. I don’t know if I can get it done by then but I’m going to focus all my energy on it – and keep my fingers crossed too!

Considering My Improv Process

I’ve managed to add another couple of rows over the last two days: it’s a slow process. The design is entirely improv and each triangle is individually cut (with scissors) and pieced to the next one. I work on it laid out on the kitchen floor so that I can see shape of the next piece and determine the curve. There’s a lot of backwards and forwarding to the sewing machine and I’ve found it’s much more productive to stand up to sew the pieces together.

Fete - an improv patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Fete…so far

Experimenting With Design And Technique

I’ve begun to add some new colours and prints to the rows. Initially I thought I’d graduate from one colour to another, but I’ve got something else up my sleeve that I want to try out. Tonight’s the night for experimenting. I love this part of the process, the ‘what if’ part. The decision making. This is the part where I become completely engrossed and lose track of time. And usually forget to eat.

Fete - an improv patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Introducing some new colours and prints into the mix. The purple is from Makower and there’s a new grey Lewis and Irene print called Bumbleberry – and a few others I can’t recall.

When I look more closely I realise the piecing is surprisingly intricate in places. It’s funny how that happens without you noticing. When you’re sewing it’s just a matter of figuring out how one piece will connect to the next. And how to get rid of ‘bubbles’ and any bias stretching along the way (there are a couple of small, barely noticeable darts to overcome this effect). A lot of the fabrics are from my scrap stash which aren’t necessarily cut along the grain; the curves would negate this anyway.

Fete - an improv patchwork in progress. © Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Evoking the sky with raindrops and bird prints adds to the fun of this quilt

What’s Your Process Like?

Trying to articulate the process is difficult and amounts to a lot of rambling, it’s like an automatic writing session here today. The question though is does it encourage you to have a go at improv and experimentation, or does it put you off all together? What’s your thought process like when you give yourself licence to play with technique and composition? Or do you prefer to have some direction? Let us know below – rambling accepted!

I’m linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social today, come and see what the party’s about.

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

A New Quilt Journey

Pondering

Back in July I finished Summer Blues A Quilt 7 Years In The Making. It was the end of a long and significant personal journey. When I started the quilt it marked a new start in my life: the end of a relationship, a new home and hope for the future. It feels wonderful to have it on my bed and remind myself how far I’ve come. But now I have to move home again (as I’m sure many of you know).

© Stephanie Boon, 2016 Cornwall UK All Rights Reserved Summer Blues hand made quilt http://wwwDawnChorusStudio.com

Summer Blues. Turned back to show the Phillip Jacobs backing fabric

It struck me the other day that this quilt was started and finished in pretty much the same time that we’ve been living here (8 years). When I was reflecting on the quilt-making journey I said it marked the end of an era, another new beginning full of hope for the next 7 years. I had no idea how prophetic those words would be! This quilt has come to represent a complete period of my life, from start to finish, and this quilt will take the good memories with me into the next one. Wherever that may be.

No Solution

I went to look at a property yesterday that we thought would be a temporary solution to our current predicament, but it wasn’t suitable at all (only 1 bedroom for a start). So we’re back to square one with the clock ticking and only two weeks left to find a new home. I don’t believe it’s going to happen, which, for someone with chronic depression, doesn’t bode well. I’m trying to quell the feelings of panic with the idea of beginning a new quilt.

If we find somewhere it would be a great opportunity to mark another new beginning in fabric and thread. I’ve got plenty of things on the go already of course, who hasn’t, but they’re definitely rooted here. Something completely new might help me to look at the positives of a move I was forced to make, rather than dwell on all the difficulties and heartache it’s presented. I’d like to make an improv bed quilt, something made from a more creative place perhaps. It all feels very amorphous at the moment.

Improv Quilting

It’s been difficult to do much stitching lately, but I plan to show you some more progress on my improv quilt ‘On The Edge‘ tomorrow. It’s Ann and Kaja’s monthly Ad Hoc Improv link up, so make sure you pop by to say hi and see what everyone’s been up to over the last month.

The other improv quilt I’m working on, Fete, is still on the design wall (aka easel).  I like to work on the floor and the floor’s currently buried under piles of boxes, so progress on this quilt has been more in the mind than on the the quilt! It’s a bit worrying to be honest, since there’s a deadline at the end of December – and how fast is that creeping up on us?! I’m barely a third of the way through making the top, let alone hand quilting it. I must resolve to make some floor space and do a bit more before we move. This quilt is on a journey I can’t afford to stop just yet…unless my sister wants it for her 50th birthday instead of her 40th!

Patchwork quilt in progress, displayed on a design board (easel). © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Fete on the design wall (easel!). The dresser’s all packed up and moved somewhere else, the table’s covered in more than just the cat and the floor’s barely visible, but this improv quilt is still up and taunting me!

Friends

Fabric and thread takes us on so many journeys. I’m overwhelmed with all the kind thoughts and good wishes you sent on my last post, and the journey that brought us together is one I really cherish. Thank you so much for being there and listening to my woes!

Back tomorrow (assuming there are no more crises in the mean time!), until then happy stitching every one!

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

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Good Things Come in Threes

Sometimes, amongst all the anxiety and stress, a day comes along that seems so full of goodness it’s hard to believe. It’s like a beacon, something to hold on to while you weather the storm. Monday was one of those days.

When Two Quilters Meet

Meet Roz (on the left), we’ve been online quilty friends for a number of years now and this was our first ‘real life’ get together. Roz lives hundreds of miles away in glorious Yorkshire, but has come to Cornwall for a couple of weeks’ holiday. And not just anywhere in Cornwall, but a mere 3 or 4 miles down the road in St Agnes! (A lot of the photos I share on Instagram are taken around the coast of St Agnes – it’s a beautiful place to escape to. Have a look at my photos and you’ll see what I mean!) It was a rare opportunity we couldn’t pass up.

 

A photo posted by Roz Elliott (@ell55roz) on

We arranged to meet at a lovely open air National Trust cafe on the beach at Chapel Porth. I cycled there and on the way I was thinking that a few decades ago (more than I care to remember!) I’d have been full of nerves and trepidation, but today I was full of excitement. It was the first opportunity I’ve ever had to meet an online friend. And it was even more special because Roz is a quilter, and I hardly ever meet other quilters where I live.

Give Us A Hug!

I rode to the bottom of a stoney track and spotted Roz straight away, and the pair of us were grinning from ear to ear! I felt so exuberant: it was like meeting an old friend you haven’t seen for ages. The disbelief gave way to huge hugs and when we finally found some words I realised Roz had someone with her.

Roz brought her husband Geoff along and it turns out he’s as keen on the outdoors as I am. A biker, a cyclist, a runner, a traveller – they both had some wonderful stories to tell. And of course we talked about quilting! Roz is an awesome hand quilter and you can find her on Instagram and the Celebrate Hand Quilting group on Facebook. She’s also a keen bag maker and machine embroiderer. In short Roz is an inspiration and a most lovely person to boot. I wished we’d had some stitching with us and we could have talked quilting till the cows came home! I can’t wait to meet up again. There’s just so much to share! And luckily for me Cornwall’s a regular holiday destination for them both.

They Say Good Things Come in Threes

The first ‘good thing’ was pretty hard to beat on Monday and I planned to spend the rest of the afternoon gardening. When I got home I rode down the road to my local saw mills about a mile away. I wanted to find out the cost of the timber to make the first raised bed for my disaster-zone-garden. I was surprised at how affordable it was. I had one of those impulsive moments and decided to buy it there and then. Then thought…hmm, how to get it home?!

Making a raised bed with timber carried home on a mountain bike © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

From bike to raised bed!

I had it cut to size and strapped it to the handlebars and seat of my bike (thank goodness for bungees!) and pushed it back: ingenious, I thought. Back home I was sitting on the kitchen doorstep with a cuppa in my hand and feeling pretty pleased with myself: the second ‘good thing’ of the day had just happened.

I was enjoying a bit of sunshine when I heard a car door close and looked up. Another surprise? Oh yes: an unexpected visit from another old friend, Sally! Sally owns Coast and Country Crafts, (a lovely quilt shop) and brought over a couple of big bags of fabric scraps needing a new home.  This day was turning out to be pretty awesome! What an absolutely wonderful gift for someone who thinks scrappy quilts are the best. in. the. entire. universe!!! ‘Good thing’ number three: tick!

Magnificent Scraps!

We chewed the fat for a while and caught up on family life (our boys were great friends in primary school and went to the same secondary school) until Sally had to head back to the shop. I thought catching up with Sally was the third good thing of the day, but I was totally wrong! Sorry Sally but you were relegated to second place and gardening was kicked off the list altogether!

The bags of scraps she’d brought were hiding a treasure inside. There are lots of strips of fabric in the bags (perfect for a string quilt) but amongst them all were a couple of small pieces of a Kaffe Fassett fabric called Lotus Leaf. In red. I was over the moon: a score for my bunting inspired quilt ‘Fete‘! That really was the third best thing of the day. And in no danger of being struck from the list!

Fete – Growing Row by Row

There isn’t a quilter alive than can put off the excitement of using up a bit of fabric when it’s perfect for the job, so I know you’ll understand what I had to do next. I couldn’t wait to get stitching. I spent about 6 hours or more finishing up two rows of patchwork bunting for Fete, the celebration quilt I’m making for my sister’s 40th birthday.

'Fete' an original improv patchwork in progress © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Bringing in some blues and purples

Pride of place in the middle of a row are are two pennant flags in ‘Lotus Leaf’ from Sally’s scraps. The smile on my face was about big enough to go well beyond ear to ear by now!

'Fete' an original improv patchwork in progress by © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Kaffe Fassett scraps (2 large red triangles)

Monday turned out to be an incredible day, unforgettable, all thanks to Roz and Sally. And after such a crappy couple of weeks of raging anxiety it’s wonderful to have some balance restored.

Have you ever met an online friend in real life? What was it like the first time – are you still friends?!?!  Tell us your story in the comments – I’d love to know how you got on!

I’ll be back on Sunday for Slow Sunday Stitching (all being well). Until then…

Happy Stitching!

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

Linking up with Sew Fresh Quilts,  My Quilt Infatuation, Can I Get a Whoop Whoop and Fort Worth Studio

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Chicken Fete!

Cuteness Alert

Hello! Come and say hi to my cute new babies! I’ve got 3 new additions to the henhouse, and each and everyone of them was a bit of a surprise…

2 new chicks feeding with 2 hens. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Fluffy bums!

Two little chicks, less than a week old. One black and white, one brown and white. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Less than a week old

If you keep a few hens yourself you know how annoying it can be when they all become broody at the same time: broody hens mean no fresh eggs for a month or two. And no fresh eggs means no cake!

We’ve got three little mixed breed bantams, a mini flock generally keen on demolishing the garden, taking extravagant dust baths and constantly chatting away.  Bundles of feathery fun, one and all. And since they’ve taken to their nests it’s been a bit quiet around here. Then one day last week Kim went out to feed them, heard some curious cheeping and was taken aback to discover chick number one hopping about the place. Why the big surprise? Um, well…we don’t have a cockerel!! Next door’s handsome fellow had taken a fancy to our ladies, abandoning his own brood to follow them around, sadly though he was taken by a fox some weeks ago. Obviously not as long ago as I thought, and not before he’d sewed a few oats!

 

A photo posted by Stephanie Boon (@dawnchorusstudio) on

It’s rather lovely to think that he lives on. I wonder if those two dark chicks will look anything like him as they grow? It’ll be a while before we can tell whether they’re hens or cockerels though. Do any of you keep livestock? It’s a lovely time of year for it isn’t it?

Considering Somewhere to Grow and Sew

There must be something in the air because home-life, including my garden, has been on my mind for a few weeks now. Maybe it’s the sunshine we’ve had for a while? My garden’s a complete mess, overrun with nettles and brambles and knee high grass, and it’s such a tiny space that that means the entire garden! I gave it very little attention at all last year for one reason or another (illness, flies, the farm incursion!) and I’m paying for it now. I used to absolutely love gardening but the expansion of the farm buildings next door has made a serious dent in my enthusiasm.

Farm advancements around a small garden... the encroaching cow sheds, a new machinery shed going up and a silo just out of shot on the left of the picture. And a dying lawn! © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Farm advancements… the encroaching cow sheds, a new machinery shed going up and a silo just out of shot on the left of the picture. And a dying lawn! (With Daisy sat in the middle of it.) And a missing hedge (I think fruit and veg will need more sun and the hedge had become a straggly eye-sore anyway.)

Since it’s no longer a lovely place to sit in and the neglect’s becoming a bit of an embarrassment I wondered what to do with it. After some cogitation I’ve decided to take a radical approach, start again and turn it into a productive garden with fruit and veg. A mini allotment or kitchen garden: a space I can get dirty in and enjoy in a different way.  There’s some (not too private) space outside the house I can use as a patio to sit in. Sewing outside’s one of the pleasures of a warm, sunny day isn’t it? Not one I’m prepared to forego!

I got off to a bit of an enthusiastic start and cut down a hedge as soon as the robins flew their nest. I decided the only way to get rid of the nettles and unwanted grass was to use a weed killer, something I’ve never used before as I hate chemicals in the garden. I can see why – everything’s dying right back in a matter of a few weeks. And now the weather’s turned. And so have I – back inside until the rain’s passed!

Fete

Which is handy really, because I’ve got a quilt top to be getting on with! I seem to remember the plan was to have it finished by the end of this month, so that I’ve got 6 months to hand quilt it. I best get my skates on.

Patchwork quilt in progress, displayed on a design board (easel). © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Fete on the easel (design board!) and Lily on the table…

Patchwork quilt in progress, 'Fete' inspired by bunting. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Four or five rows of Fete!

I’m enjoying putting this one together. It’s all about the challenge of creating movement. It looks like an exercise in improv patchwork, but to get movement you have to impose some rules and it’s probably more controlled than it first appears. The improv bit is about technique, working out how to fit the pieces together so that it captures the essence of what I see in my mind’s eye. As I’m working I’m constantly shifting and evolving that idea guided by the discoveries I make along the way. And I get lost in the process for hours!

The self imposed rules are fairly straightforward:

  • the colours in the negative space (the background triangles) will be the lightest value
  • the background colours will move from greys to blues (inspired by a cloudy sky)
  • the positive colours (the foreground triangles) will have very limited amounts of white, preferably none
  • the main prints will be contemporary with large motifs (nothing too ‘ditsy’ in the foreground)
  • use as much fabric from scrap bins as possible.

Did you spot any of the ‘rules’ in the quilt top before I listed them? (And if you didn’t can you see them now?!) I don’t want them to be overly noticeable in the finished design so if I have to break the rules to make that happen I will!

Next up is making the transition from grey to blue in the background and from reds to purples in the foreground. It goes without saying that this might change along the way!

Choosing fabrics for a patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com,

Considering colour transition

What’s Going On

I feel like I haven’t had anything interesting to share for ages: all I’ve been working on, quilt wise, is this one and Summer Blues (which I’m sure you’re sick to death of seeing by now). Hand quilting the borders of Summer Blues is coming together and I’m more than half way through the third one now. A finish feels pretty close. And, I’m getting quite excited by the thought that I can finally stick it in the washing machine after all these years, haha! I’ve also been plugging away at making this blog part of a bona fide website, but it’s a slow process. I’d love to know what you think of the new (almost finished) ‘take a tour‘ page – it’s meant to help new visitors find their way around, is there anything you’d add?

I’m heading over to say hi to Lorna and everyone else at Sew Fresh Quilts for this week’s Let’s Bee Social – Lorna’s got a great giveaway going on, have you seen it?

Righto my lovelies, see you at the weekend for some Slow Sunday Stitching!

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