Categories: p&q; slow stitch; art; textile art; hand quilting; improv; wip; embroidery; wall quilt; inspiration

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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.

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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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The Lost Quilter

Craving Simplicity

There’s no denying life’s been hard of late. I just want to rest. Rest everything, from my mind to what I see, to what I do and what I feel. I want everything to be white.

Quilty365 - circle patchwork, circle 81 © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Quilty 365, March 2016

It’s funny, a few months ago I was engaged in psychotherapy and I recalled a dream I’d had. I don’t usually remember them at all. But this one comes back to me now. I described going into a shed, a brick outhouse like the one attached to this house. I opened the door and was so angry because someone had filled it from floor to ceiling with stuff. I couldn’t get in and I couldn’t find anything. There was no order just a kind of chaos of broken furniture pieces haphazardly piled on top of each other. But everything was white. I took it all out so that the space was empty and the walls and floor were clear and white again. Light. I put a few things back, my things, slowly and deliberately. It was a small space. Very small, but with a window. I may have locked the door and stayed on the inside.

White Space

I couldn’t make head nor tail of the dream at the time. The therapist asked me what white spaces came to mind. Hospitals. Empty galleries. Prison cells. Institutions. Curious, he thought. He perhaps expected me to describe a calm, minimalist space. Peaceful. Now though, I wonder if the spaces I described are somewhere to retreat to. Empty. No distractions. Not places to think and contemplate in, but places to let go of everything. To be empty. To be cared for. To start again.

I’m starting again. Precariously. Moving home to somewhere I’ve not yet seen, somewhere considerably smaller with no garden: I’ve always had a garden. Two up, two down. Each of the last 4 homes I’ve had have been progressively smaller and this next one feels like a shoebox. I feel squeezed. Squeezed out. Where will my sewing machine go?

Fitting A Quart Into A Pint Pot

The homes have become smaller, but the amount of stuff has stayed the same. I’m deeply worried none of it will fit in. It’s furniture I’m sentimentally attached to. A bookcase Kim’s dad made for my birthday one year. A full height armoire we designed and made for a home we had. A writing bureau, a dresser, dining tables, more bookcases and bedside cabinets…another chair he gave me. All things we designed and made together when we ran a handmade furniture company, and lived in a reasonably large Georgian home. 14 years of our lives. If I got rid of it I couldn’t possibly afford anything else of the same quality.

So I get rid of the inconsequential. The wine glasses I never use, the umpteen mugs I seem to have accumulated, old picture frames, pieces of fabric. Things that don’t take up the space. And now I’m painting everything white. White furniture to meld into white walls.

It seems ridiculous to have such attachments. But being attached to something you’ve invested time and love in is something I’m sure any quilter will understand. They’re not things, they’re tangible stories. The story of my life. A life I feel I’m losing any grip on at all. A life eroded.

Plain Sewing patchwork quilt in progress. A circle a day wuith the Quilty365 sew-along. © Stephanie Bon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Plain Sewing in progress (currently 16″ x 22.5″ / 40cm x 57cm)

Plain Sewing‘, keeps rising in my thoughts. I want to work on it, but it’s packed away in a cardboard box somewhere. It feels lost.

I feel lost.

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

Linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.

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Going Round In Two Circles

Welcome to another Quilty365 update! I’m not sure where I am in the consecutive order of block making – my Quilty365 galleries are completely disorganised at the moment, so is my desk and, most definitely, my mind.  I really need to take a leaf out of Audrey’s book and get myself properly organised. There are well over a hundred circle blocks now and as I mentioned in my newsletter I’m planning to make at least three quilts with them. I’ve begun to stitch some of my Quilty365 circles together and the difference between them is amazing. I wonder if the same person made them sometimes!

Quilty365 – The Bright One

That’s just the working title! When I first put these blocks together (it took well over 4 hours to piece this little section, which is only about 22″ x 18″) I wasn’t sure it looked anything more than a hotchpotch of colours. I wondered whether it might develop a confused appearance as it grows in size? To try and alleviate the potential for that and add some rhythm and stronger repetition, I decided to use white based prints for horizontal fillers and black based for vertical fillers. I still can’t do it randomly though, I have to consider every step, every fabric, every juxtaposition – which explains the hours spent piecing so far!

 

piecing together bright coloured patchwork blocks to make a quilt with appliqué circles. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Piecing together bright coloured Quilty365 blocks

Looking at all the bright coloured blocks I’ve made I thought it might be useful to have some less ‘complicated’ ones to give the eye a bit of a rest here and there. Another thing I’ve become aware of is that there’s not really enough variation in the scale of the circles. Well, not as much as I’d like.

Improv patchwork circle quilt blocks, with buttons to show scale. Bright pinks, greens and purples. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Button size blocks

So for a few days now I’ve been making ‘button’ circle blocks: small and comparatively simple. I like them so far and I can see they’re going to be really useful as the quilt top evolves. This one’s going to be a very cheerful circle quilt when it’s finished.

 

Quilty365 – Plain Sewing

My ‘Plain Sewing’ circle quilt feels as though it’s nearing a conclusion. I want it to be a bit larger, but perhaps not too much. This one feels so intimate and I don’t want to lose that quality. The intimacy is in the small, quiet stitches, you’re really drawn close to the surface to see them.

 

Patchwork improv circle quilt in muted browns, greys and duck egg blue by © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Plain Sewing (in progress March 2016)

Since I last showed my progress on this one Ive introduced some duck egg blue colour, which lifts the mood a little I hope. I’ve used quite a lot of scrap linen in this piece as well as cottons from my scrap boxes. If you look closely you’ll also notice that I often use the reverse of the fabrics to get softer and more muted colours and tones.  I love the fact that it makes those particular prints seem a bit obscure (especially the text ones, which you can’t read anymore).

Patchwork improv circle quilt in muted browns, greys and duck egg blue by © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Plain Sewing – new section (detail)

Patchwork improv circle quilt in muted browns, greys and duck egg blue by © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Plain Sewing, new section with added duck blue colour

All these blocks I’ve made so far are pieced completely from scraps: old clothes, bits and pieces given to me, off cuts from other projects. There are memories attached to almost every piece I’ve used. Then there are the memories of making each one too. I don’t think it’ll matter what they look like when they’re finished really, they’ll still be pretty special.

What’s making your circle quilt memorable for you? For a lot of people it seems to be the diary aspect, but I wonder if there’s anything else that’s keeping you motivated? I’d love to know! (I’m nosy like that!) Why not share in the comments?

I’ll be linking up with Audrey at Quilty Folk for this month’s Quitly365 link up, but before you head over to check out all the other gorgeous quilts in progress, I’d love it if you took a few minutes to read my last post. I talked to Audrey about how she makes the most of her quilting time and she shared so much it really is a great post and I’d hate you to miss it: Make The Most Of Your Quilting Time With Audrey Easter.

Graphic: cHow to Make the Most of Your Quilting Time, with Audrey Easter. A conversation with Stephanie Boon, 2016. www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Have a great weekend everyone!

Happy Stitching

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

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Slow Sunday Stitching the plain way

Slow Sunday Stitching is here once again; I don’t know about you, but it definitely feels like the culmination of the week’s quilting for me.  It’s a point of reference where I slow down and reflect on the week’s sewing.  Sometimes I feel like it’s been a good week (however that might be framed) and things are moving forward, other times, well I’m stood standing wondering what happened!

It’s amazing to me that joining in with Slow Sunday Stitching began as a way to make connections with other quilters, but has become so integral to my ‘reflective practice’ (a very lofty term that!).  Kathy’s given us an opportunity for regular, thoughtful sharing, encouragement and support that I cherish.  I don’t suppose a quilter will often say a simple link up has fundamentally changed the way they approach their craft, but it really has for me. So much so that I’m considering a whole page devoted to Slow Sunday Stitching and ‘reflective practice’ (surely there’s a better way of describing that?!).  If you’ve got a similar ‘craft changing’ experience to share I’d love to hear it, so comment away!

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They say good things come along together: the Quilty365 sew along is another one of those good things. Again, it  started off in a simple way but has become so integral to my day that it’s changed the way I work for good.  It’s become a kind of medative ritual, so completely absorbing that I don’t notice time or anything else going on around me.

This past week’s slow hand stitching has mostly been about my Quilty365 circles (link to my latest circle gallery). After a few weeks of catching up I’m back to sewing one a day, so yesterday I decided it was time to dive in and start piecing some blocks together. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy, but I felt I could see some themes developing that might result in two or more quilts.  The first four pictures show how the process began.

Slow Sunday Stitching the plain way - designing a quilty365 circle composition. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Working through the process of making a satisfying composition

  1. I looked through the blocks trying to decide which ones to work with that I thought had a similar aesthetic quality (literally just plonked on the easel)
  2. I then spent hours refining my choices and trying to make sense of the chaos
  3. You have to start somewhere, I told myself, so I forced myself to just stitch 2 together
  4. Then I began to feel more confident and finally, after about 4 hours, I felt like I knew where I was going.
Slow Sunday Stitching the plain way - assembling quilty365 circles. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Stage 3 – close up

I decided that a basic 9 patch format would help me make sense of the overall composition.

Slow Sunday Stitching the plain way - a quilty365 circles hand stitched with plain running and overcast stitches. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Considering the composition from all ways up

The keen eyed might notice that although there are 9 patches (in loose terms) in the picture above, there are only 8 circles. As I was working I realised that I wanted some ‘quiet spaces’, a place for the eye to rest. I’m sure there’ll be more of these as the piece progresses.

Plain Sewing

One thing I learned about working on a soft vertical surf is that although it’s good for working out your composition it’s not so good for improv patchwork that’s made up of so many pieces. As smooth as it looked on the easel, when I put the finished section on the hard floor I discovered some sections were full of ‘bubbles’ and nowhere near lying flat.

Slow Sunday Stitching the plain way - a quilty365 circle hand stitched with plain running and overcast stitches. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Getting rid of ‘bubbles’ with running stitches

I unstitched a few pieces and machined them back together on Mary (the vintage hand cranked Singer I use), but there was one stubborn section that refused to be tamed (above)! It would be a difficult section to unpick so I told myself to be creative and do it another way.  I reminded myself that what I’m really interested in exploring is ‘plain sewing’, the kind of utilitarian sewing and mending that holds things together, is strong, functional but unseen. I’m interested in making the invisible visible (there are a lot of metaphors here, but you can use your imagination to ponder what they might be!).

And here was the perfect opportunity to make the invisible visible,
out of need rather than trope.

I rolled some of the excess fabric over the adjacent seam and overcast it down (seen above on the right hand section). But the section to the right of the circle was still ‘bubbly’ and no amount of pulling the fabric around would make it lie flat. This beige fabric is slightly thinner than some of the fabric it’s stitched to and I wondered if this was the problem. I decided to stitch another piece of the same fabric behind it and see what effect it would have. Hey presto! I stitched the two pieces together with concentric running stitches, easing out the excess as I went and it worked like a dream.

dsds

Oversewn seam

There was another section where I’d managed to stretch the fabric out of shape, so I unpicked it and oversewed it back into place (above). Obviously, I’ve used a black thread and not worried about making tiny invisible stitches, so that I could make the invisible visible.

I’m so thrilled with the way this is working out!  I realise I’ve been preoccupied with plain sewing for some time (things take a while to make their way to the top of my wee brain!) and it’s been surfacing in the collages I’ve been making for a while. As this piece grows I’ll be much more aware of it and when I do some more slow Sunday stitching this evening I’ll be encouraged when I need to make adjustments with visible hand stitching. In fact, I’m thinking that this piece might be the start of a series called ‘Plain Sewing’.

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Taking some stitches on Ocean Waves with something to watch on BBC iPlayer

Taking some stitches on Ocean Waves with something to watch on BBC iPlayer

Slow Sunday Stitching tonight

Now I’m up to date with my circles (and believe it or not I even cleared my work table last night), I’ve been taking some regular stitches on my Ocean Waves quilt. My plan for this evening’s Slow Sunday Stitching is to spend a couple of hours on it while I watch/listen to something fairly mindless on the BBC iPlayer (well until the finale of the BBC’s adaptation of War and Peace comes on when all attention will be firmly fixed on the Napoleonic wars in early 19th century Russia!).

It makes me so darned happy to be taking several things forward, and on reflection this has definitely been a good week!

Linking up with Kathy for Slow Sunday Stitching, and looking forward to seeing what everyone’s been up to this past week.

Finally just a reminder that my latest newsletter’s out, with lots of inspiring stuff for you: you can find it online here and if you like it (and why wouldn’t you?!?!) you can subscribe by clicking the tab at the top left of the newsletter page.

Until next time happy slow stitching!

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