Categories: p&q; tips and tutorials; patterns

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‘Scawswater Coins’ (A Local Version of Chinese Coins!)

Challenging Coins

A few weeks (months?!) back Ann and Kaja invited us to join them on an AHIQ patchwork challenge and I said I’d join in. The challenge was to make a quilt inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design, simple horizontal strips separated by vertical sashing. I love the simplicity of the design and was curious as to how I could make it my own.

It’s been fascinating to see all your interpretations. Kaja added a pinwheel block to hers, which she describes on her blog today, and Ann’s already on her second version, working with a different palette. So many of you are all finished up and ready for the next challenge…I wish I could say the same.

I’ve made a good start, but I’m not rushing!

Colour In The Landscape

I was out and about drawing a fair bit when Ann and Kaja threw down the challenge and I kept returning to this particular view. It’s a place near home called Scawswater and I was fascinated with the landscape across the valley.

Across The Valley Scawswater 3 - pastel drawing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Across the valley – Scawswater, 1

The colours…

Across The Valley Scawswater 3 - pastel drawing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Across the valley – Scawswater, 2

The shapes…

Across The Valley Scawswater 3 - pastel drawing. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. All Rights Reserved. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Across the valley – Scawswater, 3

The light.

It seemed a natural step to take this fascination forward into the new patchwork project.

Patchwork Inspired By Drawings

The colours are important, but I was more interested in how I could capture the feeling of movement and shape in the landscape within the confines of a Chinese Coin design.

Chinese Coins is made up of essentially two simple shapes: a short rectangle (the coins) and a long rectangle (the sashing), so that’s where I set my parameters. I started off with a few small strip sets:

Patchwork colours inspired by pastel landscape drawings. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.co,

Beginning with some small strips

 

Patchwork colours inspired by pastel landscape drawings. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.co,

Inserting some small verticals.

 

Patchwork colours inspired by pastel landscape drawings. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.co,

And some bigger verticals!

Coins In The Landscape

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired  by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Thinking about sashing

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Thinking about colour transition

 

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Adding ‘sashing’ strips at an angle to create movement.

 

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Playing with the strips

Scawswater Coins - a patchwork quilt in progress inspired by the traditional Chinese Coins design. © Stephanie Boon, 2017. www.dawnchorusstudio.com

Love the orange strip!

I have no idea how this is going to progress, no picture in my head of how it should look when it’s finished, but I love the results so far. That might well have something to do with the fabulous orange colours though!

Talking of colour… I don’t plan on buying any fabric specifically for this top, so I may well come to a standstill when I run out of the colour palette I’m using. If I do, I’ll put it on the back burner until I accumulate some more. Or feel a bit rash and spend money I shouldn’t!

No Comment

You may have noticed I’ve been a bit awol recently (then again you may not). To be honest I’ve got a bit dispirited because I haven’t been able to sort out the broken comment form as yet. It doesn’t feel great talking to yourself all the time! And if I haven’t visited you for a while…I probably have, I’ve just not been very talkative!! I’ll try and overcome my frustration, but in the mean time come on over to Instagram where I pop in for a chat most days. Or drop me an email, I love to hear from you.

I’m linking up with Ann and Kaja today for AHIQ, see you there.

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

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Once Upon A Time… A Quilter Had A Plan

 

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

Star progress

The Plan

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

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

The last diamonds

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

The Best Laid Plans…

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

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

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

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

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

Plan B: Plain Sewing

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

Sorry

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

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

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

Free Template And A New Tutorial

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

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

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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.

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

 

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

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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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Fete – A New Improv Triangle Quilt

I’ve wanted to make a quilt with improv triangles for a while and until now I couldn’t find a good enough excuse to make one, because I’ve got so many other works in progress. The excuse I’ve come up with is my sister’s 40th birthday in January 2017. It’s a good excuse, right?!  I mentioned her birthday a few weeks ago and asked for ideas, but nothing really grabbed my attention. Triangles had been percolating for a while though and when I saw this fabulous bunting in Truro recently it was like the proverbial light bulb coming on.

Mosaic image of bunting in Truro with a bright blue sky behind purple and orange tenants. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Bunting in Truro spring 2016

It’s so joyous and festive, just right for a birthday celebration. So the triangle quilt got it’s name before it even got started: ‘Fete’. It’ll be a lap quilt.

'Fete' a new patchwork quilt in progress. Improv triangles in pinks and reds prints on a grey print background. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Improv triangles

I decided to have a look at some improv triangle quilts to see what others have been up to; there are a lot of half square triangles out there aren’t there! Not what I had in mind. I had a look through a couple of my books for more ideas. I love Sujata Shah’s triangle quilt in Cultural Fushion Quilts, but I want a lot more movement in mine, not really just the tips of the triangles missing across fairly straight rows. A corner of one of Sherri Lynn Wood’s improv quilts that I saw in her book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters was nearer the mark. It’s definitely creating movement that interests me.

Sewing individual triangles together for an improv patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Sewing individual triangles

I started off by making the bottom row of small triangles, cutting each triangle individually to get different angles. I soon realised that sewing this way might take a while so decided to have a go at layering alternate light and dark squares and cutting out several triangles at once.

Sewing large individual triangles together for an improv patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Making some large triangles

The trouble with this method is that you get fairly uniform triangles and not much movement. It’s pretty easy to spot these particular triangles in the top row on the left of the block. I decided to finish the row with individually cut blocks to see what happens. Suddenly the movement came back. Maybe I’ll try a mix of the two methods for a bit of time saving – I’ve given myself to the end of May to get the top finished so that I’ve got 6 or 7 months to hand quilt it.

Detail of improv triangles for patchwork quilt. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail

I plan to use as much scrap fabric as I can, it’s so much more eco friendly and I just love trying to make it work. In the detail picture above you can see where I’ve joined two pieces of grey fabric to get a piece large enough to fit. I think I’ll have to buy a fair bit of fabric though to cut some large triangles. Most of the pieces I’ve already got will result in small triangles like the ones in the bottom row and I definitely need more variation. I actually bought a quarter of one of Tula Pink’s Eden fabrics yesterday and nearly died at the till – almost £16 ($23) a metre. WTF?!?! (Excuse me!) I haven’t used it yet, but it’s going to look great for larger triangles.

Improv Triangle Tips

If you’re interested in having a go at improv triangles I’ve got a few tips that might help along the way:

  • If you’re cutting your triangles individually you’ll get a lot of different shaped bias edges that can easily stretch. The best way to overcome this is to sew them together slowly (make sure you don’t pull them through the machine and let the feed dogs do the work).
  • Don’t press your seams as you go along, instead just finger press them. I’m pressing my seams open wherever I can because it’ll be much easier to hand quilt that way.
  • Once you have a row of triangles stitched together spray the reverse side with starch and press (don’t iron!). Flip the row over, starch and press again. Pressing them just the once gives a lot less opportunity for stretching the edges and you’ll find your rows are less distorted and lie flat.
  • Stay stitch each finished row about 1/8 of an inch from the edge – again it’s all about stabilising the seam so that it can’t stretch. (Click on the 1st Improv Triangle image to enlarge it and see the stay stitching in a bit more detail. I used a grey thread.)
  • If you’re going to use large triangles I recommend stay stitching them individually too.

Have you got any tips for triangles you’d add? Let us know!

I’m linking up with Kaja and Ann for this month’s Ad Hoc Improv Quilters (AHIQ) and hope to see lots of inspiring quilts in progress.

Happy sewing until next time.

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

 

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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

Hello and welcome to my third talk to an inspiring and productive quilter in the series How Long Does It Take To Make A Quilt?  The series explores how some our favourite quilters make the most of their quilting time and how they organise themselves and organise their sewing rooms. We learn how they prioritise what to work on, what other demands they have on their time and, best of all, they share their tips to help us make the most of our own quilting time! So far I’ve spoken to Ann Brooks and Kaja Ziesler, and today I speak to the wonderful Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk!

How Long Does It Take To Make a Quilt – Audrey Spills The Beans!

How to make the most of your quilting time by organising yourself with lists. Stephanie Boon talks to Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk (showing grey appliqué quilt with detail) www.DawnChorusStudio.com

A grey appliqué quilt designed by Audrey

Audrey’s quilts are one of a kind in so many ways. Full of colour and whimsy, they exude an infectious joyfulness and never fail to make you smile. Her personality sparkles through on her blog Quilty Folk and her quilts are a perfect reflection of the woman behind the needle, which is what makes a great quilter, regardless of personal style. Audrey’s quilts are made to her own designs and develop in a very organic way.

How to make the most of your quilting time by organising yourself with lists. Stephanie Boon talks to Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk (showing white appliqué quilt with detail) www.DawnChorusStudio.com

One of Audrey’s recent finishes

She usually finishes about 12 a year and most of them are completely hand quilted, although some include a bit of in-the-ditch machine quilting too – just so that she can squeeze in a few more finishes a year! Not all of her quilts are bed quilts of course, there are usually a number of lap quilts and throws added to the mix. She’s so nimble fingered that she can hand quilt a lap quilt in “well under two months”, using regular hand quilting thread. When she picks up a Perle Cotton and takes a slightly larger stitch length she “can move a quilt through the hoop in less than a month.” (My jaw’s on the floor right about now!) But if that sounds impressive, imagine what she does when there’s some machine quilting included:

“I also occasionally take a quilt and stitch in the ditch on the machine, and then come back for some more intensive hand quilting like say, in the blocks and border.  Not every quilt is going to be easily accepting of this blend of quilting styles though. With a combination of machine and hand quilting, I can almost always produce a finish in about two weeks! That’s why I’m trying to consider it more often. My ‘normal’ hand quilting time is late in the evenings while the house is settling down for the night. If I really single out the hand quilting, stitch at every available moment throughout the day/week then I can finish much faster. The downside to that is that I don’t enjoy my stitching as much. It becomes ‘work’.”

How to make the most of your quilting time by organising yourself with lists. Stephanie Boon talks to Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk (appliqué quilt with detail that includes machine and hand quilting) www.DawnChorusStudio.com

This one includes both machine and hand quilting

Readers of Quilty Folk get a visual feast every time they head over to see what she’s up to – and you never know what that will be! She’s always got more than one quilt on the go at different stages, so there’s a lot of variety for the regular reader. When I asked Audrey if she ever worked on just one quilt at a time she said “never”! She tried it in the past (in a righteous effort to keep down the UFOs), but found it so boring she only finished about one quilt a year. She’s much more productive when she’s working on “several different phases of many, many quilts”. This medley of different stages obviously feeds her creativity and keeps her motivated to produce her 12 quilts a year – plus just as many newly completed quilt tops!

In The Zone

We often hear creative people talking about being ‘in the zone’ or flow’, that special place where time doesn’t seem to exist and you’re completely absorbed in the process. You forget to eat, you don’t hear things going on around you and your hands and mind seem to be completely at one. Once you’ve experienced it you’re driven to get there again, and that’s a great motivation for Audrey, she loves “those times when everything sort of ‘clicks’ into place. It’s such a wonderful feeling to get that rush and know absolutely that I’m making something brilliant.

For this special moment in time, for whatever phase in a quilt project, I’m more than the ordinary.

It can be kind of addictive actually to try and get there again!”

The early stages of a project are some of the most exciting for Audrey: she just loves digging through her stash to find the perfect stack of fabric, holding fabric in her hands and dreaming about the ‘what if’s’. Sometimes when her quilt is partially done and stalls a bit, she relishes going back to her stash to

“dig even deeper – try to find those couple pieces of fabric I overlooked. You know the ones I’m talking about. You put them in the stack and then kick them back out immediately, because they would never in a million years work. I get a real kick out of pushing the boundaries of which prints belong together or how much I can make my colors clash before it’s just ‘too much’ or ‘too far’.”

You can see this in her quilts, the unexpected combinations of colours and prints, the way they just gel effortlessly together. Take a closer look and surprise yourself.

How to make the most of your quilting time by organising. Stephanie Boon talks to Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk (small appliqué quilt with toile de jouy background) www.DawnChorusStudio.com

An unexpected juxtaposition of a toile de jouey background

Quilt Design

Audrey’s idiosyncratic designs are her trademark and she describes her organic approach to the design process as ‘making it up she goes along’! She says that the quilt ‘talks to her’ and tells her what the next best step is. To be able to work like this you need a really good understanding of how different elements work together or play off each other. You need take into account the movement, balance and repetition of your motifs, as well as the usual concerns of tone, prints and colour. And of course, you have to be aware of how you’re going to piece it all together and what techniques you’ll need to use. It’s a process that means you have to accept and revel in the constant shifting of forms and ideas, sometimes big, sometimes small, sometimes compromising this idea for that. It’s a natural way of working for some of us and one of the biggest challenges is accepting that sometimes the result just doesn’t work out! But, when it does you can finish up with the spectacular results Audrey does. And she’s obviously comfortable with the process:

“Most of the time I scribble out some sort of rough idea of what the quilt ‘might’ look like eventually, but that’s a laugh. It’s ever changing. I think that’s part of the excitement for me, never knowing where a quilt will take me! I used to be pretty stubborn about hanging onto the ‘seed’ of my original idea at the very least, but I’m slowly figuring out that one quilt idea might end up making it into three or four quilts. And that’s perfectly okay because the first quilt isn’t always the best!”

How to make the most of your quilting time by organising yourself with lists. Stephanie Boon talks to Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk (image of Audrey's appliqué tree in progress) www.DawnChorusStudio.com

One of Audrey’s appliqué designs in progress

Working in a fluid way can make working with others more difficult, for example the rigid deadlines or boundaries of some sew-alongs can be burdensome and a drain on creativity. There are sew-alongs that Audrey enjoys though, but she’s learnt to be choosy. She says sew-alongs make it easy to get caught up in “everyone else’s ideas and not have the time or energy to focus on our own creative urges”. She also believes that there’s an “inevitable comparison” that happens in sew-alongs “sometimes I love it and other time it just drags me down:

I have crazy high expectations of my own work sometimes and so I’ve had to learn to listen to my instincts a bit better.

Figure out which ones will work ‘for’ me and not ‘against’ me…”

Engaging with others is essential to creative development, so if our opportunities to do that are limited, because of the way we work or perhaps due to geographical limitations, I wondered where Audrey gets her encouragement and feedback. She told me

“My family thinks I’m amazing but they’re so confident about everything I make that sometimes I just have to doubt them. Seriously, no one could possibly be that good! So next up would be the loyal readers on the blog. They stick with me through thick and through thin. Occasionally I get a comment that is incredibly spot on as to what I’m trying to accomplish and it almost makes me want to cry. They listen to me so they ‘get’ me! How special is that?”

The  blogging community is really important to Audrey and I was curious how she balances quilting with her blog and social media; I asked her if she’s strict about the amount of time she spends online. “Up to a point” she replied. Blogging is her main focus and she can only keep up with so much social media, so things like Facebook and Instagram take a back seat and her accounts remain “just for family at the moment”. She does try to keep one day completely ‘computer free’: Sundays are family day, unless the family’s otherwise occupied “then you’ll find me checking back in.”

How to make the most of your quilting time. Stephanie Boon talks to Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk (flying geese quilt, detail) www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Detail of Audrey’s ‘wonky geese’

Being Organised…And Being ‘Listy’!

Lists, lists, lists: if Audrey can make a list for it, Audrey makes a list for it! It’s an essential way of organising her “crazy busy life” as well as her quilting life. And these aren’t just your average lists scribbled on a piece of scrap paper and lost at the bottom of a pile of paper work! (Ahem, I plead guilty!)

They help her to remember the really important stuff:

“We have a large family calendar on the wall in our dining room with all the family events color coded. Before you start thinking I’m obsessive-compulsive, I’ll admit to letting it slide to week two (several times) during the year before it’s updated to the current month. Sometimes life just gets in the way of even the best intentions and thankfully, my daughters will step in and fill out the calendar for me now that they’re older!”

Audrey writes quilt plans all the time, but doesn’t usually stick to them long term.  She sees them more as a ‘suggestion’ or a starting point, a way of keeping those intriguing ‘what-if’ ideas from disappearing into the ether. She writes down notes and ideas every step of the way, “including the math”. She says it’s the only way she can end up with something ‘square’, plus “I really, really hate wasting fabric or losing track.” If you have a good number of quilts on the go you can’t work on them all at once and Audrey’s note taking system helps her to pick up where she left off.

How to make the most of your quilting time by organising yourself with lists. Stephanie Boon talks to Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk (image of Audrey's lists) www.DawnChorusStudio.com

“I’m a list-maker!”

She has lists of every quilt project started, lists for ‘in-progress’ quilts, completed quilt tops, “the five quilt tops that I’d like to see in the hoop next, all my on-going applique projects, quilts I’m dreaming about.”  These lists are ever changing and she revises them every two to three months. “They work very well to keep me on track priority-wise – illuminating over and over the most important projects to me.”  The only rigid time frames Audrey has are when she decides to gift a quilt or is working toward a quilt show finish. She prioritises which quilt she’ll work on depending on what captures her interest at the time, making deals with herself if part of the process becomes tedious,

“Sometimes I won’t let myself work on anything but one certain quilt for the first 15 minutes of my quilting time or until I get to a specific phase of that quilt. Or maybe I won’t let myself start a new quilt project I’m anxious to dive into. That’s a good one.”  There’s always a part of the quilting process we find less fun or exciting than others and Audrey says “it helps to use the carrot and stick approach. Even if I’m the only one enforcing it!”.

An Organised Sewing Space

A dedicated list-maker indicates an organised person (or at least an aspiring one!) and Audrey has some great ways of organising her sewing space that help her make the most of her quilting time. She has a dedicated sewing area that means she doesn’t have to fuss about getting things set up, which can “give a person the only 20 minutes they might have for quilting that day!”. Never a truer word said. “Quilters can be such procrastinators. If the sewing machine isn’t ready with a flick of a switch, we’ll often use it as an excuse to come back later ‘when there’s more time’. NO. The time to take advantage of is when you’re already in the sewing room!”

How to make the most of your quilting time by organising yourself with lists. Stephanie Boon talks to Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk (image of Audrey's workspace showing fabric storage, bookshelves and files) www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Audrey’s nerve centre

If you live in a rural area like Audrey you’ll identify with her need to make sure a supply of notions is always on hand: “These things are important for dedicated or even spontaneous quilting. It’s so time consuming (and sometimes impossible)  to make a run to the store.” This goes for her stash too, which is readily available to dig through at a moment’s notice. Her stash is made up of

“Bits and pieces I love and those random prints that spark the most audacious ideas. It doesn’t have to be enormous, but the stash should contain every color possible with lots of depth from lights to darks – not that I have all that! But it’s a guilt-free work in progress…

“Not being organized at a very base level interrupts the creative flow – so important for productivity!”

Making Time

When you have a family life packed with demands and commitments like Audrey does, you need to ring fence time for quilting. As well as looking after busy teenagers and her large extended family she dedicates time to a lot of “church related things”, and doing the bookwork for her husband’s business. One way to get things done when you can’t get to the quilt room is to make sure you’re ready to use the ‘time in-between’ at a moment’s notice. Which is where good organisation comes in:

“I take any extra time I find and at least do applique prep work. I’m super dedicated about keeping my hand work bag ready to go and there is always, always a quilt in the hoop. Sometimes even two because I get freaked out if it looks like my current quilt is about done and there won’t be time to sandwich and pin another one. Being prepared with hand work means I never lose more than a couple days of quilting in a row. Even slow quilting eventually adds up to something tangible and more importantly, it keeps me sane and it helps me to be a nicer person. Am I strict about it? You betcha:

I need my quilting time like I need to breathe.

It’s just that I try to do it in a way that most people never realize I’m still carving out MY time from the chaos around me. It’s just a sweet, simple hobby to them!”

How to make the most of your quilting time. Stephanie Boon talks to Audrey Easter of Quilty Folk (quilt with circles and stars) www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Audrey’s 2015 stars – in the snow

Audrey’s Tips For Getting More Quilting Done

Quilting is an all consuming passion for Audrey, as it is for many of us, but she takes a considered and really pragmatic approach, which I believe enables her to produce as much as she does. She has so many great, practical ideas that we can all glean something from but it all hangs on this one simple premise:

“The key is to get your mind immersed in quilting on a very regular basis and then good things will happen.”

“People talk about time spent physically ‘doing’, but if the mind is not wholeheartedly on board, then it’s not sustainable. I think that’s part of why I love hand quilting so very much. I’m ‘doing’ (granted, it’s a very slow forward motion!), but all the while, my mind is working a hundred miles an hour on other areas of quilting. Decisions are being made, ideas are being explored, quilts are being designed – all on a subliminal level of course – while I plod along enjoying the stitching in my hoop. It’s a win-win.”

Keep this in mind and Audrey’s tips should take care of themselves:

  • Be in your quilting space often – daily if at all possible. Pass through and look at what’s on the wall.
  • Dig through your stash or bookshelf and dream.
  • Scribble ideas on paper and make lists. Take note of all those nonsensical, random, fleeting ideas – this is your brain talking to you with creative-speek. (You probably can and will interpret later.)
  • If you’re short on time pick a project and sew 15-20 minutes. Iron or trim some blocks. Prep for applique.
  • Incorporate time for slow quilting so as to give your brain plenty of time to ‘percolate’, dream and relax into the process.
  • Don’t shirk the boring stuff or the ‘work’. “I’ve said it before on my blog and I’ll say it again, quilting requires an effort. It’s not all going to be lightning bolts of inspiration and goosebumps of anticipation.”
  • Most importantly, she advises, make time for the things that you’re most curious about and never, ever quit asking ‘what-if’?

“If you’re genuinely connected with what you’re making, then you’ll be more productive than ever, guaranteed.”

Many, many thanks to Audrey for generously sharing her thoughts, freely giving her time and agreeing to be one of three awesome quilters to take part in this series!


What do you think of Audrey’s tips – is there anything you’d add?  I’d love know, and if you have any tips of your own you’d like to share make sure you leave a comment below!

I hope you’ve enjoyed this article and found lots of ideas to help you make the most of your quilting time. Follow the links below to find out how quilters Ann Brooks and Kaja Ziesler make the most of their time and what tips they have for you too. Join me next week for a roundup of the best tips from from all 3!

How Long Does It Take To Make A Quilt? Other articles in the series:

Related Links

Audrey’s Blog Quilty Folk

Finally, make sure you sign up for my free fortnightly newsletter to receive quilting inspiration, exclusive articles and news from the studio – just add your details to the form below!  Thanks for reading.

Linking up with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social and Kelly for Needle and Thread Thursday.

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

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Ann Brooks Tells Us How Long It Takes To Make A Quilt

Graphic: How to make the most of your quilting time with Ann Brooks. © Stephanie Boon, 2016 www.DawnChorusStudio.com

Ann, An Expert Quilter, Shares Her Secrets For Making The Most Of Your Quilting Time

Ann Brooks, quilter and blogger at Fret Not Yourself is an inspiration to me and so many others. She lives and quilts in both California and Texas, but her Texas roots are strong (I can’t help imagining a wonderful accent!) and occasionally show up in her quilts. You’d be hard pressed not to recognise Ann’s distinctive quilts: there’s often  50 – 200 different prints in each one and the colours she chooses are very expressive. It’s easy to lose yourself in them wondering how she can make a quilt with such coherent designs using so many unique prints. The answer is a highly sophisticated sense of colour and value and undoubtedly her many years of experience. There’s another noticeable fact about Ann’s quilts: there’s a goodly amount of them!  Ann, it seems, is a very productive quilter.

Chinese Coins improv string quilt © Ann Brooks, 2015

Chinese Coins improv string quilt © Ann Brooks, 2015

When I asked Ann how long it takes to make a quilt, it wasn’t a surprise that 2015 was an exceptional year, but I was staggered to discover she’d completed a “record high” of 20 quilts. The year before was 5 – 10, but among them was her fantastic quilt Propellors and Planes (below), which she describes as one of her all time favourites (unsurprisingly!). The quilt blocks were begun in February 2014 and the quilt was finished and hung in a guild exhibition a year later.  (Ann posted an index to her progress on the Propellors and Planes quilt so you can see how it developed.)

'Propellors and Planes' quilt by Ann Brooks, 2015

Ann’s Propellors and Planes, begun in 2014 and finished in February 2015

‘Lobster Boat’ is another impressive original design that Ann made for her new (and first) grandson, which she began and finished in 2015. Some of the first things that strike you are the strong design (note the Texas flag!), thoughtful use of fabrics to suggest movement and distance and the skilful piecing that comes from years of dedication to quilt making. The quirky fabrics just make you smile – where on earth did she come across lobster fabric?! Just perfect. (Read more about it over at Fret Not Yourself:  Lobster Boat Quilt For A Special Person.)

'Lobster Boat', pictorial art quilt, © Ann Brooks, 2015

‘Lobster Boat’, © Ann Brooks, 2015

Ann usually drafts her own versions of the quilts she wants to make (I believe she’s very good at quilt maths!), but more recently she’s joined some online quilt alongs (like Quilty365) and bought two patterns to make a quilt from.  Even so, designing and making her own original work is still her preference. In 2015 she experimented a lot with improv quilting and her Tiger Stripes quilt (a graduation gift for her son) was inspired by Sujata Shah’s book Cultural Fusion Quilts. The blue and gold colours represent her son’s university colours and Ann has quilted some college chants in the zig zags to personalise it.

'Tiger Stripes', an improv rail fence quilt by © Ann Brooks, 2015

‘Tiger Stripes’, © Ann Brooks, 2015

There’s so much rhythm and excitement in this quilt it makes you want to get up and dance!

Deadlines Do It For Ann!

These two quilts alone would be a good tally of finishes for a year for some of us, but Ann completed 18 more (I’m gasping for breath here!).  I asked her what motivates her to get them done and she says that her goal is to get her quilts into use. Deadlines help her to make a quilt for special occasions, like a gift for a new grandchild, or exhibition opportunities. The flip side is that Ann says she’ll “expand any project to the time available” (who’s not guilty of that!). Her oldest UFO, which is being densely hand quilted, has been 26 years under the needle and is “still 3/4 finished”. She says it’s hard to finish when she doesn’t work on it at all, but she’s not ready to give it away!

These days Ann prefers to make a quilt by machine and it’s worth noting that she does all her quilting on a domestic machine (rather than send them out to a long-armer) and can make a quilt like a small baby or lap quilt in a couple of days, while large quilts might take a month:

“Once I start quilting that’s all I do until it’s finished.”
Her finished tops might go into a pile waiting to be quilted, which she describes as a bad habit. Years ago Ann knew Libby Lehman and wants to emulate “one of her many admirable traits” to make a quilt one at a time, all the way through. It’s a goal she’s still working towards: “Like too much fabric, too many UFOs stifle you”. That’s a very powerful statement I think: too many UFOs mean too much choice of what to work on and too much choice can lead to a lot of prevarication, making it difficult to prioritise. Sometimes, rather than prioritise, it can be easier to start a new project, which just perpetuates the vicious circle.

Book Study Groups

Some of us like to spend hours alone when we’re quilting and some of us love to make a quilt with others. Then there’s the happy medium where we get to enjoy the best of both worlds, and I think Ann’s found it. She’s been Programs for various Guilds on 5 occasions now (each one’s a two year stint and at the moment she’s in her second year SCVQA) and also gets a lot of encouragement and inspiration from book study groups, where a small group of friends meet and discuss the chapters of a quilt book in sequence, then go home to try it out ready to come back next time to share experiences.

Improv curve quilt © Ann Brooks, 2015 www.fretnotyourself.blogspot.com

Ann’s dazzling ‘Improv Curve Quilt’, 2015, inspired by a score in the book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters

At the moment her group’s working through Sherri Lynn Wood’s book The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters. Belonging to a group like this is a good way to learn new techniques and gain insight from the author and other group members. Maybe it doesn’t directly influence the how long it takes to make a quilt, but over time it’ll give you the confidence to pick the right technique for the job, which will definitely mean less unpicking in the future!  It goes without saying that inspiration and creativity are sparked by discussion with others and there are some great posts on Ann’s blog Fret Not Yourself where you can follow along and share in her discoveries.

On Being Organised

Lists

If you’re one of those super organised quilters that writes a ‘quilt plan’, a step by step guide to making each quilt, you’ll be surprised to learn that someone as organised as Ann doesn’t use them. A list of ‘in progress’ quilt tops, ideas and events that need a quilt is a good enough reminder of what to work on next and keep on track, especially for special events like births and quilt shows. Spending life writing lists and publishing plans is definitely not a priority and any she does make are for personal use – and kept strictly off line!

Fabric

Ann’s fabric stash occupies nothing more than a few clear tubs stacked on the floor, which might seem a little sparse to an over zealous fabric hoarder (you know who you are!). But, Ann has a fundamental belief that “over abundance stifles creativity more than any other aspect”, and I agree.  I love her guiding principle of “make do with what’s on hand” (it costs a whole lot less too). If you deliberately limit your stash, how long it takes to make a quilt could be a lot less: you’ll spend far less time organising it and more time actually quilting! Ann says that her small fabric stash sparks ideas and gets her brain going, and that you can apply the same principle to a large UFO pile: “sort them into ‘finish’ and ‘giveaway’ piles. Move them out”. It’s not really minimalist, but it certainly makes your quilting space a distraction free zone!

Ann Brooks fabric stash for quilting © Ann Brooks, 2015

Ann’s entire fabric stash fills just a couple of boxes

Time

Time for quilting is something that’s close to all our hearts. Many of us feel that if we don’t make that time, we’re somehow not complete; it’s what makes us tick and function ‘normally’ in other aspects of our lives! Ultimately the time we have available for quilting determines how long it takes to make a quilt and how many we might finish in a year. So what about Ann? Ann recognises that she’s at a very fortunate time in her life with grown children, a new grandchild far away, she’s healthy and retired: Ann says she gets to do what she wants! But, she has a profound awareness that she’s “spending her life” and “no one lives forever”, so she asks herself “what do you want to do now; what legacy do you want to leave?”. It’s a way of crystallising the most important things in life and ensuring that if quilting is important, quilting gets done.

Blogging

I asked Ann how she balances her quilting with her blogging and social media activities, a juggling act most of us find difficult to get right. Is she strict about the time she spends online? “Not strict enough!”, she says. She enjoys talking with people, so her replies are usually online (unless they’re personal in nature) in the hope that others will join in, or at least find something interesting. Her blog Fret Not Yourself “puts all the information in one place”, which she says helps productivity.

 

 

Ann’s Tips

Ann shows us that how long it takes to make a quilt depends on lots of factors, from prioritising and defining what it is you want to achieve to organising yourself accordingly. What’s very clear is that it has absolutely nothing to do with how fast you are on a sewing machine!

Finally, I asked Ann what tips she’d give to a quilter that wants to get more done. She says you should ask yourself what your goal is: “if you want to make more you should probably choose easier designs, and if you want to make more complicated designs you should expect to finish fewer of them. Ask yourself  ‘Are you happy?’ If so, keep on. If not, what can you tweak to become happier?”.  Ann quotes St Francis: allegedly when someone asked what he’d do if he knew the world would end tomorrow he replied “finish hoeing this row”.  Ann says

“Choose with deliberation.
It may not be quilting,
but you’ll be happy you’re doing what matters most.”

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I’d like to thank Ann for agreeing to share how long it takes to make a quilt with us, especially for the time she took away from quilting to do it! I hope you’ve enjoyed reading and found lots to inspire you. Ann’s certainly helped me understand how loving what you do and focussing on what you want to achieve, really honing that until it’s crystal clear, is the way to make sure you achieve your goals.

Don’t forget to head over to Fret Not Yourself to follow Ann (if you don’t already) and to come back next Monday when I chat to Kaja of Sew Slowly to find out how long it takes her to make a quilt.

You might also like these posts

How Long Does It Take To Make A Quilt – links to the whole series

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