Tag Archives: fabric

Words, Fabrics, and Weeding

Eastern side of our house before I got busy….

We’ve been enjoying a lovely spate of precipitation here in Silicon Valley, and boy I’m thankful for it.  My front and back gardens are full of weeds, and I was hoping not to have to pull them from the hard ground.  Rain earlier this week allowed me to get some thinned, and this weekend will provide additional time to cull even more.  If I can finish the job by the middle of next week, I’ll consider myself blessed.  Temps are due to rise, and the storms we’ve had recently might be our last big ones of the winter.

And how it looks after some rain and a little hard work.

I never truly appreciated rain until we moved to England, which might sound strange, having grown up in California.  When there is no rain, you don’t think much about it; droughts are bad, but expected.  Yet where it rains all the time and the landscape is usually green, rain becomes magical.  It means no need to water, it means weather, ha ha!  It became the barometer of our lives, in that skies held great drama, grey-white clouds obscuring the sun as though another galaxy hung right over our heads.

Fabrics for placemats; Kona solids with a southwest vibe.

I did appreciate sunny vistas when we moved back, but quickly I ached for wet days, humidity, and bright green grass.  Now the brevity of winter feels unduly wrong, like the cosmos is off kilter.  Funny how one’s perceptions alter, sort of like how today I was exceedingly grateful to write 833 words, completing a chapter I started days ago.  My present output is comparable to the rain which falls sporadically, but I’ll take every sentence.  Like the weather, writing isn’t static, and I’m happy just to complete a scene.

The only prints for this project will be the backs; I enjoy culling my scrap buckets as well as the garden.

I was thrilled to clear weeds from both sides of our house, let me also say.  There’s more to my life than books and sewing, yet those pastimes weren’t a part of my Yorkshire life, which is an intriguing observation.  Our existences are enhanced by change, just like my garden requires water.  Weeds are culled, allowing other plants to flourish, or just to clear space for the eye to rest, like mixing prints and solids within a quilt, lol.

2.5″ squares sewn together to be inserted amid the 4.5″ squares….

I’ve been working on placemats for my eldest, who ran out during Miss Em’s baptismal weekend.  No prints in this project, but I did mix up the patchwork with little squares.  Now my quilt wall is chock full of these southwestern-themed fabrics, which I’ll get around to finishing up in the coming days as the writing continues.

One of twelve placemats in the can!

Seasonal weeding is here, then gone.  The words and fabrics endure….

And so begins the year of using what I have….

Earlier this week I laid out a variety of scraps, bright primary and secondary hues.  I stared at them for a couple of days, not certain how I would arrange them; a mix, or by shade, or value perhaps?  Then yesterday afternoon I recalled a project more in need of my attention; my grandson requires an insert for his sleeping bag!  Problem of what to do with those scraps is temporarily solved, ha ha.

I bought two yards of this fabulous print, and only needed a couple of feet, plenty more for future space travel….

Once I made that decision, the insert came together quickly, in part that I already knew most of the fabrics, and chose to use a large section of one, which left little for me to ponder.  Even then, the rest came about rapidly, and by the time my husband got home from work, the top was done, just the back to sew together.  By evening’s end, I had it basted, and was hand-quilting it.


This print has been in my stash for a good while, again the perfect time for it.

I even have the binding, that chocolate strip from a recent post!  It felt so good to dive into my stash, not thinking about any additional purchases.  Batting was from my large scrap collection, and while my daughter’s sleeping bag insert had two layers of batting, The Burrito doesn’t need that kind of padding for a while.  I’ll have it finished in time for his birthday next month, and look forward to his reaction, all our recent chats about the galaxy ready for him to explore within a quilt.

I added the anchors to hearken back to older times.

So far my 2018 sewing adventures have me feeling very pleased, and I’m itching to get back to those vibrant colours, although I still don’t know how they will fall onto the quilt wall.  I do have a binding prepared for whatever emerges, and it’s not short, so if a medium to large project happens, I’m covered.

I do love me some colour!

What I am finding is that by choosing to not purchase fabrics, parameters have been built in to each project.  It’s not that I’ve stopped admiring my fave fabric website, but the reason for gazing at those gorgeous prints has changed.  Instead of ideas, it’s appreciation.  What I sew this year is going to come from my own backyard.

And now neatly coiled….

Or rather, my sewing/writing grotto closet, lol.  I definitely have a Dorothy returned from Oz mentality going on; if it’s not within my reach already, I probably don’t need it.  I’m interested how this approach affects my crafty output, but at least I’m starting off firmly planted right in proverbial Kansas, even if it looks a lot like a solar system.  I don’t plan on explaining this to my grandson, I’d never hear the end of why’s.  But maybe one day I’ll tell him how his sleeping bag insert launched a new manner for this abuela to fashion quilts.  It’s sort of like the anchors in the corner, just a return to methods from the past.  Find purpose in what lies at your fingertips, be it in cotton, words, or a beautiful hug.

Waiting to be sewn together….

Considerations for 2018

Taken in summer, The Burrito and Little Miss explore a water table.

As this year fades away, January promises many adventures, the immediate being a week spent with The Burrito and his pop while my youngest is on a field camp expedition for school.  I’m looking forward to hanging with another limb on our family’s tree, then perhaps I’ll return filled with novelistic notions.  If nothing else, I’ll come back to sewing, although the exact nature of just what I’m making remains elusive.  But with a new machine and more gorgeous thread than sense, a quilt is probably calling my name.

These were a gift from a dear friend; what beauty could they create? I can’t wait to find out!

However, I am going to attempt a moratorium on buying fabric.  What???  But yes, this will be the year of using my stash, only purchasing the most essential items.  Thread certainly won’t be one of them, hehehe, and with six yards of batting tucked in a closet, I might get far into 2108 before pulling that trigger.  Other than gifts that come my way, I will try to eschew willy-nilly fabric purchases, God help me.  And believe me, I’ll need all the assistance I can muster.

Why make this choice?  A couple of reasons; one is that a few years back I tried a similar experiment with note cards and success was found.  Clearing a backlog of stationary felt good, then of course opened up the opportunity to choose new cards, but that’s not the only purpose behind this decision.  A couple of months ago I was inventorying my stash and took out what I’d bought on sale, but truly had no use for; it went to our church’s junk sale, making me reassess why I’d chosen it in the first place.  (It was kind of cute, as well as discounted, hmm….)

Since then, I’ve been pondering this proposition, and am at least willing to give it a go.  Not that I have projects lined up, other than a sleeping bag insert for my grandson.  Yet quilt ideas emerge at the drop of a hat.  This year, that hat’s going to be slapped with a use what you have label, and hopefully by next December my fabric collection will be greatly depleted.

Miss Em doesn’t require more than receiving blankets at this point….

In the meantime, I’m still hand-quilting this project, ruminating about what will happen for Eric, Lynne, and all those in Roseburg, as well as eager to see how another nieta shakes up our familia.  Mostly I’m grateful for a multitude of blessings, more than I can list here.  May the coming year bring you joy and peace.  See you in 2018!

A little improv quilting to share….

My youngest daughter has requested a sleeping bag insert, so I aim to please.  A few fabrics arrived in the post yesterday, so last night I ironed them, pulling some scraps from my solids container.  This project will measure 76″ long by 26″ wide, not too much to mull over, but enough to satisfy my longing for something beyond patchwork squares, although that’s what I started with last night.  She’ll need it in January, but I want to have it finished before then.  Once a new baby arrives, no telling how time will slip away.

These two patterns caught my eye. Going to use lots of solid scraps amid the prints.

After writing yesterday’s post, I chatted with my husband about how the writing has fallen from grace; he didn’t have much to offer in response, but it felt good to talk about it.  He’s one of the few to fully grasp how intrinsic writing has been since we moved back from England, goodness knows he’s been a great sport when I’ve been obsessed with this or that novel.  But I haven’t been obsessed with writing for a while now, merely going through the motions.  I certainly felt that way this morning, adding to the word count yet wondering if I was wasting my time.  Then I finally hit on a vital point, but today’s prose might be deleted when I read it over tomorrow morning.

I *love* this print! My daughter is studying geology, and while I didn’t find any good rock fabrics, this one seemed apropos.

Usually i’m not such a navel-gazer, but lately introspection has seemed necessary.  Maybe it’s the change of seasons, rainy weather signaling an end to summer, ha ha.  Perhaps it’s my husband’s recent birthday; he turned fifty-three, so I suppose that means were truly not that young anymore, or relatively youthful.

I’ll add some novelty prints for fun, integrating the camping theme. The tiny pebbles are rock-oriented, then another print as above in peachy-pink. I just adore that design!

Or maybe losing the desire to write bothers me more than I’ve consciously acknowledged.  Um, yeah.  I’m slightly troubled by the vague meandering that has replaced meaningful storytelling.  I had hoped by switching projects I could conjure the old magic.  Or was today simply an off-morning, and tomorrow will be better?  I surely hope so….

I guess this isn’t quite as much about quilting as it is about moaning I mean writing, sigh.  But sometimes writing is tricky and occasionally it’s very difficult.  And hopefully one of these days it will be as satisfying as in days of old.

And here’s the first block; I don’t have any kind of plan for this, other than to have fun. Wonder how I incorporate that notion into the prose, hmmmm…..

And if not, there are always fabrics to ponder.  Or more rightly a healthy dose of faith to lean on in these somewhat questionable novelistic times…..

Today’s word count: 2,530

161 Medium Blue Squares

I’m in the middle of cutting fabric for a quilt, also back to writing The Hawk.  The last two days I’ve tackled those tasks, better for the fabrics this evening, while the writing has been…  Let’s just say it’s been, although today was somewhat easier.  I’m very happy, also relieved, to again be working on that novel beyond revising.  But right now I’m battling the creaky, painful re-introductory session that won’t last more than is necessary.  No timetable set, let me just say, other than however long it takes my brain, hands, and imagination to coalesce.

Blues, low volumes, and some assorted navy fabrics waiting for me to finish the cutting….

But I wanted to note that sometimes projects take their own sweet time, ahem.  A couple of mornings ago, I sat under the Big Bright Quilt, admiring my handiwork.  I was suddenly struck by how similar writing The Hawk is to making that comforter; both sprung somewhat unexpectedly, grew to larger than I initially considered proportions, and at least for the quilt, was completed to my satisfaction.  I recalled squeezing blocks on my quilt wall, then laying out swathes of fabric for the back, sewing those together, basting the whole thing, then hand-quilting; jeez Louise!   It took the better part of a year to finish it, and while writing takes longer, I have to believe the completion aspect will eventually apply to my novel.

By hook or by crook and by a whole lotta chocolate, one day The Hawk will be done.

In the meantime…  Sweets aside, I’ll get back to the writing next week, off to see The Burrito and his folks for the weekend.  And to be perfectly honest, I need the break, which might sound odd, what with only getting two days under my belt.  Yet, I’m not as young as I used to be, and writing takes more from me, or at least jumping back into it needs to be approached calmly.  No use getting one’s knickers in a twist; my computer, the manuscript, and fabrics will be waiting for me when I return, and now, having made the leap, the only true break will be when I type The End.

That day is coming, no way for me to stop it.  And thank goodness for that, ha ha ha….

My love of colour….

Since coming home, I’ve been working on a housewarming gift for friends of my eldest daughter.  They had a baby girl in May, and I’d made a quilt for little miss A, as well as some coasters for her folks.  They were so appreciative of those gifts, asking if I had time, might I make some placemats.  All someone has to do is ask, and I’m on the job!

Quite a collection, with unfinished Christmas coasters in the upper corners, lol.

Quite a collection, with unfinished Christmas coasters in the upper corners, lol.

Sewing quilts is part of my joy, but smaller items are just as favourable.  Also easier, ha ha, with a quicker sense of satisfaction, unlike comforters or say behemoth novels, ahem.  Sewing provides tangible results for my efforts, treasures for others, and a way to indulge in my attraction for colour.  Be it embroidery floss or fabrics, I’m a colour junkie!

A couple of days ago I finished up the last mug rug, which incidentally I’m keeping; I’ve made it a habit to scrap together mug rugs from various projects and lately they have come in handy, as when my grandson surreptitiously hides them, lol.  One disappeared during his last visit, so this abuela needed a replacement (or two).  Last night I cut fabric for binding strips, allowing enough extra for the coasters.  Those I’ll bind with scraps, but for the placemats themselves, I’ll use a solid colour for each.  (I used six main solids within the placemats, so each mat will have its own hue.)  This morning, as I worked on revisions, I glanced over at those strips, then felt compelled to take a picture of them.

I don’t know the exact name of the Kona blue and plum, but the rest are from left; Konas tangerine, lemon, persimmon, and ice peach.

I’ll sew them later today amid some tennis matches; the US Open is in full swing, and it’s fun to see what the players choose to wear in this tournament compared to Wimbledon, which requires tennis whites.

The shades I chose for these placemats weren’t based upon what went into the baby quilt from earlier this year.  These hues are firmly summer-themed, with some prints from a bundle that has lent itself to other placemats, and hopefully a quilt for my nephew.   For the backing, I’m going to incorporate a fat quarter from the bundle that otherwise I just can’t imagine using within a quilt top.

This came in a bundle called Boys Go Camping.  I truly can't fathom how else to use it!

This came in a bundle called Boys Go Camping. I truly can’t fathom how else to use it!

I’ve cut it into sixths, and will piece it together with larger scraps.  I do like me some colour, but psychedelic forest animals are too much for me.

I am considering hand-quilting these; I hand-quilted the baby blanket, but not the accompanying mug rugs.  We’ll see what mood I’m in when I reach that point.  Whipping out the quilting on the sewing machine does have its advantages.  I have some bright orange machine quilting thread, yellow too, which would add to the vibrancy.  For now, it’s enough to contemplate those crazy deer, and moose too, my goodness.

As for my coasters, I’ll back them with whatever I find in the general scrap stash.  One will go by my husband’s recliner, the other into the kitchen circulation.  They are visible reminders of previous projects, keepsakes if you will.  Most of what I makes goes to others, but it’s nice to have a little something hearkening back to fave fabrics.  I can’t keep everything, but little mug rugs fit perfectly.  And with toddling grandkids afoot, one can never have too many coasters!

Pondering Wandering Hippos

My first attempt at improv quilting is done; this will be for the grandkids when they visit here in Silicon Valley.  The batting is flannel, as I wanted a comforter more in line with the increasing temperatures.  This little quilt is light, rather bright, with a variety of fabrics, although many are of the same value, which in the future will be something I change up more.  But while I am very pleased with the improvisational nature of the front, it’s the back of which I wanted to speak.

Hippos from the past, making their presence known in the here and now….

So, about these peripatetic hippos; this fabric is from 1988, so old, but not quite vintage.  It was originally from my eldest’s crib bumper, but there’s truly no use for that now, what with bumpers being out of fashion, not to mention that my daughter and her hubby wanted their own choice of bedding.  A few months ago I ripped apart that bumper, salvaging the fabric and edging for other projects.  When I completed this quilt, I didn’t want to back it with flannel, too warm.  Then I saw the hippos….

What’s great about these hippos is their roving nature.  Also they are adorable.  And they hearken back to my first baby, who is nearly a mother herself.  I used this fabric to back a wall hanging I made for the nursery, and now it lives on in this quilt.

Ran out of hippo fabric, so a spot of burnt orange completes the back.

Ran out of hippo fabric, so a spot of burnt orange completes the back.

Something about hippos makes me giggle.  Something about this quilt makes me ache to finish the bigger improv quilt on the wall, so I can start another.  I think modern quilting will be my forte; it’s very enticing to slice into fabric, sewing pieces together without matching lengths perfectly.  I’ve cross stitched plenty of improv pieces, so I guess fashioning quilts in that manner was inevitable.  And I’m learning so much, like colour value.

Quilting was stitch in the ditch, leading across the quilt. That too was improvisational, as I meandered along the length, rows not always straight. But it was a lot of fun!


Best to have a good mix of it, so the quilt has some key pops.  Not much in this first attempt, but this is how I learn.  And my grandchildren won’t care all that much, while they crawl, spit, and drool on these cottons.

These fabrics are from my godchild's quilt, a few remnants from my bestie, plus some solids I like.

Fabrics are from my godchild’s quilt, a few remnants from my bestie, plus some solids I like.  The binding was scraps from recent baby quilts.

And one day they’ll ask about the hippos, and I’ll have a lovely story for them.  That those hippos kept their mum/aunt safe when she was a baby, and now wrap around a new generation with improvisational nomadic hippo love.

What better love is there?