Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Finishing something


I've finally finished a quilt that I've been working on, in tandem with a few other things, since Christmas. Unfortunately, I can't show you all of it quite yet, as it's going to appear in a future issue of Love Patchwork & Quilting magazine, but I thought I might share a few photos of the borders and binding.

This quilt is entirely made by hand - it combines English paper piecing, appliqué and a complete self-indulgence of hand-quilting! A self-indulgence because I could have quilted this in a day on the machine, but since I hand-quilted my daughter's quilt I find it hard to forgo the bobbly puffiness that quilting by hand gives - it's just so incredibly tactile, irrespective of imperfect stitches and wonky lines.


Every time I embark on a project like this, half way through I begin to question (and chastise myself for) my curious compulsion to take the long road, but it's such a good feeling when it's finally finished. I was talking to my husband about this last night: he says that when he gets to the end of coding one of our educational Squeebles apps, he looks over his work and the realisation that he's written over ten thousand lines of code brings an odd sense of detachment. I know what he means - it's as though an alter-ego has been working on your behalf, because by the end, you can't quite believe that you have possessed the perseverance to return to chipping away at the same thing each day.


Perseverance is an odd thing. When I see those people who occasionally appear on Grand Designs, who literally build or rebuild their own houses, repointing the bricks of an entire water tower the size of an aircraft hanger, in a blizzard in the middle of winter with a broken arm and seemingly only their chest hair for warmth, I've often wondered where they find the inner strength not to be crushed by the enormity of the task. It feels like a really good lesson in perseverance to undertake long-term projects every now and then (although obviously on a much smaller scale than the aforementioned water tower) that reinforce the idea that chipping away at something really does eventually mean something will be finished. I think I have to pick my lessons though, as it only feels like a good lesson if it's enjoyable - I've realised recently that same-block quilts are almost an impossibility for me - whereas I find the chipping of hand-quilting a quilt really enjoyable, chipping away at this snowball quilt very nearly made me throw the quilt out of the window - I'm really not sure that I enjoyed it at all as I didn't find the repetitive sew, cut, press actions peaceful in the way that many others seem to. Which makes me think that a sampler quilt, which involves putting together lots of different blocks, may be the perfect thing for me. I'd quite like to start on one of those at some point soon. Do you have any recommendations? Jen Kingwell's Green Tea and Sweet Beans is a pattern that seems to have a pull, not least because so much of it can be done by hand.

Finally, let's talk about lavendery colours. I mentioned this on Instagram last week. For the last ten years I've just loathed any shade of purple, to the point where I haven't even acknowledged its existence because it's just not even on my radar as being part of the usable colour spectrum, so I've found it slightly unnerving that I'm suddenly starting to look at lavender-hued fabrics and feeling all wanty. When I saw Oh Fransson's Love Triangle quilt last week on Instagram I actually had palpitations I loved it so much - do go and have a look - it's an amazing quilt and the photos of it are stunning (you can find the pattern for it here, if it has a similar effect on you).


I actually even ordered a few fabrics in this shade. I had to remove two of them (not pictured) on arrival as they made me feel slightly cringeful, so I'm not sure I'm yet entirely accepting of it, however, I'm wondering whether that's because it needs some really bright pinks and fresh whites mixing in, as with the Oh Fransson quilt, to make it palatable. What are your thoughts on this colour? I'm wondering if it's a generational thing, as I think so many people of my age had either lilac or peach decorated bedrooms as teenagers, that it's perhaps difficult to easily reintroduce these colours that seem like throwback-to-the-nineties shades…however, looking at my blog header I seem to have managed to re-embrace peachy tones, so perhaps it will happen with purpley ones too.

Florence x

18 comments:

  1. I'm not a lavender person, but I like deep purple (maybe it reminds me of the punk rock band? I don't know). The fabrics seem lovely, though, and I loved the ones you posted on Instagram. But as fabrics are concerned, I'm starting to acknowledge that sometimes the ones I prefer to use and with which the results are more appealing to me aren't the ones I'd go to imediatly on a shop. his is making me more thoughtful on my choices, but on the other hand more bold as I often see myself way out of my colour comfort zone.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You're so right about that - often the fabrics I find the most useful aren't the ones I immediately love.

      Delete
  2. I often travel the long road. Lots of quiet thinking gets done there.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh Florence! I always love reading your charmingly written posts. I usually have at least one long term project on the go as well as several more quick finish projects. I fall in and out of love with the long term ones several times over the course of their completion.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you, Chris! :) That's the only problem with very long-term projects - I do have one beneath my bed that I've fallen so out of love with that I may need to leave it there for another decade to fall in love with it again.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I only really like hand stitched quilts now. There is such a difference. Considering how long the end product will be around, the effort seems worth it to me (not that I have yet done it mind!) I hand stitch most things these days. Slow stitching. It's comparative with other crafts speed wise which no one expects to be so quick, like knitting or crochet. Sometimes it's still relatively fast. I have a lovely liberty scarf I hand stitched, the top stitching is tiny little stitches that give me both pride and joy when I look at them, as although they are neat they have character where machine stitches do not. It took work over two days instead of 2 hours. A knitted scarf takes me around 2 weeks working on it. But it will last years. I have only done a small amount of quilting but am storing up fabric for my first big quilt. Yours is the nicest hand quilting I have seen on a large quilt. It all looks rather beautiful. The stitching is what sets it apart. I would be interesting in knowing more about your hand quilting techniques as there are a few methods. Yours is very neat and lovely. The one thing I am sure of is that a quilters callous was not for me.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Your Liberty scarf sounds lovely - that's so nice to think of how much joy your tiny stitches give you whenever you wear it.

      That's really kind of you - however, my stitches are actually far from perfect, but the overall feel is so nice that I'm happy to let that go. My tips would be to use the Protect and Grip thimble by Clover on the middle finger of your right hand (although I do still have a torn up index finger and thumb, but I'm loathe to wear that many thimbles, so I can totally relate to your wish not to end up with calloused quilter's fingers - if it bothers you a lot then you can get tiny clear stick-on thimbles, which I think are called Thimble-it). For my last quilt I used a very large quilter's hoop and for this I used no hoop at all. I can't see any discernible difference as I made sure that I created a small amount of tension with my left hand the whole time I was stitching. This felt far less cumbersome and also made it easier to quilt with my children close by. Good luck when you do dive into quilting - I'm sure you'll love it.

      Delete
  6. Florence! Did you really sew even the long seams by hand?! Amazing - although I don't think you can call it a long-term project if it's taken less than 2 months! My hand-quilted monster took about a decade... I do agree about the value of working on something big, bit by bit. I can't remember what blog it was on now, but someone said they think knitters have a better understanding of things like charity, where lots of people give a little bit and it adds up to a big change, because they have the experience of one stitch at a time eventually adding up to a whole jumper.

    Mauve and peach is my grandmother's classic colour combination, but I think if you keep them separated you'll be OK! x

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I did hand-sew the binding, but you're actually right - that inner border was the only bit sewn by machine. And you're right - two months isn't long, but it really would have been a lot longer if I didn't have a deadline looming - you might remember that my daughter's quilt took me over a year to complete!

      That's such an interesting point about the knitting - I think you're right and it's a really lovely, positive idea.

      I love that your grandmother combines those two! I'm imagining someone akin to Queenie (the actual one). I hope she wears pearls with it. x

      Delete
    2. Oh, and the front side of the binding was machined, just the back-side hand sewn…so almost entirely by hand, but not quite. That can be an aspiration for the future! x

      Delete
    3. Pearls with everything! She's much more stylish than the Queen, though. (Now I think of it, I don't know if I've seen her *wearing* mauve and peach together, but she combines them a lot in her crafting - Sister was the recipient of a sampler quilt that's a mauve-and-peach extravaganza!)

      Delete
  7. What a gorgeous quilt! I've never tried one before but this really makes me want to take a whirl at it! I am a lavender fan as far as the actual flowers and fragrance goes but I am not one to wear or decorate with it

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh you definitely should - it's so much fun and completely addictive. I love those colours in nature too - they feel completely different there. We had grape hyacinths and white roses as our wedding flowers and my bridesmaids wore lilac dresses with a shocking fuchsia pink lining, while my husband's best men (five or six of his oldest friends) all wore lilac cravats…it all felt rather lovely thirteen years ago, but like you, I can't ever imagine wearing lilac again and even the word makes me feel slightly disturbed - it seems very odd to have taken against a colour which surrounds so many happy memories.

      Delete
  8. lady, your stamina is beyond impressive! it's like an olympic sport!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If only. I want more hands. This quilt is partially responsible for an unhemmed Emery Dress STILL hanging in my wardrobe. I have a couple more things with deadlines on them before I can get to it. At least it has all-year-round wear potential in England. x

      Delete
  9. We painted our living-room with what we thought was a stone colour but it turned out to have a strong hint of lilac! The colour has grown on me but I'm struggling to find fabrics etc to compliment it. I like the fabrics in your picture and wondered where you bought them? :)

    ReplyDelete
  10. I can't wait to see the quilt! Your peeks are so lovely. I love hand stitching in every form...hand quilting, EPP and applique. It is such a relaxing endeavor.

    ReplyDelete

Thank you so much for taking the time to leave a message - it's always really lovely to hear from people.

I now tend to reply within the comments section, so please do check back if you've asked a question or wish to chat.

Florence x

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...