A Covid interlude – Himself not Myself. Very little progress on anything. But a sample block has been put together with some degree of success. Actually I’m thrilled with how it’s turned out and there might be enough sewjo momentum left to plan an online class later in the year.

Initially I thought EPP might be the best way to piece the block (number 3867 in the EQ8 library) but then decided on traditional handpiecing. One or two places where points are not razor perfect but overall it looks good enough.

Back to Overseas Office travel preparations!

Out of the box

Time has been spent on more sorting and delving into boxes – sometimes it feels very much like Eeyore’s broken balloon and jug – take everything out, handle everything, put everything back! Sometimes the odd helpful decision shows up and a project gets re-prioritised and moved to a different box. And sometimes everything just goes back into the box. . . .

My Antique Rose Star blocks have been in and out of any number of boxes since I made them just over ten years ago. I’ve shown them here several times and they have travelled hundreds, if not thousands, of miles between the Rural Office and the Overseas Office. The blocks have been on a teaching cruise and many other classes besides, quilts have been made (and finished) by many students – but my blocks have been resolute in remaining individuals in a stack rather than put together as a quilt. Maybe this year they will finally be put together and become a quilt top – I think I may have decided on a setting. Now all I have to do is delve into some other boxes in search of just the right fabrics . . .

This was one setting option I considered a while back –

Edge to edge setting looked great, but I would have needed to make a lot more blocks for a decent size quilt. Much as I loved this block I had “block burnout” after making eighteen! Which is why the spaced setting above had a lot of appeal in that the same number of blocks would make a large enough top.
So back to the boxes to find those fabrics!

Work in progress . . .

. . . three words which can carry a lot of guilt! We often refer to WiPs (Work in Progress), PhDs (Projects half Done) UFOs (UnFinished Objects) – the fashionable acronym changes from one decade to the next. Whatever your preferred term, there are a serious number of these things taking up space in my workroom. Every so often they are gathered up, reviewed, re-arranged, maybe re-packed and then put back, well out of sight, to continue to wait their turn. Some have been waiting more than 20years, other 20 months and a very few 20 weeks or less. In the vain hope of reducing my guilt and speeding up the process I’m going to share some of them here. The first one features one of my favourite blocks -Whigs Defeat – and only needs (hand)quilting and binding. Basted and ready for that next process, time in the waiting room a mere 10years.

This particular project is extremely well-travelled and is about to make a third visit to the Overseas Office where it will join other WiPs which are also playing the waiting game.

Ragged and Rescued

A belated Happy New Year to all! The air is still thick with New Year resolutions and good intent and I’m picking up all of those things and diving into one of my major “themes” for 2022 – Ragged and Rescued. You may remember that here at the Rural Office there is The Cupboard which contains most of my collection of vintage quilts. Also in The Cupboard are a considerable number of quilts and patchworks which merit the description of Ragged and Rescued – given to me over the last 30years or more of national travelling and teaching. The reason for the gift was always the same – to share in classes, lectures and because “a good home” was needed. In pre-Corona times it was easy to use these pieces in this way and now, it seems, might be the time to share them in a slightly different way. So, without further ado, take a look at one of the first pieces I was given.

This delightful Folded Log Cabin piece was spotted in a builders’ skip on a London street in the mid-1970s and rescued by a passing quilter. She gave it a “good home” for ten years and removed the dark green velvet border which was in tatters and didn’t seem to relate (colourwise) to the rest of the piece.

The blocks measure approximately 4inches square, the centre squares are different dark cotton velvets and the fabrics are an eclectic mix of shirtings, cottons, twills etc. Estimated date of the work circa 1900, possibly slightly earlier.

Completely hand stitched onto foundations which vary wildly in weight and type. Each block is finished on the WS with hemming and the blocks are stitched together on the WS with an overcast stitch as used in EPP (English Paper Piecing). The quality of stitching varies and the blocks may have been made by two or more different “hands”.

I’ve always felt sad that such a charming piece was tossed into a skip but kudos to the quilter who rescued it in such a timely manner and wanted to share her find with others. And it’s a patchwork that is proof that even the smallest scraps and strips can be transformed into something useful and decorative through the power of simple stitches.

Happy stitching!

All change

Not much chance, it seems, of settling in for some peace and quiet at the Overseas Office – looks like we will be returning to the Rural Office in the next fortnight. Nothing dramatic, just a routine but essential medical appointment for Himself with a short recovery period afterwards. Time to review the projects and stash here in Spain and decide how much/many can stay until our return – this is never an easy decision!

During the last few weeks I’ve been busy with Zoom stuff and putting July’s work of measuring a variety of quilts from The Cupboard to good use –

It’s been great fun to virtually share some of the contents of The Cupboard – even from such a distance! For 2022 I’m developing a series of online talks and classes with the theme “Ragged & Rescued” – more details in due course, website to sort out first.

Not much obvious progress with the longterm diamond/hexagon project but it is moving along and is the ideal travel companion –

Hope you are all safe and well – happy stitching!

Time flies

Can’t believe how quickly time is going! I’m getting a good start on at least 2 long term projects. Project One is based on quilts etc stowed in The Cupboard which I’m aiming to grow into a series of Zoom lectures –

Project Two has been picked up from one of last year’s class samples and progressed with lots of prep, cutting and basting. Just the teeniest dent in part of the stash! No deadline but a few thoughts on how this might go together –

And there’s a re-make project that’s been sitting quietly in The Cupboard for a Very Long Time and may get moved on a couple of stages this week –

Happy stitching!

Good light

Sometimes, even in a gloomy cold Spring, the light is just right to capture quilted texture. Even the most elusive white-on-white quilting –

This is a very worn and almost shredded vintage strippy quilt that I bought for pennies in the 1980s. Strippy quilts are most often pieced from strips of contrasting fabrics by colour, value, print and plain. In this quilt both front and back are pieced from strips of different widths and weights of white household cotton, a thin cotton batting, and the simple quilting patterns are Lined Twist and a Bellows variation.

White on white quilted strippy style like this would be a great way to make a wholecloth quilt without the angst and terror of design, marking etc. Just a thought ….

The light was good enough to take a quick shot of the 1845 quilt too –

I know I commented before about the sharpness and precision of the hand piecing of this quilt – take a look at the scant seam allowance that’s visible here. Our standard seam allowance is 1/4inch, this measures a very scant 1/8inch. Imagine stitching with so little room for error!

Happy stitching!

More settling

Quarantine is over and first vaccination tomorrow – important milestones! It’s been a really slow week, hard to find motivation to finish unpacking and the quilt cupboard remains in need of a thorough working over. But I have brought a long-standing (a mere decade) project to the surface ready to be moved to the batting and basting pile –

Keeping this really short and hoping that this coming week is more productive!

On the move

Almost all packed up and ready to roll! I’ve been reflecting on the last 12 months as I’ve gathered quilts, books, projects, notions together to head back to the Rural Office. Lots of challenges and changes for everyone, everyone found their own ways of coping and, for many of us, quilting, stitching and handwork became more important than ever. I will admit that I thought I would be more productive but can see that a lot of time has gone into (literally) the air instead – Zoom, FaceTime, Skype – adapting to different teaching platforms as well as staying in touch. So for this last post from the Overseas Office here’s a quick look at just a few of the starts from March 2020 to March 2021 –

Finishing up with a detail (above) which shows what I hope to be doing more of once we are back at the Rural Office. See you soon!