Sewing In A Time of Social Distancing

My heart and hugs go out to everyone affected, directly or indirectly, by the COVID-19 outbreak, wherever you are in the world. Here in the UK, life has become tinged with a sense of unreality. Mum and I are being careful about staying home and limiting contact with the outside world – although the lovely weather over the last few days has at least allowed us to enjoy lunch in the back garden!

I’m very fortunate in some ways – working from home and being a hermit by inclination anyway have fitted me pretty well for the current social distancing strictures. Plus I have a mountain of fabric and thread to play with! Mum’s enjoying it less (she loves a good shopping trip and she’s missing time with the grandkids), but she’s bearing up well so far and entertaining herself with the gardening.

So what have I been entertaining myself with? Well, I’ve got no shortage of WIPs, UFOs and ideas to get on with so…. obviously I started something new instead! My sister mentioned the Window Rainbows that children were putting up to spread a bit of cheer and for kids to spot when out on walks in their neighbourhood. Who doesn’t like a rainbow? Entranced by the idea, and being fairly recently in the possession of the Inspiring Improv book by Nicholas Ball, I raided my scrap bins and started to make a scrappy improv rainbow based on his strippy circles. For my background, I fortunately chose a white-on-white print that I have vast quantities of, having purchased lots of it for some other project that proved not to merit that much attention. I had a wonderful time cutting strips and piecing the different colours of my rainbow.

Yep, I went for the full seven colours – I am a Rainbow Traditionalist apparently! Pleased with my efforts, I considered where rainbows come from and decided to create some improv raindrops.

Rainbows need sun too, right? And to balance everything going on above the rainbow, perhaps there needed to be something happening below it as well?

…and now you can see why I was glad I’d chosen a background fabric I have lots of! Improv piecing doesn’t come very naturally to my perfectionist, control-freak soul, but I enjoyed making these units a lot. And my inner perfectionist was about to get a thorough work-out during the assembly of all these disparate bits into a recognisable quilt top. The top half was pretty simple to do, no partial seams or anything awkward at all. Even the measurements were mostly fine, somehow I managed to get the raindrops and sun to finish with vaguely sensible numbers.

The diamonds, on the other hand, were a challenge. Having pieced the top half of the quilt to give myself some mulling time, I decided that some of the diamonds were much bigger than I wanted them to be, so I ended up un-picking and reducing the green-blue-purple ones to better match the red-orange-yellow ones. That done, they needed an arrangement. Random? No, I tried it and I didn’t like it. I quite wanted them to look like they were dripping from the ends of the rainbow, but didn’t like it when they were all bunched up close to the ends of it. Eventually, I spread them vertically and used a weight on a string to line up each diamond with its respective colour on the rainbow, and I mixed up the heights of each colour so that it looked more random but still had some underlying order. Perfect.

Joining them, however, was a trial! Because of the way the diamond blocks overlapped, butted up or didn’t quite align with each other, I ended up juggling a few partial seams and finicky measurements as I worked on putting them together. The result, however, is well worth all the fiddling about, I really love how it turned out!

I think we’re going to need a bigger window! It’s a very long quilt top relative to its width, but I think it’ll make a grand wall or door hanging. I’m looking forward to quilting this one, it’s been a really enjoyable and educational make so far and I think we all need some brightness and joy at the moment. Stay well, everyone!