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!

Jars and a Crown

Yup, more Honey Pot Bee blocks!  I shook off some work yesterday and spent the afternoon happily making Quilter’s Pantry blocks to, imo, good effect:

This is the one I’m keeping – I couldn’t resist pairing up these two novelty fabrics like this!  Here it is next to the Strawb:

Not totally sure where this is going, but if nothing else, I’ll end up with a number of blocks that I can use in smaller projects if I like and I’ll have had fun making things I might not have otherwise.  That’s a win in my book.  🙂

The jars were so much fun to make, in fact, that I decided to make more and put them together into two little tops for Project Linus:

They’re intended for premie babies and babies in ICU, so they really don’t want to be too big.  Now, however, I am trying very hard to shake off a mental image of a larger baby quilt with lots of different shapes and sizes of jars to play “eye spy” with.  And I totally don’t have enough novelty-type fabric for that.  *sits firmly on hands*

While I was playing with my jars, Molli smacked us all with another Wild Card block – the rather glorious Sew Royal block – because what’s a bee hive without a Queen (or several!) and what’s a Queen (or King) without a crown?  A challenge was also issued – take this crown and make it your own.  Challenge accepted, my friend!

I woke up Inkscape and marked out a rectangle for the band of the crown, thinking that some foundation piecing and diamond shapes were in order.  After some fiddling, I ended up with a band of off-set diamond or kite shapes I was happy with:

Once I had the foundation-piecing sections marked up, I printed them out and got piecing.  I used two diamond prints from Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer 2 for the points of the crown, and a third dotty Shimmer 2 print for the band because I didn’t want a directional print in all that foundation piecing!  I think this crown may end up going with my RSC17 blocks, so I used Kona Graphite for the background:

The scraps of colour were just that – scraps I dug out of my recently sorted baskets and arranged in colour order to make sure they flowed well before I pieced the sections.  I still rethought my red and purple choices during assembly, though.

In general, I think it came out ok.  There was one lil hiccup, but I saved it and I don’t think it’s obvious to the casual observer so I’m certainly not going to point out what it was.  You get an Internet Cookie if you guess, though.  😉  (Or possibly a Welsh cake, since I made a bunch of them yesterday.)

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