Wednesday, February 03, 2016

FW39: Grandma & FW40: Grandmother

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What a great week in Farmer's Wife land. I have been waiting for this block for what seems like an age. I have no idea why I like it so much but I saw this version and knew I was excited about it. After being so behind, last week was good because it was the first week I felt I had caught up. Well this week I feel ahead of myself! I had all the fabric cut for both blocks and I have had some time, usually about half an hour, every morning so far this week which has given me the time to sew them together before we're even halfway through the week! This means I feel like I have the time to re do an older block this week that I am not happy with. I am smokin...

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I recently descovered the Flickr Farmer's Wife group and have started to add my blocks to it and write notes to myself about which ones I am happy/unhappy with in the descriptions. I also had a good rifle through the gallery there and saw lots of inspiring blocks. So now I have a tonnes of instagram faves and these new Flickr ones. I spend rather too much time sifting through my Instagram favourites in the evenings looking through blocks I really like, trying to work out why I like them, but it's annoying that they are dotted inbetween other general faved pictures so I decided to create a Pinterest board of favourite blocks so I can combine Flickr and Instagram. I might also write in the descriptions what I think I like about them. Anyway check it out!

Block 39 Grandma
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As soon as I saw kerry's version of this block I knew that my love for the design was genuine. I also love this one by a__l but this one by Elise is really my all time favourite


Block 40 Grandmother
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I wasn't so enamoured with this block. Another basket. Seeing as my other basket turned out a bit too traditional for my liking I considered dropping the entire block. Then I thought maybe I would just use all my scraps which I keep shoving under the sewing machine table and make a technicolour basket. A good chance to combine my oranges and yellows with my pinks and purples. And it had a good expanse of fabric to let some of my cats in. In the end I was quite pleased.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

FW37: Georgia & FW38: Golda

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It's so nice to feel caught up now. I feel on top of things. I sat down and cut out the next five blocks then started cutting out the fabric. Usually I don't choose fabrics in advance as I like to see the blocks Kerry makes first but I felt inspired by my new orange and yellow fabrics. But I wanted to mix the new set in with my existing fabrics pronto so I could start to see if this was all going to work. I was worried. They seem to be a brilliant addition. They are much brighter, maybe a bit ice creamy sometimes, but in general, I feel they are much more in the rainbow vibe which I see other people doing and I seem to be craving. Sigh... But something else has happened...

I looked back through some of my early blocks and now feel they are too dull and boring. I really just don't like them. I think I will always feel like this. So I want to redo them like other people's I have seen or put my oranges and yellows in them. I don't want this to get too out of hand as I am in danger of wanting to redo nearly every block, but I am going to pick out a few choice ones and see if my alternatives come out better. It's actually quite fun to make the same block out of different fabrics and see how completely different it makes the block feel.

We'll see if I get the time. At the moment I can only try to squeeze one block in on Saturday and Sunday in small snatches of time so I don't know where the time will come from. This week I made both blocks though. They were pretty quick to sew up in the end. When I look at them both though I kind of feel Georgia is a bit boring and Golda is my favourite which I wasn't expecting.

Block 37 Georgia
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Well this block should probably line up better than it does considering how simple it was. I've tried to incorporate some of the grey I am falling out of love with into the bright palette. I am not sure it works though. I think I might not use the grey anymore.

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Block 38 Golda
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I love this block. I considered not doing it as it's very much like one I did already, but I enjoyed the last one so much that I decided to keep going with it. I thought I would try and marry the pink and orange and I think it works here.

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My only regret is that the centre lines up so poorly. I really want to unpick it but I already had to unpick two ends where I stupidly mixed up the fabrics. First time I have actually got them the wrong way round.

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I like the brightness and the clash of warm colours. Very pleased.

Monday, January 25, 2016

FW35: Flora & FW36: Geneva

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Hello bright mornings and snowdrops. Everything is starting to pick up pace and I am really into my new fabrics.

Block 35 Flora
Ok. I don't get this block. Whatever way I look at it, it just looks weird. So it felt like no great loss to choose it as the one I dropped.

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Block 36 Geneva
I wasn't sure how much I liked this block either but actually I love it. I used all new fabrics for it and I really think they go with the other blocks fine. Another chance to inject some yellow! it was a pretty easy block in the end as each unit was the same. I do like a quick, simple block sometimes to ease things a little. I really liked how Kerry had given it a bit more depth by adding the third colour in the centre so I did the same.

This also makes me nearly up to date! I have one previous block to do if I feel so inspired but otherwise I am poised for the next block so I can do it with everyone else. Spring is a coming...

FW33: Farmer's Wife & FW34: Fern

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Finally I feel like I am breaking through the backlog and catching up. I'm also pretty happy with my new photography studio. It feels far less dingy.

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Block 33: Farmer's Wife
This was pretty straightforward. I think Kerry was right about changing the piecing order though, something I did not take heed of and strangely, I cut some of my pieces a bit small so combined with sewing them a bit wonkily, lead to a bit of a messy block edge. Hopefully nothing that will show once it's all sewn together. But next time, use the longest strips as piece one. The centre is also a little bit off which shows a bit more than I thought it would. Everything else is pretty spot on though.

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See my wonky edge up close. Jeeez. What a rookie error.

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But I was pretty happy with my seams. It all lies pretty flat with some intense steaming from my iron added to the mix.


Block 34: Fern
I decided not to do this block. Another weird angled one with funny seams. Then I changed my mind. Probably because I had cut all the pieces and decided it might be a good experiment in mixing up my orange and yellows with my purples and pinks a bit. If it's rubbish then no loss. Then I realised I had once again printed the pattern out too small, but luckily I hadn't cut the pieces out. So it's on the back burner. I might get it done this week. I'll slot it in when/if I do. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

FW31: Eva & FW32: Fanny

These were the first blocks I attempted after Christmas. In my usual style I had a few mishaps. For some reason this week I totally fell in love with other people's versions. So much so, it made me sad about my rubbishy fabric choices. Hence I bought some new fat quarters. I had run out of a few of mine and knew when I started that I didn't have as many as they say you need (30?). So I didn't feel too bad about it. They were way off my original palette a bit though.

Sarah from PrettyfabricsAndTrims made this Ava block. They are all available to buy on her great website. It was so easy, I just had to do it. It was the Kokka orange flowers and the orange dots that I liked really. It just seemed very jolly. I bought the wrong dots though which is a shame but it's still fresh and different. Heaven knows if it really goes but so many people seem to just be doing every colour under the sun I just decided it couldn't hurt, plus I am always a bit disappointed with myself when I see I have yet again used exactly the same three fabrics in a block.

Kerry made this Fanny block and I was totally sold on the bright colours. Mine all seemed boring and recessive in contrast. I felt depressed. Then I thought to myself: 'why can't I just change my mind? Do what I want? do what other people are doing? so what if they don't match? Live a little!'

So orange and yellow and maybe a patterned bright pink were on the cards. I sifted through my stash but apart from solid yellow, I had nothing to match so I delved into Pretty Fabrics and Trim and bought the same fabrics I had seen. It was very rejuvenating. That's the great thing about seeing current projects people are doing. All the fabrics are still available! A bit of a splurge but I feel excited again so I think it was worth it.

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They feel much brighter and fresher. I am excited by the yellow. And the white spots might make for some cleaner blocks. It'll either look terrible against my grey blocks or it will work. I kind of think it should look like a big happy variety of colours.

Look at this amazing combination of colours by Jen Kingwell. How am I ever going to reach those heights if I always stick to the same colours? I would love to do that block of the month. If I had $50 a month I would be right in there. I do have one of her other patterns which one day I hope to do so I could be using this current project as a test of putting a wide range of colours and styles together.

FW31: Eva

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This came together pretty quickly considering how complex it is. There have been a few like this one now so it felt like familiar ground. It's a familiar colour theme which I need to stop doing if I want variety but it does use some left over fabric I had from Rose Madder which I bought years a go to make my sewing machine cover with so it was a slight stash buster. And everything lines up which is pretty amazing.

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I didn't think I was going to like it. It felt like another Alice block which I did not enjoy, probably because I had to do it twice and because it was the first really complex block I tried. I had visions of it taking ages but now I am in the zone it was pretty easy. And I really like it!

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Even the back is pretty neat. I didn't even press my seams open, it just all fitted together. Great.

FW32: Fanny
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Another 'fit to page' casualty. Damn my printer! It amazes me how I can make such a lame mistake again. It's so annoying. I was gutted, especially as I am only just getting back my mojo. It's half an inch too small on the left. D'oh! In the end I just tried not to think about it and made another one straight away.

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The process is pretty easy. I just kept on chugging. I do find that the more lining up there is of different units then the more you need to iron and starch inbetween if you want those seams to line up perfectly. It's slow work but it makes a very tidy block. I was worried I would rush the second attempt but I was very good! Gold star.

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I swapped out the green fabric and used the flower fabric which I rejected from the Jitterbug quilt. It's perfect here and I am really happy with the change. It feels less ice cream coloured somehow. And behold! The first use of yellow. Daring... I think I like it though.

Friday, January 15, 2016

FW27: Dinah & FW28: Dolly

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Some belated blocks. The last ones I created before everything stopped for Christmas. Some good points and some bad ones...

Block 27: Dinah

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The great thing about this block is that it didn't phase me. It's got a lot of very tiny pieces but I just concentrated on the process and did each bit slowly and everything came together pretty easily. I think you just have to take time colouring in the diagram. Sorting fabric out into piles for each unit, ironing and starching at every crease. It came out pretty good except for the middle which has a bit of a wobble because I took the paper off for some reason I forget now. The only negative is that it is a colourway I have used a few times now and I need to move off it if I want this quilt to have the varied look I think it is supposed to have. It's a bit like my grey star and peach phase. I seem to stick to the same colourway for three or four blocks then try and break free. Anyway I felt like I had graduated into experienced Farmer's Wifer... only took 27 blocks (with a few omissions).

Block 28: Dolly

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Not so happy with this. I think the fabric choices are just a bit messy. I am starting to think that these more complex blocks need more solids in them. I also feel that my low volume fabric looks a little grubby and recessive. If I liked this block a bit more I might redo it, or if I see someone else's that I like I might try it again.

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In the meantime I just stare at it and change my mind about it. I am sort of falling out of love with every block. I feel a bit like the Swoon monster, I am just spending too long with them. Maybe time to stand back and look at them all together...

Friday, January 08, 2016

FW25: Crystal & FW26: Daffodil

This week I almost decided to drop both blocks. I wasn't that sure about them, then I started to see other people's versions and I relented... a bit. I did decide to drop Daffodil in the end. It's just not my kind of block. I haven't really been into that kind of foundation piecing where you make a representaion of a real object as they always look clumsy in their geometric confines. So I decided to drop it. I might go back to it but for now it's on hold. So one block this week!

FW25 Crystal

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This block came together much more easily that I thought it would, It looked like a bit of a pain to be honest. I probably spent more time choosing the fabrics. I saw several really nice versions which convinced me about it. MyBearPaw has created a version that is pattern galore. I have been looking at several of mine thinking the patterns clash with the complexity of the block so that in the end you can't really see the block you just get a mess. So what makes me like this version? It is obviously doing something right that I am not! But it was this block by ThePatchSmith that finally convinced me to make the block. All her blocks great and I think that could be the white fabric she uses; it makes them cleaner and coheres them into a set. It makes me a bit sad I didn't use white! but after the Jitterbug I wanted to use more greys. So I used my grey for the white and kept to the same tonal values. And here I have used a fat 16th of fabric I got from Maggie Wise years a go which I have never been able to unfold from the pack I love it so much. It feels a bit blowsy now but here it looks perfect. This could be my favourite block! And I feel like I broke through some fabric hoarding instinct.

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The only glitch was the final sewing of the two halves. There is another block like this coming up soon as I will use the sew from the centre out each way technique next time.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Farmer's Wife Roundup

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So as with this time last year, so far January has been a washout due to Penelope waking up during the night, every night. All good intentions go out the window and the days are just about making it through to bedtime. The sleep has started to get better slowly and the sewing is beginning again but my mojo was flagging. I was starting to get bored and actually I was starting not to like my own colour scheme!

I considered bowing out gracefully. Sewing what I have into a small lap quilt and moving on...

The I started to think about what I needed to do in order to change my own mind. It would be sad to watch everyone else continue on this, my first ever quilt a long and feel that I was somehow off the bus. I needed to get excited again and I need to make it easier on myself. I felt overwhelmed by how far behind I was and how little time I had to catch up. What could I do?

I decided to totally miss out the Christmas week Blocks 29 & 30 Doris and Em. To just move on. I didn't love either block. I would cut out a massive chunk of work by just leaving them behind. Done. The backlog suddenly felt manageable.

Farmers Wife 1930s Progress

I decided that I needed to lay all my blocks out and see how it was all coming together. I've only done 28 blocks so maybe I just needed to make some drastic changes to my colour scheme. There is no floorspace here though so I decided to photograph them properly. It's usually dark here most of the day and everywhere seems to cast shadows on the blocks. So I made a little ledge support in the brightest room and waited for just the right amount of light, then photographed every block so far. I feel much better about being organised and having a little set up to photograph each block properly at last.

Then I laid them out in a grid. Originally I had planned not to do them on point, but I have laid out both ways and realise that many of the blocks just work better on point. Something to think about.

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Then I looked at them on point like they are supposed to be. Better I think. Seeing them all laid out made me realise that they are far too samey. I thought the grey background would bring them all together and the use of dark purple would help but it just looks weird having some grey, some purple and then some pink and low contrast.

Then I sat back and made a few decisions. 

1. To only make 1 block a week. I know I said this at the beginning but I have been straying by making both which will just end up in a huge quilt that I will never finish and I just don't get the time now to make two a week really. Making one halves my workload and makes it all seem less pressured. Suddenly I felt better about continuing. I even managed to start catching up a bit. 

2. To relax on colours and fabrics. The best thing about a quilt-a-long has been seeing other people's fabric choices and colour schemes. I see quite a few people are using a wide variety of colours and fabrics rather than a tight scheme so I have thrown caution to the wind and opened it up a bit.

You'll see from the grids above I had added my newer blocks using my new fabric! I bought some new fat quarters. Here I was committed to only using my stash but there is nothing quite so revitalising as new fabric. It really helps inject excitement back into a project.

After seeing Kerry's use of yellow and feeling jealous as I had banned yellow from mine, I blew caution to the wind and bought some. I mean if I am already dissatisfied with the colours then it can hardly make it any worse. Yellow and orange are now IN. So far so good. I feel quite daring. 

So we'll see. I feel a bit like I managed to fall back in love with this project. I just hope it lasts.