A SECOND VEGETABLE PATCH QUILT

I knew I would end up making a second Vegetable patch quilt.  Even when I was elbow deep in purple strips, fashioning the red cabbage from the first quilt, I couldn’t help but let my mind drift to other vegetables and how they might be constructed. Like the first, this second version was completed some time ago, and since it’s not really the weather for allotments yet, I took advantage of a weathered wall and the smallest segment of sunshine to snap some photographs whilst away for the school half term a few weeks ago.  I’m not ashamed to say that I am in love!

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As pleased as I am with the finished product, once again it was the process of its construction that really got me going.  The first thing I did was to think about vegetables, perhaps more than any sane person really should, in a creative way.  I was drawn to both their outward appearance as well as the patterns and textures that can be found beneath the peel and skin.  I wanted the blocks to work in harmony with the first, and was looking for vegetables with similar colours and tones.

The first block to be completed was the red onion, which, up until recently, was my most liked media on Instagram (thank you beloved followers).  I saw this block as the younger brother of the leek block from the first version and had two things I wanted to achieve with it.  Firstly, to increase the curves and have the rings be more rounded.  Secondly, I wanted the colours of a red onion to be really obvious.  I wanted people to know what it was as soon as they looked at it.  Fabric section for this block was key.  I mixed Kona solids with small-scale prints by Denyse Schmidt and Violet Craft amongst others.  Purple is a colour I’m lacking in my stash so I was pleased to find pieces that I could use amongst my numerous scraps.  I can’t lie and say I wasn’t worried when I was making this block.  Yes, my idea was working and the fabrics looked great together, but to make those curves you must have a lot of seams.  I mean, a lot!  Luckily, once it was pressed and starched and stretched…oh my…it lied pretty flat, and what didn’t was quickly sorted out by the quilting.

Next came the green element.  I chose asparagus for its outside detail and the range of colours it comes in.  Like the carrot block from the first version, I wanted this block to showcase the thin, long nature of the vegetable.  After scribbling down my process on paper, I made a test block, the first time I’d done so for these quilts, and realised that some changes would have to be made to better convey the asparagus.  I made my initial strips wider and re-worked the tips.  Again, fabric selection was important, and thank God for crosshatch by Carolyn Friedlander.  It’s so textured and perfect for these kind of blocks. I was a little worried that the neutral background would be lost when I came to sash the blocks, but the mix of linens and solids really makes the asparagus spears stand out.

For the red element I choose a chili and like the tomato block, it has a lot going on inside!  I created the seeds first, then cut free hand curves, another first on this project, to create the iconic shape of the chili.  The background was a kona solid in a since-forgotten shade of red that really make the block stand out and gives it some “fire”.

The last block was pumpkin.  I probably struggled with this once the most.  I knew I wanted an orange element to complete the quilt top, but was stumped for a long while before settling on the seasonal squash.  I was probably influenced by the recent Halloween celebrations and the fact that I was snacking on a lot of spiced pumpkin seeds.  Go figure!  Again, like the chili pepper, I constructed the seeds first, then used a similar technique to the red onion to create the shape of the pumpkin.  I debated whether or not to add some green before settling on a small section. In hindsight I think it’s a tad too vibrant, but think it still works by creating a little contrast.

So, I now had the four blocks and was very pleased with them.  The rest was easier!  I knew I wanted the layout to be the same as the previous version.  That meant sashing the four blocks with Essex yarn dyed linen in flax from Robert Kaufman before adding a wider border in the same fabric.  The backing was the same as before, a seeded, off-white cotton, and the quilting was also the same, although this time it was done on my new machine with a wider throat!  Lots of organic, dense quilting that suits the subject matter perfectly. Binding…you guessed it, the same!  My long-hoarded crosshatch from Carolyn Friedlander.

I love these quilts and they are my most favourite things I’ve ever made.  They look really good together and seeing them like this makes all the trail, error and mishaps worth it.  Remember, I have no pattern for these blocks.  No templates or measurements to cut.  It’s all in my head, and even then I only have a vague idea about where I’m going with it.  But that’s part of the fun, exploring my creativity, and it’s something I would encourage you all to do.  You might be surprised where the journey takes you.  For me, it was to the bottom of the allotment!

Thanks for visiting!  Oh wait, I need your help!  I really want to build my stash of basics, fabrics that are perfect for these types of blocks.  I have a lot of solids, but I’m looking for suggestions for small-scale prints in greens, reds, oranges, purples and browns.  I have some ideas, like Crosshatch, Sketch, Pearl Bracelets and Squared Elements, but do you know of any more?  Leave your suggestions in the comments and there might by a prize at the end of it for one of you!

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STASHING #24

Last weekend, when I attended the Fat Quarterly retreat in London, I took with me a small suitcase, filled mostly with clothes, toiletries and the like, as well as an over-the-shoulder canvas bag that held the majority of my class supplies.  I imagine it comes as absolutely no surprise to you then that during the return journey home, my shoulders were burdened with an additional two bags.  Bank balance and musculature alike were not happy with the obscene amount of fabric I had managed to accumulate over the course of the retreat.

But what a retreat it was!  I swooned into London with all the excitability of a child at Christmas.  I had no idea what to expect and was, if I’m honest, a little nervous.  I needn’t have been.  The weekend was a delight from start to finish, so much better than I could have ever imagined.  I meet so many wonderful people, took some great classes taught by some greater teachers and, much to my disbelief, walked away with an even bigger sense of love and pride for the community we find ourselves in.  The passion was palpable.  In every room creativity bred, passing from person to person like an infectious laugh.  It was intense; days filled with fabric, friends and the odd power outage.  Seams were sewn and ripped alike; cutting, pressing, laughing and singing, all culminating in a teary farewell on the street outside Baden Powell House, thanks to a rather ill-timed fire alarm.  Wonderfully organised and incredibly rewarding, I’m already looking forward to the next one!

What made it so much fun for me were the people.  Before the retreat Id touched base with a few people on Instagram, most notably Kelly, who posts as the_orriginal.  As well as looking through her stash for any Tula I needed, Kelly was kind enough to be a fabric mule for me.  She told me she lives close to Intrepid Thread, and that if there was anything I wanted she’d be happy to bring it over for me.  Well, I don’t need asking twice!

Not wanting to over-burden her, I tried to restrain myself.  Unfortunately fortunately the store hadn’t received their delivery of Cotton and Steel by the time Kelly had to leave for London, so I limited my self to a fat quarter bundle of Indelible by Katarina Rocella.  This stunning debut collection is heavy with my favourite colours, teals, greys and mustards, and features a shade of purple that simply begs to be seen in real life.  Graphic lines mix beautifully with flora and fauna to make a truly striking collection.  I can see me needing more of this before to long.

I couldn’t let Kelly leave just yet though, not before I’d scored another fat quarter bundle, this time Brambleberry Ridge by Violet Craft.  This seemingly endless collection blends soft pastels with vivid greens, purples and metallic ink.  Like the indelible, this collection features stags, as well as birds and other woodland creatures.  There are so many useable prints my mind is doing over time trying to come up with a quilt design that will do them justice.

Go and seek out these fabrics at once!  You will not be disappointed!

I’m so greatful to Kelly for bringing these all the way from the states for me.  I have a lot more goodies that I acquired at #FQR2014 to share with you all, but you’ll have to wait until next week for the juicy details.  I’ve got to keep a little something back! so, after all of my recent extravagance, the stash looks like this…

Like I said on Instagram…it’s a sickness.

As usual, I’m linking up with Molli for Sunday Stash.  I’ve already had a nose around at who’s bought what and it’s looking pretty from where I’m sitting.  I suggest you go and do the same!