Well, now that my package has (at last) arrived all the way over in Canda, I can finally reveal my swap items for the For the Love of Solids swap! Felicity was a really great partner to have - so active in the Flickr group and lots of hints about what she liked. But as someone whose blog I have admired for quite a long time now, I was pretty anxious that she would like what I made!
Felicity's swap info told me that she loved improv piecing and letters, as well as grey fabric. I checked out her blog and saw she had made a fabulous quilt from free pieced letters. It was so cool, I just had to give it a try and decided to go for something very modern using letters as a starting point. This was a pretty big departure for me. I've never done improv piecing, never done letters and never used a grey backing. I did a fair bit of scouring the blogosphere looking for instructions and inspiration, but didn't find a huge amount of instructions, it being improvisational (doh!). I did find one site which showed me how to make a letter A (can't remember it now!) - not much use to me for the word I wanted but it gave me a starting point and I had a surprising amount of fun making these letters. I love how wonky and irregular they look.
Then I started thinking about the rest of my quilt and how to pull it together. I found this quilt by The Girl Who Quilts which gave me some inspiration re: improv blocks and how to utilise them. (It also gave me the inspiration for the quilting.) I decided that rather than trying to improv piece the whole quilt top (the thought of which had me petrified!) I would do improv blocks and piece them into the quilt top.
So I made up these little blocks, having a lot of fun doing them I might add!
I really wanted the blocks to be irregular in size and shape, and used some of the crazy piecing techniques I've learned lately to set them into the Kona Charcoal background fabric. Then I began the process of laying out my top with these 3 blocks, but I just wasn't happy with how it was working. An hour or so of panic later and I realised I needed a teeny tiny 4th block. Once I did that, Iit all came together for me, and I fell in love with it. I moved onto thinking about the back then. I didn't want to go for a totally plain back, and some regular strips would not have fit with the front. So, I did a central block made of randomly cut strips, just for fun! I set this into a vibrant bright teal-ish blue colour (the name of which I can't remember!) backing and I think it works nicely against the front.
After doing a small bit of FMQ on it, which really didn't work, I decided to go back to my inspiration and quilt it in random, angular straight lines to reflect the angular nature of the piecing. It really worked, I was thrilled. Then I noticed that Felicity had used that same quilting technique on her FTLOS small swap item and that made me smile :-) I bound it in the same Kona Charcoal fabric that I used for the background.
Last but not least, I got a rare sunny hour for some photos! Here it is in all its glory! I was afraid to publish any pictures of the whole quilt top, because I thought that the letters might give the game away to Felicity! So its nice to finally be able to show the whole thing off, having only shown partial views in the Flickr group so far.
I then parcelled it up with the Circles Mug rug and sent off to Felicity.
The very best thing about swaps though is that you get something in return! And this is the package that arrived all the way from Australia for me last week. Kirsten is someone I have chatted to on email and I loved the look of her progress pics in the Flickr group. So when I saw her name on the return address on the envelope I did a little dance of anticipation in my kitchen before I opened it. And look what I got!! Amazing :-)
I asked for a sewing machine cover or a mini quilt for my big item...and I got both! Kirsten was amazingly generous. My sewing machine sits on my kitchen table as a permanent fixture, in against the wall. And it has a big ugly white hard cover. But no longer - its now got this lovely double sided cover - with a rainbow on one side and gorgeous straight line quilting and colourful squares on the other.
Then there's the warm/cool HST mini quilt - I'm STILL debating where to put this one, its so pretty.
Lastly, there's a matching little fabric basket which was immediately put into use to keep my essentials beside the sewing machine. How lucky am I?? You should definitely go check out Kirsten's lovely blog - she has great projects! Thanks so much Kirsten, I'm still in love with my swap items!