Saturday, 28 May 2011

Beach Huts

 The BQL May / June Challenge 2011 is to make a pair of 8" x 12" quiltlets that are obviously a pair.  I wanted to make a pair where scale was played about with - my first thoughts were a landscape piece (rolling hills, flock of sheep as white dots in the distance) and a 'close up' of one of the sheep.  Then I remembered my lack of drafting skills, and decided that I'd better try something simpler.

My second idea (pretty much, if I ignore the other 17 or so no-hopers that came in between numbers one and two) was to make a sketchy happy beach hut scene.  Think windmills, bunting and light illustration. 

So I started off.  I laid down stripey fabrics to look
like beach huts.  It looked all wrong (no photos of that bit!).Then I consulted my artistic gurus (thank you Nicky and Avril) .  OK. Distance shown by darker and duller colours.  I laid out more pieces and did the initial 'sketch' stitching to hold the pieces down and add a little detail.

Next I 'pebbled' the foreground shingle, and found that I couldn't shift the scale quite as I'd hoped, as my shingle wasn't significantly bigger on the RH piece.

 I decided not to worry too much about that, and used the same yellow thread with some brown thread (my first time using two threads through one sewing machine needle - yay!) to put in the next layer of beach.
Then another zig zaggy texture of just the brown thread. 
 All OK so far...

Moving further into the distance (and still chanting "duller, darker" to myself) I used the brown with some variegated olive green thread, starting to get the marsh grasses in.  Hang on.  Marsh grasses?  What happened to windmills, bunting, Punch and Judy and essential sunny urban beach huts?

Oh.  Yes, a quick look showed more like windswept Norfolk.  Perhaps I'd be getting my
 sheep in after all, just of the salt marsh variety.

I stop to reconsider.  And realise that a critical early marking line left my horizon almost exactly half way up the pieces.  Doh!  Even I've heard of the rule of thirds.  Time to trawl the thread drawer for more greens (duller, darker).  Hmmm.  Not exactly in plentiful supply.  I mix another variegated thread with the olive green and find that it's a bit bright and a pink in places...
 (and I've just misplaced the photo of that in Blogger, so won't have to show you that stage!).

 Time for the dullest green of all, some of it stitched over the brighter bits I'd just accidentally introduced.  Again I used two threads, but this time they were both the same variegated thread, and this time they caused more thread nests on the back than I would have cared for.  still, I had managed to move the horizon up the piece.

 Now to add some quilting to the sky.  I could perhaps have chosen grey or blue thread, but decided on white and windy swirls.

 Of course, by now, having quilted the pieces so heavily, they have shrunk.  I knew this would happen, so I'd taken care to quilt outside my guide lines, just a little, on every side.

Was it enough?  No!  I have to trim the pieces to 12" x 7 3/4" and hope that the narrow binding 'frame' will fill some of the empty unquilted space (and also not be too floppy).

 I decide to use the dull purple that I've used for the woodwork trim on the more distant beach huts to frame both pieces.  The colour fits the tone of the pieces and the tone of the dull, windy weather that we have in Twickenham at the moment. 

Initial ideas about colourful windmills and some bunting joining the pieces are thrown out.  It's not what I started out expecting to make.  If I'm honest,  if I'd known at the start that I wanted this much colour in the background I'd have laid down a fabric background rather than thread painting it.  On the other hand, I've never tried something like this before, so it was fun to experiment!

Bound, labelled, finished!

And this is just one 'detail' shot of the LH piece.  I'm not sure about the bucket and spade, but I quite like the spilt water!   I hope you've found my building process for these quilts interesting.  Perhaps you'll be inspired to go and play yourself, without worrying too much if the final product isn't quite what you had in mind!
PS If you head to Norfolk this weekend or next in order to look for salt marsh beach huts, make sure you leave enough time to go to Melton Constable to buy some terrific glass from Nicky Webb.  Norfolk Open Studios sounds great, but I have personal knowledge that Nicky's glass is super!


  1. These are really lovely, wish I could get organised to be in this swap, but it's all a bit manic here, so not much chance. I envy who ever gets them, I L.O.V.E beach huts.

  2. Thanks for the namecheck - signs out, doors open, so ready to roll... Love the beach huts - and I think the bucket and spade work too.

  3. I thoroughly enjoyed your post - and I'm in Norfolk so thanks for the tip. I loved reading your process in creating the beach hut quilts and they are a great success, I would happily give them wall room!! Well done from a wild and windy Norfolk!

  4. Plum these are gorgeous!
    Thank you for showing how you acheived the effects!!

  5. They are absolutely delightful...and thank you for taking the time to show the process. And yes, you have inspired me :-)
    ( of my fav beaches)


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