Sunday, January 25, 2015

On progress and on lack of progress

Three quarters finished on the binding... and then it will be all over.  Hand sewing binding always puts a blister right on the end of my forefinger that holds the needle and a sore patch on my middle finger that assists with pushing it through (tried a thimble and it was just a hot sticky mess).  Hence short and irregular bursts of sewing.  I am such a wuss.

I am a firm believer in the saying "it's not over until the fat lady sings"... although in quilting terms, it relates to not making judgement until the quilting and binding are complete.  Even hubby has changed his opinion and quite likes it - with all it's restrained design aesthetic.

With spirals on the green, interlocking boxes on the blue, and an echo around the zigzag, the quilting helped to pull it all together.

Shows up nicely on the back.

This design has come about in such a round about sort of way - logic and necessity more than anything. You'll remember the initial drawing, which meant poor utilization of fabric, so I changed the zigzag to run horizontally as opposed to vertically, meaning that the other sections could be cut in one piece... across width of fabric since the quilt is 40" wide.  That design had the zigzag towards the bottom, with the large plain section at the top.  But as the only fabrics I could buy to match the charm square prints weren't the best matches... and I didn't want that much of the green, I switched the design to the zigzag at the top and a small section of green, with the heavier and bigger blue section at the bottom.  I had also intended to use the green as the binding... which would have looked amazing around the dark blue section.  But I didn't like it so much with the backing fabric I had bought, so stuck with the dark blue for the binding.  So all up... I'm happy with how it has turned out, regardless of how or why it all came about.  And I think it's a perfect design for someone who couldn't give a rats arse about quilting.

In other quilting news, once this baby quilt is finished up, I can return to the girl quilt under construction... now that I have another pack of charm squares to continue.  Quilting on Imogen's quilt has stalled as I consider what quilting designs to use to fill the balance of the space.  As often happens, indecision leads to no progress... but it's hard to do something when you don't know what to do.  I have one more week before heading back to work - so should really pull finger.

In other non-quilting news, uniform has been bought for Dylan's new school this year, and we had a dress rehearsal to check out how flash he looked - complete with new hair do.  Not that he was overly impressed - with either the uniform, hairdo or dress rehearsal.  They have a bottle green jumper/sweatshirt as well, but it was just too hot to force that on him too.

And a bit of holiday fun... a ginormous water slide set up at the town basin in Whangarei.  They had heaps of fun on this one!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Holiday Mode... Stories and Spirals

I thought that this week might be the one.  The one where I returned to myself. But in fact, I've found myself disappearing once again into the fantasy world of fiction.  I have achieved some of my holiday goals... a trip to the doctors for a decent checkup has resulted in a follow up for blood tests and x-rays next week.  We've also visited skate parks, the nearest indoor pools (which has a story all into itself) and had a wee fabric and thread shopping expedition.  So I think I am slowly returning.  Just not quite yet.

The thread purchases meant that I had no reason to get my teeth into quilting the boy quilt.  So after sandwiching it all this morning, I've started with green spirals.  No pebbles this time... just spirals.

I've come to the conclusion that success with spirals depend on two things - starting your spiral with a curve from the beginning... not a straight line with a bend on it.  The second being that every spiral should start with the same amount of curliness.  This is my standard... a curve with a bend.

Once you've followed that curve and bend back to the starting place, you will have already created quite a significant spiral shape.  See, you didn't need to go around, and around, and around.

This design, which is one of Angela Walters go to designs... next travels along the edge that the stitching butts up to (whether it's the edge of the quilt, another spiral or another design element), and creates an echo of the outer spiral.

Then it's time to start a new spiral, travel a little way along the previous spiral (you can also travel along the edge) and start a new spiral, again starting with a curve from the beginning and making the same amount of curliness as you started off with.

Echo back to the beginning, travel then create an outer echo...

Travel to start a new spiral.  Keep going until your space is all filled up.

Ideally all the spirals would be identical sizes, with identical echoing etc etc.  But we're not robots here are we??  Even drawing it has it's draw backs, as you can see.  Sometimes you have a bit more space, and other times not so much.  It does actually look better to have a bit of variety in the spirals - but too much variety and it starts to look messy.  Sticking with the two rules above will help to keep your spirals in order.  Also resist the temptation to do an extra echo - even when you really want to get onto the other side of the design.  Don't do it.  It just looks messy. 

So what have I been reading this time?  Well, finished the KGI series by Maya Banks.  Enjoyed every one of the books, except the one about Donovan which was just corny.  Read Shadow Woman by Linda Howard.  Which reminded me of another one of her books I've read in the past, so decided to revisit Death Angel by her also.  Still like it.  Next up is Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts.  Loved it.  Got full on goosebumps right at the end - when the significance of the last few lines registered in my brain.  Excellent.

Right, more sewing and reading to do...

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Breaking Radio Silence

After two busy weeks having everyone at home, hubby has gone back to work, and it's just me and the kids home during the day until almost the end of January.  Second day in... seems do-able :o)

I have a few Xmas photos to share:

Nadia looking glamorous...

Dylan looking goonie...

The little things that touch your heart...
 The mess when it's all over :o)

This year I went for the gift that keeps on giving... magazine subscriptions for everyone!  With the first editions wrapped up - there was plenty to keep everyone occupied as the weather turned not so flash.

I haven't done much sewing over the last couple of weeks.  Although I have finished quilting all the applique blocks on Imogen's quilt.  You can really see the quilting from this angle from the back.

I've also quickly put together the boy version cot quilt top... although no photo to show, and made good progress on the magazine submission quilt.  Although it has all been very relaxed and cruisy.

The kids have enjoyed the time with their dad home from work, and have spent a lot of time at the beach and playing with their scooters at various skate parks.  I've spent an enormous amount of time reading and have recently got hooked on the KGI series of books by Maya Banks.  These books are available to purchase on PlayBooks and I also discovered a few free versions on line.  Maya Banks writes covering a wide genre... a bit of shapeshifting, paranormal stuff, there is often a maiden in distress and a big guy (or guys) who come to her rescue, but there is also some seriously sexually explicit stuff (just warning you) if you were to randomly choose one of her other books or series - the KGI series is pretty tame in comparison, based around a big family in business together, love stories with big hulking gorgeous men with muscles of steel and hearts of gold, who meet and fall for the love of their lives.  Of course we all know that love never runs smoothly... and each book covers a different couple and their own struggles.  I'm whizzing through the series and dread when I get to the end... I just want it to keep on going... sign of a good book.

OK, well, I'm off to the Woman Cave to get some sewing done... no sign for me this Xmas... maybe next year.

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!

The presents have been opened, the toys are being played with - everyone is happy and relaxed.  Xmas lunch is in the oven, and the Pavlova and fruit salad is waiting for afters.  It's not hot - but it's not cold... I think this one is going to be another successful Kiwi Xmas.

I thought you might enjoy this link to a little you-tube clip portraying the Nativity story... as told by children from St Paul's Church here in New Zealand.


Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Charm Square Baby Quilts... one more sleep :o)

I've been playing with different design ideas for the two cot quilts that I have been asked to make.  It is a hard task to make quilts for prospective parents, when you don't really know them, so decided to stick with simple and modern.  I bought a charm pack of Hubba Hubba by Me and My Sister Designs - randomly thinking that it would be a good range for a kids quilt.  I pulled out the three black designs, because they just didn't work for this purpose, and separated out the more boyish looking designs (blue, green and aqua geometrics) from the more girly pinks, purples and florals.

OK, what to do with them?

I've had a chevron design kicking around in my head since making my Hometown Wagon Wheels back.

And where I realise that I don't think I actually have a photo of the back of this quilt completely finished, but here is a progress shot - and I added a cream strip to the cream side, and a grey strip to the grey side, making it look like a patterned chevron between two different coloured solids.

Right, back to the baby quilt.

A bit of design work on my grid paper... I always saw this zigzag running vertically off centre...

and it was all going well until I tried to figure out how much fabric I would need for the side panels and realised that it wasn't very economic use of fabric... because my measurements had exceeded the width of fabric.  Poo.

It took a while but I figured that by rotating the chevron stripe so it ran side to side meant that the top and bottom strips could once again be cut from a single width of fabric, and I'd only need 10 charm squares  - back on track again.

A bit of a mock up on the design wall... finished size 40 x 48".

I went for a green mottle and a navy dot.  Practical and blokey... although my hubby is not keen, and thinks there is too much dark blue.

This is the more accurate colouring...

I needed 1 x 28.5" strip of navy (trimmed to 40.5" wide), and 1 x 5" strip for the navy triangle units.
From the green I needed 1 x 12.5" strip (trimmed to 40.5" wide), and 1 x 5" strip for the green triangle units.
Simple, go on... I know you have some leftover charm squares just itching to be used!

From my charm pack I had 32 charms left to create something magic for the girl quilt.  I had heaps of ideas, but in the end went with something very simple, and ordered another matching charm pack because of course, that one charm pack was never going to be enough.

I'm just making triangles and scattering the designs and colours across a 9 x 11 simple grid.  It will have all the spaces filled in with triangles (although I did think about making an asymmetrical arrangement but wasn't happy with how it started to look).

I hope to frame this with a plain 2" border, making it finished size 40 x 48".  Perfect.

I am all ready for Xmas this year... so no wrapping gifts on Xmas Eve like usual.  I hope you all have a wonderful time with family and friends... and receive something nice under the tree.  Merry Xmas!

Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Is it too early for a roundup post of 2014?

I remember starting this year feeling a bit low about quilting in general... remember the Fabric and Project Diet? - and the angst of how I was going to cope, but prepared to just manage and do my best.  This year turned into the year of doing things for others... quilts made for school fundraising, gifts for parents, a magazine submission that needed to be finished to a deadline, and a commissioned baby quilt, plus the quilting for Imogen's quilt that I've had for months and for a variety of reasons have only just started.  I tried to remain focused on just a few WIP's and have made terrific progress.  I also feel I have curbed my compulsive fabric buying tendencies... no, I'm not a saint and am not totally reformed.  I've bought things I've loved, but I've also not bought things that I've loved.  It is progress.

I start these holidays with another successful magazine submission that requires both construction and pattern writing, two more commissioned baby quilts and a toddler quilt, plus all the other ideas that are bouncing around in my head that have been waiting for the selfish ME side to return.  My WIP list is probably just as long as it was at the start of the year, and it is probably unrealistic to expect it to get any smaller.  After all, I do tend to start new projects :o)

Last week disappeared in a blast of school activities.  Dylan had his Year 6 graduation dinner as they celebrated their last year at Primary School.  He is now 11, and will start next year at college which runs from Yr 7 - Yr13.

The men in the family... I'm sure Dylan will get to be as tall as his father one day.

We also attended the school Prizegiving, where both Dylan and Nadia won Achievement Awards, which was a nice surprise.

I have really felt this year has been quite exhausting, and I am only just now (after almost a whole week off work) feeling like doing much, other than relaxing reading books.  I have quilt designs dancing through my head... and a solid list of things that need to be cleaned, which I am slowly psyching myself up to start.

For the boys baby quilt using just twelve charm squares plus additional yardage...

And the girls baby quilt... using the rest of the charm squares...

Plus pulling fabrics for the magazine submission...

And the quilting for Imogen's quilt continues.  I've got three applique blocks completely finished now and am working on the 4th...

I finished up the fourth Feathered Star block...

... and started compiling the rest of the components for the other five blocks.  In my head this project has progressed from an occasional filler project into something that I would like to get finished.

I would also like to get cracking with the Modern Wedding Ring project now that I have all the fabric to continue.  So once again - so many projects, so little time.  I am almost at that stage where I have so much going on in my head that I don't know what to do next, and consequently do nothing.  But I also know that quilting, like many things in life, is a matter of starting, having patience, working diligently, with the knowledge that one day it will be finished.

And on that cherry note... time for get lunch started for the bottomless pits that I call children.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Point of NO Return

I am officially well past the point of no return on Imogen's quilt.  Although I am rapidly approaching the "this is going to drive me crazy" stage.

 At the moment I'm concentrating on the applique blocks - spirals and pebbles inside the "somewhat straightish" frame that I quilted freemotion using the quilting ruler I purchased at FOQ.

Using the theory of quilting the same motif in the same areas, these triangles that flowed out into the border received the same design.

I am going to quilt something different in the area that flows through the stars - but I'm not quite decided yet.

As I am almost finished the quilting on the second (of five) applique blocks - I've got quite a while before I need to make the final decision :o)