Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mid Month Catch Up

Setting some easy achievable goals meant that jumping in and getting something done at the start of the month, was relatively easy.  Mixed in with the easy were some slightly more challenging goals... or more correctly, ones that I had been putting off for a long time.

I decided first up to jump into my Tillies Lane applique blocks.  These were so easy and fun, I don't know why I ever put this project away.

Month Three large block

Month Three mini block

And I've been plugging away at my little hourglass blocks (I've got 11 out of 24 sewn so far), using them as a handy leader/ender project.  This one I particularly liked using my Eiko scraps.  I can see this quilt being a great memory quilt highlighting little snippets of fabric from other projects.

I also have been playing with my Stack, Shuffle, Slide blocks - finishing up the last of the piecing, and deciding on how to lay the blocks out.

This is the quilt layout according to the pattern.  All blocks are trimmed to the same size, and aligned in the same portrait rectangular way.  Small blocks are added to the outer blocks to form a circle/frame.  I just didn't like it.

First up, I didn't want to trim all my lovely blocks.  Secondly, there were some blocks I wanted to lie sideways - courtesy of using a directional text fabric.  Thirdly, a rectangular quilt doesn't suit my bed so much, and it was a bit small.  So I laid the blocks out, and played with things to get a balance of colours and patterns... and figured I quite liked it being a bit random.

I don't know whether this was the final layout or not... but you can see the general idea.
 I decided to split out the layout into chunks of six blocks in a grid 36" wide x 24" tall, and fill in with my background solid (Bella Solids "Offwhite").

Chunk One

Every now and then I add a feature hit of colour, maybe to include one of the other fabrics that doesn't appear in this grid.

Chunk Two

I'm now halfway through the third chunk now... so great progress!

Bringing myself back to my goals... I added the first cream ring around the Sugar Club blocks.

Now I just need to cut the beige fabric for round two... and add the third round.
 I also cut some Starburst Cross blocks, and pieced a few of these in among the other sewing activities.

Love, Love the fabric!
Alrighty... what else have I done?  Well, was dreading doing the applique on the next My Tweets block because (a) I couldn't really remember how I was doing it before and (b) because the next block background is a woven plaid sort of fabric, it is hard/impossible to see through for construction/alignment purposes.  But, because I have my goals... and I'm being good... I got in there and got it done!

Blanket stitch still to be done
If anyone was really closely studying this project, they would know that this is actually block 12, but I swapped it's placement as I thought it would be easier to construct on the darker fabric.

I think the last major goal for this month is to do the next Vintage Quilt Revival block.  Which is another one I'm putting off.  But I'm sure it will get done by the end of the month.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

A New Month - January achievements and February Goals

Wow, the beginning of a new month, and it is February already.

Thinking about my broad goals for the year, I had some mini goals set for January - which I think were achieved.

  • I caught up with {most of} my VQR sampler blocks:

I just have to add that pinwheel blocks are among my least favourite block.  Mainly because the center of the pinwheel is the focus point, and it is so hard to get really good points on this area.  So, to combat this I firstly chose two fabrics that were of similar contrast - with the idea of softening any less than perfect areas, and chose a stronger contrast fabric in the outer point position to lead the eye away from the centre.  Secondly I used a small amount of spray starch before sewing.  This helped it stay somewhat in place (not distort as it was being sewn) and I'm happy to report that I ended up with probably the best pinwheel I have ever sewn.  Still not going to make a whole quilt with these pesky blocks though!

  • I finished the binding on the Constellation quilt, and yes, it is on the bed!  Love.  Love.  Love.

  • 3 1/2 of the 4 My Tweets blocks had their blanket stitch completed.  I was hoping to get all four finished, but just didn't quite make it.  However, still happy with that progress.
  • Tillies Lane Month Two goals were achieved!

  • Beep Beep! was finished and gifted!  Plus I received a beautiful thank you card which was lovely.

  • I finished four more Starburst Cross blocks on the weekend, which makes 13 out of 25 completed.

  •  And got two more of the Sugar club blocks upsized.

OK, goals for February.

  • Month Three of Tillies Lane.  This involves one large applique block, one small applique block and twenty four small hourglass blocks - which are ideal as leader/enders.  I've started pulling scraps already.

  • VQR block - exploding star

  •  Starburst Cross blocks - I have 6 more fabric combinations left, which means twelve blocks to complete.  It would be nice to get 6 blocks completed this month, but maybe four would be more realistic?  I'll have to see how this goes.

  • Sugar Club blocks - upsize these three blocks with the plain strips so that they will just be needing the final round of triangles added another month.

For example:

  • My Tweets: cut and apply the fusible applique for Block 11.  Complete blanket stitch another month.

I did sort of start a new project - playing with this small fabric bundle.

I couldn't work out how to get this bundle big enough to make a quilt from it, because I just didn't want to add extra fabric.  What I worked out was that I didn't want to add any extra feature fabric, but more neutral/grey/low volume fabric was OK.

Once I had made that distinction, it was a small leap to find this pattern on the cover of this book.

And I'm already making progress.  The blocks are quick and easy to put together, although I'm not sure exactly how I'll set these blocks... as I have added a couple of extra fabrics compared to the pattern, and I want to make it a bit bigger, but it will come to me.

And today was Nadia's first day at college - Year 7.  She was all very excited and wow, how grown up looking flash in her uniform.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Backing, Blocks, Binding and Blanket Stitch

I've been plodding along with hand stitching down the binding on my Constellation quilt, and I've got down to about 6" left... at the moment the quilt is sitting folded in the lounge - and I just love the contrast of the solid grey in the front against the bright and funky backing fabric.

Again, I can't get over how the binding is such a perfect fabric!

I chose this fabric for the backing as it was ideal for hiding quilting imperfections, plus it went "well" with the front, as it was from the same designer who made the charm pack that started the whole project, although from a different range.  (Of course, I needed a bit more patterned fabric for the front than a charm pack would provide and raided my stash to make up enough half square triangles.)  Although there are some different colours used on the backing fabric - and to be honest I am not a fan of all of them - the "feel" of the design, as well as the colours that are the same means it gives the impression of fitting into the same family.

Ideally it would have been nice to pick up a cheater print from the same range, but getting an incredible online special meant that getting a similar range gave better value for money.  Quilting in NZ is expensive!

This star shows some of the charm pack, as well as some of the stash additions.

I have also spent some time blanket stitching my Tillies Lane second month blocks:

After doing a class with Michele Hill from Australia, I started using a smaller blanket stitch which she recommends.  Although I decided I didn't like this neutral thread I was using, and switched to a Mettler Seralene part way through the smaller block.

While this thread is supposed to be a bobbin fill, I have been using it in the top and bottom for blanket stitch, and I like how fine and flat it looks against the applique pieces.

This is from the My Tweets blocks, and you can see how the stitch is a lot larger - I think my machine sets a minimum width of 2.5mm, and I have the length as 2.0mm for this 5 step blanket stitch - which gives a really lovely edge to the applique shapes.

I've also done some sorting in my quilting shed, and found that I had more of the hourglass blocks sewn in a secondary location - so I had already done all the blocks necessary for this month.  Bonus!

In my experience of starting a million and one different scrap projects - I think this one works really well as the blocks are so little - so you really only need quite a small amount of scrap to make each block.

This is how I have pressed the blocks - it comes out really flat - no bulky seams - and gives good visibility for joining on the alternate solid square.

With the coloured sections literally covering scraps of all colour and style, I have gone for some very subtle cream prints as the alternate unit.

Pressing the seam to the light in this case means that it cuts down bulk, and will be easy to join into four patches as the project grows.

I notice that I have made some scrap substitutions in the making of these blocks - so it should be interesting once it is all made:

I'm not sure of my logic making a green and orange block - although it is all scraps of fabric designed by Denyse Schmidt.

 I have also been working on the Sugar Club blocks, and have finished upsizing another one.

And made good progress on yet another one.  Hopefully this one will get finished in the next few days.

Best of all, I have achieved some good tidying and consolidation of projects and fabrics... I admit I am pretty messy, and tend to leave a trail of destruction behind when projects are finished.  Just getting a bit of organisation back has allowed me to feel more relaxed with the whole process.