Saturday, December 1, 2018

Enhancing the stash

Those close and dear to me know I am an enthusiastic shopper.  Both online and in-store, patchwork and nonpatchwork related.  My fabric purchases are often of a similar nature... enhancing the stash, as opposed to buying for a particular project (although obviously that happens as well).

One of the fascinating things about patchwork in general is that is allows so many variations in project, technique and catering to different personality types.  I've found my general mode of operation is to add fabrics to my stash that I like and think would be useful into the fabric cupboard...

... which I have roughly sorted into colour piles, and I realised that by taking a photo it doesn't look half as bad as you would expect... after acknowledging the enthusiastic shopping above ๐Ÿ˜†.  Not surprisingly I have masses of greens, neutrals and brown's and it looks super boring.

Living in the country at least an hour's drive away from fabric supplies has shaped my process, if I see something and want to start... which is how things always start... the first step is to approach the cupboard and start selecting fabrics that make me happy.  I also enjoy the eclectic nature of scrappy quilts, so having more variety of smaller cuts is never a problem.

I purchase fabrics from three broad groups: backgrounds or backing, feature fabrics and generally useful.  Having a selection of each of these main areas means shopping my stash can sometimes produce most of the supplies for an entire quilt!

I recently received a package from an online shopping experience, which illustrates this.

First up was this beautiful feature fabric chosen because it had a great variety of ontrend colours in a larger scale print.  I bought enough it could be used as a feature or for borders, or as part of a pieced backing.

Then I selected a variety of half metre cuts of fabrics I just liked.  They tend to have smaller tonal prints and were not chosen to match with anything in particular.  These are the useful bunch!  I included some purples this time as I have hardly any in my stash, and you can never have enough greens.  Navy prints are a new favourite (they now have their own colour pile separate from the blues) and amazingly I have few blues, but two piles of bluey greens... so more blue blues need to be purchased immediately!

And lastly was a fabric chosen as backing.  This was the only fabric chosen to hopefully coordinate with another project, as in general it is not so vital that the backing fabric be a perfect match to the front, and means that online colour variations are more acceptable.

Assessing my online fabric selection, I am very happy.  Quite by chance, these fabrics all combined nicely into a colourful bundle that would work well together.

 One of the greens has already been cut into to make bias stems and leaves for the Timeless Traditions BOM (photo coming soon๐Ÿ˜†) so that counts as a win in my book.

The backing fabric greys are very similar to the grey solid I want to combine it with...

... for the backing of the North Star quilt!

I still haven't decided on exactly what I am going to do with the butterfly print, but it would look dramatic and match beautifully as the backing to my Patchwork City quilt.  We'll just have to see what happens.

And now you know a little bit more about how my tiny pea brain works!  For anyone curious, I didn't order anything over the Black Friday weekend specials, although I did a lot of looking!  Post Black Friday I have ordered three different fabrics to add to my dressmaking endeavours, so fingers crossed when they arrive.

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Getting things done

I am usually a block by block chain piecing quilter... not a deconstructed unit chain piecing quilter (as in sew together 376 four patch units).  Of course there is nothing wrong with either approach... I've just found that cutting and sewing quilts in a block by block format works better for me, with my visual understanding of how blocks go together as well as my mental motivation.

So, sewing the North Star quilt by Emily Dennis (Quilty Love)
which I have purposely changed from being a block based quilt to a unit based quilt has been a mind bending experience.

Basically I now have Unit 1

And Unit 2

Which when combined in the right order and with some plain squares create these great star blocks.

My usual To Do List method of getting things done would usually be like.... make 3 blocks this week.... but I'm not sewing blocks and that motivation just isn't going to work for me this time!

Funnily enough I have had to create random stopping points... because otherwise I just keep on sewing!

Last weekend after spending way too much time and brainpower laying out most of the pieces, I decided to FOCUS and get the first two columns sewn together.

This weekend I am working on the third and fourth columns.  It is looking so good!

My secret for sewing lots of things is that I just about always sew more than one thing at a time.  If not three or four.

As I need a new item to leave under the needle, at the moment I am slowly increasing the finished components of the Timeless Traditions BOM adding the blue star points.  All applique elements are now on hold due to running out of fusible web!

Thursday, November 1, 2018

North Star Progress

It took three days of colour coding my colouring page before I really felt ready to sew anything.

This colour bundle consists of 4 fabrics, a light tree print, a mid denim blue bird print, a dark grey leaf print and a fabric printed with wide stripes of 5 different fabrics: green, orange, navy dots, light grey dashes and dark grey triangles.  The big dilemma was how to distribute the colours around the quilt.

I decided to feature the light trees in three star blocks.  The tree print is particularly stunning - light and modern... just how I like them.

I originally thought I'd use a dark grey as the background, a black Essex linen as the contrast squares and white solid as the star surrounds.

But... it looked super duper harsh... and boring - these are 18" blocks so that is a LOT of white and grey.   Back to the drawing board.

I altered my plan of attack so that the three tree star blocks would have the green, orange and navy fabrics as the surround, with most of the other blocks having white, but a couple of other fabrics  thrown in randomly.  I also pulled the Essex linen and changed it for this jumbo white and black cross hatch that was in my stash.

Right, I was now starting to feel like this was going somewhere good!

I decided early on to change the cutting instructions from the block in the pattern to one that used a square in a square block for the background squares and the contrast squares.  I highlighted below how these new units would fit together. The original pattern is all half square triangles and I just wasn't going to go there without sashing!  Those block intersections were just a pressing and matching nightmare.

This also meant that I needed to decide ahead of time what fabrics were going to be in the adjoining blocks - hence the colouring sheets.  This is called Planning... and is really not how I approach quilt making normally.

Anyhow, I got most of the first block sewn to see how the measurements and pressing stood up, and happily the pieces all fit together, and I'm just going to try one adjustment to my initial pressing plans, to see if I can get this seam easier to line up.

Although it looks pretty good in these pictures! and this was the first attempt!

And if anyone is interested, I still haven't filled in all my colouring sheet... but I have got far enough to keep making blocks for a few days before I need to reassess!

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Too much of all the things

My normal crafting programme includes just adding new projects until the creative bubble bursts... and I return to focusing on a couple of projects until they are finished.

At the moment, I am still adding projects to my list, and wondering how close I am to that overflow situation.

I have had the instructions for the North Star quilt by Emily Dennis for a while, and just haven't had the fabric or spark to get it underway.  Last time I visited my favourite quilt shop, The Country Yard, they had in a new small line of fabrics that just had SUZANNE written all over them, and the North Star pattern leapt to mind as it is a simple yet graphic quilt, that would suit those strong graphic fabrics.  Coincidentally, this pattern also started a quilt along on Instagram.

After a couple of weeks thinking and plotting, I was still no closer to working out how those fabrics were going to work, as I needed more variety as well as background and contrast fabrics.  It was all a bit too hard and nothing was coming together.  I finally decided to buy SOME of the fabric... not enough to finish the quilt, but enough to do some experimenting.

I was not prepared to give up on this one, and after looking through the quiltalong IG photos, I have found a slightly alternative colour layout that I can see working with my fabrics!  I am beyond happy.

So today I caught up with the Month 7 block for the Tilda Homespun magazine BOM and got all my pieces fused.

Now I can work on finishing the blanket stitch on Block 5 and 7.  I think I also need to vacuum!

Tomorrow is a free day in my crafting schedule as the new weeks blocks for Patchwork City don't come out until Monday... so, I am going to have a little play with my NEW fabrics and see what happens.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

My favourite tool I couldn't be without!

People often comment on my piecing accuracy and I think this is half because I am quite conscious of choosing blocks and quilts based on how blocks go together, and how easy they are to get good results, and half because I use triangle rulers and avoid many of the quick piecing methods.

My all time favourite tool is this mini corner trimming ruler by Marti Michell.

See how by lining up the edges of any sized half square or quarter square triangle it allows you to trim the bunny ears off?

When sewing triangles onto a square in this formation, usually you need to guess how far the triangle needs to overhang the square and hope for the best.

By trimming that end piece, it allows the triangle to fit perfectly aligned to the square.

Woohoo... magic.  Pressing these units open makes them super flat but also gives great visibility for matching upcoming seam intersections.

And a perfectly formed unit!

Thursday, October 11, 2018

September's Rainbow Scrap Block

Somehow I don't think I posted about the September block, dark blue month.  With nine of these blocks made now I'm considering setting options as this makes a nice alternate block with an Irish chain vibe going on.

Also on the drawing board... or rather design floor is the Timeless Traditions BOM.  This was broken up into 8 months... although month 8 looked like a lot of work.  I have been completing blocks in my own timeframe, but following the same order as the BOM.  Getting to month five I figured it was time to lay out the blocks so far and see how the colours were balanced.

And of course I also decided to cut the star points... because they are a colour factor too!

At this stage I changed the order of blocks and made one from month 8 to be the centre block.  As this is the only non-star I felt this was best in the middle and chose a relatively neutral but still strong colour scheme, then chose fabric collections for the missing blocks.

Friday, October 5, 2018

School Holidays

Week one of the school holidays and it's been nice getting a bit more sewing done.  Now that all our visitors have left I'm free to spend time chilling and sewing... my kind of holiday, although I have spent two days so far at work.

I had a bit of catching up to do with the Patchwork City sew along, but I am now all up to date... awesome!

And so we have W3


And W5

These blocks just happen to fall alongside each other in the quilt layout.  As I am using a solids FQ bundle from Elizabeth Hartmans Aviatrix quilt kit, they are somewhat rainbowish... but not really.  There is no easy step from the apricot/blush block to the tropical yellow block.  But I also remind myself that I really liked the bundle when it was still all packaged up in order... and I am using the fabrics in the same order... so it will all be good.

As the blocks go together, I am also piecing the Timeless Tradition BOM blocks and adding to the ever-growing collection.  This 12in block is particularly pretty and went

And the 6in cutie was fiddley but turned out so well!  In the end the pressing went exactly perfect so it was simple to put the units together.  I love it when the butted seams work in your favour.

The tease of the Unicorn Whispers fat eighth pack and the mixed low volumes finally proved to be too tempting.

More Patchwork City blocks in a different colourway and setting.  This wee project is going to just creep along in the background, and I'll add blocks every now and then.