Thursday, July 21, 2016

Global Warming Perhaps?

After reporting on my glacial speed, sewing my VQR blocks... I am pleased to report there has been a bit of a surge in productivity. 

My tilted star block.  You'll be interested to know that each star point section is identically paper pieced, and then attached to the central square using a partial seam.  Very clever.  This block still have the paper on the back which somewhat explains the ripple effect...

OK - this block looks way complicated... but kinda cool.  This had paper pieced sections added onto the central cross.  Of course, there may be someone who constructed their one a bit different from the instructions.

And just out of interest, this is Monika's block (on top) and my block (underneath) just to illustrate how the secondary pattern looks.  Even with completely different colour placement you can see how it combines to create this sort of nine patch in the block intersections.  Wouldn't this be an ideal scrap buster?  [To be honest I think sewing those blocks together would probably make me shit my pants go insane.  This is probably the best thing about sewing a sampler - you never have to worry about sewing multiples of the blocks together.]

And this is the project in the book using the same block with much simpler colour placement.  [Although I do wonder if you couldn't achieve the same look with a much easier block.]

I got this block finished.  I must admit to thinking this was a somewhat weird block.

Now that I've sewn it - I have changed my mind and am growing to love it.  Might just be the green fabrics with that lovely soft grey...

And this is the quilt project in the book.  I don't know... it still looks kinda weird.  This layout had a slightly different colour in the second-fourth columns... but looking at it together, I think you could have fun with the greater scheme of things, and how the design creates larger squares, maybe creating some kind of overlapping colour illusion.  Sounds technical - I think I'll just stick with the green block I've made.

In other news, I spent a great morning with my old Friday patchwork ladies... and spent some time hand quilting on my Constellations quilt.  Man, a week later and my hands have only just finished aching... which makes me wonder about the hand pains I was experiencing early last year, when I even got to the point of having x-rays to check whether I had arthritis in my hands.  I suppose one good point of not doing a lot of sewing is that my hands have been a lot less achey.

OK, I think that brings me up to date.  Hope you have enjoyed the progress...

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

In which I am feeling rather good about quite a lot of things.

Progress in the sewing department is proceeding with almost glacial speed... but progress is progress... and it is all good.

We are now on day three of the Term Two school holidays.  Monday felt like ground hog day with the car going into the panelbeaters first thing in the morning.  Remember, last holidays was spent mostly carless due to the panel repairs needed after a close encounter with a hare.  After a few problems, and ten weeks of pestering the panel repair man, Tuesday afternoon we were back to pick up our nice and newly painted car.  Whew, I am glad to get that out of my hair. 

Monday afternoon I spent some time on EQ7 to draft up "that block" from my VQR sampler... the paper pieced one that was giving me dramas.  Happy to report it worked out fine - it is a dream to piece... and even ends up being somewhere around the right size... well, with the right amount of easing/ironing.

So we have my pieced version...

And Monika's paper pieced version.  Looks pretty much the same huh?  Although you can just see the four patch piecing seams through the centre on Monika's version.

Monika has snuck ahead yet again... or from the other point of view, I have fallen behind... and she has finished up this terrific star block.

I have two more blocks that I want to concentrate on over the holidays and then I will almost be caught up.

And the blocks starting to fill up the design wall.  I am going for a 6x6 layout, so really, still heaps to go.

After some retail therapy over the last couple of weeks, I am feeling really quite good about so many areas of my life.  After my hubby broke his wedding band, it was nice over the weekend to find a new replacement one that we both really liked.  We also located an occasional chair to add to our small lounge seating area (so that the kids can be separated on opposite sides of the room if necessary).  With a new chair as inspiration, I was lucky to track down some new cushions which just happened to be 60% off on special - so bonus!  I do enjoy decorating but have found between the kids and dog sometimes it is just more effort than it is worth.  As an extra bonus the lounge has actually had a decent clean up, so it is looking really good too.  Specials meant that the kids splurged on new polar fleece sheet sets and duvet covers.  I am hoping that their bedrooms can be cleaned up before the holidays are over, but I won't hold my breath.

I bought some new facial cleanser and tinted moisturiser which I am really enjoying using.  With skin that is rapidly aging, as well as having acne... well, lets just say it has been extremely difficult to find products that suit both conditions.  Wearing a tinted moisturiser has encouraged me to wear a bit of makeup on a semi regular basis - which is also something I used to really enjoy, but have lost the enthusiasm for.  As a bit of a treat today, I had my hair cut and highlights put through... so I really am feeling GOOD!  I have also had a chance over the last few days to catch up with good friends and family, so I don't know, it's just been really good.  Isn't that nice?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Importance of Corners and Seam Allowance

Well, it's been a funny old time in the All The Good Ones household.  Dylan injured his knee at school - falling and colliding with a hunk of concrete, resulting in a largish gaping hole.  We have spent the last couple of weeks being vigilant with the disinfectant and cover-up plasters... and finally we are seeing progress.  Somewhere along the line the dog has had a recurrence of her breast cancer... with an ulcerated teat which we ended up getting removed.  A very doped up dog came home from the vets... and after a couple of weeks of extra care, she is almost all better again.  We've had an unveiling (a commemorative ceremony for unveiling a headstone), a celebration party for a dear friend who has asbestos-is, fundraising activities for Nadia's snow trip... mixed in the the normal work/school/home routines.  I am officially knackered!

I've got a bit behind with my VQR sampler blocks.  Monika has been making great strides, with another finish last weekend.  This block is cool seen as an individual, but it creates a very interesting secondary pattern too...

I discovered that the units that were completed for my last block attempt ended up with very small seam allowances on these corner bits.  So my sewing time was spent un-sewing the blocks that had caught up parts, and then undoing the other bits, so I could start over.  I'll need to cut some slightly larger squares.  Hmm.  Oh well!

On the promising progress side of things... I have two whole corners FM quilted!  Woohoo!  This means I am over half way.  I love CORNERS!!!

A little closer...

And just a reminder, the coloured stars have rustic hand quilting... I'm up to the stage now where I need to do some more hand quilting before I can do any more machine work.

One of the Craftsy classes I have had in my wish list had a sale... I just had to buy this Amy Gibson Irish Chain class, because I love this quilt.  Simple.  Clean.  Gorgeous.

I have this fabric bundle, which has sat in my fabric cupboard since about October 2013.  I have been pondering how it would look using the two prints (Larkspur meadow) in the large (beige) triangle position, and using the various solids for the smaller nine patch blocks, and the cream for the cream.  Hmmm... something to think about.  Any opinions?

You may remember that I thought about using the fabric for this particular quilt pattern, but then had a coronary when I realised that it was constructed of 2" strips... no way, no how!

Monday, June 13, 2016

The Good, The Bad and the Ugly

Last sewing day was a bit of a nightmare.  I decided to start on the Red Cross block, which is a foundation paper pieced block.  Monika has already made her version...

And this was the version in the book...

Flicking through the book, this was one of the quilts I loved.  It has MY colours, I really like the block, and I love the setting... with the large grey triangles forming an on point centre square.  Very modern, but also very traditional... and I love the quilting, although you would have to be mental to even consider quilting all those pebbles!  So that covers the GOOD.

 And even these cute little units were pretty too.

And then it went downhill in a major way.  Cue the BAD and the UGLY...

Sometimes foundation piecing just does not go the way it is supposed to.  And it is so frustrating when the pieces get caught up underneath, regardless of how carefully you handle them.  After all the likes and loves in this post so far, you would maybe expect me to admit to wanting to make this quilt, and in some ways I would.  BUT, and that is a big but, I hate the way the four small foundation units fit together, as they leave a lot of scope for ugly meeting points.  Go ahead, scroll back up and check out the way the rectangles join up.  In fact, I had pretty much crossed this one off my list of possibles, because of the foundation piecing.  I think I would much rather just piece the units completely, and miss out the foundation piecing altogether.  Looking at the block, I think that would be pretty easy.  I feel the need to do some EQ7 designing.  Something else to think about in the grand scheme of things.

Monday, May 30, 2016

Behind the Scenes

Another week of chipping away at things.  Unfortunately an hours progress on FM quilting does not lead to any dramatic photos!  Quilting the background area of a quilt with large "negative space" is rather daunting.  I started in the middle and have somewhat worked my way outwards... going around the stars.  I've even gotten to the outside edge of some areas.  So it was a real good feeling to spread my quilt out and inspect exactly how much was left of what can feel like an endless project.  Instead of doing actual sewing, I spent my sewing day cutting the pieces for my next VQR sampler block.  I am feeling really positive about things.

So in lieu of exciting progress photos... we have a new quilt on the bed!

This is an extremely large quilt... check out that overhang on a queen size mattress.

The fabrics are cheap and cheery Spotlight fat quarters... the colours loosely chosen from several large prints.  So greens, aquas, pinks, oranges just all flow together.  This quilt pattern was in a book about Three Colour Quilts (upsized and log cabins blocks adjusted to be irregular) - the stars one colour, the log cabins another, plus the background the third colour.  I approached it from a slightly different perspective, where the colour areas covered "all" colours, not just one colour.

What do I love most about this quilt?  Probably the soft, washed look of it - almost like a beach house style.  Comfortable, vintage... love it.

Monday, May 23, 2016

Baby Steps and Getting Back on the Pony

OK, so that is one mixed metaphor... but I knew that getting back into a routine, any routine, would mean finding a system that wasn't too big, too hard, too cold, too hot or too annoying.  So after doing some hard thinking, I decided Tuesday and Thursday afternoons would be my new thing.  Maybe FMQ on Tuesday and regular sewing on Thursday.  One hour each day, between 4 and 5pm.  Last week was my first try, and I'm happy to report - it worked out pretty well.

It has been ages since I've done any real FMQ work.  So pulling out my constellation quilt and getting back into the swirl quilting was funky at best.  I thought I would have problems maintaining stitch length from that lack of practice, but actually, the problem was achieving smooth curves/spirals. 

For anyone who has problems with their stitch length, I think your problem is probably with keeping your speed even on your foot pedal.  If you can reduce your speed on your machine to half, you will find that you can operate with the foot pedal fully depressed... so there is less variation.  You can control your movements better, and get pretty smooth stitch length too.  Anyway, I digress: We have Progress People!

On Thursday, I finished off my own version of the little Cross block

And put it on the design wall to make friends...

Monika's version of the block is different again...

But has no problems making friends...

It wasn't until after that I realized that the two blocks are on the same row, only one block separating them, so I'm going to have to do some reorganization.  Typical!

And on a positive note, I'm looking forward to doing some more FMQ tomorrow.

Saturday, May 14, 2016

Up to date

Well, the two weeks of school holidays went pretty fast in the end - week one was spent at home with no car... the sucky thing about living in the country is no public transport, taxis or the ability to walk anywhere useful.  Week two was spent catching up with everything I couldn't do in week one.  So we visited friends, went to another stitching evening at Charlottes (which Nadia called in a very lady like term a "stitch and female dog"), visited Spotlight in Whangarei and caught up with my Mum (and bought a roll of batting).

Returning to work after two weeks away is always a bit difficult.  Clearing the in box, the piles of clutter and just getting back into the headspace takes a while.  It is still quite busy at work, so the last two weeks at work have been like a mouse on a wheel... and just in case you've never seen me, I don't have the legs for running!

I caught up on some of my VQR Exchange blocks - where I have given Monika her copy, but had not quite finished piecing my own copy.  And finished a new block to share.  This is a fun block - not overly hard, and could be a good way to use charm squares.

And just because I could, I emptied my design wall of all the odd things I had hanging up there, and started laying out my blocks so far... the downside of having a small sewing space is that it is impossible to get far enough away to fit the whole design wall into your camera frame.

So standing on a wheelie chair... we have the left hand side...

... and the right hand side.
I think the colours have come up a bit more "punchy" than real life, but looking good so far.

I managed to get a few more triangles pieced for the next Sugar Club Exploded block, but damn... those triangles could kill me.  I just keep reminding myself that there are only nine blocks... but we've all been here before - sometimes nine is just the same as ninety nine.

I have resolved to try to get some actual FM quilting done.  Part of my problem with quilting (and or life) in general has been getting back into some sort of routine.  One thing I am aware of in my own makeup, is that once a routine is broken, I will never return to the same routine.  I have worked on my morning routines this year, and as we start term two, I'm pretty happy how that is going.  Now to work on something better for the afternoons.  I think that if I'm going to do any FM work, it should be on my Constellation Quilt - which is half quilted and really deserves to be finished
OK, now I need to click on the Constellation Quilt label at the bottom of this post, because I am sure I must have more photos than this unfinished one.