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.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

May need to buy a bigger bed... [how to turn 9 x 12" blocks into a quilt over 100" square]

I have finally finished test block one for the block border/sashing treatment that I thought might work with my Sugar Club blocks.

After sewing triangles together on three separate occasions, I finally had enough to start piecing the border strips.  Wow... somehow I didn't realise it would turn out so big.  Even though it is not difficult maths, each round of border is all 3" increments, I hadn't let it filter through my brain that there would be 10 units across... meaning a block of 30" square.

Having said that, it has turned out great.  I officially love it!

Now, only eight more to complete.  With 3" cream sashing between the blocks, and a 3" border around, it is going to work out to a finished quilt size of 102".

Monday, April 18, 2016

Where things start to get chilly

It's starting to happen... things are getting a bit colder, sleeves are longer and covered in shoes are being worn.  It is starting to turn into winter.  Not that we get snow or anything :o)  School holidays have also crept up on us... so I start two weeks of "holiday" with the kids.

We actually had our first fire on Saturday night.  Then last night was the hottest night ever!  Can't win.  Although it does mean another quilt has been dragged up onto the bed.

The Cats are my go to quilt for when it's cold.  They are just so warm looking.  After lending it to Dylan last year, and then him being sick on it - it got thrown into the washing machine for the first time.  Resulting texture is so scrummy.

This quilt is pieced, but has highlights of appliqued elements - the spirals, stem and leaves on the flower blocks.  While the instructions did suggest blanket stitch, I knew that it was going to be quilted on or nothing... the scruff around the quilted line after the washing just adds to the warm snuggliness of it all.

I did manage to attend the Whangarei Guild's patchwork exhibition a few weeks ago.  While I didn't take any pictures, I would recommend looking at Leeanns blog - Quilt Whangarei on my side bar.  There were heaps of gorgeous LARGE quilts... and we all know that size does matter!

I have cut some triangles.

I hit a humongous hare with my car... so off to the panel beaters tomorrow we will go.  The hare was more unlucky...

And my kids set fire to our hedge... resulting in three trees being destroyed and a significant patch of grass being razed.  Luckily we managed to get it under control - but there was significant swearing.

As the end of term drew nearer, both kids had school discos to attend.  Dylan's was easy... he's twelve so standing around was what he was all about.  Nadia's disco was 60's, 70's, 80's and 90's inspired.  Which you would think would be easy, but was actually really hard to construct a costume for, without having to buy or make anything.  Luckily I have an extensive wardrobe... and she has feet the same size as mine.

 So while not a huge amount of sewing has been achieved, there seems to have been plenty to keep us busy.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A bit of everything

It's been a while since I had a "what's on the bed" photo.

At the moment it is my Echoes of Log Cabins at the Beach quilt.  I love this quilt.  Like seriously.  Love this quilt.  Mostly I think it is the soft blues and greens in the quilt - a hint of grey, mostly solids, but a few bold basic prints also.

The colours just appear amongst the cream and sand background fabrics, almost floating, almost as if there is no pattern... and it is totally abstract.

But of course, I know there is a pattern, although at first it is not obvious - and for some reason my brain doesn't require that I recognize the pattern - in that way that sometimes you need to see a pattern to be able to understand a quilt, recognize how the pieces fit together.  It's interesting.  I think maybe the soft, soothing colour palette puts that part of my mind to rest.

I have a few more blocks to add to my block exchange.

I really like this Tea Leaf block - and think it would be a real winner for a totally scrap quilt.  You know the ones, made entirely from your own scraps.  This block is 12" but a 9" block would probably play with scraps a bit nicer - you could work your way through the rainbow... using the same background and centre square for each block.  After some of those other paper pieced blocks, it was nice to put together a block that just falls into place!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Previously known as the Trans-tasman block exhange...

Now known as the Okaihau-Kerikeri block exchange.

This all started when my best friend Monika moved to Australia.  We decided to use the Vintage Quilt Revival book by Katie Clark Blakesley, Lee Heinrich and Faith Jones as our guide and make all the blocks in the book.  Of course, that is make two identical blocks, and exchange the second copy so we would each end up with 40 blocks each.  Then we would use the good old mail system to post our blocks to each other.

Monika moving back to New Zealand has mean that the postage part of the exchange is no longer required, and we can enjoy a coffee while we discuss how things are going.

We thought choosing a feature fabric that we both used as inspiration would be a good way to select a colour palette - and that is a great starting point.  Although we both struggled to find something that we both liked, well, I actually struggled to find anything that I liked... let alone thought Monika would also like.

We finally settled on this fabric from good old Spotlight.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  Although we have finally found a solution, this fabric has a very odd background - not really cream, not really off white, a bit pinkish, but not really pink.  It was the first problem in getting our challenge started, as we both wanted to use the same background fabric, to achieve a somewhat cohesive effect to our quilt project.  So rule one in choosing a feature fabric - check out possible background fabric choices first.

The second problem with this particular fabric is that although it has a good range of colours, each colour only has one tone.  So choosing co-ordinating fabrics has been a bit of a challenge for me.  My rule number two of choosing a feature fabric would be to try to find a fabric that has a variety of colours, and a range of tones.  It just all makes it a bit easier.  I'm pleased to report that both Monika and I have stepped outside the box in choosing fabrics, so we have quite a range of fabrics that don't really match with the feature, but play nicely together.  Because we have both left the box behind... our blocks are looking really good together.

Now, another finished block.  I was worried about putting this one together - lots of tricky bits that need to match up - but surprisingly, it went together beautifully.  Even that pesky seam in the middle.

This was my block.

And this is Monikas.  It is amazing how different fabric placements change the finished block.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sampler Blocks

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with sampler blocks - but as my quilting journey has progressed, I have found myself more inclined to make one off blocks, which when joined together become a sampler quilt.
Possible block setting Number 412 - alternate square and on point layout

A friend of mine and I have been making Amy Gibson's Sugar Club blocks - 2013 I think - which has been a bit of a slow drawn out process, but is slowly coming together.  I have had various ideas about how I would set my finished blocks (once they are finished of course).  Through a completely unrelated search through quilting books I was reminded that I really liked this particular setting:

Of course, I would do a 3x3 layout using nine blocks

which was in this book:

Wow, this book just has millions of blocks and settings to try out - not all to my taste, but certainly something to get your project started

It just all started me thinking about whether I could make this setting work with the various sampler blocks - knowing that I didn't have the regularity of the star block centre that the book project had.  I thought about it for quite a while - and I'm sure made it a whole lot more difficult than it really was.  In the end I figured it made as much sense to just try the setting with one of the blocks... this was how far I got before I ran out of background fabric...

but I also realised that it will work!  So happy faces all round.