Friday, July 13, 2018

All the Stuff...

Sometimes life just has a way of getting in the way of things... doesn't it?  Three weeks ago I had a call from school to say my daughter was sick, at the sick bay (there were bugs going around) and needed to be picked up.  By the time I got there - less than 30 minutes - I was informed my son had dislocated his knee cap, and was waiting for the ambulance to arrive... so the last couple of weeks have been a bit up in the air - looking after Dylan when he needed extra care - checking in with Nadia who turned out just had a bit of a cold coming on which started with a high temperature and general crappiness - and finishing up the last week of work before the {well deserved} school holidays started.

Now almost at the end of the first week of the two week term holiday, Dylan has attended a specialist appointment about his knee {fortunately he seems to have avoided major injury - and just needs to be careful and avoid sports for another month before he can use it fully}.  Still a little bit sore at times and a bit swollen, he was very lucky!

Nadia and I have both spent the first week of the holidays doing bedroom cleaning, sorting and tidying.  Her room is finally moving from a childhood bedroom, into more of a teenage bedroom - a bit of a bittersweet moment. 

Nadia inherited the smallest room in the house - and we installed these shelves for all her little girlie stuff.  It didn't remain this tidy for very long - but it did look good, and keep track of a lot of stuff, for quite a while.

The toys have turned into clothes storage with sleek grey baskets.  Still a work in progress, but I am really hoping that this will be finished by the end of the holidays.  One week to go!

Before Xmas I located a fabric shop in the US that sold fabric in pre-cut bundles complete with a pattern that suited the fabric.  This was awesome because the hardest thing about buying dress fabrics is judging the weight - and matching it to the pattern requirements.  Although they didn't ship to NZ, they put me on to a shipping go between that organised that side of things.  And so finally, I had a rather large bundle arrive with three different patterns and fabrics enclosed (for quite an exorbitant postal charge I might add and I'll never do it again!)

 I chose a pattern for a jacket and black "sweater knit" fabric, half because I quite liked the simple nature of the jacket that I thought would be a useful addition to my wardrobe, and half because I wanted to know what "sweater knit" was.  I chose view A.

As the fabric was calculated for the view and size that used the most, I worked out there should be some left over as I was sewing the smallest size on the pattern, and chose the shortest, sleekest view.  With the left over yardage, I had the extra cool idea of seeing whether I could squeeze this Bibi dress from Tilly and the Buttons book Stretch from the same length of fabric - YES! I was off and running and I cut the two items out at the same time and commenced sewing.

 It turns out that sweater knit is just a relatively heavyweight, maybe double? knit.  Still not entirely sure.  I sewed up the dress in the size for my measurements - not noticing that it has negative ease, which means it is designed to fit smaller than your body measurements... not a look I was going for.

So, yeah... I made a dress that is too small... while simultaneously sewing a jacket that ended up too big.
I have some weird pulling on one side, and it hangs rather loose.  The collar also sits a bit weirdly at the bottom.
I am not completely disheartened by this, and next I'm hoping to make a dress from this book...

... from a grey and black stripe.

We shall see!

Sunday, July 1, 2018

Wow, what a month!

Me and technology are just not happening at the moment.  First up the photo problem.  Then the blogger comment thing... which I was a bit slow to the party about and hadn't realised it wasn't just me that was having problems.  And then, to top it all off - the space bar on my computer stopped working.  This really has been most frustrating.  So... after a couple of short and sweet posts made on a small tablet (I will never get used to not touch typing) and a very swift replacement of the keyboard on our laptop, I am back in the swing of things.  I have done the "suggested fix" for the comment situation, and am still looking for a better solution for the photo thing - but I will get there!

Right... sewing... I have been getting lots done - just not exactly what I had planned to do.

After buying a new walking foot, I had to finish the final border on the quilt I wanted to baste, so that got done first - then the massive task of pin basting a large quilt in a space that was slightly too small.  This was the first quilt I had tried basting after reorganising my sewing and ironing area - and I worked out pretty quickly that my layout was not ideal.

Time for another change around - this time moving the sewing table along the other wall - and moving some odd furniture items to leave more free open floor space.  We tend to move junk out into this room - and it is a really bad habit.  This room is not the prettiest... but is the only room we own that is even vaguely big enough for basting.

I also created a bit of a new seating area around my design wall... I figured it was easy enough to move the coffee table out to reach the bottom of the design wall when I need it, and makes quite a cosy place to sit and contemplate.  AND I can stand on the coffee table to reach the top of the wall - so maybe an added bonus.  As you can see - there is more things looking for homes before I can sit down however!

My main cutting zone... on top of the chest freezer and secondary sewing zone...

The view from the outside door - and the white door you can see here goes through to the other sewing/basting space shown above.

I did get my quilt straight line quilted in the manner I wanted - and it appeared to work quite well.  Sewing cream stitching lines on cream fabric does not lend itself to halfway decent photos... so you'll have to excuse the lack of photo evidence.  The project has now been put aside for a little while so I could focus back on those other pesky To Do list items.

I managed to fuse all the pieces for my Homespun Magazine Block Three BOM.

And have started the long and tedious task of machine blanket stitching these...

I also finished up the teal/blue/green RSC block for this month.

I ordered a new pattern - an apron dress that just fascinates me, and bought some odd bits of fabric and a length of premade bias tape, thanks to Fibresmith in Australia.

And after a successful sewing day at The Country Yard yesterday, I came home with some new fat quarters... loosely inspired by the coffee mug fabric.

For some reason the green fabric would not photograph well above - it is much more accurate in the photo below - although even greener in real life.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Fabric, books and blocks!

I finally found some striped fabric I liked... with the intention of sewing another Tilly and the Buttons Coco Dress.

BEWARE of bargain fabric from Spotlight!  Check out that cutting line, that was approximately where the straight was on the folded bolt!  I washed and dried the fabric, giving it a spin in the dryer to help remove all the fold lines.  Then spent some time with my chalk marker and traced out the full pattern, flipping the pattern pieces instead of cutting on the fold.  It worked a treat and now I just need to take photos of the finished dress.

I have also added to my pattern stash.  I succumbed to these sewing with knits books, even though i struggle to find knitted fabric i like and can afford, and i really like these Indygo Junction patterns for woven fabric, and hope they turn out something like the pictures.

On the patchwork agenda, I completed two new cupcake blocks.  These are made with 1.5in finished half square triangles making a 6in finished block.  This time I tried using three charm squares plus background and I really like the effect.

The blocks use exactly the same layout with a couple of colour adjustments.  Amazing how different they look.

Now to add on the three frames to make them into a 12in block like these ones.

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

BOM Progress

Just a little post as I highlight my progress on Block 2 of the Homespun magazine Tilda BOM.

This block is an interesting mixture of piecing and EPP with a dresden fan block and a scallop block made with these paper pieces, a heart applique block and pieced drunkards path blocks. 

I completed all of these with fusible web and machine blanket stitch!

The scallops were the most complicated, with a lot of different fabrics used.

I decided to simplify the Dresden fan by using only two fabrics.  The bottom set of petals I cut as one shape, then laid the blue single petals on top, with the central circle placed last.

Once I worked out the drunkards path fourpatches were 2 inch finished, I knew I was going to fuse them.  I had intended to fuse the multicolored inner circle too, but once I'd had got this far, it made just as much sense to fuse a circle in a single colour.

And it was a complete no brainer that the applique would be fused!

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Mostly Backyard Birds

The struggle is real.  Winter seems to be kicking me on my ass at the moment... resulting in negative effects on my sewing activities.  It's not that I've been sick... or lost my mojo or anything... it's more of an energy thing.  I want to... it just never seems to happen.

I am also frustrated with my computer (and sewing machine but that's another story) at the moment.  I have always done the same thing with my photos and it has worked just fine.  A couple months ago it just stopped working, and wouldn't upload my photos to where-ever they go to... to let me include them in blog posts.  So I've worked out a "work around" but it's not ideal, and just pisses me off.  These little backwards steps are not conducive to getting stuff done!  And my hope to get back into blogging this year has taken a massive hit.  Yada yada... back to the sewing.

I managed to get last months YELLOW Backyards Birds block completed,

and the black free motion stitching around the previous months GREEN block done too.

Woohoo... I have now finished the May block which is loosely part of my Rainbow Scrap Challenge featuring PINK this month.

This is such a fun and carefree sort of project.  Nothing is too precious or precise... and I'm enjoying creating both the backgrounds and applique elements from scraps.  There are always MORE scraps! 

As the finished block pile grows - I did wonder what I was going to do with them.  The pattern features quilts with narrow frames around the blocks, with sashing between blocks.  I thought about doing this, but to be honest, couldn't decide which way to go colourwise with the sashing.  I wouldn't want to do more low volume in this setting, but I also don't want to choose one colour to focus on.  After putting this line of thinking aside because it became too hard, I solved my own problem after looking at a different quilt and decided to do a completely different setting with alternate log cabin blocks, using low volume on the light side, and mixed scrappyness on the dark side.  By rotating the blocks I get a zigzag sort of effect which surrounds the applique blocks.  I am always so happy when I find a resolution to a quilty problem.  Now I just need to implement it and hope it looks as awesome in real life as which I imagine in my head.

After picking up my Month Two Tilda BOM magazine, I put it into the too hard basket because there were lots of techniques that I haven't done before.  As the month progressed, I figured I had better do SOMETHING otherwise nothing would get done and this would end up another unfinished WIP.  So I looked at the instructions again and found some small pieced blocks that I could work on while I gathered the gumption to start those unfamiliar things... still a little way to the finish line but every small step is another step closer to being finished.

I have three sewing machines... a Janome, a Brother and a Bernina.  This Janome I bought for the specific purpose of using on my Handi Quilter Frame.  That idea didn't quite work out - and I haven't used it for anything else.  Being a straight stitch only machine means it should be excellent for piecing and maybe even quilting with a walking foot.  So, I knuckled down and bought the necessary feet to try this out.  Today I picked up the walking foot - so I just need to decide what quilt I am going to try it out on... and baste it!  I have never had much luck with walking foot quilting... so I am hoping for great things.

Walking foot installed and ready to go!

There is just something about this machine that freaks me out... all those little knobs and fiddley bits.  I think as a modern machine user I am probably a bit spoilt.  I find this machine cumbersome and clunky... but I'm going to give it a good go.

Lastly, I attended a local quilt show and bought this awesome fabric!  Sometimes you just see something that has your colours and style and this was it for me.  Not that I know what I'm going to do with it yet... but I'm sure I'll find something.

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Kenny Rogers knew his stuff

I've been working on three different projects over the last week or so, where I have had to make the decision about whether to carry on as per the pattern/previous layout... or make the decision to change things up to suit what I like.  So where does Kenny Rogers come in?  Well, in the immortal words of The Gambler... you've got to know when to hold em, know when to fold em... know when to walk away... know when to run... and I am now super embarrassed to admit that I know almost all the words to that song and I blame my mother :0)

First project - the Bernina Zen Chic Triangle quiltalong.  I managed to get most of the blocks constructed, and started laying it out per the suggested pattern layout.  The instructions from the beginning have encouraged variety and spontaneity, and working with what you have - so I knew there was a good chance that I would be making alterations to the layout.  However, laying it out per the instructions seemed a good start.  It wasn't long before I was tweaking blocks - moving some of the more complicated or busy blocks away and replacing them with the simpler blocks.

I realised that for me it was about the subtle differences in tone, depth and texture, with a few key contrast areas... and that I wanted to emphasize this, not create disharmony.

Still a work in progress

There are some areas in the layout that has quite a lot of pieced blocks in little groups - sometimes the colours I had used worked out OK... like this little grouping...

Other areas I have removed the pieced blocks completely.  I also decided that this printed triangle fabric just creates too much action... There is also some fabrics with light purple tones that create too much contrast, so figured that this was the time to pull these fabrics out of the mix.

I chose a Robert Kaufman Essex yarn dyed linen in Indigo as my background which has a nice textural element.  The design keeps evolving, and I have added some dark navy triangles which I really like.  It will be interesting to see how this finally ends up looking.

The decision whether to replace the stripey block in the Cross Tile quilt finally came to a head.  Yes or No?  Nope... it had to go.

Once again... just too busy when I look at it at this stage.  I have chosen a more subtle stone coloured print and just need to finish that block up, before I am ready to join all these rows.  Exciting to get this project almost completed!

I finally started my Homespun Magazine 2018 BOM!  This uses a wide variety of Tilda fabrics... very floral.  I started laying out some of the elements, liking how it was looking.

However as it built, I felt that it was becoming just a little bit too floral for my liking.  Is it possible that there can be too much floral?

I wanted to add just a little bit of contemporary text... and this is my favourite print for projects that are neither white nor cream... subtle but definitely adds a bit of my own flavour.

The pattern has quite a bit of embroidery added.  I knew that this wasn't going to be happening... so I added some orange centres to the flowers in lieu of the embroidered centre feature. I also changed the tips of the butterfly to a plain pink.

Playing around with some of the leaf placements - I chose some in this lovely grey/blue linen... which I absolutely adore and hopefully will be able to add a little of this fabric to every block.

I'm happy that this block has turned out with a good mix of the original design, plus a healthy dose of me.

After all the fusing was completed, I started the blanket stitch.

While it looked perfect on the top... there were issues on the bottom!

After rechanging the needle, oiling, rethreading and finally changing the bobbin thread completely, I have got a better stitch... although it is still not right.  Any ideas?