Thursday, August 21, 2014

A bit of old and a bit of new, a little bit orange, and a little bit blue

The last week has been spent basting, basting, basting.  One of the drawbacks of making bigger quilts.  My delightful children have not been acting overly delightful lately, so I they have had to endure supervision during the afternoons, when I would normally leave them to run wild, and disappear to sew by myself.  This has put a bit of a damper on life in general - and definitely the enjoyment in the sewing department.

My enormous pile of basting pins didn't quite meet the task, so I spent a bit of time re-spacing the ones I had, as well as nicking them off other projects.  Finally I was done.  Time for the fun stuff.

This quilt is built up of various sized applique rectangles, rows of little squares (some with a circle applique every now and then), and a couple of other small applique blocks.  To reinforce the soft aged sort of feel of the fabrics, I chose not to FMQ a heavy design in the backgrounds (even though I was sorely tempted to unleash some McJobbiting [that's my version of McTavishing]) and stuck with a small but loose stipple, some orange peel in the squares and some (slightly crooked) crosses through the circles.  I like the simplicity.  Two blocks down... a whole heap more to go.

Also on the radar is a request for a little girl baby quilt.  I'm thinking about these fabrics... bright and fun... not too pink, but undoubtedly girlish!  I think I need a few more fun oranges and surprisingly there weren't any turquoise prints in my stash.  OK, and I need a few different pinks!  I'm tossing up a medallion style quilt with an applique centre, or a largish pieced star block with a border.  We'll have to see which design wins.

Talking about designs, Raewyn from Love to Stitch asked me if I'd like to participate in the Around the World Bloghop.  The topic of "Creative Process" really interests me, so I was quite happy to say YES and join in the fun.  Raewyn's insight into her own creative process is posted here and if you follow the links backwards and forwards to the various participants, there is a wealth of knowledge, ideas and styles - illustrating how everyone approaches the creative process in so many different ways.  My own post will be on Monday 25th August... so my mind is busy trying to think up new and intelligent ways to say "I just put together what I like and hope for the best".

So far two of my very creative friends Monika and Mathea have both agreed to be the next links in the bloghop (they'll post on the 1/9/14) - but I'm looking for a third.  If you would be keen to share your creative process, or would like some more details, please let me know before Monday so I can include your details.  The more the merrier and I'd love you to join in the party!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The week gone

A small amount of regular sewing time during the week has produced a finished quilt top!  Woohoo!!

There's a square in there, finished size 75" x 75"

Unfortunately this will now be added to the "ready to quilt at a later date" pile, but, I am really happy to have spent the time getting this one done - sometimes you just need some mindless sewing, and I was super happy with the way this pattern enhanced the Eiko fabric bundle.

Saturday was my August stitching with the girls day... other committments meant it was just me and Charlotte this time, but we always have heaps to catch up on :o).  Luckily our combined kids are close enough in age that they play together *mostly* wonderfully, as long as there are ample baking supplies!

I decided to knuckle down and get something achieved on the Tillies Lane BOM.  My stack of hourglass type blocks has grown slowly and erratically, and I knew that I just had to move onto another stage, if the project was ever going to achieve any momentum.  So Block One of the central panel was created.  This is my latest scrap project, so everything except for the background cream on creams, is leftovers from other projects.

My next focus project is getting the Bluebirds and Berries quilt quilted.  First things first, deciding on the backing and getting it basted.  I knew I had extra backing fabric set aside for my huge applique quilt (all ready for the day it is finally finished), so to work out what the excess was (and whether there was enough for the B&B quilt) - I had to lay it all out.  It's been a while since this one has been out of the bag... enjoy the eye candy!

Approx 93" x 93" of pieced and appliqued loveliness

A closeup of the border fabric - this guided the choice of all the other fabrics in the quilt

A section of the applique with hand blanket stitch
 I started this quilt over 5yrs ago when we were in the initial stages of buying our house.  It was so stressful, and my husband suggested going to Paihia to "destress" at my then LQS (which has since unfortunately closed down) while he took the kids for very big ice-creams.  I took along the magazine that had the pattern for this quilt, and bought all the bits and pieces I needed.  After completing the construction of the quilt per the pattern, I worked out it was a touch small to fit on the bed comfortably, so designed and added the corner sections, to make the whole thing bigger.  Both the decision to make it bigger, as well as deciding to hand blanket stitch around the applique, turned this project into a mammoth task.  I still have quite a bit of the blanket stitch to do, and one day I will get serious again, and get this finished.

So that's me all caught up for the week, what have you been up to?

Saturday, August 2, 2014

A bit of randomness

It's been a funny kind of week.  I celebrated a birthday... got my eyes checked... had a little girl home from school with sick bugs... and was the host to a (random) couple in the middle of a domestic dispute who turned up on our doorstep (which we contacted the police about).  Whew!

Thankfully I also got some sewing done!

First up, the beginning of a new month means a new quilt on the bed.  This was last months quilt, Buggy Barn Cats.

And just out of interest, this was the photo with the curtains pulled, and the flash on.  Look how yellow it is!

This was with no flash, and the curtains pulled back.  A bit washed out.

And the first photo had the curtains pulled, but the sunshade roller blind down... and the colours are almost perfect.

OK, the new quilt on the bed.  Bullseye II, made with a Comma charm pack.  While the cats are nice and cosy... I love how this quilt is modern and colourful... and the white squares just pop.

And if you've ever wondered what happens to quilts in between showings?  They get biffed to the top of the pile on my freestanding wardrobe.

I finished off the Reunion Playground quilt - deciding to machine stitch down the binding, even though this isn't my preferred method.  Normally I would do like many others do when applying binding by machine; I'd sew the binding onto the back first, then turn the binding to the front to run the final line of stitching.  But, as I hadn't decided to finish this by machine until I'd already attached the first stage of the binding - I had to modify the technique.  I thought I'd try glue basting down the binding instead of using pins - and it worked out not too bad.  It's not a quilt I'd ever put in a show... or look at under a microscope... but it's now finished, and finished is good, and I love it!

Unfortunately our weather is not conducive to outdoor shots... so an indoor draped over the sofa and beanbag shot...

Right, what else have I been up to?  The last few There's a Square in There blocks disappeared under the needle, and I'm now contemplating block placement.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

A bit about stack and slash

Buggy Barn quilts are well known for their use of the stack and slash technique.  Their designs are wonderful, often complex, need careful fabric planning and layout management, but are on the whole easy to piece and well worth the effort.  Their cat quilt is a great example.

This fabric had pineapples on it... but don't they look like ticks?
 These designs come with a paper cutting layout which you trace onto freezer paper.  Your fat quarter sized fabrics are stacked, faceup, in the order you want, with the freezer paper template ironed to the top fabric.  Then it's a matter of following the numbers, slicing through the layers of fabric to create smaller and smaller shapes (very similar effect to paper pieced blocks).  The next trick is to restack the piles so that the different design elements appear... in this case, the cat appeared - complete with stripes, nose, cat body/head and background.  In this example, each block uses four different fabrics.  The initial stack layers determines which fabrics appear in each block - and it's important to layer your fabrics so that you get good contrast between the elements.  Make sense?

Now onto the There's a Square in There Pattern.  This uses much the same technique only much much simpler.  There is no intense layering and no paper template.  Instead, there are four different diagrams for the irregular log cabin blocks, each of which require four fabrics - two pattern and two plain.  The squares of fabrics are layered in order, face up, alternating plain and patterned fabrics.  The diagram describes the order of the cuts in black, with the size of the cut in blue.

In case you're wondering, I don't think this was the diagram I was following for the block cutting illustrated... and I may or may not have made a mistake with the cutting... however, the instructions also say that it is quite OK to make your own decisions about cutting... there is no right or wrong.

Here's my pile after the first round of cuts (the first cut is shown along the bottom).

Then I made the second round of cuts and reshuffled the second round, moving the top fabric to the bottom of the pile to reveal the orange logs. 

Then the last round of cuts... the third round stays plain, but if I left the pile without shuffling it, then when I got to the patterned fabrics, I would end up with two rounds matching, so I shifted two layers of fabric to the bottom of the pile, and a reshuffle for the centre rectangle, bringing the bottom fabric up to the top.

It helps to keep it laid out in order.  No wind, kids, cats or husbands tidying please.

Now we're ready to start piecing.  It's a matter of attaching the rounds in the opposite order to how they were cut.

The first piece matches perfectly...

But when you go to attach this unit to the next log, there is a bit of a size difference - the seam allowances.  This is how the technique works... you will need to trim.

 I sew the logs on first,

See the overhang on the left?

 then trim the overhang off later.

And once that log has been opened out, we can see that the mismatch continues, the next log will be too long... and in fact, every piece will need to be trimmed down.  Once you get your head around that, it is smooth sailing.

Because I decided to add in an alternate fabric every now and then, I swapped the plain piece I had already cut, and added the text instead.

And my four blocks from this pile, all with their first rounds added.

Round two will continue tomorrow.

So, have you ever made a stack and slash quilt?  Did you enjoy it?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Getting back on the horse... or bicycle... or sewing machine

It's been a pretty much sewing free week.  Heading back to work complete with flu bugs, head cold and cough meant that after work entertainment included collapsing into a chair and doing as little as possible.  It also gave me time to think and reassess fabric, sewing and life in general.  It's pretty low when you complain about fabric arriving!

Saturday it was time to get back into the saddle.

My LQS has a monthly stitching Saturday - last Saturday of the month; and I knew that the time spent away from household chores (which despite my best efforts were mounting), amongst like minded lovely ladies, in a shop full of gorgeous fabric, was just what I needed to restore my inner equilibrium.  I was right.

I took an old FQ bundle (Eiko by Jay-cyn Designs) which has been lurking in my stash cupboard since September last year,

with plans for a new project, There's a Square in There by Kate Conklin Designs.

 - nothing too complicated or testing, but good old enjoyable sewing.  This quilt is cut in much the same way as the Buggy Barn stack and slash quilts... with a pile of two printed fabrics, and two plain fabrics turning into four log cabin style blocks.  With my eight fat quarters, I have enough to make the design as shown (16 blocks).  Although I've increased the size to use as much of the fat quarter as possible, which means roughly 15" finished blocks instead of 13" per the pattern.

My first stack... still to be trimmed down:

Every now and then I swapped out the plain strip, and added a bit of text fabric.

And my second stack has the last round of logs to be sewn on.  Not a bad start.

OK, I'm starting to feel more like myself now :0)

I bought a pattern I've loved since I first saw it... by Edytar Sitar.

This is my inspiration for wanting to add applique to my Double Wedding Ring blocks.  Today I was lucky enough to be able to select some batik fat quarters to blend with my patterned fabrics... I am very happy with my selection, although I'm still not 100% certain how it is all going to work out.

I've also been pondering about what colour background to use for the Supernova blocks on my design wall.

Did anyone else order from The Fat Quarter Shop's 25% off sale a few weeks ago?  I decided to order some black on black prints from their Muslin Mates range, and make the decision to go black on this one.  The prints are more charcoal on black... but I think they'll still work fine.  I need to go through my stash and pull out some more black prints - I know there are more hiding in there.

These are really black in real life
During the holidays, I did manage to sew the second block of Amy Gibson's Sugar Club BOM, which I'm using a variety of Bonnie & Camille fabrics.

And the first block in all its matching wonderfulness:

OK, that's me all caught up... focus for this week is to make progress on the log cabin blocks. I've already ordered a backing for it... so wouldn't it be funny to have the front finished before the backing arrives?

Monday, July 21, 2014

The Problem with International Postage

Apart from the cost, is that you never know when it's going to arrive!

Pre holidays... I had a couple of weak moments.  You know the ones... "this item on your wish list is on special..." or guess what, one of your fav shops has a special on top of a special... but it was OK, because the fabric diet was *almost* over, and it was going to be school holidays, when I desperately need new reading material, new material, or just anything new.  The weather was appalling... perfect for curling up with new books or for playing with new project ideas.

BUT it just didn't work out that way.  The books arrived in unsatisfying dribs and drabs... with the fabric and the last few books coming just a day before school and work started back.  Grrr.

So a round up of online international purchases... drum roll please...

First up... the books.  Book Depository is my friend.  Not necessarily my Visa's friend.
 Key words: Bright, Applique, Fun.

The cover quilt in full

Fabric... when life gives you bundles on  special... Pink Castle Fabrics is my friend too.

Savannah - love the bright (but not too bright) citrus colours and the slightly retro feel...

Color Love by Nancy Rink.  This one is a little more out of my comfort zone - look people, Pink! and Navy!  I love the feature floral, and I'm sure the others will grow on me.  One of the joys of buying a bundle.  I'll have to try taking a better photo...

And a few odds n ends... including more of that feature floral.  Which I love.  Did I mention that?

I'm still feeling unsatisfied.  I think I over-anticipated how great/perfect it was all going to be/feel.  Does that ever happen to you?

I'm also sick, and have just had the first day back at work after the holidays.  Some things just suck.