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.

Monday, September 24, 2018

September creeps along

With visitors arriving... getting the house into tip top condition (or as close as in this housework optional house) has been a top priority.  Unfortunately, the sewing shed has been converted into guest accommodation - so sewing has now been put on hold for a week or so.

The Patchwork City sew along has been cruising along.  I wasn't sure how the "one block a week" goal would pan out - after all, each block is really three mini blocks - and Elizabeth Hartman's blocks are sometimes quite complex with lots of pieces so mini really describes the size - not the time and effort involved.  But, so far... so good.

Block Two was a citrine sort of yellow... and it wasn't until I laid it out with the orange block that I realised it mysteriously a different size.  It took me a while to realise it didn't have the central sashing strip!  Duh!  After I had problems matching up the seams and had to resew some to get it perfect... then I had to unpick it anyway!

This striped Lotta Jansdotter fabric is the exact same yellow.  Funny when that happens.

It obviously looks much better with that extra separation.

I decided to use foundation paper piecing to make the small star blocks.  The book refers to using templates to cut the pieces, but from previous experience I knew this was not going to work for me.  Usually I just photocopy the pattern onto regular photocopy paper, but since it was just a small piece and I had it handy - I decided to use lunch paper to trace the templates.  OMG - it makes everything so easy being able to see through the paper!  And the lunch paper tears out so much easier.  I suppose it depends how many you need - as tracing around the pattern could get old quick - but this was a great resource for a small project.

Week 3 is this sort of peacock colour... I was super surprised to discover that I DON'T have a huge stash of this colour.  I am currently waiting on a US fabric package with a mix of different pastel tones to blend with some of the other colours in my solids fat quarter bundle.  Pastels are not my go to colour... and it is taking forever for the package to arrive.  Anybody else having issues with NZ customs??

And I've got one section of the block finished, with the second section cut out.

A couple more of the Timeless Traditions blocks have been finished also...

This 12" star is so SHARP!

And the 6" blocks are just too CUTE. 

I tried experimenting with using the same colour but light and dark tones with this one.  Not sure if I was entirely successful but it is small enough that it doesn't really matter.

Although my to do list for this month was relatively tame - I have left the RSC double nine patch block until last... even though it only took about half an hour to find and cut a multitude of dark blue squares, plus the white and black squares I needed.  Oh well, this will give me a leader/ender project as I put together some of the other projects.  I really should make this my focus for the BEGINNING of the month, instead of the END!