Monday, October 31, 2011

The Last Day of October

One of the books I have on order is a sampler book of japanese taupe blocks.  After a quick squiz of a friends, I was (a) inspired to order the book and (b) reminded of how I love the subtleness of these fabrics and my grand plans of yet another quilt.  It was also time to do my last row for the round robin.  Stars aligned and I found a great grouping of fabric to match the existing rows, and made me realise that actually I had quite a few of the japanese taupes fabrics, certainly enough to get started with the block of the month pattern I bought ages ago, anyway.

So the little stem I started to illustrate the bias stem tutorial (part of block one) got pulled out again, and after a bit of ferriting, ironing, messing around... I started to accumulate the components for the first block.

The stem with some new leaves and berries
The bluebird block... not sure if the bird fabric is quite right, but
we'll see how it goes...

The rest of the block components... still need to finish
the blanket stitch fusible applique, and join them together.
A lot of this quilt has been pieced from scraps so far - and I really mean scraps.  Strange little triangles, odd strips remaining from other projects... it's really fun remembering why you bought it in the first place, and what quilt it has been in already.  Of course, I will need to buy more fabric...

And this led me to pull out one of my other hairbrained schemes to use up scraps... an applique quilt using invisible machine applique and using a mix of scraps that fit into a completely different colour scheme.

A couple of blocks from My whimsical Quilt Garden pattern
I've decided that I am going to do one block from each pattern each month.  We shall see how longs this committment lasts!  After the experience I have gained from round robins this year, that is: deciding you are going to complete a small portion of a larger quilt with a monthly deadline; I have great confidence that I should at least get some of them done.

Now, back to the round robin row.  I have to be very discrete because this month I've been working on Ms Lottie's, so I can't give too much away.  If you've been keeping track of her blog too, you'll remember her original row:

And this months theme was birds and bees...

You'll just have to use your imagination!  There is not however
any nudity (although are the birds wearing clothes??)
And my great pride in being almost caught up with my stitch-along has returned to the plodding along stage - situation normal.  Week Four almost finished:
Just a few more letters, a star and a heart... very cute!
Are you any closer to finishing any projects?

Maybe I should call this blog "An ongoing list of projects and ideas that are started and never finished".

Monday, October 24, 2011

The Last Day of the Holidays

The last two weeks have actually gone kind of quick.  For a change the kids have semi-behaved, I've done some sewing... enjoyed time with friends... chilled out and relaxed... all the things you are supposed to do over the holidays but don't always get the chance to do.  Anyway...

I woke this morning to find two more projects attached to my design wall...

wonder how that happened??? (technically this is attached to the carpet... the
design wall ran out of room!)
This is the problem with buying new books and looking at peoples blogs... it just puts new ideas into your head and before you know it your brain explodes and you know what comes next - new projects!

This one started it's life as a charm pack from The Country Yard

and this was the original project which was a sample in the shop
and after a bit of measuring and figuring, was definitely do-able...

but then "A Few Scraps" gave a tutorial on doing a double disappearing
nine patch block, whereby I first discovered that the original project was in fact
a "disappearing nine patch" block... and has somehow now become a double.  I'm really
proud of the fact that the white on white is something from my stash... and I bought
a few metres of some solids from Spotlight which have really come in handy for several
projects so far.
And you know the cover of one of those jelly roll books I was telling you about the other day... well, on the cover of one is a handbag quilt made from Layer Cakes (10" square packs), and when my mum went on her big trip to England, I asked her to buy some fabric that she liked, that even if it wasn't really english, would remind us of her trip.

This is one of the layer cake packs she bought back.  If you haven't ogled
any French General fabric yet - you need to see it in person.  Hard to describe, it
has a very elegant depth to the designs...
Couldn't help it - couldn't stop - just had to do one... I know I'm an addict and they should set up help groups...
Although I like the handbag quilt too, I'm thinking of turning
them into vases - and putting a few modern flowers into the top. Can you
see it??
And just to show that I have been trying to be good, some nice progress on my Xmas stitch along blocks, with week 3 finished:

and week four is almost done too!  I'm sure I'll be on Santa's good list this year - perhaps he'll bring me fabric... or at least the postman will when my order from arrives... then again - maybe I'll be on Santa's naughty list when the visa bill comes??

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Whats up?

Every now and then, someone asks "so what are you sewing at the moment?".  I'm usually too embarrassed to answer honestly... and say "oh, you know, all sorts."  So if you really want to know...

Putting together the units for another cushion...

A charm square pattern from Oh Fransson! using a pack that
I won from a blog draw...

Putting another log on the fire... I mean, a few more logs on
my wonky log cabin block for my Buggy Barn quilt...

Making up some blocks to set my Sew Happy Me
stitch along units in so they have some friends using a Figgy Pudding
charm pack and some matching fat quarters...

and when I'm not sewing... some new books.  I'm a bit
of a sucker for jelly roll books.
Now when I say I'm sewing these at the moment... I actually mean I'm sewing them all at the same time... the phrase obsessive/compulsive comes to mind... I think of it as chain piecing outside the box.  I have other projects that I'm making - just not at the moment, so they're sitting in their work in progress boxes.

Not too shabby

While I haven't actually received these yet, I am happy with the post production photo that the printer sent. 

I'm not sure if there is anyone in NZ that prints on twill tape... but have found the process quick and easy through which is American.  If only the post was quicker...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

A Finish! A Finish! ...and some new friends

It certainly has been a busy weekend.  The kids have taken their father for a cycle along the new Okaihau cycleway, which runs along a hundred or so year old unused railway track.  It is now raining.  I hope they're having fun.

I on the other hand have stayed home and put the finishing stitches into my binding of my Baby Billboard Quilt. Woohoo!

I have a lot of respect for those people who capture lovely pictures
of their quilts in all sorts of relaxed, natural scenes.
I completely lost my head and after congratulating myself on my rather limited purchases so far over the holidays, I ordered some new books (knew I should have stayed in bed), and some twill tape labels to add to the backs of my quilts.  I have put labels on two of the quilts I have made - I know - I'm naughty - but if I have some cool looking twill tape ones, there should be no excuse.  Fingers crossed that they are what I want... limitations of ordering over the internet I suppose... and they do actually look cool.

On a bit of a different topic, after much excitement (mostly me) and construction (mostly my husband) yesterday, we housed our two new guinea pigs - Cookie (the darker one) and Cream (the lighter one) in our back yard. 

Hutch a-la make it up as you go along design

The internal lodgings, complete with raised sleeping (and pooping)
platform and cantalevered steps (OK we watch Grand Designs too). And can
you see the guinea pigs cowering in the corner?
A bit of a closeup

They weren't too keen on getting their photo taken!

They are hopefully both female... and are slowly getting used to their new home.  With a bit of time they should get more friendly (instead of looking like their going to die everytime you approach them) and we should be able to handle them.  Well, that's the plan anyway.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Half Finished But having a coffee break

Gosh, I'm on a roll.  I'm already half way through my quilting my Baby Billboard quilt, and I was only stitching the backing together this morning.  Just goes to show what you can do when you put your mind to it, ignore the kids (well, they've been bad, bad children today), and don't get anything else done.

After much angsting about backing and batting... couldn't decide whether to use cotton or polyester... should I do a pieced backing like the original billboard quilt, or use the flannel I have tucked away in my stash... I measured the amount of background fabric I had left, and what do you know it, it was exactly the right size for the backing with the addition of some extra stripes from the left over jelly roll.  Right, one decision made, and just use cotton even though I bought it for another project, because I like how it quilts... it's predictable, and I won't have to live in guilt about wrapping a baby in polyester.

A minute of sketching came up with a perfect quilting design too... so everything just flowed.
An oldie but a goodie - certainly not original, but I also wanted to add
a circular element and the echoed "e" shapes work really well, and you can
enter and exit the design which ever way it suits to carry on.

Hopefully you can sort of see the quilting???

The connected boxes quilting is extra familiar to me, I spent quite a bit of time dreaming about it when I quilted my very first quilt - Dylan's baby quilt (which got finished sometime after Nadia was born).  It has had lots of love since then.
I can blame Alex Anderson for getting me addicted to quilting
after the Road to California block appeared on the reruns of the show (back
in the big hair days). 

I quilted it on my tiny Bernette sewing machine with a 4" throat space,
and used teal thread on top, and burgundy thread on the bottom, because
that's what I had left over from my dressmaking days.  My husband asked
why had I scribbled on it?  He knows better now!


My cushion is finished and looks glorious!  Now it does require a matching buddy... but all good things come with time, and I did want to make sure that it worked before getting too carried away.

Stuffed with a down filled inner, it survives even a man squash, is very comfortable and still looks good a day later.  I bound the edges using the same technique as for a quilt, and this makes a very smart finish.
An action shot - after the correctly applied karate chop to get the kink in the top.

 So you might be wondering what prompted the making of this pillow?  Are you one of those people with quilted items filling your house to overflowing?  Well I'm not.  I have tended to avoid pillows and other little items... I've made placemats which we hardly ever use, and table runners that always end up being the wrong size.  Quilts are mostly on the beds... plus a couple of wall warmers.

This is an oversize table runner that was just
too big for the table.  It looks very nice in the adjacent
hallway where it is framed by the doorway.

I've also purchased some accessories which have helped to create a cohesive colour scheme to accent the relaxing beige everything else.

So it looks like a variety of soft greens won!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Adventures of A Bali Pop Cushion

Ages ago I weakened and puchased a Bali Pop - sort of a batik version of a Jelly Roll.  Up until yesterday, it was still in it's packet.  It seemed a waste to open it up without a purpose.  I have however been planning a cushion out of it... and so it started.  The instructions called for 4" x 2 1/4" rectangles, so I figured I'd just resize it to fit the 2 1/2" strips - forgetting of course the Bali Pops are hand cut - which means the strips tend to wave up and down... not good if you want things to match up.  So I stuck with the instructions and trimmed my little rectangles down to even little-er rectangles.

Then it was on to placing, sewing (only two rectangles sewn the wrong way...), quilting...

and voila!

A bit of an action shot - some imagination still required!

Because it's going inside a cushion never to see the light
of day again, I used the opportunity to get rid of this insanely
ugly piece of fabric - but look what happened with the quilting...
again lucky it is going to disappear inside.  Very frustrating!
I also got my row by row round robin row (that's a lot of "row"s) finished and it is all safely tucked away in it's bag now.  The row on top was the starter, and the row below a different makers row.
Sorry it's a bit dark.

I've also put some borders on my Sew Happy Me stitchalong week 1, and had a play with some different placements for alternate blocks using my charm squares.

We've been having grotty holiday weather - so the kids have been in the sandpit while the rain has been holding off, but it doesn't last all that long.  Nadia spent about an hour organising and reorganising these unused blocks...

This is a really interesting setting, and has two of the small
squares together.

So that's been our my day - I still have some washing to fold... and tomorrow I think I'm gonna have to buy some cushion inners...

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

School holidays

So the school holidays have finally started.  It has been a long, long term.

Last school holidays we bunked our two kids in the same room with bunk beds to free up the small bedroom as a sewing/office/overflow space.  This worked really well as far as the new room went, however the behavioural issues we started having with our son have plagued us all term long.  So the first weekend of the holidays was shifting the kids and the sewing room around again.  Something I was not looking forward to as over the course of the term I have become quite settled in my small space, and had succeeded in making quite a mess.  All of which would need to be moved.  Including the rather newly installed design wall.

But we did it.  Design wall and all.  Dylan has moved into the small bedroom:

 and Nadia and I share the larger bedroom.  She has kept the bunk bed, and we share shelves.

So far I have already had to tell her that I do not want my little ponies on my quilting shelves, but on the up side, she did sort out some of my fabric scraps into colours and started putting them away in their plastic bags - not sure if this counts as child labour - but she enjoyed being "a helper" and might do a bit more tomorrow.  Well, there are plenty of scraps for her to "help" with.

I have started my row for the row by row round robin - the theme this month is "traditional triangles" (please let me know if I have remembered this incorrectly).  So I've been pouring over books looking at different triangle patterns and trying to work out what they will look like as a 8" block set in a row of 5 blocks.  Most of the ones I liked would need more than one row to get the effect, or they were asymetrical/had a diagonal pattern and it bothered me that 5 blocks were uneven and made the pattern irregular across the row.  After browsing through the blocks on the EQ6 block library, I stumbled across a pattern I made a table runner out of, and quite enjoyed the construction of - so that was the winner. 

The standing on a chair photo shoot including optional feet.

As far as relating to the theme, well, it has triangles and is pieced - so as far as I'm concerned - that's traditional. 
The red pohutukawa flower print and the one with maori icons
were included with a varied assortment of other fabrics.  However
these two had not been used by any other row maker, so I decided
to see if I could make something that would bring these two together.

The fabrics included with the round robin were an interesting mix, so quite some time... and sorry Nadia but quite a mess was made deciding what colour scheme to go with.  Decision made I spent the rest of the afternoon cutting out all the pieces and adhering them to my design wall - not the normal flow of things as I usually start sewing things as I go, before they are all cut out.  This really goes against the grain, but after the unpicking required on my Baby Billboard quilt because I kept sewing it up, when really I should have cut things out and viewed them on the design wall, BEFORE sewing them together.  However, I shall get there, and after a few small changes, I'm happy with how the row is now progressing.

My Sew Happy Me stitch along is also progressing.  A little bit every few nights means that while I'm still a week behind - I shouldn't fall any further behind, and just quietly, I may even catch up!
Week Two
I had a bit of a weak moment after a Thousands of Bolts email arrived to say the Moda Bella solids were on special (NB this was several weeks ago), and when I went for a browse, these were the lovely colours that appeared on the first screen.  I never got to any of the other screens...

Now, I'm not a solids girls.  Give me prints anytime.  But these intrigue me, and I'm thinking along the lines of something of very traditional design, but where the colour placement is, well, lets just say not.  Sounds interesting doesn't it?