Sunday, March 25, 2012

Almost finished - 2nd time around!

Just the remainder of the binding to hand stitch down and this little ripper (literally) will be all ready to hand into the raffle organisers tomorrow.  I won't be sad to see it go, although I am pleased with how it has finally turned out.

We had an absolutely glorious day today... this was about 4.30pm and the sky was still deep blue

Half and half shot - half front, half back

Just a little bit closer so hopefully you can see some of the quilting?
Yesterday, I actually did housework - yeah, I know - I had proclaimed it a housework free weekend - but everything was so disgusting and cluttered, I knew I had to do something, somewhere, and in the end gave the kitchen a good old going over.  Even the corner with all the piles of shit clutter by the phone got tidied away, or mostly thrown out.  Even with the remains of dinner preparation on it - it still looks wonderful.  Now, I just need to focus on keeping it this way, and direct my attention to another area.  Wonderful in theory, but woefully neglected in practice.

I also spent some me time playing with my Swoon fabrics, deciding on the next block colourway. 
It's been fun mixing and matching with the solids - they add quite a different dimension.  The cutting so far... Swoon Block Number 3
Well, I actually started two... on account of it being almost the end of March and I haven't completed any of my monthly targets - so I thought I might as well start April's block too.  Grr - but oh well, these things happen sometimes.  It is fun deciding how each block is going to look, as they each take on their own personalities depending on the fabric choices.  I am just a bit worried that I'll end up with some plain Jane blocks at the end with the fat quarters left over - but the mind games needed to decide it all beforehand just about did my head in.

A family portrait.  Still deciding on the accent fabrics for Block 4. 

Friday, March 23, 2012

Guess what this is???

Can you guess (although I suppose the slightly blurry photo doesn't help).  It's what I've been up to this morning... and resulted in the next photo...

You guessed it - unpicking that binding... which I've never actually done before but I suppose there's a first time for everything.

The quilt just wasn't right, and although it was just going to be given away to strangers, I didn't even need to put my name on it - I couldn't leave it in the state it was.  I tried washing and drying it to see if the wrinkles would hide the uglies... didn't work.  Then I tried ironing it to see if once the wrinkles were gone... it would stretch out better... didn't work.  Then I decided to do a few more rows of straight line... to see if that would help - actually, a bit more quilting did make the whole look better - but I kept being dragged back to those awful borders... so me and my quick unpick watched The Smurf movie... and did some damage.

Initially I was going to unpick the whole blessed thing (just be aware the blessed is not the word I'd normally use in these situations).  So once the binding was off, the straight lines through the borders were taken out too... fabric repositioned, lightly sprayed and ironed, then FMQ with relatively small interlocking boxes.

 OK, it's still got a bit of a wave going on... but at least it looks square.  I'll need to trim the borders now to neaten up the bit I'd trimmed off in an earlier episode...

Then I added some FMQing between some of the rows of straight lines.

Probably a better view from the back:

And do you know what - it sort of (with a bit of imagination) sits flat.

I've finished half and had to stop before my eyes fell out, and my arms fell off - which I believe is a quilting condition.  But I need to get it finished for Monday... so it looks like it's going to be a busy weekend.  Hope nobody expects too much housework to get done.

And if you're wondering about the Smurf movie... I really enjoyed it.  It wasn't really a kid movie, there wasn't enough action of the right kind - but it was nice... and I'd watch it again.  Perhaps relaxing with a bowl of chips instead of with a quick unpick.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Raffle Quilt Finish - but not without it's trials

The backing got re-organised, new pieces cut and sewn... and after a few attempts I decided it would do.

Onto the quilting.  I've been admiring the whole straight line quilting thing for a while now.  It gives lovely texture without detracting from the magic of the fabric or the blocks - great for maybe boys quilts, or those that are not flowery or girly.  And after seeing this picture on Tallgrass Prairie Studio's blog (check the sidebar) - I decided it was time to bite the bullet and give it a go.
Photo borrowed from Tallgrass Prairie Studio blog

After all, it is only straight lines, isn't it?

Well, this is where the problem is... I have developed a paranoid phobia of straight lines... I just can't really explain it.  With FMQ there is no right or wrong way of doing it.  If your design doesn't quite look like the original, it doesn't matter - no body else knows quite what the original looked like anyway... BUT everyone knows what straight lines look like - the emphasis is on STRAIGHT.  I don't do stitch in the ditch and have never done cross hatching - what straight on the bias... are you crazy or something?

So away I went... found the as yet unused walking foot (OK I've had my machine for 3yrs almost) and started off OK, but as the quantity of lines increased, so did the shifting of the top layer of fabric towards the bottom of the quilt... especially on the striped borders that have a serious lean to them.
This is the worst corner - unbelieveably the corner is a right angle - however the stripes tell the story... bugger!
So, I emailed the lovely Jacquie from Tallgrass Prairie Studios, and asked some advice.  This is what she shared:

"... one basting you tape your back down to the floor before you baste making sure it's taut? Some people don't, and that can make a difference with shifting. 
A couple of things might help at least for the next quilt.  I usually start in the center and then quilt out to the edge...back at the center and then out to the other edge.  When quilting a whole quilt vertically, I try to alternate lines quilting one top to bottom and then the next bottom to top. Also, when I'm in the process of quilting I periodically measure from my quilting line to the edge to see if I'm maintaining a perpendicular line.  You'd be surprised how a 1/16th of an inch off can multiply across a large quilt. I make adjustments as I go.  The other thing I thought about is if you're using seams as a guide, they may not be totally much as we try and they look that way, they may not be and that may be why when you got to the border they looked off.  Before using a seam as your guide...measure from that seam to the edge of the quilt in multiple places to make sure it runs straight up and down the quilt. 
Also, what stitch length are you using for your quilting.  Sometimes too small a stitch length can cause problems.  I sometimes straight line quilt with a stitch length between 2.6 and 3.0 depending on the look I want."

She is lovely!

The top - and yes, all those lumpy/puckery bits don't really sit well... I am undecided what to do about it - if do anything at all.  Did a very poor attempt at a machine binding... that didn't turn out so well either.

The back actually looks better quilted than the front.

And incase you hadn't seen it often enough already, the front again.
I've whizzed through my books... including the Modern Quilting variety... googled the topic, and you know, I can't really find any conclusive advice.  Much of it contradicts what other people say... hmm... who would have thought straight lines could be so confusing?

Friday, March 16, 2012

So where have I been??

Some of you may have been wondering what I've been up to over the last couple of weeks.  Time has flown by, once again. 

I haven't really been doing all that much. Firstly was a week of being tired.  You know when you're just tired for no real reason, and can't seem to kick it?  Then I went to a two day workshop in Whangarei learning about painting silk and using it to create translucent layered artworks with Jeannette DeNicolis Meyer. 
This was my creation - still a bit more sewing to do, and the piece needs to be cropped to it's final size.
Check out the Kerikeri guild blog ( for more details and examples of everyones great work. 

Of course, this weekend didn't do anything for the tired situation... and I returned home to a week of trying to catch up with housework and washing inbetween the working and herding kids. 

Which brings us back to today - Friday.  A quiet day at home filled with even more washing... a bit of housework and a bit of sewing.  Yay!

On the agenda today is completing a pieced back for a top that I started way back when Dylan was maybe just crawling, and I thought he might need a play mat type of thing.  Well, he grew up before it ever got finished, and sometime last year was it? (or possibly the year before) I found all the bits, bought some border fabrics and finished putting the top together:

Nice, fun, unisex prints
The fun really started when I ordered some backing fabric online as it was a great special. 

However, when my parcel arrived... I didn't have the 2.5m I had ordered (or whatever it was) - I got part of the meterage in one piece, then three fat quarters and a fat eighth.  GRRR!  So my easy back became a nightmare.  I bought a co-ordinating orange from my LQS, but it all became too hard and it got put away. 

Until now.  The kids school is doing a fundraiser and I've decided this would be the perfect project to add to the list of prizes.

This is how the back is looking at the moment.  Can't decide if it looks weird or not.

Now, it's looking like rain and I may need to dash out and do something with my washing.  Hope you all have an enjoyable weekend...

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Better Photos

In the background of the paper piecing, I did a flower, loop, leaf combo meander.

Bit hard to tell but I did a curved feather along the floral border.

The fourpatches were quilted identically - a square scroll on two sides, and a three petal/loop thing on the other.  This was mimicing one of the designs on the large floral.

I wasn't too sure what to quilt on the little lady, so did ever decreasing echo quilting around her coat (the brown floral), and chickened out of doing anything on her dress and scarf.  I was a bit worried about all those seams!  And I quilted in a little hair detail, obviously, on her hair.

When I had to change the format of my photos previously due to them not loading onto Blogger properly, I have noticed that, well, the photos are not really all that great.  So last time I tried a different setting... which was obviously worse (and if I had of looked a bit closer I would have realised that before saving all the photos and losing the original formatting - grr).  So after taking a few more photos - I've tried the "document" setting which has a higher resolution, but lower than the original photos.  I think it takes a bit longer to load... and may result in my photos reaching their storage capacity a bit quicker.  Let me know whether you think they are better than normal - now, I don't mean the last post where the photos are terrible - but ones from before that.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Pigs and Progress

I apologise for the absolutely spastic looking photos. 
We have a new addition to our family.  One we are going to eat.  Possibly called "Little Pig", she is about 6weeks old and very cute - although not so cute when running wild in the paddock next door after escaping her pen and we needed to catch her in the pooring rain and she attacked us.  Long story!

On the sewing front, I have spent the last week playing around with some foundation paper piecing - a russian nesting doll pattern from etsy shop "BubbleStitch".  Very cute, pretty easy (although I do struggle to match up the joins when putting together sections - even though I do the pin through the seam all the way along... and pin, pin, pin).  A few rounds of borders later, using some of my newest favouritest fabric... and now I have a cot/play quilt for a friends new baby.

Also some shots of a finished Block Two of Swoon:

And an outdoor, holdey-upey shot of my Buggy Barn Courthouse Stars quilt (thanks to the husband who avoided being in the shots at all cost).
Talking about the husband, he has finished his shed and got all the council OK's.  And a parting shot of my garden - we have three raised beds which are responsible for all the produce.  The cows in the background belong to the neighbours.