Sunday, July 28, 2013

Things I have learnt...

* Don't eat a banana, a raisin box (well not the box, but the raisins inside :0), chicken flavour crackers and salt and vinegar chips for morning tea.  It makes you feel queasy for the rest of the day.

* Practice is good.  Check out the blanket stitch progress:

Look how neat and tidy those curves and points are!

I've finished one whole quarter, trimmed to 1/2" outside the applique, and started adding my 1" cut "grout" lines

The top row is my "normal" applique stitch, which you can't adjust any narrower than 2.5W x  2L.  So, for the purposes of this exercise had to switch to stitch Q12 which has two small stitches between the horizontal stitch and I can adjust to the final measurement 1.5W x 1L

* Just because a pattern is made/designed in NZ, doesn't mean you'll necessarily understand the requirements list.  Found the pattern I bought in Taupo... looks very *handy*.

* Sometimes tutors can be very generous.  This little felt broach was a welcome/thank you gift from Michele Hill.  Now I promise to stop going on about her, but she was really lovely!

* I have yet to finish an applique quilt - either by hand or machine.  This is a pretty poor track record.  To remedy this, I have written me up a bit of a list... grouping projects by construction method - piecing, handwork, machine applique and quilting.  And, I've only really put down things that I want to finish... not all those weird projects that will probably never get done, and I realise I have more hand projects on the go than I can ever possibly do, not to mention quite a few pieced projects underway... so its time to get organised and do some planning.

* Instead of making goals - I am going to target certain projects within each category each week.

* If I am organised, I CAN do handwork throughout the week in the evening.  I did it while hand quilting the Wagon wheels quilt... I can do it with other things.  I just need to be organised.

* Because I'd been putting it off and making it a much bigger deal than it really was, I prepped another dresden fan block for my Josef Josef quilt.  Now I can start to hand applique down the ring.  No goal... just get some of it done during the week.

* I've set up both my sewing machines so that I can piece happily away on my Bernette... which pieces beautifully, and can either quilt or blanket stitch on my Brother... which quilts and blanket stitches beautifully.  When I'm set up for piecing... other things just don't get a look in... hopefully having both machines set up for their own "zone" will help.

*  Just because it's new, this week I'm going to focus on my Taupo Tiles blocks in the machine applique station.

*  And piecing will be catching up on my 100 Modern Sampler blocks, and squeezing in some Playground blocks when I get the chance.

* Did I mention I'm back to work tomorrow?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Sewing We will go...

With Poppy still suffering from the sedative she had been given yesterday, I spent most of the day feeding the fire, watching her sleep and reading a book, Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult.  I downloaded it onto my tablet without reading the preamble... and to be honest, it took me a while to get into the story, and work out what was happening.  Gosh, but once I did, couldn't put it down!  Finished it this morning before taking the kids out for a promised visit to the shops to spend their holiday money.  We can't have that burning a hole in their pockets now, can we?

Today Poppy has returned to her normal bouncy self.  It's been a cold day, so I figured, I might as well disappear into my sewing shed and turn the heater on... and tackle a few more Modern Sampler blocks, and whatever else took my fancy.  I find piecing relaxing - this year has been somewhat stressful so far, which maybe explains why I've found myself drawn to so many pieced projects.

Block 24

And I thought I'd show you the pictures from the book, so you can see the original colouring of the block, and what I've tried to emulate from my scrap pile.  Sort of similar, but at the same time, quite different.

And Block 25

I actually have some fabric that is almost identical to the print shown in the book - but it is only about 2" x 1" big... I'll just have to see if I need a piece that big in one of the other blocks :0)

And another of Camille's playground blocks took my fancy... I've stuck with the grey and with these fabrics, it is looking smashing!  No contrast issues here!

I replaced the grey print centre on this one with the plain grey... much better!  I love this green... so fresh.

Remember this experiment?  Decided to just stick to the simple, and revise my fabric pairings so that I avoid the worst of the contrast issues.

 I've also pulled out all my class notes from Taupo... which included these photos of finished Tiles... because you can rotate them to get different patterns (the two sets of blue blocks are using the same four tiles, showing their alternate setting - and the green and red blocks show a different colourway).  Cool huh?

This is really quite motivational to get these Taupo projects done and finished.  I've got my four tiles fused - I just need to get the blanket stitch done, and make final decisions on finishing... of course, I'm not one to make small projects - so it will be interesting, even for me - to see where this one heads.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Home again, Home again, Jiggity Jog

It seems like forever since my last post.

Taupo Symposium has been and gone.  This had been a much anticipated and planned for (and saved for) occasion, in fact, the first time my family and I have been away for longer than a couple of days.  After a seven hour drive to get to Taupo (how did families ever cope before tablets and ipods??) it was action stations for our entire seven day stay.

While I was otherwise occupied, my family hit the tourist spots:

I booked in for three classes, the first being Needle Turn applique with Kim McLean.  No photographic evidence for this one, I need to pull out all my pieces and start applying them to the background - but invaluable in terms of advice and how Kim approaches choosing fabrics.

Next it was Freemotion Quilting with Deborah Louie.  This was amazing - she was full of tips and advice - very straightforward and approachable - and solved many of the problems of the world, at least, the quilting world!

Fantasy flowers and leaves... great fun!

I didn't expect to have to follow a pre-drawn pattern for this class - probably my biggest fear - but look how close to the lines I got! 

Lastly a two day applique class with Michele Hill - who is the funniest and nicest lady you could possibly ever meet... and who added so much extra value to our class, including extra handouts and patterns, and explaining her design process even though that wasn't in the class outline!  Our project focused on a William Morris-ish tile design - check out Michele's blog for extra photos here

Let's just say my choice of fabric was unique!

Hard to tell but this is a very small blanket stitch (with my trademark grey thread of course).

Symposium wouldn't be symposium without some purchases from the Merchants Hall!


I bought a baptist fan template from Grandmothers Garden on the way home...

Plus some extra supplies that had been recommended at some of the classes:

60/8 needles for quilting 100wt thread, Microtex 10 needles for sewing fusible applique, plus some needleturn applique needles, and a chalk mechanical pencil that just looked so handy!

I think I actually have another stash of things I bought... but I haven't found them yet... we unfortunately returned complete with flu bugs, so I don't quite feel like myself yet - and spent yesterday concentrating on unpacking, washing and putting away clothes.  Having this holiday through the middle of the two week school holidays means I now feel like I really NEED a holiday, instead of returning to work on Monday.  Although I shouldn't complain, hubby returned to work on Thursday, after a nine hour trip home on Wednesday.  And he's got bugs too... poor thing.

Today I took our dog into the vets, where she had a biopsy done on a lump on her chest.  While we can't be sure until we receive the test results, it is highly likely that it is cancer, which just sucks.

Surprisingly, or maybe not surprisingly, I don't feel like sewing just at the moment.  Which is not like me at all.  Like the players in the band that continued to play as the Titanic went down... I imagine I would have kept on sewing... maybe tomorrow?

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Halfday Hmmm-ing

Sewing progress has been somewhat up and down this past week.  Housework has also been rather erratic - and don't look now, but the bench is covered (with dirty things) and I have clean washing spread all over the sun trap lounge floor in some sort of effort to air it before it gets put away.  I put another load of washing in the machine... and it started to rain.  Hmmm!!  Winter!!

But onto more important matters.

I've got a few more of Tula's blocks completed.  I love how cropping the photos makes them look so square!

I also received the four charm packs I ordered of Sweetwater's Reunion line, to join the charm pack I already owned, to make a start on Camille Roskelley's Playground quilt (which is made using a layer cake - but 5 charm packs gives me a few extra options).

My faithful grey solid was on hand, and I gleefully started making blocks.

Note in particular the second block.   Laying the blocks out it just started to look stodgy.  Am I judging it too soon?

I knew the grey would be pushing it a bit as far as achieving good contrast with all of the fabrics... but that's OK sometimes, so I pushed on, thinking it might get better.   Do you feel another hmmmm coming on?

This fine chevron is not so bad close up, but disappears completely from a short distance.  On the plus side, I love the grey with the green...

... and the red.  The concrete colour is better... but not dynamic like the original creamy background.

I didn't want to use a white or very light background, as there are quite a few light prints as well, and they are on an off white background, which can look wrong with white.  Plus, the whole range is very similar to Hometown, and I've already done that with a cream background.  Plus, I don't really want to unpick every single thing I've sewn!

OK, deep breath - what if I add a different fabric as the centre?  It gives it a bit of a lift - don't you think?


Hmmm???  You realise this does mean unpicking all the seams in the blocks I've already done?  Double Hmmmm!!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Just one more?

It seems creating blocks from Tula's modern sampler book is highly addictive.  Initially I was unsure whether I would be able to constantly create three new blocks each week to keep up... after all, it is quite a commitment :0) But in fact, it turns out it's hard to stop at just three.

Today, because my week has been turned upside down with Dylan attending a dentist appointment today (so I didn't go to work... long story), I retreated to my shed sewing studio to contemplate life.  The little people blocks called to me, and before I knew it, I was head down in scraps, cutting lots of little bits.  We are now onto the rectangle section...

Block 16

Block 17

Block 18

Progress so far... if only I could work out how to make a collage with the blocks in their correct places.
 I've decided on fabrics for the next six blocks, and cut out the pieces for the next three blocks.  Choosing the fabric is turning out to be quite challenging... because you can guarantee that the perfect fabric for a particular area will NOT be big enough.  So it's a matter of making do with what is big enough... luckily there are heaps of scraps to choose from.

Monday was the day our prize buckets needed to be handed into the school office - my goodies were rather larger than the bucket supplied... so a replacement receptacle had to be found.

The teddy cushion bound and stuffed, the pencil case, a patchwork pouch with a few soaps and body lotions thrown in, plus a darling wee doll I bought from our Kerikeri exhibition trading table earlier in the year.
I've been thinking about goals for this month, and I'm really impressed by Lyn who blogs over at What A Hoot - she has serious goals which include projects for each week, as well as goals for each activity station (cutting, piecing, quilting & handwork).  I've been finding that setting a major goal for the month helps to get over some of the stumbling blocks that come our way in the quilting process.  But I also know that while I focus on that one goal... there are heaps of other projects that just don't get a look in.  At the moment, I'm still thinking.  Do you set goals?