Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Fabric Diet... what diet?

The end of the month and time to link up with the other fabriholics at our monthly support group.

April hasn't been exactly the greatest of months... the "necessity" fabric package from Fabricworm here, the "need it to finish" fabric for the butterfly quilt... and the "look we're driving past" fabric from the weekend.

But on a positive note, I've just finished the machine part of the binding of TWO quilts!  Woot!

First up, The Butterfly Baby Quilt.  Free pattern from Cloud 9 fabrics.  Fabric mostly almost entirely from stash... but a bit of additional white was required for the wonky sashing - 48" x 36".  This is the same binding fabric that I used for Dylan's bed quilt, made 2007 - so it does pay to put the leftover fabrics into the stash - you never know when it is going to be exactly the right colour and size, there was only 2" left over of my binding strip!  This quilt wasn't on the WIP list... but was requested by the husband for an acquaintance... so what's a girl to do?  Plus, I desperately wanted to make this quilt block!

The meander quilting was done with a white Aurifil 50wt thread.  The meander pattern helps to hide all those pesky seams and perfect for a quilt that will get lots of washing and love - I won't ever have to worry about any seams coming apart on this one.

Second up, The Reunion Playground quilt... pattern by Camille Roskelley, with additional blocks to make it queen sized.  Grey background Spotlight Homespun, Red binding fabric... Moda Bella Solids.

And once again, Aurifil thread comes to the rescue... mid grey this time in an orange peel pattern across the blocks.  I absolutely love the secondary pattern, and even though it's not a tiny pattern... you still get lots of quilty texture.  This quilt was on the WIP list... and I think that makes 4 quilts hitting the finished** list so far this year.

 Now about that fabric.  We headed down to Auckland on Saturday without our children!  It was bliss... so quiet.  As we whizzed through Kaiwaka, The Apple Basket patchwork shop just happened to have it's open sign out, and these fabrics just happened to jump into my bag (well, after paying for them of course).

And check out this button!  No idea what I'm going to do with it... but I love it!

Won't it be interesting to see what May brings?
Also linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

** Finished in the broad sense of the word... hand stitching of the binding still required :0)

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Quilt, Bind, Handstitch... Repeat!

I have finished quilting the Japanese Ladies!  Huston, We have a problem :0(

Can you see the difference between the first quarter that was quilted...

And the last quarter?

Yup!  Density!  I was doing really well with my "quilting direction plan", but somewhere between the second quarter, and the fourth quarter, it all turned to custard, and my little hill/valley/element quilt pattern became long gentle swoop/element.  I'm not sure how to fix it.  Any ideas?  And don't anyone say unpick... that's a dirty word in my household!

Quilting must continue...

The Butterfly Baby Quilt was the next destined for the needle, and from the beginning I kinda had the idea of quilting three petal shapes through each of the wing areas.  After doing the top wings... I just started doing something different in the bottom section.  Sometimes quilting is like that.

Remember this quilting pattern from last time, where I used the double leaf element as part of the Japanese Ladies vine?  This time I used the tear drop shape with the scallop echo to fill the lower wing area.

Why no, it's not exactly the same, but in the general vicinity.  The one thing I don't like about this particular quilt book is that although the designs are described as continuous... sometimes it's hard to work out exactly how you continue the design.

40wt Madeira Polyneon 1606 - I have had this thread forever!  It's pretty without being too pastel.
I've done 6 of the 12 butterflies now, so tomorrow I should be able to finish the rest of the butterflies and work on a filler for the background.  After putting off getting comfortable with meandering for almost 10 whole years of quilting, I'm finding that it is just so suitable for these utility type of quilts.  

In other news...

I've cut the binding strips for the Japanese ladies...

I've cut the strips, sewed and pressed the binding for the Reunion Playground quilt...

Visual reminder!

AND I bought a couple of dress patterns... and fabric... and interfacing... and knit needles...

This is SERIOUS!  Now which comes first?  The binding or the clothes?  My holidays are rapidly disappearing...

Monday, April 28, 2014

The Mystery Revealed

Juliet The Tartankiwi has finally released her latest paper piecing pattern, and I am happy to reveal that the sneak peak I showed you...

Is in fact a Panda Bear!  Ain't he gorgeous???

I decided that the white spot pattern on the ears was a bit bright, so used a black permanent stamp pad to tone down the brightness, and also give the ears a bit of dimension.

Poor old Pandy here was my first birthday present... the story goes that Dad held me out and ran me along the shelves of toys... this was the one that I grabbed and wouldn't let go.  Complete with key in the back, he still plays Mary Had a Little Lamb when wound up.  Not bad for almost 41 years later!

If you are also tempted to sew up a Panda block, Juliet has the pattern available for free for a limited time.

Friday, April 25, 2014

In which she gets there eventually...

Once upon a time I showed some photos of the Giant Chevron Baby Quilt and apologised for the terrible state of the potplants on my deck.  It has only taken three months to show the new and improved version... but good things come to those who wait!

BEFORE... I know the quilt is good, but the deck accessories leave much to be desired

On a side note, the little chappie for whom this quilt was made, made his appearance on Good Friday - another cousin to add to the whanau ;0)

AFTER: Poppy was just so excited to be in the photo... can you see her tail wagging?  We used some Xmas money to buy new deck furniture, and reused the existing pots, some succulent cuttings and some self grown Yucca?? plants to make it all swish again.

And today the hub's removed an old unused vege bed, angled the shrub and ornamental boat garden with a new retaining wall, and made it nice and easy to mow.  An important consideration!

I disappeared into the sewing shed and made good progress on my own projects.

The butterflies are all together:

And will be quilted once I have finished with this one.

I'm using a cream Aurifil thread which blends nicely into all the fabrics... and gives a nice embossed effect in these photos.  I'm also using a 60/40 Matilda's Own Cotton/Polyester batting for the first time... I did the stick test before committing to buying and while it's not as sticky as pure cotton, it's pretty good.  No puckers or shifting so far, even with my less than perfect pin basting skills.

The diagrams probably give a better description of the quilting pattern.  Basically an all over pattern, decorated with balloon flower, ribbon spiral and leaves...

My version is a little bit more open... I didn't want the quilting too dense, and I also wanted to finish it some time this century :0)

But I was quite intrigued by some of the details in this design, and introduced the double leaf detail... to help keep the design full but at the same time open.

I'm proud to say that I am using some of the wonderful knowledge I gained at the Taupo Symposium, which has given me the confidence to attempt a semi-complicated all-over pattern on my domestic machine.  It's all about having a plan about where to go next.  I'm officially a quarter of the way there... whew... now for the rest of it!

Friday, April 18, 2014

An Easter Quickie

After a satisfying lie in this morning, reading and generally ignoring the world, I thought I'd make quick work of getting the butterflies sashed, and trimmed, and ready to assemble.  Not to be.  The endless stash run dry of white on white... progress so far...

Those of you who can count will realise that the original 9 block layout grew into a 12 block layout.  Rectangle quilts are much more practical for baby quilts, and it did help solve the placement problems I seemed to have with only 9 blocks and way too many fabrics.  Adding the purple and blues toned down the pink, yellows and oranges just nicely.

That's OK, because right next door were these cornerstones waiting to be blanket stitched and assembled.

After procrastinating about this all week long... I got this done also.  Looks like the borders are going to be 6" finished.  That solves one design dilemma. 

On my shopping list next week:
 * enough white on white to finish the butterflies
 * batting to finish the Japanese ladies

Hope you are all enjoying the start of your Easter break, and maybe getting some stitching time in?

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Paper Piecing, Butterflies and Vines

After a bit of a crappy week, it's been a good weekend.

I talked Juliet from The Tartan Kiwi into letting me test one of her paper pieced patterns... can you guess what it is?

I also have a very good excuse for starting another small new project.  When hubby (who makes me breakfast in bed every single day) asks if I can make an acquaintance a baby quilt... well, of course I say yes, and I seem to have the perfect quilt pattern waiting in the wings.  Handily, I have a decent stash as well :0)

Yip - the butterflies:  four down, five to go...

This is just the easiest pattern... and yet so effective! 

I also put my head down and after fusing the last bit onto the B&B border, blanket stitched it all down.  Now, it's attached and looking fine!

The extra few leaves petals at the end of the vine fill up the space nicely.

I've got plans for a narrow dark green border and then a large print border to finish off.   I've been tossing up whether to do a pieced unit for the border cornerstones, repeating the heart motif, small flower and 2" squares... although I really can't be bothered doing any more applique or piecing... but I think it will just finish it off perfectly.  Plus I have some leftover units from the other blocks.  Along with a few more butterflies... I hope to get these cornerstones and borders completed over the next week.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Bits and bobs

Halfway there...

Some little birds

But whoops, there's a bit of a gap at the end.  Not so bad in itself, but the other blocks and borders extend further towards the outer edges.

The scrap paper from the fusible shapes does a quick stand in to see what a possible solution could look like...

Yip - I think this could work!  Tomorrow will be a bit more tracing and fusing.

Before I commit this scrap to the bin, I just thought you'd appreciate how close things were with the backing fabric for the Robot quilt.  I'd said that there might not be enough to cover both the borders and the backing... and I was almost right.  There was about 1/2" spare on either of the sides... reminder to self, don't do this again!

I had a weak moment.  A Fabricworm fabric sale email.  I clicked the link.  I was sunk!

Thinking that with overseas delivery, it could be that it wouldn't arrive until July... and then it would be OK.  But the package arrived in record time - about 13 days. 

But it's OK - 


... it's necessity fabric.  Have you ever come across fabric described in such a way on your customs declaration?  Little did they know, it is definitely necessity fabric... my precious!

And isn't it beautiful?  I am going to enjoy adding this into the stash cupboard.  In fact, it might call for some little bundles to be collated, fondled and photographed.  Watch this space :0)

And this little pattern made it's way into the bag as well.  Isn't it darling?  Pincushions and fiddley things aren't really my forte... so we'll have to see how this turns out.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Three steps forward, Two steps back

My plans for this week were to finish the bottom border of the Bluebirds and Berries BOM quilt, and sew the back and baste my Japanese Ladies quilt.

I'm pleased to report that the bottom border was finished, and has been attached!

The innner design is from Gail Pan's Bluebirds & Berries BOM as per the pattern, I've designed the blue applique border to enlarge the quilt to a useable bed size, using elements from other areas of the quilt.

All of the fabrics used (excluding backgrounds) were in the scrap department...
I've even nutted out the bulk of the top border... so I'm really happy :0)

The Japanese ladies backing/basting is another matter.

 I had a plan so cunning you could pin a tail on it and call it a weasel... sorry, the only Blackadder quote I know.  Unfortunately the weasel got away as the fabric I purchased for the purpose of backing this quilt was not long enough.  A bit of creative piecing eventually resulted in a piece big enough for the backing.

Did this really take me all morning?

This pinky toned fabric is just too cute.

After laying out all my pieces of batting, I realised there wasn't enough to cover the quilt.  So this has now been folded up and put away pending a shopping trip.  No basting today.

In other news, Saturday was stitch and chat day at my place... I knuckled down and bound this small quilt that has been sitting around for simply ages.  Does anyone remember it?

It disappeared off with Charlotte to be donated to the local maternity unit.

And today since I didn't end up basting, I reassessed my Seeing Squares progress, and decided to cut my losses... it's just not turning out how I imagined it... and turn it into a maternity unit quilt too.

There were two issues with sewing this quilt with scraps.  One being that my size of scrap were a bit small for the block size needed.  So I ended up with heaps of the smallest unit... not so many of the bigger ones.  Second, it was all turning out a bit wild.  I can do wild, and it looks OK at this size, but I'm not sure how a bigger version would turn out.  Maybe it needed more solids to balance the prints.  But this was not going to happen out of a scrap project.  Something to think about if there is a second attempt at this pattern.  This size (which must be 24x24") is just fine.  It still needs basting and quilting... a job for another day.  And it means that the big pile of bits that has been congregating behind my sewing machine has been cleared away... making room for something else.

Now I'll have to think about what I want to get done this coming week.  Hmmm... what shall I choose?