Sunday, May 25, 2014

* What looks like a new project?

* Smells like a new project?
* Tastes like a new project?
* Feels like a new project?

But is technically not a new project?

Playing with the left over Tokyo Subway squares on my design wall!

I have had several A-ha moments about what to do with my left overs - a scrap Granny Square quilt... a Scrap Vomit quilt... a Plus Quilt... there were endless options.  As part of my tidying mission last weekend, I came upon a small coloured diagram that I made a LONG time ago, a Supernova quilt block by Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Lee's finished quilt

On the design wall so far... still undecided about the background colour to use.

Lee ran a quiltalong of this quilt here - having updated the piecing instructions after making her first version - using strip piecing techniques and no half square triangles.  I'm not all that flash at strip piecing - and since I had all the squares to start off with - using the original block layout suited me just fine.

I never use colour wheel theories when making colour decisions.  And I mean never.  But I do have a very good book which discusses all the possible options - which I look at occasionally and never follow.  I thought this might be a good opportunity to make use of the book, so my blocks (so far) feature this Main Colour with Three Opposite Colours theory.  

I also broke open my new Fiskars rotary cutter I scored for Mothers Day.  It is a little beauty!  The blade needs to be adjusted for left hand use - but once that's done, it has great balance, fits beautifully in my hand and cuts like a dream.  I also won't have to worry about sneaky right handers borrowing it at group stitching events!  It is going to take a wee while to get used to the blade lock on and off function - pushing the tab to open the blade is OK, because it's much the same as my Olfa cutter - but the release is a button  to push in - and I'm still in the "pull the tab back" mode, which doesn't do anything.  All in all, very happy.

On the Tokyo Subway quilting front (just in case Dad is reading) - I have finished the first quarter!  Woohoo!!!  And after today's efforts, I am half way through the second quarter.  The quilting is not slow - but it is also not fast.   There are 1600 squares in this quilt, and each needs to get a melon shape quilted in it.  My shoulders are currently asking - "was this your idea?"

Why yes, it was my idea.  And isn't it looking!

Sunday, May 18, 2014

No fabrics were harmed (or projects started) in the making of this post

Today has been a really overcast and gloomy sort of day.  The washing from yesterday is still struggling to dry... the Sunday chores have been done and we should have enough food to last us the week.

OK time to head into the sewing cave.  But it's one of those days... I don't really have it in me to start sewing.

That's OK too - fabric is my friend.  And so much nicer than housework!

I pulled out the pile of Adornit fabrics (a couple of bundles from FabricWorm that have been collecting dust taking up space in the stash cupboard). 

I had originally thought I might make a star quilt from one of Elizabeth Hartman's books, but when I saw this pattern - I changed my mind. 

Take twenty fat quarters... see, we are already off to a great start.

But first is the playing.  Let's see exactly what we have here...

I grouped them loosely by colour... although it's hard to tell in this one, these are the greenish tones...

The greys...

The creams...

And the coloureds...

Next up, putting them into pairs with good contrast.  I started with the coloured pile... as they are the eye-catchers, I tried to pair them up with a good variety of the other fabrics...

but it was a lot harder to make pretty looking pairs from the left overs...

I've done more playing since these photos were taken... and I'll probably tweak it a bit more as time goes by, and I imagine right up until I start sewing it together.

OK - onto the next lovely pile of fabric.

This pile combines some of my naughty purchases throughout the fabric diet... which I think work together surprisingly well, with some other bits and bobs from the stash.

This Simple Bands pattern creates a mock double wedding ring block when made with strips... (PS Monika, I think you could have used the ruler for your drunkards path blocks).

And yet another pile of fabric.  Monika and I were assessing her fabric pulls a while ago for a pink and orange toned creation... and this one just didn't cut the mustard.  Yip, it's just too brown for Monika's taste... but one mans trash is another mans treasure... and I like brown just fine!

Isn't this pile shaping up fun?

This pile needs a bit more loving (I actually think I need to buy some pinks!), but I think this Amy Gibson's Tuileries pattern might just be perfect.

Ahhh... that feels so much better.  I had started to itch with the need for fabric.  All better now.  These piles can be tucked away safely for another day (sometime after the end of June), and tomorrow I can continue with quilting the Tokyo Subway quilt.

PS I finished that last pesky bit of binding on the Japanese Ladies and passed them onto a possible new home.  Woohoo!

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Saturday chat

I am a slob.  I have managed to complete as little housework as is humanly possible over the last few months, and it is starting to show!  This morning, as I lay in bed contemplating the day, I thought a quick whiz around with the vacuum plus the dishwasher/bench/washing machine basics would do.  Then I had a shower, and figured it was well past time for a comprehensive clean of the entire room, but the basin and shower would be a good place to start.  Then the kitchen got a look at... and finally the vacuuming!  No wonder I don't like to do housework!  It is so exhausting - and it just needs to be done all over again in a few days... or minutes.  We've just had lunch, and I haven't finished any of the rooms that I started - but already it is starting to look better.  I know I am my own worst enemy, if I approached the whole thing with military precision and did a little bit often, it wouldn't end up so bad.  But after over twenty years of being somewhat adult, I haven't been unable to do it.

So that's enough about the boring state of my life at the moment, check out the mothers day haul I got last Sunday!

First up a new rotary cutter - I haven't used it yet, but I do like the way the handle fits in my little hands.  Then two new books - The Quilt Block Book and Iris Quilting.

I have a few block books... sometimes they're good, and sometimes not so good.  This one is a good one!  The spiral binding is a bonus.  Also the blocks are a good mix of traditional and more modern.  Each block has at least one suggested setting - which you really look at and think, yeah OK, I see how it all goes together, which is one of the things that has always drawn me to quilting in general.  Then on the opposite page is the block construction information.

The iris quilting book is a variation on foundation piecing and is somewhat log cabin like or pineapple block in construction.  It has some very cute projects, and some really pretty ones too.

I've spent every spare minute of the last week hand stitching binding.  Why is it that the last piece of thread is never long enough?

Saturday, May 10, 2014

It's all about the Quilting!

While I was busy pondering the problem of the uneven quilting on the Japanese ladies, I popped the Tokyo Subway under the needle and got a few of my orange peel/melon shapes stitched out.

This is the same quilting as per the pattern, and I don't see any reason to change it.  This is a FMQ pattern that I love, but not enough that I would mark out a grid to complete.  The Tokyo Subway with it's million and one squares is the perfect match for this pattern... and it's pretty straightforward too!  This quilting pattern is described on Oh Fransson!'s blog in her tutorial listing.

Then back to The Ladies.  After a bit of analysis with Monika, we figured part of the problem was that the quilting on the printed fabrics literally disappeared into nothing, with the quilting showing up much better on the white sashing areas.  The next problem being, that sometimes the bulk of the pattern was on the white, other times the bulk of the pattern was on the print (which you couldn't see) so it looked like that area wasn't even quilted - even when it was relatively even!  A solution of sorts was to beef up the quilting on the white areas in particular to give the impression of heavier quilting.

This is so hard to capture on camera.  But I do think you can see the silver lining in this cloud... the heavier quilting gave it a much more textural effect - probably what I was trying to achieve in the first place, without really knowing it.  The textural quilting doesn't detract from the fabrics in the way that the open vine did.  Quilting is all a huge learning curve, regardless of your expertise and experience.

I still haven't 100% solved the density problem - but I'm pretty happy.  I think that the 60/40 cotton/polyester batting has effected the overall look too, I'm more comfortable and used to the 100% thin cotton look.

I'm going to finish the stitching on the binding of this one... and then see how I feel about it.  Sometimes you need to step away, and look at things with fresh eyes.

Back to the quilting...

Friday, May 2, 2014

A little finish here and a little finish there

Yesterday I bit the bullet and pulled the dress pattern pieces out of the envelope.

I remember sewing a DKNY Vogue pattern back in the early 90's and it was a curious mixture of simplicity and really clever design elements.  It seems that this pattern - V1250 (the red dress on the left) is much the same.

With only three pattern pieces, how hard could it be?  On the other hand... check out the shape of these pattern pieces!

The big one is a front and lower back, the medium one is a top back, and the little one, the back neck facing.  The front and back are both cut on the fold.
I bought some "Delux ponte double knit" from Spotlight with the intention of making a winter weight dress - only 1.2m required.  The pattern  suggestions are for 2 way knit - rayon, spandex, cotton spandex and nylon spandex.  I don't know if my body does spandex anymore... unless it's those suck em in undies.  I think the heavier knit probably offers a bit more coverage.  By yesterday afternoon, I had the dress pretty much finished, just the arm and lower hem to do.

Today was finishing day.  A bit impulsively I cut 3" off the bottom with my rotary cutter.  I intend to wear this to work more as a tunic over long sleeved tops, with dark tights and boots.  But I also don't mind the over jeans look for something a bit more casual!  I was pulling a really weird face in this one...

 So there we go... dress experiment a success.  I would definitely consider sewing this dress again... I would quite like to try a patterned version, and maybe a plain rust coloured one.  On the clothes sewing front, I also hemmed a pair of pants to match my short legs :0)

As winter looms, temperatures have started to drop.  A change in warmth requirements during the month of April meant the Gypsy Bandana sampler quilt got put back on the shelf, and my Buggy Barn wonky log cabin stars quilt got put in it's place.

Also in the finishing department... a new handbag.  This is my winter version too!  Made from samples of heavy upholstery fabric mean this has plenty of texture.

All it needed was a handle attached, and I wasn't keen on the design offered in the pattern (hence it has sat around for about 3 years).  In the end I pieced a few remnants to make the right length, and fitted it at the ends to make a shoulder bag.  I'm not 100% in love with it... but I'll see if it grows on me.

While I was doing random sewing, I put together the backing for the Tokyo Subway, and basted it.

And lastly I got the binding for the Japanese ladies machine sewn down.  So another technical finish.  Just the hand stitching left to do.

The last day of the holidays... gosh, it's been busy!

Thursday, May 1, 2014

My Secret Project Finally Revealed

Ok.  Are you ready?

I have had a quilt pattern published in Fat Quarterly E-magazine!

Incredible huh?

The current edition is all about Precuts... so there's all sort of patterns for charm packs, layer cakes, and fat quarters. My Bullseye quilt fits right in, made from a Charm pack... background fabric and some accent fabrics.  Click here for magazine purchase details.  Honestly, the cost of a single downloadable magazine is less than the price of one stand alone pattern!  And you can choose to subscribe also.

Now onto some photos.  I had to make a second version that hadn't been previously published.  So the moral of the story... if you're thinking of submitting something to a magazine, don't publish it on your blog!

 Lovely backdrop courtesy of The Country Yard, not only a patchwork shop but a wedding venue with gorgeous gardens!  Thanks Kerryn for letting me take the photos!

Edited to add: linking up to Quokka Quilts for the ultimate finish!  TGIFF here