Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Morning

OK, so really today is the first day of the holidays (edited to add, it really was morning when I started this post - somehow turned into afternoon by the time I got to the bottom).  I have a huge agenda... cleaning, decluttering, redecorating, sewing and quilting.  I know I do best with a list... but I've been putting off writing this one, because there is so much I want to achieve.  Partially because last holidays were so sucky (remember, storms, no power, all roads blocked so no fabric shopping), and nothing really got done. Partially because I'm just sick of the way things are at the moment, and it's time for a change.

First up the redecorating plans.  Tied up with Nadia's birthday, we decided to redecorate her bedroom.  We have a small house, and when we shifted in five years ago (I know, unreal aye?) the smallest person in our family fitted best into the smallest room.  She had a lovely twinkly light fitting and pink striped curtains.  A nice girly bedroom that I could still live with - not being the pink girly type myself. 

Does anyone remember the shelves and the small gremlin?
Then we decided to put both the kids in the larger room with bunk beds, and the small room turned into a studio/computer room... that lasted only a short while because it didn't really work having the two kids in the same room.  Then Dylan moved into the small room, taking his charcoal curtains and orange spaceship looking light fitting, and I moved my studio into the larger room with Nadia.  It stayed like this for quite a while - before my studio moved into the converted garage outside, and Nadia took over the whole large bedroom and proceeded to make a complete mess.  Finally she decided earlier this year that she wanted to move back into the small room, where she had some hope of keeping it clean.  This was just wishful thinking on her part - she makes a mess wherever she goes :o).  After all this jiggling around - Dylan had ended up with the pretty light and pink curtains... and Nadia had the spaceship and the charcoal ones.

This photo was taken on her birthday... 

...I think it's time she had a big girl room. 

It's slowly changing... there's a new light and blind, with some filmy white net curtains, but I'd like to get the rest of her room sorted over the break.  I actually have a whole list of things I want to achieve in her room.  Watch this space.

On the sewing front, I managed to get half of the quilting finished on the first applique border.

Then I started on the baby quilt applique - well, choosing fabrics for the key elements... one of the best things about fusible applique is that you can make changes right up to the last minute.  For those of us who are visual designers, it's the perfect technique.  I needed to cut the pink star points to assess just how pink it was going to be.  Even though it is destined for a home somewhere else - I still have my pink limits :o).

I quite liked didn't hate the pink on pink... but maybe just a little bit too much pink?

And I quite liked the deep blue basket with the pink rick rack... but maybe too bottom heavy?

Finally a compromise...

A last little note about stem making tools.  I'm not huge on specialty tools, but I love my Clover bias stem maker.  This is size 9, which makes a 1/4" stem (I think) which I use for just about everything.  I cut a 3/4" strip and feed it through the gadget, using the iron to set the shape as it emerges - folding the two edges under nicely - all ready for a bit of hand stitching.
OK, I'm off to start that list.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Begin as you mean to finish

Saturday, Day One of the Holidays... sewing.  Yes... I could get used to this.

Today was my appointment with friend and colleague Karen, as we plod our way through Amy Gibson's Beyond the Block 2014 Sugar Club BOM programme.  Karen has amazing sewing powers... although has only dabbled in patchwork previously.  Completing the BOM blocks each month gives us new techniques to learn and discuss, in a very casual learning environment.  I'm using the leftover yardage from my Japanese ladies quilt - a cross-range selection of Bonnie & Camille fabrics, with Moda Bella Feather as the light neutral, and a Moda Weave mid beige as the darker neutral.

This month it was our first foundation paper pieced block.

Although I know this is probably something that improves with experience, I hate it when after all the angst and fiddlyness of paper piecing... you still end up with joins that don't quite meet.  This was after the "pin like heck" technique.

Just as a refresher... this was our first block...the one that almost drove me to drink.

And the second...

Whoops... and this is the "do as I say don't do as I do" third block... still unfinished from last month :o)

I've also spent some of my time after work this week quilting the applique border on B&B.  Remember I thought I might do some "doodling" quilting... but was a bit apprehensive about jumping in.

I started with a strategically placed feather... [I'm using a mid grey Aurifill thread that blends with both of the backgrounds that I used.  I didn't want the quilting to overwhelm the applique - it's subtle, and that's OK.]

Then repeated some of the filler patterns I used in the other applique blocks... clamshells, open clam echoes, pebbles...

the odd weirdo spiral with feathers... and then some plain spirals...

It is slowly filling up (and I do mean slowly) - but I am seriously doubting whether I'll get this finished before the end of October.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

This and That

Time has run away with me again.  I always find that this time of year just sneaks up on me, and all of a sudden, I am running to keep up with life in general.

Tomorrow the littlest member of our family will turn 9.  So we've been busy making a birthday cake to take to school... and she's got a fun day planned with friends on Saturday.

We're going to try making a sandwich with jam and then chocolate buttercream icing to top. Yum.

Then this week sees the end of the school term, so I'm frantic clearing my desk at work so hopefully things there will progress as smoothly as possible while I'm away. 

Last night was the open night at the College Dylan will be attending next year as a Year 7.  For the old school... this is Form One Intermediate.  I don't think I'll ever get used to the "year" system.

Last weekend I had a work colleague come around for some FMQ tuition... and this weekend another work colleague will come around to make another Amy Gibson BOM block.

On the sewing front, I've been plugging away at Bluebirds & Berries... now the entire centre panel is quilted.  I think that deserves a Woohoo!!!

I discovered this little filler pattern from Jess at The Elven Garden (it's like a mini clam shell with an echo round)... although she demonstrates a larger version of this pattern, it is super for filling in and around tiny applique spaces... who would have thought?

I also decided to do a wishbone sort of pattern around the first cream border.  I'll probably repeat this in the dark narrow border too.

I just winged this one, no marking... the pattern evolved somewhat from start to finish (as they usually do) but I think the biggest change to technique was when I realised I shouldn't be quilting side to side... because the whole quilt was never going to fit into the throat space, and changed to quilting down the border (which made a lot more sense, but affected the style of the quilting pattern).

This is the start and finish meeting point, see how it started quite roundy... and ended up quite pointy...

Now it's onto quilting the first applique border.  I'm thinking about a bit of a doodle mix to fill in the spaces... but at the same time this scares me silly.  It is a large area... crap, what was I thinking??? 

I spent a blissful wee "child free" while petting fabric at my fav The Country Yard, choosing a mix of fabrics to add to the original bundle to match this bunting fabric.  I have been asked to make a cot quilt for a yet to be born baby girl... with the request for very girly. I really like the way this bundle has grown.

Although I love the fabrics with the bunting... I would really want to use white as my background to make all those fabrics pop... but I know it is just hopelessly impractical.  So I've decided to keep the bunting for the back, and use this soft pink spotty speckle for the background.

A what I hear you ask?... well what would you call it?  It looks like a spotty speckle to me.

Once I had the fabrics sorted out, it was just time to find a design.  These blocks are still lying around my studio, and are a block that I absolutely love.  Wouldn't it be cool to just blow this block up to about 36"?  and add a narrow background border...

...and replace the centre framed square with an applique block.  That would be a 12" square - plenty big enough to fit something interesting and girly.  I can't decide whether to use this vase block?

Or this basket one?
 Come on people... give me a hand.  Which one (once it's done in my fresh girly fabrics of course) reads as more baby girly to you?

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Nek Minute... two weeks later...

The last couple of weeks have been very busy - just not particularly crafty.  The weekend before the big ski trip was spent washing and drying clothes (in preparation for packing the suitcases).  Then my Dad came to visit and we spent a great weekend tiki-touring around the local sights and tourist spots.  The final Sunday night was spent packing those last few essentials, and then Monday morning, 6:30am it was time to meet the bus and send the menfolk off for the week.  Nadia and I had a pretty quiet week at home without them.  Although it was good girl bonding time - and she was excited to be allowed to wash the dishes in the sink (as opposed to putting them into the dishwasher)!

Friday the boys came home again, and it was back onto the washing chain gang.  Not to be confused with chain piecing of course :o)  Once again, the house has returned to it's somewhat normal state of confusion... and finally, today, I got to venture back out into my shed for some well deserved peace and quiet (I didn't realise Nadia talked quite so much until it was just me that had to listen to it!)

I did actually get a small amount of sewing done during the week.  Monika's birthday had come and gone, although I had an idea of what to make her.  She has recently announced an impending move to Brisbane... so I just knew that she would desperately need a small tote bag (very suitable for carrying fabric or small techie items) made from a souvenir tea-towel to remind her of all the best NZ has to offer.  When I saw this particular towel, I knew she would enjoy both it's bright colours, and the beautiful birds and foliage in the design.  Having random left over bits of batting comes in handy for projects like this , and a bit of simple quilting just finished it off.

Side One

Side Two.

Simple boxed corners

Modelled by my able assistant
 Today I've got a bit further with the machine quilting on Bluebirds & Berries.  I'm about halfway through the central panel.

I did add a tiny bit of McJobbiting...

... a little bit of tiny clamshells...
... a little bit of poorly executed but OK echoing

... a whole heap of stippling.
Getting in and around applique is not my favourite kind of quilting... I didn't want to do tiny, tiny quilting... to me the style of the quilt is soft and relaxed, and I wanted the quilting to reflect this too.  Stippling is good for getting into those tight spots, gives a nice open feel - and finishes nice and soft.  But stipple all over can be a bit much.  I'm happy with how the small blocks that I've quilted differently just help to break it up, add a bit of different texture, and as the blocks are the small ones - it doesn't add too much stiffness.  I will need to think of a good solution for the applique borders... I think if I stipple those too - we might just have stipple overload.

 The threads I'm using are mostly 50wt Aurifill in a subtle range of neutrals - 2000, 2310 & 2314.  In the coloured squares I'm using a Gunold 40wt variegated khaki.