Tuesday, July 14, 2015

The culmination of three weeks of thinking

Today is the deadline for the fourth month of The Country Yard's Tuesday Mystery Medallion.

This round involved adding a 3" border, then a 6" border which needed to incorporate a curve of some kind.  As well as including the featured fabric.  We're now up to 42 1/2" unfinished.

After realising that three fat quarters would not a 6" border be... I had to return to my trusty shop for extra supplies.  Luckily it has been school holidays... so I had the bonus of being childless (Nana had offered to look after the kids for a couple of days... was great!).  Just as well because it was a long drawn out process. 

I decided I wanted three fabrics to make the background of the borders and incorporate the first 3" border with the 6" to make a 9" wide playing space.  Then applique a vine with leaves.  To find three fabrics that all read as background, went with what I had started with, and I liked, was very challenging.  We found heaps of two fabric combos, but just couldn't find that mysterious third fabric to make it all work.  Finally, (after going through what felt like the entire shop) Kerryn and I ended up with a winning combo.  Raewyn and Leeanne... you are not allowed to look too closely.

The sewing shed after cyclone applique has been through!

Do you make such a big mess when you do applique?  I have a big pile of fabrics that now need to be folded and put away ready for the next round.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Mystery Medallion Month Three

This round was all about adding a border to ensure we were all working with the same size, then pieced blocks incorporating triangles.  I had used this triangle border on a quilt for Dylan many many moons ago... it also gave a nice space to add the feature fabric.

The fabrics I have picked are just so yummy.

Karen and I have also got together over the last month and worked on our Amy Gibson Sugar Club blocks. 

I really like this block - it is one I could imagine an entire quilt made from them.  The corner units are paper foundation pieced.

And I've almost got enough blocks to start thinking about how to set them.  It has also made me realise that I need some more bright orange blocks.

Looking at the next block, I did a bit of visualization - I can really see how this block is going to look now.

I have been commissioned to make a train quilt, so at the moment I am thinking ideas.  Monika and I are also making progress with setting up our Aussie-Kiwi swap... feature fabric chosen and bought, just the details of the exchange to get nutted out now.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Mystery Medallion Part Two

I know... two posts in one weekend.  What is the world coming to?

Month Two was all about adding pieced triangles to the centre square.  Once again using the provided fabric (which is the brownish measuring tape fabric - a bit of a Karitane yellow kind of colour, remembering that Karitane nurses used to be the NZ babycare nurses, and Karitane yellow refers to that distinctive colour of baby poo).

When I pulled fabric for this project, in my mind was light and fresh.  I love brown and blue together - so it was a given that lots of blue was going to be used.  A few teals mixed in, and a few more browns to play with the feature fabric.  I liked the neutral tone on tone text fabric which gives a subtle background option.  But going with the more is more design aesthetic, added the stronger text fabric to add a bit of oomph to the project.  Finally I added a grey plaid fabric, just because I liked the depth it gave.

The applique design I chose was from this book by Barbara Brandeburg.

Used in this pattern - Woodland Rose.

This is a bit of a more is more book in its style... some patterns are a bit full on - but check out that border.  Lots of design elements.

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Much Ado About Nothing

Well really, no ado about nothing.  That about sums up the extent of my patchwork endeavors and lack of blog worthy news.  I can't believe I didn't even have one post for the whole of April!

I did however get my magazine quilt finished and packed off to the appropriate people on time!  And then spent a week or so finishing up the instructions and getting them emailed away too.  Then was a week of doing nothing... cause I needed a rest.  But really, just didn't feel like doing too much.

I did get my Country Yard Mystery Medallion centre block completed the day before it was due... and showed it off to get my second lot of instructions.

The first block instructions were for an applique block on a background that used more than one fabric, with a narrow border.   I went for a star block as my background, with two different text prints as the fabrics.  Then a mix of blue, green, grey and brown fabrics for the applique elements.  The fabric for the twirls is the provided fabric that needs to be used in every round.

The instructions also stated that the next lot of instructions would set this block on point - so it was important to select a block and applique pattern that would suit.  I liked this applique pattern as it is asymmetrical as well as non directional - you could just about use it any way you liked, although I do think it probably does have a top and a bottom somewhere.  Because you just never know what's going to happen, I also wanted a centre block that I liked both square and on point, and these designs just fit my requirements perfectly.

Making the block the day before it was due meant that some of the finer details... like blanket stitch ,were not completed.  Luckily I didn't receive a penalty! I also may not have pointed this out at the time :o)

Catch up time and today has been all about the blanket stitch.  As the next round is due on Tuesday coming, I wanted to get the first block completed properly before any additional bulk was added to the centre.  I'm using a neutral beige thread for a narrow blanket stitch - it really does finish off the design.

While I have done very little sewing or sewing related shopping (gasp!) I have picked up some fun things on my shopping travels.

I think everyone needs a pair of monster feet slippers... for you know, when you need to stomp around...

And I couldn't resist these cups... cow cups...

Complete with boobies...

The other major occurance over the past month or so was receiving my quilt back from the long arm quilter!  This is the first quilt I have had quilted by someone else, and it really did stretch my Scottish short arm/long pocket syndrome.  However, I knew that the Swoon quilt deserved the best, and I really wanted the Baptist Fan pattern to be quilted on it.  This is almost impossible to quilt on a domestic machine, trust me, I've tried, and the other option would be by hand, and even I'm not that crazy.  I just had to bite the bullet and invited my friend and long arm quilter Leeanne from Quilt Me Kiwi to do the honours... she did a terrific job.

You can probably see it best from the back...

And from the front

And so you can actually see the quilting!  

I love how it turned out, the mix of traditional block pattern and quilting design with the more modern fabric choices - Leeanne, thank you so much.  Now to get onto the binding... one day.  First up I need to finish the rest of the blanket stitch and get that second round completed by Tuesday.  And I promise to not be so slack about blogging (and checking emails) in the future!

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

A bit of an update

Two weeks from when I started, I finally made it out to my first corner - starting from the centre of the quilt and focusing on the bottom right hand corner.  I was amazed it was taking so long, but the corner just seemed to keep getting further and further away and I just kept quilting and quilting and quilting.  Something was going on here.  A bit of a breather, pause and reflection - I realised that because the quilt blocks are set on point, the natural inclination was to continue quilting along the block lines, in a general diagonal direction.  So while I may have only just finished my first corner - I managed to quilt practically half the quilt in the meantime! 

I also started the hand quilting that I wanted to add... loving it!  As it is a secret project I can't reveal too much - but this should give you a hint.

My rustic hand quilting is neither straight nor even... but I love the definition it gives.  I have been using an Aurifil 12wt cotton thread which suits this chunky quilting style.

My good friend who attended Quilt Symposium in January treated me to a quilty tea towel souvenir.
Little quilty quips... although being white it won't last long in my kitchen, but looks quite at home hanging on my design wall at present.

 Some a bit closer up... makes me think we are a bit of a smutty lot... "quilters do it with a walking foot" just sounds like we have some sort of fetish... but then again, we probably do.  "Quilters do it in the Car" has me rather stumped.  What do we do in the car?  Am I missing something obvious?  Any ideas???

And while we're on the subject of funny little phrases... this is the sign I recently bought for our littlest room.  Although I might need to add "and put the old roll into the bin" to make it a perfect world.

With the colder weather creeping up, it was finally time to sneak a second quilt on the bed.  I just knew that it was finally time for Bluebirds and Berries to get its time in the sun.

I think you can tell that the border size was chosen to cover this size bed!  It is a perfect fit.

And you can also see the dimension from the quilting... although the outer applique border is quilted with a tone on tone thread, it really shows up wonderfully in this light.

Monday, March 16, 2015

And repeat until finished

I've been really good with my quilting this past week, scheduling in an hours worth of FMQ each afternoon.  By Friday and with five hours under my belt, I still was not quite 1/4 finished on the background.  Progress did mean that I didn't feel too guilty spending a bit of time planning for the Mystery Medallion centre block, when it was my turn to host the Saturday patchwork ladies.

Out came the books and the fabrics... lots of ideas... you'll have to wait to see what it all looks like, but it is definitely coming together.

I received in the post the latest Down Under Quilts magazine...

With a wee feature of my Robot quilt in their kids quilts article.

Not too shabby... although I do wish I had a decent hanging space to ensure better photography.  Sometimes it's not what you know but who you know... and a big thank you to that enabling person... you know who you are!

Plans for this week... you guessed it... more FMQ.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Sparking the Imagination

I've realised that part of my mojo issue is that I'm not truly excited by any of the projects I have underway.  Yes, I still love them all... but they have all reached that point of being somewhat Blah.  I feel like I have been committed to projects since halfway through last year, and now that the last of the baby quilts have been finished, and I've decided to pass Imogen's quilt on to someone else for some serious straight line quilting (which is beyond my skill level) I'm starting to feel like I can enjoy a bit more of what I want to do.  I still have the magazine submission quilt to finish, and now that I am fully equipped with quilting pins and thread, I've made a start on the quilting.  It's still pretty top secret, but I'm sure a little sneak won't hurt - stippling in the background, while not incredibly creative, is going to give this quilt so much texture and help to link the various beige and cream fabrics I have used.

To help revamp my creative spirits, I signed up for a Mystery Medallion project with my favourite shop, The Country Yard.  The label says it all... 

Well, really the label and the instructions inside.  Each month you receive a set of guidelines, which you must follow.  But you also get to put your own spin on things as you are using your own fabrics and design.  However, the fabric provided with the first month must be included in each round. 

I'm busy pulling fabrics and dreaming up designs.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Anyone still there?

Despite all my best intentions, I seem to have developed a very strong streak of procrastination.  And guess what?  I'm really good at it. 

I have managed to get my quilting done on my girl quilt, and have one more short side to handstitch on the binding... but really, this should have been finished last week.

I do love the way the simple straight line quilting echoing either side of the seam lines gives it so much texture.

It's also been time for a new quilt on the bed.  Remember my Playground quilt using Sweetwaters Reunion fabric line?  Amazingly, even though this one has been finished for ages... it's never actually made it onto the bed! 

Although I say that everyone is my favourite, there is just something I love about the simple patterns and shapes in this quilt - both the fabric and block design.  I also love the simple petal shape quilted through the centre of each square, which has no relation to the arrangement of the blocks. 

And even though I angsted (shh, I don't think that's a word) over the charm squares that blended into the background and wondered whether to leave them out of the mix... I love the way those shapes blend into the background and give the quilt just that much more interest.

 Now, back to that pesky binding...

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Perfect for a Baby Girl

After 7 or so weeks of school holiday time at and around home, I realized that while love may make the world go around, clean washing comes a close second :o)

Returning to work and school routines is of course on the one hand a blessing, on the other a blinking nuisance.  With the kids returning to school on different days, and me having a couple of sneaky free days up my sleeve, I treated myself to a new hairdo and a wonderfully relaxing facial and back massage.  All up - I probably feel as well rested as I have ever felt since having children!  Now that's a long time.

With the routines back to normal, I've been sneaking in a bit of sewing in the afternoons, and have managed to get my second baby quilt top (the little girl version) finished.

I had all sorts of plans for this charm bundle... but in the end I liked having the fabrics separated by the white, and cutting them into triangles made it just that much more interesting than a plain square patchwork.  This is another simple design that just suits these fabrics so well.

I chose a couple of blending fabrics for the narrow borders, which brings it up in size to 40"x48" - a good cot size.  I have plans for straight line quilting either side of the horizontal and vertical seams.  We'll see how that goes.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

On progress and on lack of progress

Three quarters finished on the binding... and then it will be all over.  Hand sewing binding always puts a blister right on the end of my forefinger that holds the needle and a sore patch on my middle finger that assists with pushing it through (tried a thimble and it was just a hot sticky mess).  Hence short and irregular bursts of sewing.  I am such a wuss.

I am a firm believer in the saying "it's not over until the fat lady sings"... although in quilting terms, it relates to not making judgement until the quilting and binding are complete.  Even hubby has changed his opinion and quite likes it - with all it's restrained design aesthetic.

With spirals on the green, interlocking boxes on the blue, and an echo around the zigzag, the quilting helped to pull it all together.

Shows up nicely on the back.

This design has come about in such a round about sort of way - logic and necessity more than anything. You'll remember the initial drawing, which meant poor utilization of fabric, so I changed the zigzag to run horizontally as opposed to vertically, meaning that the other sections could be cut in one piece... across width of fabric since the quilt is 40" wide.  That design had the zigzag towards the bottom, with the large plain section at the top.  But as the only fabrics I could buy to match the charm square prints weren't the best matches... and I didn't want that much of the green, I switched the design to the zigzag at the top and a small section of green, with the heavier and bigger blue section at the bottom.  I had also intended to use the green as the binding... which would have looked amazing around the dark blue section.  But I didn't like it so much with the backing fabric I had bought, so stuck with the dark blue for the binding.  So all up... I'm happy with how it has turned out, regardless of how or why it all came about.  And I think it's a perfect design for someone who couldn't give a rats arse about quilting.

In other quilting news, once this baby quilt is finished up, I can return to the girl quilt under construction... now that I have another pack of charm squares to continue.  Quilting on Imogen's quilt has stalled as I consider what quilting designs to use to fill the balance of the space.  As often happens, indecision leads to no progress... but it's hard to do something when you don't know what to do.  I have one more week before heading back to work - so should really pull finger.

In other non-quilting news, uniform has been bought for Dylan's new school this year, and we had a dress rehearsal to check out how flash he looked - complete with new hair do.  Not that he was overly impressed - with either the uniform, hairdo or dress rehearsal.  They have a bottle green jumper/sweatshirt as well, but it was just too hot to force that on him too.

And a bit of holiday fun... a ginormous water slide set up at the town basin in Whangarei.  They had heaps of fun on this one!

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Holiday Mode... Stories and Spirals

I thought that this week might be the one.  The one where I returned to myself. But in fact, I've found myself disappearing once again into the fantasy world of fiction.  I have achieved some of my holiday goals... a trip to the doctors for a decent checkup has resulted in a follow up for blood tests and x-rays next week.  We've also visited skate parks, the nearest indoor pools (which has a story all into itself) and had a wee fabric and thread shopping expedition.  So I think I am slowly returning.  Just not quite yet.

The thread purchases meant that I had no reason to get my teeth into quilting the boy quilt.  So after sandwiching it all this morning, I've started with green spirals.  No pebbles this time... just spirals.

I've come to the conclusion that success with spirals depend on two things - starting your spiral with a curve from the beginning... not a straight line with a bend on it.  The second being that every spiral should start with the same amount of curliness.  This is my standard... a curve with a bend.

Once you've followed that curve and bend back to the starting place, you will have already created quite a significant spiral shape.  See, you didn't need to go around, and around, and around.

This design, which is one of Angela Walters go to designs... next travels along the edge that the stitching butts up to (whether it's the edge of the quilt, another spiral or another design element), and creates an echo of the outer spiral.

Then it's time to start a new spiral, travel a little way along the previous spiral (you can also travel along the edge) and start a new spiral, again starting with a curve from the beginning and making the same amount of curliness as you started off with.

Echo back to the beginning, travel then create an outer echo...

Travel to start a new spiral.  Keep going until your space is all filled up.

Ideally all the spirals would be identical sizes, with identical echoing etc etc.  But we're not robots here are we??  Even drawing it has it's draw backs, as you can see.  Sometimes you have a bit more space, and other times not so much.  It does actually look better to have a bit of variety in the spirals - but too much variety and it starts to look messy.  Sticking with the two rules above will help to keep your spirals in order.  Also resist the temptation to do an extra echo - even when you really want to get onto the other side of the design.  Don't do it.  It just looks messy. 

So what have I been reading this time?  Well, finished the KGI series by Maya Banks.  Enjoyed every one of the books, except the one about Donovan which was just corny.  Read Shadow Woman by Linda Howard.  Which reminded me of another one of her books I've read in the past, so decided to revisit Death Angel by her also.  Still like it.  Next up is Whiskey Beach by Nora Roberts.  Loved it.  Got full on goosebumps right at the end - when the significance of the last few lines registered in my brain.  Excellent.

Right, more sewing and reading to do...