Tuesday, March 29, 2016

A bit of everything

It's been a while since I had a "what's on the bed" photo.

At the moment it is my Echoes of Log Cabins at the Beach quilt.  I love this quilt.  Like seriously.  Love this quilt.  Mostly I think it is the soft blues and greens in the quilt - a hint of grey, mostly solids, but a few bold basic prints also.

The colours just appear amongst the cream and sand background fabrics, almost floating, almost as if there is no pattern... and it is totally abstract.

But of course, I know there is a pattern, although at first it is not obvious - and for some reason my brain doesn't require that I recognize the pattern - in that way that sometimes you need to see a pattern to be able to understand a quilt, recognize how the pieces fit together.  It's interesting.  I think maybe the soft, soothing colour palette puts that part of my mind to rest.

I have a few more blocks to add to my block exchange.

I really like this Tea Leaf block - and think it would be a real winner for a totally scrap quilt.  You know the ones, made entirely from your own scraps.  This block is 12" but a 9" block would probably play with scraps a bit nicer - you could work your way through the rainbow... using the same background and centre square for each block.  After some of those other paper pieced blocks, it was nice to put together a block that just falls into place!

Monday, March 28, 2016

Previously known as the Trans-tasman block exhange...

Now known as the Okaihau-Kerikeri block exchange.

This all started when my best friend Monika moved to Australia.  We decided to use the Vintage Quilt Revival book by Katie Clark Blakesley, Lee Heinrich and Faith Jones as our guide and make all the blocks in the book.  Of course, that is make two identical blocks, and exchange the second copy so we would each end up with 40 blocks each.  Then we would use the good old mail system to post our blocks to each other.

Monika moving back to New Zealand has mean that the postage part of the exchange is no longer required, and we can enjoy a coffee while we discuss how things are going.

We thought choosing a feature fabric that we both used as inspiration would be a good way to select a colour palette - and that is a great starting point.  Although we both struggled to find something that we both liked, well, I actually struggled to find anything that I liked... let alone thought Monika would also like.

We finally settled on this fabric from good old Spotlight.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing.  Although we have finally found a solution, this fabric has a very odd background - not really cream, not really off white, a bit pinkish, but not really pink.  It was the first problem in getting our challenge started, as we both wanted to use the same background fabric, to achieve a somewhat cohesive effect to our quilt project.  So rule one in choosing a feature fabric - check out possible background fabric choices first.

The second problem with this particular fabric is that although it has a good range of colours, each colour only has one tone.  So choosing co-ordinating fabrics has been a bit of a challenge for me.  My rule number two of choosing a feature fabric would be to try to find a fabric that has a variety of colours, and a range of tones.  It just all makes it a bit easier.  I'm pleased to report that both Monika and I have stepped outside the box in choosing fabrics, so we have quite a range of fabrics that don't really match with the feature, but play nicely together.  Because we have both left the box behind... our blocks are looking really good together.

Now, another finished block.  I was worried about putting this one together - lots of tricky bits that need to match up - but surprisingly, it went together beautifully.  Even that pesky seam in the middle.

This was my block.

And this is Monikas.  It is amazing how different fabric placements change the finished block.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Sampler Blocks

I have a bit of a love/hate relationship with sampler blocks - but as my quilting journey has progressed, I have found myself more inclined to make one off blocks, which when joined together become a sampler quilt.
Possible block setting Number 412 - alternate square and on point layout

A friend of mine and I have been making Amy Gibson's Sugar Club blocks - 2013 I think - which has been a bit of a slow drawn out process, but is slowly coming together.  I have had various ideas about how I would set my finished blocks (once they are finished of course).  Through a completely unrelated search through quilting books I was reminded that I really liked this particular setting:

Of course, I would do a 3x3 layout using nine blocks

which was in this book:

Wow, this book just has millions of blocks and settings to try out - not all to my taste, but certainly something to get your project started

It just all started me thinking about whether I could make this setting work with the various sampler blocks - knowing that I didn't have the regularity of the star block centre that the book project had.  I thought about it for quite a while - and I'm sure made it a whole lot more difficult than it really was.  In the end I figured it made as much sense to just try the setting with one of the blocks... this was how far I got before I ran out of background fabric...

but I also realised that it will work!  So happy faces all round. 

Saturday, March 5, 2016

So, yeah... the train quilt...

I often look at colouring books, and imagine the outlines filled with fabric, as opposed to felt pens.  The idea of blowing up a A4 page into a block size, or indeed a quilt size has always appealed, and didn't seem too difficult to achieve.  Well, now that the project is finished, I was kind of right and wrong, both at the same time.

I started with an image off the internet... which had no copyright.

Scanned the printed page to get a PDF, then printed it using the Tiling function in the print properties, choosing to print 7 pages across, by 7 pages down.  That's 49 sheets of paper in total, which needed to be trimmed and taped into place.

The resulting pattern sort of took up most of the lounge, so was soon banished to the sleepout floor.

I originally tried to buy a large sheet of clear plastic/vinyl to trace the pattern onto, but of course, when I wanted to buy it - couldn't find it for sale anywhere.  A cheap clear shower curtain did the trick, although it wasn't perfect.  It had folds and wrinkles that did cause problems, and it was somewhat stretchy, which also caused problems.  But soldier on I did... tracing the pattern, simplifying the design somewhat in the process.

I used the plastic sheet for two reasons, once the major outlines had been traced on, I flipped the plastic to use the reverse side to trace my fusible web pieces.  Then once the fabric pieces were fused and cut, I used the plastic back in its correct position over the background fabric to help place the pieces.

It was cumbersome and fiddley... and not all that enjoyable.  I was surprised how much fabric I needed to buy to get this project finished.  Partly that was because I needed quite large pieces of fabric - and they all needed to work perfectly together - so not really an ideal project for random stash usage.  I also needed to use several different types of fusible, as they don't make the wide fusible web that I used to prefer, and the narrower width that is available now wasn't large enough for the pieces I wanted to cut.  Some of the other products were difficult to use, and tended to resist being ironed to the backing fabrics.  This just added to my frustration levels.  It was thick and uncomfortable to machine blanket stitch around - pieces tended to fall off part way through the process.

But as you can see, the picture did finally get finished.  The addition of the borders and the name applique turned the picture block into a decent single bed size, and the wonderful border fabrics used helped to finish the whole project off.  Great choice Kerryn!

So would I do it again?  Not sure.  I have had another idea for a large applique quilt that has been floating around in my head for ages - but I'm just not sure now whether I could face it after creating this "masterpiece".  Maybe it is a bit like child birth, and I just need to wait for the pain memories to fade.