Sunday, 10 April 2016

Squeaking in

I was wondering if I'd be able to finish up my little mini (18.5"x20") for Rachel's Bluebird Sew Off, and I managed it! But only just, squeaking in under the deadline! I do love deadlines, it means I actually finish stuff. And I knew I had to really push to make it otherwise it'd lay around forever because it's for ME and that's always bottom of the list.

It's an Ugly Christmas Sweater! In the 'Winter Sweater' print from Bluebird! Co-starring a lovely coordinating C+S solid and soft low volumes for the background.

Honestly the Winter Sweater print really got me. I ordered some and then Rachel's contest came up and it was just awesome because I'd seen the Ugly Sweater block before and I needed to make it right then. It wasn't instant because I've been very busy (ugh) but I'm glad I stuck with it. You wouldn't believe the number of ends I've woven in.

I did a zigzaggy stitch on the sweater to kinda mimic knitting. It doesn't show up as much as I thought it would. Maybe after a wash.
The contrast bands are ditch-stitched and the background has little vertical dashes scattered over, trying to be snow.

As I was making it, it struck me that I was only using two focal fabrics. I didn't want to add another one into the binding, but neither the Winter Sweater or the solid did a good job on it's own as binding. So together it was! Piped binding, contrast binding, whatever you call it. Nice. But I won't use single fold binding next time, wow that made it difficult. Double fold all the way for this technique. Or at least, the way I did it.

Thank you to Rachel for giving me a push to make something with Bluebird! And a nice finish that I actually get to keep!

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Staaash, Buttons and (managing) Obsession

Oh it has been a long time since I've acquired fabric. Oh yes, how I miss the feeling. I've bought a fat quarter here and there, mostly for bee blocks but yardage is very different.

Yardage has substance to it, significant weight. Like you could endeavour to make a big quilt out of it and not find yourself stranded, having run out of fabric in the middle of piecing. Or like you could hit someone with it and it would hurt. Substance.

I confess, I didn't even buy this bundle. I'd left it behind with a whole bunch of other fabric when I moved back home and I've only just gotten it back now. But it feels like new fabric!
  The quilt I'd decided on for this bundle was mail-themed and I obsessed over it, I loved it. I've changed my mind though, I'm not sure if I like the combination so much anymore, and the mail-themed quilt has lost its allure. I know I'm going to use this selection to test out the centre of a medallion quilt I have planned, so that will help me see if I do indeed like these fabrics together, but apart from that, this bundle is project-less!

A couple of weeks ago I bought two sets of covered buttons because they were very cheap and I was dying to play with them. I've a perpetual calendar in mind, based on the one in Rashida Coleman-Hale's book I Love Patchwork. She's made a few iterations over time and I adore them all. She uses covered buttons in other projects as well, and I think I'm just falling in love with them in general!
   Do you ever have those projects that just consume you? Ones that you get obsessed over and you think them and re-think them and re-think them again just because it's such a beautiful idea? I absolutely love it when that happens. It's a strange kind of obsession because while it can take away from other creative pursuits, suddenly you just have so much fire in you for this one thing and it's beautiful, to be full of that energy.
   I get obsessed sometimes, not just with projects but with whole crafts, or games. It was crochet, then knitting, then Pokemon (oh that was a bad time for me) and now quilting. Recognising that I go through stages of obsession is important for me so that I can weigh up if I really do want to start this new thing, because it may not last. It also means that I refuse to get sucked in to TV shows ('fandoms', I guess you'd call that) because I just can't afford to lose the time and creative energy if I got hooked. I'd like to lightly enjoy an episode a week of something-or-other but I don't seem to have a 'gentle river outing' setting on that sort of thing; it's more like a 'waterfall' setting. Quilting appears to be the closest I've come to that 'gentle river outing' level, and that's rather pleasing.

Have you had creative ideas that consume you, that you just can't stop thinking about? An idea for a new quilt, perhaps?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Rada WIP

I had to stop working on my sewing machine cover because the quilting was hurting my fingers. I haven't found a thimble I can use comfortably. So I decided to work on something else for a while!

I've been working on Rada, the quilt for my older brother that was due... oh, about the 12th of May, you know. Progress on it had slowed considerably given several factors that couldn't be overcome, and this time, I'm not going to be hard on myself about it. Things happen!

I changed the design around a tiny bit, mostly to compensate for the missing row - my brother decided that he couldn't stand a square quilt. That's okay, I guess. Little less work for me, and four extra blocks to make into pillows. Neat!

I used QAYG sashing to join the QAYG blocks together. I was worried that the sashing would be too stark a contrast against the blocks, especially the light grey ones, but I think they hold their own pretty well!

I used this tutorial from The Quilting Edge to help me with the sashing, except I folded over the wider strip an inch instead of folding it in half, to save fabric, and used the narrower strip for the front of the quilt instead of the back. I would definitely recommend that you cut the wider strip wider and fold it in half because folding over that inch was annoying, fiddly and imprecise.

I used the narrower strip on the front of the quilt because I wanted the sashing to be crisp and uniform there, without the slight variance of width the folded-over strip adds into the mix. This also meant that I needed to hand-stitch down the flap on the back of the quilt since I didn't want a stitching line showing on the front. Doing that really makes you appreciate just how long the total sashing in a quilt is!

It was pretty exciting seeing the quilt come together as I pictured it! The scale drawings helped with visualising the quilt, that's for sure.

Wow quilts get large and unwieldy very quickly. I couldn't imagine free-motion quilting anything this size (it's almost queen-sized, I think?), definitely not with my current machine anyway.

So this is what it looks like at the moment! I've just got to trim it and add a 6" black border all the way around. I think I can do some fun piecing on the backside of the border to use up some of the scraps, too!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Sewing Machine Cover

My sewing machine doesn't have a cover yet, and since it mostly hangs out in the garage, it badly needs one. So I'm making one for it this week!

I sewed, pressed and trimmed 120 HSTs for this cover. Then I discovered that the layout I wanted (a random, scrap-happy sort of thing) was most definitely not going to work with the fabrics I'd chosen because they were far too busy. Cue frustration.

My sister to the rescue! She rearranged them into the perfect pattern for the fabrics I had, and in a layout like this, I'm shocked that she managed to get everything to go together so perfectly. She always has been good at Tetris.

I'm at the quilting stage now! I even did a lovely pieced back for it, too.

I'm hand-quilting it because I love hand-quilting my machine isn't happy with me and it's skipping stitches. Maybe when I present it with a lovely new cover it will love me again!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Quilted Pillow

When we were down in Masterton visiting our grandparents, my sister and I got to choose six fat quarters each! I chose aquas and purples for the stash and my sister went the project-oriented route. She found this marvellous duck fabric and decided she wanted to make a pillow out of it!

I kind of took command over the project. I did this for her birthday. She really liked it, and I have to admit that I'm really impressed with how it came out!

I did some straight-line quilting-in-the-ditch  around the centre square and light green fabric, then a couple of lines on the ponga border. I really like the ponga fabric! It's directional so it was a bit interesting getting the borders out of the fabric I had, but I managed it.

I did some hand quilting in the centre square! I outlined the ducks and did some wavy lines across the water. It didn't look great until the pillow was inside the cover - they really pop now, and I'm so glad I took the extra time to do that.

For the back I used some strips of the fabric that was left over and just did some straight-line quilting.

My machine did not like attaching the binding through that many layers. I think I'm going to have to fiddle with the settings or try out different needles in order to make that bit easier.

All in all, a very satisfying finish! The quilting gives the cover structure while still being delightfully squishy. I think I'd like to make these to accompany the quilts that I make!

Monday, 9 June 2014

April and May Bee Blocks

I'm involved in two bees, Hive #8 at Newbee Quilters and Ausbees at Australian Quilters, both on Threadbias. We've been going for two months now so I thought I'd post pictures!

First up for April was a Road to Oklahoma block for Emphill of Hive #8! These blocks look absolutely stunning when you put them all together. It's very similar to this block that I would love to make at some point. Beautiful!

Also for April, two Star Crossed blocks for Joke of Ausbees! I really liked working with the navy, I'd like to get more navy fabric to work with in the future!
 I wasn't a fan of how the HSTs were made in the tutorial, so if I do this again (I might do one for Asterism) I'd make them differently. I felt like they stretched a little and made matching points up a little more difficult than necessary.

For May, a feather block for Libellenart of Hive #8! I was really pleased that this was chosen; it was a great way to test out the block, since I want to eventually make a quilt out of these for me! I didn't like how the pattern didn't have a 1" reference square on the templates, nor did it say anywhere what size the block was supposed to be - I don't know if it turned out the right size or not!

We only do one block for Hive #8 but this one was for a charity quilt so quite a few of us made two. I didn't have enough background fabric to complete a second block so I just made the feather pieces. Typically, I like the second feather pieces WAY more!

And the April Ausbees blocks were modified Bento Blocks for Quilbee. I really like that one on the left. I can't believe I only have one fat quarter of red! Lots of purple, lots of pink but only one red. I'll be stocking up on all sorts of coloured basics once I get a job.

Saturday, 7 June 2014


This is the quilt I'm making for my little sister J who will be 17 in January next year. Little early to start on hers, especially since I don't even have the fabric for the Fractured quilt that's kind of maybe due in five days... Yeah I'm going to be late with that one.

Originally the idea was purple and grey cat faces from Elizabeth Hartman's Catvent QAL, but I changed my mind to stars! I think the variation of stars in this quilt, which I'm calling Asterism, will really be a visual treat once it's done!

Jean-Ginge is supervising
The reason I've started so early is because June is my month as Queen in my two bees! I'm in Hive #8 in the Newbee Quilters group on Threadbias and I'm also participating in Ausbees in the Australian Quilters group on Threadbias!
I've asked for purple and grey star blocks, they can be any pattern as long as it's a star and it's 12.5" unfinished. I'm so excited to see the wonderful mix of blocks I receive!

 I'm making twenty or so blocks, I think, and I'll hopefully be receiving twenty or so from my bee-mates. I've decided to treat my blocks as a sampler of sorts, a way to try out all sorts of different techniques!

This one is an EPP block done by hand that I'm very proud of - it took me two days! I drafted the pattern myself and I think it worked really well. I really enjoyed having something like this to work on so I'll be doing another EPP star, I think.

This is a lovely paper-pieced block from Lily's Quilts called ET Phone Home. I chain-pieced this one in an assembly-line style and messed up the middle section rather spectacularly on all eight pieces. I'd recommend doing this one two spokes at a time, I think, so that you can check the placement before making the same mistake on all of them. Lesson learned!

Wee signature block in there too!
This one is my favourite! It's a spiderweb block but the spiderweb only shows up as a secondary pattern when you put the blocks together, and I thought just one looked like a lovely four-pointed star. I used this tutorial from Sew Mama Sew except I wanted a larger block and didn't want to use the foundation method as it felt like a waste; I made a paper-piecing pattern instead.

I really like this one! It's very simple, just four different wonky stars in different feature and background fabrics, but it was quite fun to make, and very quick. I used this tutorial for the stars as I'd never made them before, and I think it worked very well. They aren't very wonky at all, really, but I'm happy with them!

This block is a bit of a shame, really. It's four Hunter's Stars blocks with the secondary pattern of the star forming in the middle, and it really is a fantastic block. My fabric choices leave much to be desired, there isn't enough contrast between the grey and the purple for you to see the star properly, which is a bummer. This one may end up being the back of a cushion, I might make a better one for the quilt itself.

Carpenter's Star! This is usually quite a large block due to the many pieces, so I had to size it down to fit and accidentally made it too small, oops. I can always add a border though, so that's okay. Not happy with some of the fabric choices, they kind of bleed into each other and the design isn't as crisp as it could be. I'm getting better with that though!

I'm pretty stoked about this quilt. I'm so excited to see the blocks all together! My mum's going to make a block too, which is pretty amazing because she hasn't done any patchwork in about twenty years. And I've asked my auntie if she'd like to contribute as well, and I think she might, so that's awesome! So many different fabrics will be in this quilt! It makes my heart happy.