Tuesday, 20 June 2017

Scrap Happy

 When I was sorting all my scraps I came across a pile of 10 1/2" square pieces of fabric.  Just a couple more light fabric squares added to them gave me 20 HSTs (Half Square Triangles) to play with.

This layout used just 16 of them.
 This used the same 16, but turned the corners to give a boxier look.
 This used all 20 blocks - much more satisfying and a slightly larger quilt.
 It was tweaked slightly, then borders added.

Here is it is basted and ready to be quilted - but not until the hot weather we're being subjected to at the moment cools down a little.  The room where I sew is roasting hot at the moment!

This remains a WIP!
 A little more sewing.  These four cards use my heart orphan blocks - layered with a slightly larger fabric square and sewn onto the card.  Quick but effective, I've already used one!
These took a little longer, but my DD1 was very pleased to give them to her friend.  It's fun to make these small projects with the fabric that my daughters think is most suitable for their chums!

I hope that you are a enjoying the weather where you are!  Happy sewing!

Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Scrap Quilt Finish!

 My 16 patches are sashed, bordered, backed, basted, quilted and bound!

I've also taken the chance to try a couple of outdoor quilt photos in this mornings sunshine.  I couldn't persuade our chicks to pose in the background of this first one, though, despite using the fence of their run.  They looked faintly bemused and went back to their dust baths!
 This shot shows the colour change between the centre four blocks and the others.  I'm pleased with that.
This shot shows off the square in a square highlights.

Overall the quilt is 45" square.  I originally intended to make the sashing and borders wider, but decided to live more or less within the constraints of  typical 'width of fabric'.  Of course, as I was adding the borders I realised that as I was making them with cornerstones I could have made them wider at least!  A lesson for next time!
 The quilting is a 'loop the loop' design based on something taught by Patsy Thompson.  I own one of her DVD's and was reminded of it by Avril recently.  A fun design!  Thanks for the reminder!

The backing is a bargain from IKEA.  I usually make a trip to see if there are any fabrics that I could use as a generic backing fabric once I run out of whatever I last bought - and although I don't love this as much as some of the prints that I've bought over the years, it's a lovely 56" wide blue grey fabric, which has a lot of appeal for me.
I had fun making the quilt.  As well as a scrappy top (and patchwork wadding) I decided to use all the part bobbins of threads that I had.  It feels very cleansing to have so many empty bobbins again.  I tend to have white, grey black and perhaps straw coloured threads on bobbins ready to go.  I would say that 80% of the time I use grey Aurifil for piecing, and quite often I use it for quilting too.

Time for me to go and start on the next scrap top!

Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Scraps in Sixteens

 The mountain of scraps has been tamed!

Here are my resulting piles of 3" squares.  Once I'd finished cutting the scraps they were re-loaded into a (slightly smaller) set of plastic drawers.  First back out are my 3" and 1 3/4" squares, ready to make the first of this set of scrap quilts.
  I've made the first set of 16 'sixteen patch' blocks.  The outer dozen are my pink / purple / bluish ones, with the centre four being the blue / green ones.

Although I've laid it out like this, I'm planning to sash the blocks to show them off a bit better.  I've bought some Kona 'Ash' to do that.
Do you like the little 'square in a square' blocks?  I've included two in each 16 patch, just like the example in 'Scrap Quilt Sensation' by Katherine Guerrier.

They definitely give it a little extra 'zing' don't they?

My plan is to work on this quilt before starting on the next set of sixteen blocks, which will just about be right for the number of 3" squares that I've harvested from my scraps.  I love to lose myself in my little bit of fabric heaven.

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Scraps Galore!

 I've nearly completed the scrap cutting overhaul on two out of my three drawers - so it's going well! 
As expected it has been quite time consuming.  Also as expected, I've been distracted into cutting additional sizes as well, so 2 1/2" squares and anything 2" wide have also been added to the piles!  This does have the advantage that I am wasting even less fabric, though, which is a good thing.

It's lovely finding 'old friends' as I go through my scraps - some of them from my very earliest days of quilting, maybe 17 years ago!
In other news, our garden is enjoying a few minor changes too.  Our five pet chicks are now out of the fenced paddling pool in the kitchen and in their coop (RH in this picture).  Not too long until they will be big enough to be in the whole run!

We are also in the process of trading up trampolines - moving from 8' round to 9'x13' oval.  That's the biggest size that we can manage on the decking.  Our DDs are looking forward to it!

I'm looking forward to finishing scrap cutting so that I can get on with some scrap sewing.  Hope that you have fun goals too!

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Small Delights

 I'm giddy with the thrill of another finish!  This might be the last for a while, as it's the final unfinished project that had been put away over the last year or so.

Completed size at about 18" x 14", this really is a mini quilt.  You may remember that it was a laser cut kit from John Flynn.  My accuracy leaves some thing to be desired, but I'm pleased with the overall effect.
 More small delights with these little fabric gift bags (from a tutorial from aspoonsfulofsugardesigns).

They are very easy to make by hand or machine and can either be used as tiny gift pouches or left open to make little 'trays'.  I think that they would be handy for jewellery on holiday - somewhere to put tiny things so that you can find them again!

 Another set of small loveliness.  A couple of gift sets (zippy pouch, fabric covered notebook, tissue holder) for birthday gifts for DD2's friends.

Can you tell that I'm between quilting projects now?! 
 So on to the next project!  These are my overflowing scrap drawers.

At one point I was trying to cut to a system and the drawers are labelled up with the size pieces that I thought I was going to use.

However, more often than not, at the end of a project I ended up stuffing random sizes of fabric into these drawers.  They are now so full that I'm no longer able to do that!

Careful examination showed the zip lock bags where I was keeping scraps according to colour - an idea that I love, but which, again, I'd failed to really follow.

I've now come to the momentous decision that I should actually cut these pieces into standard sizes.  It's going to take me a while!
The key difference this time is that I've decided what two scrap projects I'm going to try and make as a result of the cutting frenzy - which gave me three sizes to aim at. 

In addition I'm going to have anything sensible at 2 1/2" wide (jelly roll width) and 1 1/4" wide (my favourite binding width) as well as 5" (charm squares).

The list of sizes is hung up in front of me so that I can't get distracted into other sizes.  Its going to be time consuming to prep these fabrics but it will be very satisfying to make good use of them at the end!

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

All the Trimmings!

 Trimmings.  Funny sort of word - it could be the little cut off edges, like here, or lace around a hat, or stuffing and food stuffs around a roast meal - before we even start to think about trimming sails or trimming a boat.....  Anyway, I was thinking about the first sort of trimming this week, as I set to work on the mini blocks that I was making for my 'storm at sea'.

This layout was the first that I tried.  I've tweaked it a couple of times now, but I haven't started sewing it together yet as I'm trying to find some secondary patterns.  I'm not sure that I shouldn't have done that before sewing the parts together, but I'm not sure that I have a household that wouldn't have fiddled with the tiny pieces before I'd got that far, so block making first seemed like the best plan!
 Whilst that layout is still under consideration, I decided that I should put some 'raw' fabric paint onto my favourite calico, just to have a reference chart.

 I learned from my previous Wendy Dolan inspired piece, and diluted the colours a lot more this time.

Of course, I think that I may have gone too far in the other direction.  Slightly paler than in my head!

This is the start point (fabric blocks, paint washes) of my next attempt.  I also used a little fabric paint that was supposed to puff but didn't, really.  More experimentation required!
This is the stitching start point, where I'd got the main lines down using the walking foot. 
This is closer to being complete.  Lines given more weight by going over then more than once,  curved lines and FMQ completed with a hopping foot.  I used a lovely variegated thread for the two different plants.

It's still not quite there yet, though.  I need to add a little more weight to the gate.  I need to add something in the bottom RH corner (perhaps a sketch pavement?  I'm not sure yet).

Overall I'm pretty pleased that it's a recognisable interpretation of my front entrance.  Lots of fun to do - and plenty more exploring to do on this technique.

Off to work on these two WIPS now!  I hope that you are finding some stitching time too!

Wednesday, 10 May 2017

A Puzzling Finish!

 Okay, not really a puzzling finish, but I wanted to try and reference the fact that this is a Suduko quilt!

It might be hard to pick out, but the nine blocks used to make the quilt are each made up of nine small blocks, which have between one and nine fabrics in them.

The quilt design was published in 'The Quilter' by Lesley Coles.

 It's one of the challenges set by my quilt group - Richmond and Kew Quilters - in order to generate a few special categories for our quilt show (which is still some way off).
The front is a little busy with a lot of similar sized prints.  I decided to make the quilt from my stash, so some fabric choices were based on whether or not I had sufficient fabric within the colour families that I wanted to use! 
 The stripe on the back is one of the fabrics from the front - I had just enough to eek out this seed print into a backing - phew!

Curly quilting all over - trying to make the whorls large enough that the quilting wasn't too dense as I wanted this to be another good snuggle quilt for someone.  After the exhibition it will probably go to Project Linus.

 I'm happy that it looks cheerful, even if it is difficult to distinguish the Suduko within it!

Another fast finish as I'd made the small blocks for this last year.  It's fun working through my WIP list and clearing project piles away as I go.
I've also started making another Wendy Dolan inspired piece.  I haven't travelled far to take photos as it's of my front gate!  Small patches of different textures added, along with a little puff paint.  Next steps colour and stitching.

My next WIP to work on is a mini storm at sea.  I started it some time ago but put it to one side when I wasn't pleased with my seam accuracy.  I'm now thinking that I either need to brace myself to unpick it or to carry on and complete it - just leaving it to one side isn't good enough!  Wish me luck!


Wednesday, 3 May 2017

Little Hazel Complete!

 It's  lovely to pick up some of my longer term WIPS now that I've completed the 365 Challenge.

Little Hazel, a BOM that Esther Aliu released last year (thank you, Esther!), was high on my list to complete.
 Made from a set of spotty fabrics, It was great to get the top made from the blocks that I'd made last year - and then back it, baste it and bind it!

It didn't take too long to complete it, once I sat down and worked out where I was in the project.  That's the problem when you put a project down and it's longer than you expect until you pick it up again!
(Colours shown are closest to real life in this photo with the backing and the label).
This one is staying at home with us.  It's going to be our snuggle on the sofa, sit on in the garden, use all the time quilt at the request of DD2 who is in love with it!

Now time to move on with the next WIP - a Suduko challenge through my quilt group.  Another project that I started last year.....!

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Ta-Da! 365 Challenge Quilt Complete!

 My 365 Challenge Quilt is complete!  Thank you, Kathryn Kerr, for the 365 different blocks that you collected for us to make.

You can see how large it is - I could only photograph half of it at a time on our double bed!

It is 102" tall and 78" wide.  It has been challenging to make and quilt, but thoroughly enjoyable.
 This is the bottom half of the quilt.  So many blocks to admire!
 And this is the top half of the quilt.  I'm hoping to come up with a way of getting the brackets for the hanging pole onto the wall that I can do without asking someone with a long ladder to do it, but that decision won't be made for a week or two.  Instead I'll settle for seeing just parts of the quilt, but up close!
 Monster quilt on the right, and her little sister on the left!

I used the three left over blocks (from bonus blocks), and as many of the HSTs and other scraps left over from constructing the blocks as possible to make this little 12" square mini.
How many pieces in it?  There are 338 pieces on the front, not including the binding.  Once I got started it was fun to try and puzzle the pieces together.

The wadding is pieced, the back is pieced - it's a really mini 'mop up' quilt - and made in less than a day!

I've still got a few light scraps left, but they will get used in other mini projects.  I'm thinking that there could be a few mini pin cushions there.

Time to shake the dust off some other projects that have been put aside and move them forward now!

Tuesday, 18 April 2017

Thank you, Wendy!

 Last week my quilt group had a talk by textile artist Wendy Dolan.  Talk about inspirational!  Dive down the link and have a look at her lovely work!
She was very generous in sharing how she worked - the steps that she took to create textile art works, often using architecture as a start point.
Its a subject matter that I enjoy too, although I've never really been able to represent it well in textile pieces.

Inspired by Wendy (and clutching a copy of her book) I decided to start a small piece whilst my head still held some of the ideas that she was sharing.
 I used her genius tracing paper idea to try and put colour blocks (using torn paper) under where I wanted them to be in the thread sketch.  Then splodged the paint onto the prepared 'canvas'. 

If I'd have been more patient I'd have practiced a bit first, which would have taught me to dilute the paint more as I would have preferred a lighter blue!
 Next I stitched from the back through the tracing paper from earlier (which was the main lines from a photo - I've learned that I need to edit these lines more carefully when I'm at the tracing stage).  This gave me my basic lines for the picture.
 Finally I added more detail, some coloured thread to the main suspension lines of the bridge, and tried to resolve the 'under bridge' kerfuffle of lines on the right hand side.
Finally, the piece was trimmed and put into this frame that I had to hand.

There are many areas where this 'sketch' can be improved (paint density, thread line weight, resolving which bits I want to show and how, reducing the size to within the frame on a background, changing the colour of the frame...)  but on the whole I'm pleased with this as a first attempt at Wendy's technique, so, 'Thank you, Wendy!'.  As it can be used to produce relatively recognisable objects (for anyone who lives locally, this is Teddington Lock footbridge) by someone who has no art skills, I'd really like to try this again from a picture of my house and perhaps some other local landmarks.  All good fun!

Meanwhile, hand stitching the binding on my 365 challenge quilt continues - nearly there!

Tuesday, 11 April 2017

Flaming Good Progress!

 Can you see the flames?  OK, they are going from side to side rather than up and down, but they were still quilted as flames!  These were the last parts to be quilted on my 365 quilt - the top and the bottom of it.

Much as I enjoy quilting, I was quite pleased to finish this stage of this large quilt.
 With this photo I'm trying to show some of the different quilted areas from the back.  You can see the flames on the right, the swirls at the top left and the bottom centre, and within the 'L' made of those, the meanders and feathers of the next border in.

Not easy to make out, perhaps - but it's all quilted now!

Naturally, the next step is the binding!  The fabric is chosen and is shown here when I was joining the strips together.  Wish me luck!