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!

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

Kew Trip

 No sewing to show today - but a glorious trip to Kew Gardens to share.

Creeping up on a peacock - who didn't seem to mind that our approach wasn't subtle.
 Fabulous cherry blossom, fittingly on the edge of the Japanese garden.
 Proud as a peacock -  a handsome chap who stood for photographs very patiently.
 This blossom makes me want to start a camellia quilt straight away!
The earliest bluebells.

So much colour and life as spring comes to West London.  I feel very privileged to live so close to Kew.  Within five or ten minutes (with the help of DH to drive me there!) we can be behind the wall and enjoying the different themes and spectacles of the gardens.

I hope that you have somewhere that you can access to give you 'time out' and inspiration too.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

More Progress!

 The bunting that I made last week is up!  It reaches all around the kitchen (or at least, the half with the table in it!).  I'm pleased with it - and more importantly, so is the birthday girl!
 I spent a day baking.  There was a four layer birthday cake (four complete cakes - chocolate, lemon, orange and coconut).  There were 96 vanilla mini muffins.  There were 96 double chocolate mini muffins.  There were 36 lemon cupcakes.  That was a lot of cake!  Should I confess now that actually I'd got a bit muddled in my head and that I didn't really mean to make 96 of each flavour of mini muffin, but 96 in total?  It all worked out OK though.  The girls at the party only left about 70 cakes, which I palmed off on a neighbour (thank you Sarah!) who took them to a cake sale to raise funds for Red Nose Day - a complete win-win situation!
 To tired for much sewing, but I've made progress on this representation of Hounds Tor on Dartmoor.
I have to be brave now and add figures to show my family, and perhaps a bit more stitching to describe some of the fault lines in the rocks.  I would also like to add some grass / ground but I'm not sure quite how to do that.  I might try some grass coloured stitches....
 I also spent a little time quilting spiraly things in the next border on my big quilt.  Unfortunately I think that I should have left it alone, as it's becoming even more of a 'what not to do' catalogue!  Not only tucks in it, but that big puffy bar between the two areas of border quilting.....  must do better!
Even worse?  This side wasn't well basted, obviously, and I didn't realise that I'd folded the edge of the backing under until I'd quilt a chunk of it!  You have to laugh, don't you?

Needless to say I will spend a little time with the unpicker before I make any further progress on this!

I'm still excited about it.  These swirly borders are the outside edges on the sides, so I really feel that I'm making good headway on the quilting now.  I shall make as much progress as I can before the school holidays start.

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Bits and Bobs

 On Saturday (happy International Quilting Day, by the way!) I went to a workshop with Janet Bolton, who produces fabulous hand sewn applique pictures.  My head wasn't in quite the right space when I arrived - and I'd forgotten to think about a subject or taken any 'starter' images with me, so rather than producing a completed piece of work I worked on two 'canvases' instead, using 'rules' and suggestions from Janet.

This first one is all about Dartmoor with uncertain weather, and will be finished with Hounds Tor and perhaps, if I'm feeling brave, my attempt at representations of my family climbing it, as they did at half term.
 This second 'canvas' carries the aqua dot fabric forward, and I'm hoping might be a chance to show one of the Dartmoor ponies that we saw.

I really like the idea of carrying another fabric from this one into another 'canvas' too - but I need to think about what the subject will be.

It was interesting to find that even though I'd started with different proportions / dimensions, both these pieces ended up at almost identical sizes.  Obviously that was the size that I fancied on Saturday!
 Two more tiny projects this week.

A 'new home' card for a friend.
And a cup and saucer for a birthday card.  The fabric scraps are from the bunting that I made with a vaguely 'vintage' feel to support the tea party that my elder daughter will enjoy for her birthday.

I might even show the bunting next week, once it's been hung for the event!

I'm still making (slow) progress on the monster quilt too - but I got quite stiff so have had a few days break from it!

This week will be more about cake baking and decorating than sewing, but I'm still hoping to make more progress on the quilt!

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

More Quilting

 This is what my sewing area looks like with the monster quilt all ready for quilting.  Everything that's usually behind or to the left of the sewing machine and the extension table has been moved.  In fact, with the benefit of experience, everything that is usually under the (clear) extension table has also been moved, otherwise there is a chance that it will be jiggled out of position when I'm wrestling the quilt!
 The border of meandering gave way to a border of oyster shells.  Of course, I hadn't really thought through that although the patterns I was choosing were nice and simple, each round is considerable larger than the preceding one, so it is taking me longer than I'd thought to quilt it!
 Outside the oyster shells I'm attempting a round of mixed feathers and meandering - all quite random!  It really feels as though its been a long time since I've attempted feathers and they aren't the most beautiful of their type at the moment.  I'm hoping that I'll improve as I go round, whilst still refusing to do any mark marking on the quilt so they are VERY freehand, if you know what I mean!
 The same corner shown above from the back is shown here from the front too.  It's not great quilting, but it feels great to be doing some after several months without quilting!
Of course, other life goes on, and I was struck by this 'tufted tartan' pattern at the weekend, observed at a local ploughing match.  First furrows made perpendicular to last year's maize crop and judged before the competitors got back to work ploughing their sections with care (and sometimes careful measurements).  Fascinating to watch, whether it was tractor, rotavator or horse ploughing.

I hope that you are getting inspiration from life around you too!

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Exciting Progress!

 I've completed my 'flimsy' for the 365 challenge!!

Here it is shown with the second dark border.
 And here it is once I'd added the light top and bottom strips (I had to double each of them to take into account that I wasn't adding any light blocks to the edges of the quilt, to try and get it to match my wall space).

I have to confess that I didn't quite get the block count right the first time, so I thought that I was going to have more blocks left over than I actually did.  Luckily I still had enough to make the top that I wanted!
 It's too big for me to be able to show you the quilt in one shot, so these are the best shots that I have showing each side of the quilt.
 You can see that it's nice and bright - just like I wanted!

You can also see that the scale of the middle medallion is slightly at odds with the rest of the top.

I pondered what action to take to give it more oomph whilst I was basting it over the kitchen table.
I decided to try and address this by adding extra interest with the quilting.

Can you see here (from the back!) that I've completed a block of 'graffiti  quilting'?  The added bonus is that I've quilted the centre of the quilt, so I will have an ever decreasing amount of quilt to squeeze under the arm of the sewing machine for the rest of the quilting!
 I made it easy for myself by quilting the next round with a medium size meander stitch.

I've got a plan of what quilting patterns I want to use on each of the next four borders.  Nothing else quite as time consuming as the graffiti section!

Although I've started the quilting, I haven't fully basted the quilt yet, as I didn't have quite enough wadding - I'm about 8" short at one end!  Although I have other bits of wadding, none of them are the same type as the main piece that I've used, so I need to order some more.
We had a brief trip to Kew Gardens this week - we are lucky to live so close.  It was the final weekend of the Orchid Festival, and whilst I won't bore you with my shots of the flowers, I thought that this orchid model of a peacock was so striking that it should be included.

Hope that you are enjoying some stitching or crafting this week too.