Saturday, November 5, 2011

Life gets in the way/ A quilt along update

I have fallen a bit behind with my blogging but NOT with the quilt along. I'm not exactly sure where the days are going at the moment but things seem pretty hectic. I am about halfway through hand quilting my daisy chain log cabins and LOVE how it's looking. Hopefully finished in the next week or so.

SBS Block #14 - Crazy quilting. I'm not mad for this style but it was kind of fun and I like this block.

SBS block #15 - Diamond Dash. The first of the foundation pieced blocks. The square-in-a-square were foundation pieced on paper, the rest was done the normal way. I like the technique, I like how it really takes the guesswork/fudging out of it.

SBS Block #16 - Minnesota. Wowsers. This took an age. Fiddly. Lots of wastage. A bit of unpicking. It's hot here today. Too hot to be sewing and ironing. Again, I love how crisp the angles look using this technique although I couldn't imagine making a whole quilt of these blocks!

So there it is. I hope to have a finished quilt in the next week or so. If it cools down enough to continue hand quilting.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

What have I been doing?

It feels like I've been having a quiet time of it with not much creative stuff to report. However when I loaded some pictures this morning and started to mess around with them a bit it seems I have been a bit productive.
Add into the mix that my little Jbug is now mobile, I have significantly less time to sit at the machine/stand at the table to craft.

My first item to report is a work in progress - my beloved Amy Butler Daisy chain quilt in blues and greens. I have 16 blocks, only 12 shown in mosaic, in total, with a cream border each block will measure 18"x 18". I plan to sash these blocks to give the scrappy log cabins the look of 'floating'. I am lacking inspiration for backing fabric, although I do plan to piece the back as I have plenty of left over strips. Perhaps plain might be the way forward. The quilting ideas for this one is a movable concept. I am thinking hand quilting...cos I am a sucker for the hand quilted look. I won't get to it until at least the end of the week so am trying not to over think it.
When I showed the blocks to my husband, and asked him what he thought. He said OCEAN. That makes me happy as the ocean is one of my very favourite places to be.

1. #1, 2. #2, 3. #3, 4. #4, 5. #5, 6. #6, 7. #7, 8. #8, 9. #9, 10. #10, 11. #11, 12. #12

The above block makes me HAPPY. This is the latest in the great Skill Builder Sampler QAL that I have been doing since June ( I think). This is the first of the foundation piecing blocks. And I love it. I think these fabrics work really well in this setting/style. I am feeling a bit of an itch to just make a whole bunch of these and sew them into a quilt...we shall see.

If you are my middle sister, stop reading. Look away now.

This is a little pouch I have made for the nappies and bumwipes and all the little things you always need when you are out..even for just 10 mins. I keep mine always stocked up with a couple of dollars floating around, for emergency coffees of course. Sometimes this is all I take when I leave the house, aside from the baby, as it fits my phone too. It's a handy size to go in your handbag. I found early on that if nappy changing items weren't all together I found myself rifling through nappy bag pockets trying to get all the relevant bits before taking on the task.
Her baby will be here in no time at all so I hope they will use this mini-nappy bag.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Quilt Along Progress

This is block #12, and improvised, free hand, make-it-up-as-you-go kind of sewing. The instructions celled for a house block or similar.

Our house is at the top of a hill. On an island. In a river. This is our house. I reckon it's pretty cute. It was heaps faster than I thought it would be.

That's all I have to say about that.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Big Orangey Man Quilt

I finished the big orangey man quilt yesterday. The quilting was a bit more nightmarish than I had envisaged, the quilt was way bigger than I'd envisaged. I pushed through and am happy with the result. The parallel, diagonal lines are about 3'' apart. I think it took me longer to mark them than to quilt it!! Especially since the pen I used was like invisible ink just 2 days after marking. Grrr.

The 'new' machine is playing up, so I dusted off the old girl and she just powered through the quilting. I wouldn't try anything much bigger than this quilt on this old Janome.

The recipient is happy and proud as punch. It's a super snuggly, but light quilt as it's got a poly cotton batting - the first time I've used this kind.

I used this tutorial by Angela from fussycut
It was a pretty easy quilt to put together once it was all cut out. I am still HOPELESS on the cutting front. I had strips of material all over the shop. As I said before I reduced the size from 5 x 6 blocks, to 4 x 5. Glad I did!

I love the back. Love it. Maybe better than the front??? I had an extra block from when I thought I was going to make the full size and thought to incorporate it into a pieced back. I love the process of bringing my own idea to reality, flying by the seat of my pants quilting you might say.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Birthday Booty

Like all good folks, my birthday is in September. I used to make such a fuss. There'd be a huge build up and then I'd have all my friends and family around me and we would share a meal and good times. Until last year. I turned 36 last year but that wasn't the reason for the change. It was because of my little Jbug. He was still sick in the hospital and I really thought of nothing but him at that time. And so my birthday would have completely passed without a sideways glance if it wasn't for my hubby and family who insisted on dinner and gifts.

This year I felt a bit the same. With less stress and worry of course. When you have a baby it's really no longer about ME. Just another day. Of course it's lovely that people remember and I got loads of lovely messages and calls and heaps of nice things. I am only showing quilty related stuff here, although I got some other very cool stuff. I also got some vouchers (read cashola) for spending on whatever I choose ( I think I will choose Heather Bailey's Popgarden and Bijoux that I spied at the Craft Depot the other week).

My hubby and little boy bought me these 2 sweet books. I can't stop looking at them. I turn the pages and write notes and make plans.

Amy Butler Lotus!!! 1 whole yard of each. What to do? What to do? Am thinking a nice natural/grey linen and then square in a square action. What would you do? I love these fabrics. Love!

My Mum finds the coolest little things. Tape measure and matchy matchy scissors for all your crafty needs. So thoughtful, cute AND useful.

Heather Bailey Popgarden and Bijoux, 8 1/2 yards. So, so pretty. I don't know how I will chop it up. This is the fabric I just had to have ( and I'd ordered it online BEFORE I saw it at the Craft Depot) but really have no plans for it yet.

A special custom bundle of 12, yes 12!! half yards of Amy Butlet Daisy Chain, oh and one aqua sunspots in there too. These are MY colours for sure. Blues, greens, aqua. This is destined for a big bed quilt for me. I'd love to make a string quilt but I really don't have enough fabric so am thinking a wonky, modern take on the log cabin might be the way forward. I am nervous to cut into this bundle too.

So that's the birthday far. I received some cash as well and I intend to spend at least some of it on fabric - which I don't need AT ALL.

Slow week here

Sooooo, I managed to get Block #11 for the Skill Builder QAL done. The tutorial went up a little bit later than normal and so I didn't get the usual quiet start as everyone was up and at'em - including one very grumpy, teething baby.
The block is called Beacon Light. There was also some 'fabric making' involved to make the centre squares and 1/4 square triangles. That felt fun and useful as I got to use up scraps from the other blocks - I like how all the colours play together.

I am such a COLOUR girl. My favourite has always been blue, pretty much any old blue but I particularly love the aquamarine of a coral sea and the ridiculous bright blue of the Aussie sky in summer. A close second is the green family. I'm a cool colour kind of girl that's for sure. About the only colour I haven't quite got my head around is purple, not sure why. I'm sure my purple time will come, I have recently got into yellow (although I can't wear yellow - YUCK) and orange.

One basted BIG ORANGEY quilt for hubby. I am a quarter way through quilting this sucker. It's bigger than my vision and is proving a tough little cookie to quilt. I am quilting diagonal parallel lines, one way only, painstakingly marked onto the quilt top over a couple of days worth of nap times. I thought the quilting would go wayyyyyyy quicker.

I am having all types of dramas with the trusty Janome workhorse -top thread knotting and breaking, top thread just breaking for no apparent reason and skipping stitches. I have played around with the tension and improved the knotting business but it's still skipping. I am using a Mettler cotton quilting thread (first time) and thought this might be the problemo. I pieced the QAL block with my regular Gutermann thread on the same machine and the same thing was happening, which is R.U.B.B.I.S.H.Arrrgggghhh! Lucky for me I have my 'old girl' (she's 40+) Janome back, which has just been serviced. Looks like she'll be put back to work!

I got loads of quilty, sewy things for my birthday which deserve a post of their own. I am still waiting on a couple of fabric bundles from the US so will wait until they're all together. I have BIG plans for this stuff. B.I.G!

Today I took the Jbug to the Brooklyn Spring Fair, a fundraiser for the Hawkesbury River Childcare Centre. Hot. Dusty. Hot. Too hot for this Mummy bubby combo. We lasted an hour. I'd love to have a stall at the fair and just see how it went. My Mama makes fantastic jams, mustards and preserves so I'm going to try and con her into a shared stall with all manner of homemade goodness. Just so it's written down.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A busy-ish week

I have had a rather busy week, making and sewing some things.

I made my Ohio Star, this is block #10 is the skill builder sampler. I felt I was trying a little bit too hard to be tricky and fussy with my blocks with varying levels of success. I went old school, back to basics with this one. And guess what? I love it.

I sorted the layout for my hubby's quilt. The original pattern called for 5 x 6 blocks to make a single ( I think this is what is called a twin in the US) which I decided would be too huge. I have pared it back to 4 x 5 blocks, I will put a 2.5" border around the top as well. I have pieced all the rows, now just have to sew the rows up. Maybe this arvo....? I bought batting and backing fabric at the Craft Depot on Friday so no excuses now.
I really have to get on it as I have 3 precious and oh so pretty bundles of fabric coming for me me me! I know I won't be able to concentrate on anything other than my new stuff and will want to get straight into it.

I have been chipping away at the hexies. I go in spurts with this. I know it's a long term prospect-project so am trying not to beat myself up about it.

I made a cute-as-a-button pouch for a friend of mine's 4 year old - her birthday coming up. I made it from some fat quarters and plain pink I had in my collection. I did buy the zip and skinny ribbon especially for this pencil case. I followed this sweet tutorial from Little Big Girl Studio . It was easy peasy and quick to make. Even the zipper which I'm fairly wary of and new to went in without a problem.

I'm not saying it's perfect but I like it and I hope she will too. Of course I bought her some coloured pencils to go in it.

Above and below. The final, parting shots of the bloody Dresden quilt. I had my Mum and Dad hold it out for me while I quickly took a few snaps while the sun was shining. It's since been wrapped up, forgotten, ferried across the river in a water taxi to me, trained into Sydney, spent the afternoon under a table in a pub at a friends wedding, thrown into the boot of my sisters car and now it is in its final home in the Blue Mountains. She has promised that she won't open it til her birthday which isn't until 21 September. We will see. I do hope she likes it.

In a final spurt of craftiness this week I came across this awesome bag and pattern from noodlehead

I had been looking to replace my much loved but thread bare bag I bought in London on a trip about 5 years ago. I purchased the pattern on Thursday. Luckily my Mum and I had a date with the Craft Depot to get some supplies so I wrote a list of all that I needed. I love this Soul Blossom print, sheesh I just love Amy Butler! It was the first time I'd seen this print with the aqua background ( my favourite colour right now). This bag could have gone a zillion different ways as there is so much colour in the print. I went back and forth in the shop with bolts of fabric for an hour before coming across the Meadowsweet butterfly print in orange....ON SALE!! The cream is a duck cloth, nice and soft but sturdy. Also cheap as chips. The whole bag cost less than $30 to make. Sweet!!!!

My eyeballs nearly fell clean out of my head when I first walked into the shop as they had just unloaded, plastic still on, bolts of Heather Baileys Popgarden and Bijoux lines. I have been coveting these fabrics online. They are even more splendidly beautiful in person. I showed great restraint but have promised myself I will get some next week as I think they will walk out the door. This fabric shop gets greater and brighter prints every time I go, it must make some of the older, more traditional quilters shudder.

Monday, September 5, 2011

It's been finished for a few days now..

..since 31 August to be precise. I began it on 11th June 2011. Just under 3 months it took to make this king sized Dresden Plate quilt for my sister. I watched all six seasons of LOST in the making of this quilt. That is a lot of LOST. How I miss Sawyer!

It measures 98" x 98" so I hope like crazy it is big enough for her bed. I didn't get her to measure it as I really wanted it to be a surprise. We have a large queen sized and it's way too big for our bed :( I don't think it'll be dropping to the floor or anything crazy but I hope they can use it as a bedspread.
A labour of love that's for sure.
Why? Why did a novice like me think it would be a good idea to tackle something so ambitious as this quilt?
I have no training. Aside from a bit of sewing at school when I was a kid and mostly supervised by my Mum (who is a super-crafty person by the way) I have picked up a lot of this quilty business from the web. Not having any ideas about how things "should" be done I am breaking no rules and so go about my sewing happily oblivious. I am certain there are easier, more fabric conserving, better methods but I am working it out. The process is important of course, but if at the end of your efforts you have something beautiful and warm and snuggly who really cares how it was achieved?

I used this fantastic tutorial to make the Dresden Plates. I made the initial one so I'd have an idea of how long it was going to take me to make each one, then I sent a pic to my sis to be 100% that this is what she meant. Yep!

Back to the why.
After making both my Mum and little sis quilts for their birthdays in May I kind of expected my other sister to ask for one. I felt ready to tackle something a little bigger than the lap quilts I had already made. I had no idea she would ask for a king sized Dresden Plate quilt. This is how it went down back in June;
Me " What would you like for your birthday?"
She "Ooooh a king sized quilt for my bed"
Me " OK. Any ideas about what you'd like?"
She innocently "Mmmmm, those ones where the love hearts (??!!) all join up and make a flower"
Me (gulp , feeling of dread as I realize I think she means Dresden Plate, a king size!Really!)"Alrighty, maybe you should have a look on the net and send me some pics of what you like"
She "OK"

Minutes after this conversation I got a text that simply read, "I think it's called Dresden Plate."

I'll try and get some snaps of the whole quilt when I have another pair of hands. I really didn't want it sliding off into the dirt. That would have been rubbish. In many of the photos I am very busy ensuring this doesn't happen.
As I said in a previous post, I really only bought the cream background fabric and the batting especially for this quilt. All the petal fabrics are scraps, fat quarters or pretty little bits I've been hoarding for years. The binding fabric is something I picked up at the local craft shop on sale, and just because a red check is cute. The backing, all 11m of it, cost me a couple of bucks in a second hand shop in Newtown years ago.

I am so very proud of this quilt. I do have a habit of embarking on huge, ambitious projects like this ( hexie madness is just another one!) and because I am so unsure of myself, my skills, my patience I don't go out and spend a fortune on fabrics and make the 'ultimate' quilt. I kid myself that it is a practice quilt. Yep, a 25 Dresden Plate, king sized PRACTICE quilt. It would be beautiful in all the stunning 'designer' fabrics I am coveting online but this is a quilt from the heart. Made of scraps that my Mum had hoarded for years before I pinched them. My sister will recognize many of these fabrics. There is one petal of my favourite all time material. it's a navy Liberty of London, I think cherries, I had enough for one lonely petal, but it's in there! And let's be real, quilts originally were about using what was on hand, old blankets, jackets, curtains, whatever.

I am now ready to make an 'ultimate' quilt. I have a birthday coming up and have spent hours agonising and drooling over the pretty bundles that are available. I have purchased some Amy Butler, a lot of Amy Butler (Daisy chain and lotus lines) actually, and some Heather Bailey Popgarden and Bijoux. I have got on this particular wagon a bit late I think as many of the prints I love (and everyone else obviously loved) are available in scant quantities. But I am on it now, so next time I see something I love I will snatch it up.

The goal for the rest of this week is to piece together the rest of the orange-grey-blue quilt for my hubby and get it ready for sandwiching and quilting by the end of the weekend. Meanwhile I am plugging away at the hexagons, they are filling the gap the completion of the Dresden created.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Stitching the week away

The ginormous secret is on the inside line drying and has been for a few days now. The binding took less than 24 hours which amazed me! I had allowed 4 days for it - considering I have a little bubby to play with as well. What all that means is that I finished it (except for a label) by the 31/8 deadline I was working with in my head. And it feels good.

Finishing something of that scope feels a bit like coming to the end of a good, long book. They become your companion. On Wednesday evening after it was all done I felt a little lost. What to do with my stitchy fingers?

Then I remembered....

...these guys. Long neglected and crumpled up in a tub in amongst my expanding 'sewing things' section. I cracked it out, gave it an iron and without skipping a beat have recommenced the hexies. Initially this was to be a queen sized for our bed but I think I will attach all 39 of the flower thingys I've made and see what I think from there. As usual for me I have an idea about what I want this to be when it grows up but that is very subject to change.

I also finished 20 blocks for this quilt. The pattern calls for 30 blocks but I think that's for a bed sized one. This one is destined for the couch. Specifically my husbands couch. I think 20 blocks are enough. I hope to finish the top over the weekend and pick up some batting, backing fabric and binding next weekend . I had hoped to make this for him for Fathers Day (which is tomorrow here) but it'll be a week or two late.

And that is that.

Once the Dresden Plate quilt is completely dry I will trick someone into helping me take some photos of the final, finished job. I will also talk about how it got to be at all.

Happy weekend.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Beaches, quilt alongs and some serious progress

There are some pretty unglamorous, but humorous, photos here. This is what it takes to baste a king sized quilt.

This is the ginormous secret. I'm pretty sure this is a safe place to spill the beans as the recipient a) has no idea abut it, and b) is blissfully ignorant to this blog. I managed to clear our deck and baste this baby one Saturday morning in July (9th to be precise). It was pretty chilly which is why I'm all dressed up in uggies and beanie.

I was a little bit concerned that the gaps between the decking would cause some issues but there really haven't been any. It was a big job, requiring much crawling around.
I used 100% merino wool batting (Heirloom) which came all squished and rolled up in a bag. There were kinks and funny creases all over it despite me taking it out of the bag about a week before to try and "relax" it. There was a lot of discussion on the web as to how to get these kinks out but all methods involved far too much effort and time and I went with the 'she'll be right' attitude. I did my best to smooth the batting as I basted but right up until I was stretching it in the hoop to quilt the kinks remained. It looks like it was the right attitude to take, as far as I can see all the lumps have smoothed out. I'm sure after a wash it'll settle even more.
Don't I look pleased with myself/overwhelmed?

I was cursing the fact that I was using wool for this as it was tricky to baste due to the lumps and bumps. I knew however that it would needle well, breathe beautifully and be perfect for the climate where this quilt will end up.
This morning I made the binding. It's a Lecien check that I picked up on special. Of course I didn't measure anything and just chopped and sewed away happily until I realised there was no way I had enough (I had made 10m!!!!) and had to add another length to an already lengthy tape.

I think it'll look pretty cute.
I have attached the binding and am looking forward to a few loooong evenings of hand stitching the back down. I zig zagged the quilt sandwich edges ( I don't usually do this) to ensure I didn't get any puckers or other mishaps. The backing fabric is a loosely woven, and very fine cotton that is prone to fraying so I thought a bit of reinforcement wouldn't go astray.

It goes without saying that I am looking forward to this project being finished. My hands are sore from holding needle and fabric. I am looking forward to doing something a bit different. I think I will feel pretty proud once it's all long as it survives it's first wash. Always a bit nerve wracking. I started this quilt on 11 June with the first Dresden Plate block and have pretty much worked on it solidly every day since. More photos and background in my next post.

QAL Block #9 - Double star. I played with the layout a bit, and went nuts with the fabric choices. I really like it, although the real design seems a bit lost in all the busy-ness. I just adore the Amy Butler fabrics. I'm partial to many prints from across her lines. Love the colours, prints, spots and especially the large scale florals. I am late on this bus but have my eyes on some awesome bundles online for my birthday in a few weeks. I find I am especially drawn to the navy and aqua/turquoise colourways.

Lastly a few pics from yesterdays adventure. We had a scheduled power outage on the island and the forecast was brilliant so we went to Patonga Beach for a lovely walk and play, some lunch and then to nearby Pearl Beach for an ice cream. It was such a warm Spring day, and the first time my little J-bug dipped his toes in the great big ocean. A great family day out.

Friday, August 26, 2011

The body is done... I just need to finish hand quilting the border and then sew the binding on. Phew!I couldn't resist taking a few photos this morning when I finished HAND QUILTING the body. It is a king size! 25 dresdens. 25 bloody dresden plates!

The only fabric I actually purchased for this quilt was the cream background and wool batting. I am so very proud!
Story and statistics to follow. Just wanted to post some photos.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Flying geese frustrations

This weeks skill builder QAL block, 'Breaking Out' tested me. I do believe I failed the test. I learnt a whole lot though.

Blogger won't let me move any photos either so rather than reloading them all I will run with the mish mash order. Frustrated!

Here is the block. Doesn't look that offensive does it? I actually made this yesterday but was so incredibly unhappy with it that I put it away in the SBS QAL project shoebox without taking a photo. I was thinking perhaps I'd start again and make a whole new block. I slept on it and decided to try to resurrect this one. This is the end result. Still pretty dodgy if you ask me.

What went wrong?
I tried to rush this to fit the block into my little boys morning nap.
I was super tired after a girls night out and too little sleep.
I really started getting into trouble with the 2 & 7/8' squares - I should have left it for another time right there. We talk in centimetres here in Australia. I am generally fine with inches but adding all those pesky 7/8's ...sheesh. I needed pen and paper.

The skill builder sampler offers different methods for sewing the same blocks. This weeks method did not work for me. I think I made too scant a seam allowance. My 1/4' foot doesn't sew a 1/4' I've discovered so I have been eyeballing it. Worked fine last week.
I spent a good amount of my time with my unpicker! I woke up this morning and wondered if I could rescue this block? I am still not sure if I have. I know that quilting can hide many sins. This quilt is destined for my home so I can live with the mistakes.

The flying geese method that brought me unstuck. Who knows? Sewing a straight line could have brought me unstuck yesterday.

I know better than to rush. To rush when tired is sewing suicide. Everything takes twice as long when you rush!!

On a happier, free form, colourful note I made this.

What is it? I don't even know. I was keen to do some quilting with embroidery floss. I love little stars. I had a few short car trips this week and this was a great project to take along.

It is destined to be the front of a pouch to hold similar, future projects. It measures 9.5 x 12" so will be a good sized pouch. I plan to use ticking for the lining and other side. I think it's pretty cute. I find it very difficult to tell people what it is when they ask.

The ginormous project continues to take up most of my time and couch space. I have become obsessed with it. Thankfully there is a deadline for it as it will be gifted for a birthday. I cannot wait for it to be done! The bare minimum of housework and chores are getting done at the moment and I am drinking far too many caffeinated beverages as I try to GET IT FINISHED!