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 done....as 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...

...now 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!

Saturday, August 13, 2011

QAL progress

The skill builder sampler quilt along block is posted on a Friday, US time. That means it appears sometime in the dead of night here on the east coast of Australia. Realistically this translates into Saturday morning before anything can be done! I so look forward to the weekly tutorial, choosing my fabrics and building my blocks. I have noticed that I am always in the first wave of photos posted to flickr for the weekly block.
It's true I am especially keen. It's not unusual for me to check the blog for that weeks block in the small hours - I am up with my little guy at some point anyway. After I take care of the Saturday morning essentials it's what I do first. I have even convinced my Mum to join in, I print out and send the instructions to her each week. We keep each other up to date with our progress via texts and photo messages.

This weeks block, or block #7 is Virginia Star made with flying geese points.

I had a small epiphany this morning. One could hear the cogs shifting into place. I have belly ached about the cutting process and how much I hate it. I think a part of the reason I was struggling with cutting was it takes ages and then you sew it all up and end up having to trim the hell out of everything anyway. The tutorial for this block was for the no-trim variety of flying geese. This makes VJ happy ;) Although it took a while to cut the fabric (plus my little boy is teething and is very, very needy) it was worth it as my points are...pointy! And that would be the point (I kill me!).
**I have a little sleep deprived delirium today**
I'm not saying I am over my cutting issues but I believe I am getting there.

1. HST practice block, 2. SBS #7 - Arizona Star, 3. SBS Block #6 - Bow Tie, 4. SBS Block #5 - Arizona, 5. SBS - Block #4 Pinwheel parade, 6. SBS - Challenge Block (Month 1), 7. SBS # 3 - Churn dash, 8. SBS Block #1 - Log Cabin, 9. SBS Block #2 - Value 9 Patch

The other thing I have managed to do this morning is make a mosaic of my blocks. Now this looks very tricksy and somewhat professional but is a cinch. But I am pleased to have taught myself to do another clever techinological (deliberate misspell) bit of business.
There is an extra block in the mosaic,top left, partly to make up the numbers and partly for me to practice my HSTs. I was pretty happy with it.
I hope to get some other quilty business taken care of but I'm not making any promises.

Have an awesome weekend. X X

Thursday, August 11, 2011

HaPpY BiRtHdAy to my little J-bug

My little boy turned 1 on Tuesday. This is a big day in anyone's books but for us it's HUGE!!! We didn't know if he'd make it through his first day, and here he is a year later a lovely, inquisitive, calm little boy.

His perfect little foot.

The day he was born. My little man was born at 25 and a half weeks gestation. that's pretty much three and a half months early. He wasn't due until the end of November! J-bug needed a lot of respiratory support as his lungs were nowhere near developed enough for him to breathe air. He had no fingernails or toenails. No eyelashes.

This photo was taken towards the end of his stay in intensive care.

Asleep in our wheelbarrow on a very, very hot Australia Day (26 Jan). He still has the apnea monitor on to register his breathing. It did go off a few times but luckily they were false alarms!

And here is on his birthday in his souped-up #1 onesie looking happy and cute.
Obligatory birthday cake. Although our little man is one his adjusted age (from when he was meant to be born) is eight and a half months, so this is his developmental age. He liked the candle and the feeling of the icing but didn't really know that the cake was for eating. I am sure he'll more than make up for that in the years to come.

Here is the birthday bug with his favourite gift of all - a whole bunch of balloons.

We had a very quiet day with him as he is still susceptible to nasty infections. We did take him back to the NICU to visit his 'auntie' nurses and deliver the quilt which they have said they will use as a fundraiser prize. I also made some cupcakes and choccy slice for their afternoon tea.

After a busy week with my little boy I am looking forward to getting stuck into some sewing again. I am making slooooowwww progress with the ginormous secret, but it's progress.

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sunday blogging...on a Saturday

I like to blog on a Sunday afternoon. I can recap on the week that has been. My hubby bowls (that's lawn bowls) on a Sunday arvo but this week as rain is forecast they shifted it to today. This is very social bowling mind you. The kind where you drink beers and hang out with your mates mostly. Now that I write that down that is what guys do isn't it? So that's why I'm blogging on a Saturday.
I have a few WIPs to share and a new (I knew this would happen) project that I started up. Mostly I have been working on the 'ginormous secret project' and trying to get it to a point where I can see the end...

Soooo...the plan is to make my long suffering husband his very own couch quilt. He loves to have a quilt on him. He'd rather a quilt than put on more warmer clothes! My vision was for grey and orange with some white or cream thrown in. I was foggy at best as to design until I saw this quilt
by Angela from Fussy Cut. I have coveted the pattern since I first saw this beauty . Now there is a pattern!!! Despite being up to my eyeballs in ongoing and unfinished quilty business I knew I had to begin IMMEDIATELY! And so it began with some chopping of the collected oranges and greys to start getting a feel for it.

I have an attitude problem when it comes to cutting. I can get my head around all other parts of the quilting process, sewing, trimming, pressing, even basting, quilting. Cutting seems to take sooooooooooo long. What am I doing wrong? I am working on my attitude and trying to get my head around to thinking that cutting is just another step. An answer would be kits but I love the freedom of choosing fabrics and tweaking patterns and directions to suit my needs. So I'll just have to woman up and continue to cut. I have made 6 blocks so far and am very happy with them. They are pretty big guys - 14" x 16" and I only need thirty to make me a quilt. But looking at these super great blocks I am thinking I am going to bring in some colour - maybe some greens and aquas...

...like this. I think it works although I am not 100% sure. Will sleep on it I reckon. Clearly I do not have enough fabric to make the whole quilt. This is the way that I roll. Probably not very efficient but I cut the fabric for the blocks as I go. I will buy more fabric as I go. I'll probably end up with the whole quilt top in the shop with me to match up for backing fabric. This has happened before.
A sneekity peek at the ginormous secret project - pretty obvious what that is. It sure is a pretty scraptapular quilt.

This certainly isn't the greatest photo ever but this is my Skill Builder Sampler QAL. This week there was no set block but I really wanted to practice some HSTs so top row second from right is a pretty star I made this morning to go with all the other blocks. I love it. Like the bow ties block I think I'd love a whole quilt made of these stars. I look at all the colour and movement on this quilt and wonder how I am to quilt it. I am not a free motion quilter. Maybe I could become one. At this point I am thinking coloured perle cottons and echo quilting. I have plenty of time to consider this conundrum.

It's my little boys birthday this week and we have a bit on so I may not get to craft and blogging but I will have a special birthday blog with his birth story. Not for the fainthearted.

I now have a special page for my lists that I will update as time goes on. Lists in evolution is perhaps a better title for that page.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Busy bee me

I think nature thinks that Spring has sprung! The frog is back in the pond. Flowers are blooming. Oh, and there are some mozzies about too. I am sure there will be a cold snap before things warm up in earnest but it has been truly beautiful this last week.

On to some quilty business.
I finished the binding and label on the quilt I made to honour my little boys first birthday. It's not for him but for the Royal North Shore Hospital NICU where he spent the first 100 days of his life (that's a story for another time). I have called it the 'Happy Quilt' because it's so ridiculously and happily bright and cheerful. I hope it brightens someones day. The NICU can choose what best to do with it.

Down on the wharf this morning. What a day, eh?
I feel a bit shy about donating this little token. I have never done anything like this before but I hope it is well received by the staff and by the final recipient. I know I had many dark days in the NICU before we were able to bring our little guy home and the quilt he was given while there is very special to me now. I would just like to do that for someone else. I have a germ of an idea that I plan to run past the fundraising folks at the hospital and see if a full bed sized quilt could be used as a raffle type gift in the future.

The back and label.

I was desperate to make sure this was done and ready for his birthday next week and feel a huge sense of relief that it is even though it's such a little project.

I fear there might be a go-slow on quilty business as I really need to get the ginormous secret project done and dusted. Or perhaps I could just start a small project...just cut a bit of fabric...do some sums...maybe sew a few bits together...hmmm. We will see.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A splendid day..but no quilts

Not too many words required. A stunning winter's day here. Hubby, bubby and I headed down to the beach for a bit sun and fun.
I am having my maiden row in Princess Buttercup! We got her just after I found out we were expecting a baby, and it's been a hell of a year since so this is the first time I've been in the right frame of mind and physical condition. I also had some serious coaxing from my husband who thought it'd do me good. And it did. Fresh air. The beautiful river. Silence.

I have been beavering away on a few quilty things but will save that for another time.