Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Presents

This year I decided to ask mainly for crafting things and some kitchen stuff so I could do more baking with Penelope. There wasn't much else I wanted apart from he usual pyjamas and slippers.

Mumple is great at quilting supplies! She had come into some money so she was feeling all flush this year which I did very well out of! She got me a Postcards from Sweden kit from Plush Addict, which I asked for. A high ticket item indeed but it was all I really wanted from anyone. It is a bit rainbow which I know I said I was trying to avoid, but it is also solids which is my theme this year. I just think it looks like a very jolly quilt. I kept going back to it and thinking how nice it was. The pack is basically a huge pile of solid fat quarters, result! The great thing is that they are all named so I can record the offcuts as colour cards. I love the ease of a whole kit yet rarely have funds to buy them, so I'm really going to enjoy this.

I also got some neon yellow Wonder Clips which is always great. I do love neon plastic. I feel like I want to make my own green sewing bag to keep them in.

I also got a Bloc Loc ruler! This was quite pricey as I had to get it from The States. I am not sure about them. Do they really make life easier? Are they just a gimmick? It's hard to tell, but I have a lot of half square triangles to make and if this works like it says it does then it could make the whole process a breeze and become a must have item. We shall see. I will test it out before Birmingham. If it works out then I might be on the hunt for a set offer at Birmingham if there is a UK stockist by then.

I also got some Christmas money which doesn't happen to me very often. I often end up hoarding it when I get it or frittering it away on general shopping if I leave it in my bag. So I decided to spend it straight away on Amazon! Quick! click, click, click. Gosh it's so easy once you get going.

I decided to make the plunge and sign up for Amy's quilt a long, so I bought the book and the 12 1/2" square ruler it suggests you use. Do I need the ruler? Not really, I have a 14" one which mum gave me as she never uses it. I ummed and ahhed, but I did find having an exact 6 1/2" ruler during the Farmer's Wife quilt a long a real joy because you never have to think. You just cut to that size. With that in mind, I also bought an 8 1/2" ruler. Gosh I am going ruler crazy.

Then with the last bits I bought two green fat quarters from The Fabric Fox. Not plain, but ones I think will go well with plains if that makes sense and you always have to have at least one new fabric when you start a project otherwise it's depressing. I had this block in mind when I picked them.

That's it now though, I am spent. All my pennies have gone and Christmas is over. This is my very last post of 2016. I have a stinker of a cold and nothing good happens in January apart from abstinence from cakes and alcohol. Booo.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Year Review

mosaicef481063bf6d463f0213d3402732481945c7384a Here we are once again at the end of year review. This year seems to have gone quite quickly. I feel that I have achieved a lot but not in a visible way. I intensively worked on my Farmer's Wife quilt for a large part of the year and am amazed that I finished the whole top. By the end I can honestly say that I have a thorough understanding of foundation piecing so I learnt a new skill. I had to put it away for a while after completing the top as I was exhausted by it. It's so big, it's even hard to photograph. I need to take it back to mums and pin in on her wonky washing line or work out some tasteful wall I can hang it on like internet folk seem to do. So watch this space. I have the backing for it, even the wadding for it, I just, as always, need space to lay it out and a floor which doesn't look perpetually dirty. It's the basting, machine sewing and binding which I don't really have the space for. Usually I would only post finished projects but this year I am including some nearly finished things as I want to mentally file them under 2016 so next year is free.

Other things up there are:
1. Farmer's Wife – This took until August to complete
2. Project Bag – I love this pattern
3. Mug Rug – A free easy pattern
4. Mouse quilt – A scrap buster
5. EPP kit bag – I have used this loads
6. EPP pin cushion – I just love this
7. Janet Clare sewing kit – I have lost my photos of this!
8. Half Square Triangle quilt – This is finished, I just need to photograph it
9. Smitten – I need to post more progress
10. Batik log cabin – Only 6 more blocks to go!

This year is going to be a year of change though hopefully. After treading water for the past 4 years, I am finally hoping we might be in a better position to do some much needed work on the house which will in turn hopefully make it easier to baste my backlog of quilts. It's either that or I think seriously about having them professionally quilted. Currently I have my Donut, Jitterbug and Farmer's Wife to quilt. But let's look at last year...


Resolutions from 2016
To finish all the quilt tops in the queue – Errr.... Utter FAIL
To do more hand piecing – Success! The Smitten quilt has definitely answered that one.
To make a useful bag – Errr.... Utter FAIL
To keep projects manageable. i.e. small – Well I am trying
To start my Posie quilt finally! – Errr.... Utter FAIL

So 3 out of 6. Not so great. I think finishing the Farmer's Wife just took up all my time. Hopefully nothing quite so intensive this year. Time to relax and do small things.

Resolutions for 2017
To tidy up my piles of half finished projects and make sewing area clean
To baste some of the growing pile of quilt tops
To do another quilt a long of some sort
To do something in tasteful solids

Unfinished Projects for 2017
Donut quilt – Just need to baste it
Jitterbug – Just need to baste it
Farmer's wife – Just need to baste it
Liberty postage stamp – I neglected this entirely this last year. It just needs a border quilting
My sew together bag – Still waiting in a project bag somewhere in the pile.
Medallion quilt – All the fabric has been selected. It's in the pile somewhere
Posie improv quilt – Just need to sketch out a design and start cutting up my favourite fabrics

New Projects for 2017
I feel the major thing brewing inside me is the need to do some projects using solids. Above is my favourite FW block using solids. I think my colour sense improved slightly with The Farmer's Wife but on the whole, still needs a lot of work. I need to stop doing so many bright, rainbow things and think more about subtle colours. Working with solids might allow me just to think about colour. I love playing with all the swatches. I don't own a lot of solids though so there is some outlay involved.

I did however, buy these from Birmingham from The Shuttle. I think it was 5 for £6. I really like the greens. This might be my new colour way. I have been looking around and seeing what other people do. Here are some examples of things I have seen and liked on the web.

1. Amy's Sugar club block - I might make this first. I think the green and red/pinks are great.
2. Jayne's sampler quilt is amazing
3. 1981 by Nancy Purvis via Christine's blog
4. StitchedInColor's doodle doodle improv quilt backing
5. From Flickr
6. Heather Jones' quilt pattern available here. It reminds me of this
7. Jackie's great colours in her log cabin/geese quilt
8. Purl Soho's tasteful Modular Block quilt
9. Siobhan Rogers' quilt for Better Homes. Download it here
10. Rose + Twill's Botanical Print Quilt
11. I love Nydia's colour choices. I love the greens and blues with the pinks
12. I would love to make this exact quilt. I just like the greens. Maybe it would look better in this pattern
13. I love these colours and the white stitching
14. Ellen's Lopsided Squares are very tasteful from her book: 1, 2, 3 Quilt
15. I like Becca's warm colours
16. From Shannon's instagram
17. From Shannon's instagram
18. From Jenny's instagram. This one is also good
19. From Jenny's instagram
20. From Shannon's instagram

It's all very exciting. I love the greens and the pinks and purples. I love all green projects or flashes of green. So many combinations to try, so many projects. I thought it might call for another sampler type quilt where I treat each block as a different colour journey without thinking about the whole. I really enjoyed taking part in a group project though and would be interested in maybe a smaller one this year. I was thinking about what to spend my Christmas money on and thought this book might be nice.

The Quilt Block Cookbook: 50 Block Recipes, 7 Sample Quilts, Endless Possibilities

Amy, the author, is running a relaxed quilt a long on her blog starting in January which I am quite tempted by as you can do as little or as much as you like. I also might try my hand at making a January block or two as they are so pretty. Mary's one is ace. 

But my quilting area is a mess. It's piles of bits. Half started projects, fabric pulls... misc stuff. I can no longer find anything. I've been looking for my Kona colour card for ages but it must be at the bottom of the pile. I need to pare it down, find the card, finish bits and file the rest away in the cellar. That's job number one. I can't buy any new solids without the card. I am sure there are lots of forgotten treats in there.
Just one examples: I'd like to find my Moda Building Blocks quilt pattern somewhere in all my piles. I'd like to think about some solid combinations for this. Maybe I could buy fabric at Birmingham. It's a slow burner. I also have a new quilt to start which I got for Christmas but I'll post up my Christmas presents when we finally finish our Christmas road trip.

And all these need planning and making. There is a lot lying around in the pile. They might all go on the backburner until the pile has been cleaned up. So step one is tidy up and finish off things. Oh and get my machine serviced. Happy new year!

Thursday, December 01, 2016

Adventures in Batik

Behold! It is a Hawaiian disco traincrash!

For many years mum and I have disagreed upon certain quilting matters, one of these has been batiks - mum loves them, whereas I do not. I like traditional, flowery or modern and geometric. Batik doesn't seem to fit any of those characteristics. It's loud, garish and a bit, well, Hawaiian.

Batik is just not me. No siree. This is more me.
Festival of Quilts 2016
I mean look at it? It's old, flowery, delicate. Everything a cosy, little house on the prairie quilt should be. I love it.

But you know, sometimes I change my mind...

Mum made this Asymmetrical Log Cabin quilt at her local quilting class she goes to. When she first showed it to me I think I thought it was quite nice. But left alone with it for a week, it grew and grew on me, to the point where I just asked mum if I could have it. I mean come on, there must be ten quilts in every room in my mum's house; what's one less between friends?

Mum said no.



No big deal.

I am the last person to need more quilts. But it gnawed at me. I really just WANTED it. I am not even sure why I like it. I think partly why I like it is because it really is a mum quilt. Whenever I see those colours and batik prints together I just think of mum. Whenever I curl up underneath it, it feels like a mumple hug.


Mum's answer? Just make your own one. I of course pointed out that I have no batiks, so she just unveiled a huge scrap bin full of perfectly sized cut strips.

So here they are. A few fistfuls to get me going. I bought a couple of fat quarters at Duxford to supplement the stash, but it's quite hard as they really are not my thing. Heavens knows why I am making this. It's so hard. I haven't a clue how they go together and I feel a slight sense of despondency that whatever I do will not be as nice as mum's quilt, but maybe I can trick her into a swap!

This is how it started. The days have totally drawn in here. Dark in the morning until 10. Dark again at 4. There is no light. So sorry, everything is shot under my harsh angle poise lamp. The great thing about log cabin though, is how easy it is. I stuffed all the strips in a basket and just yank them out willy nilly. I tried making choices about what went next to each other but I couldn't do it. So now I just try to make sure the same colour and tone don't go right next to each other.

Here is how it chain pieces together. It's quite amazing how they all come together. Ones I thought I would like I am not that into and ones I thought weren't that nice have turned out to be my favourites.

This one was my special block because it has a sliver of mum's favourite dress from the 60's in it. She seems to manage to insert it into quite a few quilts. It always reminds me of her so I decided that this quilt should be a homage to my mam. It's the plummy pattern top middle. Then I followed her basic rule of putting purples and pinks next to greens. The outcome is ok, but the two greens next to each other was a bit of a mistake I think.

This one I feared was just too bright and garish - all different colours, no overall theme, but you know, it's grown on me.

This one is my favourite though. I like the orange and the dark and light combo. It knocks it back a bit. I thought the darker batiks wouldn't sit well with the black; not enough contrast, but you know, I kind of like it.

I am constantly surprised by my likes and dislikes. I cannot predict my fickle mind. So the game continues as I try to make 36 of these. I am doing them in blocks of 6 at a time so I can chain piece. It seems to average out at about 1 a day if I do 6 a week. We'll see. There is no time really at the moment.

I just hope at the end I achieve what I am looking for. It's an etherial kind of ending. I will like it if it reminds me of mum. It won't be about liking it, it's more about liking what it represents, but everytime I make a block, I think; 'But would mum like it?!' Maybe this is how people feel when they make quilts for other people in fabrics those people like. It's... weird.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

Smitten block two progress

So here is my progress with block two of Smitten. It's slow work but the blocks are coming together nicely. I am pleased with my random flowers so far.

The flowery outsides are a bit full on but I really love this fabric. I think at the end when I lay out all the blocks I might choose to redo a few of them so we'll see if it makes the final edit. I love the stripy point though.

You can see on the left edge where I am getting some misalignment. I am not sure why. Maybe that's just life.

I am really pleased with this block. I love the yellow spots. I think it has good contrast.

My alignment is not as bad with this one so maybe I am getting better, who knows.

Here's the back. You can see my tiny stitches. That Superior Thread Bottom Line is so thin and strong, it's like fairy hair or something. There's no going back from it now, I even used it to bind a border the other day, it's just so invisible! I think my stitches would not look so neat without it. I recommend it 100%

Are the blocks all starting to go together? not really. I am playing the long game though. We'll see as I go along.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Smitten Hexagon Two

smitten icon

So here we are on block two! I had a little think about this block. Do you make the flower all one fabric or two fabrics or six? I pulled out some fabric and had a look at the Pinterest board. In the end I decided to try out a bit of both and see what I like. I felt my last set of hexes weren't very harmonious so I want to ensure these blocks are so that they help pull everything together.


Hopefully all these fabrics will go together. I don't want to overly repeat fabrics but I do want them to be a bit tighter; to have similar colour values.

I really like this block I did for my EPP case. I like the pinks and peaches with the citrus yellow/green. So I think something like this will be my first attempt. I also have a few blues which I might make into their own block. Then I might sit back and see what I think of them. Time to get started!

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Smitten Block One Finished

Finally, my last block one! This took longer as I went away in the middle and then I started a completely new project - like you do. It was nice to have a little break. I do keep looking at all my block ones together... they don't really gel together which worries me! I definitely need to get some stripes into the next set of blocks.

So here is another Heather Ross print. I do love the unicorns. I was going to have yellow diamonds which matched those little yellow flowers in the middle but then I decided that I needed to be more adventurous... yeah, well I am not so sure about that now.

And here is the back. Look at all those tiny stitches. My system is that I start off whip stitching for about 5-10 stitches, then I tie a knot, open out the two shapes and do the rest is what I call a flat whip stitch – I made that up.

So here are all my block ones. Do they go? Do the repeated fabrics help? IS it a mess? You can tell me!

5th Block in Heather Ross' Far Far Away and Lizze House's The Lovely Hunt

4th block in Heather Ross' Tiger Lily and Cotton & Steel

3rd Block in Lizze House's Catnap and Cotton & Steel

2nd block in Heather Ross' Mendocino and Lizzie House's Constellations

First block in Heather Ross' Nursery Versery and the raindrop fabric which I can't recall right now.

So there you have it! Has anyone else even started? I might start thinking about the next set of blacks but it's half term next week so I am taking it easy.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Half Square Triangles

Inbetween hand sewing Smitten blocks on the sofa in the evenings, I also wanted something quite simple to do on the machine. A bit of a no brainer after The Farmer's Wife. So I have started making Penelope a bigger sofa quilt as she complains that all the others are too small. Luckily she does love a quilt. I bought some colourful fat quarters a while back specifically to make her some kind of bright quilt. I spent a bit of time trawling through my Pinterest boards and finally decided to make this by Megan. She has a whole album on Flickr.

It's a pretty basic pattern; just half square triangles. This quilt will be 48" square once I have finished. I have enough fabric to make it double this size, but I think that would just be too big. We'll see. If I added two more rows at the bottom it would fit on a single bed... tempting, but we'll see.

I cut 2 big 9" squares out of 16 fat quarters. I chose this measurement as you can easily cut four out of a fat quarter without too much to spare making it a good use of fabric. That's the only reason I chose it really. Then I made 8 half square triangles in a one go out of each square. The other nice thing was that I have a long 4 1/2" ruler that was great for finding the middle lines of each block. It just made the whole process really easy and enjoyable. Mum thinks you don't need many rulers, but there is something extremely pleasing about having the exact right size for the job. I have to return the 6 1/2" square I borrowed off mum so I might have to buy my own when we go to Duxford in a few weeks. Yes, I am finally returning to the old Chillford come Duxford show. Primarily to help test out the new rollator and make sure mum can zoom around the show to her hearts content. This basically means I will whinge very loudly about every slight step I come across. I might even wear a high viz jacket to make myself seem even more of a health and safety expert. But I also plan to see if the new show is managing to get back to the greatness of its predecessor: Chillford. It's so sad that the giant scones are gone and that we have to look at war planes instead of a historic barn. Poor Chillford, burnt to a crisp. I miss you!

Anyway, I've got a lot of HST to trim down to 4 1/2". Luckily I can just sit on the sofa with my rotating cutting mat and my 4 1/2" square ruler mum gave me and just trim them out. I made my 1/4" seams a bit scant when I sewed the 8 block so that I could have some room to trim. I just thought it would make things more accurate.

Here are some of the offcuts, it's not much. Part of me can't be bothered, but another part of me finds it kind of peaceful. It does end up giving you that level of accuracy that you see in other people's quilts which make you think 'Gosh, how can they be so accurate?' Well folks, it's not really skill, it's more patience. If you spend more time trimming, starching and ironing open seams, then you just end up with a more accurate end product... but you spend 200% more time getting there. It's a pain, and often has me thinking 'but once I have scrunched it all up in the wash will it matter?' Jury's out on that one.

I sewed the blocks into strips of 4 which on reflection was not the best idea. Next time I will make units of 4 and join them together instead, but it's not too shabby and I am pleased with the colours. I wanted to make sure I had some dark blues in there; it's not a colour I usually go for. I'm not really thinking too deeply about this project so I am just throwing the colours together randomly. It's rather freeing after all the agonising of The Farmer's Wife, which by the by, is all sewn together. I just need to iron it and try and photograph it. It's massive.

I am not overly happy with the neutral background colour, I wanted something a bit warmer, but Kona just have nothing like this. Plus I keep losing the colour card chart thingy so I just had to get a grip and move on. The neutral is Kona Ash. 20161016-P1450716