Monday, January 25, 2016

FW35: Flora & FW36: Geneva

Hello bright mornings and snowdrops. Everything is starting to pick up pace and I am really into my new fabrics.

Block 35 Flora
Ok. I don't get this block. Whatever way I look at it, it just looks weird. So it felt like no great loss to choose it as the one I dropped.

Block 36 Geneva
I wasn't sure how much I liked this block either but actually I love it. I used all new fabrics for it and I really think they go with the other blocks fine. Another chance to inject some yellow! it was a pretty easy block in the end as each unit was the same. I do like a quick, simple block sometimes to ease things a little. I really liked how Kerry had given it a bit more depth by adding the third colour in the centre so I did the same.

This also makes me nearly up to date! I have one previous block to do if I feel so inspired but otherwise I am poised for the next block so I can do it with everyone else. Spring is a coming...

FW33: Farmer's Wife & FW34: Fern

Finally I feel like I am breaking through the backlog and catching up. I'm also pretty happy with my new photography studio. It feels far less dingy.

Block 33: Farmer's Wife
This was pretty straightforward. I think Kerry was right about changing the piecing order though, something I did not take heed of and strangely, I cut some of my pieces a bit small so combined with sewing them a bit wonkily, lead to a bit of a messy block edge. Hopefully nothing that will show once it's all sewn together. But next time, use the longest strips as piece one. The centre is also a little bit off which shows a bit more than I thought it would. Everything else is pretty spot on though.

See my wonky edge up close. Jeeez. What a rookie error.

But I was pretty happy with my seams. It all lies pretty flat with some intense steaming from my iron added to the mix.

Block 34: Fern
I decided not to do this block. Another weird angled one with funny seams. Then I changed my mind. Probably because I had cut all the pieces and decided it might be a good experiment in mixing up my orange and yellows with my purples and pinks a bit. If it's rubbish then no loss. Then I realised I had once again printed the pattern out too small, but luckily I hadn't cut the pieces out. So it's on the back burner. I might get it done this week. I'll slot it in when/if I do. We'll see.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

FW31: Eva & FW32: Fanny

These were the first blocks I attempted after Christmas. In my usual style I had a few mishaps. For some reason this week I totally fell in love with other people's versions. So much so, it made me sad about my rubbishy fabric choices. Hence I bought some new fat quarters. I had run out of a few of mine and knew when I started that I didn't have as many as they say you need (30?). So I didn't feel too bad about it. They were way off my original palette a bit though.

Sarah from PrettyfabricsAndTrims made this Ava block. They are all available to buy on her great website. It was so easy, I just had to do it. It was the Kokka orange flowers and the orange dots that I liked really. It just seemed very jolly. I bought the wrong dots though which is a shame but it's still fresh and different. Heaven knows if it really goes but so many people seem to just be doing every colour under the sun I just decided it couldn't hurt, plus I am always a bit disappointed with myself when I see I have yet again used exactly the same three fabrics in a block.

Kerry made this Fanny block and I was totally sold on the bright colours. Mine all seemed boring and recessive in contrast. I felt depressed. Then I thought to myself: 'why can't I just change my mind? Do what I want? do what other people are doing? so what if they don't match? Live a little!'

So orange and yellow and maybe a patterned bright pink were on the cards. I sifted through my stash but apart from solid yellow, I had nothing to match so I delved into Pretty Fabrics and Trim and bought the same fabrics I had seen. It was very rejuvenating. That's the great thing about seeing current projects people are doing. All the fabrics are still available! A bit of a splurge but I feel excited again so I think it was worth it.


They feel much brighter and fresher. I am excited by the yellow. And the white spots might make for some cleaner blocks. It'll either look terrible against my grey blocks or it will work. I kind of think it should look like a big happy variety of colours.

Look at this amazing combination of colours by Jen Kingwell. How am I ever going to reach those heights if I always stick to the same colours? I would love to do that block of the month. If I had $50 a month I would be right in there. I do have one of her other patterns which one day I hope to do so I could be using this current project as a test of putting a wide range of colours and styles together.

FW31: Eva

This came together pretty quickly considering how complex it is. There have been a few like this one now so it felt like familiar ground. It's a familiar colour theme which I need to stop doing if I want variety but it does use some left over fabric I had from Rose Madder which I bought years a go to make my sewing machine cover with so it was a slight stash buster. And everything lines up which is pretty amazing.

I didn't think I was going to like it. It felt like another Alice block which I did not enjoy, probably because I had to do it twice and because it was the first really complex block I tried. I had visions of it taking ages but now I am in the zone it was pretty easy. And I really like it!

Even the back is pretty neat. I didn't even press my seams open, it just all fitted together. Great.

FW32: Fanny
Another 'fit to page' casualty. Damn my printer! It amazes me how I can make such a lame mistake again. It's so annoying. I was gutted, especially as I am only just getting back my mojo. It's half an inch too small on the left. D'oh! In the end I just tried not to think about it and made another one straight away.

The process is pretty easy. I just kept on chugging. I do find that the more lining up there is of different units then the more you need to iron and starch inbetween if you want those seams to line up perfectly. It's slow work but it makes a very tidy block. I was worried I would rush the second attempt but I was very good! Gold star.

I swapped out the green fabric and used the flower fabric which I rejected from the Jitterbug quilt. It's perfect here and I am really happy with the change. It feels less ice cream coloured somehow. And behold! The first use of yellow. Daring... I think I like it though.

Friday, January 15, 2016

FW27: Dinah & FW28: Dolly


Some belated blocks. The last ones I created before everything stopped for Christmas. Some good points and some bad ones...

Block 27: Dinah


The great thing about this block is that it didn't phase me. It's got a lot of very tiny pieces but I just concentrated on the process and did each bit slowly and everything came together pretty easily. I think you just have to take time colouring in the diagram. Sorting fabric out into piles for each unit, ironing and starching at every crease. It came out pretty good except for the middle which has a bit of a wobble because I took the paper off for some reason I forget now. The only negative is that it is a colourway I have used a few times now and I need to move off it if I want this quilt to have the varied look I think it is supposed to have. It's a bit like my grey star and peach phase. I seem to stick to the same colourway for three or four blocks then try and break free. Anyway I felt like I had graduated into experienced Farmer's Wifer... only took 27 blocks (with a few omissions).

Block 28: Dolly

Not so happy with this. I think the fabric choices are just a bit messy. I am starting to think that these more complex blocks need more solids in them. I also feel that my low volume fabric looks a little grubby and recessive. If I liked this block a bit more I might redo it, or if I see someone else's that I like I might try it again.


In the meantime I just stare at it and change my mind about it. I am sort of falling out of love with every block. I feel a bit like the Swoon monster, I am just spending too long with them. Maybe time to stand back and look at them all together...

Friday, January 08, 2016

FW25: Crystal & FW26: Daffodil

This week I almost decided to drop both blocks. I wasn't that sure about them, then I started to see other people's versions and I relented... a bit. I did decide to drop Daffodil in the end. It's just not my kind of block. I haven't really been into that kind of foundation piecing where you make a representaion of a real object as they always look clumsy in their geometric confines. So I decided to drop it. I might go back to it but for now it's on hold. So one block this week!

FW25 Crystal


This block came together much more easily that I thought it would, It looked like a bit of a pain to be honest. I probably spent more time choosing the fabrics. I saw several really nice versions which convinced me about it. MyBearPaw has created a version that is pattern galore. I have been looking at several of mine thinking the patterns clash with the complexity of the block so that in the end you can't really see the block you just get a mess. So what makes me like this version? It is obviously doing something right that I am not! But it was this block by ThePatchSmith that finally convinced me to make the block. All her blocks great and I think that could be the white fabric she uses; it makes them cleaner and coheres them into a set. It makes me a bit sad I didn't use white! but after the Jitterbug I wanted to use more greys. So I used my grey for the white and kept to the same tonal values. And here I have used a fat 16th of fabric I got from Maggie Wise years a go which I have never been able to unfold from the pack I love it so much. It feels a bit blowsy now but here it looks perfect. This could be my favourite block! And I feel like I broke through some fabric hoarding instinct.


The only glitch was the final sewing of the two halves. There is another block like this coming up soon as I will use the sew from the centre out each way technique next time.

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

Farmer's Wife Roundup

So as with this time last year, so far January has been a washout due to Penelope waking up during the night, every night. All good intentions go out the window and the days are just about making it through to bedtime. The sleep has started to get better slowly and the sewing is beginning again but my mojo was flagging. I was starting to get bored and actually I was starting not to like my own colour scheme!

I considered bowing out gracefully. Sewing what I have into a small lap quilt and moving on...

The I started to think about what I needed to do in order to change my own mind. It would be sad to watch everyone else continue on this, my first ever quilt a long and feel that I was somehow off the bus. I needed to get excited again and I need to make it easier on myself. I felt overwhelmed by how far behind I was and how little time I had to catch up. What could I do?

I decided to totally miss out the Christmas week Blocks 29 & 30 Doris and Em. To just move on. I didn't love either block. I would cut out a massive chunk of work by just leaving them behind. Done. The backlog suddenly felt manageable.

Farmers Wife 1930s Progress

I decided that I needed to lay all my blocks out and see how it was all coming together. I've only done 28 blocks so maybe I just needed to make some drastic changes to my colour scheme. There is no floorspace here though so I decided to photograph them properly. It's usually dark here most of the day and everywhere seems to cast shadows on the blocks. So I made a little ledge support in the brightest room and waited for just the right amount of light, then photographed every block so far. I feel much better about being organised and having a little set up to photograph each block properly at last.

Then I laid them out in a grid. Originally I had planned not to do them on point, but I have laid out both ways and realise that many of the blocks just work better on point. Something to think about.


Then I looked at them on point like they are supposed to be. Better I think. Seeing them all laid out made me realise that they are far too samey. I thought the grey background would bring them all together and the use of dark purple would help but it just looks weird having some grey, some purple and then some pink and low contrast.

Then I sat back and made a few decisions. 

1. To only make 1 block a week. I know I said this at the beginning but I have been straying by making both which will just end up in a huge quilt that I will never finish and I just don't get the time now to make two a week really. Making one halves my workload and makes it all seem less pressured. Suddenly I felt better about continuing. I even managed to start catching up a bit. 

2. To relax on colours and fabrics. The best thing about a quilt-a-long has been seeing other people's fabric choices and colour schemes. I see quite a few people are using a wide variety of colours and fabrics rather than a tight scheme so I have thrown caution to the wind and opened it up a bit.

You'll see from the grids above I had added my newer blocks using my new fabric! I bought some new fat quarters. Here I was committed to only using my stash but there is nothing quite so revitalising as new fabric. It really helps inject excitement back into a project.

After seeing Kerry's use of yellow and feeling jealous as I had banned yellow from mine, I blew caution to the wind and bought some. I mean if I am already dissatisfied with the colours then it can hardly make it any worse. Yellow and orange are now IN. So far so good. I feel quite daring. 

So we'll see. I feel a bit like I managed to fall back in love with this project. I just hope it lasts. 

Sunday, January 03, 2016

The Year Review


This year I made...
1. A Zakka sewing case
2. Bricolette block – I made it into a project bag for Rachel for Christmas. Post to come.
3. A mini quilt – Not finished yet
4. Mug rugs
5. A cowl
6. A mini quilt – fractal block
7. A teeny tiny feather block
8. A bigger fractal block – Unfinished, but more blocks to come
9. Penny's jolly little sofa quilt. I haven't posted a finished picture of this but I will!
10. Knitted cowl – No post about this. But I will do!
11. Feather project bag
12 & 13. Neutral half squares
14. Jitterbug
15. Donut Quilt
16. Farmer's wife - ongoing!

Not as great as last year but this year saw me lose my day off to sew which I had last year. And it also marked the end of naptime so sewing time is taking a bit of a break. I still get my evenings so I am still chugging.

There were a few quite big projects in there which I had not anticipated such as the donut quilt, the Jitterbug and the Farmer's Wife. They aren't all complete, but I need to bump up my year's offering so I am including them plus most of the hard work goes into the tops of these monsters.

I think the big success has been in learning to foundation piece. I started off making a simple block, then the fractal pattern, then finally the farmer's Wife and the Briolette. By now, I am finally learning all the tricks and I feel like I have got the hang of it. Jeez, when I look back at my first attempts I am horrified by my messy seams and bad technique. So I feel pretty good about that. I also love my triangle quilt. I have it at work as a lap quilt and I love just looking at it. It's just, well, rad.

I did pretty well with my 2015 project list, out of 7, I only have three are to be started. So over half is good enough for me. This year I did learn how to foundation piece. I started off small and now I seem to be in a big year long quilt a long! It's good to have a new skill. I really enjoy it.

Resolutions from last year
Use up all the fabric I bought from Birmingham – done!
Use scraps – done a bit!
Make small things from my project notebook – a few
To finish things and not have piles of projects lying around – um
Make more time for sewing – err...
Try to knit a bit – well one thing
Try to crochet a bit – nope
Learn to foundation piece – done!

Resolutions for 2016
To finish all the quilt tops in the queue
To do more hand piecing
To make a useful bag
To keep projects manageable. i.e. small
To start my Posie quilt finally!

Projects for 2016
My sew together bag – I haven't progressed with this at all! It's all waiting in a project bag though.
Medallion quilt – I started planning this. I have all the fabric selected. I just need to get going!
Donut quilt – I need to buy backing and wadding . I have been putting off the expense.
Jitterbug – I bought backing and wadding. I am all set. It is on the cards this week! I will do it!
Liberty postage stamp – So close! Just need to keep on quilting
Farmer's wife – Just need to keep on with the weekly block and no lose momentum. I already have some Christmas catching up to do but I might drop a few of these blocks as I am not sure I like them.
Posie improv quilt – Just need to sketch out a design and start cutting up my favourite fabrics

And new ideas…
I would like to make this quilt, just a small one. Using some of the newest Cotton & Steel fabric
Mumple bought me this pattern for Christmas. It's all paper piecing! Yikes
I might make this as a test first
I also have this pattern to think about

That's more than enough. I need to find more sewing time first and get back a laptop at home so I can take and upload pictures more easily and some light in the mornings or evenings would be useful.