Tuesday, June 28, 2016

FW81: Peony & FW82: Pharlemia

This week I am still ahead of myself. I couldn't stop myself. I have been waiting for such a long time to get to block 81. It just looked so pretty... and a bit hard. In fact both blocks this week had a lot of pieces so I thought I should get a head start and maybe for a change, imagine that I might make more than one version of them if I ballsed the first one up. I could feel the fear of Y-seams calling...

Peony block
So here is my first attempt. All the units came together really easily. It was sewing the units together where it all got complicated. It sort of worked though. I kept my stitch length really long and did no back stitching as I imagined lots of unpicking, but actually there was none!

My only issue is that the colours I chose are a bit recessive so I decided to try it again and prehaps improve my technique in the process...

My Y seams came out ok. I did a lot of pinning and folding in order to get them to work. I think it kind of came out ok. And I cut all my triangles in the 4 at a time method in order to cut down sewing on the bias. I think it has helped line everything up. I think this block would work well at a bigger size. I really like this by Rebecca So I might give that a go one day.

So here it is. My second attempt. A labour of love. I think the brighter colours work much better here. I am not sure if my Y-seams are any better here, but I did use a shorter stitch length so the whole thing should stay together better than the other one.

I actually love both blocks so they'll both have to go in if they don't look odd. I don't think you'll notice the repeat as they both look so different.

My seams are a mess on the back even after doing the block twice and it's very, very lumpy seamwise.

I feel very dedicated having done this complicated block twice now! True dedication. These last blocks are really cranking up in intricacy. I am going to make a very simple quilt after this one. Something with nice flat seams that doesn't need ironing and starching within an inch of its life.

On another note, I have a new piece of kit! Thanks to the kindness of my mum! She's the best! I had been asking her if she used her Cut n Press. She is often my gauge to see if these notions are actually worth the money as she has been quilting for so long. As a surprise she bought me one! It's ace! Easy to carry around and flip over so one side cuts and one side presses.

And it fits perfectly on my stool. A real must have. Much better than using my cork board and knackered pressing pad which looks really ugly now!

It definitely helped with making this monster flat!

Pharlemia block
I am surprised by how much I like this block now it is finished. It was a real mare to make. So much unpicking and swearing. It's where all those points meet in the chevrons that kept going wrong. The seam was so bulky it kept pushing the fabric out of alignment. Oh how I swore.

And once I had sewn all the units together I realised that the instructions made no sense! I was lost at sea! This is the terrible part of being ahead of the sew-a-long, you are in unchartered territory. I was totally at a loss. Luckily I was saved by this. Thank the heavens! And I should also point out, as it is photographed, how useful my small 4 1/2" square ruler has been for trimming down my units. Thanks Mum! Another well thought out gift from the doyenne of quilting.

I am really pleased with my colours. To be honest, any block with my treasured Denyse Schmidt fabrics in it is a winner. And I think I will have to order a big stash amount of Paperie fabric as I am so near the end of my small fat quarter. 

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Farmer's Wife Progress

Yes it's that time again. Time to take stock and lay everything out.

Every now and again I catch sight of the growing pile of blocks and I feet the end approaching. I have felt a bit lost about how the whole thing is going to come together. I think I have finally realised that the setting for the original Farmer's Wife is more to my liking than the 1930's one. So I think that is how I am going to lay it out.

I took a moment to lay all the blocks so far out on the bed to get some idea of how it might look. I was surprised by how big it is already. It kind of seems big enough without the remaining 18 blocks. Where are they going to go? At the moment it is 8 blocks by 9 blocks but I could a row to the top and side and make a huuuge quilt.

Jeez. I said I wouldn't do this! I think if I did do that then I would have a very narrow border and only quilt down either side of the sashing if I can get it through the machine. We'll see. The whole top row on the left represent my least favourite blocks so I could just edit quite a few out and stick with with the current dimensions.

I was also surprised by how nice it looked. To be honest, some blocks feel a little bright and garish but all together surrounded by white it seems to work and looks bright and happy.

Now I just have to choose the fabrics for the sashing, border and binding. I saw this fabric combination on Instagram on Laura_zuckerkuss's feed. It just seemed like a perfect combination. And she had helpfully listed where she got them and what they all were! Thanks Laura!
So from the bottom up we have Michael Miller basic little stripes in pink, Kona Cotton in peach, Cotton and Steel sprinkles in petal and peaches and Kona Cotton in bubble gum and carnation. All from Simply Solids. And they arrived really quickly!

I think the pink stripe will be perfect for the binding. I tried all the others but decided the sashing should be white, but the squares in the sashing might be a combination of the Cotton and Steel sprinkles. I actually would like to make something small with all of them together as I think they look so pretty. So now I just have to take the plunge and order the enormous amount I will need to finish this beast. It occurs to me that if I could actually get this done by Festival of Quilts time, then I will feel free to shop for new projects. There are a lot churning. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

FW79: Patience & FW80: Patricia

This week I have sped into the future. I am on a roll what can I say! I decided to yet again only do one block as I felt that Patience was a little easy. Then I felt bad and decided to give it go. It seemed a good chance to use up the last of my cat fabric. It's been hacked to bits with all this fussy cutting but there were still a few gems left. I have also started to think about the finish line. Not long now. In fact I laid out the quilt and realised that I really have enough blocks already! More on that in another post. The other great thing this week is that I finally bought a new computer so I have a beautiful shiny new screen to look at. I was using an old lapt before that where the screen flickers and is dark. I had noticed it was impossible to see if some of my shots were dark and murky. So they should look a bit brighter from now on. Back to the blocks.

Patience Block
I am really glad I did this block in the end. It was lovely and simple to put together. You almost didn't need to foundation piece it. I have used this fabric combination a few times now but I am running low on both so it was nice to squeeze another block out of them.

On reflection I think this will look good next to one of the more complicated blocks.

I love the centre unit where the cat is looking behind at the kitten. It is like she has been sawn in half by a magician.

Patricia Block
Well, this is a first. Only once before did I get my colours mixed when marking my papers, but noticed as soon as I started sewing. This time I really had no idea until I had made the complete block, but there you have it, my classic Churn Dash block has become something else after I mixed up my corner triangle colours. I am a bit sad, but I quite like the different pattern it has created.

I am really pleased with the use of yellow here. It is only supposed to be a highlight colour so only used in small bits but seeing as I have broken every other rule in the book I don't see why this one should be any exception. I really like this low volume fabric. I like all the different elements within it. I really want to make my own on Spoonflower as I have lots of old examples in books down the cellar. But, well, they are down in the cellar where the mice live...

Even the back turned out pretty neatly! It was a very easy block to make, even though I ballsed it up, so one to add to the 'make again' list.

Monday, June 20, 2016

FW77: Nellie & FW78: Old Maid

So I am ahead of myself. I made these blocks along with last weeks block. I felt a bit overwhelmed by Nellie. I considered not doing it. 1. it's only in two colours, so feels a little flat and 2. It feels a bit like block 6 April which I just didn't really feel that enamoured with. But, you know, I caved in and faced the beast. We have recently discovered the joys of lego in our house. I thought it would be too complex for a 4 year old, but no, she's right in there. So there has been some amazing windows for sewing. I got lots done this week. It was so nice.

Nellie block20160619-P1440853.jpg
I'm still not sure about this block. It just feels a little clunky to me. Not a favourite. I wish I had made the diagonal squares into the third colour but ack, nevermind. I did use my 'team B' fabrics. As this process has gone on I have swerved in my fabric choices leaving some originally much loved fabrics on the back burner. These are definitely back burner fabrics. The spots are a little dull now I have upped my colour values and the blue bird fabric has too big a print on it to be that successful in small units. But I thought it would be good to put them in a few more blocks so they give balance to the overall quilt when I put the much earlier blocks in. We shall see. I am not sure I like using B team fabrics as the end result doesn't spark joy.

I am pretty happy with how everything lined up though! There were lots of nesting seams so it came together much more easily that it would appear.

And the back is pretty neat. The whole thing lies very flat which surprised me.

Here's how I got everything to line up. Pin central! It took me a while to actually learn how to pin effectively. In the end I happened across a YouTube video which made it all clear. Amazing.

Block 78 Old Maid
I am pretty happy with this block. It is two colours which isn't ideal but the pattern is lovely and it came together really well. I used Kerry's idea of cutting triangles four at a time so that the diagonal is not on the bias. This really helped with stretch.

These are also slight B team fabrics but I do really like them so it was good to get them out again. The circles are a bit widely spread out so they don't work on some of the smaller unit blocks and this peachy colour is a little vibrant somehow. But I love how it turned out.

My one glitch! D'oh!

Sunday, June 19, 2016

FW75: Nan & FW76: Nancy

This week I only made one block as I decided to drop Nan block. Aside from the fact I am not really religious, it's also another block that tries to make a shape like the daffodil block I dropped. I just don't do 'objects' in blocks, I prefer geometric patterns and I always seem to like the symmetrical blocks like Nancy. But Nancy was a bit easy and quick compared to some of the blocks coming up so to make up for that I organised myself and started prepping the next 6 blocks. I even managed to make three of them! So I am well ahead of myself. I really feel as if there is some downward momentum building. I am itching to get to the finish line as I feel the prospect of actually sewing this beast together is weighing me down. I am really thinking about the end result now and how I will put it all together. I am starting to think I might revert to the original Farmer's Wife layout as I think I kinda, sorta prefer it. The cogs are grinding as I think on this complex problem.

Nancy block
I really enjoyed the simplicity of this block. I added the extra colour just to give it a bit more depth and I am really happy with the end result.

It turned out pretty neat and tidy. I don't pin much but this time I pinned everything. It really helps.

Even the back is pretty neat.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

FW73: Mrs Taft & FW74: Mrs Thomas

This week turned out great. I am completely up to date! Horray! I enjoyed both blocks this week. They are yet again, a bit of a disco, but I have given up trying to work out my colours and balance. I am just making a mishmash and hoping for the best. Either it will hurt my eyeballs or it will all come together perfectly when balanced with all the white sashing. Who knows?

Mrs Taft block
I wasn't that into this block, I toyed with the idea of dropping it, it just seemed a little basic and duotone. Then I thought about what could make it more to my liking and I so I decided to use it as an opportunity to use some of my favourite fabrics all together.

20160605-P1440727.jpg I am really pleased with the result. It has become one of my favourites.

Mrs Thomas block
This block took quite a long time to make as there were so many bits but it was pretty straight forward. I even listened to Kerry's advice about cutting my triangles out four at a time. I feel very virtuous.

Monday, June 06, 2016

FW71: Mrs Morgan & FW72: Mrs Smith

This week was a difficult one. But I am finally caught up. I had to do some of them at mums in order not to fall behind but it worked out really well. The kids played so nicely I had plenty of time to do them at my leisure; such a joy! I find that I am often rushing which doesn't help with the more complex blocks. I never feel I have read through everything or understood exactly what I am doing, I just plough into it and face problems as they arise. And now we get a week off which is excellent as I can catch up on the one last block I am missing so far. This week I wanted to use my kokka flower fabric. It's so pretty. I think it goes quite well with the peach fabric. They feel bright and sunny which is good. I am really happy with both blocks.

Mrs Morgan block
I really like this block. I wasn't expecting to, but I do. I am glad I used some yellow fabric in this. I think the balance is right.

And everything matches up well. It was a nice block to make.

Mrs Smith block
A lot of pieces in this one which made it a bit daunting but it all came together well; lots of nesting seams.

The pink is a bit recessive but I wanted to have blocks with peach and pink in as I love the colour combination.

The only blip is the edge of the centre star but overall I am pretty happy that nearly everything else lines up. I sewed this block at mums over half term using her Juki machine which is an absolute joy to use. You can start sewing immediately and it is so smooth, plus is has a cutting thread button which cuts the threads really short so no having to get in there with scissors to trim them. It only does straight stitch but it really does it well!