Tuesday, September 28, 2010

A makeover

My second oldest UFO came out for an airing this week. I've shown these Baltimore style blocks way back on my blog and they're getting a bit musty smelling after spending many years stored in a cotton bag in the bottom of a drawer.
I did have big plans for this quilt, it was going to be twenty five blocks, all set something like this with a floral border I was going to draw up and a lovely red binding to finish. I even decided on the size and trimmed them accordingly. It was a big plan that's for sure.

I needed to replace a couple of the blocks because of one thing or another and I needed to make two more in addition to make it twenty five in total. The truth is I just don't feel inspired to do that but they represent my real journey into applique and wouldn't it be a shame not to do something with them?
Thinking cap on and a plan to bring it out to a decent size and it's full steam ahead. I removed some blocks to make it twenty blocks instead of twenty five
Hundreds of half square triangles need to be made so I used Lori's method and with two ten inch squares, I can make 32 very quickly. They all had to be trimmed but I like that because I need absolute accuracy. These will finish at 1/1/2" square.
The upper part is is done and together, I like it a lot, maybe not as much as my original idea but I'm being realistic and changing direction will mean that it's more likely to be a finished quilt.
There's still a part of me that thinks because of the finished size, maybe I could add five more blocks to the sides if I change my mind again. Or not!

Friday, September 24, 2010

Before and after

It might have scared you if I'd shown you the during photos of the great fabric stash clean up so I'm happy to just say that it's done and the five bags of orphaned fabrics will be going to a worthy cause soon I hope.
I don't have the fortitude to go diving into the bins under the table just yet.
I've been testing again, I did a barter with a blog buddy and got these Crayola washable markers a while back which I've been using. I haven't found the fine tipped ones here in Australia, just the thick ones and they're no good for my purposes.

 I recently read about these pens from England.  They are Berol handwriting pens that are designed to wash out of clothing and used by young children learning to write with a pen. They make a nice fine line but again, not available here.
I bought a pile off EBay which was the cheapest option and they cost around $AU 1.60 each including postage. You can get dark blue, light blue and black.
Both test samples went into cool water but then I decided to switch them to a bowl of warm soapy water. I used the dish washing liquid that was sitting on the bench since it was handy.
They sat in the water for 45 minutes while I went and did other things. I did swish them a few times at the beginning.
The results speak for themselves, not a skerrick of a mark on either sample. You can read more test results on the Berol pens over on the Feather On A Wire blog here.
As always, I'd recommend that you do your own testing.
And just because I'd like a progress photo on my blog.
No free motion Friday today, I haven't organised myself, maybe I'll get on the machine today.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Spring at my house.

It could be a little warmer since it's spring but the season has given me a boot up the backside to get going on a few things.
I finally finished border number 2 for the Stars and Sprigs quilt and I'm raring to go on the next one.
After that, I whipped up this hand pieced block. The fabrics and the quilt are on the wild side for me but I like to do something new, stretch the repertoire a bit, get out of the comfort zone. It's the block of the month from Amitie. I'm not an experienced  hand piecer so Crispy's new blog Hand Piecing With Crispy has been a big help. If you look on her sidebar, there are  lots of tutorials to check out.
Since Friday has rolled around again, that means it's free motion Friday at my place. The only sewing I did was some more on the cushion top that I started at the Don't Look Now workshop. I'm still not able to stitch this one the way I envisage, it's tough going and as a result, I find myself spending time on doing something I don't love. We all know how to solve that problem. I may just have to accept that this particular filler pattern is not my thing and move onto something else that I find easier.
I've been trying out this Supreme slider, a teflon sheet that sits on the bed of the machine when free motion quilting. It's lived up to the claims and I really like it a lot. It helps the quilt sandwhich move under the needle and it's very noticeable when I don't use it. It pays to tape the sheet to the bed of the machine so it doesn't accidentally get flipped when manoevering a big quilt under it.
Spring can make us do rash things and I think I acted a bit hastily when I decided it was time to destash and reorganise the main fabric cupboard.
Now I can hardly move around in the sewing room and I've only emptied the bottom two shelves. It really needs to get done. Hopefully I can make the stash work better for me. I'm not even going to go into the bins or drawers, that'd be scary because I think I must have twice as much stuff hidden away.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Bits and pieces

One of my little grandaughters is about to turn five soon. One day when her Mum was sitting and stitching, she expressed her need to do the same but a four year old with a sharp needle isn't the best idea when there are younger ones hanging around.
I remembered the sewing cards we played with when we were young and on one of my excursions, I scored this adorable Moda set complete with two plastic needles and some wool. Perfect for popping in the birthday parcel.

My daughter has since found this site that has some colourful cards you can print out for the young ones. They can use a large tapestry needle which doesn't have a sharp point.
Check out these ribbons I couldn't leave without, I thought they'd be great for the gathered clutches so many are making. The tutorial is over at Noodlehead. Or maybe something else?
I've also had some lovely mail after some button pushing lately. This fat quarter collection is McKenzie by Dena Designs.
I love how the black plays with the pastels, it takes the sweetness level down a notch.
I'm all for some of the simpler patchwork designs with a scrappy look and wow fabric so also felt the need for some reading material to inspire me.
I did promise myself  free motion Fridays and today I have been playing with leaves and filler designs in the one piece. It's starting to feel like thread doodling with a needle. I didn't find the leaves hard to do at all and just followed the instructions on the Patsy Thompson Vines And Leaves Vol 2.
I hatching a plan and that's to make the next piece cushion sized, I think it's about time these threads went into something other than practice now.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Stitch, stitch, quilt

The bobbins for my Bernina 820 are a lot bigger than a normal bobbin and they've been rattling around in a tin which is not good for the senser thingymigig part. You know what they say, "neccesity is the mother of invention"
Mr Quiltsalott and I got our heads together and came up with this simple little number. It's made from a scrap piece of wood and some dowling. No Nails, no glue because he has power tools to do the job. As soon as the prototype was knocked up, I ordered another one quick smart because there's no flies on me.
I suggested some stain to flash it up but the comment was that then I wouldn't be able to smell the wood. Silly me, what was I thinking.
I just about wrecked myself getting all the blocks made for the scrapalicious quilt so I'll just wait for a little bit before I sew the them together. I'm glad I got this far because in the middle of sewing, I was beginning to doubt it was anything but a mish mash. I'm sure it'll look great on a bed, it's not art people!
Some thought I was really dedicated to make pieced blocks, sorry to dissapoint you but this is cheater fabric, it's pretty effective and did a lot of work for me.
What else have I been up to? Well I've spent a fair bit of time practicing some more machine quilting which means that my applique was put on the back burner.
I'm going to keep it real and show the good, the bad and the plain ugly. I'm going to be self critiqueing so that I can improve and learn.
The lesson here is to figure out better paths from one motif to another so it flows more naturally.
This one was a play with a feather and look, look, circles blobs! We shouldn't be afraid to experiment, it could lead to something great.
This piece has a wool batting and I washed it to see how it would look. I was attempting to make a branched feather. More circular blobs this time.
With every bit of practice, I'm learning. To keep it up, I've decided to try and give myself time at the machine. I'm calling it free motion Friday. I may just have ordered some bits and pieces to help me. I'll wait to tell you when they get here.
I think my next goal will be to do something that's not so heavy with thread and more casual and airy.

There are a couple of generous bloggers who are helping us with free motion quilting. Leah has a blog called 365 days of free motion quilting and Christina over at A Few Scraps is hosting a beginners machine quilting party you can join.

So why do I want to learn?
Because I can't afford to send the tops out  to get done by a proffessional.
I want to retain ownership of the quilt by doing it by myself.
It's a challenge and a new skill to learn.
I have more quilt tops than I can get through by hand quilting even though it's still my preference.

Thanks for visiting, until next time, find some time for stitching.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Building blocks

I don't buy big pieces of fabric but occassionally I will buy a designer fat quarter collection because you get all the colours working together which is great for me to do scrappy looking quilts. I've been hoarding these Jennifer Paganelli fabrics for awhile and out they've come for a play which takes all the agony out of choosing what goes with what.
Miss 10 year old grandaughter needs a bigger quilt and it's always a tough decision to decide what to make for others. I have got the seal of approval for these fabrics. Just as well because I didn't really give her any other choices.
Onto my quiltus interruptus, my new project! It was hard making those first cuts I can tell you. I remember a quote from one of the Gees Bends quilters who said "you just take one pretty piece of fabric and then another and you sew them together"

Now I can do all sorts of piecing and applique quilts that take a really long time to make but there is something about simple patchwork that appeals to me so much that they often become favourite quilts. Maybe it's because it's about quilts that are made to be used up, they're humble, freeing and fun to make. 
I had to think a bit on the format and method because to an organised person like moi, random still needs a plan. I was inspired by the quilts over here and here
I'm working with 16 inch blocks and making up each one as I go. Sometimes, I'll jot down the measurements within the block so as not to waste precious fabric.
It's growing quite fast and I don't want to stop, I can move blocks around and flip them, that's play my friends. I can't wait to try out some machine quilting on this but I'll have to wait for a batting and backing to arrive first. I'll be back when the top is together.