Monday, August 27, 2012

A is for adorable

There's a young lady that's been saying she can't wait for her animal quilt. She is a real quilt lover and appreciates anything you give her. The family have a strong appreciation of all things hand made.
I'm going like the wind on this one to get it finished. The top is together and it's been spray basted with two wool battings to give a trapunto effect to the applique.
The wild and woolly yak's are my favourites I think.
I've been with my head down over the machine slowly stitching for days now. It's slow going to stay neat around the edges when one is free motion quilting. It's like colouring within the lines. There's no backing attached at this stage but I'm having no issues with fluff going down into the machine and I think that's because of the Supreme Slider I'm using on the bed of the machine.
The hardest animals to do were the unicorns, I really thought they needed to look magical. I found some fabric at the local quilt shop that had bling and now they look just right.
I'm on the home stretch with the stitching and then I need to cut away the bottom layer of batting, add some eyes to the animals and baste the backing on before free motion quilting can start. I'm hoping the finish this one before the end of next month so I can deliver it in person.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Why it's good to be able to draft blocks

This is not my quilt but I wish it was. Jan over at Bemused kindly gave me permission to show these photos from her 2012 Tokyo quilt festival photos Thanks Jan. You can click on these for larger views.
I'm fascinated by the block and also the setting which is very clever. At first glance, I see the colours and the circles then I see the grid that's been overlaid on the blocks.
Upon closer inspection, this has even more layers, check out the light value of the half blocks surrounding the outer edges of the quilt that serve as a border but tie in with the main blocks.
Look even more closely and there is a square on point right in the center to bring the eye back . They were achieved by the effective use of value and in the four outer points, light values were used in a quarter of the circle.
Here it is again. Now take another look, (you may have to click on the photo) and see if you can pick that there is yet another element not so obvious. On the two diagonals of the quilt, another quarter of each block has a different  colour arrangement in the corners. This time they are as a square as opposed to a  triangular section. Clever I tell you! Even the sashing isn't just a straight strip.
The block is easy to draft so I had a go at playing with the pattern. Only the block in the bottom left of the photo is accurate, the others were a failure because of the troubles that dividing the block and doing the white sashing gave me.
You can see the different shape of the sashing in two corners.
The Japanese quilter appliqued the blocks and I suspect that they were done in quarter sections. Even the sashings were appliqued. I did mine mostly by machine with the smallest amount of applique at the very end. It took a lot of trial and error but I finally worked it all out and what a satisfying exercise that was. If there was enough interest, I could do a run down of my process. I may or not do the quilt but it was fun testing it out.
Remember my Candied Hexagon quilt? I hand pieced all the blocks in this quilt from a pattern in a magazine that's no longer available. The pattern was not accurately printed in the magazine but I had no problems until it came to the border. I got there with a bit of fudging but it reminded me of something very important.
Always do a test block from any pattern before committing to cutting for a whole quilt. Some magazines have testers that test blocks but they rely on the printers to get it right so don't assume they got it right.
Unfortunately, Australian quilting magazines have a reputation for having many patterns that are printed incorrectly.
The same goes for books.  I like to check on google for any errata for books I may have purchased. The first printing of Freddy Moran's houses book had every single template wrong and the correct ones were made available via a download on the Internet.
I have a piece O' Cake book, Applique Delights that had the same issue.
If you are thinking of making Linda's red and white school house quilt from this magazine, please go visit her blog, Quilts in the Barn for some important pattern corrections. In fact go and visit anyway, she has written this great blog post about that experience.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Announcing a winner

Thanks to everyone who entered the Small Pieces Spectacular Quilts book giveaway. I used the random number generator to choose a winner at 7 p.m Australian time.
Congratulations to Alice from Piecemeal Pieces  in Italy.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Small Pieces Spectacular Quilts giveaway

I was thrilled to be invited to be part of the blog tour for this second book written by authors Mary Elizabeth Kinch and Biz Storms. I own their first book and loved that so I knew this one was a must have.
The book starts off with some wonderful examples of antique quilts and there are lots of tips and tricks throughout the rest of the pages that make sewing small pieces a snap.
All the quilts are ones that I'd love to make but there are two in the book that call my name.
As it happens, they're both string pieced but with different methods.
The cheddar background in "Go With The Flow" is dynamic don't you think?
I also love the cover quilt, " Pumpkin Peel" which is a clever variation on two patterns I'm familiar with, Orange Peel and Double Wedding Ring.
I thought it would be fun to try and do a variation of the Pumpkin Peel pattern. I started by thinking that a doll quilt size would be a great place to start. The block for one quarter of the quilt is close to forty inches which is bigger than I wanted to go.

I decided to try shrinking the elliptical pieces to see if they looked workable and settled on a 60% reduction. That looked great but it also shrunk the seam allowance.
I made some new templates out of plastic, excluded the seam allowances then used a quarter inch brass wheel to redraw them.
I like to use a tearaway vilene for paper foundation piecing which I prefer over paper. I can see through it and it does come away easily with small stitches.
You may not have noticed but I roughly drew some guidelines following the angle of the arc so that my strip piecing wouldn't go wonky. I didn't actually use the lines for stitching, just for angling my seam allowance on the strips if I needed to.

Here's a tip if you do use paper. The ipad is a great little tool to have next to the sewing machine as it acts like a mini light table so you can check the pieces are lined up correctly.
I'm loving the rhythm of paper piecing and it's looking pretty good to me.
I'm thinking by now that if I do just the small arcs instead of the double arcs as in the pattern, that would keep the quilt small.  I'll cut the background about 22" -24" which would be the size of the doll quilt I'd want. As you might know, red is my favourite colour so why not use it for the background?
Then again, I love the cheddar too, what would you choose?
Before I make that decision, I'll carry on and mark my seam allowances on the front ready to applique the arcs to the background. Here I'm using a Clover chalk pencil.
What if I make a couple of the bigger arcs and see how they look attached the the smaller ones? I'm not finished playing just yet.

If you'd like to win a copy of this book, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post and I'll choose a winner on August 19th.

There's still a few stops on the blog tour for a chance to win a copy of the book plus I've included all the blogs that have participated so far. There are lots of  tutorials, reviews, tips and fun interpretations of featured projects to check out.

First stop, Sew Mama Sew
July 31 ~ Wonky World
August 10 ~ See How We Sew

Aug 20 ~ Amy's Creative Side
Aug 29 ~ Supergoof
Sept 3 ~ Quilts in the Barn
Sept 11 ~ Stitch This/Martingale
Sept 17 ~ Quilting with the Past

In addition, Mary Elizabeth has ten giveaways on her blog that is open until the September 25. Go here to enter.