Sunday, 31 May 2015

Sunday Stash #13

The economy may go into free-fall as I don't think I've bought anything this week. I'm not sure how this happened and it's certainly not through a lack of trying on my part!

So as promised in an earlier week, here's my layer cake drawer.

Plus the overflow drawer which promptly collapsed when I took it out. Sigh, some furniture building on a Sunday morning.

 It does give me a chance to show you what's in the drawer though.

Firstly scrap bags. Solstice. Mid-Winter Reds, Bartholo-meows Reef, Saltwater and others I think.

 A couple of jelly rolls - Lily Ashburys High Street and a Ty Pennington collection.

A fat quarter bundle of This n That by Nancy Halvorsen

And lots and lots of layer cakes. Including Kahuna which I've been trying (and failing) to find more of. I got this on the day that the Missouri Star Quilt Co batik shop opened and they hadn't finished stocking it. All that was available was one layer cake so I snapped it up. I've never seen the collection anywhere since.

Right off to finish some quilting.

Happy Sunday sewing!

Saturday, 30 May 2015

Prevarication - the father of invention

Isn't it amazing what you can get done when you don't want to do a task?!

In an effort to avoid basting my latest project I've cleaned the sewing room, tidied and rearranged fabric, made other blocks...basically anything I could to avoid scrambling around on my knees on a hard floor basting. 

But by Friday night I knew that the prevarication had to come to an end. This child is going to be attending elementary school before her baby quilt is done! 

So that night I smoothed, taped, sprayed and stuck the pieced backing, batting and top together in preparation for quilting. With the horrible bit out of the way, quilting was quickly underway. 

As the blocks are drunkards path, I decided to go with an all over paisley free motion quilting quilting pattern so that the curvy lines matched the blocks. All credit to Leah Day for the quilting design (and teaching me pretty much everything I know about quilting).

 There's a distinct risk that this quilt might actually be finished this year. Eek.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Pattern matching: Playing peek-a-boo with seams

As I was sewing the drunkards path blocks for my secret project and the quilt was gradually getting bigger, it occurred to me that anything over 44" wide meant a pieced back. It eventually ended up 47" by 52" even without the two inch overage. Drat.

And with the cute Melly and Me Wildflower Meadow print I'd chosen, I would either have to put a really skinny pieced strip in the middle of the two halves or pattern match along a centre seam.

Eek. I've never pattern matched before.

I read a few blogger guides and had a go. Apart from a moment of panic when I thought I didn't have any fabric glue (anyone know what the equivalent of Elmers glue in the UK is?) it went fairly smoothly. I won't attempt to set out the full process here as there are so many excellent tutorials already available. My only advice would be to check your repeat occurrence (ie how often the pattern repeats itself horizontally and vertically) so that you know how much potential overlap (and therefore wastage) your likely to have. You'll need to factor this in to your yardage calculation.

I won't claim that I matched the seams perfectly; there's at least one flower and a bull rush that is slightly askew.

And let's not play the game of "oh gosh, where can that seam be?". It's right there, stonkingly  obvious. See it? Of course you do.

But once it's pressed and quilted over, I'm hoping the tiny recipient will forgive any flaws.

Imperfectly finished is better then perfectly unfinished, right?

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Avoiding basting excuse #1 - the cosmos ate my shoes

Most of the long weekend was spent finishing off the secret project top and then piecing the back. This was my first foray into pattern matching a seam and don't get me started on how complicated it was. But more of that later.

Of course once the top and back were pieced, the next step was basting. I hate basting, particularly when his Highness isn't around. Scrambling around on my hands and knees on the hard conservatory floor isn't my idea of fun. So enter basting-avoidance project #1 - Gravity quilt.

I'm slightly more than half way through this project so there's more to do although not a huge amount more. 

The next block to tackle is Cosmic, a six point star with triangles and diamonds on the ends. It comes in two jewel colour schemes - ruby red and emerald green.

There's quite a few points to match here but, using Carol Doak's technique of using a large basting stitch first, adjusting as necessary and then sewing using a smaller stitch length it came together rather quickly. 

The six colours are more distinct then they seem in the picture but I must confess that I can't tell the difference between a couple of the shades. That's a terrible thing for a woman to confess and may disqualify me from being able to use it as an excuse for buying more shoes in the future. Maybe. 

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Down on the farm - bears in syrup

This week I almost got behind in the Farm Girl Vintage sew along. Almost. Four days is more than half a week. Eek!

First up was Canning Season, six little canning jars. Just incase you're confused, that's the one on the right.

In a 6.5" square these cans end up being pretty small - in my case I think they look more like nail polish bottles then canning jars but I'm certain that's just my twisted mind! 

I tried to pick fabric with medium scale prints which would show up in the jars. Four of them are fine but I'm not sure what that little animal (bear? dog?) is doing in the blue jar. He seems to have been preserved. And don't even get me started on the Highland Terriers...

The block on the left is Chicken Foot. I have to confess I had trouble getting this block to lay flat - too many intersecting seams. But putting some weight behind the iron helped. Squish that block! That's my excuse for the amount of chocolate I eat; I need the bulk for pressing blocks. Feel free to steal it.

Sunday, 24 May 2015

Sunday Stash #12

I'm a bit light on stash purchases this week - probably because I bought so much last week - but I did take delivery of a FQ each of Kona silver and mid grey from Sew Hot.

I can now add the remains of these pieces (minus a few 5" drunkards path pieces) to my ever-growing stash of Kona solids, including Caribbean, Leprechaun, Clover, Sprout, Pansy, Midnight, Mid Grey and...erm... Brown. I think they ran out of fancy names towards the end.

I had a few other quilt associated deliveries this week, all from Massdrop.

Firstly two cones of Aurifil, one in 2024 and one in 2021.

I have to confess that I normally can't tell the difference between these colours (I think they're called "white" and "natural white" respectively) but when they're in cone form I can. Probably because there's so much more thread to see!

I think the natural white (on the right) is a little more creamy then the white (more grey).

I have a cone holder for Naomi from when I FMQ using Isacord cones so I'll start getting in to the habit of threading the cone guides rather than the spool guides.

Finally my Curve Master foot turned up ironically just after I've finished piecing 70 drunkards path blocks. Such is life.

I tried using the pin-less method on a couple of blocks but they always came out misaligned- the "pie" piece always finished a 1/4" short of the "crust" piece. I think this was because (a) my feed dogs are very grabby and (b) my 1/4" foot is quite large so there's a big chunk of plastic between the needle and the front edge. This makes it very difficult to maneuver the two pieces so they alight just before the needle. I suspect a lack of practice also plays a part.

As a result I pinned all but two of my blocks. By the end I didn't need many pins (and didn't get any puckers at all!) but did still need three or four for comfort sake. It actually went a lot quicker then I thought it would.

So, once this project is out of the way I'll try using up my left over pieces by practicing, practicing, practicing!

Linking up with Molli Sparkles' Sunday stash linkup.

Happy Sunday (and Memorial Day and Bank Holiday!) sewing!

Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Perfectly prim and pressed

Next up in the Fat Quarter Shop snapshots BOM was Kindred Kitchen, a 1950s inspired apron. Think Mad Men meets Masterchef.

Like most of the Shapshots blocks, there are a large number of pieces to cut out so this took me some time. Then, as with most of the FQS patterns, the steps alternate between sewing 1/4" seams and sewing on the line. They definitely embrace the flippy corners! Because changing stitch requires me to switch between feet on Naomi the Janome, this also took some time. In fact it took me 3 hours the make the 16" block. I ended up trying to batch sew different steps out of order but which required the same foot to save time.

But it's so pretty! That gorgeous ruffling around the hem, that cute 50s shape! Definitely worth the effort.

Monday, 18 May 2015

Baking and a-churning

Another Friday has passed which means there are two more blocks to do for Lori Holt's Farm Girl Vintage quiltalong.

With so many BOM projects on the go at once I'm terrified that if I fall behind I'll never catch up! So I had to do these blocks as soon as they were due.

First up was the Baking Day block. Lori's example block used beige for the spoon but I have been given a limited amount of beige in my Fat Quarter Shop bundle. So instead I decided to have a dark orange spoon instead. All good!

The block is fairly straightforward although, with the small spoon face having so many snowballed corners it doesn't want to lay flat! Some aggressive pressing required!

Next up was the Butter Churn block. I love this one particularly with the centre mini pinwheel being so perfectly framed. It's just so...square!

I also love Lori's method of making the flying geese units which I've always wanted to try. The maths is a bit beyond me though - why do we mark a large square only to cut it into four smaller squares? Why not just cut the four small squares to start with? Perhaps it's easier and quicker to mark one large square than four smaller ones.

Notwithstanding the weird arithmetic, the flying geese come out perfectly and with no waste.

I have one small bugbear about the pressing instructions for this block though - the patterns calls for the outside flying geese to be pressed outward which squishes the points of the geese back on themselves. This makes for a very bulky seam, you risk losing the geese points and the block won't lay flat. I think it would have been better to press away from the geese, preserving the points and making the block lay flatter. But that's just my opinion, obvs.

Either way, two more blocks done! Roll on Friday!

Sunday, 17 May 2015

Sunday Stash #11

I've had such a mad busy week this week that I haven't had a chance to do much sewing.

What I have managed to sew is a secret (although sneaky peak below and on Instagram as I'm terrible at keeping secrets!) and most of this week's stash purchases links to that project.

It's all done in solids (Kona of course) and half way through this week I realised I was missing some key fabrics. So Village HaberdasherySew Hot and Plush Addict to the rescue! Most of our major quilt shops are at Malvern for the quilt show at the moment so I wasn't expecting such a speedy response but the fabric turned up very quickly.

I'm still waiting in a FQ of mid grey and silver but other than that I'm now good to go.

Whilst perusing Plush Addict a 1m bolt end of this medium teal chevron fell into my basket. How did that happen?!

Finally, whilst having an emergency tidy up in the sewing room (nowhere left to store fabric) I stumbled across these fat eighth bundles I'd forgotten I got from Southern Fabric a while ago.

There are four bundles of Amy Butler fabric - Cameo and Lark I think - but they're not labelled so I'm not 100% sure.

There's also a fat eighth bundle of Avant Garden by MoMo for Moda and a bundle of High Street by Lily Ashbury, again for Moda.

The High Street is rather out of my comfort zone, having lots of yellows and oranges but it's such a bright happy collection that I had to.

I love fat eighths as I find FQ bundles really expensive and, unless you're doing a huge quilt, there's loads left over. Not that scraps are a waste!

Finally, the sneaky peek I promised. All together now - one fish, two fish, red fish...

Monday, 11 May 2015

Farm Girl Vintage start

After last week's epic week of sewing I did a stock take and noticed that I'd entirely missed one project - Farm Girl Vintage Friday's! Oops!

I'm already two weeks behind so it was time to crack on.

Although Lori uses Swiss Dots by Riley Blake, I'm using Kona snow as the background fabric because in all honesty I could reconstruct a bolt of this fabric with the stray scraps and yardage I have lying about the place! Waste not, want not! 

First up was Apron Strings, a scrappy variation on snowballed half square triangles. I was a bit surprised that this was the first block; normally you have scrappy blocks at the end of a project to use up your left overs. It seemed odd to cut into FQs just for 1 1/2" squares. But I took my shilling from the  drum so I must obey.

Next was Autumn Star, a very pretty star block which I'll definitely want to make in a larger scale in her future. It also laid surprisingly flat for having so many seams in such a little block!

Finally, the super cute Baby Chick block with its little backstitched eye and legs. I had to be careful not to stitch the eye into the seam allowance as was indicated in the pattern.

 Roll on Friday!

Sunday, 10 May 2015

Sunday Stash #10

New stash items have been light on the ground this week so, as well as sharing the few items I have added, I'll also show so oddities from my stash.

The fabrics for my commission arrived from the U.S. this week. The winner chose jewel-toned batiks is red, green and blue and I chose an off white (beige-toned cream) to go with so the gem like quality of the batiks isn't overawed by the background fabric.

I've also chosen a busy but subtle backing fabric by Wilmington Print as I don't know how it's going to be quilted. This should go with everything!

 It's difficult to tell from the picture but the pattern is very small grey crosses on a white background. 

A couple of oddities from my stash.

First a pack of 10" squares of Summer Breeze by Bella Boulevard for Ruley Blake.

Although the fabrics and patterns are great, I mainly bought this because of the awesome ribbon which holds the pack together. Yes, I'm really that shallow! Lovely summery colours too though!

And finally a mystery 5" squares pack that I bought from the Malvern Quilt show last year.

 I have absolutely no idea of the collection, designer or manufacturer but I bought it because I loved the prints (all things birdy) and the colours (yellows, pinks, blacks, turquoise). Anyone have any ideas?

Saturday, 9 May 2015

Pajamas days

I confess that, six days in to my epic week of sewing, I sort of ran out of steam this morning. I still had lots to do but my "get-up-and-go" sort of "got-up-and-went". Watching the election coverage until the wee hours of the morning didn't help either.

The rest of the morning was spent snuggled up in bed with a coffee and a book. 

I was saved from my sluggishness by the postman with this month's fabrics from Simply Solids and instructions about the next blocks in the Moda Building Blocks block of the month. 

Nice simple 6" blocks this month, although I have noticed that the design inside the pattern sleeve doesn't exactly match the block patterns or Moda's official construction diagram. For instance one block (44?) in the pattern and construction diagram is a blush pink and white bear paw. But in the sleeve design, it's a chevron. The yellow and white churn dash block was previously a much more complicated half square triangle block. 

Obviously Moda changed the design along the way but didn't get around to changing the design inside the sleeve. Either way, it's still a great design!

This month we also finished constructing sections A and C of the design and then sewed together A, B and C completing the top half of the quilt. 

Squee, we're getting closer to finishing! Don't the 6" blocks look tiny next to that mammoth star?!

Friday, 8 May 2015

And now we return to our usual programming

After yesterday's disasters, a much better sewing day today.

I finally managed to catch up with the GenX Quilter's Moccasin block of the month by finishing off block 6, a Dresden plate.

The only issue with this block was the (for me anyway) bespoke size of the blades. I have the EZ Quilting Dresden blade ruler which measures blades from 2" upwards in 1/2" increments. The size and angle of each size blade ensures that a certain number of blades makes a full Dresden circle.

However the Moccasin block required blades which were 4" high but the side angles of which corresponded with the 3" template on my ruler. A bit confusing! So I cut my fabric 4" wide, started to cut the blades using the 3" mark on the template until I ran out of ruler at 3" and then manually extended the cuts down to the end of the blade. I guess thus is how the block designers managed to get 20 blades to fit in a 9.5" block. It works!

Ironically, the Ultraviolet blocks of the Gravity quilt from Jaybird Quilts ended up being simpler block of the day, despite having partial seams! This block comes in two colour ways, purple and yellow.

Despite having one partial seam, the blocks came together very quickly. I used Carol Doak's technique of basting matching points with a quick 4" basting stitch first before sewing the seam normally to ensure that the points matched up beautifully. The basting stitch is quick as I only baste the points and pulls out easily once the seam is sewn.

One odd thing about the purple block though- three of the fabrics displayed a weird polarized effect when photographed. The other fabrics seem fine.

I'm sure there's a simple technical explanation for this (Julie at Jaybird says she's had it happen to her with photographs before) but it certainly made the block seem even more out of this world!

Thursday, 7 May 2015

One of those days

Have you ever had one of those days where everything seems to go wrong? There's no milk left for your morning coffee, the handle breaks off your mug and you can't find a parking space?

I had one of those sewing days yesterday. Nothing dramatic happened but there was an endless stream of niggles.

I finished the Pine Needle Basket from the Craftsy Jinny Beyer BOM project and it went fine. Not great, just fine. It took me a good few hours though!

As always with these Craftsy blocks it came out 1/4" too small all around but I can fix that at the sashing stage. French homework is done!

I also finished up the two block 5s for the GenX Quilter's Moccasin BOM. I think I'm almost caught up now (May is block 6). Again these weren't particularly problematic (apart from trying to tear copy paper out of the paper foundation; I'll always use Cadol Doak's paper in the future) but took a good few hours.

Hopefully today is a new day and I've left the trials and tribulations of yesterday behind!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

Desert and white oak

Sounds like an upmarket fragrance, doesn't it? Or maybe more like a supermarket brand body spray! Either way, it's the next instalment in the epic sewing week.

The "desert" bit comes from blocks 3 and 4 in the GenX Quilter's block of the month pattern for this year, called Moccasin.

They were fairly straightforward blocks, being shoo fly (or Sherman's March or Church Dash) blocks plus a Bears paw block.

I'm slowly catching up with the BOM - I think I'm only two months behind now!

Next up was the White Oak Basket, one of two for the Craftsy BOM for May.

This month's blocks were a little like French homework - you know that you have to do it but would rather do fun stuff instead. But if you leave it, it's going to be looming over you all holidays. Best to get it out of the way ASAP. Particularly as this month's blocks had 13 pages of instructions; yes, 13!

I'm not 100% happy with the block (I somehow managed to miscut the basket lip fabric so that more than just the border print is visible in some spots). However I know that I'm just being picky and should instead embrace the glory of those partial seams which came together with no problems!

Pine needle basket is the other block for this month. I'll get cracking with that tomorrow.

Tuesday, 5 May 2015

The epic saga continues

Today I finished off Celestial from the Gravity quilt by Jaybird Quilts.

Happily the neon pinkness (I call this colour "acid Barbie") of fabric A was toned down by the other salmon and skin pinks. Not my favourite colour but it'll look great in the finished quilt.

I also started the Moccasin quilt designed by GenX Quilter's. I umm'd and ah'd about starting yet another BOM but the beautiful southern colours and modern design called to me! The only problem now is that I have some catching up to do!

First up were the two First Lady blocks.

Then came the curved windmill. 

Oh dear. I think I must have mistrimmed my drunkards path blocks as I missed all the matching points the first time around. You gotta admire my consistency. Time for a bit of unsewing...

 Much better! Ok, so I still missed one point but I'm not redoing it again! 

Monday, 4 May 2015

Gravity quilt - celestial

I've just realized that a number of my projects for this year are connected to outer space including Starlight, Starbright by Carol Doak and Garvity by Jaybird Quilts. Go figure.

The epic week of quilting continues with the next block in my Garvity quilt - celestial. This comes in two colour ways - green and pink. Here's the green one. 

You can see fabric A of the pink colour way in the background. The photo doesn't do it justice; it's neon pink!

This block is a lot more simple than some of the earlier one, particularly the now infamous Orbit. I still have nightmares about that block. 

There's only a few points to match here and, because the seams are going in the same direction, it's pretty straightforward. Tomorrow I'll get cracking on with the pink colour way.

I also finalized the design of my secret quilt (and it's awesome!) but I can't let you see it until it's gifted. Is that even a verb "to gift"? I think I'm making words up now. Time for bed. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Sunday Stash #9

Having previous said I have either "feast" or "famine" weeks for fabric, this week is somewhat in between! It's all from Massdrop.

First up, a lovely fat quarter bundle of Vintage Sundaes by The Henley Studio for MakowerUK.

I love the faded powder blues, greys and parchment colouring and the gorgeous object d'art prints (butterflies, keys, clocks). It's ironic that this fabric came from the UK, went to the States and then back again and was still appears to be cheaper then it would have been to buy in the UK. Go figure.

Next up a design roll of Franklin by Denyse Schmidt for Free Spirit.

I'm normally not a big fan of busy prints (yellow and red plaid anyone?) but I've found that they work very well in small pieces surrounded by neutral solids. I guess everyone else already knew that right?!

Finally some notions, still from Massdrop. I bought a bundle of square up rulers mainly because of the flying geese rulers.

As an added bonus I bought three rolls of Invisigrip grippy stuff to go on the back of my rulers. 

Three rolls might seem a lot (it is) but I suddenly seem to have loads of rulers. I think they're secretly multiplying whilst I'm not in the room! This Omnigrip tape will provide extra friction between the ruler and the fabric, making the ruler much less likely to slip and either miscut the fabric or cut me!

Linking up with Molli Sparkle.

Have a great sewing Sunday (and a fab Bank Holiday if you're in Great Britain)!

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Work done = time taken plus love

I'm on hold this week and it's going to be an epic sewing week. It's going to have to be - I've got so much to get done!

First task today was getting part one of a baby present done. I think the mom knows about this part but the other is a secret! 

Sewing the circles was a cinch but top stitching down all those segments? I'd forgotten how long top stitching takes!

But the value of something like this isn't in the hours of work it's taken but the love and benefit to the little girl whose bottom will shortly be residing on it. Had the top stitching taken 100 more hours, it would have been worth it.