Monday, 29 June 2015

Catching up

I was a bad bad girl this weekend. Rather then tackling more of those dreaded double pinwheel blocks I caved and instead pieced some of my BOM projects. To coin a popular phrase: sorry/not sorry.

First up were missing blocks from the Farm Girl Vintage BOW (is that an actual acronym?) by Lori Holt.

We had Crops and Egg Basket.

Then Farm Fresh Flowers and Farmhouse.

And finally Seed and Feed and Fresh Pear.

As you can tell my pears are missing some seeds. I promise that when I have a spare 5 mins I'll embroider them in with some Aurifloss.

Phew, that was a lot of blocks! I feel a sense of satisfaction that I've finally caught up.

Ok, I confess I pieced some double pinwheel blocks too. What? I'm a sucker for punishment...

Sunday, 28 June 2015

Sunday Stash #15

Still no new fabric (I feel like I'm on a diet - shudder!) but some new notions appeared this week including this from Massdrop.

It's a circle cutter that acts a little like your school protractor used to - there's a graduated slide a pivot point at one end and a moveable small rotary cutter at the other end. I haven't used it yet but understand that you slide the little knob along the arm until you reach the desired radius for your circle and then screw it on to secure the cutter at that length. You then place the pivot point in the centre of your fabric and spin the arm around, cutting using the rotary cutter on the end of the arm.

Although I have a couple of other tools for cutting circles, this one appealed to me because of the flexibility in radius of circles you can cut.

I have an EZ Quilting shape cut circle ruler and small rotary cutter which work well but they only cut circles which have a diameter which is a whole number of inches - the smallest is 2", the largest 10" I think.

 If you want to cut anything with a diameter different to those measurements, you can't use this ruler to do it. In addition, although Simplicity state that any small rotary cutter works with the ruler, it isn't true. For certain diameters, the smaller rotary cutter is still too big to fit in the groove. And whilst the Ez Quilting rotary cutter does work with all diameters, even it requires a couple of passes to cut cleanly. I suspect I need to change my blade but Simplicity don't make it clear whether you can use a standard small rotary blade in the cutter or whether you have to buy their specialist blades. As the cutter has now been discontinued, I might be stuck if that's the case.

I also have the Olfa circular rotary cutter. 

Unlike the one they seem to sell in the U.S., the UK version doesn't have a rotary cutting blade at the end but instead just had a raw unprotected craft blade. For someone whose is as clumsy as me, this presents risks. You can cut circles of different diameters with this cutter and aren't limited to the whole inches as you are with the EZ Quilting ruler; just slide the blade up and down the slide and screw in to secure. However although the slide has a little scale marked on it, there aren't any number to indicate exactly what radius or diameter of circle these correspond to. I find you have to pick a point on the scale, secure the blade at that point and then measure the distance you've just set on your rotary mat to work out what circle you would get if you used the cutter as you've set it up. There's a fair amount of trial and error involved with setting it up. There's also a fair amount of trial and error involved in cutting - hold the cutter too firmly, press down too much or "saw away" (ie repeatedly cut the same point) and you won't get a clean cut. I eventually found that you have to hold the cutter at the top most point of the handle and just go for it. Not ideal.

I'm hoping that the new tool will combine the best bits of all the above. Let's hope it doesn't combine the worst features as well!

Friday, 26 June 2015

A finish: is that a blue moon?!

A finish. An actual, honest-to-God finish. Actually if I'm going to be picky, it's actually two finishes.

Firstly the flannel cheats cathedral window playmat.

And then the big finish of the secret project - the animodals quilt. 

This involved 72 drunkards path blocks in a variety of Kona solids. Plus a good couple of days quilting.

I thought the drunkards path blocks would be more painful to piece (my Curve Master foot turned up the day after I pieced the last block) but actually they weren't too bad. I didn't manage to sew them without pins but I did manage to get it down to just three pins by the end. 

I tried embroidering the little noses, eyes and feet on but after one attempt I found it produced rather unsatisfactory results instead I used little 3/4" circles of fabric with iron on interfacing and then hand-stitched them down. Again it took much less time than I expected. 

One of my perfectly mitred corners has developed a little winkle but apart from that they're perfect. A little like the intended recipient of both quilt and play mat. Hopefully she'll have received them by the time this is posted. In which case I better get them in the post quick!

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Double pinwheel commission

Back in the Spring I agreed to produce a quilt as a charity auction prize. After sitting down with the winners we agreed on a pattern (double pinwheel), size (king) and materials (jewel-toned green, blue and red).

In May the fabric turned up but due to other commitments I didn't manage to start cutting into it until early June. When calculating the fabric requirements I relied upon EQ7 and made a basic but telling mistake - EQ7 assumes that you'll be traditionally piecing all the triangle blocks. All quarter and half square triangles are cut and pieced individually. There's no room for "magic square" methods with EQ7.

My intention had been to piece the blocks using the magic square technique but quickly (and luckily before I cut into the fabric) realized I didn't have enough. As the fabric had come from the USA I didn't have time to order more. I'd have to cut 960 quarter square triangles and 960 half square triangles. And then piece them together. Yikes. 

The cutting went fairly quickly but the piecing? Not so much. I've tried various techniques to try to keep myself interested in sewing the 960 quarter square units into 480 half square units. And then the 480 half square units into 480 blocks . But it's been tough. 

Today I finished piecing the 240 blue/green/white blocks together and started clipping apart the red/green units in preparation of turning them into blocks. But half way through clipped off my dog ears and pressing open I lost the will to sew. I'd love to say that "the spirit was willing but the body was weak" but in reality neither body nor soul wanted to continue!

I'll try to get back to it at some point this week but right now I'm sick and tired of triangles!

Monday, 22 June 2015

Seeing taillights up ahead

Over the course of last winter and this spring I signed up for more BOM projects then I care to remember. My goals with BOM clubs are (a) learn new skills and step out of my comfort zone and (b) keep up!

Well we're now half way through the year and it's all starting to slide a little. A combination of sickness and unexpected but urgent projects means that I haven't done any of the June blocks from my BOM projects. I'm even behind by one week in the Lori Holt Farm Girl Vintage weekly sew along. Eek.

I can see everyone else's taillights disappearing over the horizon and I'm running and waving madly trying to catch up. Maybe next week I'll get everything done. Maybe. 

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Sunday Stash #14

Sorry for the long delay between my latest posts but I've been fairly busy at the weekends which is when I usually write my posts. In addition and in all honesty, I've been fairly sick too. I'm hoping that the busyness stops soon but unfortunately the sickness is going to continue for the foreseeable future culminating in August where I'm going to be unable to work (and definitely unable to post) for the month. Ugh. To say I'm not looking forward to August would be an understatement!

I'll write more about the whys and wherefores when I'm feeling less depressed about the whole thing.

The past few weeks have also been marked by a significant lack of purchases! As I do most of my quilt shopping online, when I'm sick and can't use a computer that means no new fabric either. Boo!

In anticipation of my cathedral window class taught by Jo Avery at Simply Solids I bought a meter of Kona midnight.

I love midnight for being such a dark purple/blue that it's almost black but not quite. A very well named colour I think.

Through a cross between origami and sewing, I managed to use about half of the metre and some left over batik scraps from my Craftsy BOM 2014 kit to make this.

Ain't she pretty?! It's eventually going to be a cushion (pillow if you're in the USA) cover.

Sadly I only managed to finish half the project in the class so it's gone on my pile of  UFOs. I make no promises that it won't stay there for a while but maybe I can add it to the list of stuff to sew in August.

Meanwhile I have a commission quilt to finish, some presents to deliver and some ironing to be done so I'm off to be productive.

Happy Sunday sewing (and Happy Fathers Day for all those dads out there).

Monday, 1 June 2015

C is for cookie or churn dash or cool threads

Apart from a lot of quilting, I also managed to do the next two blocks in the Lori Holt Farm Girl Vintage quiltalong.

We're still at C in the alphabet so these were "Churn Dash" and "Cool Threads".

I know Church Dash had a few other names including Shoo Fly and  Sherman's March (either of which I guess would have put it in the "S" section!) but we're solidly churning in Farm Girl Vintage. 

Cool threads is basically four spool blocks. Spool blocks seem to be very "in" this season. I've seen them everywhere. 

Lori's version of Cool Threads used a mix of gingham fabrics but my fat quarter bundle from Fat Quarter Shop didn't have any gingham included so I had to improvise. No, that green fabric isn't gingham. It's a sort of check (or plaid I guess).

Something went a bit...squirrelly with one of my spools so the block looks a little slanted. Hopefully a bit of sashing will fix everything. I don't have time to resew!