Thursday, September 30, 2010

September Block - Bee {a little bit} Japanese

September was Paula's month in this bee and she asked for wonky houses or other thinks to fit in a wonky town.

I had never made these before, and I was a little nervous about it. I love the look of wonky and improv blocks but the couple of times I had tried something similar it really didn't work out all that well, at least not in a way that I was happy with it. And after the less than finished block I sent back last month I was extra keen to do a good job.

I had seen this picture in Material Obsession but knew I didn't have the patience to even contemplate making a whole quilt.

But, in the last few days before the movers and packers came I needed to get it done and posted before I didn't have access to my machine and I needed a little bit of a creative time out.

So early one morning, and I mean early, I had another look at the great instructions Paula pointed us to, too a deep breath and cut and sewed...

I had had the idea I wanted to make a block that depicted the house I lived in until I was 12, a farmhouse that had been in my father's family for three generations. It had a distinctive green roof, paddocks to one side, a giant green yard and a huge orchard to the other side.

I came up with this
The green roof. It was the feature that was always described to anyone new coming to out house for the first time. The doors and windows in this house blend, because the door was hardly ever shut and absolutely never locked and the window was a giant one that overlooked a small garden. The little red strip is a small step that was in front of the door. There was a big orchard to the side of the house where the peas are now growing, this iscoincidently  the first seed type I ever remember planting in the veggie patch. The path between the big grass yard is littered with toys as my brother and sister and I often played there (you can see us through the doorway too). There was a small garden to the other side of the house from the orchard and a big paddock where out pet sheep lived. The sky at night had heaps of visible stars as there was no competing light to block them out....

I was much more inprovisational with this block, piecing together the scraps of the other block to make the second house.
I think it has turned out to be a very elaborate play house, with the dolls inside, some outside on the porch and a little flower garden in the front. It's also exceptionally ecofriendly, with a rooftop veggie garden.

All in all I enjoyed making these blocks - I don't know why I was worried!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Happy Campers Quilt

Remember the stack of pin-based quilts?

This was the quilt that inspired me to pull them all out and baste them before we packed. At least I had been thinking about it and this was one I pulled out, basted and started quilting a week or so earlier.

This was the first quilt I made without a pattern (I think) not that a pattern is really required with such a simple design.

I had bought a charm pack of the Happy Campers fabric by American Jane for Moda Fabrics and some quilting linen that I thought looked OK with it and kind of matched the asthetic of the print.

I really had no idea what I was going to do with it. This charm pack was the first in my foray into the world of pre-cuts and I also didn't really know how far they would go. I had bought Pam Linnott's book that included patterns for charm packs for some inspiration but quickly realised I should have look at the patterns more clearly before I bought the mfabric because I was going to need more than one charm pack to make a decent sized quilt. Unfortunaly by the time I realised couldn't find any more fabric bacause the range was reasonably old and no stores seemed to have any in stock.

So I cut all the squares in half (chopping of a head or two in the process) and paired them all with a rectangle of the linen cut slighly fatter to yield a 5" square. I joined 4 of these units together to make a block with the two halves of the original charm square opposite each other and the colours forming a pinwheel effect.

The backing was the next hurdle, I ordered so Happy Camper fabric online not realising it was a different range to the Happy Campers and the colours were quite different. Then one day I was lucky enough to stumble across some yardage online and I snapped up all that was left, which was just enough for the backing and a very narrow binding.

I outline quilted just inside each positive and negative pinwheel, which alarming looked early on in the quilting to cause little swastikas on the back. I was telling myself it was actually a symbol that meant good but then it disappeared as more of the quilting covered the back. Phew I'm not sure I wanted an ambiguios symbol on the back of my quilt.

I bound it by machine using a tutorial from Red Pepper Quilts. It is not the first time I have machine bound a quilt but it is the first time I have approached being happy about the way it has turned out. I do really love the suggestions for joining the last join and then sewing down the last part of the binding to the front but I would recommend leaving every bit as large a gap a recommeded, especially with a larger quilt. Rita's suggestion about starting with the larger binding width also appeared to have merit, with my narrow binding there were quite a few areas that I had to go back over as the stitching had missed the binding edge but i didn't have this problem with two other quilts I bound the same way the same morning using a wider binding strip.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Progress on a UFO - The Seasons Quilt

I started this quilt more than a year ago, and had been thinking about making it for a few months before that but, almost as soon as I had started piecing it a hit some stumbling blocks and all work seemed to cease.

My quilt is based on this pattern in the second book from Material Obsession. Material Obsession: Shared Inspiration is filled with two quilts made around each theme, with one being made by both ladies from Material Obsession the store.

In the beginning the quilt seemed meant to be. I bought the book on the basis of this pattern, mostly. While I already had their first book, and really found it inspiring, I saw this one at just the right time. I had spent the afternoon at a professional development session (I am a psychologist and work exclusively in schools) learning about a program that I was to implement based on seasons.  A lot of time was spent talking about developing environment in which the group was to be run. When I saw this pattern I thought {insert light bulb picture here}. I had this lovely idea of using the quilt to set the scene and having the participants from each of the groups over the years writing or embroidering their names on the back.

I knew I would have to alter some of the colours chosen to reflect the seasonal colours represented in the program and not to use so much purple but I thought those differences were easily accommodated and it was an achievable project.
[incidentally there is so much feature purple fabric in this quilt because it is the theme of this pair of quilts in the book. It is a Kaffe Fassett print, he handed it to the girls and challenged them to come up with a design around the feature fabric, or so it says in the book]

And so I bought the fabric, choosing browns to go with all the colours was not easy but I did it. And I sewed the 'leaves' of the trees and cut out the templates for the trunks.

And then I started the applique. I didn't think it would be a problem. I already knew I generally don't enjoy hand sewing but I can do it, it is fiddly and takes time but I find if I take the time I need and don't cut the thread too long in principle it isn't that difficult. But I don't enjoy it. I really didn't enjoy sewing the trunk I have already done. The trunks have a lot of sewing in them and a lot of really narrow branches and lots of corners and curves.

And I'm stuck as to what I'll use in the wedge sashing (between the brown that I have cut out but am not that attached to) and as the border.

For the backing I'd still like to use the signature idea, maybe having a pieced back and having a strip down one side of signature blocks without signatures in them, a sash and then the rest of the back in a solid piece. But what solid piece?

I still really want to finish this quilt. The idea of how it can be used when finished is still appealing and the techniques needed to finish are within my grasp. It is the motivation to get over the mental block about the hand sewing that I need to overcome.

My plan at the moment is to finish the applique when I am stuck in the hotel in Melbourne while we are looking for a new house and I'm without my sewing machine. But then again it was my plan to finish the hand sewing when we were in Perth for a few weeks last Christmas visiting family as well.

Hopefully, inspiration will strike in the meantime about the wedges and the backing, unless any of you have any ideas....

Friday, September 24, 2010

A stack of pin-basted quilts

I know I'm breaking a quilter's rule folding quilts after they have been basted and before they have been quilted but they have to go in a box somehow.

One of my goals for this past weekend was to get this stack of quilts based, and I've done it. I have had a pile of pieced tops sitting around since the April school holidays were I got as little excited and pieced a whole lot of tops. I had the vague idea that I would quilt one a weekend but somehow, on a Saturday or Sunday morning when there were other things to do moving all the furniture to base them on the floor was not the most attractive option.

But I did have all the bits for them and I really wanted to deplete the big roll of batting I had so it didn't need to get packed on the roll. So on Sunday afternoon I swept and mopped the floor, moved all the furniture and success!

Now I just have to work out how to quilt each of them, because I want to do that before starting anymore big quilt projects.
This first quilt is a twin size with a whole cloth backing that was bought at 250cm wide in a mottled grey. This is the second time that I have made this pattern, which was one of the free ones that Spotlight used to post on their website from time to time to coincide with a new fabric range they had in store. At the time I bought and made this quilt I was also planning to make a quilt for my friend to celebrate the birth of her first baby. Because that was a present I didn't want all the learning and practicing to be on the gift so I made this one for my partner (he really is just a big kid when it comes to pirates). So it was the first quilt I ever pieced but the second I ever quilted. Both the first two quilts I made were hand quilted in perle cotton, this one in the ditch around all the outer and inner squares and the Xs across the small squares and 2 across the smaller rectangles. Now I am a more confident with machine quilting I was thinking of outline quilting the squares and doing the same Xs on the machine.
This quilt was made with the best part of a layer cake, A Breath of Avignon by American Jane for Moda Fabrics, and a pattern from Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts by Pam Lintott. I was thinking of quilting two parallel lines down each of the sashing strips and then echo lines inside the 'flowers' to simulate petals. It is a small quilt so I think that may be manageable on the machine.
This is another quilt made from a pattern in another of Pam's books, Jelly Roll Quilts. I scaled the size down and so had jelly strips left over for the border and some blocks used in a pieced strip down the back. The fabric used is Make Life for Moda. I think I'll outline quilt each of the coloured squares, some will overlap a little but I think it will look great. This is one of my favourite tops I've made to date.  
This simple square in square design was not made from a pattern, but I bought the fabric especially to make a 'boy' quilt. This one is backed on the print that is the outer border of the second block from the left on the bottom row so I think I'll, once again, outline quilt the blocks (I'll end up with those narrow parallel lines again) and then stitch across the blocks diagonally to reflect the spokes on the fabric print. This thing I can't decide about this quilt is what colour thread to use. A blending brown would be the most obvious choice for the outline stitching on the top but this won't blend into the back (and I don't seem to have much luck with different top and bottom thread colours) and choosing something for the diagonal lines is tricky!
I had just enough pins to baste this last quilt, although a little less heavily than I normally would. This was made with an Attitude Girls for Moda jelly roll from a pattern in Pam's third book Jelly Roll Inspirations. I think I might quilt inside the stars for this one and then I would like to stipple in the coloured 'block' sections but this is a skill I'm yet to feel comfortable in my level of mastery with. Perhaps I'll just have to practice on some smaller projects first. This one in backed in blue dots on white from the range with a strip made from the trimmed corner squares.

Phew, that should keep me busy for awhile! If anyone has any suggestions about the quilting please let me know. I won't be able to start on these for at least a few weeks....

Monday, September 20, 2010

Crafting for a Cause - The Gracie Jane Project

For those one or two of you that read my somewhat random and infrequent posts on my, now sadly neglected, Facebook page you might remember the series of quilty projects I completed for organizations based in the Quilting for Peace book. The last, the project for Binky Patrol was featured on one of my first blog posts but the size really did not make for one of the prettiest quilts ever. It was, however, really warmly recieved.
Quilting for Peace: Make the World a Better Place One Stitch at a Time

Since then I have bought the Craft Hope book that grew out of the blog of the same name with the idea of making some of the projects and donating to some more local charities.

Craft Hope: Handmade Crafts for a Cause

In the meantime I came across the Gracie Jane Project, as a result of a post on Quiltstory.

So with some charm packs in the overflowing cupbaord, some Kona solid without a specific purpose and only some flannel needed to buy for the backing it seemed like a great, quick, cheaper to post project that would have the double benefit of being of benefit to someone and making the amount needed to pack and unpack just that little bit smaller.

I have used the Lollipop range by Sandy Gervais for Moda, and because of the small size needed for the quilts and the solid already used for the backgroud I have omitted most of the plain/solid squares in the charm pack and well as the red colourway.

As per the the common pattern to be used for the project the quilt is straight line quilted on one direction about 3/4" apart and backed in cream flannel.

I made these two over two nights and machine stitched the Kona solid binging by machine yesterday morning. They have crinked up beautifully in the wash. A quick satisfying project. These will be winging their way to Canada in the next few days....

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

September Block - do. Good Stitches {a Charity Bee}

I saw this bee on a blog a little while ago and I thought it a great idea and sent the bee admin Rachel from Stiched in Colour and asked to join. Fast foward a few months and, with two more stitching circles started I have been able to start sewing.

I am part of the 'Faith' circle that benefits charities and individuals local to the quilters.

My first two blocks are for a quilt for a little boy and his mother. The quilt is to be made up of wonky crosses in aqua and yellow and co-ordinated by Jennifer from That girl... That quilt from a tutorial on her blog.

For this first block I used some Kona solid and a cute litte sailor print.

I think these spots and stripes add some interest and are quite gender neutral.

I found I had to cut the cross strip a little longer to compensate for the wonky cut but I am pretty happy.

Monday, September 13, 2010

What I'm supposed to be doing...and what I am doing.

I'm supposed to be tidying, culling even (if I am brave) starting with the fabric cupboard.

Tidying the craft supplies strewn all over the house and hoping, wishing and praying that the new house has a dedicated sewing space (caution to the wind: that there in fact, is, a new house).

But instead I went to get a few fat quarters for my do. Good Stitches {a Charity Bee} blocks and came home with this.

The next day I went back to the fabric store with my partner  to get the backing for the blue and white quilt and came back with that and also this

But don't you just love the selvedges?

I'll really miss my LQS.

In my defence I also weeded the garden, planted out all the plants that we had in pots and washed the pots out for the movers, filed a years worth of filing in the study and did my tax.

I also started quilting the Happy Camper picnic rug, one of the three six unquilted tops I found. I am trying to get some of them quilted, basted or at least the batting cut to size for them in the hope these can be packed in the WIP boxes and I won't have to try to have the batting roll packed and sealed for transport.

But a pledge - no more fabric until after I have moved! I have some recommendations for Melbourne stores (let me know if you have any too) and want to be able to go shopping when I get there. I'll stand fast....except maybe on the 23rd when the sale starts...

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Bee Seam Piecing Downunder- September Blocks for Kelly (and Bella)

September is Kelly's month in the Bee Seam Piecing Downunder Bee and she asked for pieced squares within sqaures sashed with white to make a quilt for her toddler age daughter.

She sent this great moda basic grey - blush offcut range. I separated the pre-cut squares into patterns and designsn to help with placements. I chain peiced the sides and they came together well.

I came up with this
and this
They are on the way to Kelly and Bella now.

I hope they like them!