Thursday, May 31, 2012

...cutting it fine - Another Trimmings entry

All the entries in the Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition entries will be pinned today on the Pinterest board for voting. So after making and submitting my first entry several weeks ago I needed to break out the second packet last night to meet the deadline.
I sat down with a vague idea in my mind for a notebook cover with an included pencil case that I can take with me in the car for when inspiration strikes. I worked it out as I went along, adding some Trimmings to the notebook front and pencil case as I went.
The zipper was bound and extended with some more Trimmings and a tie to wrap it all up was the trimmings from the Trimmings.
Getting some good pictures this morning before work when it is still dark outside was a little challenging but I introduce my Elephant Friend Inspiration Book.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

...its been a little quiet around here

Which means that I have been sewing and thinking about sewing but not machine sewing (hence the quiet). I will have a cautionary tale that will explain the no machine, soon hopefully, but I need to be home in the daylight to get some pictures before I can post that post.

But one of the thinking tasks I have been working on is the design for the quilt I will be making that is inspired by a crochet blanket and first mentioned in this post.

I did get a kind volunteer to crochet a sample of the units and I have been catching some small moments here and there for the last few months to draw up a plan for the quilt and re-size the motifs to a size that can be sewn and will fit together well. It was a true test of my maths ability.

I spent an hour or two finishing that step last night and then got to thinking about some of the construction methods. It will end up being a bit of a skills sampler I think with some normal piecing, some foundation paper piecing and some appliqué (in one case this might be present in one motif/block).

Which brings me to the point of this post actually - does anyone know how I can draw, on the computer, a shape to a specific size - where it will finish in an 1/8" inch increment.

This one will finish at 2.5" but I got thinking about it because I need one of the blocks to have four quarters that finish at 1 6/8" plus the 1/4" seam allowance (see the maths workout) and then be able to draw a specific size shape inside it. I've tried in Word because that has worked for me before but even when I change the unit of measurements to inches the best I can do is two decimal places (.25 = 1/4") and .125 is automatically changed to .13.

I could draw it, scan it, hope it stays the same size and copy it but there must be a way - cause I've seen the foundations other blogger's do.

Help! Please!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cog + Wheel - the Blogger's Quilt Festival Edition

I have mean't to link up with Amy's Blogger's Quilt Festival the last few times and kept missing the cut-off. This time round I am just sneeking in!

I stared making this quilt at the first Sit and Sew day I attended with the Melbourne Modern Quilt   Guild in April last year. I had lived in Melbourne only about 6 months at the time and it was great   to start making some friends in my new city who share my stitchy interests!

I made this quilt from my partner N - although he sort of knew it was coming I worked on it mainly at the Sit ans Sew days in an attempt to keep it a bit special. The fabric choices, Cogsmo by Cosmo Cricket from a few years ago, seemed to match the pattern, Cog + Wheel by Denyse Schmidt and N perfectly. 

Although had various opinions about the quilting during the piecing phase I decided to quilt the design as written in the pattern, but use my walking foot to stitch along the marker curved lines. Although I am generally happy with the result I'm coming more and more to realise there are limits to what I can achieve with my machine. 

As we head into winter here in Victoria it is folded up in the corner of the lounge and has been snuggled under on a few occasions. You can't as for more than that!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

...still knitting

The version of the Honey Cowl most recently cast on has so far not suffered any of the earlier technical difficulties as the numerous earlier versions.

Nevertheless it is suffering from a lack of time spent working it - I am really looking forward to having the finished product around my neck but the act of stitching it again and again is leading to a little less enjoyment.

The socks are also marching forward - I'm still not quite finished the first of the pair - the Kitchener bind off as me caught in the headlights a little but I am sure it wont be as bad as I fear when I get to it. The second sock is well under way - because of the self-striping in the yarn this one will look quite different to the first. I'm hoping to get four socks from them skein and will then end up with two pairs with two matching socks. 

Sunday, May 13, 2012

...bee quilt update

 Earlier this month I posted a tutorial for my fellow bee makes in do. Good Stitches bee Cherish circle. The other ladies in this bee are so efficient two blocks have already arrived in the postbox and others are on the way.

As this bee only has 10 people per circle I made two extra blocks this morning so the final quilt will be a 3x4 layout and measure almost 60"x80".

Laid out in the front hallway with the door open to let in some light for photos it brightened up a dreary and cold Melbourne day although the air coming in with the light was quite brisk!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

...quilting, quilting, quilting

It has come to that time of the year when getting pictures is difficult, it is dark when I leave for work in the morning and get home at night... and the weekends are often gloomy and rainy.

The upside? It is wonderful to sit on the couch in the evening under the quilt and wield the needle threaded with the perle cotton. 

I'm having a great time enjoying the the little frames fairytale friends. 

Monday, May 7, 2012 and tricks - for a good 1/4" seam

Just lately I have felt like it is becoming more difficult to get a consistent and accurate 1/4" seam on my machine with my 1/4" foot and especially without pulling and stretching my fabric out of shape. Quite frankly it was so frustrating it was turning me off sewing some things.

Looking closely I could see that the right most feed dog extended beyond the foot and the edge of the fabric and my conclusion was that this was not feeding the fabric through strongly or evenly enough.
Today I fiddled around with my foot collection and stitch choices and found a combination that gives a 1/4" seam, feeds it through well and tackles seam junctions smoothly.

Such a satisfactory afternoons stitching!

* My machine is a Brother NX 200 QE, my new piecing stitch/foot combination is 33/J

Saturday, May 5, 2012

...N's quilt - Cog and Wheel

I took the fabric and the recently cut templates for this quilt to the first Sit and Sew Day for the Melbourne Modern Quilt Guild I went to last year, in April.

A year later I have finally finished it! After I was inspired by this stack of fabric sitting on the table near this pattern and coming to the impossible to forget conclusion that this fabric and this pattern were a match too good to pass up I worked on the top almost exclusively at the sit and sew days over the next few months. I finished the top in about September but was stalled there for a little while as I tried to find the right green solid for the back. My Kona Color card said Bayou was what I needed but it was a discontinued colour by the time I started my search and I couldn't find enough.

In the end I have gone with a different shade altogether - Green Tea from the Spotlight Prima Homespun range - but N seems to like it. There are a couple of extra scraps from the front fabric in there too to bring it all up to size.

I chose to quilt it as described in the pattern - this was not my original plan but I think if a quilt designer goes to the trouble of suggesting a design there must be good reason for it. I know when I plan a quilt I almost always consider the quilting design at the same time as I plan the patchwork and fabric choices.

The one change I did make was to follow the marked line with my walking foot rather than hand quilt the design. Despite the need for some fairly heavy duty pushing and pulling through the rather small throat of my machine, and the related puckers on the front, I think this was the right choice for me.

I like to quilt my own quilts (like in the planning I think all the stages of making a quilt are equally important and I'd feel a little like I cheated if I got someone else to quilt my top for me - but I know and respect that is not the same for everyone) but sometimes my lack of machine space is a little annoying, especially as I usually choose to make twin or queen sized quilts. However, unless the machine fairy decides to come along, these are the parameters that I need to work within.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

...the trimming of the chair

You can now vote for the winners of the Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition by repinning from the Pinterest board here

I like to patchwork but I firmly believe that there are some things that shouldn't be made that way. Until recently I thought furniture fitted in that category.

But somewhere between ordering my trimmings pack and it arriving I had an idea that meant I might need to change that opinion and last weekend after a sewing day I was converted.

Meet my new patchwork chair. The chair is patchwork you understand - I don't patchwork in it.

You would have thought that upon embarking on such a chair renovation project I might take a before picture in preparation for a blog before and after profile. Before I started I would have agreed with you. During, I realised I had forgotten. After is all you get.

The 'patches' are the complete set of the trimmings I received in my Umbrella Prints Trimmings Competition pack. The patchwork strips were made from the patches being trimmed to straight and squarish sizes and then some Duck Cotton added to the sides and then trimmed to 5".

The strip was made to length with an addition of a strip between each patch unit. The seat cover is made from Duck Cotton in Natural and there is also an additional layer of white cotton or another to add some bulk and coverage.

I used the existing cover pretty faithfully as a pattern as there was no real need to change the cushions of the chair.
It took about a day over the course of a weekend - with an embarrassingly large amount being devoted to working out all the notches I had made to help the insertion of the side panels on the chair back - even with the help of the pictures I had chosen to take before pulling it all apart.

As I finished putting it all together and admiring the way it fits in the room I couldn't help but think of the old credit card ad that screened in Australia several years ago

Chair - $15 from the opp shop
Trimmings - $10 from Umbrella Prints
3.5m Duck Cloth - $12 on clearance at Spotlight
Zip - $1.49
Lining - $0.50 after Spotlight Voucher
Chair - Priceless

My little secret at the end - the chair pad covering the spring under the cushion was free motion quilted with the name of my blog, Umbrella Prints and Trimmings - unfortunately the latter two were chopped off a little when the front flap was added!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

...a winter of hand quilting

Very early this year I posted about my desire to finish the quilts I had at the stage that were waiting for quilting. I left the tops to be hand quilted off the list, however, as the Australian  summer is not conducive to hand quilting the list of them is here now (and expanded with early year top finishes) to give me a Winter of Hand Quilting.

1. Bee A Little Bit Japanese Fairy Tale Quilt

2. Bee Seam Piecing Down Under Circle Quilt
I'm sneaking this one in here a bit as it will have both hand and machine quilting. I will be machine quilting 1/4" inside all the sashing strips and with an X through all the border squares. The hand quilting will add a little to each of the blocks and secure the three layers inside the block dimensions. 

3. The hand pieced Star Quilt

4. Flurry Baubles Christmas Quilt
Course I need to finish the top first!