Monday, 25 January 2016

Around and around we go...

I'm almost done with the hand quilting around every. single.  piece. of. applique. on this Civil War Bride. It really should be a winter project but we've had some opportune cooler days, and there is the pressure of quilts getting very impatient in the quilting queue. 
I'm so glad each block is different as it keeps it interesting.

Assessing the quilt top for the next step in the quilting - there are a lot of irregular, odd shaped background spaces between the applique. They are a bit bumpy and flappy and, in my humble opinion, need some quilting discipline. But the trick with irregular spaces - what pattern to use? 

Have a look at a few blocks - they fill the background very differently. This one fills the background almost fully...

Biggish spaces in this one...

 ...and odd spaces between the blocks too

I'm afraid it might make a 'dog's breakfast' of it with various sized quilting motifs.  Ideas?
  • maybe some grid quilting or parallel lines - always looks good and gives uniformity across the background 
  • maybe echo quilting - I loved it on my Auntie Green but my feeling is it doesn't suit this one
  • maybe some little crosses stippled  - looks great in big stitch quilting but not sure here - might give it a try just to see...
Indigo Circles (my Quilty 365 sewalong project) - after feeling deplorably behind on this project, I am now quite well on target, having prepped up a storm. It's been fun experimenting on ways to be more efficient with the blocks. I tried out a Youtube method using foil to iron fabric around templates. 

I know one or two other Quilty participant have also discovered this method. 

I was originally using back basting prepared needleturn for my circles - no problem with that but I just thought this might speed up the needleturn. 

Circles do need careful needleturn to avoid those pesky unwanted points. I'm not sure this method has made my circles any more accurate but it is quicker!

Here are the latest 21 blocks. That makes a total of 37 so far.  
I've decided to stitch my 2" blocks into four-patch blocks as I go,  and mix them among the 4 " blocks on point - something like this picture. 

Another little efficiency measure has been the use of  my 4 1/2 " square ruler - to square up and size my finished blocks. I was thrilled to find it is just the right size and invaluable in checking the piecing of those four-patches.
So there we are - every new project brings a little more learning ... or some useful revision! I am sure there must be others like me - I even forget what I have forgotten...sigh.

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Star in the East

Just because I'm trying to be a better quilting-person (at least at the beginning of the year haha!) and avoid the last minute rush for my BOM deadlines is this month's Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album block - Star in the East.

I found the applique less fiddly than the last block but I'm not sure that my making the yellow centre in two strips was a great idea. It has given it a bit of a 'bumpy bottom' in the middle there -  with all the layers over the background join. Ho hum - I wanted to fussy cut that yellow fabric and it fitted best as two strips to make the cross.

Benjamin Biggs : first border completed

The size adjustments I made to the border (last post) seem to have worked - so far so good.

By the way I am now on Instagram (everystitchpics) and you may see more process photos there (see top of Blog side bar). Instagram is so, so quick to update! My IG posts reveals a bad case of 'Quilters ADD' - working on a different project almost every day! Hmm, how many will I finish this year at this rate?

A new feature on my blog - nifty page tabs:
I quite often need to refer back to previous quilts and photos and find it quite cumbersome to find the saved folders or posts. So I have made some pages on the Blog with a summary of quilts completed each year. The tabs to click on are just below my blog header.  It only took half a day to sort that lot - gasp.

My quilting Finish Rate has slowed down since I got back to hand quilting last year! I'm still so glad I did but there could be a traffic jam in the quilting queue in the not too distant future :)

Sunday, 3 January 2016

Indigo Circles - running late for the link up

“How did it get so late so soon? It's night before it's afternoon. December is here before it's June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?” 
― Dr. Seuss

..and that applies perfectly to me and my Indigo Circles blocks! That's Audrey's Quilty 365 project. 

They were prepped but not stitched. So yesterday I needle turn appliqued 14 of them in one day - oops, that's not really how I aimed to pace myself, but better late than never. 
Here are all 28 that I've made so far:

I can see this project getting away from me and I really don't want that. The thing that takes some time is my choice to fussy cut the circles. It keeps it interesting for me but takes that extra bit of time. 

It will help to have a lot of squares cut way ahead - piles of 4.5 and 2.5 inch blocks. No excuses now!

I got to visit my gifted Auntie Green quilt this week. My daughter and son-in-law have hung it behind their bed. You can see why she selected low volume fabrics - suits their decor so nicely. The set of four quilt tiles on the wall was a birthday gift I made in 2012 (more details if you click on this earlier blog post) .

Happy New Year! Any quilting plans for 2016?  As for me - I have far too many a fair few projects on the go and might scare myself ( and bore you to tears) if I listed them. 

But one thing I would like to do, and really need to do - is to improve my piecing skills. I can get accuracy with EPP or foundation piecing, but I want to cut and hand piece blocks with confidence and accuracy too. Practice makes perfect they say, but I want to improve the easy way - with lots of instruction!

Sarah Fielke's BOM caught my eye (sketch image from her website).


It has a mixture of techniques, loads of instruction,  and she says there will be (quote from her blog) 
"Exclusive access to a private YouTube channel, where video instruction will be provided for each block or technique each month"

I'm in!  A private tutor -  that sounds just what I need. I've never met Sarah but have seen her excellent YouTube video on Big Stitch quilting and it has been a very useful reference. 
Something to look forward to :)

Monday, 28 December 2015

After a storm comes a calm ...

Looking around at blogging Christmas posts it seems we all entered the 'storm' that was know the one - where the shopping and rushing around never seems to end and the kitchen bench looks permanently like this for several days ? 

It's nice to get the kitchen in order once the house guests have left. But it was a wonderful few days catching up with family, and I'm missing them and the bustle of it all. 

Now there is the 'calm' -  and a great opportunity to get into some trickier sewing.

Here are my last Benjamin Biggs blocks - completed bit by bit since September.

Block 22

Block 23

Block 24

Block 25
This morning I finally stitched them all together - determined to take advantage of the 'calm' to get started on the border

I knew the border was going to take some focus because I have made my blocks all 12 inch instead of the 16 inch size on the pattern. So everything has been 75% smaller. But would the border work at 75% smaller too?  I had put off exploring that question till a quieter time ...knowing how easily I can make a mess of the maths!

Gathering all the border pattern pieces (printed at 75% smaller), I calculate that my side border piece should be 60 inches long (if the pattern is 80 inches long), and 7.5 inches deep (if the pattern is 10 inches deep).

This is how the border layout should look (from the pattern )

So I cut some transparent bake paper to suit my dimensions, ready to draw on the pattern . 
The first thing to position on my paper border was the triple petal in the corner, and then to add the swag pieces either side - getting them to fit by elongating or shortening if needed. It all fitted surprisingly well and surprisingly quickly I had a pattern piece ready! It is just a quarter pattern of the border to be repositioned  around the quilt. 

Now I can cut the background fabric border strips and draw the pattern onto the back of the fabric. Then it will be time for some relaxed needle turn applique (with my usual back basting prep) - one border at a time - using a solid poison green for the swag and a red print for the petals and buds. Can't wait to start !

Because we enjoyed a few days of lovely (blissfully lovely) cool Christmas weather I was able to do some more hand quilting of my Civil War Bride during time out from all the preparations. I have been listening to a great audiobook - Watership Down by Richard Adams ( have always loved the novel) - about a colony of rabbits. Perfectly suited to this quilt - if you see what I mean?

I have now finished outline quilting all the outer border and am moving on to the blocks. This block is in the hoop right now:

I must show you a recent acquisition. Several blogs have shown off pretty trolleys on castors - perfect for moving quilty bits and pieces and projects from room to room. So when I spotted them in Aldi last week I couldn't resist - and I love the red. Of course it had to be a kit - but not a difficult build..

from this

to this
And here is some wildly uncoordinated Summer colour for you - from the garden, in petunias and roses:

Hope you can enjoy some calm sewing time too :)

Wednesday, 16 December 2015

Mountain Laurel

Shenandoah Valley Botanical Album 12 inch quilt block  - just finished in time (phew) for the mid month link up here.  I'm glad those fiddly little stems are done but isn't it a pretty block pattern? See the link for lots of other finished blocks. 

I finished piecing (by EPP) the half square triangles for Harrison Rose, stitched them into strips and attached them to the quilt top. But strange things have happened because my border is quite different from the the corners!

This is the photo on the front of the pattern packet:
And this is my top:
You probably had it worked out straight away but it puzzled me for a while. The HST's on the side strips are heading in the opposite direction from the top and bottom strips - and hence the corner placement is unbalanced on two corners. I undid just the corner blocks and turned them this way and that, but this was the best looking solution - short of re-piecing two borders (which was not happening) .
Ho hum - I can live with it but I expect it will be a 'talking point' amongst my non-quilting family - and the very first thing they'll notice.
And it proves what I have always said - piecing is not my strong point. Give me applique any day...

It's a busy time with Christmas getting close but one thing I always make time for is bringing hydrangeas in from the garden - such a rewarding plant and often associated with Christmas in Australia. 

Here's a special collage for Wendy - who sent me some Hollyhock seeds months and months ago. I threw them around in the garden and quite a few germinated. It has been a long growing journey and they are now taller than me and finally have started flowering - just in time for Christmas. They are superb Wendy - thanks so much! 
I know there is nothing like the magic of a white Christmas but an Aussie Christmas in the garden (preferably in the shade) can be pretty special too. Have a wonderful Christmas wherever you will be!

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

Thank you! and a variety of updates

I only posted yesterday but have been so touched (and slightly overwhelmed) by all the lovely comments on my Auntie Green/wedding post. I prefer to reply individually but just this once I hope you don't mind a collective: Thanks so much to all my kind blogging friends

It is a well known fact that everyone loves a wedding ...but I guess a wedding combined with a quilt - got to be a winner?! It was such a wonderful event but not quite over yet. There are dozens of white tablecloths to be laundered - eek. To take a welcome break from that I thought I'd give you an update on other quilting. 

Variety is the spice of life. That is how I approach quilting, and I have seen that many of you are just the same! So .. I could not resist a new project. Can you guess what it is ?

Yes it is Audrey's Quilty 365 sewalong! I'm calling my version Indigo Circles. She has a link up today - so many variations are possible to reflect each stitcher's creativity, style and mood. Thanks for a wonderful idea Audrey - it has inspired me to grab pieces from my indigo and black stash and start some circles. I love fussy cutting, repro fabrics and applique. So each circle will be a fussy cut feature from dark or light fabric and the size of the circle dictated by the size of the feature. I am thinking the squares will be a mixture of 4 inch or 2 inch. So far I have 14 completed - two weeks down for me - and just having a play with setting possibilities, could be set on point like this ...
...or maybe square like this ...

..or maybe something quite different? Meanwhile I am storing them in a tin - an idea I borrowed from Wendy

Next update is my Harrison Rose quilt ( Dawn's pattern). I decided to stop at 9 blocks - each 17 inches. Here they are stitched together - and will be followed by a narrow HST border and then a wide quilted border - so am thinking this will be big enough for me. 
I have put off starting the HST border because I am not keen on piecing. I know that foundation paper piecing on the machine would be the quickest method for me but I never seem to be in the mood to sit at the machine. So I bit the bullet and started making it with EPP. Might seem a slower way to go ...but at least it will get done! By my calculations this should work with 2 inch triangle papers (home made from light card stock).

Another update - hand quilting my Civil War Bride. Some days it is just too hot to think about this one but there has been some relaxing progress on the outer border (am starting on the outer edges as this seems to work for me) - just meandering along outlining the applique for now. 

Lastly - more applique on my Wheat and Woods. I was up to the last border - thinking up a design idea that might suit. I wanted another wide wavy wheaty edge on the inside of the border...
I have long admired this antique Dutch quilt - pictured in the book "Promenade in a Dutch Garden" by Petra Prins and An Moonen. 

It was this quilt that inspired them to make the little red quilt pattern "When Stars Meet Hexagons" that is in the book , and I made my own little EPP version too. But just look at the outer border of the antique quilt!  It is all hand appliqued broderie perse (appliqued to perfection) and has long fascinated me. So - in a much more modest way - I wanted  to give it a try. I selected fabrics with light backgrounds close to my background fabric colour. That way I would not need to cut away around the motifs/flowers too closely - making it quite quick to applique.

When I got this far I thought ..."no, not sure this is working, looking too patchy...yuk" and nearly scrapped it. Then I went back to it next day thinking it "might be ok" if there was more of it... and  set about finishing one border. Am now thinking it is not too bad viewed from a distance! The individual patches might blend even more once it is eventually quilted over.

Can you visualise it as a border around this ? 

In concluding my updates you could add to those projects - Benjamin Biggs and Shenandoah Valley monthly blocks. Yep...plenty to be getting on with! 
But that suits a lot of us perfectly doesn't it? In fact we absolutely panic if there is not always some slow stitching on hand. So nice to know I am not alone in this :)