Saturday, 30 January 2016

Pixelated Heart [a finish]

Wow - that was unexpected. Back when I wrote up my Quarter 1 Finish Along List, this quilt was definitely in the "totally unrealistic" category, yet I'm very chuffed to share it as a finish here today!

We took the photos at Matfen Country House Hotel where I was treated to a birthday afternoon tea today. Turns out that neither Michael nor I feel comfortable photographing quilts in public, which is why this is all I have! It was also blowing a gale and starting to snow....
I'm not 100% sure why this made it to the top of the pile, but I got some lovely feedback both here on my blog and on Instagram when I posted my goals, but most specifically about this quilt. Maybe that was the push I needed - so thank you!

The story of this quilt starts back in June 2015: Although the pattern is straight forward, Katy Jones (@imagingermonkey) headed north to take a class at a local quilt shop, and I decided to go. A nice, child-free day. The pattern calls for 8 different fabrics from which you cut lots of squares. By cutting from just a limited number of fabrics, you can fold the fabric up and cut 4 or 8 squares at once - it could be cut in an hour or so. Easy. But I had nothing in my stash that would work: I buy fat quarters and some of the fabrics needed more than that. And the only background fabric I had enough of didn't work with any of the tentative fabric pulls I made. But I did have a mad idea... how about eight colours rather than eight fabrics. I could do a rainbow. And what about a scrappy background?

I talked it over with a friend who was going to the same class. She thought I was mad: working close to full time, small daughter.... when was I going to get all that fabric cut? But I couldn't get it out of my head. Nor could I shake the idea that the original pattern finished as a small lap quilt, and really I wanted to make it bigger... so an extra three rows of squares all round would make it bed-sized!

I did it. I started cutting. Whilst I had hundreds of low volumes out I cut for the My Small World quilt as well. I had a safety net: I don't work on Fridays and if I hadn't got it cut by then, I would go back to the quilt shop, buy eight fabrics and cut it all out Friday evening. I am so pleased I didn't need to do that!

I got this far in the class and then left it for months...
The class was a brilliant day. Lots of laughs and lots of sewing. Heaven. I pieced two-thirds of the quilt at the class, and when I posted it on Instagram I got my highest ever number of likes - proof indeed that this was the way forward. But When I got home, I never got it out again. I thought about it. Changed my mind on the border a few times. Thought I would need to cut more fabric. Played with other projects....

When I got it out again a few weeks ago, I quickly pieced the remaining third, settled on a border design that needed no additional cutting, and just got on with it!

The finished quilt is 81"x81" (before washing). It was pieced entirely with Aurifil and quilted with wibbly lines in a silver-grey Aurifil thread. I quilted it in just 4 hours! The backing is the top of duvet cover, which matches the duvet we often have on our bed. The fabrics on the front are some of my favourites. As such Carolyn Friedlander fabrics feature heavily, as do Art Gallery fabrics, Pearl Bracelets and leftover fabrics from previous quilts. It makes me happy every time I see it!

Not the best photo of the quilt but it does show up the quilting well!
Come the end of the quarter I'll be linking this finish up with the lovely Finish Along ladies!

2016 FAL

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Zodiac BOM [Aquarius]

This year I decided not to take part in any BOM programmes. I did decide to take part in a block of the day quilt, and I'm still supposedly making two Farmer's Wife blocks a week. That's plenty. Until I saw the Zodiac Block of the Month from At Blank Pages. I didn't take a lot of convincing....

The first block, Aquarius was in my inbox first thing on 21st January. Filled with the enthusiasm of a new start, I got started cutting my fabrics straight away: I've decided on no particular fabric pull, rather any warm colours that take my fancy. The grey frame will run throughout the quilt pulling it all together and I'm planning on using my birthday money to buy enough of the Modern Background fabric I've picked for the background to do the same. Oranges, purples, pinks, yellows, reds, peaches.... all in scope! For someone who normally includes aqua or green in her quilts, this is a bit different for me!

For this first block I've used Pearl Bracelets orange on orange and Alison Glass Mercury in pink. I have no idea what the purple fabric is! I feel that I am quite an experienced paper piecer - funny angles, multiple templates and lots of pieces don't scare me. But, boy, this block was tough. Not all of the points meet where I would like them too, though I am pretty happy with the centre. I'm sure by the time I have a finished quilt (!) I won't notice the odd imperfection (or I'll be so old I won't be able to see them!).

Let's see how long I keep up with this one!

Wednesday, 20 January 2016

WIP Wednesday [Blocking and Plotting]

I haven't blogged in a week, but that does not mean I haven't been sewing. I just figured that actually you didn't need to see each block as I completed it. I have been sewing up a storm - first up: blocking!

The Farmer's Wife quilt: I've made further progress with 8 blocks: this brings to 28 in total and all of the blocks scheduled in 2015 are now done. I do still have 6 blocks to make to be properly up to date, but I'm getting ever closer!

If you're a real Farmer's Wife fan, you may be observant enough that you don't recognise the block bottom middle. That's because it's not in the book. The block that should be here was called daffodil, and looked like...well....a daffodil. I really don't like it - along with most flower and basket blocks. As this will be my quilt I'm substituting such blocks with some of my favourites from my Blocks Pinterest Board. This particular block is called Urban Churn Dash.

The 365 Challenge quilt blocks: We're now three weeks into this challenge and I'm still on track! I'm being careful to keep a good balance of colours and these blocks are really nice and quick to complete. We moved on to half-square-triangles this week!

And this week's fabrics feature Carkai, Pearl Bracelets, Art Gallery and Botanics amongst other, less-identifiable ones.

As for plotting, I've planned out and made the first few blocks for the quilt for Baby.

Once I was happy with the first four blocks, I ordered more of the background fabric - Architextures Cross Hatch in Lake - and then did a mammoth cutting session last Saturday from this sunrise-inspired fabric pull! Oodles of foundation piecing lies ahead.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

Tuesday, 19 January 2016

Pixelated Heart [quilt top]

When I posted my Finish Along goals here and on Instagram last week, I got some lovely comments, but especially about my pixelated heart quilt. And possibly because of that, it made it to the top of the pile. After some backwarding and forwarding over the border I just went with my original plan and got piecing. I'm pleased I did!

I have to confess that I never want to piece a 3" square ever again at this point, but I love how the finished quilt top looks. I got some help basting it on Monday, and some willing quilt-holder-uppers helped me get this photo. It's not great, but with the weather the way it is at the moment, it's the best I can manage.

 And even better: this weekend, Daddy will be in charge and Mummy will be sewing. Or more precisely, quilting this monster, because I can't wait to get it on my bed!

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

WIP Wednesday [My Small World]

Apologies if you read my post from yesterday with the background as to why this particular quilt has made it back to the top of the pile this week - I'm going to repeat myself.

I have a suitcase containing not quite half my fabric stash, which I keep under my desk. The rest of my stash is in its cupboard. Upstairs. The logic is that for this quilt I don't want to plan too far ahead. I just want to grab the next fabric that speaks to me. I can't do that going up and down the stairs.

But at some point my beautiful daughter, who is already stealing and reading my magazines before me, will suss out the contents of the suitcase, and it will no longer be safe. I am very careful not to have it out and open in her presence. This fabric stash needs to be rehoused soon. My Mum is coming to visit in mid-February and she's very good at folding and organizing my fabric stash with me, so here's the plan: finish piecing this quilt top before she arrives.

I'm about half way through part 3 of the quilt and all the sky is cut and ready to be pieced. I probably don't need to tell you that a certain person has already informed me that this quilt is "pretty"...

I'm half way through a small embroidery half way down part 2, as I didn't have a fabric I really wanted to include in this spot. I've cut the fabrics for the next row of part 3, and then the bottom section has a sneaky Y-seam.... I'm looking forward to the green part with some more hand-sewing too.

I have to confess that this my first truly scrappy, anything-goes-with-anything quilt. And whilst I like it enough to finish it, I think I've learned that this style isn't really my favourite!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Finish Along [realistic vs. unrealistic]

This list has not been easy to put together, because none of the projects I have are particularly close to being finished. Normally I can split my list into two halves: those items which are realistic finishes and those items which are totally unrealistic. Every so often an unrealistic finish makes it, but mostly they are put on repeat until they become realistic! This time, I don't have many projects that fall in the first category.... perhaps only one. And of the unrealistic quilts, those closest to being finished need quilting. And the machine I normally use for quilting needs to be serviced...

So here is my list, and I'm not expecting many finishes. I think it will be a personal success if I can simply make progress on a few of them. If one accidentally gets finished, then even better!

Aspen glow: you'll have seen this one before no doubt, but it's a been a while since I even bothered to add it to this list. But it's a gift for someone special, and I'd really like to be able to gift it. It's only been hanging around since October 2013.

Moccasin BOM: I made really good progress on this quilt before Christmas, and really I just need to sew the blocks together and get it basted and decide on how I want to quilt it. This is possibly in the category of "realistic".

Quilt for baby: I made a quilt for Mia before she was born, and with just 13 weeks until my due date, it's about time I got going for Baby #2. I've picked out a pattern and fabrics. Need to start cutting. If this isn't done by the end of the quarter then it won't be ready when Baby arrives.

City Sampler: I love this quilt. It's layered up and I've started quilting it. But I'm doing pretty intensive quilting, and I really need my other machine up and running to make further progress.

Rainbow Slivers II: this is only a cushion cover and it needs quilting. This should be a realistic finish!

My Small World: I have a really odd deadline for this one! I currently have half my stash in a suitcase under my sewing table and half in the cupboard where it belongs. Because the cupboard is upstairs. And for piecing this quilt, I just want to grab the next random fabric I see and use it, rather than plan ahead. And there's no way I'm going up and down the stairs every five minutes. This is now the only project with this kind fabric pull logic (since I changed plans on my Farmer's Wife quilt), and I want to put it all back away when my mum comes to visit mid February - she folds fabric very nicely! So this needs to be fully pieced by mid-February, or it will likely be put away for a long time. Once it's pieced I plan on hand quilting, which I think will be quite nice as I approach my due date.

Grey and yellow quilt: This one just needs to be finished. No excuses here. Once pieced, I will straight line quilt it, and the machine I'm using at the moment definitely has the better walking foot. Perhaps this could fall in the "realistic" category.

Inside addition: As above, really. I have more blocks now, and I'm going to alternate the layout with plain white blocks to bring it up to size.

Pixelated Heart: This stalled because I changed my plan and needed to cut more fabric, which hasn't happened. Until last night. In preparation for this list, I pulled it out, made another block and tried a couple of border layout options, And I don't think I do need to cut more fabric - maybe just the odd square here and there. So I just need to get on with it really!

Gravity Quilt: I still have loads of blocks to make for this quilt, and then I need to decide how to quilt it. The original quilt looks stunning, but I'm no Angela Walters.... so need to reduce my expectations a little.

Owl quilt: some secret sewing which hasn't had any progress made on it since I started. So that's probably over a year now!

11 projects. Unlikely. Especially as I have some new starts planned over the next few weeks as well!

2016 FAL

Saturday, 9 January 2016

Farmer's Wife Quilt [redirection]

I started my 1930s Farmer's Wife in September. I now have 20 blocks!

The observant amongst you may be aware that these blocks look somewhat different to the blocks I've shared so far...

Because I've started again. I just didn't love the blocks I'd made. Some of them I love individually. These will no doubt become something one day. But all together they just weren't speaking to me. So I stopped making them and fell behind the two-blocks-a-week schedule. Then, at the start of December I accidentally bought myself 20 fat quarters of Simply Colorful II from our local quilt shop. It was an unplanned, spur of the moment decision. And it took me a few weeks to convince myself that perhaps these were the fabrics I'd been looking for. It's been a long time since I made myself a quilt from a single fabric line. I've added Kona solid in what I think is bleached white and found a couple of extra fat quarters from other sources!

I was planning on blogging about these blocks before now, but was waiting for a new camera charger, and then waiting for a nice day to photo them. It has rained solidly all week since the charger arrived, so I've given in and you get indoor photos. I hope you're sitting comfortably....

Rotary cut

Foundation pieced

Foundation pieced

English paper pieced

Rotary cut

Rotary cut

Rotary cut 
Rotary cut

Foundation pieced (centre) and rotary cut

Foundation pieced

English Paper Pieced

Rotary cut

Rotary cut

Rotary cut

Rotary cut

Rotary cut

Rotary cut

Rotary cut 
Foundation pieced

Rotary cut

I am definitely happier with these blocks! And I promise more regular updates with fewer photos in the future!

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

WIP Wednesday [365 Block Challenge]

Happy new year! I have so many plans for 2016! Today I'll share with you the most unrealistic: I may have gone mad, but I've decided to join in with the 365 Block Challenge... a block a day for the  year. And I'm pleased to report that one week in and I am still on track - I have eight blocks (7 days and one bonus)!

Apart from the bonus block we received on day one, all of the blocks have been very straightforward, even if they are only 3" x 3" finished. Unfortunately I have a feeling that the blocks will become more complicated and I will inevitably fall behind!

If you follow the link above, you can see the full sampler. It will finish at 90" x 90" and there's no sashing to bulk it out! These first three months worth of blocks all fall in the dark border, so I'm using a variety of black prints as "backgrounds". I'm then picking random fabrics from my stash with a vague idea of doing a rainbow. And possibly not repeating a coloured fabric, though my black stash is lacking so that will definitely repeat (though I may have ordered a few more fat quarters yesterday).

I've got a load of projects in mind for this year which required large numbers of blocks, so I'm keeping track in my diary of how many blocks I complete. So far I'm up to 18!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday for the first time this year.

Tuesday, 5 January 2016

Finish Along Q4 [round up]

Let's be honest, my list for Q4 was a little ambitious, wasn't it? Even I'm surprised with how much I achieved!

My final finish for the quarter is a towel for Mia - one of those projects I have put off and put off for absolutely no reason! It probably took me about 30 minutes start to finish! But I have loads of the flannel left, so there will probably be a few more in some nice garish colours if I can find some in the sales! The flannel is from Riley Blake.

Here is a round up of the progress made on the rest of the list.... Schnitzel and Boo mini swap: I finished this and got it posted in time. Tracking tells me it was delivered. Pity my partner hasn't seen fit to acknowledge its arrival. I still plan on making the same quilt for myself in the future - all the fabric is cut, but I'm all curved out for a while!

I finished the UK Easy Swap Sew Together Bag.

By a whisker I finished Mia's advent calendar before the start of December! It was a hit with Mia and this has to be my favourite finish of the quarter. I hope to make her a matching stocking for next Christmas - and I also plan to start it in January!

I didn't have quite so much success with the baby quilts I listed: The inside addition quilt saw some progress. But still needs a lot of work to be finished. I'm aiming for the baby in question's 1st birthday now: 1st April! The grey and yellow quilt has not moved! But the pink plusses was a finish early in the quarter!

I also finished my Karen Lewis mini.

There were four cushions on the list this time round. My rainbow slivers cushion sadly remains untouched but the other three are all finished: rainbow squared for me (despite what Mia says);

The camper-van cushion...

... and the rainbow cushion.

I admitted that the next section of my original list was unrealistic when I wrote it back in October. And it turned out to be so. I did make a load of progress on the Moccasin quilt. All of the blocks are finished and I just need to do the final piecing to get a complete quilt top, so although it isn't finished, I'm happy with progress, The Gravity Quilt remained untouched. And the Christmas quilt which needs all the quilting unpicking remains in the drawer in disgrace. Maybe one day we'll be able to snuggle under it at Christmas. But not 2015. The pixelated heart quilt also stayed untouched.

But Mia has a dress and loves it! I love it too and I'm so proud that I managed to make a dress that fits her and looks good. Hopefully there will be more of these in my future. Oh and the three quilts I need to finish for my mother-in-law. Nope!

That makes 10 finishes! I'm so pleased to see that the Finish Along will continue into 2016 and I'm already thinking about the realities (and impossibilities) I want to include for quarter 1 2016! For now, I shall link up these final finishes with Adrianne @ On the Windy Side - thanks for a great finish along year, Adrianne!
2015 FAL at On the Windy Side