Sunday, 28 February 2016

Blocks still

Yep - I'm still on my block kick! So here's the progress since last time:

First up I think I have nine Farmer's Wife blocks to share.

I'm nearly up to date with the quilt-along over at Gnome Angel - just four blocks behind now, of which three are baskets or flowers and will therefore be replaced by non basket/flower blocks! I've just finished Dolly (bottom middle) this evening, and let me tell you, she was a bitch! Glad to have her out of the way!

The there are the #365quiltchallenge blocks. I'm a couple of days behind on this one but really proud that I've kept up with each week's link up. These are the blocks I haven't shared yet.

There's one more dark 3" block waiting to be made, and then the centre of the medallion which has caught me off guard. I wasn't expecting it for another month, and I'm not yet sure how to work this into the colour plan I have in my head. I may need to get my crayons out tomorrow!

I've made two more blocks for the Splendid Sampler:

And finally, rather than getting a move on with the Baby's quilt (6 weeks to go until my due date) I started a new quilt for Mia. She loves playing with the huge quilt I made for Daddy, and later this year, she will move into her new bedroom with a proper grown-up big-girl bed. And she will need a quilt for it.

I'm using a jelly roll of Pam Kitty Picnic and a pattern I've made twice before: the Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt from Pam and Nicky Lintott. Previously I've made it in Christmas fabrics and we had it out over the festive period and I was reminded how much I liked it.

As you can see, I've made two blocks so far but started with a slight issue... it uses a speciality ruler to cut the half and quarter square triangles and I can't find it. I know it's around somewhere.... so I made a template. Unfortunately the first one was out by 1/8" so I had to remake half of the first block. But I'm back on track. These blocks are 12" finished and feel absolutely huge compared to the 3" and 6" I've been working on recently!

Sunday, 14 February 2016

It's all about the Blocks...

'bout the blocks...

Having finished piecing My Small World, I had some catching up on other blocks to get on with. First up was the #365quiltchallenge2016 blocks - I had 8 to piece.

I'm well behind on the Farmer's Wife quilt, so I printed the patterns and caught up with one block this morning.

This block felt HUGE after working on the 3" blocks above!

And today was the start of the Splendid Sampler Quilt - there were literally thousands of quilters on Facebook all waiting for today's block to be released. Timing was perfect: Michael and Mia were busy watching the football so I pieced it immediately. My plan is to make only the blocks I like and see how big the quilt gets. I'm using an assortment of low volume backgrounds and any and all solids: the plan is that each block is a single colour way so I can lay them out in rainbow order in the final lap quilt/baby quilt/mini quilt...

My heart applique patch is a little smaller than everyone else's... our printer is upstairs and I was being mega-lazy so drew out my own!

And finally, and somewhat unexpectedly, I made another Patchwork of the Crosses Block. It's been a while since I made up one of these...

18 blocks this week and I'm well on target for my 365 blocks this year - making some headway before the baby arrives.

Tuesday, 9 February 2016

My Small world [quilt top]

A lot of my sewing time recently has been dedicated to this project and I'm really pleased to say that I now have a finished quilt top.

I have mixed feelings about this quilt. As I said last week, I have loved putting it together. It's been a real workout for the brain cells, as some of the instructions are more than a little vague... and I've tried to find ways to avoid templates at all possible opportunities.

I've learned a lot. Most importantly: I love freezer paper! I've used it so much for this project: for all my applique, for foundation piecing any units that stray from squares, rectangles and half square triangles, and for creating those few templates I couldn't avoid (curves).

I've definitely improved my applique and freezer paper is the key. I create and cut out a template (without seam allowance) from the freezer paper, iron the shiny side to the wrong side of the fabric, then cut the fabric eye-balling a quarter-inch seam allowance. I then use sew-line glue and fold the seam allowance over to the dull side of the freezer paper. A bit more glue on the reverse of the shape holds it in place whilst I applique it. Once finished, I cut away the fabric behind the applique and gently remove the freezer paper.

I had success with clam-shells. I tried EPP clam-shells this time last year and it was ok to a point, and then the shapes started going a bit squiffy and going out of line, and that's when I stopped. I can't say I was 100% happy with that last attempt. So I searched for some tutorials. The first I found involved a cardboard template and turning the seam allowance using kitchen foil and an iron, then appliqueing the resulting clams onto a foundation fabric. It was incredibly unsuccessful... I couldn't get the curves smooth and I couldn't get the positioning of the clams correct relative to each other. Lucky for me, Instagram came to the rescue. I posted my less-than-satisfactory attempt and Sharon @Lillabellelane suggested checking out a video tutorial by Sue Daley. It was eye-opening. I tried it the very next morning and it went so well that I am almost tempted to attempt a full clam-shell quilt! I would highly recommend checking it out if you are considering clam-shells!

The part of the quilt I most enjoyed, and was the most challenging was the fifth section - top left: green background and a variety of arcs: that New York Beauty style arc was perhaps the biggest test of the lot: avoiding using templates, I carefully traced the templates onto freezer paper, butting up against each other to create the full arc and a foundation piecing template - I carefully trimmed the top of each of the three arcs right up against the finished line. I pieced it in the standard way of freezer paper foundation piecing, which I love, then left the paper in place and used the same template as an applique template, trimming the piecing, then turning the seam allowance over and gluing to the reverse of the freezer paper. I figured this was a more forgiving method than trying the machine piece the curves.

One final learning: hind-sight is a wonderful thing, and I wish I'd done this as I went along: there are a lot of seams in this quilt. I've kept each of the six sections separate until today when I finally stitched them together, and what I've found is that in a few areas the seams have started to come apart at the edges. In order to prevent this, stitch a single stitched line all round the edge of each section, about eighth of an inch from the edge. This helps keep the seams together whilst waiting to be pieced, and the stitches disappear into the seam allowance. I have taken this step on the finished quilt top...

The original pattern included some embroidery: the Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa and Sydney Opera House floating in the sky. It seemed a little odd to me (the floating in the sky part) and these particular places have no meaning to me. So I left it out. Instead I did a couple of bits of embroidery in chaotic part of the quilt: there's a cat in one of the windows, and I embroidered out family name rather than find a fussy-cuttable fabric in section 2.

So whilst I've enjoyed creating this quilt top, I'm not sure I like it. Last week, I really didn't like it. I said as much. It's about the chaos of the colours - scrappy. Turns out I don't like disordered scrappy. Give me a rainbow any day. But in rainbow order! It's an important learning. This week, with the top all together and the final two sections added, I find that I like it a bit more. Maybe once it's quilted, I'll like it enough to actually hang it on the wall when I finish it!

Of course a quilt top is only half the story and you definitely haven't seen the end of this project yet: let the hand-quilting begin!

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

WIP Wednesday [My Small World again]

I've been plugging away at this quilt and have made some really progress over the last couple of weeks: parts 1-4 are now complete and work has started on 5 and 6.

This has turned into quite a strange project for me... I love the process of making it - it's proving to be a real workout for my quilty brain - I'm not working from the templates unless there really is no alternative; I'm making up the foundation patterns for certain elements, and I'm working out my own cutting instructions (rather than reading the instructions two or three times to realise that I've just read the cm measurement....) and I'm having a ball! I'm picking out some of my favourite fabrics, and finding some lesser used fabrics I'd forgotten about. But I don't actually love the quilt. It turns out that pure scrappy is just too much for me! But despite this I look forward to working on it, I'm looking forward to quilting it. I just might not have it on display when it is finished. Unless Mia takes a liking to it.

But this learning curve has already informed my decision making when piecing the border for the Pixelated Heart Quilt: rather than piece the coloured squares in random order, I went for rainbow order and I'm chuffed to bits with it!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday, possibly for the last time :(

Monday, 1 February 2016

January [review]

New year and new energy! January has been good to me! Firstly I had a finish - an actual finish. Of a proper full-sized quilt! It's been a year since I had a full-sized finish! My pixelated heart quilt is on our bed right now! I love it. As does my daughter!

And blocks... I set myself a challenge at the start of the year to make 365 blocks - one per day. For some projects a block is obvious: I made thirty-two blocks in the 365 Challenge (there was a bonus block at the start of the month!), so I'm up to date with that;

I made 22 of the Farmer's Wife blocks below (5 are from December), so I'm still not up to date with these;

And I made the first block in the Zodiac BOM.

Other quilts don't have such well defined "blocks". For the My Small World quilt I'm counting a row of each section as a block: for some blocks this means they are very simple and completed in just a few minutes. For other blocks, like the hand pieced clamshells, or those with applique or lots of foundation pieced elements, it takes considerably longer, so I figure it will average out in the end! Here's the latest photo I have of this project, but weather-dependent, I will have some more up to date photos later this week showing all of January's 15 blocks!

And I finally made a start on the quilt for the new Baby: this quilt is made up of lots and lots of foundation pieced units and I'm counting four units as a block!

The remaining blocks belonged to the pixelated heart quilt, or are English paper pieced blocks I've completed. For the moment counting blocks is turning out to be a really good motivator, getting me sewing and stealing the odd moment here and there on even the most "pregnant" days! And an 85 block total for January means that when I inevitably have to slow down/pause in April, I can do so in the knowledge that I'm still on track.

How was January for you?