Wednesday, 31 January 2018

Round We Go [Month 5]

Month 5 was the month the miracle happened. But first, let me tell you how pleased I was that the month 5 block was a lovely, simple, straightforward one after the stinker that was December! And because it was so lovely and straightforward, I was able to make progress with the next steps. First up, here are my January four:

I've been saying from the start that I wanted to applique these circles as I went along, otherwise I would hate it at the end. That didn't happen for the first four months. For the first two I had a good excuse - I couldn't decide between two backgrounds. But by month 3 I had decided, just not done anything about it. But my first week back at my Monday night quilting group (where they have big cutting boards that aren't surrounded by crap like my one at home), I got out the backing fabric, and cut it. All of the squares are now ready and I have enough left over for binding if I chose to match it.

The only problem with the background fabric, is that it is impossible to photograph well - every time I tried to photo it, it came out black - it isn't - it's a very dark wine-like purple - I think it's Pure Elements in Cabernet from Art Gallery - I'd had it in my stash for a few years so it was a lucky find!

I decided to hand applique, because it seems fitting when you've hand pieced. Basting was a bit of a trial: I used the glue stick I usually use for basting, to hold the circle in place temporarily, and then I machine basted about a quarter inch from the edge. Then when I was doing the applique, I cut away the basting when I got the six points, so I could tuck the ears under. I confess that the first one was a bit scary. It didn't look great until I'd cut away the backing and removed the papers. Then everything relaxed, and I'm so happy with it.

Of course, as it's hand pieced and hand appliqued, I think it should be hand quilted too. So I'm going for a quilt as you go approach I even got a few blocks quilted this month! And I couldn't believe the difference the quilting made - it brought them to life!

Maybe it will be a finished quilt at the end of the quilt along, not just a pile of random circular blocks! You never know!

Friday, 26 January 2018

Aves: Week 1

So I'm sure you're pretty sick of me talking about my 365 Quilt Challenge. If you're not, you can read all about here! And here's a picture to remind you!

Well that was 2016. Last year, the designer, Kathy of Green Avenue Quilts, ran a block of the week called Etoiles Rouge. I decided not to take part. But this year, her quilt is called Aves (Latin for birds, I believe) and it is totally bonkers! Here's the mock up of it she shared back in October.

It was one of those moments where you know you have to make that quilt. The first block was finally released this week and it is the centre of the quilt. Can you guess my colour theme?

Unlike the 365, which was entirely rotary cut, this involved foundation piecing. I have developed a bit of a love hate relationship with foundation piecing if I'm honest. I found the freezer paper method a few years ago and I love it. But with a nearly-4-year-old and a nearly-2-year-old (especially the nearly-2-year-old), having an iron in the middle of the living room just isn't practical. I've found that if blocks of the month require foundation piecing, this is where I fall off the schedule. So, having recognised this, I dug out the foundation paper I use to use. It's called Golden Threads and I haven't used it in years. It resembles tissue paper, but is slightly stronger.

And I know this is blowing my own trumpet, but look at my centre seam!

This is definitely not a quilt for beginners like the 365 quilt was - I think this is going to be a real workout for my quilty brain! I'm loving it so far!

Thursday, 25 January 2018

Fancy Forest Quilt: Fancy Foxes

Over the last year I have made quite a few Fancy Forest quilt, or variations using just a single block. Every time I've finished one, and shown Mia and Jess, they have been disappointed to discover that we aren't keeping it, and it's being given away. Last summer I decided to make them a full size Fancy Forest quilt, and a full size Awesome Ocean quilt, and it just so happens that Angie @gnomeangel is hosting a quilt along! Conveniently, she is also including the Greenhouse pattern in her quilt along, which I want to make for me, so expect to see one of those in the coming months too.

I've planned out my colours and you'll be surprised to see that I'm sewing up a rainbow!

The quilt along has a pretty vicious pace to it, and I'm well behind. The plan was to have all the Fancy Forest blocks completed by the end of January, then spend February finishing the quilt, before embarking on Awesome Ocean at the start of March.

Well, I've finished the foxes - the first block.... sixteen of them in a full size quilt.

When I've previously made this quilt, I've kept the fabrics to solids or nearly solids, but this time, anything goes and I'm having a great time pulling from my newly organized stash. I've also decided to go scrappy for the "white" sections - in the case of the fixes, their cheeks, but this will also be the case for the rabbits' ears, and the owls' tummies. I wasn't sure it would work, but I'm pretty pleased with my little foxes.

Next up, bunnies!

Friday, 12 January 2018

Finish Along Q1 Goals

Another year of the Finish Along begins and that means it's time for another ridiculously-long-finish-along list!

1. "It's Just a Phase" embroidery: This was supposed to be a Christmas present for my husband but I didn't get very far. His birthday is at the start of March, so that seems like a reasonable goal.

2. Fancy Forest Quilt: I'm piecing this as part of a quilt-along hosted by @Gnomeangel. If I manage to keep up with the pretty sharp pace being set, then I should have all the blocks pieced in the next few weeks, so I don't see why this shouldn't be a finish!

3. Super girl doll: If you saw my post a few days ago, I have already completed super boy, and it was not pleasant, but it was well received. The intended recipient of super girl has a birthday this quarter, so if it gets done, great, and if it doesn't, it may never!

4. Gypsy Wife: I was gutted that I didn't manage to get this quilt top pieced in time for the quilt along deadline, but I've kept up momentum and finished the last blocks this week. Construction of the quilt top will definitely be a challenge, but it's all cut and ready!

5. Neon City: I have a thing with my City Samplers...the big ones aren't finished. So I'm adding them all to this list - one of these lists, they will actually get done! For this particular quilt, it's the sashing that's holding me back. If I just did a little bit here and there it would soon be finished.

6. Original City Sampler: this is the oldest of my outstanding City Samplers, and the biggest. There will be another quilt along this year for these blocks which I'm planning on joining and it would be good for this to be finished before I start another. This is half-quilted, but I chose to do very dense quilting. Last time I got it out, I had done more than I remembered, but there is still a long way to go. To be honest, I'll be pleased with progress on this.

7. V and K's City Sampler: the third City Sampler that remains unfinished... this is a wedding present. I think we're aiming for their third wedding anniversary this summer. Again I'm stuck on the sashing...

8. Tula Butterfly: I managed to get this quilt top finished at the start of January for the end of the quilt along, but now I need to actually finish it, so I can enjoy using it on my own bed (not on my daughter's bed...). I've been looking out for a backing, but haven't spotted anything I fancy.

9. Summer Sampler 2016: Can you believe I'm only 3 blocks and some pesky sashing away from a finished quilt top. Can you believe it's been like this for months. I have the backing fabric ready to go, I know how I want to quilt it....

10. Zippy pouch for nail accessories. I've selected an Aneela Hoey pattern (because they are the best). And given that I keep losing my nail files, I should really prioritise this!

11. I'm taking part in the #Stitchedsewingorganizerssal on Instagram and coming up is an oversized zippy pouch. And it will be perfect for the Moccasin Dresden that keep on making an appearance on my list. I'm pretty confident this one will be a finish this quarter! I need to unpick it, split it in half, and then applique it to two bts of bigger background as a first step.

12. Gravity Quilt. Lol. I haven't touched this in 18 months, but when a friend started it as a BOM from one of the UK quilt shops, I said I'd join in when we got to the same point. I think we're about there... This is another quilt, where I think progress would be excellent.

13. 52 Weeks green and orange quilt: started this time last year, abandoned a few months later, but this will make a great baby quilt, and I know just the baby.

14. 52 weeks purple and teal. I only need a few more blocks....

15. Splendid Sampler. I have a plan. I need another 9 blocks, and then I've drawn up my setting pattern.
16. Dog quilt for Jessica: I've made one block of the three I need.

17. Cat quilt for Mia, because if one gets a quilt, the other does too. I'm going to use the Pen and Paper Patterns Kitten Around pattern but got a bit stumped picking "cat colours".

18. EJ+ Quilt. I made some more blocks for this recently and it has struck me that this isn't far from a finish either.

19.Narwhal Hoop for Mia - something I promoised for Christmas and failed to complete. I reserve the right to change the fabrics....

20 and 21. I want to make the girls hoops each every month this year, so last Autumn I took the opportunity of family travelling to the states to get a couple of pre-printed embroideries: a moon moth and a mermaid. I'm really looking forward to starting these. After I've given them a good press!

22. A cat embroidery design from Cinderberry Stitches is another hoop I'm excited to make. Though Mia has informed me she expects a Unicorn hoop as well (see fabric at the back!).

23. Last year I started a sampler for Easter but got a bit bogged down in a very intensive embroidery for it. The embroidery is done so it's time to finish it - the whole finished piece is less than 12"x12" so really I should manage!

24. I promised Steph and IPad case for Christmas and failed miserably. We're going for scrappy on the outside, to match her travel pouch and I'm going to upsize one of the patterns in the Stitched Sewing Organizers book.

25. I travel for work and for Christmas I got a new rucksack. It is definitely smarter than the old one (which I bought when I was at Uni) and it has a pocket for my laptop so I don't have to carry a really chunky laptop case with me, but I do want the laptop to be a little bit protected, so I want to make a case for it. I'm going to upsize the same pattern from the Stitched Sewing Organizers book as above for it and use the LV hexy flowers I started sewing last summer.

26. I'm going to make this pouch from Stitched Sewing Organizers as a birthday present using this beautiful peacock fabric I picked up recently and a bit of bling I picked up last year. This will be my first time with magnetic clippy things!

27. Mini half hexies: I bought some half-inch half-hexy papers and had a play. I really believe that if I were to concentrate on this project for just an evening, it would be done!

28. Threadfolk embroidery. When I pick this up, I really enjoy stitching it, but because it's for me, it's rarely prioritised.

Looking at that list, there are a lot of large quilts on it. If I get them all done, I'll have bought enough wadding to build a couple of tents! Whilst it isn't my longest list ever, it may well be my most ambitious! There are 10 good sized quilts listed and a few toddler ones on top. This time I may well be out of my mind!

Marci Girl Designs

Monday, 8 January 2018

Mandolin Quilt [A Start]

Last year, you may remember that I sewed along with the Ice Cream Soda quilt along. It was created by Jodi at Tales of Cloth, an Australian quilt shop. Each month I received a tiny little package full of paper pieces, and the plan was to stitch up 8 blossoms (or part blossoms each month). Inevitably I fell behind, but I thoroughly enjoy these blocks. They are quick and easy to stitch, I'm using a totally random fabric selection, and they look so pretty. There's no complex placement so these are the perfect sewing for travelling! All of Jodi's papers are cut from recycled paper, and they are just a little bit lighter-weight than the papers from Paper Pieces or available here in the UK. At first I was dubious, but they are so easy on the hands. I'm also working on the Round You Go quilt, using papers from another Australian source - Sue Daley Designs. These are the total opposite, glossy and slightly heavier weight than most. And you really can tell the difference. I'm much preferring the feel of sewing up the Ice Cream soda blocks.

With that in mind, it was a no-brainer that I would join in Jodi's latest offering. The 2018 quilt is called Mandolin. The blocks are bigger and there's fewer of them, but each has more, larger pieces. Jodi gave away some packs at the end of November - great bit of marketing! I was lucky enough to get my hands on one, and on boxing day I finally decided on my fabrics: I'm going to use a selection of fabrics from Tula Pink's Spirit Animal line, broken up with some pieces from my own stash. I'm not generally a huge fan of Tula's fabrics, but this one, with those little otters, seems to have got me. Thanks to the boxing day sales, I picked up a "few" fat quarters (and half yards of the otters).

I've put together that first block now. It was delightfully easy, the shapes were perfect for a bit of fussy cutting (something I want to try more of this year), and I love it (sadly, so does my daughter....)

If you want to join in, you can sign up at Tales of Cloth. I've paid for my whole year in advance, which saves postage - that comes to about a £20 saving over the course of the whole year, so definitely worth it! And I still get a little package from Australia each month! Do it - you know you want to!

Saturday, 6 January 2018

Finish Along Q4 review

It's the end of the quarter and time to take stock. I've also got a final finish to share. Back in October I planned to make some scrunchies for Mia - Christmas Eve was the day! Obviously. I used this tutorial and knocked up three scrunchies in just 45 minutes!

The rest of the list is a story of mixed results and reality! I have a total of  11 finishes: Two large quilts: Linda's owls and Pineapple Farm.

Two baby quilts: Fancy Forest and Allie Owl:

A Christmas lap quilt:

Two pouches: An open wide pouch

And a see-it-all Always pouch.

A hoop, a doll and Jessica's advent calendar (and the scrunchies of course)

Not bad for a busy quarter! But inevitably given the length of my list, some projects didn't make it. I was particularly disappointed that I wasn't able to give the girls a quilt each at Christmas as I had planned. Never mind - they'll go back on the next list which will inevitably be just as long!

You can find my original list here.