Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Quartet BOM progress

Pleased to report progress on this new project:  I have finished the blocks for Month 3 (still putting off the applique circles...) and here they are in all their delicious variety.
[Apologies for the colour cast - it has been grey and rainy all day today so the photos were taken under fluorescent light].

I had such fun making these little darlings: like the mini-Log Cabin blocks I showed you last post, these Square in Square beauties are trimmed to 2 3/8" and will be joined together 7 blocks x 7 to make one big block.

The process of choosing little scraps of fabric from the selection provided was all about looking at colour; some of the taupes are so subtle, I found I only really appreciated their delicate beauty when placing one in opposition to another.  So I started REALLY looking: is this grey a brown grey or a green grey?  Let's try it against a blue or a reddish brown and find out.

Some blocks I tried to blend/co-ordinate, with others I deliberately went for contrast/clash for a bit of piquancy.  After stitching and trimming, the individual pieces you can see are tiny; this has made it quite a different experience compared with piecing a bigger, ie normal sized, block where you can see a much larger amount of each fabric.  The centre square in half the blocks finishes at 7/8", and the even smaller centre square on point in the other blocks measures 5/8".

I also managed to lay out my EPP 'lozenges' and number the rows (which are going to be pieced together on the diagonal), so that means I will have plenty of hand sewing to do in quiet moments....

I hope you have managed to make progress on at least some of your projects this week?
I am going to have to pack away my sewing machine for the Christmas holidays so the race is on to get one or two things finished by the end of next week...
Good luck if you have similar ambitions, and Happy Thanksgiving for tomorrow to any American visitors.

I am linking today to Lee at Freshly Pieced: WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Pressing on

Oh, the difference a new iron can make to a girl!  I am happy, happy, happy - I have got rid of my four foot high pile of ironing (you think I exaggerate?) and I have cleared my piecing-pressing backlog ie all the things waiting to be pressed that have been causing a log jam in various projects. Progress is about to be made (once I've done all the other jobs on tomorrow's list).

What I did manage to start after my last post, and which is my WIP for today's link to Freshly Pieced, was the first month of the Quartet BOM, mentioned here.  I had such a good time piecing these little blocks, and yes, I did chain piece them.  Trimmed they measure 2 3/8": thank you whoever invented foundation piecing!

So that's the first month trimmed and roughly laid out, ready to stitch together into one big block. I need to tweak the order though - that could take some time...

I have started on Month 3, skipping the applique just for now, and will show you more next week.

Meanwhile, I had a lovely day on Saturday teaching at my LQS: I had three great students, Lynn, Alison and Pat, learning to make the Stardancer variation of the sawtooth star block with a chevron border.  I blogged about this quilt here and here.

The girls worked so hard and pieced so precisely - you could cut yourself on the blocks and border the points are so sharp!  As always in a class the colour choices make the work so individual and I loved all of these quilts-in-the-making.

Alison also came up with an alternative layout which will make the stars float on her dark background: I look forward to seeing just how different this quilt will look from its neighbours.

One of the many great things about patchwork is that the same basic pattern is re-imagined by each one of us and made our own; even with the BOM, when the same fabric is sent out to each maker, my quilt and my friend Sylvia's will be subtly, or maybe not so subtly, different because of our piecing choices.  Delightful diversity.

Friday, 14 November 2014

Tiny Finish - Macaron

A succession of dreary wet days since November began reminds me that it will be hard to take decent outdoor photos for the next few months, so apologies for the poor light.

Too many other things going on for much actual sewing to report, but I did make a tiny hand sewn gift for a friend from a kit I bought at NEC in August.  This is my finish for Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts today.

Maria from Pinwheels visits us here in England for the Festival of Quilts and I have bought lovely kits from her several times over the past few years.  This time I bought her little kit, Macaron, and I have managed, even with my clumsy fingers, to make up both macarons, one for me and one for my new friend Helen, who so kindly recently showed me and my quilting buddies all of her treasured antique Japanese textiles (including some wonderful, worn and ancient Boro).

I thought that something in the Japanese style might suit her, though I am very sure that Japanese ladies with their nimble fingers would make a much better finished product.  The macarons are so tiny I don't think you could get much inside - maybe a £1 piece - but they are very cute and they really do look extraordinarily like posh French patisserie!

I also treated myself in August to Pinwheels' BOM, Quartet, but haven't started yet....  It will be fabulous and I promise to show you when I have made at least one block.  My clever friend Sylvia is storming through hers and I was green with envy when I saw what she had accomplished.

Sorry for the blurry image from the Pinwheels website but it will give you an idea of the lovely fabrics and miniature piecing that is in store for me!

My latest excuse however is that my tank steam iron has broken (I think I have worn it out these past two years), and I find that I don't like to use an ordinary steam iron any more, I do miss the fantastic crisp seams and flat blocks you get with the wonderful shot of steam.  So not only is the household laundry piling up but the piecing waiting to be pressed is holding back my progress on a variety of fronts.

However, the one and only advantage of having so many things on the go is that there is always something to do: I dug out this old UFO and have managed some hand piecing over the past couple of days.  It is called Rose Chain and I started it in a class with Sharon Chambers back in March 2004. Most of the time since then it has been gently resting in a cupboard; as with so many of my undertakings, it actually doesn't take all that long to make the blocks - I just got distracted by other projects.

I guess I am now about half way through the piecing of the blocks as it will only be 60" square when finished, but there is an applique border - and applique is not my strong suit.  It will need hand quilting too, I anticipate, so likely to be a work in progress for quite a while longer.
  • Tasks for next week: to get a new iron is top of the list.
  • Finish blocks for Thimbleberries 2 flower/star
  • Assemble Chandelier QAL (yes, I know that ship has long sailed, but I do like the blocks so will finish it in my own time).
  • any number of other things, too many to list
I have had lots of quilty fun without much actual sewing machine time since I last posted, so don't feel too sorry for me: I have taught one class  and am teaching again tomorrow, which I love, and I have done a demo/talk for a local quilt group which was also great fun.

I showed the group how to make really accurate HST's in bulk using papers (Easy Triangles on a Roll is my favourite product for this, though I also use Thangles).

I have always loved the 18th century Dutch Chintz quilts made entirely from HST's (all hand sewn of course) and I am gradually accumulating 2" HST's so that I can make my own one day.

I keep the HST's in a box and when I demo I get a few out and just start pinning them on a board.  One day I will stitch them together, but for now it is great fun to play with them.

I also demo'd how to square up HST's using Bloc_loc's brilliant rulers.  I actually enjoy trimming now that I have these rulers, and they are especially useful if you have a pile of bonus triangles after making flying geese by the stitch and flip method (I hate to throw away fabric, as you may have guessed).  If you don't know the rulers then visit the website where there is a helpful video.  

We are so lucky as quilters to have the benefit of really great products out there to make our lives easier and our work better.  What is your favourite tool/notion at the moment?

Saturday, 1 November 2014

Resolutions - partly achieved

Well, I have tried really hard since my last post to fit in some sewing, having made myself accountable to you.  And I can report progress:

I have made 13 flower blocks for the Thimbleberries Mark 2.  I now need to buy a few more plains to be able to complete the remainder.  Not enough variety among my plain scraps in the muted, greyed palette.

I have made 15 Chandelier blocks out of a total of 18 plus two half blocks needed for the QAL with Lee - I know I am behind but at least I have managed something!

I have worked on a small quilt which I can't show you as it is for a magazine - but that had ground to a halt too, so it's good to be moving again.

My Remembrance quilt is stuck as I hate the quilting I have done so far; it is a pain to rip out as the Aurifil thread has sunk into the 80:20 wadding and I don't want to damage the fabric.  I need really good light to see the stitches properly but have had no spare daytime recently.  But I have set a deadline of 11 Nov which I had thought would be a breeze - huh, not looking so likely now.  Quilting gods out to humble me again.

Looking back at the last month, I guess the only proper finish was the Whirly Windmills quilt posted here so I'll claim that for my link to Lily's Quilts Fresh Sewing Day.

October has been a difficult month; I have been trying to provide some practical support for a dear friend who has been bereaved.  Sewing has been a blessing, even the small amount I have managed to fit in, and I am especially grateful at the moment to be able to unwind at my machine at the end of the day.

I hope your time spent sewing brings you joy and peace too.