Friday, 4 December 2015

Charm Pack Cherry - finished

Hi all.  Finally some brighter weather (though the garden is looking a bit bleak) so I have been able to photograph this little quilt (52" x 54"), made with two Charm packs and some plain fabric.

I followed the tutorial and free pattern from Fat Quarter Shop (see the link in this post, scroll down past the Liberty quilt) and it really was a very easy and speedy quilt to make.

I used every single Charm: I was slightly short on backing fabric but I pieced the twelve leftover 5" squares into a strip which gave me just enough extra width.  So great when that works out.

The quilting was straightforward which meant this top has been finished without excessive delay.  It's a bit wrinkly so I think it could do with a wash so it crinkles up properly and relaxes.  

The binding was from stash and, serendipitously, turned out to be an ombre navy from V and Co: you can see the subtle shading in the photo below.

Thought you might also like to see the progress I have made since my last post on the Rose Star One patch.  

I have been slightly obsessed with these over the past week or so, and have made seven blocks and two half blocks (half blocks pictured below), but I must now put them away for a while.  

They are not the easiest blocks to photograph but I hope you will get a general sense of just how much fun I have had choosing the colours to bounce off one another.  

For some reason the blocks make me think of circuses (the shape of the big top, maybe, or just the sort of bright colours often found on circus posters or in fairgrounds?).

But they are also reminiscent of children's kaleidoscopes; I used to love turning the cardboard tube and seeing the little translucent plastic shapes fall and form into new patterns.  Do you remember these?  Simple pleasures in a pre-computer world.

Enjoy your weekend.

Friday, 27 November 2015

Rose Star block finish

What a week, busy, busy.  I went to a class on Tuesday with Carolyn Forster at The Eternal Maker in Chichester with my friend Sylvia.  The weather this week has been dreary, grey and wet, so what could be better than a day of sewing and shopping?

During the course of the day I made a complete block of the Rose Star One-patch.  This was an achievement: there are 72 pieces in a block and they are all kite shaped!  It is an amazing block and quite hard to get your head round at first (or even second or third), but with Carolyn's help and guidance on the piecing and especially pressing order, the block went together really sweetly.

Since Tuesday I have made three more blocks - but I don't have photos yet to show you.  Each block measures approx 27" across the middle so I will only need seven blocks and a few half blocks to make a quilt.  Great fun to try a block which uses such a different set of shapes and angles.

What else have I done?  Well, we have had some work done to our windows which meant I couldn't go out for a couple of days and I did some hand sewing of a binding.  Photos of the finished quilt will have to follow.

And I have joined in with the Moda Sampler Block Shuffle: you can see the blocks here at Fat Quarter Shop.  Blocks 7 and 8 were released today so I have not tackled them yet, but I am otherwise up to date, and I have actually been making two of each block in reverse colourways.  They don't take long and it is quite fun to play around with the lights and darks.  I will post more about these soon.

So lots going on, even though Christmas preparation looming - I have made the Christmas puddings but I have done nothing else yet.

I am claiming the Rose Star block as my finish since it is as big as a mini quilt and linking to Finish it up Friday with Crazy Mom Quilts.

Have a great weekend.

Friday, 20 November 2015

Gypsy Trails: finished

Hi everyone.  Here is the finished quilt I gave you a sneak peek of on Wednesday: I managed to stitch on the binding and get some photos this morning (it poured with rain here yesterday).

The pattern is called Sunny Trails by Corey Yoder of Little Miss Shabby for Moda Bakeshop, and I used many fabrics from Amy Butler's line Gypsy Caravan, which had been in my stash for a long time, plus some extras to break up the sometimes rather same-y look which using just one collection can give.

The combination of Gypsy Caravan fabrics and Sunny Trails pattern is the reason for calling the quilt Gypsy Trails.  The blocks were fun and quick to make: as always the greatest pleasure, I find, lies in playing with the fabrics.

I pieced the top back in February 2013 and it has been in my pile (large pile) of unfinished tops.  I have done a lot of piecing this year (and previous years...) and I really need to address some of the backlog: as we all know - it's not a quilt until it's quilted.

Anyway I had a trip recently with my friend Sylvia to Eclectic Maker, a quilt shop in West Worthing, about an hour away.  I went with a shopping list and (for a change) stuck to it: I only bought backings and wadding, no impulse buys.

This was one of the backings and I love the fabric so much I bought enough for two quilts....  It is from Jen Kingwell's Gardenvale range and I think it is perfect with this top, notwithstanding the many years between the original fabric purchase and backing acquisition.  Binding is from stash, so that's another plus.

The quilt measures 48" x 72".
I made four extra blocks as I felt they completed the design (so that is 24 x 12" blocks).

I decided against borders, largely because I didn't have anything suitable in my stash at that time and I was trying to use what I had.
I went a bit mad with the quilting after the simple cross-hatching on the Liberty Oakshott Sixteen-patch.  I wanted to accentuate the white diamond 'frames' and to put something curvy in the squares, but I didn't want to FMQ.  

I hope you can see in the close up photos above that I used a curvy leaf shape which I was able to quilt using my walking foot.  It did involve turning the quilt quite a bit and burying thread tails afterwards but I am happy with the finished result: it's a great texture and I am off to soak the quilt now in cold water to get rid of any remaining traces of blue marker.  Hopefully a bit of shrinkage will further increase the crinkliness.

Linking to Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Windy Wednesday

Gosh, it has been breezy here the past couple of days.  Here is my Interwoven Strips top blowing in the wind.  

You can see that I have added extra strips into the outer border to enhance the ribbon effect.  

The top is now ready for quilting.  I am slightly nervous as I think I want to try free motion quilting it, but that's not my strong suit and this is quite a large top (84" square).  

It may be a while before this one is finished...

By contrast I love my walking foot and I have spent the past week quilting this top which I pieced in 2013. 

If I can handstitch the binding tomorrow, and get some decent photos, I will show you the finish on Friday.

Friday, 13 November 2015

Liberty Oakshott Sixteen-patch: finished!

So here it is:  I felt I had to get the binding stitched for today after showing you WIP pics on Wednesday, so I spent a couple of hours this morning hand sewing when I should have been doing a whole lot of other things....

Anyway it was such a pleasure putting in every one of those little hand stitches; I was able to really enjoy the texture of the shot cotton binding and the sheen of the patches as I worked. Quite a sensuous quilt for such a simple design, and one I am growing to love more every day it is around.

Do you ever find you have an ambivalent relationship with your quilts, or some of them, while they are in progress?  Not being sure if I really like it is one of the reasons I sometimes get stuck and can't see a project through to the end all in one go.  Sometimes this happens early on and I have to abandon fabrics (to be recycled into a different quilt) or at a later stage block design or layout don't seem quite right - drastic measures then required...

Anyway I did have one or two moments of hesitation with this quilt, and the blocks lay around for some months, but as it progressed I felt more friendly towards it and now I am absolutely sure.  I love how blue it is (my comfort colour) but the hits of purple, pink and green are necessary too. So a happy ending to my week: how about you?

Linking today to Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts: Finish it up Friday.  Love the wonky star pincushions.

PS The finished quilt measures 64" x 72".  Quilted with a fine grey Aurifil, colour 2620.  Other relevant info in previous posts, I think.

Wednesday, 11 November 2015

Liberty Oakshott Sixteen-patch: WIP

Hi all, hope you have had a good week?  Mine has been a bit bitty (!) but I did manage to sew all Saturday evening, had the house to myself apart from the dog, so I layered and cross hatched this quilt which I blogged about here.

Still just a WIP as I have not hand stitched the binding down: will try and get that done for Finish it up Friday, nothing like a deadline to focus the mind.

However I hope these photos (taken indoors with flash as it has been grey and murky here today) give a sense of the lovely sheen the Oakshott shot cottons have and how well they pair with Liberty. The squares finish at 2" so the blocks are 8" square finished.  Such a simple quilt but pleasing.

I also fancied some speed piecing in among all the other routine jobs which every day brings.  I don't know about you, but I need to sew every day if I can, even if it is just for a quarter of an hour.  I helps me to feel that I am making progress, however slight.  To this end, I have my sewing machine set up in the dining room which is a sort of 'through' room, that is, you go through it to get from the kitchen to the rest of the house

This means that my work is always accessible and I can stitch a bit while waiting for the next thing that needs to be done, whether that is for the potatoes to boil or until it's time to go and collect daughter from the station.  Simple chain piecing is perfect for filling in those gaps in the schedule, such as it is.

So I have had in mind for a while to make a quilt using two Charm packs and some plain - the pattern is Charm Pack Cherry and it is free from Fat Quarter Shop (they have a good You-tube tutorial too).

And I have to say, this went together at top speed over two days - amazing how all those little bits of time add up to something when you put every minute to work.  Hope to get this layered and quilted speedily too.  The fabric is Colour Me Happy by Vanessa Christenson of V and Co for Moda (plus a plain which I think is Kona cotton in Silver but I may be wrong).

I cut my plain 5" squares from yardage and used 1.2 metres (allow 1 1/4 yards minimum) to cut 72 x 5" squares.

I think this could make a great I-spy quilt for youngsters too.  And it is REALLY quick, so a good choice for a charity quilt.

Linking to Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

WIP Wednesday - more quilts in progress

I have stitched together my Interwoven Strips blocks and now have to work on the outer border.

Each Interwoven Strips block is constructed around the centre square so requires partial piecing. Making these blocks reminded me how much fun partial piecing is, and prompted me to get out my box of Oakshott plains and stripes.

The strips and squares you would have glimpsed in this post have been made up into 95 x 4 1/2" blocks.  They went together in a trice.  They are the same as the blocks I made for this little quilt which I have given to a dear friend.  I always wanted to make another, bigger version, and am well on the way.  In fact, the blocks are so easy and addictive to make, I want to cut up some more strips and make another 95 blocks!

If you are inclined to have a go, I wrote a tutorial, posted here.  In case it is not clear from the tutorial, I would recommend that if you have any block which requires partial piecing you always line up your strips with the edge of the central square and stitch from there outwards. Otherwise you risk the centre square being not quite square and that really shows.  Much easier to conceal any inaccuracies in the outer seams when you are joining two blocks together.

I have also been using up my odd strips of Oakshott cottons (one quilt inevitably leads to another) by pairing them with Liberty lawn scraps I have had for ages.  The two types of fabric go well together, being of similar weight.  I don't find Liberty lawn works all that well with some standard weight quilting cottons, but it is perfect with Oakshott, plus the two-tone slightly off colours are great with the quirky Liberty palette.

So I have made 56 sixteen-patches and now just need to get them stitched together for another simple but lovely quilt.  Here's the layout so far (another dull rainy day so the colours aren't quite true, apologies).

I got a great bargain at my local quilt shop -  4 metres of soft pink shot cotton for the backing at only £5 per metre.  You may be able to see from the frayed selvage at the corner that the gorgeous colour is made with blue and coral/orange warp ad weft threads - how clever is that? Real colour magic.

Linking today to Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Saturday, 31 October 2015

Lucky Penny - big quilt finish!

Wow, what a whopper, as people used to say!  This is a big quilt, 83" x 98", and heavy, I guess because it is 50% grey Essex Linen.  It has been a while in the making but I am really pleased with it now it is finished.

So, what's the back story of this quilt?

I blogged about the top back in September (here) but the HST's were made much longer ago.  It feels really good to have finished, having tried a number of different layouts for the HST's till finally this one gelled.

An earlier layout which didn't quite work for me:

Once the blocks were together I added a narrow (cut at 3") border around the quilt to give the pieced stars some elbow room, and also so that I wouldn't have all those seams to deal with right at the edge of the quilt and to incorporate in the binding!

I managed to get the backing in an on-line sale at The Eternal Maker in August: making big quilts is great for using up stash fabric but it means a big expense when it comes time to back and quilt. So any discount is appreciated. I took the whole of what remained on the bolt, about 4 1/2 metres, but even so I had to piece in a tiny strip of pink Bike Path to make the backing just big enough.

Seeing the Alison Glass Handcrafted fabric on sale was the spur I needed to get on with this quilt. I don't usually go for green, and there is always a risk buying on-line if you don't have a sample, but this soft green with the orange and yellow splashy accents just seemed to be right. And I am even more sure now it is quilted.

I used a soft grey thread (Aurifil 2620, 50/2) in the bobbin which blends amazingly well with the green backing fabric: it really takes on the green-ish colour. But I wanted a slightly more robust thread on top as a lot of the quilting would be across the Essex linen. Mettler Quilting cotton (40 wt. no. 724) was perfect.

I wouldn't usually put two different weight threads in top and bottom of my machine, but I had no problems with tension once I had had my machine serviced (see here for that particular hiccup, which I can't really blame on this quilt: the machine was due for a service and I had   been fiddling with the tension on a different project and got completely muddled...). The fine Aurifil thread suited the light-ish weight of the Handcrafted modern batik, and the chunky Mettler coped well with the grainy linen.

As for the quilting design, I fell back on my trusty walking foot but didn't want just to quilt in the ditch; partly because my intersections aren't all perfect, not by a long shot, and partly because the intersections are rather bulky, despite my best efforts with the steam iron pressing in different directions and opening some seams.

There are so many points in a block like this which is made up of only half square triangles, and to partner regular quilting cotton with a heavy fabric like linen adds to the challenge.

If I were to make this quilt again, I might try pressing all of my seams open including the diagonal seams of the HST's, though the advantages of nesting seams together still has great appeal.

Anyway, the quilting plan worked well and I think gives quite an interesting texture, showing up very clearly on the back, and pretty well on the front too. I only had to worry about keeping in the ditch on one out of every four diagonal lines of quilting. The other lines I marked in with a Hera marker to keep me straight (ish). It always takes longer than I expect to quilt a big quilt, but it is so satisfying seeing how each line added builds towards completion.

Finally the binding: some of you are going to hate me, I know. I didn't have yardage of any Alison Glass fabrics used in the quilt. I knew I wanted a grey so as not to detract from the stars but not the linen as I felt it would be too thick and insufficient contrast.

I did however have a lovely half metre of an Alison Glass floral - isn't it lovely?  The right colours too.

I really liked the random effect of little bits of colour which I got when I rolled up an edge to mimic a binding... But could I sacrifice the lovely floral design? I wrestled with my conscience for some time as you can imagine, but I am really pleased with the result.

So that's about all I can say about this quilt.  It is my biggest finish for quite a while and I have to say yet again that it is having this blog which made me get on and finish.  So thank you for visiting and letting me ramble on and record my progress.  The internet is full of such inspiration and encouragement; I love seeing other people's work and like to share my own.  On with the next!