Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Scrap happy Spring fling

It actually felt like Spring today, after endless grey, cold days.  It was good to see the sunshine and hear the birds singing again.

A friend gave me these daffodils a week ago when they were just two inches high and there was no sign of any flower buds.  They have rocketed up these past few days and burst into flower yesterday: perfect timing as my friend came round with her lovely daughter to pick out fabrics for a wedding quilt.  More of that in future posts - the wedding's not till August so I am not panicking just yet...

So what have I achieved since I last posted?  Not a massive amount as I am trying to finish quilting a baby quilt for a magazine, and it's somewhat overdue.  But to limber up for quilting I did a bit of my favourite string piecing.

Some of the scraps go back nearly twenty years, and I love how unpromising rags turn into the riches of string blocks, all neatly trimmed and stacked ready for assembling into a quilt top.

I won't be progressing to joining up the blocks for a while: this is a true work in progress.  I like to make the blocks when I feel the need for some mindless piecing, then I pack them away till I have had enough piecing sessions and am ready to complete the quilt.  When that time comes I will show you the last few stages.
This will be my third 'free' string quilt of this type : here is a photo of the second.

Despite all my efforts over the weekend, the bag of scraps seems just as full.  In fact, the scraps have expanded now that air has got in and I need two bags for the leftovers - sounds like there should be a parable in there but I'm not quite sure how to frame it!

Small 'Christmas in February' finish in amongst all the WIP's.

I made a couple of fabric baskets (mentioned in my last post) to the correct size, using 2" squares of leftover Christmas fabric.  These are a much cuter size (refer to Ayumi's tutorial for more details), and were so quick to make.  I could easily become addicted to making them to co-ordinate with every big quilt project!

 Linking to Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday.  Back to the machine quilting...

Friday, 6 February 2015

Salt Air fabric basket

For ages I have wanted to make a fabric basket using the tutorial by Ayumi Mills on her Pink Penguin blog.  Having just realised how quick it is to make a little project rather than a whole quilt, even a crib size one, I jumped right in.

I had some squares left over from this little quilt which I made a while ago using a pattern from Another Bite of Schnibbles by Carrie Nelson.

It was fun to make and if you have never tried stitching partial seams, don't be afraid; they are not hard to do and you get the really cool effect of the pieces evenly balanced around the centre square.  This looks especially good if all four pieces are different fabrics.

The line is Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket, and two charm packs plus a metre or so of the linen and lining fabric were enough to make the quilt and the basket.

I love the way the fabrics remind me of beach huts and summer days: the rings make me think of lifebelts, though I also refer to this as my doughnut quilt!

Amazingly enough, I had exactly the right number and shades of buttons in my button box.  I didn't need to hide my seam intersections as the pattern went together really neatly - so nice when that happens.  I just felt an extra pop of colour was called for in a fun little quilt.

So back to the main object of this post and this week's finish:

I found I had enough 2 1/4"squares left from the quilt border and these were already stitched together in rows, so rather than unpick and trim down to 2" as per Ayumi's pattern, I made the basket a little larger.

I had just enough of the linen-look fabric and the lining (which was the quilt backing fabric) too.  So it was definitely meant to be.

I think I made the handles a little long, trying to rescale the pattern, so I will make the next one exactly as per Ayumi's design.  Mine is a bit more of a bucket than a basket, but maybe that's in keeping with the seaside theme? 

Linking to Finish it up Friday with Crazy Mom Quilts.
Happy weekend!

Wednesday, 4 February 2015

Taupe WIP's - update

How useless am I?   I thought it might be a mistake, committing to something in my last blogpost (the FMQ challenge I set myself for February).  Sure enough, I have not even managed one day so far - too much family stuff going on which takes priority.  Maybe I'll defer the challenge until March...

So all I can show you is a very small amount of progress on my Quartet BOM: I have managed to stitch two of the blocks together and press them - no mean feat as the seam allowances are many and fiddly.  Remember the individual blocks measure only 2 3/8" unfinished - the big block made up of 49 tiny blocks is 13 1/2" square.

I pinwheeled my seam allowances on the hourglass blocks to help with the bulk of the seam allowances, especially in the centre of the block, and I pressed the long joining seams open.

I thought I was going to hate removing the foundation papers from the Square-in-Square blocks but in the end I became obsessed and couldn't stop!

Maria of Pinwheels kindly supplied tweezers with one of the monthly postings - I didn't use these to start with but soon found my fingertips getting sore: the tweezers were brilliant, I can definitely recommend them if you have papers to remove as they get a grip on even the tiniest torn pieces caught in the stitching.

I forgot to leave the papers in the blocks around the edge, to stabilise them till we get around to the sashing, but it can't be helped - I'll know for the next time.  It's how we learn, isn't it; doing things wrong, not reading the instructions, etc etc.?

I have also managed a bit of hand stitching on my EPP lozenges and triangles.  It probably doesn't look to you all that different from last time but I am getting there; most of the lozenges are stitched together now and I have even removed some of the papers.  As the piece has become larger it is getting too stiff to work with comfortably..

I have just a few more whole and half lozenges to make to square off the bottom of the piece, so I have started thinking about borders and backing.  In the spirit of the piece I want to use what I've got in the stash, so I am thinking of the brown for the backing and the blue/grey for a border.  I only have a metre of the brown so the whole thing cannot not end up more than 40" square.

Final taupe treat - I cut out the fabric for these four bags well before Christmas and have done nothing to progress till this week.  As usual with my procrastinated projects, I am always ashamed when I do pick them up again, just how quick and easy they are to finish off...  Anyway, three are completed, the fourth needs a better grey/brown thread so I can hand stitch the zip invisibly.

I do love metal zips with the ball and chain ends, and I like this pattern (bought from Pinwheels at a show a few years ago), even if the zip does need to be handstitched in place last.
There are lots of great looking purses/pouches out there in blogland so I am hoping maybe to tackle some more small projects this year.  They don't use up much fabric but they do get finished rather quicker, in theory at least...

It is a taupe time of year here in England: everything in the landscape is in shades of grey-brown, and sprinkled with snow earlier this week.  Not much here in the south thankfully, as too much happening to want to have to cope with tricky travelling conditions.  It is jolly cold though,I have just been outside to try and get photos without flash, and my hands are protesting.

Do you know the dictionary definition of taupe?  It's a funny word and I've never thought to look it up until now: it means 'Grey colour with brownish or other tinge' (Concise OED) and comes from the French word for a mole (the mammal, not the skin blemish!)  Makes perfect sense but I would never have guessed - would you?

Hope you are able to keep warm this week (unless you are in the southern hemisphere and would rather keep cool!) and that your WIP's progress to your satisfaction.

I am linking to Lee's WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.