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!

Friday, 30 October 2015

Friday finish and WIP roundup

Hi all, time for a roundup of a few projects I have been working on in parallel, but first I do have a small finish I have been meaning to post.

Here is the spool pincushion I made from the paper foundation supplied by Faith of Fresh Lemons Quilts.  I blogged about  it here, having pieced the block.  

As usual it then took a while to get around to making up the pincushion, but I am pleased with the result.  Quite deep so I can jam in my long pins without pricking my fingers when I pick up the pin cushion later.  Walnut shells for stuffing, nice and crunchy, and I also used lightweight iron-on interfacing to give more body to the side and bottom fabrics for durability as the shells make quite a heavy pincushion.

As well as the original spool design, Faith is running a short series of other paper pieced spool blocks: the second has just been posted here.  Do go and have a look.

OK, what else has been going on here.  Well, I have another finish to share but it has been raining this week and I haven't got out to do any decent photos.  Forecast better for this weekend so I will try and post about it very soon.

In the meantime, I have been laying out my Interwoven Strips on the living room floor in a variety of ways - apologies for the poor indoor photo.  As usual I find that it is laying out the blocks that takes the most time when making a quilt.  A design wall would help but I still would be slow, I think.

This is a random, scrappy layout but I think I am going to rearrange the blocks so as to keep the colours running across the whole width of the quilt top like ribbons.  That's the plan as of this moment anyway.  I will keep you posted.

And here are some fun pinwheels, prep for a class I will be teaching shortly.  These have been ongoing for a while but I have now got the top together - no photo though.  Made from a charm pack ( April Rosenthal for Moda), I love the rainbow of colour.

That's all for now.  Hope you have a great weekend, with time for some sewing along the way.
Linking with Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

WIP Wednesday: a little progress

Various things in progress the past week or so.  Time has been a bit squeezed but I did manage to layer and start quilting the Lucky Penny quilt last blogged about here.  Mercy dash to Brett the sewing machine man as the tension had got completely out of synch and the machine was about due for a service.  Back to sweet sewing again: joy!

I also started something else, so bad of me but I couldn't resist. Isn't there something delicious about a stack of neatly cut fabric pieces waiting to be stitched?  I seem to need something small to work on as a contrast when I need a break from hauling a big quilt through the machine.

More soon.  Linking today to Freshly Pieced: WIP Wednesday.

Friday, 9 October 2015

No Friday Finish

Alas, no Friday finish to link up this week, partly because my husband has taken my little camera on a work trip, so I only have these WIP pics from earlier in the week to share.

I was inspired to make this mini spool block having seen the pincushion on Faith's blog (Fresh Lemons Quilts) a few weeks ago.  Faith kindly supplied a foundation piecing (paper piecing) pattern for the block which comes out at 4 1/2" unfinished.  I am making mine into a pincushion too, so tune in next week for a finish...  

And I have been working on these Interwoven Strips blocks: having madly chain pieced I now have 49 ten-inch blocks, enough for a generous sized quilt BUT when giving the blocks a good press I noticed that some of the interweaving was a bit off.

Usually it was only one part of the block that didn't line up, often because of a slightly inconsistent seam allowance.  And although we're only talking an eighth of an inch it was just too noticeable to ignore, especially with the high contrast between the strips and the plain background.

What would you have done?  I am not usually madly fussy about small inaccuracies in my piecing.  I like to think they add homely charm....  But sometimes it does bother me, and I reckoned that this was one of those times when it really would be worth putting things right before going any further.

So my seam ripper and I spent an afternoon unpicking the offending sections and re-stitching.  It didn't take all that long and I felt so virtuous afterwards.  I hope to get the top together for your inspection by the end of next week.

Enjoy your weekend, whether you are sewing, or unsewing...

Friday, 2 October 2015

Friday finish: Indigo shopper

Did I say the Interwoven Strips were addictive?  I have made 39 more blocks since Tuesday, when I should have been doing 101 other things...

Anyway I do also have a finish to share: a bag I mostly made last weekend but finished today.  It is for a special friend whose birthday was a week ago (only a week late then).  I used the two-way shopper pattern which I bought from The Bramble Patch when I was at NEC in August.  I pulled Japanese indigo fabric from my stash and lined it with a print from Janet Clare's latest line which I think is called Nocturne.

The bag is a simple tote but it does have inner pockets and a magnetic snap /tab closure which gives the bag a more interesting shape.  Here is an inside out picture to show the inner pocket strip.

I really want to make more bags - Anna Graham's Noodlehead patterns look wonderful - but it is always the bother of getting hold of lots of different supplies, and cutting odd shaped and sized pieces which puts me off with bags.  However this was a fairly straightforward pattern and clearly explained so I think I shall make it again.

My theory is that it always takes a long time to make a pattern the first time but that the making should speed up once you know what you are doing - like trying a new recipe; once you have made it a few times (and like it) you may hardly have to refer to the cookbook, but that first time it can be quite challenging.

Anyway I shall be looking in my stash for more bag-suitable materials to make one of these shoppers for myself, and posting this one off to my friend tomorrow.  Linking today to Crazy Mom Quilts.

Have a fun weekend and if you are in the UK, enjoy the last blast of sunshine before autumn truly sets in.