Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Stop Press!!

I had given up on my idea of entering Texting While Sewing as I have had so many other deadlines to meet for class samples etc.
But August would seem to be finishing later than what was in my head - anybody understand that??
And, today I found myself allocating some time to make a final push on my texty block, and I finished 
- woo hoo.

 I designed my block with the idea of it being the front page of a newspaper.
I didn't have much text fabric to give me a variety so bought a couple of fat 1/4s. It was a challenge fitting the letters into a 12 1/2" block but I did it using my EQ6 software and then foundation pieced the skinny letters. I was able to use some of my saved selvedges in this bit. (see ladies, I haven't gone off my head completely)
                             I foundation pieced a nice wee block to add to the visual interest.

   And as I was running late I tried a little stamping - I am so rubbish at this.
The background to the lettering was very white and when finished it stuck out like a sore thumb, so I dabbed a damp teabag over it, worked fine I think. I can't stop thinking of the daft joke - what's black and white and read all over?

Monday, 27 August 2012

BQS3 - All Done

Well here we are, approaching our posting deadline for the Brit Quilt Swap 3 Mini quilt. I already knew a bit about my secret partner and came up with an idea inspired by a holiday photo of a leaf - a big leaf.
I planned to make it in 3 separate panels but as it evolved, I wanted to join the three sections

The centre panel was a shot cotton, plaited straight onto some flat wadding. If you have never plaited strips of fabric before, I have a tutorial here. You can make strippy quilts from plaited strips, or borders or blocks. A good way of using up Jelly Roll scraps.
I added some hand stitches using just one strand of embroidery floss. I did start by using some sashiko thread but it looked too heavy.

The side panels were also stitched and flipped right onto the wadding. My first attempts had all the strips at jaunty angles and it really offended the eyes so I spent an hour or two with the quick unpick before starting afresh and going a bit straighter.

I machine stitched these panels in orange thread in vertical unevenly spaced lines. The fabrics I chose were mainly batiks, a little Aboriginal etc, and 90% of those taking part probably knew it wasn't destined for them.
Batik fabric isn't my favourite, but I don't hate it and find the online community reaction to it quite interesting.
I joined the panels together following the QAYG method of using two narrow strips of fabric per join. 
The Quilting Edge has great info on this technique.
When it was time to bind a friend suggested the frameless look that we had seen at an exhibition of Effie Galletly's work, a couple of years ago.
I used a single fold binding, I think I cut it to 2" - applied it n the normal way, all of the binding is folded to the back, a bit like rimless spectacles!
I bound the top and bottom normally, added a hanging sleeve and label.

Extras are ready, just needs wrapping and posting - and then the anxious wait to see if my partner likes it!!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

Totally Tropical

No, not really, it's just that we have had the most incredible rain this week, the kind you only see in foreign parts....torrential downpours but warm temperatures, wish it would stop.
We are having a patio laid - so far it has stretched from "it'll only take 3 days", to week four starting tomorrow.......I am not sending out the BBQ invites yet........

My week was pretty good though, despite the elements.
The postie brought me this -
My number came up on Krista's giveaway over at Quiet Play. It's a fun selection of fabrics, including cute birds, and...deer! I am becoming strangely addicted to charm packs and must start to make things from them.
Although I have had ages off this summer, I finished making this bag 2hrs before my Wednesday evening class - it was "commissioned" by one of the students.It's a great tote for carrying a mat and rulers to class and I managed to take its photo between showers.

My three Topsy classes started this week and it was just so great to see all the shiny, happy faces coming in to class. I think there is going to be a good spread in the choices of central block for the Topsy quilt and one of the things I absolutely love about class is the way little snippets of conversation can result in new designs and variations on a theme. This is what came from such chatting..
If you look at it and imagine it without the squared off corners, and with the long edges even, doesn't it make a super table runner?

Today, I had my first of the ABC 2012 workshops - these workshops are all about making a quilt of any size using QAYG techniques and this year I have opted for a Strippy Quilt with panels joined using narrow strips.
Today was all about cutting and joining strips into panels. The ladies all got great practice at cutting with confidence and how to deal with things when it doesn't always go to plan!! Sometimes it's good to remember that we are doing patchwork. The next workshop in this series is in October and we'l be concentrating on layering and quilting.
Here are some pics of the ladies hard at work..

I am sewing along, or just in front of this class and my quilt will be for my son. As soon as I saw Velo City by Jessica Hogarth, I knew if was just what I wanted. Strippies are really all about the fabric and I think this selection hits the spot - there are other funky prints in this line but my son is a wee bit conservative and I wasn't sure he'd appreciate multi coloured pigeons...........

Isn't it yummy, I had to seriously stroke this fabric before cutting................
I had hoped to take part in the TextingWhile Sewing competition that is running at the moment. I designed my block, bought the fabric and half pieced it, but, time has run out on me and something had to give.
I have, however, totally finished my BQS3 Mini and will have it ready for posting later this week. Just haven't taken its final picture so will have to keep you in suspense on that one.
It's round about now in a swap when it dawns on me that I too will receive something. Exciting.......

Tuesday, 21 August 2012

Zakka - Week 21

This has been such a fun sew-a-long but  is sadly nearing the end.
This week's project is a sweet little picture frame, designed by Ayumi of Pink Penguin fame. I really love reading Ayumi's blog and admire her work, so decided I would have a go at making the frame.
It called for very thin chipboard that I reckon must be something else in the UK, not sure our chipboard is available in such thin sheets.
So, I used a thinnish, corrugated cardboard. I chose a selection of pink scraps for the patchwork.
Once the cardboard pieces were cut to size, and the patchwork made, it all came together reasonably fast.
Once finished, I wasn't convinced I'd do it again, but a friend called in today and thought it would make a lovely companion gift with a baby quilt, and of course, she's right, you could use up scraps from the quilt and have a co-ordinating set.
Just after that, I showed it to my daughter and was surprised at how much she liked it, so much so, she immediately claimed it for Ava's room!! Result.
I did actually intend stamping on the bottom of the frame (with ink, not my feet), but it has left the building rather quicker than I imagined...........
Vintage photograph will be replaced with something a little more up to date.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Busy Times

Too busy to blog? Surely not..........

It has indeed been a busy week - following my last post, I finished Topsy and here she is in her glory, managed to catch a little late sunshine for the photo shoot.

My week started off rather brilliantly with a surprise package from Australia. Prior to my holiday there this summer, Helen introduced me online to Salley, from Sydney. We made arrangements to meet up at the Sydney quilt show, but due to "technical difficulties" our meeting did not come to pass. I was disappointed and annoyed with myself for missing the opportunity. Salley must have read of my fruitless search for Aboriginal fabrics - see what she sent me -
Such a kind thing to do, thanks again Salley.

It was Zakka week 20 this week and the project was a child's pillowcase with pocket and teddy. I have looked forward to this one as I think little ones would just love their own special ted in a pocket beside them at night. But it's a little bit early for my little'un to have a pillow so I decided to make one for my little nephew - I recently made hi a quick Sesame Street quilt and had a tiny amount of scrap left. 
The size of the pillowcase worried me a bit as it seemed very small so I checked out toddler pillows available at John Lewis and adapted my pillow measurements. Tie was not on my side this week so I dispensed with patchwork diamonds and opted for a quick nine-pact pocket. My very last strip of fabric replaced the piping and the teddy became a sort of Elmo - I used the teddy pattern but traced it with arms included rather than separately and missed out the ears. I am quite happy with the outcome and will make this again, in the future.....

My classes started last week too. On Wednesday evening and Thursday morning, my "Home is Where the Heart is " classes began - I think this is going to develop into a fun and interesting course. All the students have chosen a place that is close to their hearts, and we are going to explore the different elements of design before embarking upon a quilted piece of work, very exciting stuff.
On Thursday afternoon, it was the turn of my new beginners - these ladies are all starting out their quilting journey and by Easter, will have made their first quilt. I love watching them develop their skills and enjoy watching their excitement grow with their quilts.
This next week, I have three more classes all starting my Topsy quilt project and the finished quilt, above, is my new class sample. There is a choice of central blocks available and I have made this cushion as a sample.

I used up my 1001 Peeps scraps for this and have decided to do a few different ones linked by these fabrics -

I also manged to put the finishing touches to my BQS3 swap mini - I don't seem to have taken its photo though so will leave that for another day.
My week finished off with a couple of hours of peaceful sewing today, in the company of Janet,  Katy  & Nikki at our meeting of the West of Scotland Modern Quilters' Guild. We could do with a few more members so if anyone is within cooee of Glasgow for get togethers, why don't you contact Katy for more info.

Friday, 10 August 2012

Quilt as Desired

We've all seen those words at the end of a pattern, and you feel a bit dumped don't you?
I have been quilting the last couple of days and thought some of you might like an insight into my thought processes.............first of all, after 14yrs at this game, I still prefer the patchwork to the quilting - shocker.
I don't think this is unusual, just look at the rise in long arm quilting services and think of the UFOs in your cupboards.
I love to finish a quilt top, it feels good. Usually I'll throw it over a sofa for a week or so before forcing myself into the quilting. My current project is a class sample and my classes start next week, so I have a deadline, that's good.
Last week I did my most unfavourite bit - layering up and pinning, hate all that crawling about the floor. I use masking tape to secure the backing to the floor, all nice & taut. Then the same for the wadding and then smooth down the top. I pin from the centre out, can't over pin, I have a lot of pins. I don't baste any more, I did for many years and I use Hobbs 80/20, it's my absolute favourite wadding
I need to get myself in the right frame of mind to quilt, I earmarked yesterday to start. I have to clear my workspace, nothing worse than knocking a box of pins onto the floor when you are heaving your quilt about.
I clean out the hook race on my machine, yesterday I removed a very satisfying ball of fluff. I changed my needle - I always use Schmetz denim, size 12 for piecing and quilting. They have a long shaft that pierces fabric and wadding well. I make sure I have a cushion on my chair to keep me a little higher than the machine - this helps relieve strain on your shoulders.
I chose my thread, a nice deep, creamy Aurifil and filled a couple of bobbins. Radio on, no more prevarication, I'd better start quilting.Oh, and I put these on - my Machingers. Word of warning - should the doorbell ring whilst you are wearing these gloves, remove them before answering, just saying...............
If my quilt is made up of blocks I will tell myself I only need to do 3 or 4 blocks in a session, and will work out how long it should take to complete the quilting. Then I often get carried away and exceed my own expectations, more feel good stuff.
This quilt however, is a medallion style and then there is my deadline, so asap was my goal.
I never mark out quilt patterns in advance, I often (tongue in cheek), tell my students to let their quilts speak to them. For me, this translates into, making it up as I go along, but yes, I am often influenced by a block design or the fabric pattern.
The centre of this quilt is a 20" NY Beauty and I didn't want to spoil it's shape. Oh, and a word about my actual stitch. I normally choose 3.5 or even 4 stitch length and I have a favourite stitch that I select on my Husquvarna Lily , not always, but very often I opt for an S shaped stitch, it is meant to be a quilting stitch. The brilliant thing about my machine is that for this and other decorative options, I am able to opt for a longer stitch length. In many other makes of machine such stitches have pre-set default lengths. So for this quilt I set my S to 4 length and just 2 for width, which will produce a shallow curve. I love using this because it is very forgiving and looks good too.
See the gentle curves...........
Even if this hadn't been a medallion style quilt, I always, always start quilting in the centre of a quilt, helps to avoid puckering.
 Centre done, not too shabby on the back.
 Once I completed the centre, I took a look at the narrow green border.The print on it was very regularly spaced so I did this - a bit like not stepping on the cracks on the pavements.
 With that border done, it was definitely time for coffee while I considered my approach to the teal border. The print has lots of swirls on it, and I momentarily considered fmq (free machine quilting) swirls but quickly abandoned that notion. What I often do instead is my cheat's version of fmq. Still using my gently curving stitch, I move my quilt about so the needle isn't going straight. "They" say when planting a garden you should do it in 3s or 5s and I apply this to these rows of quilting. For this border I did 3 rows, crossing over each other in a random manner.

I was now down to my last two outer borders, one 6" and the other, 9", both all over florals. Hmm, what to do?
A wee spot of lunch helped me to focus and I thought I might quilt both borders, as one, in a similar pattern to that in the central section. I would need to measure and mark. This is my favourite marking tool - soap ends. Use soap till it gets thin, dry and store.
It's very effective on darker fabrics, doesn't harm your quilt, and as a bonus, it smells good. Remove the marks later by holding a steam iron above and giving it a shot of steam.
I divided the quilting area into 3" sections and marked the jaggy lines I wanted to follow - again, using the gently curving stitch, the marked lines are a guide and not the end of the world if you wobble a bit. I completed one side before calling it a day.........but so far, so good.

Today, I managed to avoid  I had a few things to do before I could return to my quilt. Because I only use pins to baste, I can re-adjust as I move to the outer edges, smoothing as I go.The measuring and marking was a bit of a chore but I soldiered on - I had four 6" corner blocks to deal with and I popped in a"Sheila's Star" in each of them, I tend to slip this into every quilt.
And then it was just the outer corners to do - I just copied what I had done to the NY Beauty in the middle....I was on a roll and nothing was going to stop me. My OH obviously could tell that dinner was not on my mind so came up trumps and went to the chippie - result!!
and the back view,

What a good feeling to have this done.I am really pleased with how it looks, I think the quilting suits the quilt design and I love when a quilt top becomes a quilt, it's like a whole different thing altogether. I should add that this is the first quilt I have made without pre-washing the fabric, reckless devil that I am. Just the binding to prep and sew on and I'll come back and show you the finish. I apologise for such a lengthy post but thought it might be helpful to some of you out there.

Thursday, 9 August 2012


Has anyone noticed the latest additions to English verbs since the start of the olympics?

to medal.............not to interfere, but to win gold, silver or bronze!
to podium...sounds painful, but it is the desire to get on the podium to receive said medals so I guess you couldn't podium unless you have medalled.

I am adding in a less strenuous verb,........ to zakka.
Yes, in addition to my usual weekly Zakka project, I needed a couple of gifts this week, so I Zakka'd a few of these -
I am also progressing with my Brit Quilt Swap 3 project for my secret partner. I am ready to bind now.
I originally intended my piece to be a triptych (posh eh?) and made 3 separate panels.
My inspiration was a huge palm leaf that I saw on holiday.
I thought I would bind them separately and then join with the top binding strip. My plan now is to join the 3 sections QAYG style with strips, and then possibly invisibly bind the outer edges. It is a technique I saw once at an exhibition, I'll see if I can pull it off.
All the panels were stitched directly on to wadding. The outer panels have additional machine quilting and I have then added some hand stitching with one strand of embroidery floss to the centre panel. I did try first with some sashiko thread that I had but it was too heavy a look, so I unpicked........think I should win gold for unpicking.


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