Friday, 6 February 2015

Recent Makings

While I'm not getting on very well with my first quarter finishes...!
 I have managed to make a few things for gifts for January and February birthdays amongst friends and family:

Firstly  a bag and zippy pouch for my dear friend Liz who was celebrating a special birthday.
When we lived in Adelaide I used to get together weekly with Liz  to sew (ostensibly at least) and I miss her so much. We speak regularly but there's nothing like being present with someone. So while I was making these she was especially in my mind.

I used the Runaround Bag pattern from Anna of Noodlehead. For the outside of the bag I used a black needlecord, which is hard to photograph!)

I added a magnetic snap to contain the knitting or whatever and decided on both a zipped internal pocket and a divided slip pocket to keep necessary items handy and secure.

The lining is from Carolyn Friedlander's  Botanics collection.

There are a couple of things that were tricky with this. One is finding which interfacing to use. Here in NZ I haven't been able to find the Pellon SF101 interfacing specified in the pattern and have struggled even to find what is equivalent. I wonder whether the one I opted for was too stiff. Any info from Antipodean or non-US readers about this would be gratefully received. If I made this bag again I'd fuse the interfacing to the lining instead of the outer fabric, which might make the bag feel a little softer while retaining its structure.

The other thing, which I'll say a bit more about in a minute is that the piece I had for the lining wasn't quite the dimensions specified so I had to piece it. I've realised often my projects take a bit longer than they should because I have to fiddle about like this so I've made a new resolution about the way I buy fabric...

The zippy pouch is a little extra because Liz had mentioned how much she loved this soft floral lawn I was cutting up from one of my husband's shirts which had gone at the collar and cuffs to use in the shirt quilt.

I cobbled together a few different approaches to this, gained from various tutorials and adapted to the size and shape I wanted. I always think this afterwards and I still don't do it, but I really should have made notes on what I did. I always think I'll remember and then I spend ages trying to figure it out all over again...

Next up was some hot pads/potholders for my sister.

Both Liz and my sister are among those poor unfortunates whose birthdays fall in the early January post Christmas hole, when people are just recovering from thinking of gifts and probably away on holiday too, so I often am late recognising my sister's birthday and often mired in good intentions which don't get realised!  To be on time I really would need to think of and send the gift before Christmas. So although I was late again, I enjoyed making these using some of the fabric I used in some mats I made for her another year. In fact this (grey floral) fabric was originally from Liz. Isn't the story of where fabric comes from part of its joy? I think the reddy orange is Kona Flame.

For the back I used a couple of different black text prints

I just made log cabin blocks and cut and reassembled them. Finished with a black binding and loop made using an idea by Mary and Patch who is a Swiss quilter and fabric artist whose work you should check out if you don't already know it. 

My final make this last month is for my mother-in-law's birthday. She is unfortunately quite sick and I thought she might make use of some fresh cheery pillowcases, which I hope are her colours. I used a Jay McCarroll Habitat print which I paired with an aqua shot cotton

It's easy enough to figure out how to make a pillowcase which has to be one of the most simple shapes to sew; but I used this tutorial (from a lovely little Adelaide based store called The Drapery) because everything's measured and set out, why re-invent the wheel?  I wanted to do French seams to make the insides really neat. that's really easy, but it took longer than it should have because I made a couple of silly mistakes. Old habits of right sides together die hard and I folded the tuck in part the wrong way so had to tediously unpick.

Anyway I'm satisfied in the end and I hope my mum-in-law likes them.

When I'm planning projects other than quilts and choosing fabric, I am inspired by what I have in my stash, but often I find I'm limited by not having enough of the one I choose. These things are relative I know, but I don't really keep an enormous stash. There's a tipping point between having enough on hand for the current inspiration and buying lots of fabric without a particular aim in mind. So I have decided that sometimes, instead of buying a fat quarter or even a half yard, which I've often found is not enough, I'll buy a bigger piece which will give me more flexibility in my making. Perhaps instead of buying a whole collection  of fat quarters which I've only ever done once with Carloyn Friedlander's Botanics and Architextures anyway,  I'll choose only the prints I love the most and get bigger pieces. I'll just need to allow myself to use them and cut into them rather than save them, which can be a barrier for me. 

It'd be great to hear how others approach this. 

It's so nice to have favourite fabrics on hand when I want to make something like a bag or pillowcases, which can't just be constructed from small pieces. Tough decisions, like buying more fabric, just have to be made sometimes!

Friday, 16 January 2015

Late to 2015

A Belated Happy New Year to You Dear Reader

While some of you winter away, we are just back from two glorious weeks camping here in NZ

It was our first camping trip where we stayed put for more than 3 nights.

Blissful kayaking, walking, running, reading, sunning, swimming, playing, chatting, eating and no electricity or even phone coverage. Wondrous...even though that puts me quite behind back in "normal" life!

The area near here is called Golden Bay for obvious reasons.

Hard to believe this bay hides 850 people in 23 camping bays

 and now I'm rushing to join the Finish Along for the first time, in the hope that it will increase my accountability to some unfinished projects...??

I'll list a few but that said I'm not being too ambitious this quarter since we have a few lovely celebrations in the pipeline: my parents are  celebrating their Golden Wedding and we are hosting our eldest's 21st for which we've (perhaps over keenly) decided to build a wood-fired oven and having a few visitors before and after that on top of normal working life.

For Do Good Stitches Cherish bee I  have to finish :

The September Reflections Quilt

The January String Quilt (this is optimistic since I may not even have all the blocks in time)

Then there's The Shirt Quilt
Which (already?!) has another section since this photo.

And finally (except there are a few other WiPs not on this quarter's list) our son's 21st quilt. Which is at the stage of a fabric pull and an idea and trial snippets stuck on a piece of paper. I'd show you except this computer's on a super go slow and so I'll save it til next time.

That'll do to start with...Truly if I finish all those it will be completely miraculous!

Saturday, 8 November 2014

Bits and Pieces

I'm just finishing off a few odds and ends for Do. Good Stitches Bee:


My sewing time was eroded yesterday by three trips to the sewing machine shop. The feed dogs wouldn't go back up having been dropped for the free motion quilting. Anyway I've had very little trouble from my machine in the last nearly 30 years so I guess I can't complain.
So there was a short delay before getting the binding made.

I began hand sewing while movie watching last night. 

But I'll need to watch another...! I'm not very speedy!

Here are my untrimmed blocks for November. Kathryn requested red crosses on a low volume background. I'm quite fond of these. They'd make a great baby quilt. I'll file that idea away for a future gift.

Next up a backing for the shirt quilt. The top is done and I really like it.

I have so many things I want to make at the moment, hope I can hold onto the ideas for when the time is available...?

Linking up with Freshly Pieced today. 

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Bloggers Quilt Festival

The time has come around again for this fantastic festival.
It is always so inspiring to see all the amazing quilts people make.

Welcome if you're visiting from the festival- hope you enjoy having a look around.

My entry is a quilt I have just finished for a friend's 50th birthday.  

Nigel, if you're reading this and you want any element of surprise, discipline yourself to look away now!

The decision process on what to make was quite protracted, then it took even longer to make it; mainly because I was slow and we were in different countries. Throw in an international move and time goes by so fast so now I'm nearly a year late! Making quilts for friends and family can be quite difficult because of differing tastes, but we had a lot of agreement on this one.

We pinned inspiration photos on a shared Pinterest board and had thought we'd come up with a plan; but then I just didn't feel inspired about our first decision which involved loads of narrow stripes, which would have looked look amazing but been quite tedious to do.  The colour palette emerged quite early: an ochre theme being common to many of the things Nigel pinned. I also decided that using shot cotton would give it the colour depth I was after. 

In the end we were inspired by this. I think it is by Tommy Fitzsimmons of Tommy's Art Quilts  so I would like to acknowledge her amazing work, very much more subtle and complex than mine.

The size of this is 47 x 68.5" so it just squeaks into the Small Quilt category. But I've decided to enter it into the Modern Quilts category.

 I wanted to make it quite improvisationally, so I cut panels in the approximate dimensions and experimented with the arrangement on my design wall. 

I wanted to have gently wavy insertions and a general sense of wiggliness, so I stacked the fabrics right sides up and cut improvisational curves with the rotary cutter.

And then just built and inserted until I was happy.

I hadn't done this kind of curved piecing before but it went OK. Long gentle curves are much easier than small Drunkards Path blocks!

I quilted it using a variegated cotton thread, in long organic wavy lines to echo and accentuate the piecing.

I backed it using good old Ikea Nummer which I bought a bolt of before we moved to an Ikea-less country!

It makes such a versatile backing and here I highlighted the relevant number with a wavy frame of the different shot cottons.

For the binding I used left over strips of the various fabrics in the quilt.

After  trialling many different methods for attaching the binding over the years I have come back to my favourite: narrow doubled binding, machine stitched onto the front and hand sewn down onto the back.

I was bit nervous about washing it as I hadn't prewashed the fabrics, but I put in a colour catcher and all was well!

Hopefully it's the perfect size for a bit of coziness when reading or to drape over a chair

Isn't it funny how a quilt never looks finished until it's been bound and washed to find all its lovely crinkliness!

Now I'm off to look at all your entries in the festival...

Friday, 3 October 2014

Getting Shirty

Edited to add that just now I've noticed my header image has disappeared??!! It's there in my template but not when navigating here from a browser?  If anyone has had this problem or knows how to resolve it, please help!!
Meanwhile-back to business...

I always have trouble keeping two projects at different stages. I seem to end up with lots of quilting to do all at once and if I'm not careful it's going to happen again.

I've been making good progress on the shirt quilt. I've made the right hand panel

And sewn it to the left hand panel

I left a few labels on here and there

I played with the idea of including button and sleeve plackets, but it looked too punctuated and I thought it might not be comfortable (or easy to quilt)...

I'm not generally a prewasher of fabric- it's just another couple of steps to hold up the starting process (though I have often thought that I should wash new fabric for toxic dye lingering and shrinkage reasons?). These shirts have obviously been washed and washed and washed but the batting will shrink. Does anyone prewash their batting? Should I?

I'm pressing on with the top panel. I think this quilt will end up double bed size.

But now so I don't end up with a quilt queue, I've determinedly unthreaded the piecing thread from my machine, even before finishing this top panel and starting on the bottom panel and I've done the first few lines of quilting on the birthday quilt. I was happy to find a toning variegated thread.

My plan is to quilt fairly close straightish wigglyish lines, say two or three in between these, with perhaps a bit of cross hatching on the crosswise piecing.

It's spring school holidays here and daylight saving has begun so we've been making the most of some lovely days to have a pizza dinner in the Botanical Gardens in the late afternoon sun and go to the beach.


It's back to 10 degrees again today though; time for some more quilting!

Linking up for the first time in ages with Lee at Freshly Pieced
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