Thursday, November 12, 2015

New project - a baby quilt

I've been flagging a little on the quilting front. Yes, there have been round robins and Block Lotto blocks, and a few other bits and pieces, but nothing that qualifies as a "project". This is partly due to a natural winding down on my part as I've packed away my quilting frame and an (hopefully) preparing to pack out a lot more in preparation for house renovations in the new year. Another limitation is that I am determined to use up some of the fabrics in my stash and frankly, I don't like some of them or at least I don't know what to do with them.

But creative salvation came in the form of a pregnant co-worker. I haven't known her that long, but she is sweet and has been such a great help in recent weeks. I thought a baby quilt was just the thing to get me motivated to do something small and manageable.

Ages ago I toyed with the idea of a doing a modern inspired Dresden quilt. Some of the Monday Modern girls recently attended a Modern Wedge workshop with Kathy Doughty and have been making some beautiful blocks. In my usual way, I could not just follow that pattern, so I did some online browsing and designed a block that suited my purposes.

I did a few things to make this block: I only used 12 wedges (30-degree angle) which meant less pieces to deal with and a better size wedge to feature the fabrics. Half of the wedges are in the feature fabrics and the others are cut from a strip of white with a 1" lime green insert. I put the lime green in a different position on each white strip and then cut the triangles by flip-flopping them to end up with 2 sets of white wedges from each strip. I used a similar method for my Hexa-bee quilt.

The other thing I did was add setting triangles to the corners to square up the block so that I only had to trim a bit off.

The feature fabrics are from my stash. My friend does not know the gender of her baby, so I had to pick something that would work for a boy or girl. My girl loves blue and green and I seem to have many blue/green animal prints in my drawers. Once I picked them out, the green was a natural partner and I was off and running.

I have made 6 blocks that each finish at 15-1/2". I think that 31" X 46-1/2" is not a bad size, but I wonder if a border or sashing might be needed to break things up a bit. Or maybe just a border to make it a touch bigger.

I admit that I like these blocks so much that I was tempted to keep them for myself and start something else for my friend. I know that I can always replicate this block, but I never do the same thing twice, so it seems unlikely.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Monday Modern round robin progress

We are in the process of adding the third borders to our little quilts after making the swap last Monday. I have two to work on since one of the girls has dropped out and being the organizer I felt a little guilty and decided to at least add her last border so that she could quilt it.

The second border that I did last month was a bit of a mishmash after I ran into a few design issues. I made the paper pieced diamonds first with a very dark navy background and then with a grey background. I thought one was too dark and the other too light, so I decided to balance it out and do half and half. I had to ponder the corners for quite a while and admit that it I'd planned it out, I would have just mitered the stripes in the corner. But I didn't make them long enough to do that and wasn't sure I had enough fabric to re-cut the strips.

Even with these hurdles, I liked the results and (as usual) I always enjoy a challenge.

This weekend I worked on the third border for one of the two I have. The original block was a tiny Seminole-style piece in green, orange, and mustard. I think it only measured 3" x 9". I wanted to refer back to that original piecing and added 4 patches on point in those colors with the navy thrown in. The background fabric is an odd color, but seems to go (I hope).

My original plan had 2 rows on the top and bottom, but it was too much so I removed one row - not easy when they are on point. I was determined not to re-piece the whole row so I ended up inserting the background triangles using y-seams. Tricky, but quicker once I worked out what I was doing.

I debated adding a final plain border, but it was necessary because in my re-work I had to use some HST on the edges instead of the QST I should have. With the bias on the edge it was at risk of getting really mis-shapen. This was the best option that I had enough of. The owner can reduce it down to minimize the effect, if she likes.

My last 'victim' is a fantastic piece with a huge variety of animals and colors. I already have some ideas on what I am going to do. I definitely want to make it taller and envision some reed-like vertical elements. But, I don't know if I want to add to the happy chaos or try to calm it all down. I'm leaning towards more color because the original block with the frog is so bright. We'll find out next weekend...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pink Cats finished

This quilt has been 'almost' done for a while. It took me about 5 weeks to tidy up all of the loose threads and get the binding on. Getting a good photo is always a challenge and the wind wasn't being very cooperative yesterday afternoon either.

I designed the blocks around the cat prints and took my cue from the prints to choose a selection of pinks including fuchsia, baby pink, and coral. I like the mix and particularly like the coral to prevent it from all getting too pinky-purple.

I tried to keep the quilting fairly simple and like the end result even though some of the lines are a bit wonky. I kept saying to myself that I would go back and 'fix' a few of the mishaps, but you know, life is too short for that!

I did the back-to-front binding and machine stitched it using a black and white thread and a blanket stitch. Usually I hand stitch it to the back, but sometimes I am lazy and do it by machine. I don't have strong feelings either way.

Now that this one is done, there's not much on my radar. I've convinced my mother to send me a very old UFO that she started about 35-40 years ago - I'm keen to modernize it and mix the vintage fabrics with some new ones.

Linking up with Adrienne at On The Windy Side for Q3 of the 2015 Finish-Along.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Arctic Hare finished cushion

I have (just about) finished my Arctic Hare cushion. There are a few things to tidy up like threads and some basting and one little mistake that needs fixing. I'm happy with the finished product and Toffee has given it the dog seal of approval.

I decided to try making my own piping to go around the edge. I made bias strips with a piece of old yellow fabric (c. 1988). I thought I had some cording that was specifically for piping which would have given a better result, but I made do with some cord that I've had for ages purchased for some project long forgotten. The cord worked okay, but given the size of the cushion I probably would have preferred beefier piping.

I do not have a purpose-built cording foot so I used a zipper foot. This worked fine, so I won't be rushing out to get a special foot for this job any time soon. Making the piping was pretty easy, but putting it all together was tricky, especially with all of the layers (I counted 12 layers of fabric and 3 layers of batting when crossing the overlapped backing that was bound on the edge). Both of my machines coped fine with the layers, I just think that when a 1/4 inch seam is taller than it is wide, there's a bit of slippage. In hindsight, a 1/2 inch seam would have been a good idea.

The back is made using the same grey fabric as the narrow border on the front. I did some wavy cross-hatched quilting using the walking foot just to hold the layers together and give it some texture. The overlapped edges are bound in a blue stripe that I used on the front as well. This whole project was an exercise in making-do. I did buy an inner (a bit too puffy, I think); everything else was hanging around my studio.

This is the first of my finishes for this quarter's 2015 finish-along - and a month before the deadline!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Modern round robin

We've started a round robin at Monday Modern quilters and I am organising it. I've been wanting to do one for a while, so 9 of us have joined in. After 4 years of participating in the Cotton Robin, I'm pleased to be doing one with this group. Unlike the Cotton Robin, we are sharing our work along the way - some of the girls were a bit nervous about the process and I think seeing each other's progress has helped with this.

My starting block is a red/pink and white checkerboard with two appliqued circles that I fussy cut from a Christmas fabric I had in my stash. I debated doing something a bit more avant-garde (or at least more modern), but decided that having a mix of styles would make it more interesting.

I have Melanie's starting block which she managed to put together after being overseas for the lead-up discussions. She used the cutest fabrics (my 11-year old announced "Adorable!" when she saw them). I had it hanging on the wall for a week before diving in this weekend. I was determined to use fabrics from my stash but really struggled with the green and the navy. I think I managed to find some fabrics that work without being exactly the same.

The flying geese (Melanie's go to pattern) were my inspiration. I decided to stack them up for some variety and drafted a paper pieced pattern to do this. I had to add the cute cat fabric, but am wondering if I will re-do the corner piece because I don't like the direction the cats are facing (which way is up?) and think it should be a bit larger. I may need to fussy cut that one to get it to work better but I have 3 more weeks to play with it, so who knows?

I only added to two sides which I think balances well. There will be 2 more borders added to this one, so it will be interesting to see if the asymmetry continues.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chilly rabbit

A few months ago I did a pattern test for my friend Robyn (see her blog here). It's been hanging around for a while on the design wall but is one of my candidates for this quarter's finish along.

I decided to make it a bit bigger with some snowballs and corner stars - this turned my rabbit into an arctic hare. My plan was for a pillow, but it seems to be a bit bigger than expected. At 20 inches it's still possible, but I don't think I have an inner for it. Although I have been known to make them from a few recycled cushions, I'm not feeling particularly resourceful right now.

When I finished the piecing it looked very pale. I wish I had used a background with more contrast. My solution was to use a much darker quilting thread and do some dense quilting on all of the blue bits - this has worked well and the blue has more depth now. I also used scrap of puffy polyester batting which has given the hare some dimension that I like.

There are still a lot of threads to deal with, but that's a job that I really dislike, so I'm putting it off. Whether this ends up as a pillow or just a mini quilt / wall hanging, I will add yellow binding or piping to the edges. Now it's time to attached a few other projects...

Linking up with Lee this week at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why cats don't quilt

A week or two ago I finally mounted the pink kitty quilt onto the Swiftquilter frame. I thought I'd try an experiment and use a different machine than my trusty Juki TL-98P based on a request from someone about using another machine on the frame. I know that the TL-98P is the one for the job, but it's always worth trying new things. I won't go into my experience using another machine, because I doubt many of you are interested in that.

I do know that everyone loves a good cat photo, so let's get to the cute stuff...

I have taken to using staples to attach my quilts to the leaders (fabric attached to the roller bars) rather than pins. The staples are quick and easy to use and I flip around the base plate thingy so that the staples ends go outward rather than inward - this makes them really easy to pull out - too easy, apparently.

Here's my nice tidy setup before I started quilting. Notice the nice flat surface for quilting?

I did just a little bit of the quilting as a trial and then was planning to switch machines to really get going. Before I managed to do this, Sammy decided that the quilt made the perfect hammock for a heavier-than-he-looks cat. As you can see, where there used to be a nice flat quilt, is now a ginger-colored trouble-maker.

I'm sure if I had used pins instead of staples, this would not have happened. Then again, if I had a pet iguana, this would not have happened.

I have not yet sorted out this problem and instead have made a few more blocks from my scraps. So far, so good, but finding and trimming/cutting the scraps is a little tedious. Still, it's a nice distraction to do a block every few days. They are big (14") so should progress into a quilt without needing to make too many blocks. I haven't decided the finished size yet - I figure I'll keep going until I run out of scraps or get tired of making them.