Thursday, June 27, 2013

Plaid #2 almost done

I almost finished the quilting on this quilt over the weekend EXCEPT...when I got to the final edge I realised that the backing was about 1 inch too small. It's amazing how often this happens to me. I guess I am just stingy with my backings and always lose when I gamble.

So, I had to pull it off the frame with a 6 inch section left to quilt, add a strip to the back, and them FMQ the last bit. I'm pleased with the quilting - an all over feathery meander. This was my first quilt using the Swiftquilter and I do admit that it went much faster than my usual FMQ.

It's a great option for doing all over designs, but like any method, there are some limitations. For me, I have to get used to quilting in a linear back-and-forth fashion. And, I have to get used to a narrower work area. My stitches are also a bit on the big side. The machine can go much faster, but I always get panicky when it's running too fast. But, I am happy.

I was planning a scrappy binding, but laziness took over and I pulled a random pink and orange stripe from my drawer. I'm about halfway through hand stitching the binding onto the back.

I'm linking up to Freshly Pieced WIP. In the past I've listed all of my WIPs, but I confess that it is a daunting list right now and writing it down would mean coming to terms with it.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Finished round robin has come home

For the second year in a row, I've joined in a round robin (Cotton Robin) online with other quilters. Most of them are from the Block Lotto crowd, but not all.

The process is straightforward - I created a centre block which was then passed on to three other people to add 2 borders and to quilt and bind the finished quilt. They are small (maximum dimensions are about 20 inches) so that they can easily be mailed from one person to the next. During the round robin I was unaware of who was working on my quilt but eventually it comes back home and all is revealed.

I contributed to borders on 2 quilts and was supposed to quilt/bind a third one that was lost somewhere between Canada and New Zealand. It has been over 8 weeks, but I am still hopeful that it will show up one day and I can finish it and send it on to its owner.

I really enjoy these collaborative exchanges and am truly amazed at the finished quilts. The amount of work that some people invest is astounding and always makes my contributions appear quite humble. Oh well, something to work up to for next year. See all of the beautiful finished quilts here.

This year I think that the most inspiring aspect was colour. Some of the quilts (including mine) received an unexpected injection of colour - in my case, the stuck-in-a-rut centre block of blue, green, and grey received a hit of orange that did it a world of good. Here's the original centre block and some detail of the amazing first border of cathedral windows, appliqued circles, and yo-yos.

The finished quilt is sweet and quirky and I love the orange - thanks so much to Rachel, Anne, and Catherine.

The two quilts I worked on were much more traditional. I added a few narrow strips and a sawtooth border to Janet's compass (left) and a hand-stitched (eek, hand-stitched?) applique bias ribbon to Rachel's centre block (right).

I'm already looking forward to the next installment.

It never snows in Auckland

The Auckland Quilt Guild is hosting a challenge - they are encouraging everyone to enter, so I thought I'd give it a go. The theme is "Two circles and a triangle" and the piece is a 12-inch square. I figured it would be a good excuse to try a few techniques out.

Originally I wanted to do something abstract, but then a snowman appeared in my brain and I could not let it go.

I did both the snowman and the snow flake by ironing on the shapes leaving the edges raw. I really wanted to do 3 snowflakes, but cutting it out was so annoying I gave up after the one.

I also tried out a few different threads including some metallic thread. Past experimentation with this had not gone well, but I did not have any issues this time.

Overall, I like the finished piece better than I thought. I think that the colour selection and the minimalist approach prevented it from being too cutesy. I'm not sure what I will do with it - after all, it never snows in Auckland (although we had some fine hail the other day).

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Quilting feathers on plaid

A few months ago I finished the first plaid quilt from blocks I won on Block Lotto last April. After piecing the second one a while ago, I have pulled it out as my first victim to quilt using my Swiftquilter.

Inspired by Angela Waters' Craftsy class, I have leaped in and started quilting some feathers as a random meander on this quilt. Here's the quilt set up and ready to go.

I actually tried to start it last night, but could not get enough light. This morning it was much better - even between rain showers the natural light is so much better. Unfortunately, we are on the shortest day of the year, but with some fast work, I'm almost done and probably have 45 minutes left before I can't see any more.

I'm planning a scrappy binding, which I will hopefully get started on tonight.

Doin' the Y-seam dance

A few weeks ago I started piecing together my hexi-in-a-hexi bee blocks. Thank goodness I made up my design wall panels a few months ago - they made this process to much easier. My entire layout doesn't fit on my design wall, so I decided to piece diagonal rows. This means that I can piece at least half of the blocks without worrying about the bottom of the quilt.

I find the process a little tedious, but it's not the Y-seams that are the problem; it's the marking of little dots on each of the 6 corners that I hate. And the backstitching on every seam when I'm used to chain piecing everything. A bonus is the new Juki machine that I am using has a cutter function on the foot pedal - it cuts both the top and bobbin threads so that I don't have to have scissors in hand and I don't have to worry about thread tails. A most handy feature. I figure this has made up for the time spent backstitching.

Still, the rows are going together pretty well and I'm half-way through piecing my flimsy. The finished quilt should be about 60 x 70 inches - I did make some calculations to verify that it would be big enough with the blocks and solid yardage that I had, but have since misplaced them. Never mind, I know how many blocks I need and that's all that matters now.

Because of the size I've pulled down the finished (almost) half and have flipped the design over and placed the blocks for the other half. I have not started piecing these, but will start soon (I hope).

I have not thought about how I will quilt this one. I have 2 quilts in the queue before I can do this one because I want to use my Swiftquilter. The first in queue is my second plaid quilt (Block Lotto) - it will be my first 'real' quilt to do on the Swiftquilter and may be slightly sacrificial. Quilt number 2 in queue is my small grey one. I hope to get through the plaid one this weekend (fingers crossed).

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Two quilts for exhibit

At the Monday Modern meeting this week we started planning our exhibit. This is very exciting except that the quilts need to be done in 2 months, about 6 weeks earlier than I thought. Our exhibit is in mid September but we need to submit the quilts at our August meeting. I understand the reason for this, but it's so soon.

I have progressed on my grey quilt and the flimsy is finished. Here's a peek.

My hexi bee blocks are now on the design wall with the (second) green solid that I have purchased. At first I thought this green was wrong too, but it's growing on me. I need to make a few more and cut some more solid hexis and some partial ones for the edges and then I'll be ready to start sewing.

Originally I planned a pattern that would allow me to avoid having to y-seam everything, but it was too busy looking. This layout is good but it will take me a while to piece them together. Usually I see this as the home stretch of the flimsy construction, but not this time.

My experimentation on the Swiftquilter continues. I signed up for Crafty's "Free Motion Quilting with Feathers" with Angela Walters. It's been really helpful, but no class can replace practice, practice, practice. Here's a sample feather and some surrounding doodling.

I will be moving my blog soon to sit under my business web site. Not much will change, only the location. Stay tuned for details.