Sunday, February 23, 2014

Tea towel quilt top finished (maybe?)

I finally got my sewing machine back and set it up yesterday. I had cut out the equilateral triangles for the (maybe) last border over a week ago, so it was nice to get it sewn together. I love how the triangles look like pennants hanging off the pink skinny border.

I wasn't sure what to do with the corners, I was left with a 30-degree empty wedge. I debated removing the last triangle on each side and creating a 120-degree piece but decided that it would be too large a chunk of one fabric. So, I chose to put in pink wedges which were a little tricky because of the tight y-seam. Still, I managed well enough and am satisfied with them.

Now I need to decide if I am done or if I want to add a white border. I am imagining a white border quilted with owl silhouettes in pink-orange-teal veriegated thread. Crazy talk, I know. As a compromise, maybe a thinner white border and then the orange binding. I just feel like there's a lot of white in the center and none in the outer borders. I'm also wondering if I want it bigger. Currently it's 42x48 - I can't decide if it will be a wall hanging or a throw quilt. Any opinions?

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Back from Craft & Quilt show in Christchurch

I spent the past few days in Christchurch attending the Craft & Quilt Show. We had our Juki machines and Swiftquilter frame on display. Poor hubby had to drive down with the 4x4 packed to the ceiling and I had the luxury of flying in and back out with only my carry-on bag.

The stand looked a lot like the one we had at the Auckland Festival of Quilts. Hubby did all the unpacking and setting up so I did not have the heart to ask him to move the quilts around so that my most recent creation had pride of place. Instead, my scrappy warm/cool diamonds were covering a trestle table in the corner with the PC and accessories on top of it.

I spent the three days doodling on my 'short-arm quilting machine' (my new name for the Swiftquilter setup). One can only do so much stippling before it gets very old. After a few questions about using a template, I thought I would create my own as an experiment.

I drafted a little bird and when I was happy with it, I did some paper folding and layering. I took the stack of paper to the sewing machine and without any thread I sewed around my sketch. When I unfolded it all, I had 4 birds in kissing pairs. I used a marker to trace each one following the perforations made by the machine needle. Not perfect by any standards, but I figured it would give me an example of how the templates can be created. (Sorry, they are upside down in the photo)

To use the template, I drive from the back of the machine and use the stylus to follow the template. My biggest problem is taking my eyes off of the stylus to take a peek at the stitching - this only leads to disaster!

I admit that I prefer to do everything freehand from the front of the machine, but acknowledge that there are times when a template like this is useful. I have even made a promise (to myself) that I will use this technique on my next quilt.

The end result was fine, although if this were a real quilt, and not a demo on the cheapest cotton fabric I could find, I would have tweaked my design a bit. I think that they came out much better after I filled in the background. Here you can see one set filled in with some swirls and the back of another surrounded by stippling.

Other than hours of demonstrations, I have done no sewing this week. The Monday Moderns had a sewing day on Saturday that I missed (bummer) and all the sewing machines including mine were packed up last Monday. I will hopefully see them again tomorrow night.

Meanwhile, I have cut out the next border for my tea towel challenge and am expecting the first round of the Cotton Robin round robin any day now. Check out the centre blocks here. I don't know which one I will get and it's all secret squirrel until they are all finished and sent back to their owners. Try to (secretly) guess which one is mine.

Friday, February 7, 2014

More owl progress and some lilies

I finished making the crosses to echo the owl feet in my tea towel. At first I was going to put them all side by side, but found that the secondary pattern that appeared when the orange/pink crosses touched each other diffused the 'crossiness' of the blocks. So I added a 1-inch border on each one to give those crosses some breathing room. I like the two rows that I made, but think that they are very dark compared to the half circles and the tea towel center. This means that I'll need to lighten up the final border to balance things out.

Right now, the quilt is 35 x 39. Although I planned a small wall hanging quilt, I'm starting think that the scale of the owl design needs big and bold around it. Maybe the next border will be 6 inches bringing the quilt up to 47 x 51 which is more lap-sized than wall hanging.

I definitely want to do some triangles - probably equilaterals to reference the little triangle beaks. I do have two problems:

  • I probably don't have enough fabric for a big border.
  • The math is a bit tricky at 35 and 39 - there's no common denominator except for 1. I might need another narrow border - maybe 1/2" to bring it to 36 x 40 which are both easily divisible by 4. But, what color?

Neither problem is insurmountable. Although this challenge is supposed to run until March, I am keen to get as much done now as I can.

I am also working on a piece that my mother started and has asked me to finish. It's done with iron on pieces that are appliqued and quilted in one go to make a wall hanging. I admit that it's giving me some grief - there are some spots with multiple layers of fabric that have been ironed on and they are thick and hard to sew through. I am using a brand new reinforced needle on my Juki TL-98 which can sew through anything. Even still, it's hard to maintain even stitches and maintain good tension...

As always, I have concluded that even if each individual stitch or line is not perfect, the overall look is good. Let's call it organic. I have the quilting finished and am trying to decide on the biniding. The only thing I have on hand is the fabric I used for the backing that matches the stamens. Although I could use it, it detracts from the design. I think I'd prefer a more subtle color.

Earlier this week I saw some really inspiring quilts at Monday Moderns. I am trying very hard to keep myself from starting anything new. I have quite a few small things on the go including a round robin center block that I should see in the next week or two.

From 13 February, I will be down in Christchurch as a vendor at the Craft and Quilt show. This show has not been to the south island since the earthquake, so I am hoping that there is a good turnout. Poor hubby will be driving down from Auckland - I will be flying down.