Monday, October 17, 2016

Left to my own devices ...

October's queen bee asked for Tic Tac Toe blocks with solid fabrics for the X and corners, and low-volume print for the background. No preferences for colours or any other directions.

With carte blanche, I went a little wild. I think for the first I inadvertently channelled my Dutch roots. I found an FQ of that versatile bike part fabric recently, so I felt free to use it for the background.

I've made a bunch of the Tic Tac Toe blocks, but this may be my ultimate favourite yet! I love the green and pink and that background fabric with the little splashes of green is perfect!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Long weekend sewing

Why does it seem there are never enough sewing hours in the day? This was weekend was a long one in Canada, yet still I didn't get as much sewing done as I would have liked. I have been biking a lot lately to try and reach my goal before the weather turns too cold. Once I'm biking indoors I'll have a bit more spare time because it's far easier to just do an hour when the view is my messy basement versus the beautiful countryside.

First up was putting together the scraps salvaged from my Carolyn Friedlander pillow. I sewed three of the 1x2" strips into a block, then put the 16 blocks together to create this crazy little bit of patchwork that's 6.5" square. It will be perfect for a mugrug. I love all the teeny little pieces.

Here's the craziness of the back ...

Then I finished sewing the fish that will be my contribution to a charity guild quilt. They turned out so cute! I love how they're all flitting in different directions.

Although quite simple, the stack of them did take a fair bit of time. If you want to make them, I put together a four-patch with two background squares and two HST. Then I put a solid colour on that and made two HST - and voila you have a little fishy with a tail!

Oh and my recent pillow makes are a big hit with the kitties. I guess it's far too tempting to have a soft spot to lay right near my sewing machine. Here's Ariel in a Princess and the Pea moment.

And here's Aurora having a bath. I wouldn't mind so much but her bathing usually involves pulling out chunks of fur and spitting them out.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Round 1

Ooh, this was exciting and nerve-racking! I got my good friend Darci's starter block in the travelling quilt bee I'm doing with six friends, four of them virtual from Instagram.

It's so tough to narrow down what to add, and I may have gone a bit overboard. The colours of her block did throw me for a bit of a loop. I tried to pick fabrics for my blocks that co-ordinated, while adding in a few new colours. The only real request she had was for us to add a bit of black.

Right away I knew I wanted to make friendship stars - six for the six of us in the bee. Black seemed the perfect fabric for the bright colours I picked for those. Because her starter block was relatively simple with a classic patchwork look, I thought flying geese would go well. For some continuity, I picked just purple and green fabrics with some having accent colours like those in her block. And then text fabrics for the background for a little splash of my favourite. I was gonna stop there, but then I saw this double friendship star block and it just seemed such a perfect fit! For those I really tried to pick up the colours of her starter block. Almost all the fabric I used was Tula and Alison Glass - favourite designers for both of us.

Here's what I made ...

And here they are on her starter block:

I am really happy with how it turned out. This is a really fun project with so much to look forward to seeing. Not just what people add to your quilt, but also what people add to quilts after you. Every couple months it's an exciting new reveal!

Stitching on the go

The night before my month-long adventure to Australia and New Zealand this spring, I was in my sewing room frantically cutting out fabric for another project to take with me. I wanted to make a hexie mini out of all Anna Maria Horner fabric for my Instagram friend Amy to send her a little cheer.

I made good progress on my travels, but back home I just don't seem to find the time for hand sewing. But finally I got this done and sent to its new home!

It goes with my "more is more" approach - a riot of colour and prints. But I think it all comes together nicely with the purple for the "A" and the binding. Generally I tried to keep it to fabric that was primarily purple, blue or pink. One hexie was just a bit too much bright blue, so I put a cut out flower over it. I think it's a fun little detail. I quilted it with King Tut thread in a variegated blue. It's a bit thicker and shows up nicely.

This quilt is well travelled! It came with me across Australia and New Zealand, then a few spots closer to home. I picked up the purple fabric in L.A., and now it's living in Montana.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Fifth, final, winner!

Anyone who knows me also knows I love making quilted pillows! So how could I resist the pillow-making contest hosted by Modern Makers Retreat - especially one with the hashtag #mmrcushionpalooza! Fun! The parameters were pretty simple - make a pillow, or two or more, in the month of September and post it on Instagram.

I ended up making five in total. The first was the blue heart pillow for my neighbours who said goodbye to their beloved old beagle, next came a matching duo that were quilted tops just needing to be made into pillows, and then my rainbow herringbone pillow. That was the pillow I made specifically for the contest and I thought I was done because I was pleased as punch with it. But then I squeezed in one more in the final days.

And finally I made good use of a bunch of my hoarded Carolyn Friedlander prints for this vibrant, spring-feeling pillow.

I love everything about this pillow! I'm not a big yellow fan, but that's my favourite part! And I jumped right into the deep end by making that the border. It just was so wonderfully bold against the teal binding.

Simple straight-line quilting with a light blue thread fit the bill perfectly. I varied the spacing a bit, starting with a line down the middle of each row and then adding on each side. That took a fair bit of time and I'm not sure it was worth the effort because it's a bit lost in the overall effect. Likely, though, if I had just gone for evenly spaced quilting starting at one side and going across the pillow, the quilting lines would have soon been wonky compared to the piecing lines.

The pattern looks quite complicated, but it's just squares, HST and four-patch turned on-point. I saw something similar on a quilt while scrolling through Instagram a while back and filed the idea away. The only tough part was slicing off the edges to make it square. But, being me, I saved those pretty bits and have another fun project underway!

I was quite surprised and thrilled to discover it was chosen as one of 10 pillows out of more than 230 entered to win a prize in the contest! My win was in the honourable mentions category, but it's wonderful to even be mentioned considering all the amazing pillows entered! Next time you're on Instagram, be sure to check out the hashtag to see all the beauties!


September's queen bee picked a paper-pieced block, Hidden Gems. It's a lovely block, but I'm not gonna lie - paper piecing is not my favourite and I put off sewing this for a long time. I don't like cutting out the pattern pieces and I don't like the actual sewing, and then I definitely don't like pulling out the papers once you finally make it through all that.

But I finally gritted my teeth and got started. And right out of the gate it did not go well. I wasn't thinking when I picked that very directional print for the centre pattern. And of course those are the pieces I started with first because they were the easy ones. I soon reached the "I'm gonna scream or cry" stage, then realized I needed to walk away.

With a fresh start and an unwilling-to-be-beat-by-a-block attitude, the rest came together better although those grey points were a bit pesky to line up.

I quite like the colour scheme the queen bee picked, and actually it inspired a pillow I made soon after.

The second one went together swimmingly! I even got the two halves together perfectly on the right try! My paper-piecing skills must have been rusty on that first go.

For other anxious paper piecers out there, my best tip is to use a long basting stitch first when joining sections. Then if things don't match up well, you can easily rip that out and try again. When you finally have everything where you want it, then use the short stitch. All the precision, none of the tedious ripping!

Monday, September 26, 2016

About time!!

At long last these went from languishing on the WIP pile to being pillows I can enjoy!

These were both pieced and quilted I don't know how long ago. But they ended up on the ever-growing pile of partly finished projects, I think because the pattern tells you to trim the sides to make it square and I just couldn't bring myself to do that. It's so tough to slice off bits that took great care to put together!

But with a little distance and time, I had no problem slicing and dicing these and finally getting a back put on. That step of making a pillow is so fast, it was ridiculous that's all they needed. I grabbed this great Tula print I had yardage of in my stash. And the pillows are on the small side - about 16" - so it didn't take much.

It was also nice, after not having seen them in quite some time, to admire the quilting. I did one in blue and one in pink, similar yet different straight line quilting. I need to do more quilting like this again with more varied spacing between the lines. Oh and that reminds me of the thing I keep forgetting to put on my shopping list - masking tape! I find it's the best tool for quilting, and cheap!

So I whipped up these pillows and guess where they are now a week later? Still sitting on the bench in my front hall where I took the photo. Tsk, tsk Johanna!