Monday, 18 September 2017

Little Big Stars

Pre-cut squares - A challenge?

Well, the challenge was issued on a Yahoo quilt group, and I have to admit I didn't think I'd take it up - Sewing with pre-cut squares, despite having 3 charm square packs, nicely tucked away in the cupboard with their sketches and extra fabrics.  "No, I must work on other things" I kept on saying to myself.

Fast forward a few days and I was home with two unwell sons.  I was in a bit of a funk and really couldn't seem to focus on anything.

So, I looked in the cupboard for some inspiration and one package of charm squares simply leapt into my hands.  They are so pretty, the picture I had stored with them looked so simple.  Nice, relaxing.... fun, pretty and bright... 
I had stored the charm pack, not only with a sketch with an idea of what to make, but the extra fabric for the stars was there too.

Well, now, a few days later, it's a quilted quilt.  Not huge, a beautiful little baby quilt with an interesting backing.  

A nice red binding to really make the stars pop and to tie everything together.

And the backing? - well, that became interesting too!


There were a couple of charm squares left over...  I drew 'splotches' onto vliesofix and then appliqued the splotches onto the backing for a bit of fun.

Then I sewed all of the left over 'stitch'n'flip' quarter square triangles into hourglass blocks and pieced a section for the back.  
  

Now, I have a fun backing and there are no left over fabric pieces.



Totally happy, despite having unhappy sons, my sewing was relaxing and they were happy because I was right there with them.  This is a definite "make again" pattern, very satisfying.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Dancing Queen......

You are the Dancing Queen, young and sweet, only seventeen....  - remember that glorious song by ABBA?   The song was so stuck in my head while I was quilting this quilt - Dancing Nines by Bonnie Hunter.

Back in October 2016, Bonnie Hunter was booked to come to a local group and teach, however, her trip to Australia was cancelled, but she did graciously allow us to still make one of her patterns.  A very clever and super fast sewing member, M, of our group, made her own Dancing Nines quilt and then proceeded to host and guide us through the day.


I cut up all of my Batik scraps in blue/green, plus a jelly roll.  There were hundreds of squares to be cut up, including a few little pink/red/orange ones for interest.

I laid out each of my nine-patch blocks individually.  That was my personal choice because I wanted to use up the fabrics evenly.


Very addictive, once I had made one block, I just wanted to keep on making more and more....

 Eventually the time came to put them together into a quilt top.  The sashing fabric is a very soft pastel batik green with leaves on it.  Making the individual blocks and then putting them all together was an absolute joy.  A very quick, fun quilt to make - did I mention addictive blocks?


I cut out the border pieces while cutting for the main quilt top.  I love how the border surrounds the blocks to give a nice frame, and the little peep of burnt orange/red to separate the centre from the border.
The binding is the same fabric as the inner narrow border.  There is the most subtle of gold metallic print on it.

And the backing, a lovely, very indulgent purchase of blue/green batik....
 

This is the first really big quilt that I have quilted with my new sewing room set-up, and I think I am going to have to make some changes to stop the quilt from sliding off my sewing table, especially at the back.  It was very hard work to quilt the borders because the quilt kept on falling of the table.  My piano key quilting is very wonky... ho hum... 

Sunday, 27 August 2017

Buttons and Loose Ends

Sewing in loose ends and adding buttons has been on my radar this past week.

While looking for some hand-work to take along to sewing groups, I decided to dig into my knitting basket.  I found several items which simply needed ends sewn in and buttons and embellishments added.  They were actually sewn up, just not totally finished.

Here is what I worked on (and completed 100%!!!) these past 10 days while sitting, chatting and drinking coffee with friends...



Blue Green Vest
Knitted with Morris & Sons Quartet 8ply. 70%wool/30% soybean silk
Pattern:  Sirdar Escape DK #9263
Lovely soft yarn and super warm.  Perfect knitting on the very cold nights.  I am lucky there is still cold weather left to come so I can get some benefit wearing it this year.




Little Cardigan and Hat (to fit 6 months)
Knitted with Creative Fibres hand-dyed 100% New Zealand wool 8ply
Patterns:  Cardigan - Sirdar Snuggly Kisses DK pattern #1835
          Hat - from Big Baby Book 5 by Sue Batley-Kyle
Delightful, fun patterns to knit.  The flower just adds a touch of whimsy to a pretty cardigan for a little one.



Triangle Scarf
Knitted with Bendigo Woollen Mills - Bloom 100%wool
Pattern:  Bendigo Woollen Mills #8338 Murano
Once, I got 'into the groove' of the knitting, because you knit partial rows to make the triangles, it became very easy to knit.  Thoroughly enjoyed this one, even though I had a couple of goes at it while trying to understand how to start the pattern.





Hat
Knitted with Patons Jet and Patons Souffle
Pattern:  Wondoflex Yarns Ladies Wool and Mohair Garter Stitch Hat
A super fast knit with an extremely easy pattern.  Incredibly warm too with 12ply and 8ply yarns knitted together.  The mohair gives a lovely softness.





Textured Baby Jacket
Knitted with Heirloom Jigsaw 4ply  75%wool/25%nylon
Pattern:  Sirdar Snuggly 4 ply #1989
Simply delightful knitting.  The Heirloom yarn is so nice to touch and have in your fingers.  The pattern was lovely too with the changing textures in the knitting and the variegated yarn just added to the overall look and feel.




It has been very nice to find some space in my knitting basket and to get these few things completely finished.  Most of these will go into my gifting basket, except for the blue green vest, which is for me.

And... the long quilting list in my last post?  I am slowly working my way through it.  I have completed one item and worked on the others, but I think I may have been a tad over ambitious when I made that list.  However, it has given me good focus and for that I am grateful.  Slow but steady wins the race - or so they say! :)


Monday, 31 July 2017

Goal setting...

No photos today - sorry folks, but I have set some goals for August, and hopefully, by writing them down here, I will be accountable to cross off as many as I can.

In a message on a Yahoo group that I belong to, one of the members asked:  
  • How about you?  Do you have plans for August??

And here is my reply; 

Why, yes I do, thank you for asking! :)  My August plans are:

  1. Continue to quilt  my version of "Dancing Nines" 
  2. Bind Dancing Nines.
  3. Complete "Bali Bluster" quilt top - it's in many, many pieces at the moment and is made up of Birds in the Air blocks.
  4. Layer, baste and quilt Bali Bluster quilt and hopefully get the binding done too.
  5. Work on Splendid Sampler blocks.
  6. If I get done on the above, pull out "Garden Gate" kiddie flimsy to baste/quilt for a baby, which is not due until Feb - but I'm pretty slow at hand-sewing binding.
To tally up:
- Dancing Nines is an UFO from Aug 2016 (pattern by Bonnie Hunter)  
- Bali Bluster was started on 21/07/17 - new start 10 days ago in a class at my local group.
- Splendid Sampler I started in May this year when the second sew-a-long started.
- Garden Gate is an UFO from October 2014.  (see this post)

These are big goals for me, as I'm not as fast as some at quilting/binding, but I'm being very optimistic.  Two UFO's and one new start to be completed by end Aug.

It feels good to have this out of my head and written down.  This list has been printed and put up in my sewing room so that I can have the satisfaction of crossing things off a list! 

Monday, 17 July 2017

Entally Historic House

There's nothing quite like the feeling of something finished - and this cross stitch is one of those things.

The kit was given to me by my neighbour approximately 3 or 4 years ago after her mother passed away.
Entally House - Tasmania
I worked on this cross stitch a lot during last year but didn't finish it.

This year, while between houses and staying in temporary accommodation, I needed something to do in the evenings, so out it came.  Turns out, all I had to stitch was the tree!

One of my close friends and her husband are picture framers - so off it went, and this is how it came back...

I am absolutely thrilled - the framing is perfect.  My husband is the photographer while I am holding the picture and he has caught his own reflection... but I really wanted to show off how good it looks framed.  I'll have to scout around and try to find a better picture to replace this one with - but I was in a rush before gift wrapping it, and so it was quickly snapped, without thought.

The tale of Entally House cross-stitch, continued until I gave it to the neighbour mentioned above for her '0' birthday.  She actually had nothing to say when I first gave it to her.  My husband said she's pretty chuffed.  A gift with personal meaning, stitched and given with love.

Tuesday, 27 June 2017

Blue Stars

At the start of the year, when I was going through some projects and doing a bit of holiday sewing, I pulled out what was supposed to be a project of "Strippy Stars".  A declared WITB* to work on and finish. I decided not to make the full original pattern, but just complete the partially made stars, put them with the completed stars and then decide upon a setting. 


Sometimes, we start projects with the best of intentions, but they don't always work out how we have perceived them in our mind's eye.  When I purchased the fabrics for this quilt, it was for a fun day of sewing at a local Scouts fundraiser in 2015.

I purchased the fabrics at a large quilt show, and loved the blue batiks, but struggled to find a background that I really liked.  I purchased the one you see in this quilt, and I'm pretty pleased how it has turned out, however, it didn't work when I went to set the stars in the planned zig zag setting.  I truly wasn't happy with the original quilt plan at all.  So, as all projects do when feeling dis-enchanted, it hopped into a plastic tub and into the cupboard it went.

I was able to make 20 star blocks and binding from the remaining fabric.  (The rest of the batik fabrics went into 'Twas a Mystery - just in case you think the colours are familiar)

In the end, it turns out that simple can often be the best.  Straight sets, with sashing and cornerstones.  Perfect.

Simple quilting with tumbling leaves and loops over the columns of stars with 'in the ditch' quilting along the long lines of sashing and two long borders.  

One would think that is easy - right?  No, sometimes things just go a bit awry...  I was stitching in the ditch, after I had quilted the swirling leaves, and decided that the quilt needed a bit more stitching to make things more even.  Mistake number 1, should stitch in the ditch first....

The needle fell out twice - had to tighten it.  I really struggled to push the quilt through the machine when it normally glides.  I checked the presser foot pressure, I re-threaded the machine, checked the bobbin, cleaned out the bobbin race, everything I could think of.  It was only when I finished the ditch quilting, ignoring the slightly wobbly bits, and went to change to my walking foot to attach the binding, that I realised when I put my open toe foot on - I had not tightened the little bolt which holds the foot on, it was just sitting there - no wonder it didn't work!  The foot was just swinging in the breeze and I didn't notice...  No wonder it was such hard work.....Sheesh....  Mistake number 2, because I kept on sewing.  Then I had to reverse sew and then forward sew and sew on....

However, I am pretty pleased with the overall effect of this quilt and it's simple setting.

And to finish off, here's a peek at the backing - gorgeous blue deer...



* WITB = what's in the box/bag

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

'twas a mystery....

I've been on a bit of a finishing roll lately.  There has been quite a bit of satisfaction on my part to get projects out of their boxes and bags and just work on them until they are done.  It's a terrific feeling that the finishes are going to be used as decoration or, most importantly, lovely warm hugs.

Every year, on the QuiltWoman website (formerly Planet Patchwork), a New Year's Day Mystery Quilt project is run.  When you sign up to the e-mails, you receive cutting instructions early, so technically, that makes it an UFO because it was started before 31st Dec.  I first posted about this project back in January.

I stole fabrics from another project, for the stars and used a cute print with teeny tiny forest animals on it for the background.


One block.  Star in star.


So, on New Year's Day, the instructions were posted each hour, on the hour.  I printed them out when they were posted and then proceeded to make the quilt at my own pace.  With these gorgeous batik blues and greens, it was very easy to keep on working on the quilt until the four large blocks were made.  And, then when put together a star magically appears.


I did not cut out the background setting pieces until all four blocks were made, so that I could see how much background fabric I had left over to get the maximum size quilt I could out of it.  I was aiming for large cot/lap quilt size.  With careful cutting and measuring, my wish came true!

The whole quilt almost.
The quilt backing is very tiny blue stars on a white background.  A bit hard to see in the photo.
Upon finishing, I have decided that it is perfect over the back of the couch in the sewing room so that I can pull it over my legs when I'm doing hand work.  My sewing room does tend to be a bit cold at times and now I have the perfect solution to my cold problem.   Happy me! :)

Finished size - 100cm x 120cm (40in x 48in)