Sunday, January 29, 2012

Back on the chain gang

I've returned from a very relaxing holiday by the sea, where I did get the binding on one quilt finished!  The second quilt which I'd hoped to get quilted to take away to bind didn't quite get finished - actually it's quite a way off finished :)   And I'm back on the chain gang - chain piecing that is!  

The squaring up is always what drives me nuts though!  I have to square up as I must admit that my attention wanders when I chain piece and it is the only way I can have a reasonable chance of matching up points nicely. Today I spent two hours pressing and squaring up.  Tonight I've realised that I will be short a few units, so I'll have to cut and piece another 15 or so units.  These units are for the larger quilt that my daughter has requested, I'm hoping to make it three blocks across and three down - each block is 18" finished so this will make it a reasonable size, and I'll probably add a five or six inch border around the outside.  I've been really loving square quilts and hope it will look good once it's made up.  

My daughter chose this quilt pattern from a smaller quilt that I have hanging on the wall in our lounge room.  Unfortunately I don't know the name of the traditional pattern - any ideas?  It's easy enough, all half square triangles so quick to chain piece all the units.


I don't usually do scrappy quilts - I adore them when others make them, but I am always nervous of ending up with something that looks like it fell out of the rag bag.  I've restricted the pallet here to purple, pink, and orange, which were requested by my daughter, and I added in some aqua and a small amount of chocolate brown.  I do get very nervous about moving away from my usually quite restricted colour and fabric choices.

I have another week of holidays which I'm taking at home (a sewcation!) so hope to get a few other projects moving along too. I want to make up at least one block of my Swoon quilt, the Swoon Along is looking so good on flickr, some of those quilts are fabulous!  I'm pleased to say that my good patchwork friend Pam is Swooning Along with me.  And of course I've got quite a few WIPs that I should have a look at!

Friday, January 13, 2012

Basting away the days...

When I go away on holidays, I love to take a quilt or two to bind with me.  There is something so gentle, satisfying and relaxing about that last step in quilt making, and to take it on holidays so that I can stitch away with a beautiful sea view is bliss for me.

Back in reality land, that means quilting a quilt so I can be ready to bind!  I am off to Port Macdonnell in a little over a week's time for a few days of sun, sea, swimming and fishing.  And binding I hope!  I have one quilt top finished, and one almost finished, and the race is on to get at least one of them quilted and ready to go.

This is my zig zag quilt top.  I had fallen in love with Jane Dixon's Garden Party line quite some months ago and had it sitting in my shopping cart on Fat Quarter Shop for weeks, when I got a Facebook notification from them offering it at half price!  So I zoomed over there and paid for it quicksticks.  When the parcel arrived, I realised that it is even more gorgeous.  However, because it is quite pared back in colour I really didn't have anything much in the stash to go with it.  I rarely use a fabric collection on it's own to make a quilt, but I think it really worked with this one.  I added white linen, and a couple of rows of a brown 'natural' toned linen, and set to it.

I'd wanted to make this zig zag quilt for years, it looks so simple but it so effective.  And no pesky triangles and their bias edges!  It was, for me, a rare case of cut, sew, quilt top within a couple of days.  Very quick to make, and would have been quicker if I hadn't sewn in one row upside down and had to unpick it right at the end!  Anyway, today I am basting it and hope to start quilting later on as well.  I've got four days off work between now and when I go away - can I get this quilt top quilted in that time?  Probably, (it's only a largish lap sized quilt) but can I finish my other almost-done quilt and get it quilted too?  I really hope so!

Monday, January 9, 2012

A weekend's fun

I spent quite a bit of time working on projects this past weekend, and it got me thinking about my work method.  I rarely start a quilt, and work on it until it is finished.  I tend to have three, four or even five projects all 'current', meaning I am working on them.  I have many WIPs that are not current, that I will go back to at another time (and probably a couple that I never will go back to!).  I seem to work best when I allow myself to do a few hours on one quilt, then a few hours on another, rotating around these projects which are all at different stages.

At the weekend I finished off the last few blocks of my improv Sweetwater Hometown quilt, (photos to follow - I still need to do the sashing).  I also made a few improv blocks for a quilt I am making my Mum.  This quilt is at a very early stage, I've settled on colours (her choice) and have been playing around with improv technique.  I've only made the first six blocks and I've settled on an improv method that works for me.

Mum wanted a quilt made with all solids.  I've added in just a handful of prints as I thought it looked a bit flat.  I love improv, but it is slow and I do seem to waste a fair bit of fabric (lucky it's mostly solids as they are cheaper than prints!).  Mum picked out the design from Malka Dubrawsky's wonderful book, Fresh Quilting.  I took the above photo outside hoping it would improve the colours, but they are really richer than this, and the light colours are really grey and light aquas.

I also spent considerable time choosing colours for a new quilt for my daughter.  She currently has a number of single bed quilts on her double bed, and requested a larger quilt in a half square triangle design.  Choosing colours always takes me quite some time, I like to choose them then leave them somewhere where I can glance at them and be sure I like them as a group before I cut into them.  The stack I pulled for this quilt went for morning tea to a friend's house for her opinion too!  I then cut up 8.5" squares to sew around all four edges and then cross cut the squares diagonally twice so that I get four half square triangle blocks per square.  I also trim them down to 5.5".

The fourth project I spent time on is my Swoon quilt.  Who doesn't adore this block?  I've had the pattern for quite some time and I'm delighted that Katy from I'm A Ginger Monkey has started a Swoon Along.  I am completely addicted to quilt alongs, I find the inspiration and support from other quilters is fabulous.   If you've never tried one, you really should.

All I've done is choose fabrics.  I've decided to cut into my HUGE stash of Meadowsweet and Meadowsweet 2.  I'm really looking forward to this, I just have to buy some fabric for the background.  

I am really happy to be using some of my Meadowsweet stash.  I've been hoarding collecting these gorgeous Sandi Henderson fabrics for years but have rarely used any, I have been waiting for the perfect project - and it's here!   I've been gradually buying them over time and have really got enough fabric for about six quilts.  I'll be ready for any fabric shortage in the future haha!

So that was my weekend's fun, rotating between these four projects, as well as spending time with my daughter who is home from uni on holidays.  My idea of a wonderful weekend!

Monday, January 2, 2012

Blogger's BOM Catch Up

I made the first month's block in the Blogger's BOM four months ago, and then...well, then I fell behind.  Today I only had to work half a day, and the temperature was predicted to head up to about 42 degrees, so I was determined to use my afternoon off to stay inside under the air conditioning and make the next three blocks.  

Block Two - I really liked this block, I think it's my favorite so far.  

Block Three - I love that pink Nicey Jane print, I wish I'd bought it in all the colours it was made in.  A common lament in this house!

Block Four - a bit busy for my tastes but I think it will be OK once it is sewn up with all the other blocks.

All my blocks so far.  Now I am looking forward to the next block instead of feeling guilty!  

I'm a bit frustrated with my photographic skills, or lack of.  I can take a reasonable photo of a quilt or a larger item outside but my inside progress photos and photos of blocks etc. are really dreadful.  No amount of Picnik can really compensate for either my poor shots or the late night and artificial light I've taken these in.  I will have to do some research (good old google) and practice - same as most things I guess!