Sunday 27 April 2014

Paper Piecing Take Two

I signed up for the Sugar Block Club run by Amy Gibson of Stitchery Dickory Dock last year in the hopes that it would build my skill level in the way that In Color Order's (Jeni Baker) HST Quilt Along helped me build my skills in 2012.

I was right. It built serious skills. I used a bundle curated by Red Pepper Quilts with some additions from my stash and got to work each month. I fell behind in the spring and caught up again in the summer, only to completely stop when the fall got really busy.

Truth is, there was something else stopping me from finishing these blocks. And considering we're almost in month five of 2014, I know I need to get with it and finish this project.

See, three of the blocks involve paper piecing. It was something I had never done before and wanted to try. My first attempt was disappointing and frustrating. The piecing wasn't bad until I had to attach the pieces to get crisp points. After three attempts I pretty much gave up. 

Back in the saddle again! I've tackled the October block first because it is only partially paper pieced. I got lots of tips from quilty friends A and C and I dove in.
Templates cut, fabric picked and cut to size. Deep breaths.

I stitched using a 1.4 length stitch. It seemed to be the perfect length for paper piecing.

The points came out great. Now time to attach it to the non-paper pieced centre.

Ta da! Not too shabby! The points are very pointy and I didn't want to cry.
Next up I will tackle the two remaining blocks and then I can get to sashing and finishing this quilt. I'm thrilled!

How do you feel about paper piecing?


Friday 18 April 2014

The Real Deal

After posting my Sew Sisters giveaway, my quilting friend A suggested a trip out to the "real deal." I have ordered from them a ton of times but it is not really that close for a drive. I thought her suggestion to go in person was a great one, especially since I really needed Kona Black and they have so much Kona!

The outside of the shop- and the location in general- is unexpected. It is sort of in this industrial/commercial area and in a less-than-beautiful building.
Outside the store.
But inside is fantastic! As soon as you walk in the door you are hit by all the delicious Kona!
This doesn't even begin to show how much Kona they have!

Large, industrial ceilings but a lovely vibe inside.

These were my favourite Konas. Of course. I have a turquoise problem.
Our friend C ended up coming with us and we all bought some goodies. I got that needed Kona Black, and some damask to finish a quilt for a friend (I'll blog about that whole story some time later). I also love this Art Gallery fabric and it was in the clearance room! So was that Joel Dewberry print. It was so inexpensive I couldn't resist! For the first time I can remember, C and I bought the same fabric (the Joel Dewberry). We have very different tastes so maybe we're spending too much time ogling fabric together? 
I also picked up some Aurafil (love) and two discount fat quarters (some Laurie Wisbrun and a little grey eyelet from DS).
I was a great success and I got to use that black right away to finish up The Dark Side. I would definitely trek back there again, especially for that discount room. So much fabric! So little time!


Wednesday 16 April 2014

Pillow Blahs

I finished a pillow for my (new) daughter's bedroom and I'm feeling sort of "blah" about it. I love the texture of the heavy quilting and I love the colours. I even love the size. Here it is in action:
The pillow colours are great for the nursery.

I love the quilting.

I did an enclosed backing using a Bonnie and Camille print from my stash. All this fabric was from my stash.
The "blah" part comes from the squishiness level of the pillow. I purchased it from Ikea and at 26" x 26" I was picturing a big cushy pillow. Unfortunately this pillow seems so understuffed. It is sort of limp. I could probably squish two pillows into this case and it still wouldn't be fully "puffed." I'm torn as to what to do. Do I buy another pillow insert? If so, where will I find one that exact size? Do I make my own pillow insert so I can control the "puff" level? I'm disappointed that a project I thought was done is not done- not to how I hoped it would be.
But the wee one sure does like it! And so does my cat, so I guess I can take heart in that!
What would you do?


Tuesday 15 April 2014

The Dark Side: A Finished Quilt

Friends of ours have three little boys. Their mom watches my daughter when she is not in school (and has since my daughter was not even one) and so we are particularly close with this family. When this friend had her third boy last February I couldn't help myself and made him two quilts (Things That Go and Bouncing Bunnies). That April I made his brother, who is six months older than my daughter, a superhero quilt (Superhero Mashup). Three quilts later and just their eldest, who turns nine in June, is left without a quilt. I knew I wanted to fix that this year!

I ordered a Star Wars bundle when it went on sale at Fabricworm last year. It is a lot of very busy fabrics, so I struggled with which pattern to choose. Ultimately I was inspired by a Pinterest quilt I found by Debbie from A Quilter's Table. The solid star amongst the other squares give the eye a place to rest. I thought it would be perfect for this quilt. It is also a very simple pattern which I think often works best for very busy fabric.

I love how it came together. I used Kona Black for the borders and a Star Wars print from Jo Ann's that  I picked up last year sometime to bind it. The back is pretty cool because it is a single panel, bordered by black, and I think it makes the quilt reversible. I straight line quilted diagonally through the squares, stopping short of the green and blue star. For that I did a white double straight line outline around the star's points. I love how it turned out.

Here is The Dark Side:

I did square-in-square FMQ on the borders using black Aurafil, Holy cow this picture shows all the fluff! I need to give this a good roll of the lint remover before I gift it!
The panel has this really retro vibe that I love.
This little boy is special to us and I can't wait to give him this quilt. We are also including some Star Wars Lego (after all, not many nine-year-olds are exciting to receive quilts!).


Sunday 13 April 2014

Tranquility: A Finished Quilt

When Carolyn Friedlander's Architextures fabric line was released I knew immediately that I needed to purchase some to make my dad a quilt. He was a landscape architect before retiring and the line was perfect for him. I especially love the blue print with the circular drawings as it reminds me of when I was a child and my dad had a big drafting board set up in his office as he drew in all the plants.

I bought a jelly roll of the line and then it sat and sat. I was going to make him a quilt for his birthday in August last year but after making one for my father-in-law (A Zipper in Time) who had his 60th birthday two days before my dad's, I ran out of time. Then I wanted to make him the quilt for Christmas but got crazy busy with work and with being very pregnant and trying to finish quilts for twins.

So it was top priority in 2014 to get my dad's quilt done. I will give it to him for his birthday this August and I can rest easy knowing it is DONE.

It is lap sized for my dad's daily naps and it uses a pattern from Moda Bake Shop.

Here is Tranquility, named for my dad's landscaping company.
Front of quilt. Uses one jelly roll of Architextures and 2m of Kona White.

This pattern really works with a whole line of fabric since all the squares then have character.

The binding is the Crosshatch in Tangerine.

The backing uses some of the leftover 2.5" strips and a whole lot of the blue circle pattern.
I sort of freehand straight quilted it. Some of my lines were not so straight. Oops. Part of it was because of the power of my new machine. I'm calling them "organic" and going with it. It will still keep my dad cozy, even if not particularly straight! I think I need to start actually marking quilting lines, but my lazy side tends to win out. Oops.

I hope my dad loves it!


Wednesday 9 April 2014

A Little Bit of This

I have been jumping around a bit from project to project doing "a little bit of this and a little bit of that." 

Here are a few pictures to capture what I have been up to on the sewing and quilting front.

A made a delicious roll of binding using the orange Crosshatch print from Architextures by Carolyn Friedlander. This is on my Tranquility quilt which I managed to finish up this week. Stay tuned for a post!
I did some straight line quilting on the Star Wars quilt I'm making,
I did some free motion squares-in-squares quilting on the borders.

I got the binding sewn on. Now I just need to hand stitch the binding on the back of the quilt.
All of the work on the Star Wars quilt, The Dark Side, got me noticing how much cat fur shows up on black fabric. Only one of my cats even has white in his fur and yet it showed up big time! Fortunately the recipient, a nine-year-old boy, has both a black cat and a white dog. A little fur won't bother him too much. :)

I also got two very fat packages in the mail from Pink Castle Fabrics. These are destined for the two grey quilts I'm making for a dear friend's little boys. They are moving into "big boy" double beds and she wanted quilts for them. She is paying for all the materials, thank goodness, because these weren't cheap! The Squared Elements will be the binding. The other two prints will be the backings. I am so excited to see how these turn out!!
Squared Elements in Carbon, Pointelle in Grey (Art Gallery) and Pearl Bracelets in Shadow.
Another item on my "to do" list is a scrappy pillow for my daughter's nursery. I love the colour combination and the scraps, but should have made the turquoise strips longer. I ventured into some dense straight line quilting (which is a dream on my new Janome) and I really like the impact. Below is a process shot where you can see how much depth the quilted lines (in grey Aurafil) add to the overall look of the pillow.

My plans for the rest of the week are to do a photo shoot for Tranquility, get the binding sewn down on The Dark Side, finish the pillow and start a Dwell quilt in pinks and greens for a little girl who turns three in October. I am trying to get my date-specific quilts done first so that I can take my time with the no deadline quilts!


Thursday 3 April 2014

Can You Blame Me?

When I was shopping for a new sewing machine, I came across these delicious beauties. I certainly don't need more fabric and yet I kept stroking those two beautiful grey prints from Cloud 9. I had to have them. The grey and white polka dot will go with the other greys for two charcoal-coloured quilts I'm making (I think they are #9 and #10 on the To Do list) and the teal and white polka dot pattern (also Cloud 9) was just too perfect to resist!
Which one is your favourite?
I think I need to incorporate one of those greys into a project soon since I love it so much!

I also recently picked up 5 metres of the famous IKEA print with numbers written out. It was $3.99/m!!! I'm thrilled and it will be another quilt backing. Which quilt? Bah. Who plans out that far ahead? ;)