Saturday 30 August 2014

When You're Itching for a Finish

I have been working on my grey quilts for what feels like forever. And I have been itching for something to be finished. I need to make quilts for twins due in November and recently discovered they are boy/girl twins. I took some time to play with fabric (my favourite part) from my stash and pulled out some fun ones. Like this fabric:
A Michael Miller Dot print that is so unusual I wasn't sure how I'd ever use it.
And I cut into the first of my Cotton and Steel basic bundle. Eeeeee! This line in so amazing and the selvedge, oh the selvedge!
This is the layout for the little boy quilt. Simple patchwork and crib sized. Aqua, teal, brown and green, inspired by those Ann Kelle monkeys. 
Do you also spy some Riley Blake Quatrefoil? 
The colour scheme is very unconventional but I am loving it all together.

And I've had a colour scheme of mint and navy stuck in my head. So out came the navy from my stash and some mints, mostly from Cotton and Steel.
Loving how these look together.
And I put together this lay out with them (the colour isn't so fab thanks to a sun setting behind me):
Also unconventional and I totally love it. This will be for the little girl twin.
Those will be super easy to piece and finish. If only I wasn't being called by the 32 HSTs that need pressing and trimming for Border 1 of my Aviatrix Medallion...
Calling my name.

Thursday 28 August 2014

More Fabric. Of Course.

Fabric is addictive. I didn't know that when I started quilting. I have a stash that could only be described as gluttonous. Honestly, I am starting to reach a point where I could sew for five more years at ten quilts a year and barely make a dent.

And yet.

Two big fat envelopes arrived from Pink Castle Fabrics!
There is no happier mail than fabric mail.
See, Pink Castle is moving locations and had a Super Sale section and then ANOTHER 40% OFF THAT SECTION! I wiped the drool from chin and placed an order for these:
Riley Blake Quatrefoil FQ bundle that worked out to just over $1 a fat quarter. Also, a yard and a half of this Art Gallery print so my friend A can make my youngest daughter a dress using an Oliver and S pattern I bought last year. I don't sew clothes.
At the same time I texted quilty friend C because there was a Heather Bailey True Colours Half Yard bundle in the Super Sale section. We both were drawn to this particular bundle when it came out last year. We also both showed restraint until this sale which, by going in together, we each got a fat quarter bundle of this line for about $30. Amazeballs. Let's just say that C jumped on the offer and I had pressed "Place order" about 15 seconds after she said to do it.
The colours are so amazing. I love this bundle.

I'm having some fabric buying thoughts that I will share in another post. Not a diet, exactly, but some motivation to use my stash. Thankfully Lotta Jansdotter's new line, which comes out in October (I think) does not appeal to me at all this time. Phew. Otherwise that would be preordered in a second!


Tuesday 26 August 2014

Dory Would Tell Me to Just Keep Cutting

The Aviatrix Medallion is an incredibly gorgeous medallion quilt designed by Elizabeth Hartman. I knew I wanted to make it as soon as I saw her all solids version and I have never been interested in a medallion quilt before. I roped in my quilty friend C and we both had fun pulling from our stashes. But then the cutting. Oh, the cutting.

I felt like I had completed an Ironman when I got all the coloured solids cut:
This is the most gorgeous stack. Yummy.
And then I had a looooooooong pause. Partially due to life and partially because the cutting was KILLING ME. This quilt is not for the faint of heart. When C went on a quilting retreat and finished her centre medallion and four borders (!!!!) I was motivated by her pictures on Instagram to jump on cutting again.
First all the white.

288 Template 3 pieces. RiDONKulous.
And I actually got all the cutting finished! Though I did have this as my distraction when I couldn't cut anymore:
A butt load of 2 1/2" strips of Art Gallery's Squared Elements for the binding for my grey quilts.

That made this gigantic roll of binding. This is the greatest fabric for binding. It looks amazing.
Once it was all cut and I had an hour of sewing time without any kids or my husband to interrupt I jumped in. I swear I broke into a cold sweat when I began here:

The first real assembly page of a 17-page pattern.
And then I laid them out like this and started getting really excited:
I had to pause at this stage because the baby woke up from her nap. I carefully covered each diamond with a piece of paper so one of my cats wouldn't decide to take a nap on top and mess up the order!
And after a little trouble with the grey solid being added (the instructions are amazing so I really only used a seam ripper twice) I got THIS:
I can't stop looking at it.
I posted it on Instagram and even my non-quilty/sewing friends were impressed. Because OH MY HEAVENS THIS PATTERN IS AMAZING.

Now if only I could ignore the six (!) quilts I need to get done before Christmas and get the rest of this done!


Sunday 24 August 2014

Of Course the Quilting Couldn't Go Smoothly

As I continue to plug away at my grey quilts, the plus quilt in particular seems to wish to cause as much difficulty as possible. After finally getting it pieced correctly and basting it (tell me, does anyone like basting?) I wanted to jump into the quilting. The problem was that I had not considered that a very dark back (a tone on tone Pearl Bracelet in shadow) combined with wanting to keep a crisp (Kona) white front meant that when I did a little practice on a mini quilt sandwich that had the same fabrics I would discover this:

I quilted very quickly, not carefully, hence the pulling on the edges where I went too fast. But the major issue is that the white Aurafil from the front of the quilt shows through on the dark back! Argh!
I researched some options and consulted my quilty friends. Friend A asked for further advice from Triangle Sewing in Guelph who suggested Sulky in smoke. A picked up the Sulky for me and then gave me her clear as well to see if anything would work.
Smoke and clear. What will work?

These are the brands in case you are interested.
I then did a lot of practice. A had also recommended using my walking foot to see if that would lessen the amount the thread pokes through. I tried many combinations, as you can see below:
The trick was for it to not muddy the white but not to be seen on the back.
Ultimately I decided to go with smoke in the bobbin and clear on top. And I opted to use a walking foot as per my friend A's suggestion rather than FMQ because when I tried with the other thread it kept snapping. I didn't want any part of that, let me tell you.

It went quite smoothly other than one incident:
That sucks.
I got a huge nest of thread that involved some seam ripping (which wasn't too bad) and cleaning out my bobbin case to find the culprit (in this case a small three inch piece of the clear that had somehow become lodged in the machine). I then got back to work and...
Finished! Well, binding sewn on the front and waiting for a marathon session of some tv show to get done, then a good wash to get out the fabric marker.
I was so relieved to be finished that I used my enthusiasm to baste my grey Pow Wow quilt! It has now sat for a week without being touched yet, though. I hope some sewing mojo comes my way to conquer that quilt as well!
If you are visiting my blog because of Jenn's recommendation from A Quarter Inch from the Edge, welcome! Visit again on September 1st when I will blog about my quilting inspiration and projects and recommend three more fantastic bloggers whom I think you should check out!


Tuesday 19 August 2014

Swoon Update

I have been "swooning" with several quilty friends. A finished her six blocks (all the same fabric) in no time at all. C was behind me for awhile because of trips out of the country (and I was sure I was going to be able to beat her to the finish line) but then she got home and was a machine and finished all nine. Bah.

But my blocks are all finished and I love them!
It is hard to even take a picture with them all because it is so large!
I decided that I needed some sashing between each block and settled on 3.5" strips. Those have since been added. Now I just need a border around the outside and this quilt top is finished! I think it will stay unbasted and unquilted for awhile, though, because there seems to be a new baby boom around me and I have some baby quilts to whip up! Four before November!

I also wanted to share  my birthday gift from my hubby:
Violet Craft's Brambleberry Ridge. Hubby is smart. When you send him a link to exactly what you want, that is.
And when we went to Stratford for our anniversary for a play (King Lear) and dinner (at Renee's- delicious!!) I made a stop at their LQS (Ye Olde Fabric Shoppe) and scooped a few fat quarters.
I love the front two Robert Kaufman prints as inspiration points for a whole quilt. The Christmas fabric is to back some panels from Laurie Wisbrun that I bought to make this Christmas. 
I have since also done much more shopping. It is totally unreasonable how much fabric I have. I read blogs with people who have hundreds of WIPs and that makes me ill to think about. But apparently I can have thousands of yards of fabric without blinking! I need to go on another fabric diet...


Sunday 17 August 2014

Some Progress in Grey

Finding time to blog has been very difficult this summer because I am taking every spare second to sew instead of writing about sewing. I have been getting things done, but nothing finished. Working on three giant quilts at once has meant no finishes in ages. I'm dying for a good finished project!

I have had to do even more seam ripping with those grey quilts. The Pow Wow quilt I had laid all out and then discovered I was many blocks short. Then I discovered I gathered them vertically instead of horizontally as the pattern dictates. Then I gathered them with all the "arrows" pointed the same way. I discovered that last boo boo two rows into sewing. Out came my trusty seam ripper!
Two rows feels like nothing after that mess with the grey plus quilt.
Here is a little taste of the Pow Wow quilt. I LOVE it. I don't want to give it up I love it so much.
Isn't it divine?
I also used the tutorials from the free Spell It With Moda promotion from the blog world to piece letters for each of the quilts. These are on the back. J is getting the plus quilt and E is getting the Pow Wow quilt.
I used scraps to piece these letters. I love the personalized touch.
I got on piecing the backings (fairly straight forward as it is all one print on the back of both (Pearl Bracelets for plus, Pointelle in Shade for the Pow Wow) with just the letters added. I then had two quilts tops finished and two quilt backs finished.
I have since basted the plus quilt and I ran into even more difficulties with the quilting, which I will blog about separately. The quilts look amazing but I think I will feel a bit of relief when they are done!


Sunday 10 August 2014

My Daughter, the Quilter

My daughter, who turns six in October, has generally been completely disinterested in sewing and quilting. She showed a bit of interest when putting together an improv mini quilt for one of her dolls about a year ago and she was excited when Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus fabric arrived. That is about the extent of her engagement (she also frequently reminds me that I have too much fabric. Nonsense. No such thing).

Then when we were picking summer camps for this summer she latched on to a Lalaloopsy Camp where the (day) campers would be using sewing machines and hand sewing their own Lalaloopsy dolls. A week at camp and she made a doll, a pet for her doll and a pillow (sewing wise- they did tons of other activities too).

This was her Lalaloopsy:
She sewed this herself. The stitches are very rough and the teacher had to help at a few points but for a five year old? Come on!
This sewing adventure led to new found interest in my sewing machine and in quilting. She announced on my birthday that she wanted to make a quilt for her sister. I was quick to oblige. I pulled out the stack of charm squares I have been amassing (with my scraps I try to cut a few 5" squares and put them aside since they are so easy to use) and she hand picked which squares she liked. She made a 6x8 quilt top on the floor and then got to sewing.
Very focused.
She was very focused and did an amazing job at keeping the fabric moving without pushing or pulling at all. She didn't exactly ace the perfect 1/4" seam but even I'm still not 100% with that one!

I thought she would lose interest. Not a chance. I did all the pressing (hot iron + five-year-old=burns?) and then she helped baste her quilt. She wanted a pieced backing. Girl after my own heart! I used a scrap of batting and I did an enclosed seam as if it were going to be a pillow cover instead of a quilt. This eliminated any need for binding.

She got right on the quilting. My Janome has about a zillion decorative stitches, 99% of which I have never tried. Not my brave quilter! She chose various stitches and then got to work sewing a line down the centre of each row.
Little hands guiding her quilt.
Finished! She was very proud.
This is the end result. A quilt for her baby sister, designed, pieced and quilted by her.
I may not love all her choices but she was thrilled! And she insisted I take pictures of it in the backyard "just like you do for your quilts, Mommy."
Some flannel she pulled from my stash for the backing. Great choices, I think. Yes, she pieced the back as well.
My favourite decorate stitch that I will have to steal for myself. Mode 3, Stitch 11, a curve that looks amazing.
And here is her baby sister enjoying the quilt:
Baby and quilt awesomeness.
She is already talking about making another quilt! She wanted to start one the same day. I think she might be hooked.

And when her little friend who is the same age came over for a sleepover, the friend, B, asked it she could make a quilt, too. She was not nearly as focused as my daughter was but she did announce that she wished she had a sewing machine at her house!
The friend's quilt. She insisted on putting those oranges together, and keeping all those similar pieces together. I let her have creative license!
The back of the friend's quilt.
Two five-year-olds hooked on sewing. I think I deserve a fabric shopping trip. And maybe a little sewing time for my own projects? My daughter is now eager to "help" now that she knows how to sew. :)