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. :)


Friday, 25 July 2014

Tardis Pillow: Always Learning

So I made a tardis pillow. A tardis, for those non-Whovians, is Doctor Who's space ship. Space/time ship? Whatever. It is a police box from Britain and Trillium Quilts put together a HUGE paper pieced Doctor Who-themed quilt for her son and shared her patterns free on Craftsy. Brilliant, generous woman.

It came together much easier than I could have hoped, especially since I am not a paper piecing fan. Except I was disappointed that the curve of the pillow distorts the shape of the tardis and ruins the 3D look. It works better as a flat quilt block, I think.
I like the fabric I chose for the timey-wimey-outerspace- a Tula Pink print.

I used a tone on tone Pearl Bracelet print in dark grey for the back.

All those tiny seams look so much more impressive from the back!
I wasn't 100% thrilled with the end result. My hubby said it looked great and was sure his coworker would love it (it was a thank you gift for lending us all of his Doctor Who DVDs). The coworker did love it so that is a win. And here are some things I learned for in the future:
  • paper piecing can be totally worth it
  • some blocks don't work well for pillows because of the curvature of the pillow
  • use dark thread when piecing dark fabric to dark fabric, otherwise any stretch to the seam shows the light coloured thread- my laziness about switching out thread bit me in the butt on this one
  • careful pinning with tiny pins is key, but pinning it from the front while looking how it will fit together is even better (I got that tip from my quilty friend C)
And I will paper piece again. But only if the outcome will be really worth it to me!


Linking up to Crazy Mom Quilts Finish it Up Friday!

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Keeping It Real: The Sashing is Killing Me

Really, the whole quilt is sort of killing me.

Sometimes it feels like there is a curse over certain quilts. I definitely felt that way when I made my grandmother a quilt and nothing seemed to work out. Granted, she ended up loving that quilt and when she fell very ill she said it was the quilt that made her feel better. She took it with her to the nursing home and then was buried with it this past spring. So it was totally worth it.

Though that is a sombre example, I know that when I struggle with a quilt it will be worth it in the end. And this plus quilt will look amazing. I know it will. The little boy for whom it is intended should get lots of use out of it and I think his mom will love it.


THIS QUILT IS DRIVING ME CRAZY. It was easy to piece- 3.5" squares and lots and lots of nine patch blocks to make the pluses. Then when I started putting it together the moon must have been full or I spilled salt or walked in the path of a black cat or something because it has been disaster after disaster.

I put together the first three rows including sashing and it was looking fabulous. Then I put on the forth row and...
Holy crap. That is WAY short. What happened?? I made all the blocks at once.
I knew what happened after I paused for a minute and put all the other rows side by side. Rows 1-3 are one length and rows 4-8 are another length. Why? Because I decided to not be lazy. For once. But I decided it part way through the quilt. You see, I trimmed the blocks to perfect 9x9" squares. Well, the blocks for 4-8, anyway. 1-3 I just pieced as they were. BIG PROBLEM. Stupid me. Serves me right.
Do you see row four on the left slowly getting out of alignment with the first three rows?
So I picked stitches for hours. I was so mad at myself. My hubby even offered to help (thanks, dear, but no thanks. I could just see the distorted blocks littering the floor). 
My eyes were getting strained from all the white-on-white stitch ripping.
After hours of ripping this was the result.
And then, calmly, I trimmed them all, added the short sashing between the blocks and then sewed the rows back together. BUT I MESSED UP AGAIN!
I put in row 2 backwards. Not sure how I did it. But it meant patterns right next to each other. Nooooooo!
Out came the stitch ripper, and I pulled out that long sashing again. And reassembled it again. Hours of work to get back to where I thought I was.

And while attaching row four I noticed I put the sashing in upside down so I had to pull out about a foot of sashing and fix the seam. Deep breaths.

And then when I sewed on row four and went to press I noticed the bobbin had run out about a foot in and the majority of the row was not, actually, attached.

Pause while I sob. *sob*

I have been soothing these aggravations with cookies but I've eaten so many cookies now that I may have to turn to wine next. And if I am making all these mistakes sober you can only imagine what will happen if I've had a few.

But I will get this top done. I will not let it beat me!!

Wish me luck. And remind me to not be so lazy. Sigh.


Sunday, 20 July 2014

July Kona Solids

I was much happier with this month's Kona Solids from Sew Sisters this month. The inspiration photograph was a particularly Canadian- specifically Ontario- summer image. Those chairs by a lake up north? I wish I was there!
Don't you want to be sipping wine in one of those chairs?
I also liked the colours quite a bit (especially after the sickly sweet June offering).
From top down: Zucchini, Sky, Spring and Lapis
I love getting these solids but I am running out of room in my storage bin! Maybe I need to separate them by warm and cool like I do with my scraps? (Where I am also running out of space, don't you know).


Friday, 18 July 2014

Swoon Along

I have a group of quilty friends. It started with A and C whom I began working with three years ago and discovered they quilted. We have since done shop hops and sewing days and they have taught me so much (and I like to bully C to buy fabric and I bullied her to start a blog, too. You're welcome, C.)

Well they recruited two friends from work to also start sewing and quilting. K took to it like a duck to water and already has an impressive stash. CW is very, very new but already put together an amazing HST colour value pillow. It is sooooo nice. I want one. Plus she is turning into a bit of a fabric hoarder too, so that is a bonus.

Along came the idea of a Swoon Along. The more experienced of us knew we could tackle it and figured the two newer sewers would have our support if they got stuck. We all bought the pattern and decided this would be the summer of the Swoon.

A hosted our first "meeting" at her house. She is incredibly generous with her space. Of the group of five only three of us made it but it was a blast. A even made lunch for us, shared her sewing machine (I didn't want to haul my heavy new baby all the way there) and her iron and ironing board, cutting mat, etc. It worked out fine with us three sharing and we all got a block finished! Thank goodness for generous people!
My first block starting to come together.

K starting to do her cutting.

A has piles cut because she is using the same fabric for all the blocks (and is doing 6, not 9, blocks).

K kept making cutting errors but she didn't let it get to her. I think she is learning so much!

Here is my first finished block! Love that Tula Foxfield! I'm using Kona Shadow instead of white as my background.

Here are our three blocks. I thought it was funny to see that A's block (purple) was the most "perfect" with the seams and such, mine (turquoise) was pretty good and K's was a beginner's effort (she struggled with some seams and such) but they all look amazing!
Since then I have been working away to do more blocks.
Here is block #2. 

Block #3.
I was worried that block 3 had two fabrics that were too close in value to really show the Swoon pattern but now I think it is my favourite block so far!

C has one block done but was away on our first day (she totally ditched us for another friend) and came home for less than a week before jetting off again. I know she'll keep up, though. K has a second block done (and it looks even better than the first; you can tell she is improving with each attempt) and A has another block done (it looks the same as the first). CW has come down with a nerve injury in her arm or wrist or something so she is on pause for the time being, but hers is going to be in all contrasting Kona solids so I can't wait to see how it turns out!

I hope our next Swoon Along day is as relaxing and fun at the first!


P.S. I'm actually keeping this quilt when it is done. Like, for myself. Crazy, right?