Thursday, February 28, 2013

Dresden Plate

This is the first time I've made a Dresden Plate block!

Dresden Plate

It's block 6 from the Quick as a Fox sew-along. I'm really pleased with the way this came out. I now predict many more Dresden plates in my future

The points aren't stitched down; I'm not sure if I'll do that in the quilting phase or just leave them loose. Each wedge has been ditch stitched - don't look too close, the stitches are visible! - but at least they all stayed on the right side of the ditch. The inner circle was needleturn appliqued down. The background I had to piece; I only had a small amount of the pale orange print, and it was in a strip, so... yeah, I pieced it. And I will confess to being a Fabric Miser, because I realised that about half this block is covering the background, and why should I waste my precious fabric on a part that isn't seen? Like I said, I don't have much of this print, and I've got 13* more blocks to do with this selection of fabric. So I used some calico scraps for underneath the plate...

a frugal background

* 3 blocks to go in the Quick as a Fox quilt, plus 10 blocks to go in the Quilt Doodle quilt; both made with the same fabric palette, because... well, just because I want more blocks for a bigger quilt.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Something out of nothing

Do you ever have that thing where you can't think of anything to write about?...

I haven't managed to do any sewing today yet. I have no new blocks to show, or progress to report. So will it be another Random Cat Picture Day? Or time to find an old photo I haven't written about yet? Or just a rant about nothing?

I hate writer's block. It's so... oh I can't even think of the right word for it, grrr. And so I've decided that instead, I'll have quilter's block. It sounds more fun. I mean, if somebody says to you, "I have writer's block", do you automatically visualise what that looks like? I do. It's a blank piece of paper. Actually, a blank piece of paper devoid of words (as opposed to a blank piece of paper devoid of drawings/doodles/designs/etc). So if that same person - or somebody else, it really doesn't matter - says "I have quilter's block", what is it you see, in your mind?

As I thought about this, I straightaway saw the most simplest of blocks:


A one-patch, a plain block, a square... what exactly is this block known as? Because if it doesn't have a name yet, I propose Quilter's Block.*

Excuse me while I go research this ...... ...... ....... ....... ...... ...... ......... ...... ........ ...... Okay, I'm back. I'm a lazy researcher, so only managed two pages of Google (which is pretty good for me, as I usually don't go past the first). I found a blog called Quilter's Block, several blog posts titled Quilter's Block - it seems I'm not the first and only one to have it - but no reference to it as an actual name for a block.

 Hey, did I just come up with something new?


* The fantastic thing about the Quilter's Block block is that you can make it any size you like. Yup. 'Cos it's just a square. You can use solids, prints, or a combination. It's just so darn versatile!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

7 hexagons in 1 square

Today's block finish is from the Quick as a Fox sew-along:

Hexagon Applique
Becky shows us a super easy way of appliqueing (raw edge) hexagons for a quilt block. And, there's a link to a great tutorial on how to draft your own hexagonal template, any size you want!

In case you're wondering, this block will be 12" finished size. My hexagons are 2" along each edge. Do I call it a 2" hexagon in that case?

And another in-case-you're-wondering: the scraggly line things around the edge of the block are blades of grass. I took this pic outside in the sun, and yes, the lawn is overdue for mowing. I'm just waiting for the perfect weather to do it - not too hot, but not cold/wet/windy either, and with nothing better to do in the sewing room.

I think the grass will be growing a bit longer.


What I learnt today:

I figured out how to stitch around the hexies in one continuous line, finishing up where I started from. I did have to backtrack six times (i.e. six lines were stitched on twice), but the six lines in question together make a symmetrical pattern, making my whole stitching line consistent.

Can you figure out how to do it?

Hint: I began and ended at the red dot.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Skill Builder, at last...

I finished these two blocks today:

The Sound Wave

They are the first two blocks of the Skill Builder BOM at Pile O' Fabric, which I first mentioned a couple of days ago. Both are based on improv piecing, which lets you relax a bit and not be so nitpicky.

I am so in love with the colours and fabrics I've chosen for this quilt. But I must remember to take photos during the day in natural sunlight next time! Flourescent light just isn't the same, *sigh*.

This is going to be a Quilt As You Go project. I haven't chosen any backing fabrics yet, but when I do, I'll be Free Motion Quilting every block as I go along, as time permits.


... Why does it take so long?

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Building Skills

I've been a tad reluctant to introduce this BOM, because I haven't done any sewing on it yet - and so I am currently four (out of a total of twenty) blocks behind. It's the Skill Builder BOM, created by Alyssa over at Pile O' Fabric.

What I was finding the hardest was choosing a colour palette.

My first choice, in a moment of supposed inspiration, was monochrome.

But then I read in the instructions that it needs several colours, with several shades of each of those colours. Black, grey and white didn't seem to cut it any longer. (I ended up using these fabrics for a different quilt, so it wasn't a total waste of time picking them out, phew.)

Then I thought to use this stripe fabric as my inspiration, because I just love all the colours in it. There's a lovely warm feeling about it. It's a print by Sandy Gervais from Moda, of which I only bought half a metre - the last of the big time spenders, that's me!

I pulled some other fabrics to go with it (I just love stash shopping!); as well as a cream, for my neutral background.

Trying to narrow it down to just 12 colours for the 1st block.

I haven't sewn anything yet, although I've done the cutting for the first couple of blocks.

Maybe tomorrow...

Thursday, February 21, 2013

A little progress is still progress

The only sewing I did today was hand stitching the binding on a quilt. I got about a third of it done, which made me happy.

I like hand sewing, and what with the binding being the last part of the whole process, I find myself being rather excited by this stage.

Sorry but there's no progress pics just yet. So instead I'll leave you with a quote:

Asking a quilter to mend is like asking Picasso to paint your garage.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Welcome to the future

I'm usually one of the last people to jump on the bandwagon with technology/fashion/anything at all really.

So it shouldn't be a surprise that I got my first smartphone only a couple of weeks ago.

Today, I learnt about QR Codes.

I won't go into it all here, except to say two things:

1. Google it or look up on Wikipedia if (like me) you do not what I am talking about. If you're interested at all, that is - if not, just smile politely and nod.

2. This technology is so cool!

I've seen a quilt made out of a design like this. I cannot remember where, just that it was on a blog somewhere.

How awesome would it be to have your very own personalised quilt, embedded with a message or website or whatever, that a phone can scan and read?

I think I'll add that to my One-Day-I'm-Definitely-Going-To-Do-That idea pile.

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Back to the wonder of a land in winter

Phew, it would've been a lot easier to just say Winter Wonderland, but I already have a blog post with that title, and I don't like to repeat.

The second row in this round robin row quilt has snowflakes on either side of a central embroidered panel. I figured it would be quicker to do the piecing rather than the embroidery, so I made the six star blocks first. And that was when I became unsure about which fabric to use as the background for the stitchery (which I'll stitch in black). So, as usual, I tried out some options and snapped some pics.
My original choice - the central fabric is white with pale blue stripes running horizontally (and not used anywhere else in this row).

Second choice - same blue as the snowflakes. Too much blue?

Last choice - I used this shirt fabric in the centres of the snowflakes, so reusing it here would give it some cohesion I guess. And the subtle shading adds interest.
Okay, so before I started typing today I was up in the air about which one to use. But now, after loading those pics and explaining my reasons for selecting each one, I've settled on a final choice.

Tune in in a few days to see which one won.
Or leave a comment, let me know what you think!

Monday, February 18, 2013

One more Quick Fox block...

Block 4 from the Quick as a Fox sewalong is pieced onto a paper foundation, in four segments (well actually eight, as I cut each segment in half to make it even easier for myself). I had fun trying out different layouts before I stitched the pieces together into another 12" block...

This block came out better than I expected. I really like the finished product. The background fabric is loud, but I'm getting used to that.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A pinwheel in the garden

February's block for the Quilt Doodle BOM mystery quilt:

This one's called Garden Pinwheel. There's a tiny bit of hand stitching involved, on the applique flower. There's supposed to be a yo-yo/suffolk puff attached to the flower's centre as well, but I was unsure if it needed it. Maybe it does, but not in the colour I chose - my palest shade of turquoise. Perhaps something more dramatic, i.e. darker instead of lighter.

This quilt won't be getting put together until late in the year, so there's plenty of time for me to make up my mind about that. And change it (several times!).

Saturday, February 16, 2013

And Sew On...

The second block in the And Sew On BOM is called You Little Ripper! Which is a very apt title for this foundation pieced block.*

I love all three of the fabrics used in this "block". I may just have to use them in a real block some time!

*It seems most people call this method Paper Piecing, but when I think of paper piecing I automatically picture English Paper Piecing with the little paper templates you stitch together; so I will refer to the block above (and all others like it) as being Foundation Pieced.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Red in reverse

The latest block I've completed in the Something New sampler quilt is all about reverse applique.

The applique shapes are stitched on from the back, which means that the bobbin thread is what shows on the right side. So bobbin tension must be set to perfect, and it's not a good idea to have threads poking through where they shouldn't. I'm not too worried about that though, because I'm sure it'll fix itself during the quilting phase.

It looks more complicated to do than it actually is. I kept putting off sewing this one for a long time. And then I read through the tutorial instructions, and thought, "Oh that's not tricky at all. It's easy. I can do that..."

And so I did it. And it was easy. Not tricky at all.


What I've learnt/learned today:

Iron projects before photographing them!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

random cat picture day

Yes, another one, already.

I was going to title this "Mystery Picture" or some hopefully witty version of that, but then I spotted Tabitha keeping cool from the January sun in the shade of the dwarf bamboo.

For the curious gardening and tree-loving people out there in cyberland, the bamboo is beside a hazelnut tree (male, sadly, so no fruit), which just sprouted there of its own accord (which explains their too-close proximity). On the far right of the picture are the leaves of a flowering cherry tree.

Anyway, the mystery of the picture is that I don't know what exactly this wooden item is. I found it at a garage sale last summer. There's a homemade-looking stand thing, with notches at the top, as if waiting for a skinny dowel to sit in it. It came with the quilting hoop. It's a good quality hoop, so I was pleased to get them both for just $5. I'm unsure whether the hoop goes with the stand, but the lady selling it thought her mum used them together. There's a part missing, obviously, but she couldn't find it, so the mystery remains with me.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

one green block

Today: one more block which I've completed from the Something New Sampler. I've got five more blocks to complete before I'm all caught up with this particular quilt-along.

This one is called Scrap Attack. Basically, it's small rectangles of scraps sewn together and sashed with white background fabric, to measure 7" by 14". I chose to make my block green, so I subdivided my green scraps into various shades of green. The lighting in the above pic is shocking, but there's lime green, sage green, green green (grass green?), olive green.

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Winter Wonderland

Winter Wonderland is a round robin quilt created by Becky from Patchwork Posse. Actually, it's a row quilt, so not done in rounds, so I guess that makes it a row robin? Also, she hasn't created it all -- just the first and last row and the finishing off; there are about 10 rows in between which are designed by guest quilt bloggers.

I'm not sure if I've explained it properly, but it's heaps of fun, and this is the third time I've done it. (One day, there will be a post about my other two.)

A rather monochrome palette. The fabric is mainly recycled shirts. The blue in the background is a sheet.

Row 1 is four Delectable Mountains. I haven't sewn mine together into a row yet, because I wasn't sure in what order to arrange them:

Light to dark progression

Random placement

Alternating position and shading
Hmmm... I think I'll just leave that decision until later on in the series... where this row is placed in the quilt may help me decide how to balance the colour.

There's a new row posted every two weeks. Row 2 came out today.

Making a winter themed quilt top sounds just perfect for the weather we've been having here. It was 29 degrees yesterday (Celcius - not sure what that compares to in Fahrenheit), which was the hottest in the country. Last week it got up to 32 degrees; it was so humid, even the weeds were wilting (I am fully aware there are many parts of the world that are far hotter. I am only commenting on my own experiences).

That is why summer is my least favourite month: I don't like sweating. And the UV from the sun isn't safe -- among the worst in the world. The weather man says to stay inside/out of the sun between 10am and 4pm.

So piecing stars and embroidering snowmen is very therapeutic.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Spot the difference

You may or may not remember this block from a few days ago:
It's not actually a block, it's pieces from Clue 1 in the Back to Square One mystery quiltalong.

I completed February's Clue 2, and let my daughter play with the layout:
Her initial layout.
I encouraged her to flip some pieces.


I liked it before, but I'm loving it now, with the addition of the deep pink.

I played too...

... rotating ...

... and flipping.
The blue of our carpet matches one of the blues in the quilt, which makes some of the negative space look like it's supposed to be there, especially in these last three.

I liked viewing these as thumbnails, it really highlighted the differences just a small change can make to the whole look.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Sunday no-sew day

9pm, haven't managed any sewing yet. I did do cutting out for two blocks so that counts, right?

Happy Sunday everybody -- or whichever day it is you read this!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Ode to Susannah

(or, A Lesson in The Importance of Perspective)

I chose fabrics for the blocks
I cut fabric for the blocks
I pieced the blocks
I matched the points
I pressed the blocks
I photographed the blocks
I put the blocks in my "completed blocks for BOMs and QALs of 2013" pile

I uploaded the photos
I edited the photos
I took another look at the cropped photos
Hey, they don't look alike -
What went wrong?


I retrieved the block
I unpicked the block
I restitched the block
I repressed the block
I rephotographed the block

I uploaded the photos
I sighed

Susannah is February's block for the Sisters' Ten BOM. Two blocks are made from the same pattern for each month. For more, check out the Flickr group.

Friday, February 8, 2013

3D quilt block

Block 3 in the Quick as a Fox sewalong is a 3D Block:

Where is this 3rd dimension, you ask? See those lime green triangles? They're actually folded over squares, sewn over top of another square, thus forming a pocket of sorts.

Pretty cool, huh?

I liked seeing this block come to life, but I'm glad it's a sampler quilt and I don't have to make another - so many seams, so much pressing!

It's still pretty cool though.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Random Cat Picture Day

I've decided that every so often it's going to be Random Cat Picture Day. Not necessarily on a Thursday, like today, because I know that if I say that, it'll only last for one week. (Nah, I don't bother with New Year's resolutions either.)

So, thinking I was being clever, but then realising this is a world of six billion people, I thought I'd better Google it. Make sure no one else had beat me to it. Incredibly, with that exact phrase, I only got three results. Now I don't know if it's just timing or locality or  something else entirely, but I'm guessing if somebody in, say, Kazakhstan did a Google search tomorrow, they should get the same results*. Is that how Google works? That's how I think it works, anyway.

Tabitha is sitting on a pile of batting which I'd cut for a QAYG quilt. I'm happy to report that that quilt is actually finished, and is on my bed right now. Photo taken last August; quilt was finished in time for christmas, which was good, because it is a christmas quilt, started the previous year. Not too bad, for me!

I've done some sewing today:
I mended my daughter's jacket;
I nearly finished a block (one seam to go, out of about 30);
I did some piecing on two others;
And I cut out for one row of a row quilt.

Actually it doesn't look like much, written out like that, but I feel I achieved something - especially because I didn't do any sewing yesterday, as I had my machine threaded up for the jacket fixing - which of course led to a whole day of procrastination. Sigh, what a waste of yesterday.

But today was good.

* Actually, they should get four, this post having that exact phrase as well! Yeeha!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Quick as a fox!

The Sew Along I'm introducing today is by Becky from Patchwork Posse, and it's being hosted by Heather over at The Sewing Loft. Quick as a Fox is a 9-block sampler quilt, with some interesting blocks and great hints and tips along the way.

This is the selection of fabric I've chosen:
If it looks familiar, that's because it is. I'm using the same fabric for two quilts; the other I showed you three days ago, the Quilt Doodle BOM Sampler. There's 12 blocks in that quilt, 9 in this one, all 12 inches square, so I'll have enough for a larger-than-lap quilt (sadly, I have no need of lap quilts). Hopefully. If I keep the momentum up, and don't relegate either or both projects to the UFO pile, then I might even make a few extra blocks to go with them.

Block 1 - Log Cabin... Instead of light/dark, I went turquoise/orange

Block 2 - Flying Geese
Quick as a Fox runs from 8 January to 26 March, with a new block every week. As I write, I'm only two blocks behind; block 3 is cut, ready to sew, and block 4 only came out today, so I don't actually feel I'm behind.

Not on this one, anyway!

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Now let's sample something new

The Something New Sampler quilt is something a bit different. Here's a summary:
  • modern
  • 9 blocks
  • size 7" x 14"
  • it's hosted by Amy over at The Cute Life
  • it runs from 14 January - 1 March
  • a different designer for each block
  • each designer has tried out an uncommonly used technique, with a detailed tutorial to follow
  • there are TWO blocks posted each week

Yes, two. I'm ever so slightly behind (done three, got two more kind of ready to begin, and two more new patterns were posted today (or yesterday, depending on your time zone)), but remember, 2013 is the year of challenges. And trying something different

I couldn't decide on any particular colours, so decided to go rainbow style. My first two completed blocks:

First, sorry about the picture quality.

Second, this is the purple Bargello block. Good fun.
Third, this is my pink Folded block. More good fun, although a tiny bit tricky in parts (try it and you'll see what I mean).

Fourth, I haven't taken a pic of my third block yet, so that will have to wait for my next update on this QAL.
Fifth, well there is no fifth, that was just a trick, ha!

(Apologies for my late-night sense of humour; it just goes weird when I'm overtired. See ya tomorrow.)

Monday, February 4, 2013

How to use fish fabric

The Sisters' Ten Modern BOM has been created by AnneMarie over at gen x quilters. There's a bit of a difference with this one: each monthly block is made twice, so you can make the second one look totally different to the first. Then at the end they're put into a modern setting (click the link above and go take a look!).

This is my chosen range of fabrics:

Once I'd decided upon the fish as the focus print, it was so easy to pick others to match it. Actually I bought the fish fabric back in 1997, with some vague idea of making a skirt from it (I didn't quilt back then; I was studying fashion design). I was never brave enough to sew up a fish skirt, so it just hung around in my stash, one of only a few cottons.
Fast forward to the present day: I realised that instead of trying to add it to some quilting project, I'd add the other fabrics to it, thus making all those crazy colours make sense. And if you look closely, the fish have patchworky patterns on them, some of which I was able to match up almost exactly, and just with what was in my stash. (I'll try to get a better close-up photo for the next Sisters' Ten block post.)

And here are my two January blocks, Grandmother's Frame:

I love how these turned out, especially the one on the left with the fussy-cut fish.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Another Mystery

My third 2013 BOM is by Cindy of Quilt Doodle Designs: the Quilt Doodle Mystery BOM. There's a new block on the first of the month, 12 blocks total, with some fancy sashing to bring it all together.

Here's my fabric selection:

Can you guess which one's the focus fabric?!
It's an interesting print which I bought only because it was discounted, and was the best out of what was left. I've always wondered what I'd use it for. I really like it with these other prints and plains.

This is the first 12" block, Monkey Wrench:

I've always loved this design.

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Back to Square One

Back to Square One Medallion Mystery is a fun BOM that Judy from Patchwork Times has created, along with Vicki from Field Trips in Fiber. The end result will be a medallion-type quilt, 92” x 92”. Clues will be given each month, keeping the final design mysteriously secret. I was intrigued enough to give it a go.

These are my fabric choices:

Not having enough of any one fabric (except for the background, which is an op shop sheet!), I’ve gone deliberately scrappy. It’s a gamble, but I reckon 2013 is a year to take chances. If my end result turns out horrendous, I’ll just use it as a backing. But I’m pretty sure that won’t happen.

Here are my bits from the January clues:

Do you like my artful arrangement? No, I don’t have any inside knowledge of the final block arrangement... I was just playing. Trying for a more interesting composition. Next time I won't photograph the pieces on the carpet, as it's the same colour as some of the blue triangles.