Sunday, June 14, 2015

Sunshine - a finshed quilt

This quilt is made from 15 1/2 sun blocks that I won from Block Lotto a year ago. I was determined to finish it before the year was up and I have achieved my goal. I won the blocks in June last year and they started to arrive during July. As I recall the weather was cold and grey, so these blocks were a sunny addition to the design wall.

I started out by making an additional 1/2 sun block so that I had 8 pairs to match up. I made the large center sun by enlarging a pattern that I found here.

Then I was a bit stuck and couldn't decide what to do in the corners. I was too lazy to make 8 more of the 1/2 sun blocks, so I ended up making an enlarged and simplified 1/4 sun using another pattern from the same site that I used for the center.

I had debated doing quilting around all of the detail, but I know that this takes me a lot longer and I wanted to do something quick. So, I designed a geometric spiral pattern to use for the quilting that would create a kind of grid of spirals connected with lines. I had also picked out a very fine aqua polyester thread - it's the same thread that I always use in the bobbin for quilting and I thought I'd try using it on the top as well. It's so fine it practically disappears and I thought this was a good idea. But, it was not to be.

I had a lot of trouble with breakages and also decided that my spiral grid was ugly and uneven. So out came the seam ripper. I might add that it is not easy to unpick stitches while a quilt is mounted on a frame, but I persevered and it took me a few weeks to undo the 1/2 row that I had completed.

When I finally started again with a new design and new thread, it was all smooth running and I finished it in one day. I always swear by Superior threads - I use King Tut a lot, but this one was done with Magnifico in white and it was magnificent to work with. Too bad I have to order the big spools from the US, but it's always worth it.

The design is a meandering spiral, sun-rays, and bouncy echo combo that I came up with on paper. It's a variation of something I've done before and it was really quick and well-suited to using the frame. I also think that the all-over design slightly softens the bright colors and doesn't detract from the graphic suns.

I tried a new method for the binding using instructions that I found here for a piped binding. This proved to be a good solution because I didn't have enough of either color to bind it, but I had enough to create this two color binding. I like the effect, but need to practice my stitch in the ditch (probably why I like organic quilting and rarely use straight lines).

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Blogger's Quit Festival Entry - Blue Snowflakes

I remember thinking this quilt would be ready for the last Blogger's Quilt Festival, but it was not. It was finished shortly after in early November 2014, so I'm entering it this year in the applique category.

I started this quilt in a class at Symposium in Queenstown - I think that was in 2011. I took a class with Chris Kenna, I don't recall the exact name but it included the term scherenschnitte which is a paper-cutting technique. From my perspective it was an introduction to needle turned applique using freezer paper - I confess I did not develop a love for hand applique and it was a struggle for me to get this one finished.

My daughter loves blue and loves snow, so this one is for her. I have not actually given it to her or let her put it on her bed because the dog and cat are often sleeping there too. I think it may end up on the wall instead.

I quilted it using my Juki TL-98 on a Swiftquilter frame. I tried a few experiments with scale and different patterns. I love the effect, but it may be a while before I use tiny pebbles again as a filler.

How the Block Lotto has changed my (quilting) life

Join me on the Block Lotto Blog

A couple of months ago I was lamenting that I had not participated in the Block Lotto in February and I was debating if I should make a block in March. Maybe it was just bad timing - I'm busy and these recent blocks did not appeal.

Ever since I started playing in December 2010, I have made at least one block each month. Back then I had just started getting into quilting and was looking for ideas and inspiration when I found the site. I was attracted by the variety and the possibility of sending and receiving blocks to and from around the world. Each month Sophie came up with something new and interesting and even those blocks made with colours or fabrics that weren't my cup of tea taught me something.

Here are a few favourites:

I started thinking about the projects that I have on the go right now and realised that each one was influenced by the Block Lotto, some directly and others in more subtle ways. I realised that even if I am no longer making every block that comes along each month, I am carrying the spirit of the Block Lotto in the work that I do and I am thankful of the community and what it has given me. So, it's time to share that thanks.

My green and white quilt has been years in the making and it's almost done. Believe it or not, it started out with some bonus triangles trimmed off of this block that the Block Lotto did in April 2011. I think I had about 12 HST units in green and cream and I just started playing with them.

They eventually turned into 1,600 HST units in a mix of greens, greys, whites, and creams. I am currently putting on the binding so it should be done soon.

My next current project is more obviously from the Block lotto - this quilt is made up of 15 sunrise blocks I won in June 2014. It's ready to start quilting (this weekend I hope).

My most recent quilt is my pink cat quilt. This started with a cute cat fabric that was gifted to me by Jude when she sent me her sunrise blocks (centre of bottom right block). I thought that it was so sweet that I had to buy some more cat fabrics and design/make a quilt. After I designed the block, I used Sophie's instructions for 8-at-a-time HST blocks and the no-waste flying geese method, also using Sophie's instructions. I've done 11 of the 25 blocks, so it's coming along well.

I have won blocks three times all together and these have resulted in 3 finished quilts (and one in progress). I also used one of the block patterns from December 2012 to make a wedding gift for some friends.

I'm sure there's more that I could tell you about, but I think you get the idea. So, even when I'm not thrilled with a block one month, I am still thankful that I have been involved with the Block Lotto and hope that I can continue to be inspired by its leader Sophie and all of the other wonderful quilters who contribute each month.

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Making progress

My sunshine quilt is all pieced and ready to quilt. I debated how I would quilt it and finally decided that an all-over pattern would suit me best right now. My instinct is to quilt around all of the piecing, but this takes much longer and has a much higher frustration rate. The truth is that my Swiftquilter frame setup is best used for all over designs and I seem to forget this fact.

Of course, there was still a quilt on the frame, but now that is off an I am working on the binding. This quilt seems really heavy, but I think that's the result of all of the piecing - it's easy to forget how much fabric is hidden in all of the seams. I'm looking forward to sleeping under it though. I used a wool blend batting which is softer and puffier than cotton. Perfect timing now that it's getting a bit chillier.

Here's a peek at the quilting.

A new project is a paper-pieced block that I made to help Robyn test her new pattern. I'm not sure what I will make with it, so it's hanging on the design wall waiting for some attention.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

More sunshine

I finally managed to do a concentrated burst of sewing to move this project forward. I really ran into a creative wall when I finished the center medallion because I couldn't quite work out what to do with the corners. Sometimes putting a project away for a while is the best approach.

I put together the corner pieces on the weekend after making an emergency run to the fabric store - it seemed like I had only small pieces in the colors that I wanted to use. I made each corner different because the 1/2 sun blocks came from a variety of contributors and the colors and fabrics are all different.

I started sashing last night. I have 2 blue solids that are similar but different. Every other block around the edge will be bordered with one fabric, the others will be bordered with the second fabric. I was struggling with the strange sizes of the blocks and didn't want 6" sashing which is what would be needed to have evenly separated them. By using two blue solids it (hopefully) won't appear like there is uneven sashing, but instead a distinct border around each smaller block.

I'm hoping to get the top pieced by this weekend. Then it's in queue for quilting because my green/white HST quilt is still on the frame and about 2/3 finished.

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Q2 Finish Along - list of hopefuls

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Adrianne at On the Windy Side is hosting the 2015 Finish Along. I didn't manage to get involved in Q1 (and I didn't manage to finish anything, so just as well). I have had a few lingering projects that I need to get moving on and a newish project that seems to have stalled.

My goals for Q2 are:

  1. Green/white triangles - currently on the Swiftquilter frame and about 2/3 quilted. Seems like it should be easy to get done, but it's been in progress for a long time and on the frame since mid-February.

  2. Sunrise - still need to complete the corner units, piece the front, and get it quilted. I won the small half sun blocks on Block Lotto in June. I'd like this one to be done before a year has passed.

  3. Pink Cats - started just a month ago, I'd love to get this one finished but suspect that just getting the 25 blocks pieced is a more realistic goal.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

New project

Last weekend the Monday Modern girls had a sewing day. I wanted to start a new project to work on. I had started collecting some cat fabrics all of which had some grey and some pink in them. The grey was intentional, the pink just kind of happened. I bought a few solids that matched the different pinks that ranged from magenta to coral. I wouldn't usually mix these colors, but I think they work somehow.

I wanted to design a quilt that highlighted the cat prints without being too simple. After trawling though the internet for ideas, I designed a block with a 4" center square for the cat prints. The center is bordered by a pink solid, accented with a black/white print, and finished with white. I'm not sure that my design is unique, but it is my own.

Another goal for this project was to plan the quilt from start to finish. Some friends were lamenting about problems with some patterns they had used from books or that they had purchased and I started thinking about how one would go about designing a quilt with the intent to publish a pattern. Usually I work quite organically making decisions along the way and I enjoy this process. When I have made quilts for others, usually with a deadline, I always plan these out from the start. I don't have any of these to look at and analyse, but I remember them as being more cohesive but also more sanitized than quilts I make and keep.

How would planning affect my creative process? I admit that I purchased the fabric before I knew how I would use them and some have come from my stash. I haven't calculated out exactly what the requirements are, although I did have to do this with the white because I did not have enough. I was surprised that I would need 1-1/2 yards for 25 blocks.

I started by trying to cut out all of the fabric and then got bored and started making blocks. This weekend I finished cutting so I have nice tidy piles ready to go. So far I've made 6 of the blocks and I'm liking how they work together.

I'm using a few different techniques for the different elements in the block - the half square triangles are made 8 at a time and the flying geese are made 4 at a time using the 'no waste' method. It takes me just over 30 minutes to make one block, so I hope to do one a day until I have the remaining 19 finished.

I'm already staring to think about how I will quilt this one. Maybe a change from my usual is in order...or maybe not.