Sunday, October 11, 2015

Monday Modern round robin progress

We are in the process of adding the third borders to our little quilts after making the swap last Monday. I have two to work on since one of the girls has dropped out and being the organizer I felt a little guilty and decided to at least add her last border so that she could quilt it.

The second border that I did last month was a bit of a mishmash after I ran into a few design issues. I made the paper pieced diamonds first with a very dark navy background and then with a grey background. I thought one was too dark and the other too light, so I decided to balance it out and do half and half. I had to ponder the corners for quite a while and admit that it I'd planned it out, I would have just mitered the stripes in the corner. But I didn't make them long enough to do that and wasn't sure I had enough fabric to re-cut the strips.

Even with these hurdles, I liked the results and (as usual) I always enjoy a challenge.

This weekend I worked on the third border for one of the two I have. The original block was a tiny Seminole-style piece in green, orange, and mustard. I think it only measured 3" x 9". I wanted to refer back to that original piecing and added 4 patches on point in those colors with the navy thrown in. The background fabric is an odd color, but seems to go (I hope).

My original plan had 2 rows on the top and bottom, but it was too much so I removed one row - not easy when they are on point. I was determined not to re-piece the whole row so I ended up inserting the background triangles using y-seams. Tricky, but quicker once I worked out what I was doing.

I debated adding a final plain border, but it was necessary because in my re-work I had to use some HST on the edges instead of the QST I should have. With the bias on the edge it was at risk of getting really mis-shapen. This was the best option that I had enough of. The owner can reduce it down to minimize the effect, if she likes.

My last 'victim' is a fantastic piece with a huge variety of animals and colors. I already have some ideas on what I am going to do. I definitely want to make it taller and envision some reed-like vertical elements. But, I don't know if I want to add to the happy chaos or try to calm it all down. I'm leaning towards more color because the original block with the frog is so bright. We'll find out next weekend...

Monday, October 5, 2015

Pink Cats finished

This quilt has been 'almost' done for a while. It took me about 5 weeks to tidy up all of the loose threads and get the binding on. Getting a good photo is always a challenge and the wind wasn't being very cooperative yesterday afternoon either.

I designed the blocks around the cat prints and took my cue from the prints to choose a selection of pinks including fuchsia, baby pink, and coral. I like the mix and particularly like the coral to prevent it from all getting too pinky-purple.

I tried to keep the quilting fairly simple and like the end result even though some of the lines are a bit wonky. I kept saying to myself that I would go back and 'fix' a few of the mishaps, but you know, life is too short for that!

I did the back-to-front binding and machine stitched it using a black and white thread and a blanket stitch. Usually I hand stitch it to the back, but sometimes I am lazy and do it by machine. I don't have strong feelings either way.

Now that this one is done, there's not much on my radar. I've convinced my mother to send me a very old UFO that she started about 35-40 years ago - I'm keen to modernize it and mix the vintage fabrics with some new ones.

Linking up with Adrienne at On The Windy Side for Q3 of the 2015 Finish-Along.

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Arctic Hare finished cushion

I have (just about) finished my Arctic Hare cushion. There are a few things to tidy up like threads and some basting and one little mistake that needs fixing. I'm happy with the finished product and Toffee has given it the dog seal of approval.

I decided to try making my own piping to go around the edge. I made bias strips with a piece of old yellow fabric (c. 1988). I thought I had some cording that was specifically for piping which would have given a better result, but I made do with some cord that I've had for ages purchased for some project long forgotten. The cord worked okay, but given the size of the cushion I probably would have preferred beefier piping.

I do not have a purpose-built cording foot so I used a zipper foot. This worked fine, so I won't be rushing out to get a special foot for this job any time soon. Making the piping was pretty easy, but putting it all together was tricky, especially with all of the layers (I counted 12 layers of fabric and 3 layers of batting when crossing the overlapped backing that was bound on the edge). Both of my machines coped fine with the layers, I just think that when a 1/4 inch seam is taller than it is wide, there's a bit of slippage. In hindsight, a 1/2 inch seam would have been a good idea.

The back is made using the same grey fabric as the narrow border on the front. I did some wavy cross-hatched quilting using the walking foot just to hold the layers together and give it some texture. The overlapped edges are bound in a blue stripe that I used on the front as well. This whole project was an exercise in making-do. I did buy an inner (a bit too puffy, I think); everything else was hanging around my studio.

This is the first of my finishes for this quarter's 2015 finish-along - and a month before the deadline!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Monday Modern round robin

We've started a round robin at Monday Modern quilters and I am organising it. I've been wanting to do one for a while, so 9 of us have joined in. After 4 years of participating in the Cotton Robin, I'm pleased to be doing one with this group. Unlike the Cotton Robin, we are sharing our work along the way - some of the girls were a bit nervous about the process and I think seeing each other's progress has helped with this.

My starting block is a red/pink and white checkerboard with two appliqued circles that I fussy cut from a Christmas fabric I had in my stash. I debated doing something a bit more avant-garde (or at least more modern), but decided that having a mix of styles would make it more interesting.

I have Melanie's starting block which she managed to put together after being overseas for the lead-up discussions. She used the cutest fabrics (my 11-year old announced "Adorable!" when she saw them). I had it hanging on the wall for a week before diving in this weekend. I was determined to use fabrics from my stash but really struggled with the green and the navy. I think I managed to find some fabrics that work without being exactly the same.

The flying geese (Melanie's go to pattern) were my inspiration. I decided to stack them up for some variety and drafted a paper pieced pattern to do this. I had to add the cute cat fabric, but am wondering if I will re-do the corner piece because I don't like the direction the cats are facing (which way is up?) and think it should be a bit larger. I may need to fussy cut that one to get it to work better but I have 3 more weeks to play with it, so who knows?

I only added to two sides which I think balances well. There will be 2 more borders added to this one, so it will be interesting to see if the asymmetry continues.

Thursday, August 6, 2015

Chilly rabbit

A few months ago I did a pattern test for my friend Robyn (see her blog here). It's been hanging around for a while on the design wall but is one of my candidates for this quarter's finish along.

I decided to make it a bit bigger with some snowballs and corner stars - this turned my rabbit into an arctic hare. My plan was for a pillow, but it seems to be a bit bigger than expected. At 20 inches it's still possible, but I don't think I have an inner for it. Although I have been known to make them from a few recycled cushions, I'm not feeling particularly resourceful right now.

When I finished the piecing it looked very pale. I wish I had used a background with more contrast. My solution was to use a much darker quilting thread and do some dense quilting on all of the blue bits - this has worked well and the blue has more depth now. I also used scrap of puffy polyester batting which has given the hare some dimension that I like.

There are still a lot of threads to deal with, but that's a job that I really dislike, so I'm putting it off. Whether this ends up as a pillow or just a mini quilt / wall hanging, I will add yellow binding or piping to the edges. Now it's time to attached a few other projects...

Linking up with Lee this week at Freshly Pieced.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Why cats don't quilt

A week or two ago I finally mounted the pink kitty quilt onto the Swiftquilter frame. I thought I'd try an experiment and use a different machine than my trusty Juki TL-98P based on a request from someone about using another machine on the frame. I know that the TL-98P is the one for the job, but it's always worth trying new things. I won't go into my experience using another machine, because I doubt many of you are interested in that.

I do know that everyone loves a good cat photo, so let's get to the cute stuff...

I have taken to using staples to attach my quilts to the leaders (fabric attached to the roller bars) rather than pins. The staples are quick and easy to use and I flip around the base plate thingy so that the staples ends go outward rather than inward - this makes them really easy to pull out - too easy, apparently.

Here's my nice tidy setup before I started quilting. Notice the nice flat surface for quilting?

I did just a little bit of the quilting as a trial and then was planning to switch machines to really get going. Before I managed to do this, Sammy decided that the quilt made the perfect hammock for a heavier-than-he-looks cat. As you can see, where there used to be a nice flat quilt, is now a ginger-colored trouble-maker.

I'm sure if I had used pins instead of staples, this would not have happened. Then again, if I had a pet iguana, this would not have happened.

I have not yet sorted out this problem and instead have made a few more blocks from my scraps. So far, so good, but finding and trimming/cutting the scraps is a little tedious. Still, it's a nice distraction to do a block every few days. They are big (14") so should progress into a quilt without needing to make too many blocks. I haven't decided the finished size yet - I figure I'll keep going until I run out of scraps or get tired of making them.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Cotton Robin finish

For the fourth year in a row I have finished up another Cotton Robin round robin organised by the lovely Julie. This year we were challenged to use a color for our center block that wasn't one we had used. I chose purple after I noticed that I had very little in my stash and did not have a purple (or even partially-purple) quilt in my pile. Don't get me wrong - I love the color and often wear it, but I don't quilt with it.

My center block was not the most creative - next year I'm going to have to think outside of the box a bit more. I think I wanted to see what would happen with the borders if I started with a design that wouldn't be considered a centerpiece. My quilt was added onto by Kate (first border), Nan (second border), and Terri (quilting and binding). I love that Kate started in an asymmetrical direction - this was a great idea. Nan also went asymmetrical, leaving the finished quilt just off center and rectangular. I loved the piecing in the borders and the quilting by Terri was nicely done - I especially like the little spiral flowers and leaves.

My only surprise was this: it is REALLY PURPLE! Of course, I am to blame for setting the stage, and everyone followed my lead.

I worked on three other quilts along the way. The first was a sweet little applique block to which I added a circular pieced border. I made this using scrappy narrow strips of off white with little squares of brights forming the circle. I paper pieced the strips onto a template I made with the circle on it so that they all lined up. I was really pleased with the end result and the final border matched so perfectly.

The second quilt had an intricately pieced center block and a first border of flying geese. The second border introduced fuchsia and between the center and the border it was getting quite busy. This is why I enjoy doing round robins because you just don't know what you will receive and how you will add to it. I decided to just add detail to the corners of the second border with some tiny log cabins and use some solids to tie the color scheme together. I was hoping whoever did the quilting would take advantage of the plain sections and use it for some nice quilting - and she did.

The last quilt I worked on arrived with a note: something about keeping it monochromatic and small. It was very yellow (perhaps more yellow than mine is purple) and just over 10" square. I didn't want to overwhelm it with quilting, so I did wiggly lines in the center portion and some straight diagonal lines through the 2 borders.

You can see all of the finishes at the Cotton Robin website. It's always so exciting to see all of the finished quilts and to pick out my favorites, but disappointing that it's all over and we will need to wait until next year to do it again.

Luckily, my Monday Modern friends have agreed to do a round robin with 3 borders. I'm organizing it, and am quite excited to get started. Watch this space...