Thursday, December 22, 2011

The year in review

I thought it would be a good exercise to review all of the projects that I have started and finished in 2011. It was a busy year both in and out of my quilting world. The year started with the completion of my 2010 Easter challenge to finish all of the UFOs that I found in my closet. I am happy to report that I achieved what I set out to do (mostly).

Finishes in 2011

Caramel Kitties: Started 13 years ago for the daughter of a friend. Added more borders to increase the size to a single bed. The color scheme is quite muted but is fresh and pretty. I included this one in the Blogger's Quilt Festival - see the post here. Finished January 2011.

Beach Creatures: Started 14+ years ago for my oldest nephew. Only a few of the applique blocks were done. My applique technique was ... primitive to say the least but the overall effect and the machine quilting rescued this one. None of the novelty prints matched, but somehow it all came together. Finished March 2011

One-patch: This one was started in April at the Remarkables Symposium in Queenstown during a class with Natalie Murdoch. My mother also attended the same class I have yet to see her finished quilt). I did a long post about this quilt and the lessons I learned while making it - check it out here. Finished September 2011.

Challenge cushion: Made for a challenge held by the Auckland Modern Quilt Guild. We were presented with a fat 1/8 of a (not so nice) green/blue print and challenged to make a quilted pillow of any size or style that used at least half of the fabric on the 'front' of the pillow. I went with a design of 9 small blocks with several black and white prints. The pillow is quite big, but that's what I like about it. Finished November 2011

Owl baby quilt: Made for a friend at work who is expecting a baby early next year. This is the third baby quilt I've started (see above), but it was finished in about 14 days, not 14 years. That's a big improvement! It's a big quilt for a baby, but will be great for many years (I hope). Finished December 2011.

Christmas makeup bags: I made eight of these in three color schemes for four generations of women in my family from age 8 to 98. I go tthe idea and some instructions from the web, but made a few changes to speed up the production. I love making gifts and often make a single item that I can vary for all the women on my list. The men usually get shirts, or books - somehow I never manage to come up with a good handmade gift for them.

Block Lotto: I played every month in 2011 and never won. I learned so much and was inspired by everything I did and saw on Block Lotto. I hope that this year will be as inspiring - but is it selfish to want to win once every so often? Fingers crossed as usual.

Started but not finished in 2011

Blue snowflake: I started this quilt in April at Symposium and have managed to finish three blocks and am halfway through the fourth. I found that during the winter months I quite liked sitting in the sunniest room in the house to hand sew, but as the weather warmed up, I moved away from it. I hope to do some more while at the beach over Christmas. I'm planning at least 9 of the light on dark blocks and am considering 9 dark on light blocks. Still have not decided but I think I have all the fabric I need.

Butterfly hearts: I started this about a year ago for my DD using a collection of butterfly prints on a pieced cream/beige background. I have been a bit stuck trying to decide how to do the raw-edge applique and the quilting to get just the right effect. I have basted the layers and am just about ready to dive in.

Green/white half-square triangles: This quilt falls into the 'what was I thinking' category. At last count, I still need to make about 600 more squares. I know it will be spectacular when it is done and it is a great project to pick up if I'm having a creative block. While I'm at the beach over the next few weeks, it might be a good project to do in the evenings. One day I will finish it...

Crumb quilt: I finished the top in October as part of a Crumb Along but set it aside to work on Christmas gifts and a baby quilt. I have everything I need for the backing and binding and this will probably be the first finish in 2012. I'm not sure how I will quilt it - probably an all-over pattern rather than my usual style of working within the piecing design.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Finished baby quilt

I am so pleased with this little quilt: firstly, because it went together so quickly, but also because I like it. The 60-degree equilateral triangles wee also fun to work with and I'm sure that the pattern variations are endless. These triangles finish at 5" tall - I made them this big so that the cute prints did not get lost.

The back is pieced with two prints in wide stripes.

The free-motion quilting started with spirals on the light-colored hexagons. Then I did a bounce around the perimeter of each dark triangle. It looks like the spirals go out into the dark tringles - this was not really planned, but I like the effect.

I also labeled this quilt, whch is a first (I know, shame on me). I had all sorts of grand ideas, but ended up writing one and sewing it on quickly the night before I had to give the quilt away. I will do better next time, I promise.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Wednesday update

There's no WIP this week on Freshly Pieced and no Block Lotto this month either. Everyone is taking a holiday.

The baby quilt that I started last week is almost done. I've quilted and bound it. Really, it's just some thread tidying that's left to do. I'm really pleased with the end result and am amazed at how quickly it went together. Here's a quick preview - I'll take some better pictures soon.

I've joined a round robin through Floribunda Quilts. I've never done one before and am keen to give it a go. The only problem is that everything is a secret, so I won't be able to post any detail. I'm thinking about my center block design already. The finished quilt will be very small (20"), so I want to do something that's different than my usual style that can stand alone. So often in quilts I rely on the repetition and variety of fabrics to make an impact - in a small piece that will likely hang on the wall the focus is much different. I don't have a lot of time because the first center block needs to be sent in less than 4 weeks. Time to get the sketch book out.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I thought it was time for a round-up of all those projects that I have on the go:

  • Christmas gifts: I've made 9 and need 1 more. 5 are packed and ready to be sent to the US, the others are for locals.

  • Green half-square triangles: I did cut a few more a couple of weeks ago, but this is on hold until after Christmas.

  • Crumb quilt: the finished flimsy has been set aside, but I did pick up some sale fabric for the back and binding.

  • Challenge cushion: finished and submitted. These will be unveiled on Dec 13 and I think that the judging will go through to January (viewers choice).

  • Blue snowflakes: nothing.

  • Equilateral triangle baby quilt (NEW!): started this week - more below.

  • Blue/brown circles (NEW!): Just in the planning stages - more below.

Baby quilt started

My friend at work is expecting and after I found out I started collecting some fabrics to make a baby quilt for her. I thought I had loads of time until she announced last week that her last day at work was December 8. Surely she's not due yet, it could not have been 9 months! It turns out she will be working from home until the baby is born in mid-late January, but that does not help me. So, I gave myself the hurry up and got started this weekend.

I chose to use equilateral triangles because I like the patterns that can emerge. I've cut all the triangles out and have sewn 2 rows together before I realised that I swapped two of the prints in every instance. Hmm...still deciding if I should rethink my layout or get the seam ripper.

Blue/brown circles

My mother sent me some fabric that she purchased for me a while ago. The colours match my living room perfectly. So, I went out to get some other fabrics to add to them and have ended up with a big pile. I want to make circles using a traditional drunkard's path block, but mix it up in a modern way. That's as far as I've progressed.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I seem to be run off of my feet lately but have little to show for it. I have managed to progress on some projects.

My butterfly heart quilt that I started a while ago is sandwiched and I've brought it back from the beach house to work on it at home. I haven't done much more than that. Unfortunately, I have no pictures to share. After cutting out many hearts from my collection of butterfly fabrics, I am wondering if I need some bigger ones to ground the design. What am I walking about, you ask - I promise pics soon.

No progress on my blue snowflakes although I have been getting 'gentle reminders' from DD to start again on it.

My Christmas presents are coming along well, but I am quickly running out of time. I just received a reminder in the mail that overseas packages need to be sent by 25 November - that leaves me 2 more weeks. I'm pleased with the results, but must be mysterious about the details - I don't want any spoilers.

I have finished the top of my crumb quilt and have packed it away for a rainy day. As much as I enjoyed the process, it was taking too much of my attention while other projects lagged. I really like the way it turned out and I am looking for the perfect bright pink fabric to bind it with. I'm undecided about the backing, but I have a few bits and pieces that should do the trick.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Caramel kitties

This quilt was one of 5 that I found hiding in the back of my closet half made. I set a goal last Easter to finish all of the UFOs by this Easter and I just about succeeded. Some of these quilts were not even close to completion and many of them were started as baby quilts. The intended recipient of this one must be 16 by now.

I had the piecing done for the center and needed to find some fabrics to create a wide border. This is tricky when your fabrics are 15+ years old - colors change. After much shopping, I finally found what I needed.

What I like about this quilt is that is not something that I would make now. My taste has changed. But there is something sweet about the tessellated cats and the simple color scheme is also appealing.

But what I like best is the quilting. I really pushed myself to do more on this quilt than on any others I had done. Impossible to capture in a photo are the names of two cats that I have loved and lost since I started this quilt - Frisco and Aspen. Their names are written on the inner border resting in a field of sunflowers.

I'm linking up to the Blogger's Quilt festival - check out all of the beautiful quilts there.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Crumb flimsy

I think I have finished my crumb top - I am debating if it is big enough. Current size is about 42"x56". I have so many other things to work on and I feel like they have been hijacked by these crumbs. And, my scrap pile seems bigger than ever. I really don't know what happened! I decided to put some mostly black (with cream and white) fabrics as scrappy sashings to extend the size and to calm the overall effect. I felt like there was so much pattern and color without the sashings.

Jo has shown lettering and more blocks on a border, but I think I might just leave it as it is. Any suggestions?

Thursday, October 13, 2011

WIP Wednesday

I've been on my own this week without DD & DH. You'd think that I would have accomplished so much. But, alas, I am not away with the rest of the family on the ski slopes because I had too much work to do. And work, I have done. Still, there has been some activity:

Challenge cushion: finished 8 weeks ahead of the due date. See all the final details here.

Crumb along: I've finished a total of 44 crumb blocks - about 8 of them this week. Jo suggested 42 for the middle, but I'm thinking I want 56.

Green half-square triangles: I've been progressing with cutting and sewing these squares. I did a count the other day - 144 already sewn into blocks, 631 squares sewn. I need a total of 1296 squares so I'm a little more than halfway there.

Christmas presents: I have a plan and have picked up a few things to add to some fabrics pulled from my stash. I can't post too many details because I'd ruin the surprise.

Blue/brown polka dots: Just in the conceptual stages. Using some fabric my mom sent me plus some more I've added to the mix. I will post more when I get some time.

Blue snowflakes: no progress.

Butterfly hearts: no progress.

Crumby progress

I've finished 44 crumb blocks (42 shown below). I can't decide if this is enough or if I want to make it a bit bigger. I'm wondering if 48 or 56 might be the right number.

This week we are making log cabin blocks. I was playing with the idea of warm/cool colors and also light/dark. I like the way they came out and am imagining a whole quilt of these...

Last week's blocks were all about triangles. I made a few more after my last post and found a few random blocks that I don't think made it online. Here are all of the ones I've put together recently. I will definitely make more log cabins too before Jo posts the next set of instructions

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Challenge cushion finished

I finished my challenge cushion today - 6 weeks before the deadline. This is a good thing - I need to start thinking about Christmas presents.

I decided to make it a box cushion. It's 18" square and does seem a bit on the big side. My plan was to make it a little thinner, but after machine quilting the sides I realised that I covered a larger area. Still, I like that it's substantial which gave me the opportunity to develop a pattern beyond a single block on the front and to quilt the sides.

I like the 'back' better. It's only the back because there is not enough of the challange fabric showing (which I used up on the 'front').

Overall I'm pleased with the results. This is my first challenge piece so we will see how it is received.

Thursday, October 6, 2011


What I've been up to:

  • I've spent a bit of time this past week working on my Block Lotto Blocks (more here).

  • Crumbs are coming along. I've made a few more since I posted a picture of all of them last week. This week is all about triangles.

  • Cut more squares for my green half-square triangles. It's become something I pick up when I feel like doing something mindless.

  • Challenge cushion: I've made good progress and have put in a zipper and quilted the side panels. I just need to sew it all together and create an inner for it. My goal is to do that this weekend. (Sorry no pictures yet.)

I've had an exhausting week and there's more to come. I find myself sewing at night as a way to de-clutter my head from the day's stresses. Hubby came up to bed the other night to find me cutting up crumbs and said I was a "sewing machine".

It's the end of term tomorrow and the beginning of a 2-week holiday for DD. She and DH are off to the mountain to ski while I stay home and work. But it does mean I should have time for some sewing too. Watch this space...

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Block lotto blocks for October

This month we are doing quilters choice in blue and cream with some optional brown. In my usual adventurous spirit I decided to use this as an opportunity to try out a few techniques that I have been wanting to experiment with.

A little background about me: I studied electrical engineering at university. I did years of physics and calculus. I was good at this stuff. Really, I was. So, ask me why a 1/4" seam allowance and a few interesting angles can get me so messed up? I'll tell you why - because I try to calculate everything rather than just drawing it on graph paper, that's why.

Enough complaining - the good part is I've learned a few things along the way and some of my blocks turned out pretty good. For example, my first attempt at drafting and then doing paper piecing.

Some string things.

An easy thing.

And a star thing.

My favorite block was inspired by Megan by way of Leanne by way of Lee.

My last one was also paper pieced. I pulled this pattern off of the Quilter's Cache - it's called String Stars.

My hexagon thing was a disaster (note to self: hexagons do not fit inside of squares). It is not fit for public viewing.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

It's Wednesday

I've been very busy and cranking out crumb blocks like nobody's business. More on those later.

WIP update:
  • Challenge pillow: have machine quilted the front and the back. I've been dragging my feet on doing the side pieces but it is my goal for the weekend. See it here.

  • Green half-square triangles: cut and pieced enough squares for 10 more blocks (yes, that's 720 triangles). Repetitive, yes, but am looking forward to the results.

  • Crumb along: I started a crumb quilt and am following along with Jo. So far we've done flying geese, hearts, stars, and 4 and 9-patches. So far I have 30 6" blocks. More below...

Here are all of my crumb blocks so far. I just love making them - no thinking, just grabbing whatever takes my fancy.

I struggled with my hearts at first, but they are growing on me and getting better. This week's 4 or 9-patches are not as fun as the stars, but I managed to put together some - only a few little 9-patches, but there will be more to come.

Here's a taste of some new ones.

I also spent some time on October's Block Lotto sneak preview. I'm not allowed to share anything about them until the first of the month. The colors (blue, cream, and a touch of brown) were selected by vote so that's not a surprise to anyone. What could they be this month? I realised that I have lots of soft chalky blues which is one of my favourite colors - so much so that besides beige and brown it's the only other color I have in my living room and family room.

Coincidentally, my mom sent me some fabric this week - it's blue and cream and brown. Completely unrelated to the Block Lotto colors, but definitely because of my home decor. Apparently, she bought them a while ago (maybe to make something for me?) Now they are mine so I had to go shopping and find some others to work with. I'll post them when I start to work on that project - but must finish a few things before then.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Addicted to crumbs

I spent most of my day playing with my crumb blocks. I love the spontenaity and couldn't wait to get back to them after dinner last night. Here's most of the blocks that I have finished (3 didn't fit in the photo).

As fun and free as these blocks are, I admit that some of them are not very appealing. I like to 'plan' the blocks a little bit so that I don't end up with a muddle of prints. I also found that I can't pick up any old triangle and square - there are some proportions that work and some that don't.

This star is a favorite one. The colors work together but it's still scrappy.

This tiny star is also a favorite. I don't think I can go much smaller.

My heart attepts were not great - I will have to try a few more. Here's the best of them.

Overall, lots of fun. Can't wait to put together a few more.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

First crumb blocks

Woke up at 6am this morning and decided to work on my crumb blocks for the Crumb Along. Had a late night at work last night and am away for the weekend so this was my only chance. This is what I managed to piece together in about 1-1/2 hours.

I admit that my pile of scraps is not extensive and most are bigger than your usual crumbs; however, it does give me a bit more flexibility. Jo's blocks all have reds as a key color to tie all of the blocks together. I seem to have a lot of black and pink scraps so I will be sure to include a little of each in every block to help tie them together. DH has a few dark gray shirts lefteover from his now-defunct corporate life - they will make good sashings.

These flying geese were made from corners I cut off of August's Block Lotto blocks.

I also have many 1-1/2 inch wide pieces from my one-patch quilt's unfortunate sashing adventures! These should help tie the blocks in together too.

I am really looking forward to some super-scrappy crumb blocks. I promise to keep all of my crumbs from now on!