Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Honest August WIP list

Ok, so while I'm in Ireland, my WIP list is essentially trying to keep to 1 thing at a time.

I have 1 machine project and 1 ongoing hand stitching project.  Full stop.  Although, I am toying with starting another machine based one... which i should not do... but |I might. I can't help it. I'm an addict. But for right now, My list is just 2 things:

But one thing I've done while here, which I started to do when I was home, but have now done proper like with a proper spreadsheet and everything, is make a master WIP list.

I've included every quilt that I can recall off the top of my head, and where I think it is up to, and where I intend for it to go, and if I know the dates I've included them too.

You'll see I've broken the list into 4 categories:
1 - basted and ready for quilting
2 - inprogress
3 - need to start (baby/wedding gifts)
4 - ideas I want to start, but have yet to cut into.

I could have broken category 2 into 2 groups, being finihsed, but needing a backing, versus actual WIPs, but my mission for when I get home is to start turning some of those end stage projects into active quilting type projects.  Unfortunately, the "finished top, and then set aside pile" is actually my largest. There are 15 finished tops waiting for me to choose a backing and shuffle them along to the end stage.

I have 10 projects which are in active construction. Or inactive construction as there are 2 out of that pile that I haven't touched in over a year (although I have been away for 6 months, so I think I get a mini out on that, right?).

So, I don't think I'm doing too badly.  I have a lot of projects on there, but the majority are actually at the end stages. I think what makes me *think* I have too many projects, is that the unstarted ones are in my head too.  I definitely think there have been times when my list has been in worse shape than it is now.

And I'm in a really good place to dive back in when I get home!

How many WIP's do you thin is the right amount? Am I crazy?

E xx

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Rainbow Sprout

I really like English Paper Piecing. It's not an everyday activity for me. I definitely prefer my machine time, but this handwork stuff, is fun, and portable and pretty.  And having finished (or close to finished) Trish's hexie quilt, I was totally ready for the next adventure in hand stitching. Not to mention that with #thequinnsirishadventure on the horizon, I knew I was going to need a new portable project to take with me. 

In July 2016 , the incredible Jodie, of Tales of Cloth, shared a tutorial for an EPP pattern, that I have had in the back of my mind ever since, and it was just exactly what I was wanting. Her's was crisp with pops of limey goodness and just made me happy to look at it. And after the complete "random" I did with Trish's, the idea of a pattern, or formula was very appealing. So a Sprout quilt of my own was exactly what I wanted. I read, and reread the tutorial, and I bought a squillion papers from the Tales of Cloth shop (100% recycled card - feel great to the touch and reasonably priced) and then they sat.  I had a deadline, which is normally very motivating, but this time, nothing.

I did 4 or 5 fabric pulls, but nothing was speaking to me. And I never want to start a new project when it's not speaking to me.  I tried all the old faithfuls! Design seeds, and pinterest and weird stalky photos when I think someone's outfit has really good colour choices that I'd like to try and replicate... ok, that one's just me... pretend I never mentioned it... 

And then I happened to pick up this super cute spotty multicoloured fabric, and suddenly I was off (like a frog in a sock).  Once upon a time, back when I first got into quilting, I bought quite a bit of these lovely multi-colour prints, but they don't work in stash as well, and I always have trouble sorting them into a colour drawer, so I've gotten out of the habit of buying them, and so this had been tucked away for years, and when I stumbled on it, it felt right.

I was like a demon in my stash and shuffled fabrics over and over trying to match shades as closely as possibly.  And I wanted to try to pull each of the colours in the original print, to really make it work. And I wanted a good mix of values. But I didn't want any competing prints, or too much repetition (it's about balance y'all ;-) ).

I finally got to the point where I felt I had it right,and I piled them all up together, and realised I had an even number... but the pattern called for an odd number (the pattern actually called for 9, and I had 14 but that's close enough, right), so I need to pull one or add one. And I couldn't pull any of them!! I'd worked so hard to get them just right, I needed them all!! But I just couldn't for the life of me find another one to go in...

I finally added the black butterfly on cream that I used for my Swoon.  Even though there's no black anywhere else in the fabrics pulled, I had a feeling it'd be ok... Besides. I just needed something, so I could get it all cut before we left on our trip. I did all the cutting and a good part of the basting while still in Brissy, and then packed it all up in a little container, and jumped on a plane.

(P.S. How good are those Sistema boxes for epp?? It's just the perfect little organisation system for me)  I finished the basting when we arrived in Amsterdam, and then I started stitching.

I'm not completely following Jodie's tutorial, in a couple of ways.  Firstly, despite reading it at least 6 times, it turns out I didn't read it properly before I started, so while she does the centre row and then goes back and does the short joining seams (essentially making a paired row at a time), I did the short seams first and have long rows that I need to zig zag together afterwards. I'm not sure if one method is better than the other (this is only my second proper EPP quilt after all) . I do find that my points aren't perfect, as in I'm a couple of ml off at the ends, but I think that this will disappear into the quilt as the rows go together (or at least I hope so). Secondly, I have almost double the number of fabrics as she has used, so when I laid out my second vine, it still looked very pattern-y and not quite scrappy enough, so I've moved the way each vine is offset (you'll know what I mean if you ever do this pattern yourself).

Mine is all kinds of crazy colour, and I alternate between loving it and feeling like it's *way* too much but I think in the end, it's a happy bright welcoming quilt... It makes me think of a big bowl of sugar or candy. Add that to the little lozenge shapes and it only seems right to call it my Jellybean quilt. It seems such a contrast to the lovely soft subtle colours which Jodie used and which drew me to the pattern in the first place.

But anyway, I'm stitching away, and am hoping to get *close* to a finished top by the end of our trip.  Then it'll really be a part of #thequinnseuropeadventure.

E xx

Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Wonky Crosses and why nothing I do is ever done on time

So I had bought a slew of green in anticipation of making that Irish Chain, but having gone a different direction with that, I now had a lovely selection of greens to play with.

Normally I would just tuck them into my stash and move on to other things, but I'm trying to use what I've got here and not stash too much, so I wanted to use them...  And if possible make something that would remind me of Ireland.  It's so green here, and we've done a couple of road trips where I watch the green fields fly by and we've gone walking through the avenues of lush green trees, and I've sat in the gorgeous parks and listened to the birds sing... It just feels like a green place.  None of my photos come close to doing it justice.

So green, for a reminder of our trip to the Emerald Isle... But I was stumped for what to do.  My first thought was a Scrappy Swoon (having seen one in blues that I adored), but I cut one strip of fabric, realised just how many hst's I was looking at, and quickly decided that that was not a plan that would suit me.  I looked in all the usual places where I normally find inspiration, but nothing was speaking to me.

So I had the brilliant idea to put the question to my guild mates at the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild. They're all so creative and talented and know me, so why not go to the experts!  They gave me some great suggestions and I followed the trail of breadcrumbs they left me and I ended up at a blog I've followed for years, staring at a sea of pink wonky crosses. KABOOM. It hits me. This is exactly what I want, but in green.  I can picture it in green and I think it should have that feeling of fields and paddocks where there is every shade of green and no rhyme of reason to the layout, but still an element of structure where we've built fences or planted specific crops. It suits my improv temperament. It's completely freeform in contrast to my other wips (I like to have different types of projects going on at the same time so I can flit to whatever I'm in the mood for at the time).


Now, from my googling, I think this is normally a quilt that would be made from scrap, whereas I'm using yardage.  That meant I was working from a slightly different starting point. I worked on the theory that I just needed strips in varying widths and just sliced away as the mood took me.  I also kept up my googling to get some guidance on making the blocks, but all the other "wonky cross" blocks I could find used standard sized finished blocks, which was not what I was aiming for.  I wanted that totally mismatched vibe, but I couldn't find guidance on how to do that properly, so I just threw myself in, and figured it'd work out at the end.  I love the jigsaw part of improv, so I wasn't worried and just figured it'd be fine.

Cut to a month later of my sporadically pottering away at this (and that and the other) and I realised that this could be part of the Pantone Challenge! It's all shades of green! It's perfect for "greenery"!! But it was still just a tiny pile of blocks, and I hadn't even started to join them together. That's when i actually kicked into gear.  I cut my entire bundle of low volume into randomly sized squares/rectangles. I cut a squillon strips of the different greens, and I started power sewing.  Or at least what counts as power sewing for me. I made about 4 or 5 blocks in a day. Which is nothing, but I just don't know how to go faster. And I spend way to much time trying to line up the angles in the  crosses... I'm almost completely sure no-one looking is even going to bother checking, and I was far from successful, but I still did it anyway.

So the Challenge deadline comes and goes, and I'm still making crosses, and trying to jigsaw them together, and also realising what a fool I was to do them with no plan at all about size... Not to mention I keep readjusting how big I think this needs to be.  #ilikebigquiltsandicannotlie I think initially I was going for a throw... then single bed size... now it's around the size of a double (which for me is actually still on the small size).  But I'm so over making blocks that I'm calling it done.

I had my bestie over for the weekend, and we took it out to the cliffs of Howth and attempted to get a shot of it in the wild. We looked absolutely ridiculous, and it's not a great shot of the top, but it was a bit of fun.

In my head, I am almost certain that it still needs to be bigger, but I have given myself permission to call it a done top, and once I get back to Oz (and my stash) I will look at adding a plain low volume border (almost certainly with a second mismatched green second border... and possibly another low volume.. with scrappy green binding).

There is literally no specific size to any block.  If you do this, learn from my mistake and do some magic number maths before you start - you'll thank yourself in the long run. That said, I do love the mix of big blocks and itty bitty blocks that merge in this quilt, and I love, love, love that there are no 2 seams that actually meet (on purpose anyway) - no such thing as a perfect point with this baby. I also completely love the different greens - there's forest green, and lime green, and a muddy brown/olive green that is totally gross, but is just what I wanted for this top. I'm not sure that it's as "Irish Fields" as I wanted it to be - I think there's too much white over all that it's not *quite* how I envisioned it. But I do still love it, and it will definitely remind me of this trip.

And now I have a whole passel of green scraps that I get to play with... And I have already started work, because I know just what I want to do with them :-)

E xx

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Chained Together

So I mentioned in my last post that I was toying with the idea of making an Irish Chain quilt.  Well I bit the bullet and decided that rather than talking about it, I was just going to dive in... Well I talked about it a lot first ;-)

So, originally I had thought of using scrappy greens, so I ordered all the various greens I could find on the internet. I ended up with about a dozen... But I looked at the pile and I just... well, I just wasn't feeling it. It wasn't making my heart happy.  And my big sewing rule, is only make things that bring me joy (it's totally normal to fall out of love mid way when it gets hard, and even then it's usually more a need for time out rather than actually hating it, but you should love the idea when you're going in).

So anyway... I showed Ashley a whole bunch of Irish Chain quilts I'd pinned on my Pinterest board, and asked him for his thoughts: what was it that he liked/hated/thought had good colours/scrappy/etc, etc.  He's the most annoying, least helpful person in this situation, but I needed the input anyway.  And out of all the squillion quilts I pinned, the only one he liked was this black and grey one.

I had a couple of issues with this. Firstly, it was a double irish chain, and I had been planning on making life easy for myself and only making a single. Secondly, I'm not really a monochromatic kind of girl. I love colour.  That said, I also loved the grown up, restrained vibe this quilt had.  I decided I could try it - what have i got to lose! So, I hit up the interwebs again and burned a second hole in my credit card.

I settled on 3 fabrics:
Carolyn Friedlanders Shadow City Limits, Compositions Charcoal Maps, and Modern Background Luster Metallic Black.

I drew up how I thought the blocks should go together. I worked out my quilt maths and estimated my yardage. I added on a little extra to cover any slips or miscalculations...  And when it arrived I started chopping. And then realised, I needed more fabric. I was only 2/3s of the way through . So I ordered more.   And then when it arrived I chopped it all up, and despite having done all the maths (twice!!!!!) I still needed more. Oy.  This is why I don't make quilts like this.  Either I have a pattern where someone else has done the math and I order what they tell me, or I go with stash.

In the end, I ordered:  6 yards of the white, 3 yards of the charcoal and 2 yards of the black.

There is some wastage, some spare blocks, and I have about half a yard of the two darks left, but wow I used double the amount of fabric I thought I needed at the beginning. I also got to the point where I just decided to over order on the white, because I'll totally use it in the long run.

Construction itself was fairly easy. I did all the cutting in a block and then the strip piecing felt like it took forever (and is boring! So not my favourite part), but having it all cut and ready to go meant my 9 patches went together in seconds, then my big blocks clicked together with ease.  The trickiest part was adding my sashing with corner stones and making them line up just right, and I pinned like I've never pinned before and it ended up going on easy as pie. the biggest time suck, was simply waiting for all the fabric to arrive||!|!

Now, serendipitously, it was Ashley and my 10th wedding anniversary in June, and given that he picked the colours and was happy with the design, I decided that this was his present.  I focused on making sure it was big enough to cover him properly, as he has been sleeping under another quilt that doesn't quite cover his toes and he complains (hilariously).

Because of the delays in my fabric ordering I didn't quite get this done in time to give to Ashley on the morning of our wedding anniversary, but I gave him the partially completed flimsy and promised to have it all done the minute the rest of the fabric arrives (which I totally did).  And because I love him, and want him to be able to use it all the time, I've decided that I'm going to send it out for quilting and have it all perfect for him to keep *forever*.

So now there's a full size flimsy, I've packed it away to take back to Oz in a couple of months.

Happy 10 years, Grumpy Man. xxx

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Possible Irish Chain

Question for the floor

Is it completely trite if I decide to make an Irish Chain quilt while living in Ireland? Or is the type of thing that is just exactly as it is supposed to be? You know, the whole cliches are a cliche for a reason, type thing.

I've always liked the look of Irish Chain quilts, and had intended to make one someday, so maybe Ireland is calling to me telling me that this is the time I've been waiting for??

And working on the assumption that I get a machine here, then I'd need to be making something that uses simple construction and minimal fabrics (ie I can't create a stash here: I have to buy purely for the project I am working on at the time) the Irish Chain could be a winner.  I mean, I could probably get away with using a jelly roll and just buying the background (need to actually look up the pattern though... I'll get there, I'll get there!!)

And if I do this, I kind of want to go with green... but again... is that *too* Irish. Am I going to look ridiculous? Or is it only ridiculous if I try to quilt it with little shamrocks (OMG, how cute would that be!!! I totally want to do that now as well!!)

Ok. Let's back up.  I don't have a home yet, or a machine. Although I may have wandered through a couple of fabric shops in Dublin already and picked up some of those little things that one needs - a mat, a ruler, a rotary cutter, 2 and 1/2 metres of white fabric...

Ok, so at this point I should probably give up pretending I might not get a machine. I'm totally getting a machine. 6 months without proper sewing?? I don't think so.  I was willing, because it was necessary, but it's so not necessary.  As soon as I have an address I'll be ordering my machine.

Ok, well if I'm gonna buy the machine and make something, I think I've convinced myself into an Irish Chain... Unless you tell me not to, because it's lame. But seriously - should I go with green or should I maybe go sleek with grey, or I saw a really nice burgundy fabric that I could use, or there was a nice purple that I saw and earmarked for a future project (haven't even started number one and I'm ready for the next!!).

Ok, I need your thoughts!! What should I do????

E xx

Friday, 31 March 2017

Finish Along - 2017 Q1 - Closing List

So I said that I was going to try to have some finishes this quarter.  I wrote myself a list. Want to see how I did...

Originally I said that this quarter I would finish:
P 1 - Community trees
Totally got this done!! A quality Sew Day and a little help from my friends, meant this was been passed on to a long armer and my job was done. Another amazing Guild-mate took on the binding, and it was part of my Guild's display in the March Craft Live event in Brisbane. While it's not all my work, the answer is that it is a completely finished quilt at the end of the quarter.

Want to see the epicness :-D

It has officially been christened the Arboretum Quilt. Quilting by Nerida at Quilt Around the Clock and binding by Sandra.

P 2 - Secret Squirrel  
And I did it!! It's secret so I couldn't show you at the time, but I totally did! I've handed it on to a friend to quilt, so the pretty photos will come out soon (hopefully :-) ).

P 3 - Gigi's quilt 
Smashed this out!  Which was a total win because of how long I'd procrastinated it. Then whipped on the binding and have even gifted it to the little munchkin. Call this a solid completion.

4 - Trish's Hexies (
piecing top then decide on hand quilting or long arm)
Worked on this slowly and steadily over the first month. Even took it away with me. However, I didn't actually get it finished... I have 3 seams left to go, but I couldn't bring it to Europe with me, so it's at home waiting for me.  I might end up added another column and widening it, but currently the big question is how to quilt it.

P 5 - Big Pineapple
FINISHED!! I didn't do a proper blog post, because all I needed to do was bind it, but that is done now (pinky swear!!). I did put it on insta... Not that you can see it, but it's there :-) And I even gifted it. Not sure that it made sense to Jess, but it made sense to me, so I’m still happy with this.

6 - Pink Bubbles
... yeah. no. I didn't even really attempt this. I looked at it a couple of times, but went with other projects instead.

7 - Orange Blossoms
...No... No, no, no. I had all the orange pieces cut and ready but then when I started to turn them into blossoms I hated how much work they were and abandoned it... It's sitting waiting for me at home, and I'll think about how to actually make it the easy peezy quilt I had planned it to be in my mind.

8 - Blue patches
This was a throw on, just in case the mood stuck me, and it turns out it didn't! 

Plus I wanted to stay up to date with:
1 - the Penny Sampler
yeah. again with the no.  I was behind on month 1 while I waited for my fabric to arrive, and then was on the cruise, and didn't have time to squeeze out the blocks for month 2 before we left, and then month 3 came out after we'd left...  And now I'm going to be away for 6 month, so there is no way I'll catch up, but the new plan is just to do as much as i can when i get home, and hope that I can smash it out over a couple of weekends and maybe catch up before the year is finished... Unlikely, but I still have hope :-) 

P 2 - #SnailDay
So I totally kept up. Not gonna lie. I’m pretty impressed with myself. Although I haven't been sharing them on Insta because it feels weird to be doing that when I am not actually working on it... So while I am up to date, I don't really feel like I am. Again, this is now on ice, until we return from Ireland, as I didn't bring any of it with me.

P3 - Swoon-a-long
Huzzah!! This was a serious long shot. I had zero expectations of actually doing this!! And I did it!! I actually did it!! I'm so completely and absolutely stoked, you would not believe it!! I didn't post it before I left, because it was a bit hectic and last minute-y but I promise, promise, promise, this was totally a FAL win.

So all in all, not a bad run.  From the #2017FALQ1quinnyquilts
I managed to complete 4 out of 8 (plus kept up with 2 of my long term projects!) This is a total win for me and I'm very happy with myself at this point :-) I was planning to go for it in Q2 and try to turn this into a run of finishes - (would be great to end 2017 with a smaller WIP pile then when I started) but now I have no WIP's with me, so I'm a free bird for the next little while :-)

E xx

Monday, 27 March 2017

Exciting Feb/March for me!

Well, I did it again, and just disappeared from the blog (only for a couple of weeks this time, so no apologies) but I swear I had good reason.  If you follow me on insta, you'll already know all the good stuff currently happening, so this is probably less exciting for you, but this is also for my records, so sorry! you'll get the long form version of what's happening anyway :-)

Well in early Feb, I went off on holidays with my hubby and his family. We spent two weeks cruising from Brisbane to Papua New Guinea, which was gorgeous and confronting (the difference between just how much we have and the poverty was very sobering) and really great time with my bonus family.  Perhaps a little too much quality time, as we were pretty much stuck on a boat with no one but each other, but definitely was a worthwhile trip.

(And yes, I did make everyone wear a Hawaiian shirt for dinner one night. They all think I'm insane, but they love me so they did it, and it adds a bit of fun, so worthwhile investment I think)

And then when we got home for the cruise, we had just four days at home before we hoped on a plane and...

... started a whole new adventure!

Ashley and I have headed off to the other side of the world!!!!!

So far we've had 3 days in Singapore, and then 2 1/2 weeks in Amsterdam, and we arrived in our final destination, Dublin, just 3 days ago.


We're in the process of trying to find an apartment here, and have our fingers crossed that something will come through today or tomorrow, so we can get ourselves settled.  The plan is to be here for about 6 months, so we're wanting a little home and community and all that.

And in typical Ashley style, we don't have a home yet, but he's already purchased a stereo system and has it set up in our hotel room. Boys, hey ;-)

The big draw back for me in coming over, is that I have left all my sewing at home, other than 1 little EPP project. And while I have been working on it (no photos yet, as it's in no fit state, given it's being bundled in and out of it's container every 2 days, and there's no time to try to lay it out all pretty) I am not sure how I'll go without any machine sewing for such a long time.

We are currently looking into buying a machine and then selling it at the end of the 6 months, which could be a reasonable expense, and Ashley's on board, except he doesn't realise that once I get a machine, I'll also need thread, and fabric, and a cutting mat, and, and, and... it just adds up. I would even need to buy a desk and chair!! My quick $150 machine, has become bigger than Ben Hur.  With that in mind, if anyone has any tips for local shops, that might do sew days, or let me mess about with their machines, please, please let me know!!

I'd best sign off for now.  I'll show you my EPP in the coming days, and let you know how the machine decision pans out :-)

E xx

Sunday, 12 February 2017

January Snails

I mentioned earlier this month that I was going to join in on the #snailday sew a long, and I have been industriously sewing to make sure I stay up to date.

The schedule is just one little snail each week, which is totally do-able!

And the snails are just so cute!!!

Originally I had planned to make all green shells, but I started with a little practice scrap and really liked it... and then I grabbed another piece from my scrap jars, and really liked that.. and now I know that this will not be a perfectly curated, colour story type quilt, but a mish mash of colours and textures and whatever I happen to lay my hands on. But the consistent body and background, makes me think this will still work really well.

The part of my brain that screams logic at me, says I can't have a snail shell with flowers on it, because snails don't have motif's - I need pattern not pictures, but this print called out to me and I'm letting that be my guide.

The other guide is what do I have in scrap that will fit. Or if not "scrap" what have a cut a strip of that I can spare a piece from.  I'm terrible with the way I use my fabrics. I like to make a cut WOF and then use what I need. Anything left from the strip goes into scrap. So on the one hand, there's wastage, but on the other, not really becasue I totally use my scrap containers all the time. And I prefer this to having big pieces of fabric with weird little corners cut out everywhere, which is way more efficient, but... Just doesn't work for me.  We all have our little *things* and that is just the way I am.

The beige-y background is from deep stash - no idea what it is or where I got it from.

The grey body fabric is a Kona solid that I bought for another project, and hadn't gotten around to using yet, so I stole it for this :-) The original project changed directions after my fabric purchasing so it was just going to waste I swear!! I think it's charcoal, but it might be iron... I really need to start labeling the solids as they come in.


That's my little snails so far! And if you want to follow along in real time, then my insta is the place to be. Or just insta in general with the #snailday and #gardensnailquilt. There are some amazing snails being made (not mine - other people's are super cute - yellows and blues and technicolour goodness. Makes me wish I wasn't so bland and boring, but own who you are, I say!!) but just check them out for funsies :-)

E xx

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Community Quilting - A Forest

One of the cool things about being in a guild is getting to do things that you wouldn't normally in the name of charity.  My Guild (the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild) coordinates an internal quilt bee, where a particular block is set and then whoever wants to will make those blocks and ta da!! A quilt... Ok, well there's slightly more to it than that, but it's not really the point of the story..

So A couple of months ago, I took a turn at setting the block.  I love the tree quilts that the Portland Modern Quilt Guild do and figured that our girls love a bit of improv goodness so I'd turn them loose.

I asked for 10.5" squares with any green/brown/cream/white and showed them my inspiration photo, and made a couple as examples...

In fact, I took to my sewing room with vigor and grabbed all my green scraps to make a squillion little trees.  The crumb piecing is actually super fun and very addictive.  I made so many green blobs, I don't know what to do with them! The hardest part for me was a) having a selection of browns so all my trunks aren't the same - I don't have a whole lot of brown scraps so I needed to cut from my yardage, but this feels so wasteful when all I really need is a 3 " square and b) using all my low volume.  I love low volume. I hoard it. And I know it's just white(ish) fabric, and there will always be more, but it's just so darn hard to start cutting it.  It feels like I'm wasting it. #lifeofahoarder

But no matter how many I made it's rally the ladies in my amazing Guild who made this an epic quilt. They let their imaginations fly and the resulting blocks are just wonderful.

My absolute favourite is this little tiny orchard!! It's so cute!!!!

One of the ladies stretched the edges of her block size to make this gorgeous Savannah tree (which I absolutely love, btw) but it did mean that I needed to adjust my layout to allow the extra width on this block...

In some ways I think that that was actually a really good thing for this quilt, becasue it means there's no gird in the piecing at all. None of the rows line up with any other, and I made some skinny little trees to fit in gaps, and bulk up other blocks.

I also used more low volume in places to space the blocks out. This is particularly noticeable in the top left where a little boab tree needed more space to really shine. If I'd stuck with the exact blocks I reckon this little guy would have ended up a wee bit crowded.

Now that they're all together, I have handed it over to one of the lovely talented ladies at BrisMQG who will do some fantabulous long arming all over it (thank you Miss Nerida!), then someone might offer to bind it (if I'm really lucky) and it will be donated to it's new home - The Salvation Army Crisis Accommodation Service.

I love this quilt. And I'm so grateful to Wombat Quilts for the inspiration, and the BMQG for diving in to this project, that was outside of some peoples comfort zone (improv is not for everybody). I love that our Guild prioritises this kind of activity and being part of our community. Quilts are all about love and caring, and spreading that around, can only ever be considered a good thing.

E xx

Monday, 6 February 2017

Jewelled Swoon #1

You may remember, once upon a time, that I made a GIANT swoon quilt. Well, even back then I knew I wanted to make a proper swoon quilt, but it's taken me another 4 years to get to it. But get to it I have!

The pattern has been sitting patiently waiting for me, and I finally took the plunge. Some of the people I follow on Insta had started to post about doing a #swoonalong2017 and I can never resist a bandwagon. Before I knew it I had raided my stash and had myself a fabric pull.

The above was my starting point.  The butterflies were purchased on purpose for this quilt, but everything else is from stash. The black text is from Madronna Road, and I fell in love with it a couple of years ago and bought 10 yards... Yeah, I need to start using it more. A lot more.

The teal with the mustard and purple flowers was my "jumping off" fabric, and I built the rest around that, but I also think that the Cathedral Windows challenge happening on Stitched in Color may have contributed to my choices. I was in the mood for rich and moody and depth.

I had in my mind using the black for the centres, but was a bit scared.

I picked my favourite print ever (Joel Dewberry - Bungalow) and made my first block as bit of a tester...

And... I love it.

It's intense. But I think in a good way...It's dramatic!!

I'm still nervous about having all of these blocks the same (as in black on the inside), but I decided I just have to commit. I took to that yardage and just chop chop chopped. So my cutting table then had all the black and background ready to go.  Now this is not my normal way of piecing - I'm not a pre-cutter. I've done it before and I end up with piles of cut fabric and half-built quilts that are left abandoned. It's so wasteful. But I am determined that this time that is not how this is going to be. I decided that I was going to commit and make this darn quilt come hell or high water!!

So right now my table is chock full of pieces of black and cream. I've made 7 blocks, and now I have to make a fateful decision about how to proceed...

Official start date - 25/1/17
Top complete - ?????

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

GiGi's quilt

I have previously mentioned that I have some very cute little neighbours. I made Miss Mia a nice bright pick and patchworky quilt and gifted it to her in 2015. But there is another little neighbour, about the same size, who was on the look out for a little something something.

Miss GiGi is a cute little poppet, and when she and her mum were in the local Spotlight, they came across a panel which she fell in love with.  Mum being the obliging, and adventurous sort, bought a couple of panels and some coordinating solids and arrived on my doorstep wanting to learn to sew.

Rather than going all in, mum made some cute pillows, to learn how to do straight seams and just get a little practice in. Meanwhile I started cutting into the solids.  Before we knew what happened we had half a quilt top. I say half, because we thought we were done, but in taking it home, decided it needed more length.

With some thought (I didn't want to throw off the very symmetrical feel we had going), I added extra to the top and bottom, and I think those little birds are just the ticket. I almost can't picture it without it now.

I pieced together a back using the leftover big chunks of the solids, got it basted and then decided that I really wanted to FMQ over and around the detailed designs on the panels... Cue my nightmare.

I've never really done any proper FMQ before. And what I have done has been terrible, so I'm not sure what made me think I could do this.

But do it, I did!!  And I think it looks pretty cute (at least from the front).  There are 5 or 6 different thread colours going on, as each solid is quilted in it's corresponding thread, as is the detail section.  The back looks hilarious because I did a super cute pieced back, but then quilted it with matching bobbins, so it's like crayon drawings everywhere that doesn't reflect the piecing at all. Frankly, the back looks like I quilted it with my feet, so this is definitely a "this side is the top" rather than any double sided goodness.

For binding, I gathered some of the leftovers from piecing and chopped it up into 2.5" strips and so there is a nice scrappy thing going on there. It's just straight grain because I ain't got time for no bias.

I also totally cheated when I attached it, and went with a machine binding. I attached as normal to the front, with a 1/4" seam, and then folded over and, using a fabulous bright pink thread, chose one of the decorative stitches on my machine and whipped around.  While I don't know if this would work for most quilts, this one, with it's fluro colours and messy FMQ , it was the right fit.

I've washed and tumble dried it (because it was covered in random threads, and I was really worried about how some of that FMQ would hold up). But it held up through the wash and has now been happily given back to little GiGi.  Hopefully she loves it and doesn't grow sick of all that colour too quickly.

So a bit of fun piecing, and some quality learning for me with the FMQ. I might be slightly more ready to think about tackling some of those other "quilting" level projects that have been scaring me off.

E xx

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Perfectly Pretty Hoop Swap #1

You may not know this, but I don't do the whole "swap" thing.  It brings out all my insecurities about making things that will fall apart and be disappointing to others. Also, I'm terrible at time management and know that I will miss deadlines and then some poor person will be sitting by their mail box, wishing and hoping and praying, and their gift never ever arrives... Doesn't that make you want to have me in your swap group!!!

Well, I decided that it was time to suck it up and put myself out there - give it a go and see what I could do.  I signed up for the Perfectly Pretty Hoop Swap with A Crafty Fox and crossed my fingers that it'd all work out ok.

I got assigned a partner, and thankfully she was also from Australia, becasue I had visions of trying to ship something internationally in the weeks leading up to Christmas #nightmare.  She told me that she loved the colour blue and wanted a pocket hoop, and gave me a link to her pinterest board which was chock full of super cute hoops.  I also took the opportunity to stalk the rest of her boards a little to see if I could get a feel for her.

She seemed to really like the calico type fabric with colour, so I headed out to the local Spotlight (#timewarpzone) and did me some shopping.  And this is where I had my first little panic - what size hoop do you swap??? There were no rules when I signed up... There's no guidance... I can't make these kind of decisions!! What do I do?????

That's simple - buy all the hoops!

I ended up going with the largest one I bought, just becasue I was making pockets, so I felt a nice big space would work best.  I had a little plan about what to do, and so I cut and I folded and I made it way more complicated than it needed to be, but eventually I got it made.  And it was a little boring.  So I pulled out my random stash of embroidery floss and added some gold to bling it up - because who doesn't keep gold floss in their house?? What are you? An animal??

The rules for the swap were to keep any extras under $5, but I'd bought all these hoops, and had some leftover fabric, so I quickly chopped out another circle and put that pinterest stalking to good use and stitched up one of the quotes that my partner had pinned. It felt like something that might belong in a sewing room - a little reminder that we are making things that are beautiful and even when it doesn't seem like it right now to just trust the instincts and the beauty will come.

I stumbled upon this tutorial for backing the hoops, and voila! I was done. (In all honesty, I feel I have to admit that I had intended to glue felt on the back, but my house is a disaster and I lost my hot glue gun, so had to come up with an alternative.)

They're not super fancy, in fact, they're quite simple, but I like that.  Elegant, and minimal.  Now I only hope my swap partner likes them.

I also snuck in a packet of Skittles, just because I think it's a law that swaps need sweets, and I wasn't going to put chocolate anywhere near the package in the Aussie summer - felt that might be a recipe for disaster.

So there we go. My first ever swap, and I don't think I embarrassed my self, which was my only goal.


E xx

Monday, 23 January 2017

Penny Sampler - Stash update

So I mentioned the other day that I had picked my colours for my Penny Sampler and gone on a binge at Clairs Fabrics. Well I am happy to say that they have arrived and I *love* these choices.

I know that it's not much to look at because there all solids, but still...

It's all Kona cotton, and (taking a leaf out of all the grown up quilters I know) I have bought some little labels and plan to label every swatch so I know a) what I'm using and b) what to re-order... because we all know I'm gonna end up needing to order *just a smidge* more of at least one of these. Because I always do.

If you wanted to label your solids, Debbie, from A Quilters Table, recently did a great post rounding up all the different ways to make this happen, and one of those may be just the ticket for you! :-)

As you can see, there's *a lot* of grey going on. But I tried to pick greys that had a blue-ish or pinkish undertone... I think I ended up more on the blue side, but I'm totally ok with that.

The blues themselves, are not particularly saturated. I'm hoping they will blend in with the greys and just add that little bit of difference. 

My pinks, look like they blend well in the stack, but when you pull them out separately... Well... they seem more vivid... I still think they're the right pick, but it could all go horribly wrong.

Kona Primrose, Deep Rose and Rose
The plan now is to dive into stash for some coordinating prints, and then get my sew on. I have to get a wiggle on, because I want to stay up to date, which means I only have a couple of days to make my January blocks.

But now I have fabrics, so no excuses!!!

Hope you've had a fabulous weekend!

E xx

Linking up with Sunday Stash

Thursday, 19 January 2017

More feathers

Having dipped my toe with my blue feathers, I was ready to make a million trillion feathers.  Seriously, I am prepared for every quilt I ever make forever more to have feathers in it.

It seems like every person I know is currently expecting a little girl, so I thought a baby quilt with pink feathers could be cute.

Because I knew I was making more, and because one of the ladies in the BrisMQG generously lent me her feather templates, I went a bit more of a production line with this one. I made strips for the feathery side of the feathers and did much of my cutting and assembling, well assembly line style. 

The biggest problem I had was that I ran out of grey when I was only halfway through adding sides to my feathers. It’s Kona Medium Grey, so not a rare or valuable fabric, but, as always, it took me time to get around to ordering more (and then because I’m in Australia and ordering from the US, it takes even longer).

And then once they were all finally properly pieced, I forgot what layout I had assigned them to :-/  You see, they had been up on my wall and I had been totally happy with it, but then I had other things to sew, so I took them down and they got mixed up and it was all everywhere… I know #firstworldproblems right here.

And now that they had their sides on them, they seemed bigger than they had before. My original intention was to do 6” strips in between columns with 1 feather free floating up above, but when I laid them all out that way, it took up half my lounge room. And it didn’t feel balanced.

I rearranged and sewed and rearranged and sewed. And rearranged and sewed some more. I finally had something that I felt was almost maybe right. It’s still got the same 2 direction thing going, but the groupings have changed, and that odd duck in the bottom left is more adrift than originally intended (although not as wonky as he was going to be – turns out I should have totally ordered more of that grey if I wanted to use it up with fancy angles).

I think that quilting this will really help it to sing.  The grey feels a little flat when there’s this much of it (although I love the pink against the grey – it makes me happy).

And even though I made these in a batch, each one is unique and different and has different fabrics.

I am calling it a Flock of Pink Seagulls - because feathers everywhere means it’s a flock of birds, and the phrase “flock of seagulls” kept going around in my head (possibly the result of listening to too much bad 80’s music as a child), but seagulls are white and these feathers are pink – it has been suggested that Flock of Flamingos or Flock of Galahs would be more appropriate, but it’s too late. Flock of Pink Seagulls is stuck in my head!)

I don’t think I’m done with feathers yet.  Hopefully Kim doesn’t mind that I am holding her templates hostage for a little while longer.  I have 2 more feather-y quilts in my head that I might try to bring to life if I can.

As far as this baby, it's been tucked into the cupboard of shame, along with all my other completed tops that I am too scared to attempt to quilt. Because it turns out, I'm bad at making baby quilts because they end up growing and growing, and being far, far too big for babies, so this is no longer a gift.  I think there's so much negative space, the quilting on this could be incredible, but I am just not confident I can do it justice myself.  And I know the only way to improv my FMQ is to practice... but maybe not yet.

E xx