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