Wednesday 29 February 2012

WIP Wednesday with a few more finishes!

I am so glad to have a few more finishes this week. Phew, my WIP pile is not shrinking exactly, but I am getting somewhere at least!

I finished off my FTLOS big item (post here), and now just have to package it up with the small item (*cough* yet to be decided on *cough*) and send it off to the other side of the world. Yikes!

I finished my Modern Mini Quilt Challenge quilt. It's so tempting to show you all, but I want to wait till the 5th. Not sure why, its not really anything special, I just want to keep it under wraps!

I've discussed with my client and finalised the fabrics I'll be using for her commissioned quilts. We've decided on (mostly) Just Wing It by Momo as it matches her daughters' room's decor quite perfectly, with a few additional prints thrown in. I've been stashing prints from the collection for a while, and I'm really looking forward to starting to put these together, as I love the fabrics and I think (hope) they'll be really great quilts. While I was chatting to her on Sunday, she asked if I could put together a library bag for her daughter who's just started kindergarten. I obliged - its nice to get back to my non-quilty-sewing roots occasionally and I had some Flower Fairies fabric I was struggling to come up with a plan for. I've used Jeni's drawstring bag pattern and it is totally fantastic! I plan on making a few of these for my own kidlets for toys etc.

I've appliqued her daughter's name on it - and got to try out a few stitches on my machine that I've never used, which was fun! It does a really great blanket stitch which looks really cool around the letters. It's very sparkly and girly and I'd imagine her little girl will love it (what little girl doesn't love fairies?)

I've also made a bit of progress on my secret project.

WIP Stats:
Finished: 2
* For the Love of Solids project - DONE!!
* Modern Mini Quilt challenge - DONE!!

In progress: 3
* Swoon - completed 5/9 blocks
* Commissioned quilts - almost finished cutting (120 6" squares, 100 3"x6" rectangles and LOTS of white sashing - about 4 yards worth!)
* Secret project

Long term WIPs: 3
* Outfoxed on the High Seas
* Fandango
* Pop garden
plus a few other abandoned projects that may never see the light of day again ;)

I'm linking up to WIP wednesday over at Freshly Pieced (see link on left hand sidebar) - pop over and see all the other quilty inspiration!

xx Jess

Tuesday 28 February 2012

For The Love of Solids Round 2

I finally got around to getting the thread I needed and finished off my For the Love of Solids swap big item. I'm pretty happy with how its come together, and I really hope my swap partner likes it!

My partner had requested stars in her swap info, and around the time this swap started Elizabeth Hartman had started her sparkle punch QAL, so I exhibited a total lack of imagination and went with a sparkle punch made from solids ;) I did make a small change, and used 2.5" squares instead of 3.5". The colours are based loosely on my partner's mosaic - I can't remember all of them but they include Kona wine, mulberry, lupine, lilac, berry, jade green and cyan (all from Sew Fresh Fabric on etsy) and the background is Kona coal.

I guess it could be hung as a mini-quilt (it measures about 19" x 30"), but I've sewn on some ties for it to be a sewing machine cover. My machine dimensions are bigger (so its a tight fit, and a bit short modelled on my machine) but I'm hoping it will be a perfect fit for my partner's machine :)

I've quilted it using a combination of machine and hand quilting - only because I am so insanely slow at hand quilting, it would have taken me weeks to get it finished!

All that remains is whether I make a small item or send something purchased (still not sure about this - but I am toying with making a matching thread catcher...)


Monday 27 February 2012

Fabric Stashing - Melody Miller

I think Melody Miller might be an actual genius. I have been fairly besotted with her fabrics since I first saw them, and have been gradually collecting her prints over the last few months. I posted these a while ago:

And they are just so gorgeous, and different and funky that when Ruby Star Shining was released I was desperate to get some. Problem was, by the time I organised myself enough, the gorgeous typewriter prints had sold out :( What else to do but console myself by ordering (most of) the other prints in the collection.

And then by glad coincidence, a few weeks ago Melody tweeted that Miss Matabi on etsy had just gotten some typewriters in, so ordered some of these.

And I'm so glad I did. I feel my life is now complete (no, seriously I do - they are the most lush fabrics I have ever laid eyes on!) I'm seeing quite a few pillows, zippy pouches and maybe a quilt on my horizons. If I can bring myself to actually cut these up :p

xx Jess

Wednesday 22 February 2012

WIP Wednesday - the one with a new obsession

I've had a fun week this week, trying a new-to-me technique: English paper piecing! I'm loving it, cos I can sit on the couch and sew and watch a bit of TV (Mr Elven Garden is working interstate at the moment, so I'm a bit tired most nights to sew on the machine.) I can only give you sneak peeks so far - this one is my mini quilt for the Modern Mini challenge:

And this is a secret project (so you won't be seeing any more of this one ;) )

Other that these new projects (I just can't help myself!!) I've finished off the quilting on my FTLOS project, and have made the binding so its ready to be finished finally. I've run out of thread though, so its waiting on me getting into the city to buy some more :)

I also finished and posted my Name Game swap mini quilt - and my partner has recieved it and likes it (so relieved - first swap and I was really nervous that she wouldn't like it...)

I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced (no WIP stats this week - it will just depress me, what with the new projects and lack of finishes ;) )

xx Jess

Wednesday 15 February 2012

WIP Wednesday: minis galore!

I've actually had my first finish for the year - and two more very near finishes this week. So its been a good de-stress week. I wasn't actually stressed precisely (I knew I had plenty of time to get them done) but didn't like the feeling of lots of projects with deadlines, and none of them done.

My finish was my Name Game swap mini quilt - I sent it today so I still can't show the name but this is it (please ignore my highly technical method of covering the name :p)

I really struggled with what to do for this one - my swap partner is into very country-style quilting (WAY out of my comfort zone!) so I was clueless as to what to do. I don't think I've mentioned that I'm doing the Curves Class over at Stitched in Colour? Well I am (uh, obviously now!) and the scalloped applique part was one of the projects from our first week - modified from a cushion into a smaller panel on my mini quilt. I used my Freebird by Momo fabrics (pretty, but not really my thing... the remaining ones might be a destash giveaway soon...), and actually quilted the name onto the mini. I wrote up how I did it - so you can check out my tutorial if you like (it may give away the name pretty well - but I'm positive she doesn't read my blog anyway!) It's not something I would usually make, but its a pretty little quilt.

I've made a fair bit of headway on my For the Love of Solids project as well. It's fully pieced and mostly quilted.

I was going to hand-quilt the entire thing - but at about 30" x 18" it was going to take forever (I'm VERY slow at hand-quilting!) so I've machine quilted around some of the stars, and I've started hand quilting the rest. Still not sure, but I think it will be a sewing machine cover rather than mini quilt.

I've made another swoon block as well - five down, four to go. I'm kind of enjoying the sporadic-ness of making these blocks, but another part of me wants to buckle down and get them done - I can't wait to see how they all look together.

I put together another mini quilt as well - which I am in the process of hand stitching the binding on. I'm doing the 4x5 bee, and I've chosen to make snail trail blocks. One of our hive members has asked for rainbow colours with dark grey, so these blocks were an experiment to see if it worked (plus its going to be a present for my mum).

Stats for this week:

Finished: 1 - yay!!
New projects: 2

In progress:
Swoon - another block done

No progress:
* High seas
* Pop garden
* Fandango
* Commissioned quilts (2) - waiting on fabric

Hope everyone has had a great week - I'm linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

xx Jess

Monday 13 February 2012

Tutorial - Embossing words with Free Motion Quilting

I'm participating in the Name Game Swap hosted by the lovely Anorina over at Samelia's Mum (there is word there'll be another round after this one, so keep your eyes peeled - its a great little swap!) The deal is you need to make a small quilt (around 10" x 12" minimum) with the name of your swap partner or their blog on the quilt. I've been stressing  trying to work out how to do it for the last month or so, and then inspiration struck (helped along by this quilt) and I decided to try writing the name on my quilt using free motion quilting. It's worked pretty well (well, second attempt has!) so I thought I'd share with you how I did it.

First of all, you'll need some sort of marking tool that can be removed. A quilter's chalk pencil would work, although you'll need a pretty fine line (and I've never had any luck sharpening mine to a fine point). I bought this pen about a year ago for marking fabric when I was making clothes and its excellent:

It's purple so it shows up well on most light-medium value fabrics. Because I made this quilt with a cream solid it showed up really well. And it 'spontaneously dissolves' so it disappears easily (DO test this first though!) - especially if you wet it a little with water.

Mark your fabric before you make the quilt sandwich - its much easier, and your fabric will be flatter than once you have basting pins in it. I drew a few lines on to start with, to keep my writing straight and the same height (but if you wanted a more random text you could leave out this step).

I chose to make them about 2" high, with a second line 1/2" down for taller letters (the top line was for the first letter). Then write your text along your lines:

The space within each letter here is about 1/4". My first attempt I did it much narrower (around 1/8" wide), and when I quilted around the letters, they disappeared into the surrounding quilting.

I find it hard  impossible to make my FMQ any closer together than 1/8" (these echo shells are about 1/8" apart) so I needed to make the letters thicker so they would be visible. If you're a fabulous quilter and can quilt more densely, you could make your letters more narrow :) My second attempt, the letters were much more visible. So, once you've marked your letters make your quilt sandwich and get ready to sew!

Now I have a Bernina with BSR so I can set my stitch length to whatever I like which makes this part a bit easier. If you have BSR, set your stitch length to 1, and take your speed down to the lowest setting. If not, try to make your stitches as small as possible as your stitching around your letters (this will help them 'pop')

I've shown the back here, as its easier to see than with the marker pen on the front side. I started and stopped after each letter. Next, sew another row of stitches around each letter, as close as you can to the first stitching. This was a little under 1/8" away.

The back view shows it better I think. For the smaller areas inside the 'o' and 'e' I spiralled in after stitching around the circle.

Once you've stitching around each letter, simply use whichever FMQ design you want, and quilt in and around your writing. The denser the better - this will make the surrounding area flatter, and help your writing 'pop' as much as possible. I've used an echo shell pattern which is really easy to do. There are heaps of styles that would work though (even dense stippling would look great) - a brilliant resource is the Free Motion Quilting Project.

Thanks for checking out my tutorial! I'm linking up to Tutorial Tuesday and Manic Monday :)

Sew Happy Geek

Lawson and Lotti

Friday 10 February 2012

Rainbow trail mini - progress

I am a little (well, okay more than a little) obsessed with these blocks at the moment. I'm really enjoying playing around with colours and value with them and seeing what I can create. I've decided to make a snail trail block for my 4x5 Bee hive members (yes I know. MORE of them...) and one of our group asked for rainbow colours with a dark grey background. Cue me trying to work out how to make it work, and pulling a couple of piles of rainbow fabrics (SO much fun - I'd never done it before, but I see some rainbow quilts in my future!)

I decided to make a couple of trial blocks to see how it worked - and then though I might as well make them into a mini while I was at it. So I made four rainbow snail trail blocks over the last couple of nights. My original plan was a layout something like this:

But once I'd made the blocks it just didn't look quite right - not how I'd imagined it. I actually stuffed up the blocks when I sewed the four patches - I wanted the light and dark grey to alternate on the sides (which I think would have looked better). So then I tried flipping tow of the blocks to create this:

Again, it didn't quite look like I wanted - and I didn't like how the eye was drawn to that centre bit. So I flipped them all so that the centre of the mini was the light and dark grey:

I really like this placement. I love the rainbow running around the edges of the quilt, and how the greys look in the centre. So I sewed them together, and was pleasantly surprised by how well the points matched up (a bit of easing required though ;) ) I started quilting it last night with straight lines about 1/4" apart. I toyed with doing dense FMQ on the grey, but the geometric lines in the quilt really sang straight lines so I went with that. I'm pretty happy with how it looks so far:

I don't think I'll quilt the coloured parts at all (or if I do, just do a single line of quilting close to the edge). I'll straight line quilt the corner sections as well.

I'm stoked to nearly have my first finish of 2012 - yay for mini quilts :)

Happy stitching,

Tuesday 7 February 2012

Snail Trail Block Tutorial

The snail trail block is one of my favourite traditional blocks - there are so many things you can do with this block in terms of fabric placement and colour choices. These blocks are 12 1/2" unfinished (12" finished).

You'll need at least two different fabrics (although I've used four for the tutorial), and this block works best if you have a high contrast in value between your fabrics. Because you'll be working with exposed bias edges a lot, starch is your friend. It really makes it so much easier to not stretch your triangles when you're handling them! Use a scant 1/4" for all your seams.

Since I made this with four fabrics, I'll go through cutting using four, and mention what do to if you want to use two.

From each of your four fabrics you'll need to cut the following squares. If you're using two different fabrics, you'll still only need to cut these squares, but you'll need (2) 2 5/8" squares from each fabric rather than one.

Set aside your four 2 5/8" squares until later. For each of your larger squares, cut in half along the diagonal to yield two half-square triangles. To do this, I line up my 45 degree line on my ruler with the bottom of the square, and position the ruler so it runs corner to corner.

Do this for all twelve of your squares. You should end up with the following pieces from each fabric (so four lots of these triangles). If you're using four different fabrics, you'll have another spare set of twelve triangles. If you're using two fabrics you'll end up using all the triangles.

Ok, that's the cutting done. Now we can go back to the 2 5/8" squares. Sew these into a four patch, with the light colours on opposite sides like so:

I press my seams open for this step, but for the remaining steps I press to the side. I have tried pressing open and there were parts of the block that were insanely bulky.

Take your finished four patch and place the smallest set of triangles around it. We'll be sewing the lighter fabrics to either side first (the greens in this block).

When positioning your triangles for sewing, match up the point of the triangle to the centre seam of the four patch (see the little white arrow in the photo below) 

Press your seam to the side, and then repeat for the light fabric on the opposite side. Press this seam outward as well. 

Repeat this for the two darker fabrics, matching points and pressing as for the lighter fabrics. You'll end up with a square with little tails in the centre of each side. 

This next step is important - I neglected to do it for my first couple of blocks and wondered why my points weren't matching up between each round of triangle. You need to trim your block 1/4" away from the corners of the four patch and square it up in the process. For this round this will be a very small amount of fabric.

Once your block is trimmed and square, you can start sewing on your second round of triangles. The second round of triangles are the middle-sized ones (cut from the 5 1/4" squares). Again, sew the lighter fabric on first.

Lining up your triangles is a little trickier for this round. First match the point of your triangle to the centre of the four patch:

Then gently shift your triangle down into place  and pin it.

Once the four triangles are sewn and pressed, you'll need to trim 1/4" away from the points as you did after the first round of triangles. This time, try to line up one of the lines of your ruler with one of the seams in the four patch, so your trimmed edges are parallel to the four patch.

You're ready to sew on the final round of triangles. As for the other two rounds, sew the lighter ones first. Like you did in the first round of triangles, match the point of the triangle to the centre of the four patch.

Sew and press all four triangles, and you should finish up with this (after trimming and squaring up to 12 1/2").

I'm linking up to Tutorial Tuesday at Lawson and Lotti

Lawson and Lotti

Enjoy making these blocks, they are really fun :)

xx Jess