Wednesday 28 March 2012

WIP Wednesday - bee blocks and fabric fondling

I've managed to get a bit done this week, mostly working on finishing off the second commissioned quilt (which is basted and ready to quilt tonight hopefully!) but also making my bee blocks for the 4x5 bee. 

Yes I made some snail trail blocks for my hive - they worked really well (and came out at 12 1/2" which was awesome!) I actually pressed my seams open for these - and they look much crisper than normal. The blocks people have made in my hive are amazing, I am so honoured and excited that I'll be lucky enough to recieve them! Most of them I wouldn't have any hope of making myself ;o)

There has been quite a lot of bundle building going on too. I'm really stumped with what I want to use for the Retro Flowers QAL. I put together this set of fabrics today:

I'm still not entirely certain where I'm going to go fabric-wise. I might end up dropping the grey/black prints in favour of some more colour, but I do like these together... I think there's a good mix of value in there and I love teal/purple/orange/mustard together (a little bit retro?) but I'm really dithering on it. 

Anyway WIP stats for this week are:

New Projects: 2 
* Retro flowers QAL - at fabric selection stage
* Baby quilt - started fussy cutting my Meet the Gang

Finished: 1 (bee blocks)

In progress: 5
* Swoon - completed 5/9 blocks (no progress)
* Commissioned quilts - first quilt top done except binding, second one basted and ready for quilting.

* Stained QAL - no progress
* 4x5 Bee blocks done
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 ;) 

Tuesday 27 March 2012

Baby quilt fabric selection

Ok so I said I'd hopefully be back in a few days with some finished quilts. I'm still working on those (really, I am!) but I got little distracted looking at fabric. I find every couple of days I start pulling out a bundle of fabrics, not necessarily with a project in mind, but just for the sheer joy of it :o)

I did actually have a reason for it today - my best friend is currently pregnant with baby number 5. And I really want to make her a quilt. They aren't finding out whether it's a boy or girl so it needs to be something fairly gender neutral (although she's not really a pink person anyway, so even if I knew it was a girl quilt, I would probably go for non-pink fabrics...) I've been admiring my small bundle of Meet the Gang for ages, and I thought I'd have a play with putting some other fabrics with it and see what I could come up with.

I'm really not sure which of these I'll actually use (probably not all the greens - I'll probably whittle them down to 2 or 3) I love how well the Lizzy House jewels coordinate with Meet the Gang (honestly, the could be from the same collection, don't you think?) I will probably add in some more grey/neutrals too. I'm thinking an improv square in a square style quilt - I haven't done improv for ages, and I'm itching to make something relatively quick and simple...

Baby is due at the end of May, so I'm thinking I'll probably make this one next, before I start on the Retro Flowers... sorry just thinking aloud here ;o)

xx Jess

Monday 26 March 2012

Resistance is futile

I've seen this come up a few times recently in blogs. It seems resistance really is futile ;o)

As I'm coming to the end of my commissions (which seem to have taken *forever*), I'm thinking about my next project (or five...) I've already started the Stained QAL, but me being me, I'm not happy to just have one project on the go. I should clarify there, one NEW project. Oh no. So I've been stalking the Retro Flowers QAL sites trying to resist joining in that one as well. I even entered the giveaways for the pattern and templates.  And I accidentally won a pattern (yay!! first give away win!) So now I have to join, don't I?

Just because I'm a total scaredy cat when it comes to curves (which is rather sad when you consider I have 'done' the curves class. This means I have read all the project posts and not done any. They too are on my ever growing to-do-list...) I just ordered a curve master foot (the pattern told me to, honest!) and the template set. And so I'm really excited about starting it - and I get to do one of my favorite parts of a project: picking fabrics. I'm actually thinking I might delve into my Good Folks stash for this one (I figure pretty fabric might motivate me to keep going for once ;o) )

Is anyone else joining in on the Retro Flower QAL? There are some great prizes up for grabs and the link up isn't until the beginning of June so its a pretty low pressure one time-wise (although I'm thinking all the curved piecing is going to take a loooong time).

Oh and thanks for all our lovely comments regarding my fabulously well behaved children (insert sarcasm here - only about the kids, not the comments!). It seems I was just tired and needed a sewing break (surprisingly I might add). Kids have been a bit better, but more importantly I spent Friday and Saturday nights getting acquainted with a TV series I hadn't seen but have fallen in love with. The Dollhouse - absolutely bloody brilliant series. If you saw and enjoyed Firefly (another Joss Whedon series) you'll love it. Sci-fi/action and just really worth a watch.

I'll hopefully be back in a couple of days with some finished quilts!

xx Jess

Wednesday 21 March 2012

WIP Wednesday - Buzzing Along...

Happy hump day! I'm especially happy it's Wednesday already as I'm single parenting again this week (as I have been for one in every two weeks for the last few months - Mr Elven Garden is working interstate on a big, stressful, important engineering project.) As much as I'm used to him being away (A. Lot.) my wee babby (well 18 month old) has decided that sleep is not cool, and is waking heaps over night. And thinks 4am is a good time to play. So I'm really not coping quite as well as usual. Add to that my boys being little shits buggers  naughty things because they miss their Dad. So just a little bit over it. The dismal rainy day today isn't helping a whole lot either.

Ok enough of a whine. So what's my week been like since last Wednesday? On the sewing front, it's been goodish. 

I finished quilting this monster (sorry forgot to put up pics earlier!!)

All ready to be bound. Plus during the great fabric sort, I found the perfect pink and white stripe for binding (yay!!!) So now I'm just trying to keep motivated to finish the second one. Not loving making two quilts the same...

I started another project over the weekend - the Stained QAL. I've cut my fabrics (mammoth task) and put the first block together - on hold until I finish off both the commissioned quilts. It's such a great pattern that Sarah has designed, and I'm really looking forward to quilting it - it's going to be fun!

I've also made a really good start on my 4x5 bee blocks - should be finished off tonight. 

If you haven't already, you should head over to Lucy's blog - there's a great Stale Stash Swap happening...

WIP stats:

New projects: 2

Finished: 1 (secret project ;o) )

In progress: 5
* Swoon - completed 5/9 blocks
* Commissioned quilts - first quilt top nearly done done except binding, second one cut ready to assemble started putting together.
* Secret project Done

* Stained QAL 
* 4x5 Bee blocks
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 ;) 

Tuesday 20 March 2012

Stale Stash Swap

Charm About You

The time has finally come for Lucy's Stale Stash Swap! After sorting and folding my fabric last week, I've come up with quite a pile of potential swap fabrics so get ready ;o) None of them are particularly nasty, either I accidentally got more than one piece of them, or I've fallen out of love with them. 

1. Royal City in Purple, 1001 Peeps by Lizzy House
I have a half-yard of this one so I can cut it for two people, or am happy to swap the whole thing for two FQs Swapped!

2. Frieda Frill (Michael Miller) - one FQ Swapped!

3. Peeps in Purple (1001 Peeps by Lizzy House)
half yard of this one too - so 2 FQs available Swapped!

4. Paisley party (Red Rooster Fabrics)
half yard of this one - so 2 FQs available 

5. Belle Paisley (Amy Butler's OOP Belle collection) washed
I have a metre of this, so 4 large FQs 

6. Metro Living (Robert Kaufman) - aqua
one FQ Swapped :o) I actually had a yard of this (who knew?) so I have one more FQ available :o)

7. Metro Living (Robert Kaufman) - surf Swapped :o) I actually had a yard of this one too so I have one more FQ available :o)

8. Poppy parade (Sandi Henderson's Meadowsweet) washed
1 yard, so 4 FQs available   Swapped!

9. Raise the roof from Habitat by Jay McCarrol
2  1 FQ available
10. Pillow and maxfield (Michael Miller) washed
2 FQs available

My stash is sadly lacking in purple, red and pink, so they'd be great to swap for - but I will consider any fabric :oD

have fun swapping!

Give away Winner!!

I'm completely overwhelmed with the number of entries into the give away! 95 of you entered, so thank you for helping me celebrate my century of followers. Although that's been blown out of the water now anyway ;o) so it may be time for another give away sooner than I would have thought!

Mr Random has picked #15 (sorry I couldn't work out how to capture the image - might need some advice on that before the next one ;o) ) and because I'm completely technology un-savvy I also haven't managed to number my comments. So counting down the comments (d'oh!!) we have:

Yay Jess! It is a great feeling getting 100!
I couldn't say exactly what I would make but it would be patchworky!

Congrats Jessica, I'll send you an email now.

xx Jess

Another blogger bundle...

I couldn't resist making another bundle - this is one I would love to buy (amazingly I don't have any text prints in my stash!)

A texty little bundle:

1. Reunion (Sweetwater) daisys dates cherry, 2. Reunion (Sweetwater) daisys dates graphite, 3. Reunion (Sweetwater) noras news ink, 4. Hometown (Sweetwater)town news cream red, 5. Hometown (Sweetwater) town square cream red, 6. Hometown (Sweetwater) town square sky, 7. in the doghouse headliner black, 8. Annie's farm stand etched blossoms black, 9. Going coastal bottle caps multi, 10. Cosmo cricket typewriter red, 11. Punctuation alphabet toss blue, 12. Fine Lines color me check in natural

Since text prints are so popular at the moment, this would be a great stash-builder. There are some amazing bundles already entered in this competition, but I thought I'd give it another shot ;o)

Monday 19 March 2012

Pink Castle Contest

Katy the ginger monkey (aka the pied piper of quilting - thanks Lynne for that one, love it!) is running a contest on her blog at the moment. The brief is to pick a selection of 12 fabrics from Brenda's store (Pink Castle Fabrics), make a mosaic, blog it and link up to Katy's blog.

So here is my bundle:

1. Hello Pilgrim Jewels in Purple Lizzy House, 2. Illusion in pink by Lizzy House, 3. Blockprint blossom in pink by Joel Dewberry, 4. Time for Tea Floral in Aqua Liz Scott Domestic Bliss for Moda, 5. Sea Garden in Ocean - Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket for Moda Fabrics, 6. Metro Living Lattice in Dusty Blue by Robert Kaufman, 7. Empire Weave in Garnet Heirloom by Joel Dewberry, 8. Hello Pilgrim Jewels in Turquoise Lizzy House, 9. Vintage Ironwork in Berry Secret Garden by Sandi Henderson, 10. Basketweave in Pink Magenta Dazzle by Melissa Averinos, 11. Daisy's Dates in Graphite Reunion by Sweetwater for Moda, 12. Mono Pez in Gray Pezzy Prints by American Jane for Moda

My inspiration for this was my daughter's favorite tunic top - shades of purple and aqua with a few pops of pink. The grey is there to mellow it out a bit (plus who can resist text prints and pez?!?) I think it would make a super pretty quilt. If I win (yeah, right!!) I would probably use them to make something using the Spring Carnival templates I got the other day :o).

PS - if you haven't already entered my giveaway, hurry up! It closes tomorrow night :o)

Sunday 18 March 2012

Stained QAL - a start

Stained QAL
Ok so I'm a month and a half late to the party (middle of March already? Yikes!) but I've been so inspired by some of the Stained QAL tops popping up I pulled a bundle of fabrics out the other day and have spent this weekend stealing some cutting time. 

I should back track a little. Last weekend, I mananged to convince Mr Elven Garden that I really needed some shelves in our bedroom to stash my fabric. Surprisingly he agreed (:oD) and so this week I spent a LOT of time this week folding all my fabric (sort of using Jeni's tutorial) and putting it on my new shelves. It's been a bit of an eye opener for me (in a good way) to see exactly how much fabric I have. It's a bit ridiculous, and now the other half is commenting on our 'bedroom fabric shop'... hence I am actually on a fabric diet. For a while at least ;o)

It's mostly sorted by colour, but I couldn't bring myself to split up some of my collections - so Lizzy House has her own shelf and I've kept things like my Japanese linen, AMH, Heather Bailey, Saffron Craig etc together. It was also a great way to pick out some bits to list in Lucy's Stale Stash Swap this Tuesday :o). 

Anyhoo, back to the QAL (since this post was meant to be about that!!) When I was folding and sorting,  I kept coming back to an idea of using Saffron Craig's Magical Lands for the Stained quilt. I pulled a few other prints as well and came up with this little stack:

I've cut all the pieces (Sarah's instructions are amazing! It could have been a nightmare, but it totally wasn't.) and now I'm trying to decide on sashing colour. Some help here would be awesome ;o) I'm trying to decide between this one (Kona PFD):

And this one (Kona Hibiscus):

Or I do have enough black which might work... I'm really, really stuck on it. I love the purple, but I think the whitey one my help the colours pop more. Which would you choose? I need to make Just Wing It #2 first before I start cutting sashing anyway (so lots of time to try and decide...) but I'd really appreciate some input :o) 

xx Jess

Thursday 15 March 2012

FTLOS swap received SQUEEEE!

Oh my, what a happy, happy mail day I had today. I got home to a pile of (well, three) parcels on my doorstep - all tell tale flat rate envelopes from the United States. Now I was expecting two lots of fabric to turn up sometime, so I suspected the third was a swap item. Little did I know how awesome it would be.

I opened it up and found this package of total awesomeness....

I had been seriously hoping this little beauty was for me - and it is! It's even better in real life. And it was made by none other than Faith of Fresh Lemons. How lucky am I? I am so completely in love with it, it is perfect colours and so beautifully made. I just need to decide where to hang it... She sent me a lovely (huge) piece of deep purple solid fabric (not sure but I think it's Art Gallery solid - it has a very different hand to Kona, very soft and supple) and some dark grey Gutermann thread (which I recently ran out of, so that's perfect too!)

The other parcels are lovely, but how can they compare with such brilliant swap items? First was my bundle of Hello Pilgrim prints from Sew Fresh Fabrics. Despite my obsession with Lizzy House, I decided to just get some of the stripes (blue and orange), jewel prints (some of my favorite solid alternatives) and pearl bracelet in aqua and green. Plus there is a yard of Just Wing it there (the top one). 

And the third package was a bundle from Sew Fabulous Quilt Shop. I'm a sucker for a sale, and these were all 50% off so they were a total bargain. There's lots of Wrenly by Valorie Wells (which I'd been eyeing off for ages - especially love the bird print, so cute!) and Central Park by Kate Spain (my favorite of her lines) and a bit of Happy Mochi Yum Yum in pink, and some of the cathedral windows from Fly a Kite.

So awesome fabricy-goodness all around.

x Jess

Wednesday 14 March 2012

WIP Wednesday - How to quilt a monster (and a giveaway!)

After a week or so of working on another (secret) project, I gave in and started quilting the giant Just Wing It quilt. It's really not that massive - just a lot more massive than my usual baby quilts. At around 60" x 85" I was a bit scared of trying to wrestle it through my machine to FMQ it.

I've been pleasantly surprised at how easy it's been - the middle part has required a fair bit of starting and stopping to manipulate the part I have rolled up within the throat of my machine, but otherwise its been smooth sailing. I'm doing a loose stipple (not sure if that's a mutually exclusive statement? Does stipple mean tight?) - around 1" between the quilting. This should hopefully make it a good texture for a bed quilt, and mean its snuggly and soft once its washed.

I normally start at one corner and quilt like Elizabeth's tutorial. This time I did it differently. I drew a (really dodgy) diagram showing how I did it. Note how bored I got of drawing wavy lines - they get progressively more sloppy. I did not do this with my real quilting ;o)
* I started at 1 (with the quilt rolled up from the bottom side in this picture) and quilted that quarter, moving from the centre to the side edge and back again, all the way down the quilt..
* I removed the quilt completely from my machine, and rolled the quilt from the right hand side in the photo - starting at 2, I quilted down from the middle to the bottom edge, then up, then down etc. until that quarter was fully quilted.
* Once that quarter was finished, I rolled the quilt from the top side in this picture, and started at 3, quilting across to the edge and back to the middle etc.
* Finally, I rolled the quilt from the left side and started at 4, quilting up and down until I had finished the final quarter.
I will definitely be using this technique for quilting larger quilts from now on. It involved minimal quilt wrangling (the weight of the quilt was on the table top as much as possible) and I didn't have too much of the quilt under my machine at any time.

I finished quilting it tonight - but the photos are of a part-quilted quilt taken during daylight hours (better ones tomorrow I promise!)

Oh, if you haven't already entered, I have a giveaway open until next Tuesday (sponsored by Sew Fresh Fabrics, so it's a goodie!!)

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced - as always, go check out the awesome stuff being made :o)

Tuesday 13 March 2012

Sponsored Giveaway: Feather and Stitch!!!

I have been watching my followers slowly (like really, really slowly - you know how they say a watched pot never boils?) creep up towards the magical century so I could announce this... And now it has! Yay!

So, to help me celebrate my (small-but-exciting-for-me) milestone of reaching 100 followers, the lovely ladies at Sew Fresh Fabrics have sponsored a giveaway. On my blog. How cool is that? When I approached them with this idea, they said 'sure, we'd love to for one of our best customers!'. For obvious reasons I have decided not to mention this statement to Mr Elven Garden ;o)

You can find Sew Fresh Fabrics, run by Peg and Becca on etsy. They stock heaps of my favorite designers (think Lizzy House, Thomas Knauer , Lotta Jansdotter, Jenean Morrison and heaps, heaps more). Plus one of the really great things they offer are bundles of Kona solids inspired by different collections. This is so much easier than trying to match colours on a computer monitor (which if you're me ususally ends in total disaster...) Plus they are just really nice, post your fabric really fast and are generally legendary people.

And the giveaway? Hurry up you say? Peg and Becca have most generously offered a Fat Quarter Bundle of Feather and Stitch by Sarah Watts.

Image from Sew Fresh Fabrics on etsy.

Giveaway Rules:

* This giveaway is open internationally.
* One comment per person please! Any extra comments will be deleted by me.
* To enter you must be a follower of my blog (since its a follower milestone celebration giveaway :o) )
* Leave a comment on this blog post, and tell me what you'd make if you win!
Please make sure you leave me a way to contact you if you win. If you're a no-reply blogger and don't leave an email address you will not have a valid entry. Update: I am getting lots of no-reply comments where no email address has been left. Please leave me a way to contact you or you won't have a valid entry!!!
* The winner will be selected my on Tuesday 20th March, 8pm Australian EST (so Monday sometime for most of you!)

UPDATE: Winner announced (comment #15 Jessica)

Finally, thanks so much for following my blog! It's the comments you leave that really keep me doing this, and I am loving making some other quilty friends across the world :)

I'm linking up to Fabric Tuesday (link on sidebar).

Monday 12 March 2012

One thing, one week challenge - Just Wing It quilt top

I'm really excited I have gotten this quilt top finished (which was my one thing, one week aim). I'm quite happy with the results (although these photos were taken inside with really bad lighting, so they look pretty terrible!)

It's pretty big (about 60" x 85") so I couldn't get a really good picture. Weather has been terrible so no outside photo opportunities - and the pics are quite blurry so its an all around fail really. I really need to work on my camera skills ;o)

(did you tilt your head on an angle for this one?)

It's actually now pin basted and ready to quilt (when I get up the courage to wrestle it through my machine!!)

Linking up to the One Week, One Thing challenge at Amy's Creative Side (button in sidebar).

x Jess

Thursday 8 March 2012

My sewing space

I've been wanting to put up some pictures of my sewing space for a while. I've seen a lot of pictures lately of pristine, extremely organised spaces that people describe as messy. Well, I'm about to show you my cleaned up sewing room - this is my version of tidy and organised (which isn't really very organised or tidy...) Be warned this is a photo-heavy post!

Why now? Well I spent an hour or two today sorting my scraps. They went from this:

Via this (Zoe had the best time 'helping' me - I'm sure I'll find lots of scraps scattered around the house over the next week or so!)

To this:

These are drawers that slide in pairs into a casing, and the casings stack on top of one another. This was by no means all of my scraps - I've got all the white and cream solids in zip lock bags. There are a few other zip locks full of 6" squares, and collections that I've kept together. But this is the scrappy scraps - all ready for some sort of scraptastic project.

So once I'd done that I did a quick tidy of my sewing room and took some pics. My quilty books - love pretty much all of them.

This one my mum gave to me (to borrow) last week and it's an oldie but a goodie.

It doesn't have cutting instructions etc for the blocks, but teaches you how to draft them yourself (and then figure out the piecing too :) )

I might make a sampler quilt using some of them at some stage I think - it would be a brilliant skill builder!

Anyhoo, back to the sewing room. This is under my sewing machine desk (tidy, hey?) All those boxes are full of sewing patterns - mostly vintage (60s and 70s):

My sewing machine table:

My threads/sewing machine accessories/fabrics pulled for WiPs/general crap.

Shelves above our computer - more sewing patterns (mostly ones in my etsy shop), more WiPs, finished quilts and some of my neutral fabrics.

My second desk - usually used to stash stuff I'm working on and used for pinning/trimming. Lots of drawers underneath full of more stuff. Not sure what (apart from the top two which I use all the time) and I'm too scared to clean them out. I don't use it for cutting as it's too low and not all that flat. Love my view of our garden though :)

So that's it. Cutting and basting happen on our 8-ball table - my long suffering other half bought two massive pieces of MDF board that sit on top. He bought them so he could play Warhammer on them, but they are conveniently perfect for cutting and basting. So yet again I win, and he gets to complain about my quilting stuff spreading even further :o)

I'd love to see some other people's sewing areas!

xx Jess

Wednesday 7 March 2012

WIP Wednesday - Just Wing It #1

I did a small blog revamp last night, and I now have a 'current WIP' page so I can keep track of what I need to finish off - although I really can't imagine that will stop me starting new projects anyway :-p

I've been sewing up a storm this week, getting the first of my commission quilts done - I've nearly finished the quilt top. I will be about 55" x 85" when its done, and I'm struggling to get a good photo, because it's been raining and I don't have anywhere inside to hang it...

This is the main central panel (really crappy photo sorry) - mostly Just Wing It by Momo with some Just Dandy, metro circles and a white/pink/red polka dot print (not sure what collection its from...) I'm hoping to get this one finished, basted and quilted in the next week or so, and then get started on the second one.

WIP stats:

In progress: 3
* Swoon - completed 5/9 blocks
* Commissioned quilts - first quilt top nearly done, second one cut ready to assemble.
* 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 ;)

Linking up to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced (link button on sidebar).

Friday 2 March 2012

Hexy Trail Mini Quilt

This is my entry into the Modern Mini Quilt challenge.

  Modern Mini Challenge
I wanted to use some techniques for this challenge that I hadn't tried before, and I'm a big fan of English paper piecing, so I decided to give that a try. I also worked with a linen/cotton blend which I never have before. 

I'm a bit obsessed with bright, saturated colours at the moment, so I decided to use some Echino linen fabric and a fussy cut bee from Melody Miller's Ruby Star Spring collection for the hexies, and used natural Essex linen for the background.

I made the hexagons in various sizes ranging from 1.25" to 2.5", and arranged them in an abstract-type arrangement. I whip-stitched them together, and then appliqued them straight on to the quilt sandwich. 

I stitched around each hexagon, using an off-white Aurifil thread.

I quilted in straight lines 1" apart, following the sides of some of the hexies using the same thread as for applique-ing the hexies. I didn't plan on quilting it this way - it evolved as I was doing it (I originally intended on quilting diagonally across the whole quilt). I love how the lines are kind-of-but-not-quite woven through the quilt.

I attached a flange to the edges of the quilt (Kona surf) before sewing on the binding (Kona cerise).

My mini measures 24" x 34". I've added some hanging sleeves to the upper corners, so it will soon be hung in my sewing room. I really, really loved making this mini, and I am completely in love with it - it makes me smile whenever I look at it :-D

xx Jess