Wednesday 27 February 2013

Avoiding the warp...

Back in January, I asked Nat if I could commission her to make one of these for me after seeing it on her blog:

Shamelessly stolen from Nat's blog

I wear my hair up all the time, so beanies and hats are kind of a pain - and here in Tassie it gets pretty cold in winter so I've been searching for a good beanie alternative. And Nat's vintage headband is just perfect! Anyway, Nat suggested a swap rather than a commission, so that's what we're doing. Except we said the end of February as the time frame, and being January at the time I thought 'oh, that's ages away!!'. And now it's the end of February, and I'm still mucking around with ideas. 

I'm making a cushion for her - and had a million vague ideas about what to make but nothing definite. So I decided to do some stalking for inspiration, and made the mistake of looking at Nat's pinterest boards, and got really scared. This girl has seriously awesome taste. Like really, really classy and gorgeous. 

So I chucked all my patchworky plans, and decided to make something that's been in my head for a long time (and just hope that she likes it!). I have had a piece of green woven woolen fabric (kind of like thin woolen blanket fabric) in my stash for a long time, and thought it would make some great cushions. I've tried really hard to get the colour of it right, but it just won't photograph well (um, may have something to do with the photographer, me thinks!!) It's a leafy sort of green - not as grey as the photo. And it just happens to look fabulous with some of my pink Liberty fabrics. So I made a handful of Liberty hexies to applique to the wool. 

This is how far I got last night, before I realised I need a better way to applique them on. I've EPP'd the hexies, and then used my machine's blanket stitch to applique them on. The first three went fine, but then the fourth has warped, so my plans of a lovely little flower are dust (the other two hexies won't fit now. Sigh.)  

So, I've started over and I'm just wondering if anyone has any advice for avoiding the warping? I don't really want to stick them down first, as I like the puffiness. I'm thinking a bit of starch might help them keep their shape (I really should have thought of that first I suppose). I would love you to throw some ideas at me :o)

xx Jess

Tuesday 26 February 2013

Birds and Bees Quilt Top

After a few nights (and days) of feverish sewing, my Birds and Bees Colour Block quilt top is done! Getting the seams to match was less terrifying than I had expected - although there was a bit of easing involved and there are some pretty dodgy bits, but they kind of dissolve into the riot of colour :o).

It is giant - 96" x 85" (ish, I haven't actually measured, but that's what the pattern said ;o) ). And heavy - I'm getting more nervous about the quilting the more I think about it.

While trying to work out how to photograph this, I discovered we have a row of conveniently placed hooks above one of our outside doors. Jackpot!! So I managed to get a shot of the back as well :o)

So half-way there with one out of seven of my FAL list... we'll see how that goes from here ;o)
xx Jess

Friday 22 February 2013

Some FAL action!!

Finally! I'm so excited to be working on my Colour Blocks quilt again (free pattern by Tula Pink). I started this quilt around Christmas time last year, and I've been working on it in dribs and drabs. It's the perfect quilt to do that with, since it's broken down into bite-sized sections. I've been cutting each colour as I go, so I'm not getting confused with where I'm at when I leave it for a few weeks at a time ;o) I only have a few more of the sections to piece, and then start putting the other side together as well. So. Excited.

This is the entire right hand side of the quilt - it measures 24" x about 96" (not the best photo sorry - I nearly killed myself climbing on our old rickety outdoor table taking this one.) I'm really excited about how this is coming together - I love how the different purples play together, and pick up some of the colours in the fabrics. It's not all purple by the way - there is another smaller purple section on the other side of the quilt, but the rest of it is mainly blues and neutrals, with a few pops of pink.

I must say I'm getting a wee bit nervous about the prospect of actually quilting it. And basting it. It's going to finish up at around 85" x 96" which is HUGE compared to anything I've done so far...

Hoping to get a bit more done over the weekend :o)

xx Jess

Wednesday 20 February 2013

Tesseract {Emerald Quilt Challenge Finish}

My Emerald Quilt Challenge mini is done! First finish for the year (apart from appeal quilts) and it's not even on my FAL list. Anyone else notice how well I've been ignoring my list ;o)? I think nearly all my projects will have to carry over to the next quarter.

Anyhoo, I finished handstitching down the facing last night, and we have sun today so I managed to get some pictures. I've decided to go with Ella's suggestion of Tesseract for the name - as my other half pointed out, it gets automatic geek points since it's in the Avengers ;o) Other than that, to me it just fits (just ignore the Wiki definition, okay? I still think it's a cool name :o) )

The inspiration definitely came from actual emeralds - and happily, it is my birthstone! Although I'm not usually drawn to these shades of green, to me it says emerald. I love the depth of colour the Oakshotts give it - the photographs do it no justice at all. It literally shimmers.

I have had a creative grids 45 degree strip ruler for nearly a year and hadn't used it before (I bought it especially to make Lizzy House's Diamond Mountain quilt - still on my bucket list.) I adore Lizzy's quilt design, and that became part of my inspiration as well. It uses kaleidoscope blocks in a similar way to what I've done in this quilt.

I will definitely be using two layers of bamboo batting for mini quilts from now on - I love the extra loft it's given without the puff that comes from polyester batting. I didn't want too much puff on this one, but did want the greens to pop a bit more than they would with a single layer. Having said that, I'm not sure that it was such a good plan to go down the no-binding path. Getting it to fold over at the back was a bit of a challenge. Also, my corners are quite rounded, and I'm not sure how flat it will sit when it's hanging. I'd love to hang it on point like this photo - although I have no idea if it's actually feasible. Has anyone ever hung a mini on point? I'd love some tips :o)

It is pieced and quilted entirely using Aurifil 50wt thread (2021 and 2865) - I love that the quilting blends into the background so well (although it blended so well while quilting I did have a bit of trouble seeing where I was going ;o) ) I really loved doing angular quilting too - a first for me, but definitely not the last. I really want to make a triangle quilt and quilt it like I did the green bits on this one.

Quilt Details:
Fabric - Oakshott greens, various low volume grey prints for background.
Size - 24" square.

xx Jess

Tuesday 19 February 2013


Tuesdays are one of my child-free (aka sewing) days, and I got a heap of stuff done today!

I finished quilting my Emerald Challenge quilt. Thanks so much for all your wonderful name suggestions, there are a few I really love - I'm no closer to a decision, mind you. That might take a bit more time. I've decided not to bind this one - I've stitched on facing around the quilt and I'm in the process of handstitching it down at the back. I tried taking some photos of the top today, but it was the greyest most dreary day ever, so you'll have to wait for the big reveal when I get some good light ;o) This is the back, though. I love the back so very much :o)

I also finished up my February bee blocks for the AusMod bee. This month was Jane's turn to bee queen - she designed this block (Refractatorium) especially for the bee, and the quilt is going to be quite amazing. It's paper pieced, but each block only has eight PP sections, so it wasn't too difficult - no walk in the park, but they came together reasonably easily. 

AusMod Bee February Blocks

I've made a bit more progress on the appeal quilts too - and a few more tops arrived this week, so I'm hoping to knock a few more over in the next few days :o)

xx Jess

Saturday 16 February 2013

Fractured Quilting

I started quilting my Emerald Challenge quilt last night. I'm in desperate need of a good name for this one - I have no ideas whatsoever!! Suggestions happily accepted ;o)

I'm using Aurifil 50wt for all the quilting (2021 in the neutral areas, and 2865 on the greens). The green thread is the same one I used on Groove - I like that it blends really well on some of the greens, but stands out more on the darker and lighter greens. 

The piecing on this was far less than perfect, so I'm hoping the quilting helps disguise the dodgy bits. It kind of is so far - or at least making them less blindingly obvious :o) I want to keep the quilting fairly sparse on the Oakshotts, but quilt the greys really densely so they sit flat. 

I'm using two layers of my usual bamboo batting, and it's added a bit more loft to the quilting, without being too puffy. It's a fair bit heavier to move through though my machine when I'm FMQing, so I definitely won't be doing it on anything bigger. My arms were pretty sore after doing this (it took about an hour I think?)

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

xx Jess

Thursday 14 February 2013

Aurifil 2013 BOM February Block

I decided this block deserves it's own blog post, because it was really hard. Definitely the most challenging block I've made (there are 60-odd pieces in this 12.5" block). So I'm kind of proud - it's not perfect but it's pretty good and I love it :o)

Heavy Cross - Aurifil BOM February Block

The block is called Heavy Cross (after the Gossip song) and was designed by Marie-Claude Picon-Iperti - the tutorial can be found here. I'm kind of scared where this BOM is heading now - and hoping there can't possibly be anything more challenging than this one. Think lots of 1/16 measurements and tons of tiny triangles ;o) I loved making it - although I'm really glad I'm only making one. I don't have that much patience.

My first two blocks together:

Off to make my February bee blocks now :o)

xx Jess

Wednesday 13 February 2013

WIP Wednesday - the startitis edition

Apart from more quilting up of quilts for the appeal (which I'm nearly, nearly finished - just need to finish up the binding and quilt up two more little ones), I have been guiltily doing some other sewing in the last week. My boys are back at school, and my wee one has started going to family day care one day a week, so of course I've been madly cleaning the house sewing.

I've been working on blocks for the Fat Quarterly Designer challenge - sneak peak now, you won't get to see the finished thing for a few more months ;o) I'm really happy with how it's coming together though.

Rather than focus on what I should be doing (who, me?) I had a bit of an inspirational moment and started my Emerald Quilt Challenge mini quilt a couple of days ago. Pulling fabric for this was really difficult - I have a decent green stash, but nothing anywhere like the Pantone Emerald colour (which I really think is teal anyway - nothing like my idea of emerald) - most of my greens are more yellow based than blue. So I went with my take on emerald - and pulled a stack of prints for it. But they just weren't gelling for me and I didn't have a good range of values (which I really wanted for this one). So as a last resort I had a look at my Oakshotts, and found perfection. I need to find a better way to photograph these - they are far brighter in real life.

I started by taking a very deep breath, and then cutting a stack of triangles (from the Oakshotts, and some light grey prints), and then randomly sewed them into pairs - there really wasn't a concrete plan until I put them up on the design wall and arranged them. And rearranged them. And then slept on it, and came back and decided on the current design after a few days of pondering ;o)

I just need to join the blocks together and decide on a quilting plan (although there are a few ideas floating around in there...) I'm thinking something along these lines for the rest of my colourbox (which has been sitting untouched for a year waiting for inspiration!) I guess my thinking here was emeralds in the literal sense.

Emerald quilt challenge beginnings

So, once I've completely finished the appeal quilts, I'll be going back to this one! I can't wait to get it put together and quilted up :o)

Linking up this week with Lee at Freshly Pieced.

xx Jess

Tuesday 5 February 2013

Fighting Feathers

I've been fighting with making a few feather blocks using Anna Maria Horner's fantastic free pattern for a couple of my bee mates recently. It is such a great bee block - mostly because you'd have to be either incredibly dedicated or slightly insane to attempt a whole quilt of these blocks. A few is fun - a lot would be a major headache ;o)

Last year, Jeannette of Gone Aussie Quilting asked if I'd be interested in joining an Aussie quilting bee (obviously I said yes - she is amazingly talented and I was quite chuffed to be asked :o) ). It started up in January, and our queen bee chose feather blocks for her month. Being the awesome person she is, Lorena also organised to get templates made for those of us who were interested - which I was. Pretty much every piece of these blocks have bias edges, so my thinking was that templates would make it a whole lot easier. I think it was a good decision - I'd like to make a few more for a cushion at some stage.

I did encounter a few swear-inducing moments with these (not due to the pattern - it's really well written. Due to me not reading it properly...) For the other bees I'm in, we work from stash which has it's pros and cons. Picking fabrics each month takes quite a while, but if you stuff up, at least it's your own fabric you're wasting. For AusMod bee, we are sending fabric out for our month's blocks - which makes it a whole lot easier on the brain (not having to pick stuff out) but also a whole lot more stressful when you stuff it up royally. As I did. Of course. 

I happily pieced my strips together and cut my feather pieces. It wasn't until I went to start piecing them that I realised I'd cut all eight the same orientation, instead of flipping the template over for half of them. And I didn't have enough fabric left to cut more - so I shamefully had to ask Lorena for more fabric (which she was wonderful about thankfully!!!) It all went together fine after that :o) 

Feathers for Lorena

Most of the reason these worked out was that I'd already stuffed up while making the other lot of feathers - this time for Lucy in Scrappy? Sew Bee It. These were meant to be made last October (yeah, I'm really on top of things as usual!), so thanks for being so patient Lu!! No cutting mistakes this time - but I did have to re-sew the side parts four a few times. 

Feathers for Lu

My biggest tip with these would be use copious amounts of starch - all those bias edges are pretty scary, but starch really helps. Also, take them slow and take the time to check which edge of the background pieces you're meant to sew. It'll save a lot of unpicking (I know this from experience, trust me!!) I think next time I will paper piece the strippy parts too - I'm not a fan of piecing long strips of fabric, mostly because I find it really challenging to keep them from warping (even when they're starched). Any tips on avoiding that would be greatly appreciated :o)

So I'm nearly up to date with my bee blocks - just need to make January's block for Scrappy Sew Bee It (and Feb's for all three bees obviously - I'm not that organised ;o) )

xx Jess

Monday 4 February 2013

Bush Fire Appeal Update

I just wanted to give you a quick update as to how the appeal is going. So far I have received nearly 30 completed quilts, and half that again as quilt tops (which I'm slowly getting done!) Plus there are a lot more on the way. It's just fantastic - so thanks to all of you who have contributed or donated via Red Cross etc. Some have already been delivered, others will be delivered in the very near future.

I've started a Flickr set to showcase the quilts. I haven't photographed them all yet (but I will!!) - so this is a mosaic of a most of them :o) So much colour can only bring happiness to these children.

1. Charlotte (Displacement Activity), 2. Milly @ Tin Whistle 2, 3. Milly @ Tin Whistle, 4. Monkeys in my pocket, 5. Maria Wilson #3, 6. Maria Wilson #2, 7. Maria Wilson #1, 8. Helen in ACT #5, 9. Helen in ACT #4, 10. Helen in ACT #3, 11. Helen in ACT 2, 12. From Helen in ACT, 13. Wombat Softies by Saffron Craig, 14. Handmade by Kirsty 2, 15. Handmade by Kirsty 1, 16. Patchwork Gallery Quilting Group 3, 17. Patchwork Gallery Quilting Group 2, 18. The Patchwork Gallery Quilting Group, 19. Max and Whiskers by Waverlee Ferguson20. Not available

xx Jess