Friday, March 27, 2015

Charm Box Blog Hop - Charming, Ta Da!


I named this little quilt Charming. I made her using the new Charm Box Quilt pattern which is a new free shortcut quilt pattern from the Fat Quarter Shop. She is a lovely baby quilt at about 36" x 45". I used fabrics from Heather Ross's Far Far Away collection, with a nice buttery yellow Kona solid. I used more of the same solid for the binding.

Kimberly and The Fat Quarter Shop have made a great little video to show how to make this quilt - it should be embedded just above or go here. This pattern is cleverly designed to have accommodate 5" charm squares - it uses 2 packages and a really fast and fun piecing method. It took no time to make the quilt top at all.


I quilted Charming with unevenly spaced lines, from .25" to about 1.5" apart. I wanted the lines to be a feature but to have a fairly soft quilt too. The quilting on this little quilt should have been a breeze, but instead my top thread - a lovely variegated yellow Aurifil 50 wt cotton thread - kept breaking and breaking. The tension was good and the bobbin thread stayed intact, only the top thread would break - I could not even make it across this little quilt once. I flipped over the thread spool, rethreaded, changed the needle, re-oiled the bobbin, cussed and all with no help.

So I switched out the thread spool for a solid yellow Aurifil 50wt cotton so the only real difference was the solid versus variegated and the actual particular spool - there was nothing left to change - and it was smooth sailing all the way. I left the pretty variegated yellow in the bobbin with no issues. Whatever was going on with that spool, it is now for use on only my regular sewing machine, not the long arm.


For the back, I used big chunks of fabric from the same fabric line. Of course, I tend to keep my Heather Ross fabrics safely on the shelf so it was nice to actually use them. I even remembered to have the directional prints going in both directions - quilt backs are generally viewed on a bed, not on a wall, after all.

Charming - back

Here is a closer view of the back. These prints have a soft almost fuzzy look from a bit of a distance but the designs are sharp and charming close up.

Charming - detail

As the quilting was slower than expected, I was behind. I had to finish this quilt last night so I machine stitched the binding (my tutorial for binding is here). This is the best corner, and in fact I managed to get all the corners stitched first time for a change.

This quilt looks great in both directions, and I positioned the prints with no top or bottom in mind.

The Fat Quarter Shop has a Charm Box Quilt Blog Hop today. If you go to their blog - the Jolly Jabber - you can see the links to check out other Charm Box Quilts - and here is the link to the free Charm Box Quilt pattern again. And if you want to purchase a kit to make this quilt with the Aloha Girl fabric line, just go here.



Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Scraptastic Tuesday - playing with scraps

Scraptastic Tuesday

Well, it's Tuesday again, and for once, I made a point of using my scraps - although it was just last night.

I was tired and did not want to have to measure or sew precisely. I thought it was a good evening to play with my blue and aqua scraps.

scrappy blocks

I started sewing them together in this around and around fashion. This is a technique that I have learned from several places, including from my friend Victoria - Bumble Beans - in her class and from her book, 15 Minutes of Play.

scrappy blocks

I had previously made the pink/red strip and so I just made blue bits in the hopes that I can make a strip about the same size in blue. I have a lot of blue scraps, this is not yet making a dent in them.

This was such a relaxing sewing session. Sew some bits together, press, and repeat. I had fun chatting on Instagram with some friends about precious fabric and how even with scraps I hesitate to use it. I am hoping to follow Felicity's  (Felicity Quilts) motto of "Just Use It Already" this year.

scrappy blocks

I have a rough plan of using the colourful and swirling scrappy strips with these more sedate blockish black/white/grey scrappy blocks. Maybe the colours will be borders or maybe they will cut through the blocks. I have my usual well thought out plan - we shall see what develops.

I need to get back to my scrappy Liberty sampler - Nicky (Mrs. Sew and Sow) has finished the blocks already - go here to see. Nicky has been posting instructions for these blocks and she tells me that I am ok as not all the instructions are up yet, but if you want to make a sampler too the instructions are all here.

I hope you are enjoying using your scraps, and please plan to join us for the next Scraptastic Tuesday link on the second Tuesday in April, which is April 14, 2015.



Monday, March 23, 2015

Transparency Bee Blocks

Two transparency blocks.

In Bee Sewcial, my only quilting bee this year, the Queen Bee gives us an idea, an inspiration, a palette, some sizes or whatever she likes and we are tasked to make whatever we are inspired to make for her using only solid fabrics. It is really fun and challenging and I love it.

This month Melissa gave us approximate sizes, a colour palette and asked for transparency blocks. Now I did understand the concept of creating the look of transparency in quilt blocks, but I had never done it, much less designed my own.

Despite the not great photos - and colour is a factor with transparency, so forgive me the bad lighting - you can see the effect in both blocks, which I take to be a big success. I did stick to lines and boxes for the design as they are easier and even still, I had to sew and unsew a lot, but in the end I learned a lot too.

Transparency block

First it took me a long while with a pile of blue and green fabrics from the large blue and green list Melissa gave us (the background is Kona Ash) to figure out what colours would appear if one colour went over the the other in a transparent sort of way. My approach was to figure out what my brain would accept as the likely resulting colour so that it would see the effect as transparent, not necessarily what the actual resulting colour would be in real life.

The blocks are best viewed from a bit of a distance to allow your mind to accept the transparent effect - but it works. My son pointed out that I could have used a computer graphics program to get the "right" overlap colour but I wanted to just work with the fabrics I had on hand.

So, light blue over dark blue gives medium blue, dark green over dark blue gives teal-ish, and light green over dark green gives medium green - at least that is what I hope you see. I like the design of this 14" or so block too, improv with nothing wonky. I made a careful point of matching the seams as perfectly as I could too, to enhance the transparent effect.

Transparency block

This block is smaller, about 9" square. I wanted to try for a woven look and I think you will see it. I was going to make the blue strip wider, but I am glad I did not as I think that the woven look is enhanced by the similarity in size of each strip.

I used three of the same fabrics from the first block, and so the teal-ish arises from the light green and blue crossing. Even together, see the top photo, my eyes, at least accept that these are possible transparencies, so I'll call this one a success.

Despite their uncomplicated construction these blocks took all afternoon on Sunday, but it was a really nice time - playing with colour and then with design and then getting the blocks right.

We have been getting spring snow this weekend, so off to the melty brown ooze for the day.



Saturday, March 21, 2015

Some progress - I've been quilting

Quilting in progress

I finished quilting this version of my pattern Consider on Thursday night and took pictures on Friday morning, and yet, it is already Saturday morning before I have had a chance to share them here. Oh well. And not the best photos, again, oh well, its a progress post, right?

I had a lot of fun doing all the quilting on this quilt, especially the borders. This approach of breaking up the quilting so that it looks a lot like ariel views of fields on the prairie was totally inspired by the class I took with the amazing Krista Withers at QuiltCon, and also by Carolyn Friedlander's quilts and her fabric patterns on Doe too - Carolyn has also been my teacher, at Sewdown Nashville.

Quilting in progress, detail

I used a number of different aqua and yellow Aurifil 50wt threads to quilt this quilt and played with straight line patterns. All the quilting was done free hand on my Millenium longarm quilting machine. The pattern fabrics are all from Fabric Spark, and were a blogger bundle I put together for Daryl a few months ago. And yes, I will totally finish writing this pattern this weekend and get it to the testers so it will be available soon.

Quilting in progress, detail

I consider my approach to quilting to be industrial modern. My lines are not perfectly straight or perfectly spaced, and I love it that way. And I love quilting straightish lines most. The pattern on the right is the only one with a curve on this quilt. I think that this mid century wave can play well on a straight line quilt.

Quilting in progress, detail

I had a lot of thread breaks while quilting the border on this quilt. When I get tired, I tend to jerk my longarm just a little on the turns and I think that is the cause of the thread breaks. As the thread breaks mount up, I know it is time to stop for the night. I anchor the threads as I restart the lines, but I prefer to also mend the thread ends in rather than just snip them. I can do that along with the binding.

Quilting in progress, detail

Quilting the border in chunks like this makes it nice and easy to quilt in the space I have available on the longarm. It takes a lot longer than just doing lines across the full space, but I am loving the impact. I can't wait to see how it looks after a wash and dry so I'll be getting the border on this weekend.

So as the sun is coming up, I am looking forward to some sewing time today.

It is National Quilting Day in the USA and I see references to World Wide Quilting Day on the internet too - in any event it seems like it is definitely a day to be quilting.



Friday, March 20, 2015

if you were shopping...#29

Welcome to if you're shopping.... On Fridays I share news from my sponsors, in case you want to do a little shopping, or even window shopping, this weekend.

The Fat Quarter Shop's Smallest Sale Ever on mini charm packs and mini quilt patterns is still on until midnight tonight, March 20.

Green Fairy Quilts has 40% off all Fat Quarter Bundles which started yesterday so the sale is on until the end of today (Friday, March 21).

Mad about Patchwork's weekly bundle is this lovely green Memories of Ireland bundle for St. Patrick's day, on sale at 20% off thru March 30.

Over at Fabric Spark, get an extra 20% off already discounted sale fabric. Use the promo code "Big Saving" when you're going through checkout to get these extra savings. Sale ends Sunday, March 22  at Midnight.

Fluffy Sheep Quilting has beautiful fabrics, including a large selection of solids.

Sew Me a Song is having a spring flat rate shipping special thru Sunday, March 22. No coupon is needed, its $2.50 US, $9.00 Canada, and $12.00 elsewhere.

Sew Sisters Quilt Shop's week of different sales is not quite finished, you still have time to join in this one.

Enjoy your Friday, some folks have had a solar eclipse, some of us are waking up to a fresh snowfall.