Saturday, July 28, 2012

Never give up

Some curves - for Julie's pattern Mod Pop

I made those 30 quarter circles last night. After I cut the fabrics, I sat down at my sewing machine and 35 minutes later they were all pieced. I timed it to see how long it would take but I did not rush through the piecing of any of these, I plodded along methodically. They have since been pressed but not trimmed.

Sewing curves is easy - truly it is. Last December I posted a video which is 1 minute 18 seconds showing how to do it without pins, special sewing feet, fuss or bother, together with some tips. Or you can view it on Youtube directly here. If you are still reluctant to do curves, or hate all the pinning and fussing and the hours it takes, you might want to take a look.

Sea glass colours - for Julie's pattern Mod Pop

The curves were made from this stack of fabrics, Kona solids, mostly from a Poseidon bundle and Kona Snow. You see, my friend Julie from Distant Pickles is also giving me a chance to pattern test. Her pattern is Mod Pop and it is so retro and funky:

I have known Julie via the internet for a long while now, having met her in my first sewing bee - she is an excellent quilter and a great person. This is going to be her first published pattern and I am so excited to be able to be a small part of it.

I have a better plan for this quilt, the blues and greens will be the background and the snow will be the curvy chains. I am already planning the quilting too - I am hoping for a very mod look. I am pretty sure this assignment will improve my pattern tester grade - I have not give up yet.

I am off to the farmer's market, enjoy your day!



Friday, July 27, 2012

Process, inspiration and change

Low volume triangles

I finished the 56" by 64" low volume top I was making pattern testing Lynne from Lily's Quilts Windmills and Trees Quilt. I am in love with this old-timey, sepia-ish top made from all modern and mostly contemporary, popular fabrics in beach inspired colours. New fabrics can look vintage-ish.

Low volume triangles

However, you can see that there really is not a windmill image emerging. It is more of a calm, beachy feel with value changes that give it interest and depth. But not windmills. Pattern tester failure for sure.

And you will recall the difficulties I was having picking the fabric for the trees in the pattern. Many of you gave great suggestions, but none of the ideas were feeling right to me for this top. I even bought some more fabric, but still it did not feel right.

Ferris Wheel - English Paper Piecing

At the same time I was working on my EPP ferris wheels. And then Lynne wrote this blog post, mentioning that she was planning to applique her summer EPP projects. So, inspired by Lynne, I threw my ferris wheels on the top and consulted with Lynne. She sagely suggested removing the centres, so I did.

Low volume top and EPP

Here is my new plan so far. I am now planning to make a two or three more blobs of ferris wheels - each one different and with different bright colours, and applique them onto the top.

Low volume top and EPP - detail

The ferris wheels and English Paper Piecing in general, are a traditional approach to quilting. With the modern fabrics they look fresh and fun. Old and new, like the top.

Low volume top and EPP - detail

I think that the patchwork of the EPP goes so much better with this particular top than a solid fabric shape.

Low volume top and EPP - a nice fit I think

I am not sure how I will place the blobs nor how I will stitch them down yet. I may even change directions again, who knows.

So, it seems a totally different project has emerged from this pattern testing venture. I do plan to restart the pattern testing again with more appropriate background fabrics, but for now my grade as a tester is C-. Lucky for me Lynne has not fired me yet.

Oh by the way - don't worry Julie, I have a much clearer plan for your pattern - I have signed on to test another great pattern and hope to start later today on it - I am hoping my work with it will improve my pattern testing grade substantially.

Inspiration and process will take you interesting places, I think it is best to keep listening to your projects as you go, rather than carrying on when they feel all wrong.

I have declared today a Friday off, so I am out to garden in a bit.



Monday, July 23, 2012

Island time

Ferris Wheel - English Paper Piecing

When you are on an island, things move slower. Truly, it is some kind of law of the universe I am sure. You wait in ferry lines and you sit about relaxing, for example. Lately, I have been taking along some charm packs (Central Park and Cuzco by Kate Spain, Simply Color by Vanessa Christenson), some papers, my sewing kit, and my Spring Carnival templates which I purchased from Katy at I'm a Ginger Monkey, and I am English Paper Piecing.

Hexies for Kristina

It started with that hexie blob which I made for Kristina as part of her block request for the Always Be Learning Bee. It seems that I like EPP, although I  like the sewing together part better than the basting part so I have been sewing together as I go.

Windmills and Trees - progressing

I have also made some progress with Lynne from Lily's Quilts Windmills and Trees Quilt. I have now finished cutting, stitching and trimming enough HSTs for a lap size quilt and I am in the process of making rows. I also shopped for some fabric for the trees. More on that later this week, once I get a bit more done on the top.

As I said, island time. I am moving slowly but spending a lot of time outside and having fun. I hope you are too.



Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A Touch of Blue

A Touch of Blue

That is A Touch of Blue. She is a 20" square pillow / cushion cover I made for A Modern Quilted Pillow Swap. The fabrics are Kona white and a selection of Kona blues and aquas. I quilted it densely with a slightly variegated white/golden Valdani 40 weight thread. I marked the quilting lines about every 3" with a hera marker and purposely made the distances between the quilted lines random but  reasonably straightish.

I wanted the bumpy effect from washing and I wanted to get the shrinking caused by such dense quilting and then washing and drying taken care of, so when the pieces were done, I measured them to be large - I can't recall exactly but I think I gave an extra 1.5 to 2" and trimmed. Then I zig zag stitched all around and threw them in the washer and dryer. Good thing because it shrunk to almost exactly the size I needed. Then I trimmed again, and added all the bindings.

A Touch of Blue - back

The back has an envelope type fold over closure (I bet there is a technical term for this). I machine stitched the scrappy binding in place, practicing Marianne from The Quilting Edge's technique. I managed to get all the corners reasonably well but you can see I missed a spot on the left side. I am repairing that this morning before I ship it off.

A Touch of Blue

Although in my head the first picture is "right side" up, I think this one works in any orientation. I really love playing with these very geometric improv blocks with plenty of negative space, but I still need more practice as it is a struggle for me to stop and embrace the view that less is more.

This swap involved making the pillow in silence and secret, and then sending a photo to the administrator who posted them to the group. I actually found this made deciding on what to make really hard as there was no flickr or blog encouragement. Once I finally stopped trying to decide what people might like and just made what made me happy, the pillow went quickly - although I was the last to finish.

Once the pillows are done, each person in the group ranks the pillows in order of the ones they want to receive - so you are not voting for the best one, rather you are voting for  the one you want for you, in ranked order. It was very hard to rank them as all the pillows were excellent. The pillows are distributed on the basis of that one with the most votes gets her first choice, the one with the second most votes gets her first choice unless already taken, then the next choice, and so on. The each of us receive the address of the person to ship to and it is a secret as to which one you will get until it actually arrives.

Well, to my surprise and honour, my pillow got the most votes! It is off today, once I stitch that bit of binding down. Maybe I should make one for me too, because I really did make exactly what I liked.

I swam in the one big ocean yesterday - well, some call it the Pacific Ocean, some call it the Salish Sea but I learned from David Suzuki that it was one big ocean and I believe him - and it was wonderful. I hope you are enjoying your week too.



Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Instant gratification girl - pattern testing

Windmills and Trees Quilt - so far

I hate to wait, I buy the floor model, I pay for express shipping - there is no doubt that I am instant gratification girl. Well, in quilting that can be translated into pattern testing - getting to try the newest thing first.

So, on Sunday I pulled out all the calm beachy fabrics I brought along to work with over the summer after being reminded by Krista from Poppyprint of how much I love them. I am making these lovely understated pinwheels -  the value differences are subtle, low volume, which is what I am hoping for. You see I am pattern testing Lynne at Lily's Quilts' Windmills and Trees Quilt.

Windmills and Trees Cot Quilt

Isn't it wonderful - that is a picture I borrowed from  Lynne's blog, Lily's Quilts, do go and see all the other pictures of this quilt too.

Windmills and Trees Quilt - making hsts

So far I am mostly doing this. I do like making HSTs and Lynne has picked my favourite way to make them in her pattern. For me, the key is trimming them - although it takes time, the results are sure worth it. Music helps too.

Windmills and Trees Quilt - possible trees

I have decided that I will make my quilt into a lap size and it will be for me. I need to decide on the tree fabrics. Maybe nice light, cheery greens?

Windmills and Trees Quilt - possible trees

Or bright blue, aqua and purples?

Windmills and Trees Quilt - possible trees

Or this group of reds? For today, I am leaning to the reds, but any thoughts are welcome. I may need to find more options too. The tree trunks will be various browns and dark grays, I will show those to you later.

Windmills and Trees Quilt - so far

There are those pinwheels again from a bit of an angle. There is a value difference in each HST and I think the pinwheels are easier to see on a bit of an angle. I have worked with such bright colours lately but for this project, the calm and peacefulness of this group of blue, gray, cream, white, taupe, and brown is speaking to me.

So I get to connect with one of my friends who was also one of my teachers at the Fat Quarterly Retreat, the host of my first ever QAL and one of my favourite sources of inspiration and energy for quilting, and I get to make this pattern early - great fun and instant gratification too!

Don't worry, I think Lynne will make the pattern available fairly soon (and it will be all tested and everything) and then you can make one too.



Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Q3 - Finish-A-Long Plans

More Dresdens

I have been stalling on setting out my Q3 goals, in part because most of the projects are not with me for the summer, they are home. So I needed to consider what was possible for September. But I did bring along the dresdens. There are a few more circles done and I have to figure out how I will put them on the top - applique, piecing, portholes - probably some of each and then finish the quilt.

Echo Stained

Echo Stained is basted and sitting by my machine at home ready to quilt. I can figure out how to quilt it over the summer and then this will be my first project on returning home.

Finishing-A-Long - LBSP

The LBSP blocks pile has grown to 8 - 2 more after this picture. I have to decide if I want to do 12 blocks or stop at 9. Then it will need to be finished into a lap quilt. Again a totally doable project for September.

Mystery Quilt - basted

The Mystery Quilt is still on my list. It sits, basted, waiting for me to have the guts to quilt it. I think I am going to order some hand quilting colours and hand quilt this one. So it is not likely going to be done by the end of this quarter but who knows, one can hope.

The list is shorter this quarter as I really do want to spend the summer on some new projects to leave here. It is very possible new UFOs will be created for Q4, but I hope not.

I am linking this to the Finish-A-Long that Rhonda is sponsoring at Quilter in the Gap. The FAL has really been working for me and you can join in now for Q3 if you have not already.

2012 Finish-A-Long

The birds are singing and the sun is out, it looks like it will be a lovely day. I hope that all of you have one too.



Sunday, July 8, 2012

Sunday is for lounging - and joining a new swap

Polaroid Blocks - a new swap

I have joined the *Picture-Perfect* Polaroid Block Swap, which my friend Debbie from A Quilter's Table has organized. For this swap, you sign up to send an amount of blocks and then you get back the same amount from those sent by others.

This morning, I made these cuties to see what I had signed on for. These 8 took no time at all to make once I had cut the centres. One could easily fussy cut a few 2.5" centres here and there over a week and then sit down and in one evening churn out a lot of these blocks. We are using the tutorial from capitolaQuilter which is here.

I made this group from my stack of  Lucy's Crab Shack from Sweetwater (and yes, I have just noticed that the one on the bottom left is upside down - oops).

Polaroid Block - a new swap

Truly these are cute. For the swap, you send this block, which is about 3.5" x 4" and the recipient can then trim it and sash it to make a polaroid block. (you can see Debbie's gallery of Polaroid blocks and  quilts here.)  A 12.5" block can use up to 9 of these little polaroids so I am trying to decide how many to sign up for. My thought is that for each one I make to send  I will make one similar for me and then I will be a long way to a finished quilt when I get my package back. Or a pillow, or these would make cute bags.

I asked Debbie, international swappers are welcome, and the more the merrier. So consider joining in the fun.

Gazebo next to the Walnut tree

That is the state of my herb garden, walnut tree and gazebo this morning. The weeds in the herbs should be gone by now, as I have been here a week and this shady spot is easy to weed, but no such luck. A couple of rainy days and a whole lot of the work that pays for fabric has keep me away. I am hoping to remedy that in the coming week as the sun is truly out.

Butterfly bush

The good news is that the rainy spring has delayed the flowers. I often miss the opening of the flowers. That one is a butterfly bush, just starting. The butterflies and humming birds love them.


The daisies were not open yesterday. You can still see the fractals and the spirals in the centre. The deer do not eat daisies, so I have a lot of them.

Hammock in the orchard

And there is the hammock that was assembled for me on Mothers Day by my sweetie (even though I was not here). In addition to the gazebo, I plan to spend time here too. And at the beach.  And sewing. Not so much working, right?

I hope you have had or are having a wonderful weekend.



Friday, July 6, 2012

Playing with colour for a contest


My friend Cindy at Fluffy Sheep Quilting is having a contest.

She has a bunch of Kona solids in her excellent shop and so one can make a bundle of 8 of them. The creator of the bundle with the most votes wins 2 yards of Kona solids cut up any way they like, whatever colours they want. You need to link your combinations by tomorrow.

So I thought all the best bundles had been made but this morning I looked again. You might have noticed I am partial to red and no red bundles had been made yet. Well if I win, I will pick one of these bundles to come my way.

By the way if you click on either picture you will go to flickr where you will see the names of these colours.

Red and grey

You still have time if you have not yet entered, go here, but go now as entries close tomorrow.

By the way, I got to meet Cindy in person at the Fat Quarterly Retreat. I have to say that she is wonderful and I wish she lived closer as I would hang out with her all the time - I now consider her a friend. She is smart, funny and interesting. I have ordered from her shop and her delivery to Canada from Ireland is faster than most of the US shops I deal with so I know I will be ordering from her again.

I have been too busy to sew, so that's all I have for today. I will do a more fulsome report this weekend and I am sewing tonight no matter what.



Sunday, July 1, 2012

June was great fun!

June 2012

There is my June mosaic - lots of bee blocks, my first every pillow/cushion, some potholders, and a quilt. Oh and a trip to London, a day in Paris and the Fat Quarterly Retreat where I got to meet many of my excellent blogging friends. A month of great fun.

Butterflies - done

I cannot resist showing you yet another large picture of this quilt - you might have noticed how much I like it. I am off to the airport in a couple of hours, I decided to pack more fabric so I will be checking in excess baggage - who can blame me.

I am linking to Lynne from Lily's Quilts Fresh Sewing Day and I will be reading the updates as they appear, you should too.

Lily's Quilts

And, Happy Canada Day!