Friday, 9 December 2016

Radiant Dresden (a finish!!)

Along, long time ago, I can still remember when... (hopefully you've now got American Pie stuck in your head, but I was actually telling you a real thing).

So anyway, a long, long time ago, a challenge was issued by the fantabulous Anne at Play Crafts to use the Pantone Colour of the year and make a quilt.  The year: 2014. The colour: radiant orchid (or as known to us lesser mortals: purple).

I grabbed a handful of purple from my stash and my Dresden wedge ruler, and happily sliced away.

Now this was the first time I've ever attempted a Dresden, and I didn't really know what I was doing, but figured it couldn't be too hard. I didn't think to google it until after I was already well along and trying to work out why my points weren't super pointy... turns there is a proper system to it (easy, but trust me, worth the quick google).

I used a simply Spotlight homespun grey for background and put my Dresden in the corner and then started quilting.

Because I was trying to use all the purple, I actually used 3 shades of purple thread, and used all three for each round of quilting. I feel like it gives a nice sketchy effect.

I did a simple expanding echo, and used some tailor chalk to try to get my lines the right distance apart.

I'm going to be fully honest here, and say that I got bored part way through quilting and decided that it was enough (because finished is better than perfect, am I right!) and called it done.

I, again having never done a Dresden, wasn't really sure how to cover the centre, I went with a pseudo trapunto and took a piece of batting and 2 pieces of fabric and sewed a circle, then split the bottom fabric, turned inside out and viola! A stuffed circle.  I then attached it with a couple of rounds of straight line stitching.

 Yeah,  This is not a fancy quilt.  This is a serious bodge job.  I have pulled an incredibly lack luster performance on this.  You'll notice there are no photos of the back, because it is *ugly*. Plain white flannel.  In theory, that meant it would show all the pretty colour of the threads. In practice it shows a lot of random thread and it looks like a weird target for something.  I

But in saying all that, I do still actually like this.  It is soft and snuggly. It taught me a whole bunch of things.  It might end up being a new quilt for the dog, but he'll be a very stylish puppy ;-)

Thanks for following the progress, and sorry it's taken so long to tell you whatever happened to this guy.  I did only actually finish it 2 or 3 weeks ago, so this is truly a 2 1/2 year project.

E xx

Monday, 5 December 2016

River City Round Robin 3 - Bec's Dresden

After working on Sandra's quilt, I handed it on, and received in turn the project started by the beautiful Bec.

Bec has 3 little girls who take after their mum in that they are kind and kooky and dare to be differnet, but I don't know where they get their loud rambunctiuous spiritis from, becuase Bec is a head-down bum-up driven little bee. I am in awe of her committment to her family and she always seems to be the person to put her hand up to do semthing, but then she gets it done (compared to me, who puts my hand up, but never follows through - don't ask me to do anything, honestly, it's never worth it). And she doesn't it cheerfully, with a smile, and no complaints, and I just love her to bits. I can't even find words for her. She is a wonderful person, who I wish I could be more like.

Bec is a rainbow addict, and her fabric pull was gorgeous all on it's own. All saturated colours and yumminess.

And being a girl after my own heart, she likes some low volume for a background (although, I'm not going to lie, I've used a good portion of my carefully hoarded low volume on you ladies, so this is a sign of great love).  What's the saying, you can tell when a quilter really loves you because she uses the "good" fabric.  Well we've definitely all shown our love through this process.  It helps that we know we're cutting up our pretties to give to someone who'll appreciate what they're looking at.

Bec made an incredibly beautiful Dresden plate for her starter. How gorgeous is that!!!

Bec said that she wanted us to add things that would make her think of her quilty friends.  Well we can do that.  In theory.  

Kathryn added this perfect rainbow flying geese (have I ever mentioned that I'm scared of flying geese? They scream quilt maths at me and I run away in terror).  I particularly love the black/dark grey corners.  They add a moodiness that I really like.

Vic went even further with the crazy perfect quilt maths and added a border of diamonds. And by keeping all the extra white in her border she really brightened it back up and lightened it. (isn't is cool to watch how each addition really changes the look)

And then it came to me.  I, again, sat on this for a while. I really wanted to add a skinny black border to bring that dark moodiness back, but that felt like a cop out.

I ended up deciding to make a rainbow of paper pieced star petals.

I *love* them. The joy of paper piecing is having everything so crisp and neat and perfect. I would never be able to make pointy points like that in real life. And matching in the middle just so... all the heart eyes, I tells ya.

Initially I have planned to do just 4 and have them as corner stones with plain white, or maybe plain white with that skinny black I had originally planned on, but in laying them out, the extra 4 to space them along the sides seemed to work better, and it meant the rainbow was more obvious, which I liked. And the black felt not quite right, because it stopped just shy of the star rather than going into it so I ditched that idea.

In the first round the rainbow colours went in one direction, and the second round went opposite. I chose to put my colours in the corresponding position to where the matching colour is on the Dresden.

I know it feels like I've left a lot of empty space, but my theory is that there are still 2 more rounds to go, so there is the possibility it's going to get busy again so this might allow a little breathing room.

I'm really happy with my addition, and I am looking forward to what Sandra and Laura do with it :-). I'll make sure to show you the finished product.

Oh! And if you want to make some star petals of your own, they are a free pattern from Wombat Quilts (who makes the most gorgeous paper pieced and scrappy quilts *in the world*. If you haven't checked her out, you absolutely should).

Have an amazing day, quilty peeps!!!

E xx

Friday, 2 December 2016

Penny Patch - Part 3

So waaaaaaaaay back in March 2014, I said I was going to whip my Penny Patch together in the next 4-5 weeks. Well that didn't happen, but guess what... I finally did it!

To be completely honest, I actually finished it in February 2015 (that's the binding and everything!) but haven't gotten to the bit where I talk about it til now :-).  Still as far as the making of a quilt, that's like 8 months from starting to finishing (ignoring the whole posting bit... :-/)... I've done worse!

Given that most of my fabric was already cut, I honestly don't know what took me so long. That's a lie. I do know. It was that I had Harry bloody Potter taking up my entire design wall and every available flat surface.

I really found with this one that I needed to lay it out to see what it looked like before I sewed. Because the balance of orange to blue to red to grey to white was really quite tricky. And looking at the photos, I'm still not quite sure if I got it right...

But did eventually whip this together and after all the procrastinating it actually only took the weekend to have the top all done. But what inspired this bout of patching? Well, you see my sister was getting married. And no this is not her present. But she told me I could not bring my sewing machine to the week long pre-wedding festivities, so I needed something to hand sew... And while I had not initially planned to hand sew this one (I was going to learn those fancy fmq dogwoods that Rachel suggested) it was the only thing in my current wip pile which would really suit hand quilting.

So during all of the pre-wedding madness, I tucked myself in various corners and stitched away.  I was still social, but because I went with single bed size instead of my original plan to go queen, it was a bit portable.  It came out each afternoon while we had drinks, went away for an hour or two, and then came back out when the board games came out.

It really simple straight white lines. I used the line of the penny blocks to guide me, so the big blocks are intersected.  Essentially a cross hatch.

I know I looked a bit odd sitting in the middle of a family gathering with a quilt, but it was actually really nice to sit with my mum and my nan while I worked on this. There's something really comforting/loving about doing hand sewing with women who are makers. My mum has been dressmaking for my whole life (she actually made my bridesmaid dress for the wedding) and spends many evenings crocheting, and my nan used to do a lot of knitting (unfortunately she no longer has the dexterity to knit).

So all the patching and quilting was actually complete way back in November 2014!! I got 90% done over the week of the wedding and finished off the rest the week after.

Then I delayed doing the binding.  I really struggled to pick just the right fabric.  I found this spotty grey at my local fabric store, and it just felt right.  It goes so nicely with the spotty back (which is a voile so it is soft and silky and wonderful!).

Funny story about doing the binding. I had to go to a conference, and I knew I would be sitting listening to speakers for most of the day, so I took my quilt with me and stitched away. One of the organisers said to me later that she has seen just about everything at conferences- people embroidering, crocheting, all kinds... But never a quilt. Lol.

It's a simple quilt, but with all that lovely text fabric and the beautiful blues everywhere plus those lovely bright oranges and pops of red, I really love it. Not to mention the memories of the family time that is so well connected to this quilt. I can't imagine having this quilt leave my home.

And because it's a proper finish, I've also actually been using it.  It's perfectly snuggly and everytime I tuck under it, it makes me happy, so that's a proper win.  And now I should probably get started on that wedding quilt... 

E xx

P.s. Here's a photo of me, my hubby and my 2 gorgeous nieces at the wedding. I was a bridesmaid, and they were flower girls. Aren't they just the most beautiful little people.

Monday, 28 November 2016

River City Round Robin 2 - Sandra's Around Australia

I mentioned last week our #RiverCityRoundRobin project and showed you my starting block.  Once I was done, it winged it's way off to Laura, and I took control of Sandra's little piece of awesome.

The gorgeous Sandra is  Kiwi (ie. a New Zealander) who moved to Oz, and asked for something that represents each of us.

Interestingly she chose the thing that represents her to be...


I find that the funniest thing. But that's Sandra.  She is loud and bright and always laughing and not afraid to be exaclty who she is and I love that about her.

But as first cab off the rank, I had to contribute *something* to this perfectly pieced little Oz. (PS the pattern is by the fantabulous Peta from just if you were in the mood for your own little foundation paper pieced country).  Sandra also sent long a suitcase (literally, a little suitcase!!) full of Carolyn Friedlander fabrics for us to play with.

I had visions of paper pieced Aussie animals, and purchased and printed off the patterns in preparation, but when I looked at it in person, they weren't speaking to me.

I tossed and I turned on it, and finally just started cutting, in the hope that that if it didn't work, at least I would know what direction I wanted to go in.

Well I ended up with 2 super cute feathers and used them to create a 2 sided border.  Sandra had said that she didn't need a medallion, and was happy with anything that came out, so I figured I'd try to add a little quirkyness.  And I was super happy with the result.

As you can see I added the Lotta Jansdotter print and the Cotton and Steel orange on the bottom left, but kept the colour palette in the original.  I liked the skinny grey borders, but again, I kept them only on the left.  I figured the next person could decide if they wanted to keep that wonky/improv feeling, or square it up more, and then I passed it on.

It has now been through all 5 of us and is heading back to Sandra, so I can't wait to see it, and then see what Sandra does with it :-) I'll be sure to let you know how it ends up!

E xx

Saturday, 26 November 2016


Once upon a time, a long, long time ago, there lived a girl who thought it was a good idea to make quilts for people, and *tell* them about it, before they were finished...

I honestly don't know what's wrong with me.  I have a huge pile of quilts, that are in various stages of incompleteness, and yet, I still have an overwhelming, irresistible urge to make a quilt when I know a new baby is coming.  I think it's just a sign that I love my friends, and I really love babies.

My very good friend (and old boss) recently had his first child. Now this is the boss who I promised a quilt to for his birthday 3 years ago, and it's still in pieces on my desk waiting for me to finish it, so I knew better than to promise one for the baby. And I restrained myself, I really did!! I lasted right through 8 months, but then, at the last minute, 2 days before the baby was due., he showed me photos of the nursery and the next thing I knew I was in Spotlight buying coordinating fabrics and cutting up a storm.

At the time, they still didn't know if they were having a boy or a girl, but had done a really lovely fairly gender neutral nursery with lots of grey and gold with pops of mint and coral - yum.

Have I mentioned that bub's mum is one of those fabulously stylish women, who always looks immaculate and her house is just as put together? Meanwhile, I am lucky if I remember to wash my hair, and feel as if I gave up on makeup about 4 years ago... :-/

So I knew I was in over my head in trying to make something for their "interior decor" but I couldn't resist.

Being the fabulously stylish woman she is, I couldn't resist the allure of chevrons.  I know I'm behind the 8 ball on that band wagon, but there was no way this family suited fussy cuts or intricate piecing, or improv, or wonky anything... It needed clean lines and crisp edges, but I still wanted it to be special and unique and fun for me to pay with, so chevrons it is!

Although, having now made them, I'm never, ever doing them again.  they were a pain in the patootie! I'm sure there's a simpler way, and that I made it hard for myself, but oi, this was annoying, trying to line everything up properly, and get the right angles consistent, and then when I was piecing the row together, trying not to loose too much depth, becuase I kept getting the quarter inch spacing wrong on the start, so they're skinnier chevrons than originally intended.

Again, originally I planned to do 2 rows of chevrons and then leave the rest grey, but it felt a bit empty.  Then I added the strips and it felt cluttered.  It took an annoying amount of time just moving strips up and down and replacing the thickness of the alternating grey to get me to a happy place.

You will also notice I added a navy blue to my mix.  Without it, it felt a bit wishy washy and lackluster.  Although, adding all those extra strips (and extra colour) really made this a lot bigger than intended.  I had planned to make a cute little baby quilt, and ended up with something closer to single bed size...

I chose not to include any wadding and backed it in a yummy grey flannel.  We live in Queensland, Australia, so it's rare that it gets genuinely cold here, and we're going into summer, so I'd rather make something they can use straight away... you know, before they redecorate and these colours become useless ;-).  

 I did super simple echo quilting of each strip, just sewing *just* outside the colour on the grey. I only sewed around the pink love hearts in the chevrons (because, of course, with me starting this so late in the pregnancy, baby was born before I finished and now we *know* it's a girl).

And then the other day, I sat myself down and sorted out the binding.  I love satin binding for children, because I love the idea of something soft and silky that the little people can run through their fingers and I have memories of that soothing feeling of worrying a teddy's manufacturing tag, because it was silky, and like the idea of passing on that comfort.

Usually, when I want this satin binding, I buy premade binding in whatever length  I want and just have at it, but my local Spotlight didn't have want I wanted.  I checked a couple of times over a couple of different weeks, and still no joy, so eventually, I just took myself to the piles of actual satin and bought a half metre and made it myself.  So it's straight grain, which is not ideal, but working with the satin was such a PITA that I doubt I'll ever do it this way again.  So slippy, and frayed like the dickens and threads kept pulling... 

But it's done.  I machine bound it, just to say it was finished (also with the fraying of the satin, I felt like it needed the extra reinforcing), and it is terrible.  I swear I've watched all the tutorial on machine binding, but I just can't make it neat.  Let's all stick with the "home made touch" story, if anyone asks, ok :-)

And now I get to go and meet the baby!! Because I wasn't allowed to meet her until I finished her welcome to the world present (my new rule to force me to finish baby quilts - it seems to have worked, ok ;-) ).

Oh, and why #BabyNolan? Because baby's mum is an instagram addict, lol.

E xx