Wednesday, 19 July 2017

Wonky Crosses and why nothing I do is ever done on time

So I had bought a slew of green in anticipation of making that Irish Chain, but having gone a different direction with that, I now had a lovely selection of greens to play with.

Normally I would just tuck them into my stash and move on to other things, but I'm trying to use what I've got here and not stash too much, so I wanted to use them...  And if possible make something that would remind me of Ireland.  It's so green here, and we've done a couple of road trips where I watch the green fields fly by and we've gone walking through the avenues of lush green trees, and I've sat in the gorgeous parks and listened to the birds sing... It just feels like a green place.  None of my photos come close to doing it justice.

So green, for a reminder of our trip to the Emerald Isle... But I was stumped for what to do.  My first thought was a Scrappy Swoon (having seen one in blues that I adored), but I cut one strip of fabric, realised just how many hst's I was looking at, and quickly decided that that was not a plan that would suit me.  I looked in all the usual places where I normally find inspiration, but nothing was speaking to me.

So I had the brilliant idea to put the question to my guild mates at the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild. They're all so creative and talented and know me, so why not go to the experts!  They gave me some great suggestions and I followed the trail of breadcrumbs they left me and I ended up at a blog I've followed for years, staring at a sea of pink wonky crosses. KABOOM. It hits me. This is exactly what I want, but in green.  I can picture it in green and I think it should have that feeling of fields and paddocks where there is every shade of green and no rhyme of reason to the layout, but still an element of structure where we've built fences or planted specific crops. It suits my improv temperament. It's completely freeform in contrast to my other wips (I like to have different types of projects going on at the same time so I can flit to whatever I'm in the mood for at the time).


Now, from my googling, I think this is normally a quilt that would be made from scrap, whereas I'm using yardage.  That meant I was working from a slightly different starting point. I worked on the theory that I just needed strips in varying widths and just sliced away as the mood took me.  I also kept up my googling to get some guidance on making the blocks, but all the other "wonky cross" blocks I could find used standard sized finished blocks, which was not what I was aiming for.  I wanted that totally mismatched vibe, but I couldn't find guidance on how to do that properly, so I just threw myself in, and figured it'd work out at the end.  I love the jigsaw part of improv, so I wasn't worried and just figured it'd be fine.

Cut to a month later of my sporadically pottering away at this (and that and the other) and I realised that this could be part of the Pantone Challenge! It's all shades of green! It's perfect for "greenery"!! But it was still just a tiny pile of blocks, and I hadn't even started to join them together. That's when i actually kicked into gear.  I cut my entire bundle of low volume into randomly sized squares/rectangles. I cut a squillon strips of the different greens, and I started power sewing.  Or at least what counts as power sewing for me. I made about 4 or 5 blocks in a day. Which is nothing, but I just don't know how to go faster. And I spend way to much time trying to line up the angles in the  crosses... I'm almost completely sure no-one looking is even going to bother checking, and I was far from successful, but I still did it anyway.

So the Challenge deadline comes and goes, and I'm still making crosses, and trying to jigsaw them together, and also realising what a fool I was to do them with no plan at all about size... Not to mention I keep readjusting how big I think this needs to be.  #ilikebigquiltsandicannotlie I think initially I was going for a throw... then single bed size... now it's around the size of a double (which for me is actually still on the small size).  But I'm so over making blocks that I'm calling it done.

I had my bestie over for the weekend, and we took it out to the cliffs of Howth and attempted to get a shot of it in the wild. We looked absolutely ridiculous, and it's not a great shot of the top, but it was a bit of fun.

In my head, I am almost certain that it still needs to be bigger, but I have given myself permission to call it a done top, and once I get back to Oz (and my stash) I will look at adding a plain low volume border (almost certainly with a second mismatched green second border... and possibly another low volume.. with scrappy green binding).

There is literally no specific size to any block.  If you do this, learn from my mistake and do some magic number maths before you start - you'll thank yourself in the long run. That said, I do love the mix of big blocks and itty bitty blocks that merge in this quilt, and I love, love, love that there are no 2 seams that actually meet (on purpose anyway) - no such thing as a perfect point with this baby. I also completely love the different greens - there's forest green, and lime green, and a muddy brown/olive green that is totally gross, but is just what I wanted for this top. I'm not sure that it's as "Irish Fields" as I wanted it to be - I think there's too much white over all that it's not *quite* how I envisioned it. But I do still love it, and it will definitely remind me of this trip.

And now I have a whole passel of green scraps that I get to play with... And I have already started work, because I know just what I want to do with them :-)

E xx

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Chained Together

So I mentioned in my last post that I was toying with the idea of making an Irish Chain quilt.  Well I bit the bullet and decided that rather than talking about it, I was just going to dive in... Well I talked about it a lot first ;-)

So, originally I had thought of using scrappy greens, so I ordered all the various greens I could find on the internet. I ended up with about a dozen... But I looked at the pile and I just... well, I just wasn't feeling it. It wasn't making my heart happy.  And my big sewing rule, is only make things that bring me joy (it's totally normal to fall out of love mid way when it gets hard, and even then it's usually more a need for time out rather than actually hating it, but you should love the idea when you're going in).

So anyway... I showed Ashley a whole bunch of Irish Chain quilts I'd pinned on my Pinterest board, and asked him for his thoughts: what was it that he liked/hated/thought had good colours/scrappy/etc, etc.  He's the most annoying, least helpful person in this situation, but I needed the input anyway.  And out of all the squillion quilts I pinned, the only one he liked was this black and grey one.

I had a couple of issues with this. Firstly, it was a double irish chain, and I had been planning on making life easy for myself and only making a single. Secondly, I'm not really a monochromatic kind of girl. I love colour.  That said, I also loved the grown up, restrained vibe this quilt had.  I decided I could try it - what have i got to lose! So, I hit up the interwebs again and burned a second hole in my credit card.

I settled on 3 fabrics:
Carolyn Friedlanders Shadow City Limits, Compositions Charcoal Maps, and Modern Background Luster Metallic Black.

I drew up how I thought the blocks should go together. I worked out my quilt maths and estimated my yardage. I added on a little extra to cover any slips or miscalculations...  And when it arrived I started chopping. And then realised, I needed more fabric. I was only 2/3s of the way through . So I ordered more.   And then when it arrived I chopped it all up, and despite having done all the maths (twice!!!!!) I still needed more. Oy.  This is why I don't make quilts like this.  Either I have a pattern where someone else has done the math and I order what they tell me, or I go with stash.

In the end, I ordered:  6 yards of the white, 3 yards of the charcoal and 2 yards of the black.

There is some wastage, some spare blocks, and I have about half a yard of the two darks left, but wow I used double the amount of fabric I thought I needed at the beginning. I also got to the point where I just decided to over order on the white, because I'll totally use it in the long run.

Construction itself was fairly easy. I did all the cutting in a block and then the strip piecing felt like it took forever (and is boring! So not my favourite part), but having it all cut and ready to go meant my 9 patches went together in seconds, then my big blocks clicked together with ease.  The trickiest part was adding my sashing with corner stones and making them line up just right, and I pinned like I've never pinned before and it ended up going on easy as pie. the biggest time suck, was simply waiting for all the fabric to arrive||!|!

Now, serendipitously, it was Ashley and my 10th wedding anniversary in June, and given that he picked the colours and was happy with the design, I decided that this was his present.  I focused on making sure it was big enough to cover him properly, as he has been sleeping under another quilt that doesn't quite cover his toes and he complains (hilariously).

Because of the delays in my fabric ordering I didn't quite get this done in time to give to Ashley on the morning of our wedding anniversary, but I gave him the partially completed flimsy and promised to have it all done the minute the rest of the fabric arrives (which I totally did).  And because I love him, and want him to be able to use it all the time, I've decided that I'm going to send it out for quilting and have it all perfect for him to keep *forever*.

So now there's a full size flimsy, I've packed it away to take back to Oz in a couple of months.

Happy 10 years, Grumpy Man. xxx

Saturday, 1 April 2017

Possible Irish Chain

Question for the floor

Is it completely trite if I decide to make an Irish Chain quilt while living in Ireland? Or is the type of thing that is just exactly as it is supposed to be? You know, the whole cliches are a cliche for a reason, type thing.

I've always liked the look of Irish Chain quilts, and had intended to make one someday, so maybe Ireland is calling to me telling me that this is the time I've been waiting for??

And working on the assumption that I get a machine here, then I'd need to be making something that uses simple construction and minimal fabrics (ie I can't create a stash here: I have to buy purely for the project I am working on at the time) the Irish Chain could be a winner.  I mean, I could probably get away with using a jelly roll and just buying the background (need to actually look up the pattern though... I'll get there, I'll get there!!)

And if I do this, I kind of want to go with green... but again... is that *too* Irish. Am I going to look ridiculous? Or is it only ridiculous if I try to quilt it with little shamrocks (OMG, how cute would that be!!! I totally want to do that now as well!!)

Ok. Let's back up.  I don't have a home yet, or a machine. Although I may have wandered through a couple of fabric shops in Dublin already and picked up some of those little things that one needs - a mat, a ruler, a rotary cutter, 2 and 1/2 metres of white fabric...

Ok, so at this point I should probably give up pretending I might not get a machine. I'm totally getting a machine. 6 months without proper sewing?? I don't think so.  I was willing, because it was necessary, but it's so not necessary.  As soon as I have an address I'll be ordering my machine.

Ok, well if I'm gonna buy the machine and make something, I think I've convinced myself into an Irish Chain... Unless you tell me not to, because it's lame. But seriously - should I go with green or should I maybe go sleek with grey, or I saw a really nice burgundy fabric that I could use, or there was a nice purple that I saw and earmarked for a future project (haven't even started number one and I'm ready for the next!!).

Ok, I need your thoughts!! What should I do????

E xx

Friday, 31 March 2017

Finish Along - 2017 Q1 - Closing List

So I said that I was going to try to have some finishes this quarter.  I wrote myself a list. Want to see how I did...

Originally I said that this quarter I would finish:
P 1 - Community trees
Totally got this done!! A quality Sew Day and a little help from my friends, meant this was been passed on to a long armer and my job was done. Another amazing Guild-mate took on the binding, and it was part of my Guild's display in the March Craft Live event in Brisbane. While it's not all my work, the answer is that it is a completely finished quilt at the end of the quarter.

Want to see the epicness :-D

It has officially been christened the Arboretum Quilt. Quilting by Nerida at Quilt Around the Clock and binding by Sandra.

P 2 - Secret Squirrel  
And I did it!! It's secret so I couldn't show you at the time, but I totally did! I've handed it on to a friend to quilt, so the pretty photos will come out soon (hopefully :-) ).

P 3 - Gigi's quilt 
Smashed this out!  Which was a total win because of how long I'd procrastinated it. Then whipped on the binding and have even gifted it to the little munchkin. Call this a solid completion.

4 - Trish's Hexies (
piecing top then decide on hand quilting or long arm)
Worked on this slowly and steadily over the first month. Even took it away with me. However, I didn't actually get it finished... I have 3 seams left to go, but I couldn't bring it to Europe with me, so it's at home waiting for me.  I might end up added another column and widening it, but currently the big question is how to quilt it.

P 5 - Big Pineapple
FINISHED!! I didn't do a proper blog post, because all I needed to do was bind it, but that is done now (pinky swear!!). I did put it on insta... Not that you can see it, but it's there :-) And I even gifted it. Not sure that it made sense to Jess, but it made sense to me, so I’m still happy with this.

6 - Pink Bubbles
... yeah. no. I didn't even really attempt this. I looked at it a couple of times, but went with other projects instead.

7 - Orange Blossoms
...No... No, no, no. I had all the orange pieces cut and ready but then when I started to turn them into blossoms I hated how much work they were and abandoned it... It's sitting waiting for me at home, and I'll think about how to actually make it the easy peezy quilt I had planned it to be in my mind.

8 - Blue patches
This was a throw on, just in case the mood stuck me, and it turns out it didn't! 

Plus I wanted to stay up to date with:
1 - the Penny Sampler
yeah. again with the no.  I was behind on month 1 while I waited for my fabric to arrive, and then was on the cruise, and didn't have time to squeeze out the blocks for month 2 before we left, and then month 3 came out after we'd left...  And now I'm going to be away for 6 month, so there is no way I'll catch up, but the new plan is just to do as much as i can when i get home, and hope that I can smash it out over a couple of weekends and maybe catch up before the year is finished... Unlikely, but I still have hope :-) 

P 2 - #SnailDay
So I totally kept up. Not gonna lie. I’m pretty impressed with myself. Although I haven't been sharing them on Insta because it feels weird to be doing that when I am not actually working on it... So while I am up to date, I don't really feel like I am. Again, this is now on ice, until we return from Ireland, as I didn't bring any of it with me.

P3 - Swoon-a-long
Huzzah!! This was a serious long shot. I had zero expectations of actually doing this!! And I did it!! I actually did it!! I'm so completely and absolutely stoked, you would not believe it!! I didn't post it before I left, because it was a bit hectic and last minute-y but I promise, promise, promise, this was totally a FAL win.

So all in all, not a bad run.  From the #2017FALQ1quinnyquilts
I managed to complete 4 out of 8 (plus kept up with 2 of my long term projects!) This is a total win for me and I'm very happy with myself at this point :-) I was planning to go for it in Q2 and try to turn this into a run of finishes - (would be great to end 2017 with a smaller WIP pile then when I started) but now I have no WIP's with me, so I'm a free bird for the next little while :-)

E xx

Monday, 27 March 2017

Exciting Feb/March for me!

Well, I did it again, and just disappeared from the blog (only for a couple of weeks this time, so no apologies) but I swear I had good reason.  If you follow me on insta, you'll already know all the good stuff currently happening, so this is probably less exciting for you, but this is also for my records, so sorry! you'll get the long form version of what's happening anyway :-)

Well in early Feb, I went off on holidays with my hubby and his family. We spent two weeks cruising from Brisbane to Papua New Guinea, which was gorgeous and confronting (the difference between just how much we have and the poverty was very sobering) and really great time with my bonus family.  Perhaps a little too much quality time, as we were pretty much stuck on a boat with no one but each other, but definitely was a worthwhile trip.

(And yes, I did make everyone wear a Hawaiian shirt for dinner one night. They all think I'm insane, but they love me so they did it, and it adds a bit of fun, so worthwhile investment I think)

And then when we got home for the cruise, we had just four days at home before we hoped on a plane and...

... started a whole new adventure!

Ashley and I have headed off to the other side of the world!!!!!

So far we've had 3 days in Singapore, and then 2 1/2 weeks in Amsterdam, and we arrived in our final destination, Dublin, just 3 days ago.


We're in the process of trying to find an apartment here, and have our fingers crossed that something will come through today or tomorrow, so we can get ourselves settled.  The plan is to be here for about 6 months, so we're wanting a little home and community and all that.

And in typical Ashley style, we don't have a home yet, but he's already purchased a stereo system and has it set up in our hotel room. Boys, hey ;-)

The big draw back for me in coming over, is that I have left all my sewing at home, other than 1 little EPP project. And while I have been working on it (no photos yet, as it's in no fit state, given it's being bundled in and out of it's container every 2 days, and there's no time to try to lay it out all pretty) I am not sure how I'll go without any machine sewing for such a long time.

We are currently looking into buying a machine and then selling it at the end of the 6 months, which could be a reasonable expense, and Ashley's on board, except he doesn't realise that once I get a machine, I'll also need thread, and fabric, and a cutting mat, and, and, and... it just adds up. I would even need to buy a desk and chair!! My quick $150 machine, has become bigger than Ben Hur.  With that in mind, if anyone has any tips for local shops, that might do sew days, or let me mess about with their machines, please, please let me know!!

I'd best sign off for now.  I'll show you my EPP in the coming days, and let you know how the machine decision pans out :-)

E xx