Sunday, 12 February 2017

January Snails

I mentioned earlier this month that I was going to join in on the #snailday sew a long, and I have been industriously sewing to make sure I stay up to date.

The schedule is just one little snail each week, which is totally do-able!

And the snails are just so cute!!!

Originally I had planned to make all green shells, but I started with a little practice scrap and really liked it... and then I grabbed another piece from my scrap jars, and really liked that.. and now I know that this will not be a perfectly curated, colour story type quilt, but a mish mash of colours and textures and whatever I happen to lay my hands on. But the consistent body and background, makes me think this will still work really well.

The part of my brain that screams logic at me, says I can't have a snail shell with flowers on it, because snails don't have motif's - I need pattern not pictures, but this print called out to me and I'm letting that be my guide.

The other guide is what do I have in scrap that will fit. Or if not "scrap" what have a cut a strip of that I can spare a piece from.  I'm terrible with the way I use my fabrics. I like to make a cut WOF and then use what I need. Anything left from the strip goes into scrap. So on the one hand, there's wastage, but on the other, not really becasue I totally use my scrap containers all the time. And I prefer this to having big pieces of fabric with weird little corners cut out everywhere, which is way more efficient, but... Just doesn't work for me.  We all have our little *things* and that is just the way I am.

The beige-y background is from deep stash - no idea what it is or where I got it from.

The grey body fabric is a Kona solid that I bought for another project, and hadn't gotten around to using yet, so I stole it for this :-) The original project changed directions after my fabric purchasing so it was just going to waste I swear!! I think it's charcoal, but it might be iron... I really need to start labeling the solids as they come in.


That's my little snails so far! And if you want to follow along in real time, then my insta is the place to be. Or just insta in general with the #snailday and #gardensnailquilt. There are some amazing snails being made (not mine - other people's are super cute - yellows and blues and technicolour goodness. Makes me wish I wasn't so bland and boring, but own who you are, I say!!) but just check them out for funsies :-)

E xx

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

Community Quilting - A Forest

One of the cool things about being in a guild is getting to do things that you wouldn't normally in the name of charity.  My Guild (the Brisbane Modern Quilt Guild) coordinates an internal quilt bee, where a particular block is set and then whoever wants to will make those blocks and ta da!! A quilt... Ok, well there's slightly more to it than that, but it's not really the point of the story..

So A couple of months ago, I took a turn at setting the block.  I love the tree quilts that the Portland Modern Quilt Guild do and figured that our girls love a bit of improv goodness so I'd turn them loose.

I asked for 10.5" squares with any green/brown/cream/white and showed them my inspiration photo, and made a couple as examples...

In fact, I took to my sewing room with vigor and grabbed all my green scraps to make a squillion little trees.  The crumb piecing is actually super fun and very addictive.  I made so many green blobs, I don't know what to do with them! The hardest part for me was a) having a selection of browns so all my trunks aren't the same - I don't have a whole lot of brown scraps so I needed to cut from my yardage, but this feels so wasteful when all I really need is a 3 " square and b) using all my low volume.  I love low volume. I hoard it. And I know it's just white(ish) fabric, and there will always be more, but it's just so darn hard to start cutting it.  It feels like I'm wasting it. #lifeofahoarder

But no matter how many I made it's rally the ladies in my amazing Guild who made this an epic quilt. They let their imaginations fly and the resulting blocks are just wonderful.

My absolute favourite is this little tiny orchard!! It's so cute!!!!

One of the ladies stretched the edges of her block size to make this gorgeous Savannah tree (which I absolutely love, btw) but it did mean that I needed to adjust my layout to allow the extra width on this block...

In some ways I think that that was actually a really good thing for this quilt, becasue it means there's no gird in the piecing at all. None of the rows line up with any other, and I made some skinny little trees to fit in gaps, and bulk up other blocks.

I also used more low volume in places to space the blocks out. This is particularly noticeable in the top left where a little boab tree needed more space to really shine. If I'd stuck with the exact blocks I reckon this little guy would have ended up a wee bit crowded.

Now that they're all together, I have handed it over to one of the lovely talented ladies at BrisMQG who will do some fantabulous long arming all over it (thank you Miss Nerida!), then someone might offer to bind it (if I'm really lucky) and it will be donated to it's new home - The Salvation Army Crisis Accommodation Service.

I love this quilt. And I'm so grateful to Wombat Quilts for the inspiration, and the BMQG for diving in to this project, that was outside of some peoples comfort zone (improv is not for everybody). I love that our Guild prioritises this kind of activity and being part of our community. Quilts are all about love and caring, and spreading that around, can only ever be considered a good thing.

E xx

Monday, 6 February 2017

Jewelled Swoon #1

You may remember, once upon a time, that I made a GIANT swoon quilt. Well, even back then I knew I wanted to make a proper swoon quilt, but it's taken me another 4 years to get to it. But get to it I have!

The pattern has been sitting patiently waiting for me, and I finally took the plunge. Some of the people I follow on Insta had started to post about doing a #swoonalong2017 and I can never resist a bandwagon. Before I knew it I had raided my stash and had myself a fabric pull.

The above was my starting point.  The butterflies were purchased on purpose for this quilt, but everything else is from stash. The black text is from Madronna Road, and I fell in love with it a couple of years ago and bought 10 yards... Yeah, I need to start using it more. A lot more.

The teal with the mustard and purple flowers was my "jumping off" fabric, and I built the rest around that, but I also think that the Cathedral Windows challenge happening on Stitched in Color may have contributed to my choices. I was in the mood for rich and moody and depth.

I had in my mind using the black for the centres, but was a bit scared.

I picked my favourite print ever (Joel Dewberry - Bungalow) and made my first block as bit of a tester...

And... I love it.

It's intense. But I think in a good way...It's dramatic!!

I'm still nervous about having all of these blocks the same (as in black on the inside), but I decided I just have to commit. I took to that yardage and just chop chop chopped. So my cutting table then had all the black and background ready to go.  Now this is not my normal way of piecing - I'm not a pre-cutter. I've done it before and I end up with piles of cut fabric and half-built quilts that are left abandoned. It's so wasteful. But I am determined that this time that is not how this is going to be. I decided that I was going to commit and make this darn quilt come hell or high water!!

So right now my table is chock full of pieces of black and cream. I've made 7 blocks, and now I have to make a fateful decision about how to proceed...

Official start date - 25/1/17
Top complete - ?????

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

GiGi's quilt

I have previously mentioned that I have some very cute little neighbours. I made Miss Mia a nice bright pick and patchworky quilt and gifted it to her in 2015. But there is another little neighbour, about the same size, who was on the look out for a little something something.

Miss GiGi is a cute little poppet, and when she and her mum were in the local Spotlight, they came across a panel which she fell in love with.  Mum being the obliging, and adventurous sort, bought a couple of panels and some coordinating solids and arrived on my doorstep wanting to learn to sew.

Rather than going all in, mum made some cute pillows, to learn how to do straight seams and just get a little practice in. Meanwhile I started cutting into the solids.  Before we knew what happened we had half a quilt top. I say half, because we thought we were done, but in taking it home, decided it needed more length.

With some thought (I didn't want to throw off the very symmetrical feel we had going), I added extra to the top and bottom, and I think those little birds are just the ticket. I almost can't picture it without it now.

I pieced together a back using the leftover big chunks of the solids, got it basted and then decided that I really wanted to FMQ over and around the detailed designs on the panels... Cue my nightmare.

I've never really done any proper FMQ before. And what I have done has been terrible, so I'm not sure what made me think I could do this.

But do it, I did!!  And I think it looks pretty cute (at least from the front).  There are 5 or 6 different thread colours going on, as each solid is quilted in it's corresponding thread, as is the detail section.  The back looks hilarious because I did a super cute pieced back, but then quilted it with matching bobbins, so it's like crayon drawings everywhere that doesn't reflect the piecing at all. Frankly, the back looks like I quilted it with my feet, so this is definitely a "this side is the top" rather than any double sided goodness.

For binding, I gathered some of the leftovers from piecing and chopped it up into 2.5" strips and so there is a nice scrappy thing going on there. It's just straight grain because I ain't got time for no bias.

I also totally cheated when I attached it, and went with a machine binding. I attached as normal to the front, with a 1/4" seam, and then folded over and, using a fabulous bright pink thread, chose one of the decorative stitches on my machine and whipped around.  While I don't know if this would work for most quilts, this one, with it's fluro colours and messy FMQ , it was the right fit.

I've washed and tumble dried it (because it was covered in random threads, and I was really worried about how some of that FMQ would hold up). But it held up through the wash and has now been happily given back to little GiGi.  Hopefully she loves it and doesn't grow sick of all that colour too quickly.

So a bit of fun piecing, and some quality learning for me with the FMQ. I might be slightly more ready to think about tackling some of those other "quilting" level projects that have been scaring me off.

E xx

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Perfectly Pretty Hoop Swap #1

You may not know this, but I don't do the whole "swap" thing.  It brings out all my insecurities about making things that will fall apart and be disappointing to others. Also, I'm terrible at time management and know that I will miss deadlines and then some poor person will be sitting by their mail box, wishing and hoping and praying, and their gift never ever arrives... Doesn't that make you want to have me in your swap group!!!

Well, I decided that it was time to suck it up and put myself out there - give it a go and see what I could do.  I signed up for the Perfectly Pretty Hoop Swap with A Crafty Fox and crossed my fingers that it'd all work out ok.

I got assigned a partner, and thankfully she was also from Australia, becasue I had visions of trying to ship something internationally in the weeks leading up to Christmas #nightmare.  She told me that she loved the colour blue and wanted a pocket hoop, and gave me a link to her pinterest board which was chock full of super cute hoops.  I also took the opportunity to stalk the rest of her boards a little to see if I could get a feel for her.

She seemed to really like the calico type fabric with colour, so I headed out to the local Spotlight (#timewarpzone) and did me some shopping.  And this is where I had my first little panic - what size hoop do you swap??? There were no rules when I signed up... There's no guidance... I can't make these kind of decisions!! What do I do?????

That's simple - buy all the hoops!

I ended up going with the largest one I bought, just becasue I was making pockets, so I felt a nice big space would work best.  I had a little plan about what to do, and so I cut and I folded and I made it way more complicated than it needed to be, but eventually I got it made.  And it was a little boring.  So I pulled out my random stash of embroidery floss and added some gold to bling it up - because who doesn't keep gold floss in their house?? What are you? An animal??

The rules for the swap were to keep any extras under $5, but I'd bought all these hoops, and had some leftover fabric, so I quickly chopped out another circle and put that pinterest stalking to good use and stitched up one of the quotes that my partner had pinned. It felt like something that might belong in a sewing room - a little reminder that we are making things that are beautiful and even when it doesn't seem like it right now to just trust the instincts and the beauty will come.

I stumbled upon this tutorial for backing the hoops, and voila! I was done. (In all honesty, I feel I have to admit that I had intended to glue felt on the back, but my house is a disaster and I lost my hot glue gun, so had to come up with an alternative.)

They're not super fancy, in fact, they're quite simple, but I like that.  Elegant, and minimal.  Now I only hope my swap partner likes them.

I also snuck in a packet of Skittles, just because I think it's a law that swaps need sweets, and I wasn't going to put chocolate anywhere near the package in the Aussie summer - felt that might be a recipe for disaster.

So there we go. My first ever swap, and I don't think I embarrassed my self, which was my only goal.


E xx