Saturday, December 31, 2011

One day (part two)

While I was ironing and sorting I came across some abondoned wonky log cabin blocks and a couple of nine patches - I had thought of throwing them in the bin back when I made them, but luckily I threw them in here - as they gave me something to start with. I began to sew the blocks and random pieces into strips.  A strip quilt, yes that's what I wanted. But I wished for more orphan blocks to liven things up a bit. I even tried my hand at making a wonky star but I wasn't in the mood for concentrating (and the half  made star is in there too).

So I threw in my bag of crumbs - precious little quilting scraps too pretty to throw away). And that is when some funny things began to emerge. See that little critter in the yellow fabric on the right hand side of the above photo? And the red tulip below - that strip is barely half an inch wide.

I was beginnining to enjoy the crumbs - all those old favourites like those tiny pieces of green and blue circles. Even my ten year old remarked on those "I remember that fabric!".

There's that wonky star attempt on the right, but I much prefer the basket on the left which just made itself - I didn't realise that it looked like a basket until it was sewn into the block (the red 'handle' is a piece of heart fabric).

Thursday, December 29, 2011

One day

Every time I finish a quilt, or sewing project, I put away the scraps thinking 'one day I'll make that scrap quilt with thousands of little pieces', but that pile of special scraps grows too slowly. Meantime the 'odd scraps' the gifted, donated and 'don't throw that out, I'll take it' scraps grow beyond measure.
This little quilt did little to dint the 'use them up' scraps - the dressmaking cottons, the odd and the downright ugly fabrics. In fact, I loved that quilt so much that I've kept adding to those fabrics until I found myself stuffing them into an empty suitcase at the end of our summer holidays. That suitcase has been sitting there at the end of my bed, a constant reminder with every stubbed toe, that one day I have to get working on that quilt. I scoured the internet looking for just the right scrap quilt, but somehow my collection of fabrics from the last twenty odd years just didn't fit into the kind of turn of the century, 1930's scrap quilts that I love.
In the end I pulled out my iron, and a bottle of home made spray starch and started pressing. It took me two days to empty that case and starch those fabrics into shape. A few fabrics were put aside for quilt backs, or stored with my regular quilting fabrics because they were too fadey for this project, but the rest are going into the quilt and I have vowed not to stop until they are gone:)! Now that I have spent two days doing a loathsome job, there is no going back - those fabrics are going to be used up before they get crumpled again.
And so, I sat down with a pair of scissors and my sewing machine, and without too much thought I jumped in, just like the rabbit in this fabric.....
Stay tuned for the work in progress - blogging and sewing seems to be mutually exclusive in my house - but there is plenty of sewing going on.

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Merry Christmas

"She brought forth her son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes. and laid him in a manger."

Friday, December 2, 2011

While the cat was away.....

I have neglected this blog a little too long and was beginning to worry that I wouldn't have any readers left, so what a surprise when I discovered after months of absence that the number of followers had actually grown. Thanks for the vote of confidence:)

I did actually do some sewing over the summer, but sewing and blogging seem to be mutually exclusive at the moment. Now that school is back underway, I seem to have time for neither but stay tuned and I will show you what I have been working on.

The photo is from our summer holiday in England, looking anything but summery. But it was a lovely change from the hot sticky weather we had back home in Italy.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

A sister quilt

Miriam needs a new quilt of her own so I decided to make a sister quilt using the leftover fabrics to Nora's quilt.

I think they'll look quite nice together. The new one has some stronger reproduction fabrics in it and was inspired by this one. I changed the setting to a four patch in an economy patch as I like the way the setting triangles set off the four patch fabrics.

This is going together quite quickly as I am piecing it by hand during my daughters' dance and music lessons. I used to hate waiting around but now I look forward to the sewing time. Summer will be here soon and that's when I get some unbroken time to quilt (luckily it is a small quilt and won't be too hot to sit under).

Thursday, April 14, 2011

A fresh start

Years ago I had just one little box of special 'quilt shop' fabric. I decided to use them up in one special project and began cutting out diamonds for a split lone star like the first quilt in this this post. I calculated the fabric requirements, bought extra fabric, where I could, and then boxed it up and put it away. That project, kitted up, with diagrams and all, sat in the cupboard for years and years until I pulled it out last year to photograph. A few weeks ago I sat down and made a second section of the central star.
That's when I realised that there was something about the design and the colour placement that I didn't like anymore. Originally the colour placement was decided mostly by how much I had of each fabric not necessarily by best choice.
I started playing around with the fabrics again, adding in  lots of new fabrics and after thinking about it for a long time, I ditched the original star design in favour of a sunburst pattern. (After seeing the quilt in the link, I made a note to self to do a little fussy cutting for the centre star.)
I sewed a test strip, choosing fabrics that make each other 'sing' when placed next to each other. Without making any real calculations, I used the fabrics I had less of toward the centre and fabrics I had more of toward the outer edge. Once I had something I liked, I sat down and calculated wether I had enough fabric to do what I wanted.
It took me a while to figure out the mathematics of it, but a knitting analogy helped - if you start out from the centre star with eight pieces, imagine one increase in each eight sections for each row. Basically, the star/circle, increases eight diamonds in each round.
I will have to buy in more yardage of some of the more recent fabrics, and the older fabrics but I had enough of many of the fabrics to use them where I wanted. I am actually looking forward to the fabric sostitutions and poverty patches that will occur where I don't have enough fabric (like this trip around the world ). I think that it will make the quilt more interesting.You can already see that there are three fabrics in the fourth row.
I don't want to think about how many diamonds I will have to cut to make this . I will just face them a few at a time.. I sew the diamonds into bunches of 10, for easy counting. I am not sure how to go about the quilt as it gets to the edges - the last round will have 152 pieces, and then I have to work out the corner sections. I will think about that when I get to it. It won't be for a long time yet:)

Monday, March 21, 2011

Back in the hoop

The advantage of having many projects on the go is that as soon as you finish one you have something else you can pick up and continue on with (that's my justification anyway:) ).
The other day I finished the blocks from the last post and while I wait for some clear-thinking time to calculate sashing yardage, I pulled out this project which has been waiting patiently all winter. I still have a couple of months before it becomes too hot to quilt this woolen quilt.

I am making up the quilting patterns as I go, playing with styles and discovering what I like and don't like. I have discovered that I am not crazy about the quarter inch outline quilting and will replace it - perhaps with a single line down the centre of each diamond? I love the circles but couldn't for the life of me remember what I had used to mark them, so the above photo is also a pro-memoria. I only mark a small section at a time as I the pencil tends to fade or rub off and needs to be redone. I use a sharp HB or 2B pencil, depending on how dark I need the lines to be. I raided my girls' toy boxes for the marking tools. The cardboard templates were traced from applique patterns. I love how they look quilted. These patterned fabrics are difficult to quilt on and make me wish I had included more white muslin.
I have only just noticed how irregularly I marked the diagonal lines on the plaid fabric. Iwill leave it until later and decide if I can live with that. Probably not, but I want to move on a bit with the quilting before I do it over.
Time can give a different perspective to things, which I guess is the advantage of working slowly. Janet has found a solution to something that has been bothering her about this quilt that she has been working on for a long time. Her thoughts on batting are quite interesting.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Only just

The last four blocks remaining for this quilt have been cut and stacked, ready to sew.

This is how much yellow fabric that was left at the end. Careful planning? No. I had so much yellow fabric to start with that I didn't bother to estimate how much I would need. I managed to make 15 blocks, and 15 blocks will be the quilt, but only just.
As boring as it is, I think I will sit down and plan things a little more carefully next time. Not so economically, I got into a bit of a panic and bought some more yellow fabric while in Australia. As it turned out, finding a good match was not as easy as I thought and I now have a as much yellow fabric in my stash as when I started out!

Monday, February 28, 2011

February is all but gone

What I had planned to be a month long blogging break quickly turned into two. We're back from a  busy holiday home in Australia visiting family and friends. A month has flown by while  catching up with our regular life, unpacking souvenirs (the fabrics are washed and folded), and acclimatising to the cold weather. It will be a short winter for us this year. The daffodils are already in bloom here and other plants are wondering wether to send out their new shoots or wait another month until 'mad March' is over.

I haven't been posting, but I have been busy sewing. Will post about that as soon as I clear some space on the camera......

Thanks Kristine for reminding me that I have a blog!:)

PS. This is not my house:) The was taken in Captain Cook's cottage in the Flagstaff Gardens, Melbourne.