Work-in-Progress Girl


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Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt

Well, it’s been a lot longer than I meant to be! But I’ve got a finish to share:

Pink and Orange Quilt

I’ve finished my pink and coral and orange and black quilt made using fabrics from Fabric Spark‘s January blogger bundle, which was put together by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches. Back in January when I first got the fabrics, I talked a bit about how I found it sort of mystifying collection of colours.

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I expect it was a bit mystifying to me because I’m not generally a very big fan of pink and I don’t really like pink and orange as a combination and I don’t generally like florals and even though I think a splash of black is a good addition to almost any colour palette I sort of found it hard, mentally, to slot this much black in with such sweet colours and prints. But I decided to do something with it straight away and decided on a pattern from McCall’s America Loves Scrap Quilts Winter 2014/2015 magazine, Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman. I didn’t follow the pattern except to see what width to cut my strips; it was designed for scraps to create a larger quilt and I didn’t want to use more than my original 12 fat quarters, so my fabric strips weren’t going to match up with the pattern in any way (other than width).

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Twelve Fat Quarters turned out 36 blocks (with very, very little fabric waste) and then I had to figure out how to make it all a little bigger and also not square. I didn’t want a square quilt or a baby quilt, but I didn’t want to add too much fabric either, so I figured out that if I used a centre block with 5×6 blocks, then I could put my remaining 6 blocks around the edges to squeeze another 16″ in width/length out. And I could do it using only 1 yard extra fabric.

Pink and Orange Quilt

It took a little creative piecing of the borders, but I did it! Originally I was going to put five blocks up in the top corner and just one in the bottom left (well, this picture is sideways, because I hung it sideways on the fence, but if you turned it clockwise to stand it on end, then this explanation would make sense…), but I would have had to piece the border fabric in chunks and this way let me use 4 panels cut to 8.5″ x 40.5″ – no extra seams necessary! (Other than adding on the blocks, of course…)

I had wanted to use one of the 12 original prints as the border fabric, but I wasn’t able to get enough from Fabric Spark of any of the prints I was leaning towards, so I wound up choosing this Honeycomb in Marmalade from Bonnie Christine’s Sweet as Honey line. This was probably the better choice in the long run, since it’s uses the colours from the bundle, but also didn’t blend in with any of the blocks that might have butted up against it around the edges. And it had a lot of white, which I thought might help tone down some of the PINK ORANGE FLORAL-ness of it. I’m not sure that it worked in that way, but I can live with that anyway.

Pink and Orange Quilt

I constructed the back using yardage of one of the prints from the front, split up with pieced together scraps left over from making the blocks. I’m not sure why, but somehow I convinced myself that the scraps strips were going to be enough seperation that it wouldn’t matter if I lined up the back when I pieced it. Hahaha no. It looks terrible! But I’m reminding myself that it’s on the back of the quilt and most of the time it’s going to be hidden. What does it matter really, in the grand scheme of it all if the back side is a bit ugly?

Pink and Orange Quilt

I tried to think of this project as a practise piece for free motion quilting, since that’s something I’m always wanting to get better at but rarely willing to really practise. I wouldn’t say I did a great job – there’s lot of little jigs and jogs and I’m not very good at regulating my speed and stitch length or the scale of my quilting.

Pink and Orange Quilt

But I tried to have fun with it. I like spirals, but it took me a while to figure out how to deal with the weird awkward bits where one spiral didn’t fill in to the next space. I’ve still got a long way to go in perfecting them, but I like how it looks finished and I’m just not going to worry too much about the bits that didn’t turn out “perfectly” (because done is better than perfect).

Pink and Orange Quilt

I bound this quilt using a black and white dot from my stash (and a little scrap of honey comb in the corner).

I still haven’t washed it, so it might shrink up a little bit yet, but I think it’s going to look good finished (even if I am a bit iffy about pink and orange still!) And I’m just glad to have it done – it wasn’t a project that should have lasted 3 months, but I guess I’m pretty good sat distracting myself!

Some quilt stats
Name: Pink and Orange Windmill Quilt
Pattern: Dutch Breeze by Susan Guzman
Size: About 56.5″ x 64.5″
Fabric: A fat quarter bundle chosen by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches, including fabrics from Cotton + Steel, Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics, and… others. The border is Bonnie Christine’s Honeycomb in Marmalade from her Sweet as Honey line.
Batting: Quilter’s Dream Wool
Thread: White Aurifil (piecing and quilting)
Backing: Amy Butler’s Pressed Flowers in Carmine from her Cameo line.
Binding: A black and white dot.

This was my March goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, so I’ll be linking up there and with Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday, hosted this week by Janet at Simply Pieced.

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A Lovely Year of Finishes: March Goal

Okay, so my goal from last month is now my goal for this month. To finish – quilted and bound – my pink and coral windmill quilt. I did get it all basted and I even started quilting it, but I got hung up somewhere along the way because I didn’t like how it was looking… and I unpicked four blocks worth of quilting. (Which was not that much, but still felt like A LOT.)

practise not perfection

The thing was, I was trying to do very large spirals, so that I could do one per quarter block, which is a 4-inch square space. And while it wasn’t a bad idea in theory, it’s actually pretty tough to make a spiral that big! Not just to make one that big, but to make one that big that looks good! I was ending up with a lot of squarish bits on my spirals and jerks because I had to move my hands too far to get the outer ring the right size. (It’s different when you spiral out from the centre, that’s not as tough – you just have to maintain a consistent space between quilting lines, but this is a the kind of spiral where you spiral in and then spiral back out in the empty spaces.) And it was leaving too much of a gap in the centre of the block, so out it came.

Quilting Swirls

This time I’m doing a more organic spiral, trying to fill in the spaces with different size spirals that fill at approximately the same scale. I’m not that good at it – there are bits where I forget to leave room to spiral out and so have lines nearly touching that shouldn’t at all, and then there are some bits where there’s a solid inch between quilting lines. But this is practise and I’ll never get better if I don’t just practise.

Quilting Swirls

I’m still having a pretty hard time with regulating the speed of my hands and speed of my machine… so I’ve got some giant stitches (along the lines of 1/4-inch length) and some very, very tiny ones. I have a tendancy to jerk just a little bit when I first start quilting again after I’ve paused to reposition my hands. And sometimes I panic while trying to decide where to quilt next. I’m trying to work in a fairly logical progression around the quilt (working out from the centre, essentially spiralling around that centre block), but I think just figuring out where to go next might be the hardest thing about free motion quilting.

Quilting Swirls

Seeing this quilt in the machine in the sunshine is kind of making me like this quilt again, which hasn’t always been the case. I’m bouncing back and forth with this one. I bet when it’s done I’ll like it better than I ever thought I would.

If you can see that dangling thread in this photo, that’s because I had to stop here when the bobbin thread ran out. I didn’t feel like picking back my stitches last night (so that I’d have enough thread to buy), so that’s on tap for tonight, if I ever make it off the computer and into the sewing room. But before I go, I wanted to show you some of the more amusing (to me) parts of my quilting set-up.

I sew on a cheapie kitchen table which is taller than standard with shorter than standard kitchen chairs. With the machine on the table, it’s a bit like trying to quilt with my elbows at my ears, so this is my height solution:

Quilting set-up

That would be an Ikea neck support pillow, which was too stiff for sleeping, but is remarkably comfortable for sitting on while sewing, topping a double stack of quilting books (my bum is big – one stack of books isn’t going to cut it, comfort-wise). I don’t always quilt with the pillow on top of the book pile, because it sometimes feels a bit too much like I’m hovering over everything.

Quilting set-up

These books are pushed way too far back on the chair, normally they’re up closer to the edge of the chair so that I can sit on them more comfortably. They add a nice 4 inches or so of height! Some of the books in this stack… it’s the most use they’ll ever see. But the two up top – Sunday Morning Quilts and Shape by Shape – are two of my favourite books in my quilting collection. I’m sorry author-ladies: the fact that I park my ass on your books is not a reflection of my opinion at all! It’s just an added dimension of usefulness in a pair of already magnificent books.

Quilting set-up

Since I’m lifted so far up from the floor, I also need to lift my foot-pedal up from the floor – I’m a short person, so I can’t stretch down to the floor all that comfortably. The plastic box is a rather old piece of Tupperware that I probably inadvertently stole from my mom about 15 years ago. I’ve got it turned the long way now so that there’s more space to rest my foot, but that’s the basic set-up.

The things we do for our hobbies.


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The Pink and Orange Quilt

So I’m kind of at a boring stage in the making of things… by which I mean I’m putting the top of a quilt together, but it’s not really much fun to show because it’s kind of neither here nor there right now.

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Right now the sort of… central body of the quilt is in three parts. That’s two of them, pinned together and ready to be sewn. It’s been sitting on my table for a couple days because it’s been so cold and miserable that I haven’t felt like sewing (and have only felt like taking hot baths and/or sleeping and/or cooking warming things like stew and Cuban Smashed Potatoes), but I’m determined to get at least that centre part sewn together by Thursday afternoon.

I really need to press that again, but that Best Press is actually not scent free and smells so bad that I hate using it. (I feel like my lungs are full of the stuff every time I use it, even if I only use it very, very lightly.)

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And here is the other third of the blocks of this quilt, along with the borders, which are as thick as the blocks are themselves! It’s going to have a… non-standard setting, in a way, which lead to the exceptionally wide (for me) borders. I don’t love big borders… I never know how to quilt them. But I think I’m just going to do the same all over quilt job, borders, blocks and all. This isn’t really a quilt that I think I’m going to love – when I see individual blocks I like them and I basically like all the fabrics involved and I like the block pattern that I chose, but I find the colours overwhelming when they’re all laid out together pink! coral! orange! floral! – so I’m thinking of it as good practise and I’m going to use it to practise quilting spirals. Just a pretty basic spiral type thing. I need to watch some more Craftsy classes and find one of the ones where Leah Day shows how she does them.

Anyway, here I am talking about it:

You won’t learn anything from that video that I haven’t already told you, at least I don’t think so, but I don’t know. Maybe it’ll be more interesting(ish?) in person?

Linking up to many and various WIP Wednesday type link-ups: Work in Progress Wednesday with Lee at Freshly Pieced, Let’s Bee Social with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts, and WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network.


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Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I finished a thing! And this thing was both my A Lovely Year of Finishes January goal AND my first project on my Finish Along Quarter One list!

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

This photo was just for my sister who, when I was lamenting the lack of clean outdoor places to photograph this quilt, suggested that I use her fresh-from-the-car-wash car as a backdrop. There was too much sun, but the car was nice and clean… The quilt, too, was sort of for my sister. She commissioned it for a friend of hers who was having her first baby. The new parents didn’t know if they were having a boy or a girl, so they were doing their nursery in browns and lime greens, and so that was my only requirements for the quilt. I gave my sister a few options of things I wouldn’t mind to try making, and she choose the one I was rooting for all along, a pattern published in the Spring 2014 edition of Fons and Porter’s Scrap Quilts magazine called 42 Hashtags by Tanya Finken of Squares and Triangles.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

The original version was made with 42 charm squares plus a little over 1.5 yards of white fabric – I made mine with 2 yards of some random brown in my stash (I think it was a Kona cotton, but I’m not sure) and 42 self-cut charms. I pulled all my fabrics except one out of my scrap drawer, leaning as much as possible on lime and grellow sorts of colours, but with a little bit of sky blue, darker greens, and some yellow mixed in as well.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

Fourteen of the blocks are made with a solid background rather than a print, which I think gives that hashtag centre of the quilt a bit of a twinkliness, as silly as that sounds. It just changes the way your eye moves around, somehow.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

Even though it’s a baby quilt, I didn’t want to have too many children’s prints involved. There are a few novelty-type prints to give a nod to the fact that it is a baby quilt, but otherwise it’s just dots and stripes and other mostly geometric prints. These few animals and the airplane are all I’ve got in that line of things! (And aren’t those sheep from Laurie Wisbrun just the cutest thing you’ve ever seen?)

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I quilted this very simply so that it would remain soft and drapey, creating two sort of ribboned lines horizontally through each row of hashtags, plus through the borders. If I’d had enough time, I’d have done the same thing vertically, but I was a little short, so I did the vertical borders as well, so that it created a row of hashtags down the sides of the quilt. After that, I went back into the centre of the quilt and added vertical quilting lines to each of the blocks with the brown background, so that they have a completed ribbon hashtag, while the rest of the quilt just has the horizontal quilting. I used a green variegated thread, so that I didn’t have to try to colour match the variety of colours in the hashtags. I kind of like the green quilting on the brown – it gives it a little lift where otherwise it’d be a too big, too brown expanse of fabric.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I backed the quilt in a flannel with elephants to tie in with the elephant block on the front of the quilt. Colourwise, it doesn’t match my binding very well, which was largely done with that awesome plaid of Denyse Schmidt’s Chicopee line, but to be honest I don’t really care. I love how the binding looks on the front and the flannel feels nice on the back. That’s good enough! It’s not visible in this particular photo, but one corner of the binding was done in the same solid brown as the majority of the front.

Brown and Lime Hashtag Quilt

I really love this quilt and it was the tiniest bit hard to give up. I may have to make another, larger one some day. Love.

Some quilt stats
Name: I mostly call it the Brown and Lime Hashtag quilt, but that’s because I’m never creative with names.
Pattern: 42 Hashtags by Tanya Finken
Size: About 39″ x 43.5″
Fabric: Assorted green, yellow, and blue prints, with a Kona cotton background, which I think is Espresso, but I can’t find my colour card to doublecheck.
Backing: Cheapie green and white elephant flannel
Binding: Denyse Schmidt’s Simple Plaid in Lime from Chicopee

Posting a #fridayfinish on my blog today about my green and brown hashtag quilt... Love these fabrics I put into it!

So if you made it all the way to the bottom of this ridiculously long post,.. you can be entered to win 42 charms in lime, grellow, green, yellow, and blue fabrics, all cut straight from my stash! They’re not an exact match to the 42 from my quilt, because some of them I didn’t have enough fabric to make two charms, but there are 42, which is enough to make this quilt (or something like it!) for yourself. If you’d like to be entered to win, just leave a comment telling me what you might do with these charms if you won them. (I’m perfectly okay with you saying, “I have no idea!” or that you’d filter them into your own scrap stash to be used as you find the perfect place for them.) [Edited to add: please don’t add this to any sites that compile lists of giveaways. I don’t care who enters my giveaways – they’re open to anyone – but I prefer they go to someone who is reading this because of a link-up I’ve joined or because they just read my blog, rather than because they’ve hit on a site that links them all up.]

Also, edited to add: I forgot to say when I’d do the drawing! All entries need to be in by Thursday, February 5 – I’ll do the drawing when I get home from work on Friday morning.