Work-in-Progress Girl


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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.)

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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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Sunday Stash: Indie and Blogger Bundles

I keep writing posts in my head, but not actually sitting down to write them. Here are a couple things I want to talk about:
– the process of quilting the project I’m working on
– why people don’t like certain colours
– why I might never go to Quiltcon (or similar, even though I’d like to)
– creativity vs artistry

Today, though, it’s just all about the fabric. I’ve had fabric coming in by the truckload lately (well, not quite…), so I guess I could talk about that, since I can’t seem to coordinate thinking about those topics up above along with actually sitting down to write. This entry will be about two of the least recent arrivals and maybe next week I’ll do another two. (And by then, I might have another truckload coming, so this burst of spendiness might last me a while in terms of Sunday Stash entries.)

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So first up is my February blogger bundle from Fabric Spark. You probably know I was a bit conflicted about the January bundle – pink and orange and coral and floral and all those things I don’t usually use or pair together – and I think I’m a little bit conflicted about this one too, though in a fairly different way.

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The colours are good, the blender prints are good. The worst I can say about these are that the blue prints are larger than I typically buy in a blender print, but that’s not exactly a bad thing. Mixing up the scale is generally a great thing!

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I’m just a precious baby who never knows what to do with multi-colour prints. Even though I can look at this bundle and see how all the parts come together… I’m just not sure I really love it that way. Maybe it needs to have a few more fabrics added in each of the colours. Or maybe this needs to be a Split It Up and Mix It Into Stash bundle. (Which is exactly what I did with every bundle I got from the Fat Quarter Shop Blogger Bundle subscription, with the exception of John Q Adams/Quilt Dad’s bundle, which I made into a quilt top that I’ve never quilted. Maybe this year will be the year.) I haven’t put it away just yet, though, I figure I should leave it out and let it sort of marinate a bit… maybe I’ll wind up finding some kind of inspiration for it somewhere.

This next batch of fabric is kind of an odd collection in my stash because it’s all sorts of things I don’t like, and in fact I don’t think I like even half the prints in the bundle and there isn’t one single fabric that, if I saw it on a bolt, I’d pick up and buy:

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But damn, do I love it anyway. Pat Bravo’s Indie collection is a mix of a million colours and prints and it’s everything I generally avoid in fabric because it’s just Too Much. And yet it all comes together in some perfect weird harmony that works even though it shouldn’t. Every time I see the collection all together, I just want it completely and so finally I bought it.

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Of this lot, I think the red and green prints on the bottom right are probably my favourite. (Also, notice they’re probably the calmest of the prints I’ve shown.)

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Too much! But I just love the overall vibe of it. I love the richness of the colours. I think it’s got a Bohemian feel. It’s just perfect in some way that I can’t really articulate.

I am hoping to make the same quilt with these fabrics as I’m working on with my first blogger bundle from Fabric Spark; it’s a windmill type block and I think it’s one that will work well with all those crazy fabrics. The only thing is that if I want to use all the Fat Quarters in the bundle, then I needed another five fabrics to make the quilt a decent size. Each fat quarter can create 3 blocks, so I also bought 5 Art Gallery solids, so that I’ll have enough to make 72 blocks, resulting in quilt about 64″ x 72″ in size.

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If I remember right, I picked up Art Gallery Pure Elements in Honey, Fresh Water, Apricot, Nocturnal, and Spiceberry. And since this quilt will be all Art Gallery fabrics on top, I’m really going to need to get a AG backing too. I’m leaning a little toward the floral in the large photo above (probably in blue), but we’ll see what happens. I suspect in the long run I’ll be more interested in finding something a bit cheap, rather than having to order from the US (and pay shipping and exchange and possibly taxes/duty as well), so I might just get whatever Art Gallery fabric is a decent match that is sold by anyone in Canada.

Linking up belatedly to Sunday Stash with Molli Sparkles.


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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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A Lovely Year of Finishes: February Goal

So before I get to my goal for February for ALYoF, I need to wrap up my giveaway from my January goal – the brown and lime hashtag quilt.

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My winner (via Random.org) of 42 charm squares (cut from my scraps! and a close match to my hashtag quilt!) was Leanne Parsons of Devoted Quilter. I had to laugh a little about that because Leanne was the host of Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday in that week and she popped over to thank me for linking up. Leanne is apparently from Newfoundland, one of only 2 provinces in Canada that I haven’t visited! (The other being PEI. Sorry island provinces! One day I’ll get there!) I lived in Nova Scotia for 2 years (ten years ago… ack!) and kick myself for not having travelled more when I was in the approximate neighbourhood!

Anyway, February Goal!

My February goal is to finish up this windmill quilt using the January blogger bundle from Fabric Spark, curated by Jolene at Blue Elephant Stitches.

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I’ve got just 12 blocks left to finish and all they need is to have their last seam stitched up! After that I need to cut my borders, plan my layout and get the top put together. I’m not working this weekend (in theory! I’ve had a supremely frustrating work week, having stayed 11 hours on two days and now I’ll be going in for at least 4 hours on a sixth day – but I’m going to go in early this evening so that I can come home and sleep before it’s too stupid late and then at least I’ll still have Saturday and Sunday during the day for myself).

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I had planned to use one of the fabrics from the top (actually, that floral print in the finished block above) for the border, but Fabric Spark didn’t have quite enough left, so I wound up choosing the honeycomb fabric, which combined the pinks and oranges that were prevalent throughout the bundle. I’m hoping it won’t be too white for a large border, but if it is…. oh well. This quilt is getting done using what I’ve got one way or another! The large scale print below the honeycomb print is going to be the backing fabric, though I’m hoping to break up the backing a little bit with a narrow row of pieced scraps – I’m going to use as much of that original bundle of fabric as I possibly can! And finally, that Denyse Schmidt print on the bottom was meant to be the binding. When I ordered it, I had forgotten that it’s an off-white print, rather than a pure white one, so I’m not sure if I’ll wind up using it. I LOVE that print, but I don’t want it to look like a dirty line around the edge of my quilt (which, let’s not forget is being bordered with that very white heavy honeycomb!) so it might get swapped out for something whiter or something blacker. We’ll see what I’ve got in my stash.

For once I even have a quilting plan! And because I enjoy this quilt but don’t love it in some devastating way where I can’t bear to ruin it with crappy quilting, I’m even going to try something new. This quilt isn’t meant for anyone and I think it’s always easier to be a bit free with things when it’s kind of…. meaningless in a way. If that makes sense?


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Sew My Stash 2015 (and add to it a little…)

So if you’re on Instagram you’ve probably seen a dozen or more reposted SewMyStash2015 pics in the last couple weeks – down on the right somewhere is the image I’m talking about. It’s an idea started up by Leasa of Project: Leasa. Every year there is some variation on the theme – last year was the (failed, in my case) six month fabric fast. The idea, always, being to use more and buy less. Last year I discovered that I really don’t react well to being told No, because as soon as I said No to myself, I just started buying wildly every time I turned around. What I like about Sew My Stash is that it’s focused more on doing rather than on not doing, if that makes sense. It doesn’t say Just Say No to new fabric, it says Try to Use What You’ve Got. I probably appreciate the distinction a little more because it means I can still buy 2.5 metres of Denyse Schmidt’s Simple Plaid from Chicopee if I want to…

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Granted, I might not have bought it if I’d realized it was going to come in five pieces. I bought this from a new-to-me Canadian shop called Flare Fabrics. When I was piecing together my hashtag quilt top, I had this moment of fear that there was going to be Too Much Brown and so I started thinking about fabrics I thought would make good borders. I settled on that plaid from Chicopee and went looking online for someone in Canada who was selling it. Google lead me to Flare Fabrics, which is a shop that focuses on batiks, but had a small selection of Denyse Schmidt prints and 2.5 metres of that very plaid in stock. When I was looking around their site, I did notice a few different fabrics that specified that the last x-number metres were pre-cut into 1/2 metres, but if it was mentioned with this particular fabric, I sure didn’t notice it. Thank goodness I didn’t buy it hoping for a backing fabric – can you imagine trying to piece 5 cuts of the same fabric into one sheet of not-too-terribly mismatched plaid?

Anyway, I also picked up an embroidery kit, which I didn’t photograph, and this quilt pattern, which is a chevron pattern I can get behind.

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I don’t ever foresee myself making a chevron quilt out of half square triangles. It’s not that they don’t look nice, but I suppose I’ve just seen a few too many. I thought this one was an interesting take on the chevron idea, though I’m not sure how keen I am on working with 60 degree half-rectangles.

Anyway, Sew My Stash has also not stopped me from joining up with Fabric Spark‘s Blogger Bundle subscription for the year. I dithered about joining it for a little while because I’d been signed up for Blogger Bundles from Fat Quarter Shop ages ago and quit when I had to request that I not be sent a couple bundles in a row – someone had put together a bundle that was 90% one line, plus the few solids (I forget how those bundles worked exactly, 12 prints and 3 solids? 9 prints and 3 solids?) and if I’d wanted 9 prints from that line, I’d have just bought the whole line, you know? – and when I hit the third “give it a miss” month, I decided I should just give the whole thing a miss and stop hoping it’d be something good.

But I did sign up for Fabric Sparks and this is the first month’s bundle, curated by Jolene of Blue Elephant Stitches:

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I find it both mystifying and intriguing. I’m not remotely sure if I like it, but I am curious to see if I can put those 12 fabrics together and come up with something I like.

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It’s obvious what the through-line is with these – the colours in all the prints can be found in that one floral in the centre. But that chartreuse green sure does get over-powering in this grouping. I keep reminding myself that once it’s all cut up and sewed back together, those bright splashes of green will pull the eye around in a good way, but laid out like this I can’t help but wish I’d put it underneath something so that so much of it couldn’t jump out and over-power these peachy pink tones.

Where it gets weird, but also intriguing for me, is the addition of the blacks.

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I don’t, by and large, have an issue with putting black in with florals. I think a little bit of black gives a good contrast in a quilt and it can help ground things and blah blah blah. It maybe feels like a lot of black, instead of just a little bit? Maybe too much. I don’t know. What I do know is that in the spirit of Sew My Stash, I’ve already got an idea for sewing this brand new part of my stash. A magazine I recently bought has a pattern that I think could work well and would maybe make the most of that too bright green and maybe once I see it all paired together, I’ll even like all that black and white in the mix. So I guess I should get to working on that… or maybe to finishing something else, so that I can justify starting something new!

I haven’t decided if I’m going to track my fabric purchases vs use for real… but if I manage to make a quilt top with that bundle of fabrics before the year is out, I’m counting it as a neutral in the great fight to use more and buy less. I could add three yards and take three right back out of the tally for the year. It’d practically be like I hadn’t bought it at all.

Linking up to Sunday Stash with Molli Sparkles.