Work-in-Progress Girl


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Sunday Stash: Heather Bailey and Hawthorne Hues Edition

So I was not a winner this past Giveaway Day at Sew Mama Sew or not a winner of stuff, anyway. Per usual, I found a bunch of new blogs to add to the rotation, even though some weeks I don’t have enough time to read all the blogs I already follow. (Fair question: how much more sewing would I get done if I spent less time reading about sewing?) Point being, that’s winning of a different kind, right? I like finding new blogs and new Canadian blogs (or just new to me ones). And also, I kind of won by finding this gorgeous pattern for the Infatuation quilt, which I bought right away (forget waiting to see if I’d win it or not… let’s face it, with 500+ entrants, I probably wasn’t going to!). I thought it would be perfect for using this bundle of Heather Bailey’s True Colors line that had stumbled into a Mad About Patchwork order some time ago.

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The bundle wasn’t quite big enough for the size quilt I want to make, so I started picking up some bits and pieces of Lottie Da, another line by Bailey, to add in with it. Here are a million and one (3) photos of the original line, plus the assorted Lottie Da prints I picked up:

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I didn’t plan it out very well because I got enough prints, but I didn’t get enough of the right sort of prints – I’ve got a spare one that doesn’t fit in, plus I need one busier print to go along with two of the blender prints. Each set of nine fabrics will make up three blocks – except the particularly leafy green one (in the bottom photo) won’t be in the quilt and… something else will be. It’ll probably be another butterfly print from Lottie Da, but I’ve ordered two choices so we’ll see what happens.

I was really undecided about what sort of background to use – I don’t want to pull in pure white (since the fabrics have an off-white background) and so I’d checked Hawthorne Threads to see what solids they recommended and they’d suggested a Michael Miller Cotton Couture grey as well as a few of their own Hawthorne Hues fabrics. I happen to know someone with a nice big stack of Hawthorne Hues in her possession – Michelle at Factotum of Arts – so I fired off an email to see what she thought of the fabric itself. You never quite know with solids – Cotton Couture and the Art Gallery Solids are probably the best feeling solids out there, Kona Cotton is nice to work with but less luxurious to touch, Moda Bella and I have had some tiffs in the past (omg the ripples in the fabric, even when I’ve neither pressed nor ironed), I’ve used solids from a local fabric chain store that was much thicker than quilt shop quality solids, but much more shred-happy… anyway, the point being, without actually seeing and touching the Hawthorne Hues, I was a bit nervous to buy 6 yards for a quilt backing.

Michelle was absolutely magnificent and didn’t just tell me what the fabric was like – somewhere between a Kona and a Cotton Couture in terms of feel – but also got out her own bundle of Heather Bailey’s True Colors line and photographed it up against a dozen or so different colours from the HH line and posted it for me on Instagram! She’s the awesomest! I can’t access IG right now (the last couple updates have made it so the app doesn’t function on my phone any longer), so I can’t show you all the photos she took for me, but from her selections I picked out three different Hawthorne Hues fabrics, plus a light grey Cotton Couture to audition for background fabrics.

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This orange solid from Hawthorne Hues, Pumpkin, was my total wild-card pick. I think it’s interesting and it lifts up everything and makes it all seem even brighter and happier than it already is… but oh my god does it scare me to think of 5 yards of quilt background done up in pumpkin orange. I don’t actually think I can do it!

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Jade, another Hawthorne Hues fabric, is probably my favourite choice. It’s lovely and not so overwhelming as I think orange would be… but I’ve got a finished quilt top that is almost this exact same colour (it’s done in cross-weaves, but it’s a very similar jade). It feels like I should do something different, just because I’ve done that colour before. (I should really get that quilt top basted and start quilting it…)

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Plum Azalea (I think? I’m questioning everything right now!) from Hawthorne Hues is my other favourite. It’s very, very similar to one of the colours from the True Colors line, which is a little scary, because I’d hate to piece it and have those purpley-pink prints kind of disappear against it, but look how the oranges and greens pop up off of it? Lovely.

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I keep calling this grey, but Michael Miller calls it Khaki. I picked this one up because I thought I’d be too scared by the bold colours and need something lighter to fall back on for the background… but it’s awfully dreary, isn’t it? Or maybe I should say that the only reason it doesn’t wind up dreary is that I cropped enough of the grey background out that you get drawn into the bright Lottie Da and True Color prints and sort of forget that background behind it.

But here’s the real issue with this colour:

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What’s that? You can’t tell what you’re looking at because it’s just a big sea of grey? Yeah. Kinda samey, isn’t it? Super duper samey.

I had bought these four colours so that I could do test blocks and see which I preferred, but then I got thinking about it and realized that if I do four test blocks, I’ll have sewn up a throw-sized test quilt! The blocks are 30″, it’ll be a 60″x60″ test! That’s an enormous test! (And yes, okay, I could do a maquette, quilt-style. But I’m not sure I could scale down the curved piece for a maquette.) So yeah, I haven’t quite decided what to do as far as that goes. I’ve got enough of the print and solid fabric to actually make 4 test blocks, so I technically speaking COULD do it… but if I put in that much effort just on the test, am I actually going to want to sew the quilt?

I do need to do at least one proper test block because there is curved piecing and that’s something I’ve never actually done before. Well, I say that. I’ve done it once before. I had gotten some swap blocks long, long ago and one of them was all curved piecing, but kind of badly done, so I pulled the block apart and sewed it together again, to fix the curves. But that was probably eight years ago and I was just fixing a block that had previously been sewn, it’s not like I was starting with crisp new fabric. And I think I did it by hand, which must also make a difference. Anyway, I do need to do at least one test, just to get a bit of curved piecing under my belt, maybe I’ll stop being so scared of it. But I’m not sure I want to do four test blocks. I dunno, I dunno.

Anyway, linking up with the always fabulous Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash:

Molli Sparkles

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Sunday (Scrap) Stash

So last week for Sunday Stash I started the slow reveal of all the stuff I bought from Hawthorne Threads in the month of Misbehaving March (I’ve decided it needs a name – February Fabric Fast Fail and Misbehaving March?). Part of it was due to a gift certificate from Michelle, but part of it was just me having grabby hands. Most of it was me having grabby hands, really, and I extended it by also buying some fabric from Warp and Weft, which remains one of the loveliest online fabric shops I’ve ever found. (Seriously, Esmari’s just got such interesting fabrics… things that you don’t really tend to find elsewhere. It’s a well-curated collection, I suppose.)

But today, I’m just going to keep on picking away at the Hawthorne Threads loot… I picked up a scrap bundle in the “Fresh” colourway. I’ve bought scrap packs from them quite a few times and for a long while now they’ve had them on sale – $6.99 for about 2 yards of scraps by weight – so it’s usually hard to resist. This time I got mostly larger scraps (some of these are over a quarter yard, close to a half yard I think, though I didn’t get out the ruler to check the width) and unfortunately I’m pretty split on liking it vs. not.

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Last week I showed you all those lime fabrics I bought… I felt a little like they continued the theme into my scrap pack choices! I am not the biggest fan of the Denyse Schmidt print, Pie Basket, from Hope Valley, but I think I’ve probably got a half yard of it in my stash somewhere! The print beside it, that lime green… poppy print feels like a Laura Gunn print, but I’m not sure that it is – the painted background says yes, but I can’t find confirmation anywhere. On the bottom left is Poppy Modern by Jane Dixon for Andover and on the right Turtle Parade by Patty Sloniger from her Les Amis collection. I just.. I wish Hawthorne Threads had separate packs for children’s fabrics. They’re cute, those turtles, but what on earth am I going to do with a 6″ x WOF strip of turtle fabric? A lot of that children’s fabric that I gave away on the last Sew Mama Sew Giveaway day actually came from Hawthorne Threads scrap packs.

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I really don’t like that big chevron top left. It’s from Riley Blake and the colours are probably significant to some American university or football team or both, but they’re horrible. That yellow and that green do not belong together on the same giant chevron print. Next up is a print from Rashida Coleman Hale’s Washi line… I don’t know what the name of it is, but I know it’s getting pretty hard to find. It’s cute, but you know… I never felt inspired to buy anything from that line. I’m certain I’ll use it, but I just didn’t care about it that much. And finally another chevron, this one from Robert Kaufman, though again I don’t know it’s name. I think I’m just bored of chevrons because meh. It’s rather too pink for me, though the green does liven it up a little, but on the whole I feel pretty meh about it.

The rest of this post is going to be devoted to the fabric and scraps that Mari-Ann (@rockislander on Instagram) sent me in exchange for a bunch of Mendocino scraps I sent to her. I think some of this she sent me just because, but we both left feeling like we’d got the better end of the deal, so I think that’s a sign of a pretty good swap.

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I don’t know what almost any of these are, though if anyone is particularly curious, I might be able to find out if you ask. My single favourite piece is the second in from the right on the top row. Love that one. If you go see my March Gypsy Wife blocks, you’ll see a bunch of these fabrics in action — the swap was kind of set up so that she would send me things I’d be able to use in the Gypsy Wife quilt, either bright fabrics like this, or more muted ones for my Lower Volume version.

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Again, I don’t know the names of any of this stuff, but they’re going to be great for the quiet Gypsy Wife. When Mari-Ann was showing me fabrics that she could send, I was surprised by how easy it was to love love love the bright fabrics and how much less easy it was with the low volume. I like every one of these fabrics, but they sure don’t set me on fire the way that hot pink one up above does. Maybe that’s why I keep thinking I have no low volume fabrics – they just sink back into the background until I forget they exist, even when I think they’re lovely.

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Old School Tula Pink! So old school it’s printed by Moda, this print is from her Hushabye line and when it came out I kept wibbling over it because I couldn’t figure out why or if I liked it at all and I never bought it, in any case, but now I have a half yard of it, so I’m going to have to find something fun and interesting to do with it!

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And finally, the awesome and luscious and wonderful Hive in Turquoise from Patty Young’s Flora and Fauna line, another oldie but goodie that nearly passed me by back in the day. I bought a bunch of it in a couple of the colours, but for some reason never bought any of the turquoise. Clearly I was nuts because this is so awesome.

Linking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash!

Tune back in next week for even more from my March Hawthorne Threads purchases. I’m trying (trying!) to let it be enough to talk about fabric I bought last month, so that I don’t break down and buy even more fabric this month. I’ve sort of decided I need to adjust my goal as far as this fabric diet goes, so that instead of trying to buy nothing just for the pat-myself-on-the-back of it, I need to have a particular goal in mind. And that goal is a new sewing machine.

I’ve wanted a new sewing machine for ages, but for a long time I worried that I’d give up on the sewing and then I’d have an expensive machine I never looked at. And then I started thinking, well, the one I’ve got isn’t special, but it sure does work and I couldn’t justify buying a second machine when the first one was functional. But facts is facts and I’d like a machine with at least one or two bells and whistles. My current machine is like… wood blocks and hand claps, so even just one bell and one whistle… I could be happy with that. So the new goal is… try not to buy fabric until the end of August (my birthday is at the end of August, so it feels like a good time to treat myself), and if I’m successful, then I’ll buy the new sewing machine then, rather than waiting until next year, which had kind of been my loose plan.

When I say one bell and one whistle…. that’s because I want a machine that’s pretty low tech, compared to some of what is out there. I’ve been leaning more and more towards getting a straight-stitch only machine. If I still have my old machine, I can use that for zig-zag if I need it (and I rarely use it, to be honest). The couple straight-stitch only machines I’ve read about – I haven’t sewn on one yet – have more harp space and needle down functions and come with an extension table (a much larger one than my current machine has) and more useful to me accessories and so on. They require a little more fiddling – you need to oil them frequently and you have to do all the tension adjustments manually (which I already do anyway) – but I’ve never wanted to pay for a bunch of embroidery functions I would never use or 399 stitch combinations or whatever else. I like the thought of a machine that isn’t 90% computer because omg do computers cause problems or what? (Also, they’re a lot cheaper than machines with all the stitch bells and computer whistles.)

Locally I could buy a Brother PQ-1500S or I could buy a Juki TL2010Q from a store in British Columbia (I’d have to go visit my aunt in BC and bully her into driving me into Richmond to try it out). In general, I’d prefer to buy local, so I’ll likely go try out the Brother one day and see what I think, because I do want to try before I buy, and if I like it well enough, I won’t even bother about the Juki (where would I get it serviced? am I going to go back to BC if something goes wrong or pay shipping to get it back there every time?). I hope, when the day comes, that I wind up liking it as much as I’m hoping I will, because I sure do hate trying to learn anything about sewing machines online. There’s so much mixed information out there and without actually trying a machine, you can’t use online opinions for much… there are as many people who love machine X as people who hate it, and that seems to hold true across pretty much all brands and all price points.

Anyway, yes. Running off at the mouth. So that’s my new goal – stop buying fabric, buy a machine sooner. Otherwise it’ll be August 2015 before I do and I’ll likely wind up changing my mind another half dozen times about all the potential sewing machines I could buy.


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Sunday Stash: Crash. Burn.

I’ve kind of been missing in action for a while – and the important things I’ve missed talking about: the winner of my giveaway was Sarah at Thrift Store Crafter and although I’d said the Gypsy Wife link-up would be happening here at the end of February, plans changed and it’s actually being held by Jo at Riddle and Whimsy – and that’s mostly because I sometimes wind up a depressed headcase in winter (I don’t say that to make light of depression, but to try to downplay it for myself a bit because I’ll do whatever I can to talk myself out of sinking further into all this), it’s a depressing season and I haven’t really been capable of doing much the last couple weeks. I’ve got a couple half written entries spanning all sorts of random topics (for example: why I don’t go look at the blogs of Dudes who favourite my blog – sorry if there are any dude quilters out there who have avatars that looks like ‘dude’ is the only appropriate word to describe them: you know, fedoras, sunglasses, goatees… – I just assume you’re all trying to sell me on your 10 point plan for making mad bank via blogging), but anyway… I’m back for now at least. Hopefully for a while. Hopefully I’ll even have something to talk about and show you that isn’t just fabric I’ve bought. Fabric I’ve illicitly bought. Fabric I’ve bought even though I’m on a fabric fast.

When I crash, I crash hard. Fair to say.

It all started on January 31. I was looking for a copy of the Gypsy Wife pattern because I wanted to run the aforementioned giveaway and I was hoping to find a copy that was actually in Calgary so that I wouldn’t have to have it shipped to me and then have to turn around and ship it away again – why pay shipping twice, you know? So anyway, I went to a local fabric store – Traditional Pastimes – which is (was?) doing a once monthly get-together for people working on Jen Kingwell patterns (Gypsy Wife and… the medallion one that I can’t remember the name of right now). I thought to myself that if they were doing a Wednesday night thing on the subject, then perhaps they’d have the patterns in stock. They didn’t, but as always happens when I walk into a brick and mortar fabric store, I got a bit sucked in.

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Just in the door they had a display of Parson Gray fabrics, the Vagabond line, and a gorgeous quilt using it, and then I conveniently remembered that I’d been buying some Parson Gray fabrics to eventually make a quilt for my dad and bam, 30 more FQs!

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It’s a kind of interesting line. There are a lot of bits of it that I don’t really love, but it works together really well and of course it’s a bit more masculine than your standard fabric choices. Which is exactly what I was aiming for. And I’m hoping that these prints will mix in with another FQ bundle of Parson Gray fabrics that I’ve got (World Tour) so that I can get a nice mix for the quilt, whenever I make it.

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I think I’ve at least half-ways settled on a quilt pattern, even, but I need to fiddle around with the concept. It’s a pattern by… Ashley of Film in the Fridge (oh, I hope I got her name right, wouldn’t I feel like a dick if I’ve misnamed her!) that was in a recent quilting magazine – Quilty? or something else… I bought two magazines in the same day and forget which it was in) which kind of looks like flags, I guess, or pennants, rather. But I want to make a paper-piecing pattern for it, rather than the pattern’s general idea of Just Wing It and Trim Off the Excess. I just can’t with all that fabric waste. Yeah, there’ll be a lot of weird, lost triangle points either way, but at least the background can be a bit less wasteful.

Anyway, then I kept looking, which wasn’t a great thought because a 30 FQ bundle is already a lot when I’m supposedly fabric fasting.

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Back when I’d been to Traditional Pastimes for the first time I’d run across this long quarter roll of fabric from the Styl Mod line by Newcastle Fabrics and I hadn’t bought it because I was trying to be well-behaved… (and that was BEFORE my fabric fast even started).

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I caved and bought it. Another 29 quarter yds/metres of fabric. And then, you know, since I had an uneven amount, 1 FQ short of a full 60 quarters…

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I bought a FQ of this Amy Butler print. From the way it was a folded, I thought it was a different AB print than it turned out to be. This one is Twilight Peony in Amaranth from Soul Blossoms. It’s not bad as florals go, but they’re still not generally my favourite type of print ever.

When I opened that last FQ up and realized it wasn’t the print I thought it was, I talked myself into finding (online) and buying the print I really, really loved so that I could use it for the backing of my Gypsy Wife quilt:

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Sketchbook in Spring from Alchemy. Love the colours, love the sketchiness of the print, just LOVE. Anyway, Hawthorne Threads didn’t have enough to back a whole quilt, so I bought what they did have and then decided that even though I didn’t love it as much, I could instead use the other colour way of the same print for the quilt backing:

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Sketchbook in Fresh. I did get enough of it to back a quilt, so that’s what I’m going to do. But the idea with buying quilt backings it that I’ll only buy backings for FINISHED quilt tops, not ones so far from finished it’s barely beyond the infancy of the idea! (Seven blocks do not a Gypsy Wife quilt make.) I’m still a bit back and forth on this blue and green version of this print. I find it appealing but strange. (And I have a huge hate for blue roses — they just spray/dye them that colour, it’s not like nature produces this sort of blue in a rose!)

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Anyway, since I was already shopping Hawthorne Threads, why not throw in a little bit of extra goodies? I had thoughts about these, but I forget what those thoughts were! I should really write these things down when I think I have a genius idea for something. (These will come back later, anyway, because there are certainly new plans for them.) These are World Tour and Belle, from Mr and Mrs Butler.

So my bad behaviour at Hawthorne Threads over, I turned my wicked eye toward Mad About Patchwork instead. Because my February Stash Bee block was posted and the recipient asked for something in the Radiant Orchid line…

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I didn’t have much that could even charitably be called Radiant Orchid, so I ordered these and then posted a photo on Flickr of the 3 or 4 choices I did have in my stash, which I was sort of hoping my recipient wouldn’t like, so that I could justify having bought these. My recipient did okay a couple of my choices and then when these arrived I decided that they were too pink from the top (Oval Elements in Crocus) and from the left (Diamonds in Raspberry from Tula Pink’s Acacia) and too green in the middle (Pixel Dot in Pomegranate, also from Acacia) and too lavender from the bottom (Deco Dots in Aster from Amy Butler’s Gypsy Caravan). So I wound up using my stash anyway.

Anyway, whenever I shop at Mad About Patchwork I always find myself adding extra because, you know, there’s a flat shipping rate, so I might as well get my money’s worth, right?

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Why not add a charm pack of Botanics? And the matching charm pack of Kona solids? (These were intended to be a giveaway for my 200th post, but it passed unceremoniously, so maybe I’ll save them for a different giveaway. Or maybe I’ll keep them, because I’ve been all about the Emerald Greens lately and there’s a colour I don’t really have in my stash. Like, at all.)

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And how about Pippa in Citron from Michael Miller’s Citron Gray. (Which, by the way, is not citron in colour at all.) Lovely.

You might think that was all that I managed to buy in my two day reign of fabric buying terror, but it wasn’t. No. No, I also hit up Etsy to see what could be seen from the Canadian sellers.

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I finally bought a collection of fabrics I’ve been eyeing (from a destash seller, Liette at Coudsdonc) for a long time. First up, 5″ strips of a selection of Nicey Jane prints. These strips are intended, eventually, for the Gypsy Wife quilt, where long pieces of fabric will become my friend. (Come December. But hey, let’s buy them in February!) The white is a half yard of a white on white dot from Lakehouse Fabrics – hard to photograph!

Also, I picked up a mixed lot of Atelier & Akiko prints from Lecien. I don’t know the name of the line/lines these came from, but first there are these four fabrics, which are not quilting cotton but feel like… I don’t know, kind of like gauze, I guess, so maybe this is double gauze fabric?

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I had been charmed by the hand-drawn, children’s art aspect of these fabrics, but as it turns out, I don’t really love them up close. The lines look kind of… like they were badly rendered. I don’t know. They’re kind of made of dashes or slightly jagged lines, rather than smoothly drawn lines. (Even accounting for crappy children’s drawing, it looks odd.) But it sort of looks (to my eye) like when you have a flaw in printing and every line is just ever so slightly offset so that nothing quite matches up. I don’t know.

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These are the regular cottons from the same line. Fat quarters and cut squares and all sorts of bits and pieces. I still like the idea of these ones, but I definitely like them better from a distance rather than up close where the jagged lines stand out so much to me.

So that was two days worth of Grabby Hands buying of fabric. I wish it had stopped there, but it didn’t. Because I mentioned at the top of my entry that I’ve been kind of depressed and I mentioned back in January that a part of the reason I want to fabric fast is that I often fabric shop when I’m depressed because it’s that brief high of Oh Pretty! which feels good for about five minutes, until I remember I actually have to pay for it all and then it just re-depresses me because it’s wasteful to shop just for those brief bursts of joy. Well. Let’s leave alone the ridiculous psychology of why people shop for happiness (because it IS a ridiculous cycle!) and instead look at some more of my later February purchases. There were only two, so I think that’s not too bad, but I wish there weren’t any, so that’s not great, but I’m trying not to beat myself up, so let’s just say I’ll do better in March.

First, I finally had an idea as far as the whole 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge, which I won’t talk about, lest I decide not to do it. This whole Radiant Orchid thing is really mystifying me because if you go to Pam’s Colour of the Year page at Mad About Patchwork and then compare the Pantone swatch on the lower left of the page to the photo at the top of the page…. there’s a whole world of difference between them! I don’t know which is the “right” colour and every single fabric I see that’s somewhere in that pinkish-red purple range somehow feels right until I compare it to either of those two images and then they just all seem wrong. Anyway…

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I still think none of these are quite right, but I’m planning to change their looks by heavy application of coloured threads. The print is Tangle in Lavender from Anna Maria Horner’s Dowry, and I think I probably won’t use it for this project. Too busy. The other three are Kaffe Fassett shot cottons in Grape, Granite, and Lilac. (Lilac is the palest colour, Grape the darkest.) I think I’ll just use the three shot cottons for this idea, with the binding in the darkest colour. The Dowry print… it intrigues me, as AMH prints often do, but also makes my brain hurt because it’s not the sort of thing I can really imagine using. I really don’t tend to buy these busy prints too often because I find it hard to mentally place them into projects. There is just so much going on that I can’t figure out how to give them room to breathe.

Anyway, I think I mentioned flat rates and always adding just a little more to “make it worth it” so…

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I also added Pam’s most recent Low Volume Bundle. From top left: Botanics Leaves in Curry, Botanics Graph Paper Garden in Curry, Stitch Squares in Sea, Pearl Bracelet in Glacier (LOVE!). And again from the left: Sun Print Text in Mulberry, White on White Basics Medium Dot from Riley Blake, Prisma Noir from Minimalista, and La Creme Swiss Dots in Red. I also bought a couple yards of an off-white Kona cotton… or maybe that was with the other Mad About Patchwork purchase, but either way it’s a basic and too boring to photograph.

And so was the couple yards of Moda Bella cotton I bought in an off-white from Fat Quarter Shop along with these two half yards:

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On the left is Cherry Candy in Robin’s Egg from Fig Tree & Co.’s Avalon line and on the right is Mezzanine in Seashell and Coral from Fig Tree & Co.’s Tapestry line. These didn’t photograph too well, the blue should be more blue and the off-white should be more creamy.

And that, my friend’s are the full depths to which I crashed this month on the whole Fabric Fast. But as I said somewhere in all this mess: I’ll do better in March.

Linking up with Sunday Stash, hosted this week by Sarah at Mila + Cuatro and Fabricholics Anonymous:

Molli Sparkles FabAnon


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Gypsy Wife Quiltalong – February Blocks and Giveaway

Are you participating in the Gypsy Wife Quilt-a-long? I hope so! It’s a gorgeous quilt and I think it’s going to be a lot of fun putting it together. I’m still hoping to hook in a few more people to join us on this Gypsy Wife Quilt-along; we’re still so early in the process that you could very easily jump in! We’re doing just a handful of blocks each month, so even a couple months from now it would still be pretty easy to join in without being too far behind. (Here is the schedule if you want to see what’s coming and just how easy it’ll be to sew along with us.) As someone with 30+ somewhere-in-progress projects sitting around, I know how hard it is to add another one, but… I also know how very fun it is. (I wouldn’t have 30+ unfinished projects if starting new things weren’t the funnest thing there is!) So why not join us? You can still pick up the pattern from Westwood Acres or Modern Quilter or Queen Bee Fabrics or Vintage Modern Fabrics or probably a dozen other places.

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This month we’re sewing one Colour Wheel block and six 4-in Pinwheel Blocks. (Four of the six pinwheel blocks will become 6.5″ unfinished blocks by adding sashing.) Here are mine:

Gypsy Wife blocks - Colour Wheel
Gypsy Wife blocks
Gypsy Wife blocks

First up is Pattern Errata: There’s a tiny mistake on the Colour Wheel block — the bottom centre unit is missing it’s quarter square triangle. Not much of a mistake, just helpful to fill in the lines for when you’re laying out the block; my repair is shown here in blue.

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In any case, I thought I’d offer up a few tips for sewing these as accurately as possible.

Colour Wheel block
There’s a lot of seams sewn on bias cuts in these blocks and that can mean stretched fabric and wonky sized blocks. Usually I try to minimize sewing on a bias cut by doing two units at a time (ie. leaving the squares intact and sewing a quarter inch on either side of the centre line, then cutting it in half and getting two units). You can’t really do anything about the about the units in the middle of each outer row/column, but if you’re willing to make your block with only two main colours, rather than four, you can eliminate the potential stretch on the four outer corners:

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I’ve skipped over a lot, there, but you’d cut the background and centre fabrics as described in the pattern. The outer corners would be sewn as in my picture, but the rest you’d proceed as in the pattern.

I wanted mine as scrappy as possible, so I did something else entirely: I sewed mine with paper underneath. I didn’t think to take photos of this when I was working on my blocks, so I’m going to show you while sewing some pin wheel units. The principle is exactly the same, the pieces are just a little larger in the Colour Wheel.

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I sewed mine onto paper meant for foundation piecing, but you could also use regular printer paper; I just happened to have this in my sewing room. All I’ve done is put my triangles right sides together, laid the unit on top of the paper at the left edge, and then sewed it 1/4-in from the edge. I also dropped my stitch size to 1.5 on my machine – not as small as I’d use for paper piecing, but smaller than I use for regular piecing. It’ll help keep your seam tight when you pull out the paper (though I do that very carefully anyway).

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The reason I specified stitching it from the left is this — I like to do several in a row without pulling the units off each time. When I have a longer piece of paper, I’ll do more down the length of the paper first.

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When you take off the paper, you want to fold it back against the seam to help break the perforation. Tear in from the edge of the paper to the first hole of the perforation, then holding one side down tightly, pull gently on the other side of the paper so that it’ll pull away. Once that strip is gone, grasp hold of the fabric unit and gently tug it away from the rest of the paper. Don’t pull it up or down from the paper, just tug it gently to the side – that’ll help keep your stitches in place. Press along the seam line with a nice hot iron after removing the paper and that’ll help tighten up the stitches again too.

Another option is just to pin the crap out of it. I know pinning is boring and feels like a waste of time, but any time you’re sewing on a bias cut is a great time to pin pin pin. It’ll help save your fabric from the feed dogs pulling and stretching the fabric out of whack.

Okay, and my final tip with this block, and with all the pin wheels: TRIM YOUR UNITS. After you press your units, trim them down to size. There’s not much excess, but any little bit that’s there can throw things off; a little extra here plus a little extra there always adds up to weird sized/shaped blocks. I know because for years I ignored the trimming thing, and then one day I didn’t and things started coming together the way they’re meant to. It’s like angels suddenly singing over your quilt blocks, the way things go together after a good trim.

Pin Wheels
Okay, so there are a lot of ways to make a pin wheel block and I’m going to go over a few of them here. It really depends how scrappy you want your blocks and your quilt to be – I’ve done a couple blocks with only two fabrics, but the rest are at least a little more scrappy than that.

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If you want them to be completely scrappy (ie. 8 different fabrics per block), then I’d sew them like I did above – on paper. You can use the four remaining triangles from your Colour Wheel block (you’ll have to trim them down – just cut one new triangle at the proper size, lay it on top of those spare triangles, and trim the larger ones to match the smaller) or cut 8 new squares of fabric, cut them in half, and then start sewing them all back together. Save those other eight triangles for something else or mix them in with still more triangles so that the fabrics get spread around across multiple blocks.

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Or you can cut a 4.5 inch square out of another fabric and sew four of the spare triangles onto the straight sides to create another pin wheel worth of units. Likewise, you can use a charm square – there’ll be a little waste in either case, but not too much. This method helps deal with the problem of bias cuts – if you keep your charm square on the bottom, you’ll be sewing on the straight of grain, so there’ll be less chance of stretched block units.

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If you use something busy enough (like that orange and blue Amy Butler print) you might be able to make at least part of it look like it’s a different fabric entirely. (That blue and green triangle? Came from the exact charm square shown in the previous picture, same as all the orange/blue prints in the block.)

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For a less scrappy block (two fabrics) you have two options. First, you can cut 2 squares in each of 2 fabrics, sew them together on either side of the centre diagonal, cut down the middle of each, and be left with 4 units to make one block.

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Or you can sew together two 4 1/4″ squares. You want to throw a couple pins in the middle of this one and then stitch around the outside, 1/4-in away from the edge. If you draw on your diagonal lines, you can stop when you reach the line, pivot and continue around the square. (In fact, you should do this, otherwise you’ll have to do like I did and unpick those couple extra stitches in that last quarter inch.) Next, cut on the diagonal in both directions to create 4 units. They units will be about 1/8-in too large, so you’ll definitely have to trim them down to size.

And I think that’s all the ways I know to make pin wheels. (Except one that makes two blocks at a time, but I didn’t want two identical blocks in my quilt, so I didn’t use it!)

This is kind of a SUPER long post, but I hope there’s been something useful in here for making your own Colour Wheel and Pin wheel blocks! Pop back over in the last week of February and I’ll be hosting a link up and giveaway for everyone’s finished blocks. You can stick photos in the flickr group as you make them – I know we’d all love to see them!

Giveaway
If you haven’t joined up with us because you don’t have the pattern yet, I’m also offering a giveaway of the pattern book this week! Leave a comment below if you’d like to join in and I’ll enter you into the draw. I’ll draw the winner a week from today and get the pattern sent out to you as quickly as possible.

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If you’re already participating, that should be reward enough ;D Just kidding… sort of. There’ll be a link up at the end of the month and everyone who links up their completed blocks will be entered to win that giveaway! Michelle has been hard at work lining us up some sponsors: Hawthorne Threads will be furnishing a prize in December and Fat Quarter Shop is providing us with a few prizes to spread out through the year! These are two of my favourite fabric shops, so it’s extra exciting to have them help us celebrate making this brilliant quilt.

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