Gypsy Wife – February Wrap-Up

So I never did get around to posting my last blocks for February and it’s already a week into March! February was kind of a wasted month, craft-wise, for me, but I did get a big burst of things done right at the end of the month, including a second set of February blocks all in lower volume fabrics.

Gypsy Wife - Feb blocks

I spent a lot of January toying with the idea of a low volume Gypsy Wife quilt – it’s such a vibrant, kind of crazycakes quilt that I started to wonder what would happen if you turned everything down a notch. Or ten. And so I put together this block (actually, even before I finished my brights version I’d done this one). It’s very pastel, at least in the centre, and that’s not something I really have a huge amount of in my stash, but I do have a lot of neutrals, so I’m cautiously committing myself to two versions of this quilt. (Cautiously because I’m a little afraid I’ll hit some point where I can’t keep up with two versions, and this will be the one to get put on hold, or converted to a baby quilt or something if I have enough blocks, or I won’t have enough interesting fabrics to make a lower volume version.)

Gypsy Wife - Feb blocks

I keep saying “lower” volume, rather than “low” because I’m not quite sure where to draw the line on what is low volume and what is… just quieter or greyer than a lot of the particularly bright, clear colours I have. Just for some examples, when I was looking through my fabrics, I thought the gold in that honeycomb print was sort of… near enough to a neutral that it wouldn’t read too dark/too loud, but it feels a lot darker than anything in the colour wheel block. Or say that tan print in the lower right block – doesn’t it seem kind of dark? The red and the blue on the bottom left also seem just Too Much, even though they both seemed to be very white-heavy prints when I choose them. I guess with those particular prints, it’s partly that I was looking at a larger piece of fabric and then happened to land on cuts that actually contained more of the colour and less of the white space – so I do need to be more conscious of what the fabric will look like when it’s a very small piece, placed into something else. And I need to remember too all of these are just rather small pieces in something that will be much larger, so they might not feel too dark or too bright once they’re surrounded by all the other things.

Gypsy Wife - Feb blocks

A lot of these fabrics were fished out of my scrap bins and I’m trying to make a conscious effort to use even the uglies – skip back up one photo and look at that truly horrendous pink floral or even this one here with the ladybug: that print has SNAILS on it (one of my most horrifying sense memories was stepping barefoot on a slug squish and even though snails have shells, I still associate them with slugs and that revulsion I still feel when I think of stepping on it – I’m come from a very dry place where slugs are NOT a going concern, it’s possible I didn’t even know they existed and that running around barefoot in British Columbia in a grassy backyard was a Bad Idea). I’m trying to remind myself that even the uglies can have a place in a quilt, but man is it hard to look at some of those prints and feel okay about mixing them in there!

Beginnings of two #quilts -- lowish volume and loud for the #gypsywifequiltalong

These are all my blocks so far – brights and quietish. I guess we’ll see where all this goes!

I need to run for work, but I want to offer up a link to a spreadsheet I spent a ridiculous amount of time building, which can be found here that shows all the blocks in the Gypsy Wife quilt with their name, size in quilt (so your loose blocks should be 1/2-inch larger than this), page location in the booklet, month we’ll be sewing them, and (more importantly for me!) what section of the quilt you can find them in. Here’s a small section of it below:

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I’m planning to “file” all my blocks in large envelopes by section as they get made (since they’ll overtake my design wall before too long, especially if I keep up making two versions!) so I wanted to know exactly which section each block belong in. Maybe you’ll find this useful too!

Finally, I really, really need to go, but I want to remind everybody about all the incredible, awesome sponsors we’ve got for this quiltalong!

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Spoonflower

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Oakshott Fabrics

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gypsy-hawthornehues


Hawthorne Threads

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Fresh Modern Fabric

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Fat Quarter Shop

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Cucire: Fine Fabrics & Sewing Notions

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Crimson Tate

gypsy-aurifil


Aurifil

March 30/30 Sewing Challenge and A Lovely Year of Finishes

So, Sarah at Berry Barn Designs is running this 30/30 Sewing Challenge, which is a challenge to spend at least 30 minutes a day for 30 days sewing. I’ve seen this kind of challenge before and I’ve thought about joining them before, but I typically run into problems when I work night shifts – I’m basically a zombie for those three days and spend a lot of time sitting or lying around not doing much. I don’t like it, but it’s really hard to change your schedule that much for just three days and then to switch back to the day shift again immediately. But I’m going to try it anyway. I’m not sure what I’ll get done – I don’t think I’ve ever dedicated that much of my time to sewing (typically I do most of my sewing on my weekends off and then spend most of the day at it) – so I’m going to have a few different projects I’d like to work on, but I expect this will evolve a little as time goes by.

1. 2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge

2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge...

I haven’t started this one and you can probably guess from all that thread that it’s going to be a lot of hand-work involved. This is due Mid-March, so this is going to be top of my pile and also my Lovely Year of Finishes project for March. (I didn’t even start on my February goal – the entire month was pretty much a loss as far as crafting goes.) I don’t want to give away too much with this project, so you probably won’t see more than this until it’s actually finished and ready to submit.

2. The Acacia Quilt

Super Simple Acacia Patchwork Quilt

I need to piece the backing for this and then get it basted and quilted. I was going to tie it, but the more I think about it, the more I want to quilt it instead. And kind of free motiony. Even though that scares me. But this is a quilt for me, so I shouldn’t be so scared of making mistakes – I don’t need to let anyone see it up close! Also, getting this done will fill one of my 2014 goals of actually making something from a Craftsy class! (It was a free Craftsy class, but it still counts. And eventually I’ll work on something from one of my paid classes. I’m thinking about one the quilts from Camille Roskelley’s Pre-cut Piecing Made Simple.

3. Continue on with the Layer Cake Sampler Quiltalong

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I think it’s just every two weeks that these blocks are released, so it’s not a huge time commitment for March, but I’m just going to put it up here. I don’t want to crap out on (yet another) quiltalong/block of the month type project. I’ve had this layer cake of Basic Grey’s Eva fabric sitting around for a very, very long time, so it’s nice to finally settle on a use for it. (I’m using Moda Bella yardage for the white and… I don’t really like it. You can see a lot more slubs in the fabric than in Kona cotton and it feels and looks thinner.)

4. Mini Quilt Made from Spare Stash Bee block

Smallish Badly Sewn Swoon block

This was my first attempt at the Dutch Rose/Swoon block for my Hive #12 Bee-mate at Stash Bee. It doesn’t show so much in this photo, but it’s slightly too small in some areas, slightly too large in others, has an unbelievable amount of wrinkles (seriously, if you lay it out flat on a table, you can slid your finger under some of the units without it making a noticeable difference elsewhere). It was a mess and so I had to remake it for the Bee, but now I have this big 16-inch quilt block, so I think I’m going to use it as a free motion quilting experiment. It’s a mess, so I shouldn’t get too upset if I mess it up further, right? I want to try just a basic stipple with it, something I’ve never really done successfully, but I’ve only tried on really small samples, so maybe having something a bit bigger to work on will be useful.

I could probably come up with other things, but I’ll leave it here! It’s definitely enough to get started with. I think I’ll probably expand my definition of this particular challenge to include all the parts of crafting – by which I really mean to say that I’m going to include basting, because that’s going to take a lot of time and I probably won’t want to do that AND 30 minutes of sewing in the same day, unless I happen to do it on a weekend day off – but I like to play fast and loose with rules like that. (Much like I’m playing fast and loose with the Fabriholic Anonymous rules by very seriously contemplating trading fabric for giftcards instead of selling the fabric directly because giftcards I can spend on fabric and cash I can’t…..) (Talk me out of this one, won’t you?)

By the by, sorry for all the Instagram photos. I couldn’t find my proper camera this morning, so I IGed everything instead. I had to do a little creative editing with a couple of them to try to get the colours the right shades, but I don’t think I’ve been terribly successful. Oh well.

Speaking of Instagram, you can follow me there @clumsykristel. And I’m hoping to post a daily update there on my 30 in 30 goals along (of course) with my weekly updates for the challenge.

Random Thursday

I have eleventy billion comments to respond to and also I need to go to bed because I work a night shift tonight and want to at least get a couple hour’s nap in before then and also I need to do laundry and vacuum and take out recycling to the bin and and and so here’s a bit of random bits and pieces:

1. My goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes, February:

Hexaquilt
Acacia

Baste both these quilt tops. I feel like that’s not very ambitious, but I know myself and if I say “Baste Quilt and Bind” for even one of them… I probably won’t get it done. I just hope I have enough pins to do both tops. (I’m thinking I might, maybe, possibly, try to quilt the Acacia quilt instead of tying it like I’ve been saying. But we’ll see. If I do tie it, I’m thinking I should just tape it down and tie it while it’s on the floor instead of pin-basting first then tying it. Tying is basically just basting anyway, just slightly more securely and one hopes with longer lasting results.)

FreeSpirit Garden FQ Pack

2. Craftsy Mystery Box Saga

The end of the Craftsy Mystery Box saga. If you remember, I’d asked to have 6 additional FQs sent out to me to complete my order. The terminally chipper Bob sent me this 20 FQ pack of FreeSpirit Garden fabrics. It’s not exactly what I’d have picked out, if I’d picked out my own replacement fabric, but it’s fabric I’ll use and some of it I even like quite a lot. (There’s lots of fabric in the world I wouldn’t buy but like well enough. This is some of it.)

Sherlock and Watson charms

3. Fandom Stuff

I bought some Sherlock charms from RedBowTie on Etsy. I’ll talk more about that later, though. In the background of the picture is some fabric I bought, printed to look like the wallpaper in the lounge/living room at 221b Baker Street. I’ll talk more about that later too.

4. Hey, it’s Kristel in person!

I haven’t posted one of these here in a while. If you’re curious what’s up with the Sherlock stuff, you could watch the video. But it’s 12 minutes. And I say um a lot. So, you know. Entirely up to you 😀 Also, if you’re curious what the video is about, me and some friends on Livejournal post Talk to Me Tuesday videos on as many Tuesdays per year as we can manage. I aim for one every other week, but sometimes do them more often than that and sometimes less often. This one I recorded today… I’m behind on EVERYTHING this week.

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.

gypsywife

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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Print

Ramble Ramble (Random Thursday)

So it’s been a little while. I’ve been sewing, though, so I figure it’s all good! I meant to post last week, but then I just didn’t have anything to show and I didn’t even work on reorganizing my sewing room, so then I was going to post over the weekend, but it was my weekend off and I was actually sewing and no way was I stopping just to write a blog post. And then this has been a weird, weird week. I normally work a really set schedule, but I had a first aid course to attend on Tuesday (which shifted my work day by 3 hours from 6 AM to 9 AM) and then I had a training thing on Wednesday (which shifted my work day by 3 hours) and at least when I’m working my normal 6-2:30, I can get home when there’s still a drop or two of sun in the sky, but coming home after 5 pm means it’s already dark enough not to make photo taking virtually impossible.

I used to take photos of everything with flash because fuck it, what else can I do? But I’ve been trying to be at least a little better with my picture taking. And to that end, I asked my mom to buy me a light box for Christmas. Which yay, lightbox! But I can’t get enough light into it! I can clamp lights onto the table for either side, but I don’t have any lamps high enough to get above it and the lighting in my sewing room is unbelievably terrible (I could take off the light cover, which would help a little, but it’s not the most attractive of looks, having a bare bulb), so even the light box isn’t helping too much! (I’ve been trying to use one of the clamp on lights from the top and one from the left and then tilting my sewing lamp in from the right, but the angle is all wrong and the lamp on top is too heavy and it rests right on the light box surface, so it doesn’t really diffuse the light properly. Basically I’m winding up with kind of yellow photos and still having shadows where shadows ought not to be. A couple of Giveaway Day’s ago I won a pdf guide to photography from someone, but do you think I can find that file now?

Anyway, on the subject of Giveaway Day – I never did find a good entry to pop this in, but if I’m calling this one random, then why not now? (Finally!) This December I won a giveaway from Stephanie at Simple Sewendipity!

Heat Pad

How pretty is that? It’s a heating pad with lavender in it and it just smells unbelievably delicious. You microwave it to heat it up and then just apply wherever needs some extra warmth. Lovely! (I kind of want to pull it off the heating pad, though, and just hang it up in my sewing room it’s so pretty!)

Right, so, weekend sewing. I started out by pulling a long-standing WIP off the design wall:

Design Wall

I think I started this one about two years ago and I love it immensely, but it just seems like so much work every time I think about it! (It’s all with inset seams and it just gets heavier and harder to put in the bricks each time.) I’m a little worried it’s going to fade since it gets a shot of sun every day, and also it’s kind of made my design wall useless to me. So time to go.

Now this is all that’s up there:

Design Wall

Two of these are going away because they’re bee blocks. The other is my first Gypsy Wife block – just testing things out!

Hive 12: January Block

This is my first Stash Bee block, for Heather at Quilts in the Queue. This block was paper-pieced in the centre and then it’s just a sea of white around. I had to make this one twice – the first one when I was pressing it, suddenly came up with two dots of that blue water-erasable ink, which was a bit weird because I hadn’t been using the stuff! It didn’t come off with water like it usually does, so I thought it was going to be garbage and I rotary cut off the white from the sides so that I could trim it down into sizes useful for remaking the block. About an hour later, one of the dots had disappeared and now the second one has gone away, so I don’t know what that was all about. I still have that extra centre unit, but it’s got a 1/4 inch border of white sewn on and I’m not sure it’ll be easy to get off – I’d left on the paper and so I’d used a tiny little stitch to sew it down, and I don’t relish the thought of ripping all those little stitches.

Aeneous - January block

And this is my last block for the Simply Solids group on Flickr, for Laura at Waffle Kisses. This block uses this herringbone tutorial from Bijou Lovely and I think it comes out pretty great looking. I’m really happy with this one and hope the recipient will be happy too.

I also sewed up an entire quilt top, which you can see on Instagram (I’m @clumsykristel), but I haven’t been able to take a proper decent shot of it. It’s too big to tape to the wall for a photo and my yard is such a snowy mess that I can’t take it out and pin it to the fence either. Anyway, hopefully the backing material will arrive soon and then I’ll be able to take a finished photo! (I hope!)

Linking up with Really Random Thursday and Let’s Bee Social:

randomeer
LinkyBees

A Lovely Year of Finishes: January Goal

If you saw my post the other day about why I’m Fabric Fasting, then you may have also seen those ginormous lists of WIPs and wish-they-were-in-progress projects. I don’t have any delusions about finishing all of those before the end of 2014, but I’d really, really like it if I could knock at least a few off the list. And, ahem, maybe start fewer new projects for once. I don’t want to start with all the easy ones (ie. all the small projects :D), but I also want to be realistic about what I can finish in any given amount of time. So I think I’m going to try to set a few monthly goals, something realistic given the time I tend to devote to sewing and something a little bigger and a bit more pie in the sky. My Lovely Year of Finishes goals will always be the realistic ones, because they seem pretty focussed on the idea of having manageable goals, and I can get behind that!

January goals

So January. For January, my ALYoF goal is the starred one – to finish my Sunshine cushion cover.

Sunshine pillow

It’s further along than this picture implies, but I’m still back-and-forthing on whether or not to pick out that embroidery and do it again in a darker thread. (Orange seems a good choice.) On the one hand, I love the stitching and think it came out beautifully and am loathe to pick out something that came out so good on the first go around. On the other hand, it nearly blends into that yellow and if it’s not readable, who cares how good it looks?

For my other goals/hopes, the bee blocks are a given. I have to do them (because I don’t want to be a jerk who reneges on her promises) and in fact hope to get them done today. One is a very simple paper-pieced block with large amounts of negative space surrounding it, and the other is a fairly simple herringbone-style block.

Cat-vent Quilt-along

For the Catvent quilt, I’ve got two rows almost competely finished. I’m tossing around the idea of making only three (rather than 5) rows of faces and using some of my Mad About Patchwork giftcard to buy some of the Catnap fabrics whenever they arrive and piece in chunks of those in place of making all 25 blocks. I don’t know. I was enjoying piecing all those blocks and choosing all kinds of different scraps to go into it, but it’s not a project I’m super devoted to, it was just an entertaining diversion; so is it worth putting a lot of time into? I don’t know. It’ll be good for practising some quilting, though, once it’s all pieced together.

Confetti quilt

Okay, and the Confetti Go Lucky quilt. I don’t seem to have any half-decent pictures of it, but the top is pieced and the backing is pieced, so I just need to get it basted and start quilting it. This is my pie in the sky goal because I know it’s going to be the most amount of work, and thus the hardest to devote myself to doing. If there’s anything to be learned from my 2013 year in review, it’s that I do a lot of small things and very few large things, and I think it’s because I let these big projects intimidate me and then I just put them off indefinitely. I want to give this to my mom though, preferably for her birthday, which is February 7, so I really need to get it quilted if that’s going to happen. (Realistically, they won’t come to visit until late in February, so I’ll probably have some time.)

So, if tl;dr… I’m linking up to A Lovely Year of Finishes with a goal of finishing the Sunshine cushion cover. Anything else will be gravy.

Confetti-Go-Lucky Quilt

Yeah, I don’t know what to call this quilt, but the fabric is from the Happy Go Lucky line and the quilt pattern is called Confetti.

Confetti quilt

The first five blocks are pretty much a variation on this: two joined hexies and one lonely one floating on an enormous, mostly empty block.

Confetti quilt

I won’t show all five blocks. But they’re all pretty similar – one hexie in one quadrant and a set of hexies in the opposite quadrant. I tried to make sure none of the blocks had the exact same placement, so hopefully they’ll seem a bit like confetti tumbling around.

I’m only just working on the next four blocks, and haven’t stitched down the hexies yet.

Confetti quilt

I’m off-and-on quite nervous about that backing fabric, which is a Kaffe Fassett shot cotton (I think in Jade, though I forget the colour name for certain). It’s not a colour that really appears in the line at all, but somehow it just seems to work sometimes. And then sometimes I’ll look at it another way and be convinced that it can’t possibly come together. I’m sure it’ll be fine, though I can’t begin to imagine what colour thread I should use to quilt this. (The backing is going to be largely navy – the navy print with the multi-coloured pom-pom dandelion things. The binding I’m undecided on – I ordered two different fabrics to test against the shot cotton, one which dark grey on light grey and the other which is I think dark blue on light blue.) Maybe I’ll just use a variegated grey – I know I’ve got a new spool of that and it wouldn’t stand out too much in any case. Dunno. It’s going to be at least another week before the backing fabric arrives – I hope it’ll work, because it’s getting a bit difficult to find Happy Go Lucky fabric (in large quantities, that is), and I don’t really want to use the shot cotton as a quilt backing. Things to think about, anyway.

Bee Blocks and a Hexie Quilt

It’s been a while since I did a Work-in-Progress Wednesday post, so I thought it was time I did it again. I’m so tired tonight, though, that I’m not sure I’ll stay awake long enough to get it written and posted! (Sometimes if I write when I’m particularly tired, I’ll start drifting off and find myself with two or three lines of …………………………….. or I’ll start typing the things I’m thinking about, rather than the things I’m trying to write about. (So, I don’t know. There’s a dvd case on the floor in my eye line for the tv show Michael: Tuesdays and Thursdays and maybe instead of talking about Exactly What I Think About Hexagons, I’ll switch mid-sentence to something about how disconcerting it is that Carlos is actually Indian. Or whatever. Tired=babbling=random nonsense. Sorry.)

Anyway, first up, things I finished this weekend and haven’t mailed yet, but really should:

My last block for my Birthday Blocks group on Livejournal:

LJ Birthday blocks for Cat

It doesn’t look it, but this is a block for making a Pineapple-style quilt. It feels incomplete without the other three blocks to create the pattern! This was created for Cat, who requested this block with white on white and scrappy blues, greens, and browns. The pattern also lets you create a kind of bonus block, using the off-cut bits, so here is that second block:

LJ Birthday blocks for Cat

I don’t know if Cat actually wants this block, but she’s getting it anyway! If you want to make your own set of these two blocks, you can find the pattern here at Quiltville (and you can see how it looks when you multiply the block across a quilt).

And then my November block for the Simply Solids swap on Flickr:

Aeneous - November block

Man was this not a happy block to make. There are parts of this block I stitched and then picked out, twice, before it finally looked good. And it does look so lovely, but there are 4 layers of fabric in the centre (6 where the lip of the cathedral window is sewn over), so you can imagine just how thick that central patch is. (Especially when you start thinking about how many layers are contained in the seams in the centre!) I like how this looks, but can’t quite imagine it as a block in a quilt. Maybe the recipient will cut out all those extra layers from the background… I don’t know.

Anyway, we got our instructions for December early, so here is my December block as well:

Aeneous - December block

I just don’t know WTF I was thinking when I chose that fluorescent green OR that mint green. I rather think anything would have been a better option than those two colours. My only defence is that the lighting is very bad in my sewing room and if it’s dark outside, the overhead light makes it hard to see what’s what. Anyway, it’s going into a quilt with a mishmash of colours, so I’m hoping it’ll just sort of… blend.

In any case, those things are finished now, so the work-in-progress part of this post is the hexie quilt I’m working on.

Hexagon beginnings

I’m using two honeycomb packs of Bonnie & Camille’s Happy Go Lucky line, and I finally, finally sorted out the issue of how to deal with the hexies. I didn’t want to have to trace a bunch of hexagons onto the roll of freezer paper I’ve got, but when I tried buying papers from… that company that makes pretty much all the English Paper Piecing shapes you’ll stumble over on the Internet, the ones I was sure would fit were actually too small. So I bought some freezer paper sheets, ones that are cut to printer paper size, and then I worked out how to get two of the shapes to fit onto a single sheet of paper. And then I got to work centring and pressing on all those freezer paper hexagons. I think they’re just a hair too large (I should have trimmed off all the black outline of the shape, I think, rather than leaving it on), so before I reuse those papers, I’m going to trim off those little extra bits. There’s a little less than a quarter-inch of fabric in my seam allowances, and I’d hate for any of these to blow out when I wash the finished quilt.

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And here’s a shot part way through folding over and pressing down all the edges. Bit of a dull job that, but I did get finished five sets of three, which is exactly what I need for the first five blocks of V And Co’s Confetti quilt.

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Now that I’ve got 5 blocks worth of hexagons dealt with, the next bit will be cutting out the 24.5-inch square blocks that I’ll those hexagons will get stitched to. I haven’t used it before, but I’m planning to sew them down using water soluble thread so that I can quilt it down properly later on without having existing stitching interfering with anything.

Anyway, I was typing about home inspections a few moments ago (what? what?! what!?!), so I think that means I’m too tired to be lucid any longer tonight! Time for bed.

Pushme Pullme quilt top

Back in September, Michelle of Factotum of Arts and Squeek Crafts debuted a new pattern she’d created for a block that used nested arrows. Then called This Way That Way, the block plays with value and kind of tessellating pattern to create a really neat design that’s almost like an optical illusion: if you look at it one way, the In arrow stands out and the rest fades into the background, but if you refocus your eye, the opposite occurs and the Out arrow stands out. When Michelle was looking for pattern testers, I was only too happy to help!

Push Me Pull Me quilt top

Michelle has made several blocks in a (mostly) monochromatic colour scheme, using dark and light value blues with white and grey borders, so I wanted to try something a little bit different, to see how it would work out using fabrics with varying colours (not that I went so wild with that, sticking primarily to shades of blue and green, all from the same line). So I made four Pushme Pullme blocks using 8 prints from Denyse Schmidt’s Florence line of fabrics and five different shades of Kona cotton for the borders. (The darkest blue is Nightfall, but the other four were pulled out of a design roll of “New Colours” from… several years ago. I don’t know what their colour names are.)

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I did all the blocks one at a time (rather than chain piecing the units of multiple blocks) and they took me a little longer than an hour per block – I’m a pretty slow sewist, though, and was also watching a new-to-me movie at the time (“Highway 61”), which was a bit more distracting than I prefer when I’m sewing. Still, they come together very easily. I had been a little concerned about matching up the cross in the centre of the blocks, but that didn’t give me any trouble either.

The blocks are a bit larger than standard – 15 inches finished – which is nice for quilt making because it sizes up a quilt nicely without having to add sashing or borders. My blocks came out a touch small – about 15.25″ rather than 15.5″ unfinished. The centre unit was the correct size in every case, but I didn’t measure anything after that, so I think I ate up an eighth of an inch with each of my borders. I rarely sew with a scant seam, but I think I probably should have in this case!

Push Me Pull Me

Regardless, I love the finished top! (And my obligatory wind-blown shot, since I can’t seem to manage a photo shoot in my backyard without it!) I think it turned out as well with my (controlled) blend of colours and prints as it did in Michelle’s monochromatic version, and I think it’d work also with a more chaotic blend of colours as well. I’m imagining a child’s quilt with rainbow blocks, for instance. As long as you maintain the value differences, I think it’ll work out with nearly anything.

I was really hoping to have this quilt entirely finished in time for the mini-blog hop for this pattern, but I got held up making the backing for the quilt. I’m using four more prints from Florence for the back and was going to have a blue cross through the centre to break it all up and to mimic the sashing a little bit, but I went and cut my Florence prints an inch too small all around and so I need to re-cut the blue cross to be a little larger, so that it’ll still be big enough. Anyway, hopefully I’ll finish it up soon. I’m thinking about putting hanging tabs on the back and putting this one up on an empty wall in my bedroom.

In any case, definitely head over to Factotum of Arts, where Michelle is hosting a giveaway and then go check out the posts of my fellow testers. I haven’t seen what they’ve made yet, but I’m willing to bet they all look amazing!

Ashley at Wasn’t Quilt in a Day
Mara at Secretly Stitching
Sarah at Sarah Quilts

Bits and Bobs

I had a to-do list this weekend that felt a mile long. It really wasn’t, but it just FELT like it and it’s all because I left all my sewing commitments for October until the Very Last Second, which made it feel like work instead of fun to finish them up. And they should have been fun! Some of what I was working on I won’t be showing for a few more days, but here are some of the blocks I finished up:

Tall Shoo-fly Blocks

I sewed up four Tall Shoo Fly blocks for my Livejournal Birthday Blocks group. These blocks are quite small (6.5 x 9.5″) so even though we didn’t have to make more than one I’d always planned on doing three or four. I found these hard to photograph, largely because the wall and the background fabric were pretty much the exact same colour. I kept thinking shadows would be a good thing for once since it would help distinguish the blocks a bit. It all looks a bit dingy and underlit, though, doesn’t it? Oh well, I think the blocks came out well, and that’s all I could ask for.

I’m still behind one block for the month for the LJ exchange, but I will get that one done in the next couple days, I hope. But also, I have a quilt I want to get quilted! I’m torn! (Commitments to other people really should come first, though, shouldn’t they?)

Anyway, I also did up my Simply Solids Bee block for October:

Road to Fortune

This is a paper-pieced Road to Fortune block, made for Shena of Apple Pie Patchwork. I don’t know why, but I kind of spaced out the making of this one, doing a unit two days ago and two units yesterday and finally finishing them all up tonight. Somehow I got all discombobulated about where my colours were going to go and it all came out a bit clumped up instead of nicely spread around. Oh well, I think it came out okay and it should blend in with the rest of the blocks by the time it’s all done anyway.

I also finished up my needlebook for the Sweet & Simple Scrappy Swap on Flickr. I’ve shown a lot of pictures of this already, but here are my finally finished shots. And if any of you can find my opps! error, the first one to get it right in the comments will get sent a Fat Quarter in the colour of your choosing. (Things which don’t count: the shoddy stitching on the snap, the not quite round felt, the not quite centred felt, the not quite straightly stitched felt.)

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I said before that this is a taco shaped needlebook, and here it is snapped shut and holding its taco shape all on its own. Yay! The pattern for the needlebook came from Suzuko Koseki’s Playful Patchwork book, but I wound up making it a bit larger than the pattern suggests. You’re supposed to shrink the daisy pattern down to 80%, but I wound up preferring it at full-size. It’s about 8-inches in diametre, I think, but the larger size made it easier to modify the interior a little bit.

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In any case, the exterior is kind of paean to Japanese design because not only is a pattern by a Japanese designer, but the green fabric is a Japanese print, from a Yuwa Kei line, which might or might not be called Newsprint and Roses. The stitching was done with Sashiko thread that I had in with my embroidery supplies. It’s nice and thick so it leaves a lovely line around the petals. Of which, the yellow fabric is a Lakehouse print, from the Annie’s Seed Catalog line and the off-white is actually a Moda Grunge fabric, though I forget the colour name of it. It’s a kind of off-white or winter white with very pale strokes of green and red brushed through in the grunge pattern.

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The interior has two leaves of wool for storing pins and needles. The green came from a local fabric shop, Traditional Pastimes, and the off-white wool was a gift to me from Jennifer Ofenstein, when she passed off a collection of mostly hand-dyed wool pieces.

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I modified the interior a little by adding this zipper pocket on one side (and if I’d had a second matching zipper, I’d have probably added a pocket on the other side as well). It wasn’t a complicated change, but I do think it made the needle-case a little more useful since otherwise scissors or a skein of thread would just slide out and possibly get lost.

So that’s my needlebook that I sent away for the swap. I was pretty happy in the end with how everything came together, and I really hope my swap partner will like it as lot as well.