April Gypsy Wife blocks

So my A Lovely Year of Finishes goal for April was to catch up on all my blocks for the Gypsy Wife quilts, both low and higher volume versions. And hey – I managed it! (Largely because I was on holiday in the middle of the month, so I did a whole lot of block sewing…)

Since I was most caught up on the Brights version, I’ll start there. Here are all my blocks so far – February, March, and April:

Gypsy Wife Quiltalong

I like having all the blocks up on the design wall because it does help a bit to see where I need more or less of a particular colour… but they are not easy to photograph like this!

For April we were sewing seven blocks (see a chart with all the blocks and when to sew them here), mostly Courthouse Steps blocks, but also a Square in a Square and a heart-shaped block, which I totally swapped out for something without a heart on it because ugh.

Gypsy Wife Quiltalong
Gypsy Wife Quiltalong
Gypsy Wife Quiltalong

There are a lot of small bits of fabrics in these blocks and I keep digging through my scrap baskets looking for stuff to use, rather than using the fabric I bought for it. Which is fine, even kind of great, but sort of makes me laugh because I probably could have gotten away without buying anything at all.

Gypsy Wife Quiltalong

This Granny Square block is the one I made instead of the heart block. I just needed a 6.5″ quilt block, and there it was! I’m pretty sure it’ll fit in perfectly with the aesthetic of the quilt, and it saves me from having a block I don’t like taking up space in a pretty awesome quilt. I used a tutorial from Why Not Sew, if you want to try out making one too.

So after that was all the catch-up for the lower volume version – I had to do all of the March blocks and the April ones because I fell behind! Here are all the blocks – February through April – so far:

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

So here are my March blocks:

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

The slightly scary Pershing block! As with my brights version, this block came out about 1/8″ too small. Which isn’t bad, but I still wish the pattern had a little more detail about what size the central units should be as you go along, so that I could have measured and saved myself losing that bit of size. I think I pressed this one with a little too much steam and Best Press because I pressed some wrinkles into it. I’ll have to wash it to get those out at this point, I think.

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife
Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

I really love the fabrics on the outsides of both of these blocks. That red one surprises me because it doesn’t feel like a print I’d usually go for, but I just like what it’s adding to these blocks, with the bits of red but lots of neutral. The blue is such an interesting and strange print – I have a feeling it’ll pop up again before this quilt is through…

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

I question every decision that went into the making of these two blocks. Every single one. I mostly like the prints involved (I don’t like the star print, but I almost never like star prints), but I don’t understand at all why I paired those two blues and those two… whatever those other ones are. From a distance they just sort of blend into a block of nothing.

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

For my April blocks I did do the stupid heart block. I thought that since I was making two versions of the quilt, maybe I should make one of them properly. I reserve the right to change my mind eventually a swap this out for something else entirely… A note about this one: you’ll be left with a spare hourglass from the construction process, which will be useful in one of the blocks next month – if you save it, you can trim it down to the required size and save yourself a little time.

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

By and large I’m happy with these, although that peach number is another one that kind of blurs into nothing because the fabrics are two samey. (Also, I need to trim the borders on that one on the bottom left – I cut the outside ring too big.)

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

This block gives me some troubles. I keep trying to push myself a include bits that I don’t think are necessarily lower volume, because I’m afraid of the quilt falling flat if I don’t play around the the volume a little bit, but I’m not sure this was a successful experiment. I think it might just be too bright, regardless of how quiet they are compared to, say, a burgundy or a navy blue.

Lowish Volume Gypsy Wife

This one I think I pretty much got right, though. That blue is fairly dark, but somehow (in the group photo above) I think it just adds a little punctuation, without being such a misstep.

Anyway, next up is the Hope from Hartford block, 3 hourglass based blocks, and more square in square blocks! In the meantime, if you’re quilting along, come link up with Megan at Jaffa Quilts. Our prize this month is sponsored by the wonder Fat Quarter Shop:

gypsy-fatquartershop

Don’t forget to visit all our amazing sponsors who can be found here at Michelle’s blog, Factotum of Arts and check out the schedule to see where we are at! This is a very easy quiltalong to keep up with because there are only a few, often small blocks per month and usually only one slightly more complicated, intense or larger block to complement it. We’d love to have you, so just start sewing along and start linking up! (I don’t think anyone’s double checking to be sure you’re all caught up, so you know… dive in where we’re at and then backtrack through the previous blocks!)

So this is still my project because it’s very nearly May now, so I want to get started on my May blocks right away, before I have a chance to get distracted by all the other wonderful distracting things out there!

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ALYOF: I got sunshine…

So back at the beginning of the month, I set a few goals for myself:

1. Two bee blocks
2. Sunshine Pillow
3. Cat Faces
4. Confetti Go Lucky quilt

The one that I cared about the most, that I set as my goal for A Lovely Year of Finishes was the Sunshine pillow. And it got done slightly last minute, but done it is!

Sunshine cushion

This cushion cover was based on Katherine from Sew Me Something Good‘s Joy cushion that she created for Blogathon Canada last November. I don’t generally decorate with holiday things, but I really liked the idea of the pattern, so I kind of thought about it and sat on it and downloaded the pattern from Craftsy anyway (I think this will take you where you can get it…) and then I’d ordered some fabric from a shop that was giving away mini charm packs with purchases over x-amount of dollars, and I’d told the shop owner to surprise me. She sent me Kate Spain’s Sunnyside and I thought… sunshine? Yeah, I can do something with that.

As a bit of an aside, I was hugely amused by how few “sunny” prints are actually in the Sunnyside line: there are eleven or twelve that you could call orange or yellow, and then 28ish that are green, blue, or grey. Anyway, I arranged them from orange through yellow then green and teal to indigo from the left and light blue to grey to indigo from the right so that it would be like the sunshine was pushing in on a cloudy day, pushing away the clouds and wind and rain. The gold is just a Kona cotton that I had enough of and which worked the best of all the yellows I have. It was dark enough to provide some contrast with the lighter yellows in the line and didn’t seem to actively clash with any of the other colours (though that teal in the raindrop print is a near thing… it’s a bit of a strange colour choice in the line).

If you go check out Katherine’s Joy pillow, you’ll notice that I got lazy pretty quickly. I couldn’t settle on two different fabrics for the words, so that I could have the shadowed/layered effect used in the pattern, so I decided just to use one and then have a contrasting stitch instead. But then all I had was a copper coloured thread (I don’t have a lot of coloured threads) and it didn’t really contrast as much as I’d hoped.

I got...

Anyway, forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad. Let’s talk about embroidery instead – I loved the font I picked for the embroidery. I forget what it’s called, but I need to find it again because I’m totally using it for my next embroidery pattern (which will be part of the As You Wish quilt and stitch-along at Fandom in Stitches… and let me further interrupt myself to say how AMAZING the patterns are for this project… I’m not working on it right now because All The Projects Ever, but I’m totally keeping this one as a future thought because LOVE, and if you’re a fan of The Princess Bride – and how could you not be? Westley! Inigo Montoya! As You Wish! Giants! Adventure! True Love! (is this a kissing book?) – then you’ll love it all too). Anyway. Font. I love the shape of the letters, the curves and it stitched up beautifully with my favourite stitch, the split stitch (it kind of got mashed down when I pressed it the last time — forgot to put a towel under it!), and I think it’d work well with a stem stitch too (though maybe not with a back stitch, which a lot of people love, but the curves might be too tight for that). In another bout of laziness, I didn’t want to go buy thread that would work for the pillow, so I just used something I had – “Bell Pull” from Sublime Stitching’s Parlour colour palette – which is too near a match to the background fabric. But the stitching came out nicely and it’s readable if you’re not half-way across the room, so forget that, who cares?! It gets the job done and it doesn’t look bad.

You know what else gets the job done and doesn’t look (too) bad?

003

Grey zipper! If you were around on WIP Wednesday, then you know why I used a grey zipper. But just in case you haven’t seen it, here’s the original gold one:

Sigh.

This is why we shouldn’t sew when we’re tired. I didn’t want to go back to the store to buy another 22″ gold zipper (it’s an 18-in pillow, but that’s the size I had to buy to get a gold one that wasn’t ludicrously small for the size of the pillow), so I went with grey. I really should have made a flap to hide the zipper, but after sewing my zipper closed and then cutting off the business end of the zip, I thought I’d better stay away from anything more complicated than just stitching fabric onto the zipper and then top stitching it to make it look nice. The grey line isn’t horrible, but it sure does stand out, doesn’t it? Anyway, the fabric is Hive in Maize from Joel Dewberry’s Bungalow line. I love this print and am slightly appalled that I wasted so much of it on the back of a cushion (why didn’t I just use a solid gold? It’s not like I didn’t have more of the gold from the front of the cushion!) and I want to buy more! more! more! But I am supposed to be fabric fasting (and I totally crashed and burned today, but that’s a story for another day), so I’d better hold off and hope it’s still available in 5 months.

Anyway, back to my generalized laziness with this project. I really wanted to try out Katherine’s binding method for the edge of the cushion, but lazy. So very lazy. I even had a pretty orange fabric picked out that would have helped tie in the orange from the words, but nope. Lazy.

005

The quilting is kind of lazy too – a lot of organic lines, where organic means “can’t be arsed to make it straight, so I’m going to make it curve and call it intentional”. It’s a look I like though, so that helps! I had very little copper thread left, so I used up the spool and then used a basic off-white for the rest of the quilting. I also did a very, very quick and dirty stitch in the ditch around the four-patches, which I’ve very helpfully shown off in this picture where I just didn’t, couldn’t, you’re not gonna make me! stay inside the lines.

But you know what, for all my picking apart of the bits and pieces I don’t think are as awesome as they could be, I really love how this cushion came out. It makes me smile and it’s warmer and brighter than this miserable snowy winter we’re trudging our way through. This part of the winter (late January/February) is always sort of the worst for me.. it’s the bit when it feels the most never-ending, like we’re going to have snow for the rest of eternity because Winter isn’t just Coming, it’s already here and it’s got no plans of letting go. So a happy bit of sunshine is just the thing.

Linking up with TGIFF, hosted this week by the lovely Jo at Riddle & Whimsy and A Lovely Year of Finishes with Melissa at Sew Bittersweet Designs and Shanna at Fiber of All Sorts:

A Lovely Year of Finishes

WIP Wednesday: Little Things

Naturally because I have a bit of a goal list for the month, I’ve so far only worked on completely different things. Two of them totally new!

The simplest thing on my ginormous To-Do list was to add borders to two finished baby sized tops and send them away for a Linus group to quilt and gift to a child in need. I even had the borders cut.

008

Sure, the lighting is horrible. But so are the borders! I don’t hate all borders on sight (like some capital-m Modern Quilters seem to), but there’s a time and a place for all things, and these two quilts were not the place for borders, apparently.

001

Thing was, they weren’t very square and if you have a not-very-square quilt, adding properly sized borders can really help fix a multitude of sins. But they’re just so awful looking! I couldn’t decide if I should take them off or leave them on, and I left them in the end. I figure if the Linus group that gets them really hates them as much as me, they can trim off 2.25″ width to use as binding fabric (and be left with a skinnier border, that maybe wouldn’t look so bad?) or they can rip them off entirely or they can leave them on because maybe some kid somewhere will appreciate it anyway.

Anyway, after I got that done, I went digging through my drawers looking for a needle. I can’t remember what got me looking for one – I don’t think I had anything that needed hand-sewing – but I did and then I found a little embroidery project that I bought a while ago and never got around to making:

Mr Monkey Man

An embroidered monkey stuffie from Kiriki Press. They sell a sweet little collection of embroidered stuffie kits. This is one of the simplest ones – you only need to know chain stitch and running or back stitch to do the embroidery. I picked it up because I thought it was cute and because Kiriki is an independant Canadian company (and I want to support Canadian talent) and did I mention it’s cute? I’ve only been working on it a little here and there while watching tv, but then I haven’t watched anything in a few days now, so I’ve set him aside again. I’m determined to finish him this month, though, so to that end, I’m going to link up to &Stitches January finish-along. I have lots of other embroidery projects I could try to finish instead, but I’m feeling this one instead.

Potholders in Progress

I’m also working on some pot-holders out of that Christmas fabric I mentioned a couple days ago. I started out following a pot holder/hot pad tutorial, but I got distracted somewhere along the line and sort of did my own thing and then I thought how very boring it was (just this floral fabric on the front/heat reflective side, all that brown background fabric on the back side) so my brain went back to that original tutorial and thought I’d better add some kind of embellishment to break up the front a little.

So today I headed over to Fabricland and picked up a half metre each of those two crochet lace edgings – grand total of $1.13 – to test against the fabric. Neither matches quite exactly – in brighter lighting, the white is a much purer white than the fabric, which is a creamy yellow-based white and the beige is much too dark. (The beige does match the twill tape loops quite well.) But I have enough to do four hot pads, so I think I might just do two with the white and two with the beige and be done with it whether they match precisely or not.

So that’s what I’m working on! And then I need to get working on my bee blocks and some cat-faces…

2013 in Review

Sometimes I get a little… weird about how little I finish in a year. Or maybe just how few big things I finish in a year. I read a lot of blogs (like… a lot), and some people seem constantly to be producing New! Amazing! Gorgeous! things every time I turn around, and it’s just not the way I work. But I still occasionally get all wibbly about it, as if it matters or as if anyone cares or as if the Quilt Police are keeping count and will take away my crafter card for not being that prolific.

Back in January 2013, I posted a list of five quilty goals:
1. To finish all my Simply Solids bee blocks in a timely way – DONE
2. To finish all my LJ Birthday blocks in a timely way – DONE (I mean, the last two were late, but they were in the mail long before the end of the year)
3. To finish quilting the seven quilt tops in my closet – Well…. one down, six to go.
4. Don’t start anything new, except some wall-hangings for my mom – AHAHAAHAHAHAHA.
5. Work on some of my unfinished projects – See above.

And five embroidery goals, of which I did exactly none.

Anyway, here’s a couple of collages, with most of the year’s things:

2013 Quilt Blocks

Quilt blocks. A lot of quilt blocks. Not all of the quilt blocks though. There were more churn dashes I made for my own quilt that I didn’t photograph. And then all the blocks that went into a quilt top I haven’t photographed yet (for the Confetti Go Lucky quilt) and more of the Cat Face blocks, which I didn’t photograph. The Doctor Who ones probably shouldn’t be in there because I’ve made them into a quilt top, which just needs its last border, but I don’t have any photos of the completed top, so I put them all in here.

2013 - Quilts and Quilt Tops

It feels a little sadder looking at this collection of finished quilts and finished tops. There are two more than this (the aforementioned confetti go lucky and doctor who tops – well, Who is still in progress), but it’s the never finishing quilts that makes me feel like I’m not using my time wisely or whatever. I did get three quilts done to the binding and everything, and even though two of them are baby sized (and the other one was 90% finished with the clocked ticketed over from 2012 to 2013), I can still be proud of that. I am and always have been and probably always will be a slow quilter. I often get hung up right near the end. And I do quite a bit besides just quilts:

2013 - Minis & Flags

These are all minis of one sort or another. The two top left were for my mom. The hexagon one was for a Scrappy Swap. The three flags are were for Lac Megantic. The Ravenclaw was a gift for a crafty friend. (It could be used as a mug rug or a wall-hanging, as could the hexagon.)

2013 - All the Little Finishes

And I did a small mountain of baskets, zip pouches, pin cushions, pot holders, and assorted small bits and pieces. I think it’s all a pretty… respectable amount of stuff to have gotten done over the course of the year, so I really need to get over myself. (Also, the embroidery shown here is not complete – there were several more of those little smiley faced summer things, but I don’t have photographs of most of them. One of these days…)

So that’s all of 2013. More or less. Next post… plans for 2014. I think I’ll make a combination Fabric Fast/WIP list/Another Lovely Year of Finishes/2014 Goals post. Else it might be the longest lead into 2014 EVER.

(With special thanks to Big Huge Labs for the mosaic maker, even if I wish it could deal a little better with non-square photos — I think it should make them all the same height, then adjust the column width to the widest photo. But anyway, I don’t pay for the use of it, so I shouldn’t complain too hard about how it works.)

Ellie-cases and Valentines in December

I’m in Saskatchewan now for a week or so, but before I left, I had a mad rush to get a few things done for Christmas gifts. I’d promised to bring one of my friends some shortbread cookies on the Saturday before I left, but I forgot to buy butter, which kind of put paid to that idea, so instead I decided to make her some pillowcases using fabric I’d bought months ago with her in mind. She’s a huge fan of elephant everything, but only if the trunks are pointing up (because it’s supposed to hold in the luck?), so when I stumbled over this Madhuri line of fabric, I’d had to pick some up for her.

Ellie Cases

I made two pillowcases for her, and kind of did it in a fabric wasteful way – I wanted the elephants to be running left/right rather than up/down, so I cut the forty-four inches down the length of the fabric and then trimmed the 26″ from the width of the fabric – so many prints run in the wrong direction for the hot dog pillowcase method and that’s the only way around it, other than just living with it. Normally I am okay with that, but I guess the luck would run out if they’re sideways? I don’t know – this friend has a thing about the trunks so I indulged it!

Elephant Pillowcases

Fortunately, these are pretty quick and easy to put together, even with the additional odd cutting. Not too much time or effort required to make them, and they look pretty great. She was also pretty happy with them, though I’m sure her husband wants to kill me. (Poor guy – I wrote him an apology on the gift tag.)

The other thing I needed to get put together was a wall-hanging for my Mom for a Christmas gift. Last year my sister and I made a Christmas wall-hanging for her and we also gave her a vaguely Halloween-ish quilted owl wall-hanging and for her birthday I gave her a more generic spring/summer wall-hanging, all for a quilt rack we also gave her for Christmas last year. So we’re trying to give her an option for every holiday, but we’re spreading it out a bit, rather than giving her a pile of them all at once. This is a Christmas gift idea that can go on for a few years!

Valentine's Wall-hanging

We needed something pretty quick this year because my sister was in India for a good chunk of the fall (for work) and then everything after that just seemed to come too quickly and we kept putting it off and putting it off. Suddenly it was 5 days till I was leaving and my sister was so slammed at work that her job gave her carte blanche to work as much overtime (from home) as she can in order to get it done.

Valentine's Wall-hanging

The only craft she really does (besides a tiny bit of scrap-booking) is cross-stitch, so we chose a really simple pattern from a book called Stitch Graffitti (the Christmas wall-hanging came from the same book) and she did a row here and a row there while waiting for her work program to load or run updates and so on. She got it done on the Thursday before I left, so Friday I pieced the stripes around it to bring it up to size (it’s about 15.5″ x 18″ I think – I don’t have it here to measure!).

Valentine's Wall-hanging

I did matchstick quilting, which was unbelievably time-consuming, but which I think looks pretty great. The worst part was hiding all the gazillion threads on either side of the cross-stitch section – so very many starts and stops!

I was vaguely concerned the stripes of colour really didn’t work together that well, so I thought maybe quilting closely with the same thread over the whole thing would kind of help tie it all together a bit, as if it were one weirdly striped print, rather than all the random long strips of scrap solid fabric I had in a colour range between pink and burgundy, with a little purple and pale blue throw in for good measure. I was going to quilt it with a grey thread all over, but discovered a variegated thread in my stash that ranged from the palest pink to a deep burgundy – the perfect choice!

Valentine's Wall-hanging

I bound it mostly with a grey dot, but also used a little of a pink flower dot that I’ve had in my stash for ages and ages. I intentionally avoided prints in the main part of the quilt – I thought it would be too distracting, and I wanted as much of the focus as possible to be on the cross-stitched area – so I thought the binding would be a nice place to add in a little printed texture. I had the whole thing quilted by Sunday, but then it was getting the binding done. It’s small enough not to take an enormous amount of time, but I didn’t want to have to bring it back to Saskatchewan with me – too easy for my mom to find it in my things. Monday night I stayed up stupid late to get it finished, since I was flying out Tuesday morning. I took my photos sometime after midnight, under the light of my harsh overhead CFL light – I’m surprised these photos came out as well as they did.

Valentine's Wall-hanging

Except for this one. Washi tape sucks!

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.)

001

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

WIP Wednesday: Needlebooks and Quilt Blocks

Well, I don’t think my busy job of catching up on old Doctor Who episodes counts as a Work in Progress (and I have seen it all before, I’ve just been in the mood to watch the David Tennant years because *swoon*), so I guess I can talk a bit about the things I’ve been doing this week.

First up is a needlebook. It’s for the Simple & Sweet Scrappy Swap group on Flickr. It looks pretty well finished in these photos, and really it’s just like… 3% away from being finished:

Outside of the Needlebook

No photos of the inside, but it’s a taco-shaped needlebook from Suzuko Koseki’s Playful Patchwork book.

Taco-shaped Needlebook

This is how it’ll look if I ever get that last 3% done – it’s just a snap closure that I need to add, but I need to find some to buy! I’ll show off the inside, anyway, if I ever get this thing finished! (It’s due out by next week, so I had better get to it!) I keep posting pictures at the swap group in hopes that the recipient will show up and comment, but so far no dice!

Anyway, since I haven’t got any snaps and can’t finish things up just yet, instead I’m working on a different project. This will likely wind up a mini quilt, which I may hang on my wall:

Block in Progess

Well, it doesn’t look like much right now, but I’m really loving these Denyse Schmidt Florence prints and the blocks I’m using them in are coming together really well. I’ll be talking more about the pattern at a later date, but it’s been really good so far and I’m excited to see the finished mini-quilt. What I want is to do is four blocks and then I’ll get it all sewn up and quilted and everything else as quickly as possible. Right now, the block in the photo is actually finished and I’ve got another one just steps away from being completely. Hopefully I’ll manage to get two more done tomorrow, and then it’ll just be the finishing work left. I think it’s going to be pretty sharp looking in these limes and blues.

Stuff and Things

I keep putting off writing a post – I’ll do it tomorrow, sort of thing – because most of what I’m going to post about is a little too light to bother about, so today can be a bit of a Random Thursday post, though it’s not really all that random: it’s sewing/fabric related, by and large.

On Wednesday, I received this really incredible swap package for the Flickr Fat Quarter Blender Swap:

FQ Blender Swap Received!

Love, love, love every bit of it. My swap partner really nailed it with this one – you might recall my saying the other day that I’ve been having a Pink moment? Yeah. These will fit right into the mix. I really love Painter’s Canvas (that’s the navy one), and would have it in every colour if I had the money to spend on it. The paper clips are just FUN and that aqua is really lovely.

I also received my swap package for a Livejournal swap, the Talk to Me Tuesday Pound of Love/Crafty Goodness swap, but I didn’t take pictures because I recorded a video. Just have to get the video off my phone and onto YouTube.

I recently mailed off stuff for that Livejournal swap and while I didn’t take pictures of most of what I sent, I did photograph the handmade bit, which was three pot holders:

Patchwork Potholders

I don’t know what sorts of colours my swap partner loves or what types of prints, so I pretty much just let myself go crazy with the scrap bags. I wanted to make something useful, but also beautiful, and hopefully I managed to accomplish that!

Pink Patchwork Potholder

I made this pink one first, more or less following the pattern in the book Zakka Style, which was compiled by Rashida Coleman-Hale (I hope I got her name right, I’m too lazy to go look it up…). The book uses the linen as the binding, which I should have done as it really ties the whole look together, but I didn’t want to cut a big old bias cut right through the middle of my Essex linen. So dark pink instead.

Patchwork Pot-holders

The pattern is for the kind of pot-holders that you can put your hand inside to pick things up, so they’re all done in that style. But I quilted the crap out of these things and even though they function as pot-holders (I tested them!), I was too scared to try holding a hot dish with them. I feel a bit like the super tight quilting clamped all the inner layers together so closely that it holds the heat too close to your hand (even though it does reflect it back up). I don’t know. There are 3 layers of fabric, a layer of cotton batting, and a layer of Insulbrite in each of these, but I was still nervous about it.

This teal one is probably my favourite, but I’m a big fan of teal/aqua. That extra bit of patchwork in the middle was in the scrap bag just like that – it was an off-cut from a quilt top I finished last year (but have never quilted…). Love it.

Chartreuse (I guess?) Patchwork Potholder

This chartreuse one was the last one I made. You can tell I haven’t really made much use of chartreuse in my sewing because I didn’t have too many options in my scrap bins – I had to slip in some other shades of green as well. This features my least favourite binding (I should have chosen a darker coloured print) and I think it knew I wasn’t happy with it, because it gave me all kinds of trouble. There are a couple little puckers, I had to sew the joining seam THREE times. Ridiculous.

Anyway, those are all en route to their new owner, who I hope will love them.

And finally – I need to go blow-dry my hair and get ready for work (I work midnight to 8:30 AM tonight!) – here’s the first block of my next project:

First block

It’s a shame my ironing board shows through, but I’m loving how this is looking. I’ve only got the one block finished, but I’m going to make 30 for the quilt top (it’s going to be a baby top) and hope to get it all together very quickly.

Baby quilt fabrics

These are all the print fabrics I’m going to use, but today I got them all sewed up into strip sets to cut into the block components. All pressed and ready to cut, and then I’ll start sewing them into blocks. I’m using 2.5″ wide strips (the white is a jelly roll), and the blocks come out to just a little bigger than 8.25″ square, though I’m trimming them down to 8 1/4. It’s a bit of an unusual size, but it’s convenient to start with the jelly roll strips, so there it is.

Oh, and finally, here is my September block for the Flickr Simply Solids group:

Simply Solids Aenous Sept. block

More churn dashes! They’re having a moment in the blogosphere.

First Time Ever

I haven’t done any sewing at all in several days – I worked nights over the weekend and I’ve been all STRESSCASE at work (which, let me say, is getting really old) and have just collapsed in a heap at home the last couple days. I did make the effort twice this week to cook, though, so I guess that’s something! Might not be much, but it’s something. In any case, I haven’t done any sewing for such-and-such reasons, but I’m posting anyway because one of the bloggers I read, Melissa at My Fabric Relish, decided to do a linky for First Quilts Ever.

Link party button

I’ve kind of sort of talked about the my first quilt in the past – my navy and off-white nine patch was the first quilt top I ever worked on, but it’s still not finished! The top is finished, but that’s as far as I’ve ever gotten. I did buy a lot of fabric for the backing last year, but I didn’t end up liking the fabric enough – it was too royal and not navy enough of a blue. So I’m still sitting on that one for now.

But if we’re going to get technical and require a first finish to mean an actually usable finished quilt, then my first finish ever was a baby quilt for an online friend of mine:

quilt-hourglasscomplete

I wish I had a better photo of it, but this is all I’ve got from back in the day (c. 2004 or 2005, I think). It’s all made with flannel, with hourglass blocks and it was quilted in the ditch diagonally and around the borders. I seem to recall having started with larger borders, but then trimming it down to this narrow size so that I wouldn’t have to figure out how to quilt them! I also imagine my mom did most of the quilting herself, because I was using her sewing machine and it always hated me – I’d get tangles and birds’ nests just for looking at that machine the wrong way and EVERY way was the wrong way. All of the fabric was bought at WalMart and I backed it in solid yellow flannel. I’m not in contact with Mandy (the friend in question) any more, but if I were, I’d love to know how the quilt held up! I can easily imagine it having fallen apart in the wash, though of course I hope it didn’t!

My next finished quilt after that was also a baby quilt, also done entirely in flannels. By that point, I’d bought/been given my sewing machine, and was living on my own in Saskatoon. I was in university and had no money (seriously, I grocery shopped with a calculator and kept track of the pennies and tax to be sure I’d have enough food to last out the month!), but a friend of mine was having a baby and at the time I didn’t have a fabric stash, so when I got some of my student loan funding, I went and spent a bunch of it on flannel at a fabric store I can’t remember the name of, but which was close to Midtown mall (if there are any Saskatoonians around to tell me the name, feel free, it was/is? right across the street at the Sears end).

quilt-trianglebabyquilt

I was never quite certain how the Mum in question felt about this quilt – it was garish and bright, but soft and cushy. I tied it with black embroidery floss and backed it with a kind of crazy print flannel:

quilt-trianglebabycloseback

I wasn’t totally sold on that fabric, but I let the shop owner talk me into it (it DID contain all the colours from the front, so…) and while I’m still not crazy about it, I suppose it does work for a child’s quilt. At the time I did this, I was terrified to try properly binding a quilt (I don’t know why! It’s so easy!) so both this quilt and the previous one had roll-over bindings. On the first, I rolled the yellow from the back over to the front and stitched it down, and on this one, the border fabric from the front (the plaid) was rolled over the back and stitched down. I’m not sure that’s the most secure method of binding a quilt, but it felt less terrifying somehow and I was always able to get my mom to help me start it out. (I was confident enough to sew it down, but never confident enough to START sewing it, so I’d have to get her to do the first couple inches and then I’d take over, until I got to a corner, at which point I’d enlist her help again.)

Neither of these are particularly embarrassing first attempts at quilting, but to begin with, I started out with the hand-pieced nine-patch (which would be hard to mess up completely) and then dove into these, which were both VERY simple. Most of my embarrassing early attempts were related to block swaps. The first swap I participated in, I used cheap and (I have to say…) ugly fabric to make really piss-poor Shoo Fly blocks. I’m pretty sure all the blocks were the wrong size and that all the people in the swap wanted to refuse to swap with me again! The next time we swapped, though, I made paper-pieced stars and they turned out pretty spectacular 😀 (That one would be the red and white star closest to the front in this quilt.)

Anyway, that was a bit of a twofer “first time” but it didn’t feel like there was much to say about the actual first finished one, and having not seen it in so many years, I don’t have any insight on how good a job I did (or didn’t!) do with any of it. I can imagine the binding coming unstitched or maybe the cheap fabric kind of wearing through with use. But I don’t mind if that’s what happened with it, so long as those quilts DID get used. Whenever I give quilts to parents these days, I tell them that they’re meant to be used, to be thrown on the grass in the backyard or used as a beach blanket and rolled around and ground into dirt and puked and spilled on and just… used. They can be machine washed and they’re not delicate heirloom quality, so give them a work-out because I’d be more offended to learn they sat on a shelf to keep them pristine for…. what?

Anyway, I’ve got the weekend off work, so I’ve got plans! Plans to make something for my last giveaway (there are two somethings in mind, and they’re both useless but hopefully will turn out beautiful!), plans to piece together the quilt back for my Star Surround quilt, and possibly maybe plans to quilt that quilt. (I’m thinking just plain jane straight-line quilting, just kind of… 1 or 1-ish inches apart, with hopefully a bit of an organic wave to them. I wanted to do free motion, but I’m recalling just how much difficulty I’ve had in the past when trying to do it, and I want to build some more practise sandwiches to work on before trying it on the Real Deal.) I also have a very loose plan to Clean The Fuck Up. (Pardon the language, I try to keep my potty mouth in check around here, but much like the book Go The F*ck to Sleep, sometimes the swears just make the title of the thing what they need to be.) I need to Clean The Fuck Up. And I’ll try to make a post about that. A before and after post, hopefully, but it’s going to be a big, embarrassing job. So we’ll see how that goes… 😀

Wednesday Works + September Goals

This is a double whammy post – both my current Work in Progress for both the WIP Wednesday link ups (With Lee of Freshly Pieced and Needle and Thread Network for Canadian bloggers) AND for the September goal post link up for A Lovely Year of Finishes. I didn’t finish my August goal – to finish my Doctor Who quilt top – so I’m adjusting it to my September goal (and expanding on it slightly).

Dr Who Quilt-in-Progress

My August goal was to get the top put together, and I nearly made it – I got all the blocks sashed and pieced together and I got the inner border attached, but I stalled out on the outer border. You can see a part of it in the photo – it’s the wide band of the light blue fabric on the far left. I’m piecing in some words on two sides of the border, so I need to get those words put together before I can really finish the top.

I was started on the words, but my parents came to town last week and we went on our little mini-trip and that kind of sucked up the hours I might have spent finishing it in August.

I'm...

This is where I’m at right now, and it’s where I was at last week when I set it aside in favour of washing dishes and changing bed sheets before my guests arrived! I had planned to work on it some more today, but I had a pretty terrible day at work and I’ve been wallowing a bit. It’s a difficult thing being in that sort of mood because I know that crafting can be very relaxing and I could use a good dose of that, but I was so tense that I didn’t really want to deal with a fiddly project where making a mistake with my piecing might just make me blow things up into something bigger and more devastating than it actually would be. (Everything seems worse and more insurmountable when you’re in a bad mood!)