Monday, 23 February 2015

Settling in

I've just completed my little Stars meet Hexagons quilt and it is settling in at home. How do you settle in a new quilt? Sometimes, but rarely, I know exactly where it is going. But usually it does a bit of a wander around the house till it is 'comfortable' somewhere. 
First a garden photo shoot...
Then decorating a gate...

Could be a table topper...

Finally in to the lounge for a sit down...

Just to recap on the making of this quilt: 
I started it in January 2014 - the pattern is from Petra and An's book Promenade in a Dutch Garden. I saw their little red quilt at Quilts in the Barn in 2013 and loved it. Mine finishes at 41 inches (104cm) by 48 inches (120cm).


The EPP and fussy cutting process was such fun. 



Gradually it grew and grew..

Hexagon chains for an applique border...

I hand quilted it with Aurifil size 12 thread, trimmed the edges and added a red binding. 


I'm really happy with the texture of the hand quilting. It was a good chance to try big stitch quilting and a 'safe' one to experiment on as the stitches are not a feature of this quilt. The wadding used was cotton - a change from my usual wool. There was no particular reason for the change of wadding - just thought I'd try something different! It was easy to stitch through and light but possibly less loft than the wool.


I wanted the hexagons in the chain border to pop out a bit so only stitched around the edges and in the joins between the hexagons. I was tempted to add more quilting to the 3 inch border but thought keeping it simple might be best.


Last post I showed you my red CWB blocks on the portable 'design wall' that I move in and out of the family room. Well...the design wall is now doing double duty! In a rare moment of clarity I realised I could use the back too. What a great solution for someone doing far too many projects at once?! 
So, on the back I have pinned my Benjamin Biggs BOM progress - a very long-term project:


Here are close ups of the latest two blocks - 13 and 14:
 

Block 14
My secret sewing of Auntie Green in neutrals is going well - I have finished the top! I don't want to reveal too much at this stage (because it is a special gift)  but just to prove it is done - here is the last little bit of applique on the corners of the outer border. 
Preparing to applique

A finished corner
Now I have till my daughter's wedding at the end of November to quilt it. I have no idea if that is enough time to hand quilt a 90 inch by 78 inch quilt (gulp) but I'd like to give it a try!

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Civil War Bride design wall

With thirteen Civil War Bride blocks done it was getting jolly annoying awkward laying them out on the floor to help with auditioning the next block. Time to put up the 'design wall'. 


There are many great design walls on blogs but mine is not one of those! This is just some poly wadding hanging on a rod. I've pinned the blocks on and it is easy to roll up and stash away with the blocks left in place. I made this a couple of years ago to use in my sewing room. But it is a small room and impossible to stand far enough away to get a good view. So I'm propping it on the built in bookshelf in the family room - much better viewing. 

Here are the latest blocks: 







The design wall has been invaluable in deciding on fabrics. It is quite tricky judging value without the 'big picture'. For instance, I had doubts about the vase block above - the toiles looked a bit washed out when I stitched it. But I really wanted to use the toiles, and now I'm thinking it is fine in the mix of blocks on the wall .

And here is a comment just for Janet at Mrs Sew n'sew in case she is reading. She has nearly finished her beautiful CWB quilt and has had lots of 'fun' with embroidery of eyes. Janet, I did add eyes to a couple of the birds with big heads - but they are applique :) How's that for compromise?

Some quilting started on Stars Meet Hexagons:


This is my first attempt at big stitch quilting on a quilt so am not quite sure what I'm doing, but I checked out a few blogs and got some ideas. I am using Aurifil size 12 thread - seems a good weight for this. Finding a needle was not so easy - I tried a few different ones and they were either too small in the eye to thread, or just too chunky/ thick for comfortable stitching. The one I'm using is a Tulip Hiroshima milliners in size 8. It glides through very nicely and for a such a long flexible needle seems very strong. My stitches are possibly on the small side for 'big stitch' but any larger looked out of balance on such small piecing. They are still a lot bigger than the than the more traditional quilting I did on my Four Block Applique

I'm very excited about a new project - Harrison Rose - just bought the paper pattern from Dawn and her daughter from their Etsy shop - thanks so much Dawn! Nancy of Tattered Garden Quilting ( one of my favourite inspirational blogs) featured it on her blog and I was so taken by the design and fabric colours she is using. It also is the perfect quilt for more hand quilting practice. The full size pattern includes wonderful quilting designs from the antique quilt.


It is cool and rainy here today - so welcome after a lot of hot, sticky days. These flowers in the garden are much more heat tolerant than I am!




Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Civil War Bride and a round-up of 2014

Silly Season is over and it's back to work for me in a couple of days but it has been a treat catching up with family and friends, feasting, shopping, movies, relaxing...and stitching. 

Another block finished for my red Civil War Bride :

And here's another started - guess which one?
It's like dressing a doll and growing a garden - all needle turn applique (with back basting prep).



And now she is dressed and tending her garden:


I have changed a little from the Threadbear pattern - longer hair, appliqued all stems and not added facial features. My embroidery has been shocking disappointing in the past so I avoid it ...and I quite like this look.

I've really enjoyed the 2014 reviews on so many quilt blogs. The year seems to just fly by doesn't it? But looking at these reviews there were so many inspirations and achievements enjoyed along the way! They certainly kept me going...always looking to the next project.

My quilting 2014:
It's been a year of learning challenges with two particular 'quilty' achievements for me :
  • a fascination with exploring clam shell piecing - hence there was a lot of clam shell work!
  • a return to comfortable hand quilting - with a better technique and better tools - yay!

Here's a collage of my year's worth of purses and pouches ( mostly gifted) - the start of the clam shell learning curve:


In February I finished Simon (Dutch pattern, started 2013), hand EPP, appliqued and machine quilted:

In May I finished my Medallion (my own design, started 2013) with a sadly faded chintz - hand pieced, appliqued and machine quilted....note the clam shells:

 There was just a little start made on an EPP Grandmother's Garden in July - must get back to this:


In August I finished Double X (started 2013, a wedding gift)- machine pieced and quilted:

Started Auntie Green in neutrals (Irene Blanck's pattern) -  still in progress but now 'secret sewing' till it is gifted. This was the progress photo shared on my blog in August:

In October completed the top for my Ann Randoll coverlet version (started in a workshop in January) -  still to be sandwiched and quilted. Plenty more clam shell practice in there too :)

In December finished  my Four Block applique - a joyful return to hand quilting


...and finished the top of Stars meet Hexagons - EPP by hand and appliqued, still to be sandwiched and quilted:

Over the year 12 blocks of Benjamin Biggs BOM were completed bit by bit. I had a some fun making a collage of them all. They're actually all 12 inch blocks, and all on the same background - just photographed in different light at different times. There are still another 13 blocks and a border to go so no finish for a long time yet!


At the end of the year I felt as if I had spent the whole year working in reds - just because I had four red projects going at the time.  But now, on looking back, I see that wasn't so. There was quite a lot of brown and blue happening during the year too!

 Looking forward to a 2015 of inspiring quilt blogging - with lots more to learn and create - and maybe finish as well!

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas!

I didn't think I'd manage it, but here it is ... a Christmas post. Nothing like a last minute deadline....

I finished the hand quilting on my Four Block applique quilt and bound it just in time to hang it with the Christmas tree.

I'm just so glad I returned to hand quilting again - different technique and tools - and finally found a way that is pain free for me and totally enjoyable. Here are some closeups of the quilting - not perfection in hand quilting, but it has the soft traditional look that I'm striving for.




And when I say "not perfection" that includes nicking the background with my scissors (insert ladylike expletive at the time) - not just once, but twice - making two little holes! So repairs were required - one I darned as it seemed easiest, and the other was too big and needed a patch. Here they are and the truth is that, in the big picture, they won't get noticed so why worry?

Hole darned

Hole patched
Stars meet Hexagons: 
I finished making daisy chains of hexagons and appliqued them around the border. With a red binding I think that will do. 
I'm thinking of trying big stitch hand quilting on this one. That will be my second venture back into hand quilting and I'm quite excited to try with the thicker thread - Aurifil no 12 perhaps. There are a gazillion seams in this top due to all the little English paper pieced diamonds and hexagons - so I am expecting it might be tougher to stitch through...we'll see. 


Benjamin Biggs wedding quilt:  Block 12 finished - a relatively simple one this time. 

A lot of December busyness has revolved around some landscaping work at home and I now have a wonderful new section of lawn rolled out. The original lawn in this part of the garden was really not a lawn - just an expanse of dust and weeds that the local rabbits had turned into a rabbit warren. Am so thrilled with it now:
The rabbits must have been in shock at the sudden change, but now they hop around on it and munch the grass - but no digging (touch wood). 
Hard to believe the difference the colour green makes - it sets off the hydrangeas like never before.


Hope all your Christmas preparations are going well. I've pretty much done all I'm going to do before The Big Day. After spying some wonderful creations on Pinterest I was going to be whipping up some 'easy' but very impressive Christmas cupcakes. That was the plan and this was my preparation - looks promising? 


Well they turned out either too dry, too moist or too flat, and I won't even start on the various icing failures... not good. Some clever people make it look so easy, sigh.

But I did manage to create a double batch of these (using my homegrown raspberries).

Thanks for all the encouragement and quilting inspiration throughout this year - it has been a wonderful adventure for me.

Have yourselves a Merry little Christmas and all the very best for the New Year. 
He feels like I felt after my cupcake failures!