Thursday, October 20, 2016

Smitten Block One Finished

Finally, my last block one! This took longer as I went away in the middle and then I started a completely new project - like you do. It was nice to have a little break. I do keep looking at all my block ones together... they don't really gel together which worries me! I definitely need to get some stripes into the next set of blocks.

So here is another Heather Ross print. I do love the unicorns. I was going to have yellow diamonds which matched those little yellow flowers in the middle but then I decided that I needed to be more adventurous... yeah, well I am not so sure about that now.

And here is the back. Look at all those tiny stitches. My system is that I start off whip stitching for about 5-10 stitches, then I tie a knot, open out the two shapes and do the rest is what I call a flat whip stitch – I made that up.

So here are all my block ones. Do they go? Do the repeated fabrics help? IS it a mess? You can tell me!

5th Block in Heather Ross' Far Far Away and Lizze House's The Lovely Hunt

4th block in Heather Ross' Tiger Lily and Cotton & Steel

3rd Block in Lizze House's Catnap and Cotton & Steel

2nd block in Heather Ross' Mendocino and Lizzie House's Constellations

First block in Heather Ross' Nursery Versery and the raindrop fabric which I can't recall right now.

So there you have it! Has anyone else even started? I might start thinking about the next set of blacks but it's half term next week so I am taking it easy.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Half Square Triangles

Inbetween hand sewing Smitten blocks on the sofa in the evenings, I also wanted something quite simple to do on the machine. A bit of a no brainer after The Farmer's Wife. So I have started making Penelope a bigger sofa quilt as she complains that all the others are too small. Luckily she does love a quilt. I bought some colourful fat quarters a while back specifically to make her some kind of bright quilt. I spent a bit of time trawling through my Pinterest boards and finally decided to make this by Megan. She has a whole album on Flickr.

It's a pretty basic pattern; just half square triangles. This quilt will be 48" square once I have finished. I have enough fabric to make it double this size, but I think that would just be too big. We'll see. If I added two more rows at the bottom it would fit on a single bed... tempting, but we'll see.

I cut 2 big 9" squares out of 16 fat quarters. I chose this measurement as you can easily cut four out of a fat quarter without too much to spare making it a good use of fabric. That's the only reason I chose it really. Then I made 8 half square triangles in a one go out of each square. The other nice thing was that I have a long 4 1/2" ruler that was great for finding the middle lines of each block. It just made the whole process really easy and enjoyable. Mum thinks you don't need many rulers, but there is something extremely pleasing about having the exact right size for the job. I have to return the 6 1/2" square I borrowed off mum so I might have to buy my own when we go to Duxford in a few weeks. Yes, I am finally returning to the old Chillford come Duxford show. Primarily to help test out the new rollator and make sure mum can zoom around the show to her hearts content. This basically means I will whinge very loudly about every slight step I come across. I might even wear a high viz jacket to make myself seem even more of a health and safety expert. But I also plan to see if the new show is managing to get back to the greatness of its predecessor: Chillford. It's so sad that the giant scones are gone and that we have to look at war planes instead of a historic barn. Poor Chillford, burnt to a crisp. I miss you!

Anyway, I've got a lot of HST to trim down to 4 1/2". Luckily I can just sit on the sofa with my rotating cutting mat and my 4 1/2" square ruler mum gave me and just trim them out. I made my 1/4" seams a bit scant when I sewed the 8 block so that I could have some room to trim. I just thought it would make things more accurate.

Here are some of the offcuts, it's not much. Part of me can't be bothered, but another part of me finds it kind of peaceful. It does end up giving you that level of accuracy that you see in other people's quilts which make you think 'Gosh, how can they be so accurate?' Well folks, it's not really skill, it's more patience. If you spend more time trimming, starching and ironing open seams, then you just end up with a more accurate end product... but you spend 200% more time getting there. It's a pain, and often has me thinking 'but once I have scrunched it all up in the wash will it matter?' Jury's out on that one.

I sewed the blocks into strips of 4 which on reflection was not the best idea. Next time I will make units of 4 and join them together instead, but it's not too shabby and I am pleased with the colours. I wanted to make sure I had some dark blues in there; it's not a colour I usually go for. I'm not really thinking too deeply about this project so I am just throwing the colours together randomly. It's rather freeing after all the agonising of The Farmer's Wife, which by the by, is all sewn together. I just need to iron it and try and photograph it. It's massive.

I am not overly happy with the neutral background colour, I wanted something a bit warmer, but Kona just have nothing like this. Plus I keep losing the colour card chart thingy so I just had to get a grip and move on. The neutral is Kona Ash. 20161016-P1450716

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Smitten block one progress

So two weeks in and I have completed my first two blocks. I am not sure if they really go together but I am just ploughing onwards. I swapped out a few fabrics as I came to do each hexagon. I just felt that I needed a more subtle colour to go on the outer ring.

I laid out all my bright colours and went a bit blind. Really? That bright? Hmmm. I kept laying them out in different combos then finally opted for a grey low volume to go with it all to bring the brightness down a bit.

Block one
Was it a good idea? not sure, but it does frame the cog shape quite well.

I decided to experiment with some different techniques. I sew basted each element first which takes a bit longer than gluing but allows for a bit more manipulation when sewing them together. However, I found that it was quite hard lining the elements up. I made a bit of a dog's dinner of some bits.

Pink and yellow give it a real pop. Too bright? perhaps. We'll see how it comes together. Overall, it all came together in the end and I love the rainy theme of the fabrics. But can you see how my section on the left doesn't line up? Was that because of my loose sew basting? Perhaps. I have no idea.

Block two
I glue basted this time using my Roxanne glue. It's pretty great! A bit messier than the sewline glue pen but still easy to use. I just hope it comes off at the end! I also swapped out my needle. Hirosihima for block one, Black gold for block two. I do think that the black gold needles go through my finger pad quite easily which is annoying, but overall they just glide through like butter and are my preference.

The Superior thread is brilliant. There's no turning back from that. I think I will be buying more of that. On reflection I probably only need an off white neutral thread for it all in future.

On the whole I was a lot more accurate with my piecing but I still fudged some bits. Look at that fumble above. Cripes. Oh well, I am sure I will get better with practice. Overall, I am a bit worried that the grey outer section is a little dull and will stand out too much. We shall see.

I am just starting block three! I have decided to ditch the less saturated outer ring rule and am just going for it. I had to buy a new angle poise light from Ikea specially so I can piece in front of the telly. It's just a bit too dark otherwise.

That's all for now. Back to watching the Bake Off...

Saturday, September 03, 2016

Smitten Hexagon One


Let the Smitten commence! Here I am being very organised as usual. I have sifted and sifted through my stash, thinking about the first block. You have to make five of these. I spent ages choosing. I sort of chose everything in the end. Another technicolor train crash coming up! I am filled with doubt over my choices so they might well change but you have to start somewhere. I have tried to choose colours from the main pattern fabric where possible. I found @Laura_Zuckerkuss instagram feed very inspirational. Her latest colour palette of pink and peach is so great! She labels all her fabrics so i bought some of the Cotton & Steel fabrics she is currently using. Maybe it will inject me with some subtelty and taste?

Choice 1 – Itsy Bitsy Spider by Heather Ross
These were my Birmingham choices. I really like how bright and sunny they are. I might need a darker purple in there, we'll see. But this is how I plan to start.

Choice 2 – Tigerlily by Heather Ross
I am not sure if the yellow flowers will work well in the small diamond shapes but it is quite nice to keep to the fabric range.

Choice 3 – Catnap by Lizzy House
I picked up this catnap fabric in the bargain bin at Empress Mills, along with the lovely purple grey solid. I think this combo will make a very tasteful block as it is all colours from the main Catnap fabric.

Choice 4 – Medocino by Heather Ross
I've been hoarding this fabric, waiting for the perfect time to use it.

Choice 5 – Unicorn Far Far Away by Heather Ross
I am not totally sure about the pink on the end. I think a plain might go well in here. Maybe a yellow. We'll see.

So those are my fabrics for block 1! There's a bit of a Heather Ross bias going on I know.

I made a colouring in diagram in the hope that it might help me plan out my fabrics better. Already I can see that to achieve that darker frame I might have to rethink some of my choices. It also is good to look at when you are mindlessly sewing the units together.

Here is a link to Sew Lux' sew-a-long. I think the error she is talking about has been corrected, plus she is machine sewing whereas I think we are all not, but it's always good to see what other people have been doing.

I have decided to aim for creating one block a week and see how I go. I have no idea how long they really take. But a slow, easy pace works best for me. I found the Farmer's Wife pace quite gruelling!

So five blocks over the next five weeks. I'll probably change my mind about my fabrics completely as all I seem to do is sift through the Smitten Pinterest board changing my mind! Also there is a Flickr group.

Now I just need to dig out my Marti Mitchell templates and start cutting into my precious fabric! It's birthday weekend here for Penelope so I doubt I will start until that is over as I have to make cake and wrap presents in the evening. Roll on Monday!

Saturday, August 27, 2016

What I bought

This year I went a little crazy. Forgive the slightly skewed shot. I was knackered by this point. It feels like a big haul. I went a little crazy. Not having access to a quilt shop just makes me go giddy when I see all this stuff that I can only ever access online. I loved just browsing! I feel bad. I bought a lot of stuff! I didn't quite plan to. The way I like to rationalise it is like this: if it was on your shopping list then it's a fair purchase. If it's something for an actual project you are doing then it is a good purchase. If it's a spur of the moment purchase for a new project then it's LAVISH. If it's not even for a project but you just like it then it is WELL LAVISH.

Let's see how I did...

I bought some things for my new travelling EPP bag for the Smitten project. As it's all preplanned and for a project it's a fair purchase. I bought a small rotary cutter which I had been after ever since I started watching Sue Daley's YouTube channel. In her Top Tips for Paper Piecing she talks about the tools that she uses and this is one. I bought a small ruler of my favourite kind which fits in my little bag perfectly. I am pretty happy about that. And a new thread cutter for 50p. I keep losing mine.

I also bought some Superior Bottom Line Thread that she recommends. They were doing a special on them at the show. Three for two. I am unsure about them. I will gauge them against my Mettler thread and see how I feel. They are on Su Daley's list of EPP must haves though so I am bowing to the guru.

I also bought some Hiroshima Needles. Luckily the Clover stall had examples out of all the needles.
I got the Tulip Applique Needles 6/Pkg-Size 10 Big Eye ones they recommended but they also gave out free sample packs of other needles. First impressions tell me that my Clover Black Gold Needles Applique/ Sharps Assorted are thinner, smaller and sharper and more my thing, but we'll see. The wider eye on the needle is great and maybe a slightly thicker needle will stop my thread shredding. I am looking forward to seeing how the new thread performs.

I also bought some of the tulip pins which was totally LAVISH. But they were so beguiling. Mum was buying some and I knew I would be so jealous. They look great on my new pincushion. I really don't need them at all.

I bought three patterns, well two really as one was my birthday present from mum. She got me the Bring me Flowers pattern which I have wanted for ages. I am not 100% about the full quilt, but I love the individual blocks which people do. Seeing Kerry's has got me into it. It's a backburner project for a rainy day.

Festival of Quilts 2016
I also bought a Sew Enchanting mini dresden plate pattern which was totally spur of the moment. I have no idea what fabrics I would even do it in. I love the odd shaped hexes and the embroidered letters. I think I would use totally different fabrics but I have no idea what. Maybe Liberty or just my scrap bag. Or tasteful solids. Oooh, I have no idea.

And I bought a Janet Clare sewing kit pattern along with a small charm pack of her Wordsmith range for Moda and a fat quarter of one of her text prints just in case. I am glad I had the extra fat quarter as there are only just enough blocks and I needed to substitute some one I had laid them all out. I also bought a lovely fat quarter of soft calico from The Shuttle to use as lining and another text print from a different range which I thought I could use for something someday. This is going to be a Christmas make present so it didn't feel that lavish.

Fabricwise my biggest splurge was at The Eternal Maker which I ended up visiting multiple times. It's such a great shop! I didn't really need that much more fabric for my Smitten, but it's nice to shop for it. So now I have lots of stripes and yellows and pinks to add to my stash. I love the itsy bitsy spider fabric, that will be the centre of the first hexagon I think. I am eager to get started. I want to lay out all my fabrics and choose the first hexagon fabrics then settle into some autumn nights on the sofa surrounded by all my kit.

The other thing I bought for this project was some Colonial Needle 2 oz "Glue-Baste-It" The Basting Glue for Fabric. See on the bottom right? It has a superfine tip which means you can use less glue. I have found removing the papers from the sewline glue pen a bit hard. I need to use less glue, so I thought this might help. Now I feel ready!

Not forgetting the Farmer's Wife though. I did manage to buy some cheap backing fabric from Fabrics Galore. The grey stripe will look perfect. I considered grey seersucker from The Shuttle but it is hard to work with as it never lies flat so I kept it simple. I also stocked up on some simple grey fabric as I didn't find all the neutral fat quarters at The Shuttle this year which I find so invaluable so this single grey will have to do instead.

Speaking of The Shuttle, it is now a major stop off for me as I always use their fat quarters of plain fabric. They are finer and thinner than regular cotton, percale at a guess but they are lovely to work with and go really soft. I used all my last lot in my Farmer's Wife so this year I got a big batch. It's still a great price: 4 for £5. Result! I'd really like to do some small just plain projects this year so I might use the greens to make a cushion or something. An idea is gently brewing.

I also swung by Kaffe Fassett to just look at his lovely shot cottons. I didn't quite have a project in mind this year though so I ended up buying none! Luckily there was a Fair Trade stall selling very similar fabrics by the fat quarter so I got some of those. They are so lovely. I think they would make great little flying geese or mini square in an Amish inspired purse or something. Mum said I could make something for her out of them so maybe I will get my act together in time for Christmas. When something can be turned into an xmas present I always feel better about the purchase. I love homemade xmas presents, they are such a rarity these days.

My final purchase on the last day was this cool fabric from The Eternal Maker. I did the classic thing of seeing what someone else was buying and falling in love with it all. In the end I had to get her (Gill) to show me where everything was and we became Instagram friends! Hark at me! It makes me want to go to a quilt retreat and meet other people who get excited about fabric. I need to dork out!

And lastly, I did spend a long time looking at books. It was nice to leaf through ones I see other people buy. The only one I was really tempted by was Kaffe Fassett's Quilt Romance but mostly because I love the pickledish pattern from the cover. I keep watching Mary's one and really like it. The rest of the book was not really to my liking though so I held off. I'd really just like to buy a cheap second hand copy but there don't seem to be any. I will just have to do my best alone!

So there you have it! a big haul. I have just spent the last year making an epic sampler quilt though, so I feel I have slaved enough to earn it. Obvs, the fact that it's pretty wonky and every, yes every block has too big outside seams meaning none of the points will match up, is beside the point. When I get home from summer hols, it's time to baste the Farmer's Wife and start the Smitten.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Festival Quilts 2016

Festival of Quilts 2016
Well The Royal Festival of Quilts was epic once again. We decided to go Thursday/Friday this year as we have never done that before. I was so excited! The biggest change this year was that the second hall had really filled up and didn't feel like the forgotten about add on hall. It actually felt nicer to be in and more spacious. I reckon it has become the better hall.

It was pretty jam-packed on the Thursday, a bit less so on the Friday so not there's not much difference people wise from weekday to weekend. But it felt good being there on the first day when everyone was fresh and you knew you were seeing everything first.

Festival of Quilts 2016
There were loads of offers and cool things. I felt a bit overwhelmed at the start. We just wondered around wide-eyed. I wish I had got the Lucy Boston special from Paper Pieces... maybe next year. It was amazing just to be able to look at everything properly rather then be shopping online. More about what I bought later.

Festival of Quilts 2016
And look at these great bundles from The Contented Cat. It's so hard. I am tempted by everything. I see some people who just buy one thing or just go to look at the quilts and I am awed by their restraint. I just want everything! I usually prefer the quilts on display at the stalls because then I know it is within my grasp to make them so I have a lot of pictures of those. Many stall holders don't like it. I guess they are selling the patterns for these quilts and don't want people to copy them, but I love to look back and remember them and look up the various stall holder's shops and rack up another potential project image on Pinterest.

Festival of Quilts 2016
As for quilts. I always like to check out the miniature quilts. Look! They are so tiny! I was trying to note down people's names so I could credit them, but, well... I just can't sort it all out, so it's just pictures of nice things that caught my eye.

Festival of Quilts 2016
Look at these beautiful fabrics. They look so delicate and oldy worldy. And they are mostly fussy cut which I wasn't going to do with my Smitten quilt as I sometimes feel it gives off a fractal appearance which messes with my mind but this is just lovely. It makes me eager to get started.

Festival of Quilts 2016
I love the little donuts and the warm colour palette. I just think this could be really nice in shot cotton solids. It's a Monkey Buttons pattern called Sunset.

Festival of Quilts 2016
There was a great plastic piecing stall. The pieces were ridiculously tiny; I love the samples on the walls – so pretty.

Festival of Quilts 2016
But back to the exhibition quilts. They were mega. Look at this! It was huge. It's just so much work. I am always awed.

Festival of Quilts 2016
These were all the antique quilts which always catch my eye. They are wonky and threadbare and just beautiful. I love the old fabrics, they work so well.

Festival of Quilts 2016
So pretty. I love the pink stripe in the centre.

Festival of Quilts 2016
I love the mix of purples, pinks and peaches.

Festival of Quilts 2016
And there were a few Farmer's Wife quilts. Look at this one all in yellow! It is so well done. Mine looks like it was made by a monkey in comparison.

Festival of Quilts 2016
I love the colours here. They are so sophisticated and mellow. I seem to always make rainbow car crashes when really all I want to do is make tasteful quilts. This looks so soft! I think this was my favourite quilt!

Festival of Quilts 2016
I loved all the sampler quilts that were cropping up. I spent a long time looking at individual blocks and working out which were my favourites. It's great to see them in the flesh. All in all a great show.

On a more modern note...
Festival of Quilts 2016
I love the colours

Festival of Quilts 2016
I love the randomness combined with the Alison Glass fabric

Festival of Quilts 2016
I love the colours and the quilting.