Friday, January 23, 2015

Suggestions for an Unloved Quilt?

Apparently this is the week to tell you about my tree skirts and/or my mistakes.  Nothing is hidden here, is it?

In November I was inspired by @Breepickles on Instagram to play with the idea of a Swoon tree skirt.  I fell in love nearly immediately, deciding to use the Folk Art Holiday fabric available in the shop.

Before I knew it, I had everything cut out, pieced and up on the design wall.

I will not lie.  At this point I started to get concerned that A: all of the prints were very small scale with little variation between each part of the star and B: I disliked the multicolored partridge print in the center of the star, wishing I used a solid instead.  I posted photos on IG, folks cheered me on and I plowed ahead.  Mistake.

The top was done in no time (early December) so I tossed it onto the quilt frame, delusional that it would be done to give as a Christmas gift.  

This is where I made my third mistake.  I quilted like a maniac under pressure and made mistake after mistake.  I lost my place in the pattern.  I quilted twice in some places.  I didn't have it loaded onto the frame properly and created wrinkles  Wrinkles so big your finger tip can be lost in them.  It was a total disaster.  

I became angry and ripped it out of the frame when it was only half quilted.  That is why you see it with the wadding flowing this way and that in the earlier photos.   It's not trimmed, remains wonkily quilted and wrinkled.  

Here is my question - what do I do with it?  I have fallen out of love with it. I do not like the fabrics, the piecing, the quilting.  Here are my options as I see it:

1. throw it out - this is becoming increasingly attractive as sewing/quilting is supposed to be FUN.
2. rip out the quilting and try again - it's only about 45x18 inches of quilting.  That wouldn't be a disaster, but it would not be fun.
3. rip it all apart and fix the center of the star replacing the multicolored print with a solid - I'd nearly rather start again all together. 

Any other suggestions?  What would you do if this was your mistake of a quilt?

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quilting Tiles

Not much new to report from Fluffy Sheep HQ.  I am spending a lot of time quilting Tiles.  I loaded her onto the frame several days ago, then pondered my quilting pattern.  It's the easiest way to keep her from wrinkling while I think.

I finally decided on a pantograph that combines waves and loops.  Together they remind me of snowdrop flowers.  I guess I am itching for spring.  I like how the softness of the pattern will set off the angular piecing, too.

I wound 5 bobbins (which may not be enough!) and dove in.

Several days into quilting and I am feeling more confident.  I have a LOT to learn yet, but I am enjoying the process so long as I take my time and do not put myself under any pressure.

I hope there is a finished quilt to show you in no time!  I have my binding fabric picked out and ready to go!

Monday, January 19, 2015

Hexie Tree Skirt

I do not know if I am late for 2014 or early for 2015.  Either way, I will just keep sewing.

In a delusional state in November, I decided I wanted to make a hexie tree skirt to give to my brother and sister in law for Christmas.  I was travelling over Thanksgiving, so I figured I could sew on the flight and in the car to/from Thanksgiving dinner and in no time I would have a top done and dusted.  I sketched out a plan, cut my Kona solids, printed my templates and was ready to sew.  

I basted hexies on the flight....where an air hostess asked me if I was going to color in the pieces covered in white fabric when I was done.  (What!?!?)

I set up a little station in the back seat of the family car when we were travelling....

I was happy as a clam.  While I was in Pennsylvania, I picked up a glue basting pen thinking I'd like that a bit more.  I'm absolutely not sold on it and may return to hand basting.  Still, when I pulled out the glue pen I had a little volunteer who wanted to baste with me.

Given the flight to/from the states, all of the car travel that comes along with Thanksgiving and even a few weeks in December I still had basting to do.  I was going to miss Christmas 2014.  

I have the pile of basted hexies here next to my seat on the couch, which has been working a treat.

Some nights it is nice to have something to keep your hands occupied.  So I have started stitching together strands of white and clusters of red.  

I am not going anywhere fast, but I like that this project is portable and mindless.  Let's be honest, I am in no hurry seeing as this is now a Christmas 2015 project.  I will just keep stitching.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Newbie Mistake

We have all done it before.  I am just glad it was on a small "disposable" project.

Do you remember the commissioned baby quilt I made for my friends?  Well, I had just enough fabric cut, but left over, to make one more block.  I thought I would stitch it together and make a mini for their nephew's teddy.  It's quick. It's easy. It's rewarding.  I dove in.

It was pieced in no time and was hand quilted while watching movies over Christmas.  The borders and back were even scraps from the baby quilt.  The only thing I had to cut "fresh" was another stirp of binding.  The perfect holiday project.

And then.... I washed it.

I knew the colors in the quilt didn't run so I wasn't all that worried about it.  I tossed it into my normal weekly wash of colored clothes with one color catcher (old habits die hard) and didn't give it a second thought.  

When I pulled the laundry out, though, the color catcher was dark dark grey and my mini was ruined.  Grrr....  I have no idea what ran in my laundry as there are no new clothes in there, but something did.  The two white prints in the star (and the back) are now the color of Kona Ash and the white bubbles in the orange border a light grey.  

What's interesting is that the Kona background didn't pick up the grey like the Mixed Bag Moda prints did.  They must be treated differently in manufacturing.  I did wash it a second time with a light bleaching agent with no luck.  

Live and learn.  I should have known better.  

Monday, January 12, 2015

Tiles Quilt Top Finish

At the Fat Quarterly retreat back in June 2014, I registered for a class with Amy Smart for a quick pieced quilt top.   Although I had the little scrappy blocks pieced in no time, I could not seem to get myself organized to piece the rows on point and to add the little (already cut) triangles to the end of each row.  All it took was a day at home over the Christmas break and this pretty was done!

I absolutely love it.  I wish I used a wider variety of strips for strip piecing to give a more scrappy appearance to the tiles.  That said, I love how the colors sing together and one doesn't dominate.  I choose to use two Denyse Schmidt fabrics on the borders - the aqua one finishing at 2 inches wide and the plaid will finish at 3 inches wide.  They give it a bit of a retro vibe.

Now, I live in Galway.  It's not known for it's glorious weather, but is instead associated with insane wind, sideways rain and cloud cover.  The day of this photo shoot was suitably challenging.  I leave you with the out-takes.  I'm off to sort out a back and get it on the frame for quilting!  Woo hoo!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Finished My Swoon! Finished My Swoon!

Can you believe it?  I can not.  I had a look back through my blog to find my first Swoon post: I first joined Sarah's Swoonalong in June 2013.  I had my Denyse Schmidt fabrics pulled, the pattern in hand and a color coded plan ready to roll.

My first 5 blocks came together in August 2013 with the rest to follow in September and November.  I was on a roll....right?  That sashing was a mental block, but I came around eventually. It was April 2014 before I showed you a finished top.  I was DELIGHTED! 

I packed it up and sent it off to an Irish longarm quilter and waited...and waited...and waited...only for her to return it to me unquilted.  I threw it into a cabinet and shut the door.  I didn't even open the returned parcel I was so disgusted.  It sat there for nearly six months, ignored.

Finally in October, Liz Dunne and I started to work together to get this monster finished off.  I can not say enough about how wonderful Liz was to work with.  She offered ideas, listened to what I imagined, generated sketches and sent on photos and texts during the quilting process.  Wonderful.  I had my Swoon returned to me on Halloween day and finally bound as a 2014 finish in mid Dec.  What a long journey!  

Want to see it?

We took Swoon on a hike up Mullaghmore, Co Clare for a photo shoot on 27 Dec 2014.  It was a stunning day...and I had 2 men with me who were over 6 ft tall and could hold the quilt up no problem.  She's too tall for my clothes line, you see.  

The back was pieced Le Creme (with hot pink microdots) with a WOF strip of Farmgirl's Garden (by Joined at the Hip for Clothworks).  It was pretty straight-up as far as just piecing an off-center strip of my focus fabric within the Le Creme.  The back fabric color coordinated PERFECTLY with the DS prints I used on the front.  It's quite floral and romantic, which is not really me, but it works very nicely in this context.

At this point on our hike, the sun was starting to go down, so the quilt is a bit orange/pink tinted.  I couldn't stop taking photos, though.

The quilting by Liz was unique for each block.  The texture is incredible.  Liz used an Angela Walters swirl hook in the negative space, ribbon candy in the grey border, feathers in the gold borders, finger quilting in the exterior halo of the star with orange peels in the interior part of the star to give a flower-like effect.  The center of each star has a circular feather wreath.  All told, it's about 50 hours worth of quilting in this quilt.  

Thank you all for your continued encouragement through the long process of making this quilt.  This was a bit of a struggle at times, but now that she's finished I could not be happier.  I pet her every time I walk by, trace the quilting with my fingers and show her off to anyone who is polite enough to fake caring.  This quilt finish fills my heart with happiness and pride.

Quilt Stats:
Name: Swoon.  What else would it be?
Made for: Me. Me. Me.  It will live on my guest bed.
Fabric: Kona with Denyse Schmid fabrics on top.  Riley Blake Le Creme dot for the back with Clothworks "Farmgirl's Garden". Denyse Schmidt binding.
Thread: Pieced with 100% cotton Aurifil.  Quilted with So Fine pearl.
Batting: 100% Simply Cotton.
Size: 96x96 inches.  She's a whopper.
Quilting: Quilted by Liz Dunne. 
Pattern: Swoon by Thimble Blossoms, found here.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Modern Quilters of Ireland Christmas Swap

I should have told you about this finish a month ago, but just never got around to blogging about it.  Back in October I signed up for the Modern Quilters of Ireland Christmas swap.  We were each to make a 18 x 18 inch cushion cover and one tree decoration.  I hummed and hawed for quite some time, looking for inspiration.  I knew my partner, which helps a HUGE amount.  We also received a little description of our partner's likes and dislikes, too: "Love fresh modern designs, cute whimsical ideas and colours, playful characters for a house of young people".  I waited for inspiration to strike.  

Finally I found a tutorial on Fandom in Stitches with a free pattern to paper piece Rudolph!  Oh, the happiness!  After a bit of fabric shopping with my parents over Thanksgiving (I'll tell you about that later)  I started creating my child hood friend in fabric.

The pattern is easy to follow - just sew on the line.  However, it's the most involved, intricate pattern that I've ever tried.  I will say it came together without a hitch, thank goodness.  As the block finished at 10 inches, I added on two Kona white borders to lighten the cushion up a bit, followed by a red peppermint print to bring out his nose.  It's quilted in concentric squares - nothing earth shattering, but I thought the focus should really be on Rudolph himself, not my quilting.  

The back was made from a cute Riley Blake print of Rudolph and his lady friend.  It was perfect.

I feel like I should explain the setting of my photoshoot - I carried this cushion around for 2 days hoping to get a bit of sun to snap a photo or two.  It was dark before work, dark after work and rained during the day.  I had to bring it to work and photograph it on office furniture in the building's atrium.  You would not believe the weird looks passing in my direction.

And finally I used this tutorial to create my ornament. I really really really enjoyed the process of making this ornament and see myself making more in the future.  They'd be a great project for when travelling.

To see what others in the group created, check out this post.  Thank you, Fiona (my swap mama) for organizing - I enjoyed this swap so very much!  Thank you, too, to Louise.  I received the most beautiful scrappy wonky star cushion from her.  We all know I love scrappy stars!  It's a total hit, Louise.  

Monday, January 5, 2015

Bee Blessed Sampler Quilt

This past weekend I finished a quilt top!  I am so happy to have this project completed - it is a very special quilt top that has slept dormant in my sewing room for WAY too long.  You see, this is not just any old quilt top, but a top created with blocks donated by members of the Modern Quilters of Ireland and supporting quilters (blogged about here).

The idea was to create a top for Bee Blessed that might be suitable for a fella.  The only instructions to members was to use blue/green in the block on a white background.  What the members created was just beautiful, with each block complimenting the next.  

I was only to arrange them, add sashing and finish the top off with a border.  I had arranged them nicely on my design wall, so that the lights/darks were evenly distributed.  However, when I stitched the rows together, rows two and three got switched around.  This lands the two "heavy" blocks together in rows three and four.  Ah, well.  These things happen.  

I decided to sash it with a Moda print I had remaining after a 241 Tote I made for my Mom years ago.  I have always really liked this print, but it does not jive well with the rest of my stash. It therefore is never used.  This fabric is a tone on tone blue with navy filigree pattern.  It's not too floral for a fella, I liked the blue with the blocks and I had more than enough yardage.  Score.

This top will leave Galway this week to live in Belfast.  Judith and Sarah, we love what you have created with Bee Blessed and we hope you can find a nice home for this quit.  

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