Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Neverending HSTs!

A while back I fell in love with this table runner over at Sew4Home. You know how I love a project using solids! With all the Kona fat quarters that I've been getting in the mail (the Christmas gift that goes on and on), I figured I had lots of colours to work with.

Alas, I didn't have the range of colours I needed. The pattern called for a Charm Pack of Michael Miller Cotton Couture, so that sent me off to the internet for a little shopping. Fat Quarter Shop had just what I wanted - a Kona Charm Pack. I've never ordered one of these before - always been leery of the charm pack since I'm a dedicated pre-washer. More new things! And, no, they didn't just throw in that Pearl Bracelet fabric... I've always wanted some. So hard to choose what colour!

 It was tough breaking into that charm pack. The hoarder in me just wanted to keep it. My precious Kona!

It took some doing to convert the pattern from Michael Miller Cotton Couture colours. The original pattern gives the names and numbers, but not for Konas! I tried to go all Q-D on the project, but I just didn't have it in me. Ultimately, I just winged it with what I had, keeping roughly the same number of each colour.
Okay, so I went t a little Q-D... those little dots you see are some of my fav Martha Stewart labels. And yes, there are 40 different colours in this one. Not counting the White and Charcoal!
 I used that handy dandy HST trick where you mark a diagonal line...
... then sew a with a quarter inch seam allowance on either side and cut on the marked line....
...producing two HST blocks.  Ultimately, I'll have enough blocks to make two table runners!
I love trimming HST blocks... all those cute little snippets. I can't justify keeping them, but I can take pictures!
Then sewing together. I dredged up another out gem of a quick sewing technique - leaving the columns connected as I chain piece. No way I wanted to take a chance on getting the colour placement mixed up once I got this far!
 And voila, all stitched together!
I quilted it as directed, in the ditch on the diagonal... part of me wants to add more stitching, but I don't want to distract from those lovely Konas!
But then there was a problem... the charm pack had a quite a few squares I didn't use. Orphans! There were a lot of pale pinks, blues, and greens. They seemed to cry out for a baby quilt - inspired by the many I've pinned! Just a sample... Grab the marking pen... time for more HSTs!

This time, I went for two shades of grey - Charcoal and, you guessed it, Ash! - along with the white.
 Ah... one day I will have a design wall instead of a design floor! In case you're looking for a pattern here, I was going for random (and not too many pinks together!)
I'm pretty pleased with the quilting... straight line asymmetrical. Another baby quilt for the collection.
 Doesn't she look happy out there on the deck? Orphans no more! The daylily shot is just for you, Mom!
Even after two projects, I'm still lovin' the Kona HST. Which is a good thing since I have another table runner to make!

Hope you're sewin' away on something you're loving!


Saturday, July 27, 2013

On the road again...

... seems to be the theme song around here these days! Himself and I have made two trips to Cape Breton (5 hours drive away), one to Lockeport (2.5 hours away) and one to Lunenburg (an hour or so away) in the past few weeks. And we don't consider any of them to be our vacation for this summer! To say I'm happy to be home is an understatement at the moment!

Not all of these trips away were devoid of quiltyness. On our first trip to Cape Breton, I made a stop at a new to me quilt shop in Himself's home"town" of Marion Bridge - The Mira Stitch N Post. I made a major score in that the owner was celebrating her birthday by giving her customers 40% off!!!
I might have lost my usual reserve a little here... I usually try to buy fabrics for a particular project and not just because I like them. There's too much evidence of willy nilly purchasing in my stash already! But those turquoises and oranges just looked so good together. And the minimum cut was 1 metre because of the sale, so I HAD to get a metre of each.

 Then I stumbled upon this little gem... isn't it funny how you've never heard of a designer/blogger and suddenly they pop up everywhere? I had only seen the Jaybird Quilts website once before and here was a pattern from the same fab designer. I gave in. Let's not speak of that resolution about books and magazines that I made some time ago.
Of course, she doesn't just design cool quilt patterns. She created this handy dandy ruler to make it easier to make her stuff. I hesitated... I'm not normally into gimicky notions, but it really did seem like this one would be more doable with the handy ruler. Now I'm just deliberating on what fabrics to use.... I'm considering a Christmas themed quilt or maybe the oranges and turquoises. I just can't pull the trigger.

Anyway, our trips to Lockeport and Lunenburg ran pretty close together.. no pics from Lockeport. It just wasn't that sort of excursion. But here are a few from Lunenburg. Just for you, Q-D!
 View from our room at the fabulous Fleur de sel. Doesn't this cry to be made into a quilt somehow?!
 The UNESCO Fresco... shades of last year's trip to St. John's, Newfoundland
Ripply sand at Sand Dollar Beach... I mostly included this one because I'm pretty pleased with the new skirt I'm wearing (sewed up the day we left)!

Our latest trip to Cape Breton featured a first for me - a trip to Fortress of Louisbourg National Historic Site. Before you inundate me with comments about the horror of living in Nova Scotia my entire life and never having visited, I accept and echo your opinions. We'll just say I was waiting for something big - like the 300th anniversary!

I don't normally post pics that aren't quilt-y, but this place is awesome. Makes me want to do art-y landscape quilting. For which I have no talent, I might add.

On this trip, I knew I'd be chillin' back at the ranch without a vehicle since Himself was working, so I planned ahead.
It's tricky to figure out what projects to bring on an excursion like this. I knew I wouldn't have an iron and didn't want to schlep a cutting mat in a warm car (that being pretty much a death sentence for most mats). So machine quilting won out.... I packed the two Lunch Box Challenge quilts, a baby quilt and a few other goodies.
Not too bat a set-up all things considered. The living room area of our "suite" wasn't a whole lot bigger than this picture shows, but I had a lovely window to look out of and a TV to listen to!

I started off with the orange and blue quilt made by Nurse M (ret.). Because of the usual size and shape of the blocks, I wanted an all over design, but didn't want my usual stippling.
 I opted for a longer version of stippling, looks a little like wood grain.
Only I forgot how much thread stippling (or any free motion for that matter) takes. Nearest sewing notions available - 1.5 hour drive. Ugh.

So on to the other Lunch Box Challenge quilt I have for quilting. This one's tough for me to work on, because it's thoroughly un-Modern. Though the longer I looked at it, the more I thought I might like to make this strip based block for a baby quilt in the future. This one is quilted in straight lines 2 inches apart vertically and horizontally. And it's finished.Guess for which quilt I prepared the binding in advance? If you say the yellow and blue, you'd be wrong!

Now that I've started with the pics that aren't quilts, I can't stop. But it seems a travesty not to include some of the glorious Cabot Trail.
 The Cabot Trail money shot headed toward Cheticamp
 La Bloc, near Cheticamp
View from Middle Head... glorious Cape Smokey

Thanks for reading this très long post! Hope you're having some summer adventures and fitting some quilting in too!


Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy birthday to...

Miss K! As in the recipient of Miss K's Dare!

It's been a long time since Miss K had a new quilt. She got her last one on her 2nd birthday, just 11 short years ago. I can hardly believe she's officially a teenager. I know aunties say that sort of dreck all the time, but I really feel that way.

If you're a reader of my WiP posts, you'll know that this quilt has been lurking around the studio for a few months at least. It's a Kona-fest to be sure... featuring Ash Regal, British Peri, Lilac and Peacock.

 A lot of planning went into the placement of those "random blue blocks.
 A breezy day out in the sunshine before quilting!
This quilt was crying out for a little something different for it's photoshoot. It seemed only right given that the original pattern is called Dare to Different.

So we went on a little adventure...
This is Sir Samuel Cunard, 1st Baronet - proud Haligonian and founder of the Cunard Line. He's a serious fellow, but seems to appreciate a colourful quilt. 
I think Sir Samuel was actually having some fun here. The functionary that popped out of an office somewhere to tell me that I couldn't do what I was doing didn't seem to think so. Fun sponge. Lucky for me, I'd already been there for 10 minutes snapping pics before he "caught" me.
You likely can't see it, but every once in a while in that grey diagonal stitching, there's a line of purple or peacock. Gotta throw a little surprise in there!
 Showing off that peacock backing... and Sir Samuel's lovely frockcoat!
 Just so you can see it all spread out...

And after all my obsessing, the newly minted teenager loved it. Love, happiness, and quilts. A perfect combo.
Happy birthday, Miss K! Love you!

(A very proud, as always) Aunt J

Friday, July 12, 2013

Finish up Friday - Inaugural edition!

So yeah... I might be over Work In Progress Wednesday. Sometimes a weekly accounting of the stuff still to be done is disheartening.You know what's doesn't cause my heart to sink? Finishing stuff! Which I have been doing like crazy the past two weeks! There is no longer anything on Gotta Do portion of The List (January 2013 edition). I've finished Miss K's Dare.... just a little peak of that since I'm saving the full photo essay ☺ for Miss K's birthday!
And, I've finished the quilting and binding on Mme S S's retirement quilt. Now all I need to do is schedule a night for her to come for dinner.

Since I finished those two projects, I felt free to just make some stuff. I sewed up another baby quilt top using orphans from my Jewel Square quilt. I positively hate to throw out blocks that I worked so hard on (but on this one, I couldn't face any more paper piecing)! I opted to use them with my signature solid (not plain, Q-D, solid!) Kona Ash. I like to think I was working on the modern quilt aesthetic principle of asymmetry here. How quilt pretentious is that?

Speaking of orphans, I made this nine patch from bits left over from Miss K's Dare and my Transformer quilt (and few others thrown in). I really just wanted to use up some sections of 2½ inch strips that were already sewn together. I liked the colours, but the top was just a little... meh. Then I quilted it! I wish I'd taken a before and after shot because the chevron/zigzag quilting really makes it!

Also in the baby quilt department, I quilted the roman stripe quilt that I've been calling Whoo likes pink? So cute... wish someone would have a baby girl.

You know that point on a project where the enjoyment of working on it is overtaken by the overwhelming urge to finish it? I completely felt that one on Mme S S's quilt. It happened about 2/3 of the way through quilting! There's just this moment where you want to be done so you can either send the quilt-gift on to it's new home or start enjoying it for yourself.

Do you get that feeling? Tell me all about it, quilt-y people!


Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Tutorial Tuesday - Asterisk tree skirt block

Hey all!

I'm taking another flying leap into new things this Tuesday! A tutorial! I couldn't find the right tutorial for how to make an asterisk block, other than the video on Craftsy. Not everyone loves a video or wants to sign up for another free web membership, so an idea was born!

*** Disclaimer - This project is not my own design. It is a version of a project from sewknitsew. The blogger gives partial instructions on how to make the project, but not the block itself.***

Here we go!

1) Prepare your wedge template and cut your 12 wedge pieces. sewknitsew explains this nicely. Prepare 2 inch strips from the same fabrics. Mix and match your wedges and strips until you're happy with the pairings.

2) Okay, scary bit here. Make a random slice across your wedge using your ruler and rotary cutter. I liked the look of blocks where I made my initial slice low on the wedge.
3) Sew on your 2 inch strip. Leave some excess on either edge of the wedge for insurance purposes. Press toward the dark fabric (that's just how I roll), but you might prefer pressing outward to reduce bulk on future seams.
4) Line up your sliced off portion of wedge with the newly added 2 inch strip.  You don't need to fuss about it lining up too much because you're going to be trimming the block eventually. Sew on the sliced off bit and press (again!)
5) Grab that ruler and rotary cutter and make another slice. On some of my blocks, I tried to center the slice on the inserted strip. On others, I didn't. If you want a straight asterisk, take care to make your second cut perpendicular to the inserted strip.
6) Insert your strip just as you did the first time. To line up your sliced off bit this time, lay the piece to be sewn on top of the piece with the strip and then use your ruler to create a ¼ inch seam allowance.
 Flip it up to see if the pieces line up.
Or you can line up the excess/tails with the established seam. Whatever works for you. And if they don't line up perfectly, it's not the end of the world! This block can be as wonky as you like it! I'm not normally one to use pins, but they're useful at this step. As you get more seam allowances at play, your pieces can slip.
7) Make your next slice through the x created by your inserted strips. Insert the third strip.
NB: I had a funny thing happen with a number of my blocks. Depending on which way I made the third slice, I got little triangles. It happened with the block in the tutorial. I think the solution is to make the third cut perpendicular to what is shown in the image above... 
8) Okay, this is the last time you have to slice up your hard work! Make another slice perpendicular to the third strip. Insert your fourth strip.
9) It's all over but the trimmin'!
 10) Play with the position of the template until you a) have fabric under all parts of the template and b) like where the asterisk will be on your block. Pin in place.
Use your ruler to trim the sides...
 ...and scissors to trim the rounded bottom edge.
11) Et voilà! A finished wedge asterisk block!
Now make 11 more and you're well on your way to a tree skirt!

After making these wedge blocks, I've started thinking about the possibilities for square asterisk blocks. So many ideas, so little time!

Happy asterisk-ing!