Sunday, September 29, 2013

Another Week-end Update!

It's been a beautiful fall week-end here in Nova Scotia. And I spent the bulk of it in the studio. Few things make me happier... unless you include activities, even housework, in Hawaii. Hawaii always makes me happier!

This week-end, I was inspired by Dominique over at the Running Thimble. She made a lovely girly toddler quilt just because she felt like it. Looking at some of the fabrics that arrived in my Hawthorne Threads Fresh Scrap Pack, I decided to follow her lead.
I also copied Dominique (imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, right?) and kept it sweet and simple. Just some 4½ inch squares, easy and fun to sew together. I started with the idea that it would be 40 by 60 inches, but scaled it back once I started cutting. My inspiration fabric was the floral with the roses... hence the inclusion of the red. It made me uneasy given the greens I'd chosen, but I think it worked out in the end.
It came together quickly. I sewed pairs, then fours, then groups of eight. I used this method on one of my first Thousand Pyramid quilts and it's stayed with me ever since. Since I wanted it to be 9 blocks wide, I made sure to save enough single blocks to finish off all 14 of my rows. Then I decided that 36 by 56 just looked odd and opted to remove the last two rows. Here you get a close up shot of my sneaky rotary cutter as seam ripper method. Probably not the safest use of a cutter, but it's quick!
Here she is all sewn together!
And the back... I re-purposed the two rows I cut off into part of the backing. The chevron piece is from my Scrap Pack and the two blues are from the stash. Isn't it great to use up fabric that's been kicking around for a while?
I likely would have quilted it today, but I'm short on batting. Oh well.. guess I'll have to make another trip to my local fabric store! ☺ Since I couldn't quilt my Sweet and Simple quilt, I got my Double Irish Chain Redux layered and got stitchin'. Here's the backing... pieced from leftovers.
It's straight line quilting on the diagonal again, my friends. I am indeed a creature of habit! Don't you love how this quilt coordinates with my machine?
The quilting only took a couple hours and now it's bound (in stripe-y happiness) and ready to be stitched while watching my Sunday night guilty pleasure. Feel free to leave a comment with your guess!
Given that the cat is away, this mouse just kept playing! I've been waffling about getting started on my Toes in the Sand sampler, but I dove in with a vengeance this afternoon. First, the fabric stack. Clearly, I do not have enough fabric to get started on this. ☺
This is my first time using such a funky ruler. It's well marked and made cutting the triangles really easy. Helps that the ruler inventor and pattern designer are one in the same.
 Block 1 - Baker Beach
Block 2 - Santa Barbara
Block 3 - Venice Beach
Before the flurry of questions begins, the pattern designer is from California and named the blocks for beaches along the California coast. I thought about renaming them, but thought I'd spend my time quilting rather than dreaming of summer days on Nova Scotia beaches. Next up - Sonoma Coast and it's partial seams!

Phew! Now that I look at it, that's a lot of quilting for a couple days! Time to heat up some planned overs and relax for a bit!

And I am outta here!


Friday, September 27, 2013

Fabric Friday!

Judging from my recent blog posts (or the lack of them!), one could easily believe that I've not been doing much sewing. You'd be right... but it doesn't mean I haven't been thinking... plotting... dreaming of when I have time and energy to sew.

All this dreaming has been accompanied by a burst of fabric buying... both on-line and locally. First to arrive were these little Kona of the month club gems from Sew Sisters. Gotta tell you, this is one of the best Christmas presents I've gotten in a long time. Fabric that keeps arriving month after month? Yes, please! That's Chinese Red, Snow, Parchment, and Pepper for you Kona watchers out there!
Mariners Quilt Guild is having a strip exchange this year! For each meeting, a colour or style has been assigned. To participate, members sign up the week before. I'm in for the polka dot exchange at our next meeting. It's a little nerve wracking choosing fabric for an challenge, but I thought this one would give lots of colour options. And check out that selvage!
I've so far resisted buying any of the fabrics from the Timeless Treasures Mini line, even though my local shop has brought in a pile of them. But I never noticed these little hedgies. I do love some hedgehog action! I must continue to resist the flamingos, zebras, and monkeys... and foxes. Let's not forget the foxes.
You might remember these colours from a post a while back... I've finally decided to use them for my Toes in the Sand sampler. Orange and teal! I have lots of fabric in those colours, but I felt like I needed a some prints that weren't one or the other. There just wasn't anything available locally, so off I clicked to Hawthorne Threads.
And then there are the "just because" fabrics that I threw in the virtual shopping basket. I mean, I was paying shipping anyway, right? The glasses were just too fun and hipster to leave behind, the text print has been calling my name for a while now, and the Valori Wells Wrenly print was on sale. Enough justification for you?
AND Hawthorne Threads had their scrap packs on sale. They have three varieties: fresh, cool, and warm.  I went for the fresh pack. I've gotten it before... there's something really fun about not knowing what you're getting. I didn't love the amount of pink in this mix, but there are some nice pieces nonetheless.
 Who doesn't love a little octopus...
 Or a mermaid snatching a whale by the tail?
 I have no idea what I'm going to do with this frogs on a summer picnic print!
As I type, all these lovelies are swishing around in the washer. Yes, I'm a dedicated pre-washer. It's another of those habits I learned very early in my quilting career ☺ and  I just can't let it go. I wash my fabric just as I would wash clothes. I hate the idea that the quilts I make have to be treated with kid gloves. Wash 'em when they need it... if they wear out, they were well loved. It's all good. The only concession I make is to throw in a Shout Colour Catcher. They suck up any excess dye in the wash water and prevent colour bleeding.

I've got to stop buying and get back to sewing! Maybe tomorrow....


Sunday, September 08, 2013

Quilt Therapy - Sewin' with the Squares!

I knew it. Back to work = less quilting. I also knew that the way to fend off the first week back blahs would be some Quilt Therapy, so I rounded up the Squares for a session.
As per usual, it was a productive day with each of us working away on multiple projects. Q-B finished the top for this wedding present quilt just recently. All that remained was to tear off all the paper pieced foundations. Yes, that whole thing is paper pieced! It's couch sized! Yikes!
When her fingers got tired of picking at that ghastly paper, Q-B switched to binding some placemats that have been on the WIP pile for a  bit. Alas, she just wasn't lovin' the way the machine binding was looking, so she opted to hand stitch them at home. Back to the paper foundations!
Q-A was working away on her first HST project. Yes, the addiction is spreading. Only Q-B has yet to succumb.
These HSTs featured some pretty darn cute prints from a Sew Sisters fat quarter of the month delivery. I love this little hamster. I'd be lying if I said I didn't snitch a scrap or two.
By day's end, Q-A had enough HSTs for two baby quilts. She even got one all sewn together. You might recognize that layout (hint, hint).
Q-A also brought along the blocks from her second!!! Transformer quilt to discuss lay-outs. One of the best parts of a Quilt Therapy session with Q-Squared is the way we help each other with quilt-y decision making and problem solving. We do some of it with digital photography via a closed group on FaceBook, but nothing beats an in-person quilt consult. Q-A decided on a chevron layout for these 9 inchers. They're destined to become a king size. I've never made a quilt that big and just typing it makes me cringe. At least she's sending it out to be quilted!
I wasn't quite as productive as Q-A and Q-B, but I did get the borders on the Double Irish Chain Redux. I really needed a consult for colours and sizes.
I'm planning a pieced back to use up the leftovers from the quilt top. Less to buy and gets some odd bits out of the stash. Besides that, it makes the back just a little more interesting. ☺
I'm in an odd spot with my quilting where I don't have many things to work on.This summer, I quilted so much that most everything is done. I know, I know, quit bragging. But it left me with not so much to work on during this session. So.... out came the hexies!
Please don't ask what these are destined to become. I just don't know. All I know is that I'm enjoying seeing this project get bigger and bigger. 

What's this, you say, no pics of what Q-D was working on? Alas, she was absent for this session. Not one but two social occasions in her native L-Burg kept her from us. But I'm sure we'll see more of her antics next time!


Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Tutorial Tuesday - All my Schoolchildren...

I'll admit it. I take a shameful amount of pride in having a nice looking classroom. I like it to be a colourful and interesting place for the kiddies to spend their time!

One of the items on my UFO/WIP list from last January was to make some more seasonal mini-quilts to hang in my classroom. I already have quilts for Hallowe'en and Valentine's Day, but I didn't have one for back to school. So I got to work on this...
By now, it will be gracing the wall of my classroom, just above my desk. In honour of my first day back to classes tomorrow, here's a little improv tutorial on how I made it!

1) Start out with some scraps. You need a pieces suitable for the pencil body, the eraser, the metal clamp that holds on the eraser, the sharpened wood bit, and the lead. The largest of mine was the pencil (yellow dotty fabric - probably 4 by 6 inches).
2. Sew the metal clamp on to the end of the pencil. As I went along, I trimmed down the pieces to make their size more suitable. I just eyeballed the proportions. It's improv, people! ☺
3. Sew the piece that will become the sharpened wood section on to the other end.
4. Sew the piece that will become the pencil lead on to the sharpened wood section.
5. Add your eraser. You may have noticed that my pencil got a lot skinnier here... I trimmed it down as I went.
 6. To sharpen your pencil, sew two triangles to the end with the lead.
7. I liked the idea that this pencil wasn't totally new, so I added a small triangle to my eraser end as well so it would look like I'd already been erasing!
8. I wanted the pencil to look like it was laying on a page, so I added a little extra to the end with the eraser. I also trimmed the white on the ends at an angle, keeping in mind that I wanted a 12 inch square quilt in the end. You could trim it straight if you prefer.
9. Add a large piece of white to the top and trim to desired size. I used Kona White, but you could use a tone on tone if you preferred. I was going for the look of a fresh sheet of paper!
 10. Add a smaller piece of white below the pencil.
11. Grab a scrap of batting and some backing and layer it up. Spray adhesive works well on a small piece like this... no pesky safety pins to get in your way whilst quilting. I used a Frixion pen to mark a side and top margins.
12. Then I quilted the side margin in red. I used a special stitch on my machine that gave the line of stitching a little more weight than usual. I did the same for the top margin. I used my normal stitch for the lines. I started out with the idea that they would be a little more than a ¼ inch apart, but the scale wasn't right with the size of the pencil. In the end, they were more like a ½ inch apart.
 13. Once you've stitched all the lines on your note paper, you can write a message on it.
14. I went wih "Welcome back!" in cursive writing. (I'm trying to encourage more cursive in my classroom this year.) I wrote it with a water soluble pen... it took me a couple tries to be happy with the form of the letters. Once it was a marked, I free motion quilted it in black. I went over each part twice to give the writing more weight. And I added a little flourish from the pencil... it just needed a little something!

Bind it with the method of your choice and there you have it!

If you decide to make one, please leave me a comment and/or a link to your blog or Flickr photostream.


Monday, September 02, 2013

Week-end update - Part 2

I've said it before. I'll say it again.

Hello, my name is Jenn and I'm addicted to quilting.

There. It's all out in the open. Again.

Apparently, I am no longer able to have WIP items to work on at a leisurely pace. I don't know when this shift occurred or even if I like it. (#productivequilterproblems) Enough whinging... on to the quilting!  Yesterday, after pickling some beans and baking up some kale chips, I started whipstitching the itty bitty hexies. These little darlings are 1½ inches at their widest point. This pic is historic. My first ever hexie connection!
Sewing by hand was really fun. Shhh... don't tell anyone. TV on, feet up. I could get used to this.
 It was so much fun that I just kept going. Don't you love my pincushion? It's shaped like a three seater sofa.
 I did take a break for supper... but then I got back to it.
I thought getting the cardstock templates out would be tough. Turns out, I was wrong. They popped right out with only the occasional wrinkle.
Then I laid the pattern on top to get a sense of which hexies would end up where. I really wanted that little thimble to be front and centre. What's this? It's not big enough? Turns out, reading the pattern is essential. Somehow I had gotten the idea that it was 32 hexagons. Nope, 36. Off I went to add more (breaking more EPP rules as I went).
 An hour or so later, the sewing kit was layered and ready to quilt.
Here's the backing/lining. I have oodles this fabric from Red Rooster's the Dressmaker Collection . Love the pattern pieces (fully labeled of course) and the old school notions. Does anyone still have one of those mini pizza wheels for marking fabrics? It's a good thing my local shop didn't bring in the full line!
I was worried about the sturdiness of the hexies... nothing came apart when I removed the templates, but I'm not confident in my stitching just yet. So I opted to quilt the living daylights out of the things!
First diagonal!
 Second diagonal!
   Third and final diagonal!
It was really, really hard to cut out the pattern piece. Can you hear the hexies screaming? Can you hear them, Clarice?
Ah, the marvels of bias cut binding. It wraps around those curves so nicely. I wonder if I'll ever get over the feeling that I'm wasting fabric when I cut those diagonals?
I can't tell you how many times I stabbed myself. Sewing with this many pins is worse than cuddling a hedgehog. Trust me, I know from experience. This binding method (from the book) is a little different from what I normally do. It's very narrow (1 ¼ inches) and I was worried my usual method would be too bulky.
I was beginning to puzzle over how to hold this odd little binding in place with pins. Then I remembered those great binding clips Adrienne gave me. I'm not paid to rave about Clover Wonder Clips, but I wouldn't be opposed to it!
Et voilĂ ! Le finished sewing kit. I can tell you here and now that you'll be seeing a lot more EPP and/or hexies on this blog!
Off to sew some more! Or perhaps cut out more hexies!


P.S. You may have noticed some variation in the size of my pics on this post. Tell me, dear reader, do you prefer the regular sized pics or the larger ones? It's all about you on this one. Afterall, I've already seen this stuff life-sized! Leave me a comment, would ya?