Sunday, 27 October 2013

A Finished Mini

So the other day I got the urge to start a new project.  Does this ever happen to you? he he he.

The original idea was to make a cushion, this time for a grown up.  I had been wasting time, spending time, researching on Pinterest and saw the cushion that gave me the original idea. 

As is often the case with me, I do not remember what I looked at, so I can't give proper credit.  Hopefully, my rendition is a bit different from the original inspiration.  If I copied someone's design, I am sorry and please let me know!

         EDITED TO ADD: I found it!  This is the link to the lovely quilt that inspired mine.  In my mind, the backgrounds were beige and taupe and I was making mine different by using gray... at least the circles colour scheme is different. 

This was an experimentation.  I tried a few new-to me techniques, starting with piecing quarter circles (I started with free-hand wonky ones, maybe I will try regular circles next time).  That went well.

I was both delighted and disappointed with the quilting.  My pieced quarter circles looked quite good before I quilted them, but then I decided to quilt concentric circles, wrongly thinking that it would enhance the circle shape.  To my dismay, it did just the opposite.  The circular quilting seems to emphasize what is NOT circular about the center part.  Lesson learned.

I was very happy with the rays (taken right out of Angela Walters' book).  I used three different colours of a shimmery viscose thread I had bought ages ago because they were pretty: aqua for the middle, a variegated pink for most of the rays with a small section in yellow just because.

I ended up not making a cushion but a simple mini that can be either a mini wall hanging, or can be laid on a table or other flat surface.  For the backing, I used decoration fabric (leftover from a duvet cover I made 15 years ago!) because I wanted stability.  It does not make for a pretty back, and it only occurred to me afterwards that I could have probably used the heavy decoration fabric PLUS some pretty cotton to finish it off.  Darn!  I made four corner pockets so that the quilt can be hung any direction.

Another thing that is new to me is that I machine stitched the binding.  Yup!  I am the first one surprised because hand stitching a binding is one of my favourite part of quilting.  The decision was solely due to the weight of the backing fabric.  Great to give stability for a wall hanging, but so hard on the fingers when trying to hand stitch.  I loosely followed Rita's tutorial.  It was also my first time attaching the binding at a straight angle and changing colours where the blocks meet.

This little piece is going to an unsuspecting recipient, someone who is very dear to me.  She is not a quilter, so I have no idea whether she will like this piece.  Give something you made to a crafty friend, you know they will appreciate it.  To someone who is not, well, you take your chances.  I am actually quite nervous about it.  When I showed the piece to my husband, he said something along the lines of "that's nice but what is it, and what is it for?"

I'm pretty sure people who consider themselves artists start with an idea of something they want to convey, and go from there.  In my case, well, it started with a picture "I like this" and then as I was working, I started to attach all sorts of meanings to what I was making.  After mulling over a couple themes that this could represent: 4 Seasons, Core/Centre, Sun, I decided that my piece represents the fact that the sun does not always look the same depending on your point of view.  I am probably getting this artist thing backwards.  Oh well.  I really had fun doing this and I hope the mystery recipient appreciates the thought.

Monday, 21 October 2013

Quilting Quandary

Remember this?  I'm sure you don't, but this was a late evening basting job that resulted in all over puckers. 

Note to self: do not baste after 11:00 pm.

This is the wedding quilt I have been working on forever for several months.  I thought the stumbling block to get this quilt finished was the basting fiasco.  Now that this quilt has been re-basted, turns out I have a bigger stumbling block: I have no idea how to quilt the thing!

The colours are much more accurate in the picture below.  Oh, and you are seeing are wrinkles... I swear there are no more puckers!

My machine quilting skills are improving, but there are few designs that I can tackle confidently: stippling, wavy lines, loops, you know, the easy ones...  This quilt deserves a bit more, but it has to be feasible.

Any advice ?  All over pattern?  Quilt each "box" individually? Random pattern in random sections?

Beige thread?  Green?  Aqua?  Variegated?  Quilt the lights and dark separately?

Thankfully, I have one more month - more time than I initially thought - before my "messenger" takes the quilt to the recipients.  I don't want to rush in the end, though, so I hope inspiration strikes me soon!


On another note, another birthday party invitation arrived today, so I am off to make another personalized cushion.  Hmmm... I wonder if my kids' friends' moms read my last post about birthday cushions...

Friday, 18 October 2013

Birthday Cushions

Another birthday, another cute sewing project!

Last year I was inspired by a blog post I had seen (I could not remember which one) to make cushions as gifts for children's birthday.   The ones I have given already have been well liked by the kids, and much appreciated by the moms.

Here's the most recent one, finished just in time for a birthday party tomorrow:

The idea of embroidering the name, rather than doing my usual appliqué, was stolen from inspired by Lucy at Charm About You.  I printed the name on paper in a font I liked and used this paper to trace the letters.  The embroidery took no time at all as it is a project so small I can tuck it in my purse and take out when I have even a very short moment.  Unlike hand quilting, you don't need a big chunk of time.  This was literally embroidered in just a few 5 minutes increments!

Thanks to the colour scheme and the prints, the result is a little more "grown-up" looking than I would have liked for an 8 year old, but I went with the colours of the birthday boy's bedroom - cream and red - and the contents of my scrap basket.  I am very happy with my efforts!

Here are a few other cushions I have made in the last year:


These were all raw edge appliqué.  I could have sworn the blogger from whom I got the idea had used appliqué...  Until I found this post by Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilt, which I now recognize as being the post that gave me the idea first... And the name's embroidered!

Well, I like both techniques, and I am pretty sure I will use both of those again.  I stocked up on pillow forms last time they were on sale, so I am ready for birthday parties invitations!

Here is one more I made:

I love that this project is easily adapted for all sizes or whatever scraps you have on hand, and is appropriate for kids (and grown ups!) of any age.

Do you have a go-to gift?

Linking up to TGIFF at Quilt Matters, and Finish Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilt.

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Another Finished Quilt!

Well, I've done it!  Two finished quilts in two weeks!  It helps that I was travelling again, and that the flights were just long enough to finish 3 1/2 sides of the binding.

After my Girly Girl Quilt and all that pink, I really wanted to work on something a bit more boyish.  So I present to you... Boyish Boy Quilt!  (Temporary name, I am sure I can come up with something better!)

I just put the last stitches minutes ago and I was too eager to wait until I could take outside pictures.
There are lots of things I like in this quilt, starting with the colours.  They are not colours I work with a lot, but when I pulled the fat quarters out of the stash, I thought the orange, blue, green and brown mix was a lot of fun.
I also love the quilting I did on the "bricks".  Most of them are back and forth lines, but I did include some pebbles.  I love the look of pebbles, but find the process quite tedious so I knew I did not want to do too much of those.  I had four bricks of that fish print, so I only quilted pebbles in those four bricks.
I used thread from Connecting Threads which is a great weight when you want your quilting to stand out a bit.
Finally I love the backing, which is mostly in a green flannel print, also from Connecting Threads, and the binding which I think is an Amy Butler print.
There are, however a couple things I do not like about this quilt.  I debated how to quilt the blue sashing.  I thought the orange would be overpowering and I did not have blue, so I opted for green.  I had the perfect shade in Connecting Thread but for some odd reason, I chose to go with Aurifil instead (50wt).  What a disaster!  Now, I love Aurifil, it's my favourite thread.  It just was not the right thread for this project. 

I thought I would experiment with different weights, but by the time I realized it was not working, I was to far into it and I did not want to unpick.  You see, I did not change my stitch length from the default which is good for piecing, but way too small for quilting.  I also used my walking foot, but I think I should have free-motioned the lines to give them a more "organic" look, similar to the lines in the bricks.

Another thing that bugs me about this project is that although I carefully planned the rows so that no two similar bricks would be aligned, I somehow reversed my middle strip and ended up with not two, but three similar blue bricks in one row!  Arghhhhh!

For all its flaws, I am still pretty pleased with the overall result.  Once it's washed and crinkly, the quilting might not look as bad, and I am sure once that whoever ends up being the final recipient of that quilt won't see it with the same critical eye as I do.
So... what have you been working on?
Linking up to TGIFF at Quilt Matters.

Friday, 11 October 2013

A Finished Girly Girl Quilt

My girly girl quilt is finished!

I put the last stitches on it last night.  I took it to work with me hoping to escape the office for a lunch hour photo shoot on the waterfront, but I ran out of time.  So... to the school playground we went!

I try not to see colours as gender specific.  When I chose clothes or toys for my girl, I try to avoid the pink and purple overload (she does have a lot of pink, most of them gifts or hand-me-downs).  My boys do have pink shirts, and I teach them there are no "boy" colours and "girl" colours. And yet...

Well, there is no mistake that this quilt is a girl quilt.  It is very, very girly.  Almost too sweet for my taste, like a strawberry milkshake with three extra spoons of sugar and whipped cream on top.  All sugar, no spice... 

The backing fabric has been in my stash for about 10 years.  It was meant to be a "skirt" for my cutting table, but it turned out said table looks better naked, so I still have so I still have a few meters of the fabric.  It's pretty traditional, but I think it fits the quilt perfectly. 

I am so glad I went with the striped binding.  I hesitated because I thought it was going to be "too pink" but, who was I kidding?  Resistance was futile...

It was my first time quilting rows of loops like this and it won't be the last.  I love the texture it gives, even before washing the quilt!

This quilt does not have a recipient yet, but I know it's eventually going to make a little girl very happy.  And her mom too... as long as she loves pink.

I am linking up to TGIFF at Quilt Matters and Finish Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts I am off to work on another small quilt.  A boyish quilt this time!

Monday, 7 October 2013

A Little Travelling, a Little Shopping, a Little Mending...

A Little Travelling...

What do you call a 6 hour wait in an airport?  Uninterrupted sewing time!

I was travelling in the Toronto area last week and thankfully, I brought some sewing with me.  Everybody around me was plugged in to some sort of device or glued to their tablet.  Me? sewing a binding.  I wish there was more of us out there using their hands for something other than holding a smart phone... 

Exhibit #1 : On the plane, sewing a binding (yes, I did go for the stripes!)

A Little Shopping...

One great benefit of going to Toronto was that I finally got to visit Sew Sisters.  I was already familiar with their website and I was so pleased to visit their brick and mortar shop!  I got to meet the owner, Judy, and Carol with whom I had been in touch regarding the giveaway I hosted a few weeks ago.  The shop is located in a rather nondescript building but don't let this fool you!  The inside is very nice, and filled with yummy fabrics!  Konas, 1930s reproductions, batiks, novelty, and - yes - lots of modern fabrics too.  I was on a budget, so I had to limit myself but I was pleased with my loot:

Lovely Fat Quarters:

Cute Button (probably the first button I bought since I was a teenager)

I had actually thought of naming my blog "I run with scissors", but discovered that something very similar was already taken.  The button was hard to resist.
Wonder Clips:
These may become my favourite notion.  Why pin a binding when you can wonder clip it?

A Little Mending...

Ok, folks, I realize I am all over the place today, but I must end with a couple pictures of my most recent mending project.  Having active boys means that I am forever trying to mend worn off knees.  If you are going to be mending clothes, might as well make it fun:

What have you been up to?