Thursday, December 29, 2011

From Merry Xmas to Happy New Years

Xmas morning
We have been having the worst weather for a NZ summer Xmas time.  While hubby has taken in kids into town to go to the movies, I have tucked myself away in my sewing room and finished my Double disappearing nine patch quilt top.

This has been on the go seriously since Xmas day, when I decided to add sashing to the individual blocks...
and on it went, till I ended up with this, this afternoon:

Blocks are 22 1/2" square
While I sewed, Hubby built - the beginning stages of a garage/workshop...

Note the small helper
I have also been tracking down my WIP projects which are ferreted away in all sorts of corners throughout the house.  These are listed on my new "page" and will be added to and updated as these things get located and hopefully finished.  I think I need to quilt one quilt per month... as well as finish piecing/appliquing/add borders etc... to another one... as well as keep up with what I really want to sew... hmm - seems like an awful lot of work.  Well, I've decided I am just going to enjoy my quilting - so I will do what I want when I want.  As part of this, I am going to try not to buy new fabrics just for the sake of buying them (ohh, noo!!!) however, I'm not going to go cold turkey, as I will buy things I need to make a collection work... as I'm not prepared to down grade my work by using substandard materials.  Well, the theory sounds good.

While I still have to sandwich and quilt this one, at the moment it is just going to get added to that stack... and while I'm in the piecing mood, I'm going to whip out my Buggy Barn Courthouse Stars blocks (wonky log cabin/star blocks) and make final placement decisions - then get them onto the ready to quilt pile as well.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Xmas Everyone!

Christmas eve... we're pretty much all sorted.  BBQ for dinner tonight, then chicken on the BBQ and cold ham for xmas lunch... after a morning of opening presents.  Hubby still has the pavlova to make tonight (or tomorrow morning if it comes to that) as part of our annual traditions, and I've got jelly to make.  Then time for the big guy to come down the chimney...

Hope you all have a good day and a fun holiday, enjoying time with family and friends...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

A BOM Finish

Month two of my BOM committments (self inflicted) have been cruising along just nicely.  Today I finished Block Two of Gail Pan's Bluebirds and Berries quilt.

Block One and Block Two

While I had the machine set up for blanket stitch, I also started and finished the blanket stitch around Block One of My Tweets.

I am also supposed to finish KMAC's block two of her Day of the Dead Baltimore quilt... but the design seems to be in the pending pile.  So this leaves me with some spare time... well, if you can have spare time a couple of sleeps before Xmas.

Hmmm, what to do next?  I've printed out some circle templates which I'm still contemplating... no, I have decided I'm going to do it, but can't decide whether to do it NOW or LATER.  This is a project for a special bundle of fat quarters that I had secretly, or not so secretly coveted for quite a few visits to Itch to Stitch in Whangarei... and finally they had to join my other friends at home.  Of course, they had no specific purpose - until now (or later, as the case may be).  Then there are still the solid fat quarters that want to be chopped up, oh, not to mention the other bundle of bits from Fabricworm - I'm sure they'd love to be chopped up too.  Obviously I'm going through a chopping up phase.  Which nicely leads into the problem I find myself in next...

I am tossing up whether to keep a record of my current (and not so current - you know, if I stopped chopping things up, there'd be more chance of things being finished, aye?) WIP's, so that as the year progresses, I can keep track of my progress - if any.  I'm just worried that at the end of 2012 I won't have finished any of it - in which case, it could all be a bit depressing.  What do you think?

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Xmas Secrets

My own little homemade gift giving cycle has been completed... so now I can reveal some of the secrets of the past few weeks.  I'm not all that great on little projects - so I don't instinctively lean towards choosing handmade gifts in the first place.  Some people are just special.

Firstly, the gift I made for the Kerikeri Guild Secret Santa gift exchange. Sneak peaked in an earlier episode... I can now reveal that is was a Stash Book. A What Book I hear you ask... yes a stash book. A fabric paged book which you can fuse or sew your fabric swatches to, to take shopping with you... small and squishy enough to squeeze into your handbag, with some handy paper notes to keep track of your requirements. No chance of buying the wrong fabric match now. The recipient was enthusiastic - although reading the instructions for use was required.
A few of the pages I fused little inspirational bits cut from the
fabric on the cover... all about sewing, and used pinking shears to
cut the pages so that they wouldn't fray too much.

I realise that I never took a photo of the entire cover... duh.  Basically just
a patchwork of fabrics... hand quilted to highlight and bound - like
a little placemat, and then folded with fabric pages sewn through the middle.
Next, a Card Holder.  A small wallet sort of thing that you fit your EFTPOS cards into, designed to hang from a string around your neck.  We all know people who wear their keys... phones... and yes, now cards around their necks.   We are not only the cashless society - but the handbagless society.  Well, some of us are (me, I'm firmly a handbag user - carry far too much stuff). 
Well, I tried to make it fit any outfit... and chose black...
but just couldn't help but add the zebra button.

An inside view... pink lining fabric with the black folded over from
the outside to create the card pockets

The instructions for this were from this handy wee book:
This book has got ideas for covers for things you didn't even
know needed covers...

The lucky recipient of my Card Holder gave me a covered notebook... a tutorial which seems to be doing the rounds (not that I'm complaining) and if you go to Ms Lottie's blog at the slightly mad quilt lady - you'll find a page with an excellent tutorial.  Inside my little book is the starting of a recipe collection for cleaning products and such.  My package also included a container of homemade wool wash - which I can now make myself when I run out... how handy!

While I don't stress myself out about making homemade gifts... it is nice to make/receive gifts that are individual and made with the recipient in mind...

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Guinea Pigs and Pillowcases

The kids were invited to a friends party today... so yesterday I decided to make the birthday boy his own personalised pillow case.  Just what every seven year old boy wants - right?

Have I ever made a pillowcase before?  No.  Have I ever done pieced lettering before?  No.  Have I ever decided that other children want a handmade gift when they would probably prefer Lego?  No.  Good time to experiment then, like, one day before the party.  To cut a long story short - turned out cool.  I used the pattern on with just a few minor modifications.  The first being the pieced panel...

I also used french seams

and did what I think is called mock french seams after attaching the pieced panel (where you sew a wide seam, then cut one of the seam allowances to about 1/8" and tuck under the remaining seam allowance over the top of the cut allowance, and topstitch it down - encasing the raw edges).  This makes the inside just as nice and neat as the outside.

For future reference, the pillowcase is quite large... would fit a jumbo pillow, and could probably have made it a bit smaller than the dimensions given in the pattern.

We also made some guinea pig cage modifications as after all the wet weather, their accomodation was somewhat left to be desired.  Now, for those of you who have never had guinea pigs - they poo a lot.  Poo plus leaking roof means big fat mess.

So first of all, they got a weatherproofing strip around their roof to keep the worst of the weather out.

They also got a new nifty attachment on the outside... See that bit of wood?

Shown here in action to prevent me getting my head whacked when the lid falls shut on it.

Also, a new poo tray... complete with kitty litter.  Now, the guinea pigs are not what you'd call house trained, they poo everywhere, but they do seem to have designated a particular area of the cage a pooing zone, so this is where I've put their litter tray.

Some things never change...

Friday, December 16, 2011

A Long overdue finish and another BOM Block

After my whine yesterday, I spent a bit of time reminiscing about my adventures last year as a new convert to the whole blogging thing.  Reading about how last years school holidays were starting seemed incredibly similar.  Wow, was that a whole year ago?   In fact, I could just cut and paste. I also noticed how so many of the projects I had at that point in time... well, I still seem to have.  Fascinating!  They don't do themselves when you're not watching!!

So I hunted out my Amy Butler tunic - tried it on... still fits... worked out what needed to be finished... and just finished it.  Took about an hour.

I also finished glueing my seam allowances on the My Whimsical Quilt Garden block I started whenever it was, and have since finished doing the invisible zigzag.  So a BOM finish too! 

I'm now putting together another block of Gail Pan's Bluebirds and Berries BOM together... and will probably do a bit of blanket stitch on Block One of My Tweets as I go... although definitely need to change the needle - sewing dinosaur spikes does not do great things to your needle!  I haven't forgotten about the FMQ - just taking a break... just need to make sure it is not still sitting there at this time next year.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Still Raining

Day two of the holidays, and it's still raining.  Not torrential, but more than a drizzle - and it just keeps coming.  I've lost track of how many days of rain we have had so far... it must stop soon - before the kids get sick of TV and computer games.

I am feeling a bit blah this morning (check clock - it is still morning) - and I'm really just putting off doing anything.  Need to do washing.  Won't do that until it stops raining.  Need to fold washing from the last couple of weeks and get it put away (you know, before it stops raining so that when it has stopped raining and I do some more washing, there will be room for it to pile up again)... what's new?  The result of tidying the lounge last week means that my sewing space needs an overhaul before I can actually do anything in there... hmmm... that seems a bit major.  I've been thinking about the solid bluey/greeny fat quarters I bought a while ago... and am reminded of a quilt or block on someones blog... which of course I have no idea of whose it was.  So spent a couple of hours last night following links in the hope that I would once again track it down - unsuccessfully I might add.  Does anyone remember seeing a mostly blue solid fabric improv log cabin sort of thing which had the odd mustard log?  Desperate I know.

Well, that's enough self pity... I better go and do something... will keep you posted.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A Dinosaur as promised!

Well, the kids prizegiving was last night, and today was the last day of school.  One can only hope that the weather is going to improve (please, do not rain every day for the next 6 or so weeks, I don't think I could cope with that).

The junior school (years 0, 1 and 2) performed The Brontosaurus Boogie for their item... hence the requirement for a dinosaur outfit.  It is amazing what you can do with a hoodie and sweatpants pattern, vilene interfacing, elastic and safety pins!  One very happy dinosaur.

On the husband side of things... much improved - in fact, back to full health - whew, so glad that is all over with.  Now roll on some quality quilting time!  I think I deserve it Santa.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Normal scheduling shall resume...

maybe tomorrow or the next day.

I have been "unquilty" all week due to a very sick husband (suspected pneumonia) and the need to make a dinosaur costume for my daughters prizegiving tomorrow night.  All shall be revealed in the goodness of time... not the husband... but the dinosaur costume. 

Friendship is... when you phone a good friend and explain your interfacing requirements to her answerphone, and she arrives the next day with the goods - you know who you are!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

What's been happening over the weekend?

Saturday and Sunday have been totally different.

Saturday was a busy, busy family day.  First off a trip to The Country Yard (background blocks for My Tweets all under control plus sashing for the Row by Row round robin) - then a quick jaunt cross country to Matakohe to visit the Kauri Museum where the Otamatea quilters were holding their exhibition.  While I wandered and oohed and ahhed, the kids and husband walked around the amazing museum displays - incredible amount of work on show by everyone from both areas!  Then a circular trip home via Dargaville, Waipoua, Opononi, Kaikohe... and home.  Tired but a good day out.  Now if you don't know where any of those places are... check a map - it was a real adventure which took 10 1/2 hours.

Sunday has been a rainy stay at home day.  Rain and more rain... very dreary.  Kids have been... irritating. 

When the rain slowed to a drizzle, it was time to go
and check the chickens

But worth our while with five eggs.

I have been taking a break from FMQ...

So far so good... or at least, it will do.

... and have been preparing my shapes for the next block on My Whimsical Quilt Garden scrap quilt.

Just the petals to do on the second flower... then ready to
attach to a cream background - very striking on my dark
desk though isn't it?

Friday, December 2, 2011

Feather Update

Have just passed the half way mark!  Must... do... another... feather! 

I have already decided that I am going to machine bind this quilt - it is just too big, and too cheap to invest the time doing the hand stitching.  Reminder to self, practice doing machine binding...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Call Me CRAZY!

Decision made.  Execution still required.

OK - so I always sort of saw feathers on this quilt.  But the thought of all that work on a quilt made of cheap and nasty-ish Spotlight fabrics put me off.  Plus the size of the quilt wasn't exactly a positive.  Surprisingly, after a bit of a play on EQ6 with a feather garland - I worked out that doing an almost circular design around the star, with feathers extending into the nooks and crannies of the log cabin blocks was maybe achieveable.  Trick was to make it all big enough that the scale of the feather suited the scale of the block.

So off I went... with a hiss and a roar.  It is definitely a bit rough.  If you look at it from a great distance with your eyes sort of slitty... it looks T-errific!  I've now done three of the stars, and have now remembered that if you quilt at a slower pace than flat out, well, you can actually echo around things pretty good.  I am sure that by the time I've finished, I will have either worked the whole feather thing out of my system - or I'll be an expert.  We shall wait and see...

This is the prototype - Feather Number One.  Shows promise.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Another Weekend... another BOM Start

My Tweets - Block One
November has started off cracking with new projects.  Whoops - did I decide at some point in time that I should be concentrating on WIP's??  The less said about that the better.  I had a lot of fun visiting new blogs as comments were left on mine as part of Freshly Pieced WIP Wednesday link a couple of weeks ago.  I also found a new project, with Erin Russek's "My Tweets" programme through who run a Monday BOM's Away link up thingee.  While My Tweets has been running all year, I've just downloaded month 11, and have just got block one together - with blanket stitch still to do.  It's very different from the original (which I also love) - but by using the Japanese Taupe fabrics I already need for the Bluebirds/Berries BOM - I can at least feel like I'm getting two for the price of one... and it's very soft and pretty.
Did I really not put a white strip inbetween the first two cabins?

I finally finished putting together the pieced back for my log cabin stars quilt.  Whew - what a mission.  Firstly it is huge (90x105), secondly I ran out of scraps/left overs of white on white... and was unwilling to cut into my stash (well, I might need it!)  But I did... and after a quiet afternoon of sewing, had the back finished.  A few more afternoons and it was sandwiched, and now I am making great progress with the quilting.
The log cabins will have the interlocking boxes...

and the friendship stars have loopy flowers - some are more square
than others.
I am still undecided about what to do in the large white areas.  With the quilt being so big I don't really want to do an all over design - but the white areas really need something significant to hold it all together.  Any ideas??  Please let me know!

Just incase you need a memory refresher? I know it's been
a while!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Another Block of the Month Finish

This weekend has so far been spent finalising my colourway, and producing Block One of a brand new BOM by Kristin MacDonald over at KMAC Quilts (check my side bar and one day I will learn to insert links).  After a bit of harassing friendly encouragement from me, she has agreed to make her patterns available... as they come... so maybe not a true BOM, or rather a "Block of the When I Get It Finished" programme.  So block one is available to download if you are interested.  Her inspiration has been both Baltimore Album quilts as well as The Day of the Dead festival... an interesting combination and will see some of her designs having skulls and things amongst the foliage.  Not being much of a skull person... I am going to go with the flow and see what happens.

It took me a while to decide on a colour scheme, as Kristin is into her solids, and
I thought I may go the same way as a homage to her design, but I don't know, those
prints just kept wanting to join the party... result... actually none of the fabrics are

Now I must confess that my block is not 100% accurate to the pattern - firstly due to one of my flowers/stems being placed wrong awkwardly so that the top of the stem showed, instead of being hidden under the flower.  Solution, add another circle under the inner circle to cover it up.  Once I'd done that, it sort of made sense to follow it through to the centre of the block... which I then did.  All in all, very happy.  Now, I wonder what has happened to Block Two?

Monday, November 7, 2011

Progress on this and that... plus what happened to all those little bits??

I enjoy reading my own writing too much to have a wordless post... so I will bore you with all the little details of my minor accomplishments over the past few days.  I'm also linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for her Wednesday WIP thingee.  My entire blog is 99% work in progress - it would be brief if it was only finished projects (snort, snort).

Firstly, with the guild's Xmas lunch pending, the need to make a handmade gift for the santa exchange had been hovering over my head.  Over the weekend I played with a little grab bag of leftover fabrics from "my local" (the lovely ladies at The Country Yard) containing fabrics covered with quilting related words. 

Now I can't reveal all at this stage, however... a small, sneak peak.

I have also started piecing the sashing strips on a charm square quilt.  I'm starting to get the hang of these solid fabrics... and they are definately growing on me.

OK these are really just pieced straight, but don't they look
so much more interesting on an angle?
My Sew Happy Me stitch along is progressing nicely... still behind but who's counting??

And just incase you were wondering about the freezer paper templates I gave you a little tutorial on cutting a few posts ago... well they've blossomed into a wee block.

Freezer paper ironed onto the reverse of the chosen fabrics waiting
for the seam allowances to be glued down.
Little bird still needs a black bit on his eye, and whole thing
needs to be invisible machine stitched down.
After a bit of a vague email, those same lovely ladies from The Country Yard sent me a package containing my favourite thread for everything "Seralene" by Mettler in a mid grey.  I think it is meant to be used as a bobbin fill - but I use it for just about everything.  And also a little selection of Japanese Taupe fat quarters to add to my rapidly diminishing pile of scraps which will ultimately end up pieces in Gail Pan's Bluebirds and Berries BOM quilt.  Don't you love it when they wrap them up to look like presents?

Sunday, November 6, 2011

When Good Quilts Go Bad

Have you ever just lost interest in a quilt.  Like entirely??  I find that after making a good start on my indigo quilt... it just doesn't do it for me any more.  I keep thinking I should pull it out and do some more - but I feel no compulsion to even look at it, let alone sew it. 
Remember this one?

This is the first quilt that I have ever felt like this about.  I feel so guilty.  I mean, there are other quilts that get put away for one reason or another, but I have every intention to finish them at some distant point in time.  This quilt I just can't be bothered with.  It's so frustrating, I still like the quilt pattern, I think it is kinda cool... so what is it?

But on a positive note - I may be able to use the fabrics (along with some others) to make something completely different!

On a different note, oh to be 6 again when the comment "you're looking colourful today" is taken as a compliment.  Visualise bright red lace look leggings, multicoloured autumnal coloured sun dress with pink jacket and pink socks.  Delightful!