Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Holiday spirit...

I woke up to a world all beautifully dressed in white today. I couldn't believe it - after all the rain and wind we've been having, it was almost eerie to see everything covered in snow. Since we turned the clock back this weekend it was lighter than usual when I got up, and even more so because of the snow. And so quiet, because there was almost no traffic (I discovered where everybody was once I got on the bus!). I was much too tired to remember to take a picture, though, and now it's all gone! Not that I'm complaining, as it was at least a month too early for my liking. But it did seem to get me in the holiday spirit, because look what I came home with: the latest issue of Christmas Ideas.

I have just leafed through it so far, but I stopped on this page - I quite like these Christmas trees in all their simplicity - I might just have to get out my stash of green fabric and see if I can make some of these - it seems like a quick project.

Talking about quick projects - ehrm... still working on my Haunted House quilt, but I'm almost there: I've finished the quilting and prepared the binding, so I should be able to get it up on the wall by Friday, unless it is hexed...
The fabric for the moon seems to work all right after all. Once the witch was added it turned out that it was just the right shade. Just in case you think I'm a wonderful needle-turn applique whiz, I must hasten to add that the applique is of the raw edge kind, done with fusible web. I've used Steam-a-seam Lite, which is great for this kind of project because it is a bit sticky, so I could easily place and adjust the pieces and make them stay put while moving on to the ironing board. The borders were added and the quilt layered with batting and backing before the pieces were stitched on with free-motion stitching through all layers.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Medieval court(house) steps

- Yes, I have to confess - I have started another quilt! As if I didn't have enough going on! Well, I'm not going to finish this one in the first couple of weeks, for sure... And I must admit that I signed up for the log cabin workshop mainly to spend time with friends and have fun, which I certainly did. It has been ages since I took time out to do nothing but sew and chat, and this was just what the doctor ordered, and I'm full of inspiration again!

Although traditional log cabin quilts can be very nice, I don't normally have the patience to make more than a few blocks before I'm bored to tears, so I must admit I cheated. Because if you look closely, these blocks aren't Log Cabin after all, but Courthouse Step blocks, in fact!
I have had this quilt lurking in the back of my mind for ages, and used the workshop as an excuse to get started. The centre squares are from a Mulberry fabric with an alphabet of illuminated letters in a somewhat medieval style. The letters have lovely illustrations of people, animals, flowers and leaves, and I had fun choosing the right kind of fabrics to go with them, while adding some rather unexpected ones. You'll find handwritten manuscripts, flowers, the signs of the Zodiac, exotic fish, for a medieval banquet, mice (because those draughty castles must have been full of them), gilded ornaments and chequerboard tiles.
In between the chatting, laughing and sharing of ideas I managed to finish these twelve blocks, and have another six on the go. I'm going to make 25 in all, so I'm more than half way there. Wouldn't you know it - after more than 20 years of quilting and having provided quilts for the beds of all my sisters, cousins, nieces and nephews I still haven't got round to make a quilt for my own bed, so this is going to be the one!
Two lap quilts and a bed quilt for myself - 2008 is turning into rather a selfish year, isn't it? ;-)

Saturday, October 18, 2008

All this, and no sewing machine...

Two quilts layered and ready for quilting, one being stitched together + the start of a new book cover, and my sewing machine isn't here...
Don't worry, she is OK :-) She's just away for the weekend! So am I, really - during the day at least. We are in the middle of a log cabin workshop at my guild and have had lots of fun stitching together today. The only problem was that I got home full of inspiration, but having left my machine in the classroom, I really can't work on any of my WIPs right now. Which shouldn't be a problem - I could use the opportunity to tidy up in my sewing room - my sewing table looks like someone vomited fabric onto it, but knowing myself I don't think that's going to happen right now - I wouldn't be here blogging about it, but in there doing it then, wouldn't I? ;-)
I've got dinner in the oven, and will probably settle in the sofa with a good movie and this slow cloth project instead. It is heavily inspired by Jude and Kim's work, but I haven't got really good at tearing myself away from all the (self- imposed) "rules" of sewing yet, so I guess I will end up with something more structured. But at least it is a step in a more organic direction, which is fun to explore, so I'll keep at it from time to time and see where it takes me...

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Spiralling plans

A friend of mine came over last night and showed me a new notebook she had bought, with a practical, but (dare I say it?) unattractive cover. It was made from a stiff grey, kind of hairy felt, but the cover itself had some features that we both liked, and my mind immediately started playing with the idea. I tossed and turned last night, but came up with several features that would improve on the design, and make an even better book cover. Stitched up in some pretty fabric this would be perfect Christmas gifts. As my work day dragged on ( it's not that I don't like my job, but when you're "itchin' to be stitchin' " the workday seems soooooo long...) I doodled in margins and on post-its and came up with more improved features, so in the end I will probably have a design so far from the original that inspired it, that I can truly say that it is my own design. Now I only needed to find some cheap notebooks to go with them.
As luck would have it, I had a "shopping date" with a friend after work, and in the first shop we walked into, they had a special offer on spiral notebooks - 4 for the price of one - so I bought 8!

As this was the first shop we entered, I came to regret it - 8 notebooks are quite heavy... But at least it slowed me down a bit when it came to the rest of my shopping plans, so you could say I saved two times over ;-)

I came home too late to start work today, but tomorrow is another day, and then we will see if this idea of mine is any good!

Monday, October 13, 2008

Some of this - some of that...

I was sitting at my sewing machine stitching some triangular blocks together, and just realized that the things right next to it really mirrored my scatter-brained approach to quilting lately. Some stitchery-blocks, a piece of denim and the pattern for my haunted house quilt, and just out of sight to the left, my little blue bucket filled with colouring pencils, gel pens and paintsticks. I haven't been able to settle down to any one thing lately and seem to be flitting from one project to another, adding a few stitches here, a few stitches there. Well at least I'm doing something. And those stitches will add up and I will finish something one of these days... I had better concentrate on the Haunted House quilt, actually - it's that time of year. In spite of not really celebrating Halloween, I have one Halloween quilt already, and this will be my second one. I've been telling myself that it will be the perfect quilt for my cousins daughter, but it might just stay put here... There's more Halloween inspiration over at Dover - subscribe to their emails, and you get to download free samples from their books every week. This friendly witch is from a whole page full of Halloween images added this week.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Look - knitting!

I'm such a bad blogger. I have been working on this little scarf for a while now, and it never occurred to me to post about it! There could have been pictures while I was casting on, knitting the first rows, unravelling the first rows...
Never mind, it's here now, and it is amazing. The yarn, that is - I can't get over how the colour changes in the two very different balls of yarn makes it change all along while they still work so well together. The yarn is Noro Kureyon, and I found the instructions here. When I fell for the temptation to buy this yarn I stupidly bought only one ball of each colour, so mine isn't very long, but still just right for chilly autumn evenings when you need something warm and comfy tucked round your neck for an evening stroll.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Floral stitcheries

TGIF! It's been a long week, or at least long days at work, and little energy left for quilting, just a little light stitching and knitting in front of the telly. But at least I'm more than halfway there with the stitcheries for the little rose quilt. I'm using the new variegated DMC cotton floss, and I love the colour changes this brings with little effort on my part.
I'm off to dance the evening away with my hoover and mop, leaving tomorrow free for some serious crafting. I have a haunted house, a dragonfly and some sunflowers waiting next to the sewing machine...
And, yes - I did mention knitting! But that's for the next post ;-)

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Not too bad after all...

After all the fuss about that moon fabric I just went ahead and used it as is, thinking I could create a lighter effect when I quilt it. But, you know what? I think it will be all right after all! I just have to stop looking at the picture of the original!
I don't usually buy kits, but I loved the effect of that brown swirly fabric used for the background, so I just went ahead and ordered it. I suppose that using a kit I was more hung up about the thing looking like the original than I usually am - I usually make a point of doing my own thing, and find myself going off on a tangent somewhere in the middle of a project, but not so this time. The moon looked really dark on its own, but when I put it in place on the background, the effect was much better than I had anticipated. Once I add the witch I'll see if I get enough of a contrast, but I think it will be OK after all.
I went ahead and did some freestyle embroidery on my dragonfly as well, and although the silver foil didn't stick evenly on both sides, it doesn't really matter. I used a variegated thread in silver, copper and teal for the stitching. As you can see this is not a common dragonfly, but rather a dragonfly lady. I based it on a picture of a piece of Art Noveau jewellery I found in a book, and although I had to simplify it a bit, I think you get a sense of the original. This is going to be the center of a square in square block for a friendship quilt, but it is a secret so don't tell anyone... ;-)

Saturday, October 04, 2008

This and that...

I have been experimenting a bit with fabric paint, diluted fabric paint and paint sticks to make my moon fabric softer and lighter, but I can't seem to get the effect I was after - the paint either becomes too dense or too subtle, and it turned out that the paint stick I had was beige, not white, so that's just 'blah'. I might just stick with the fabric the way it is, or maybe quilt the moon with some pale yellow thread before I add the witch and bats - that might just do the trick. The piece that I bleached is in the upper left corner in this picture, just to show how different it is from the original - where the h*** did the pink come from??
I'm also experimenting a bit with transferring foil to fabric as seen on the Quilting Arts DVD. I can't seem to get the foil to stick every time I try, and I don't know what I'm doing wrong, so I must try some more, and maybe check that DVD again.
I'm experimenting on a dragonfly quilt block for a friend - and if I don't totally ruin it with machine embroidery tomorrow, there will be some close-ups.
And no, I haven't abandoned this one yet. I finally got around to layering the quilt today, so I can start quilting - this is one of the stages I dread the most, because it's such a struggle to do on my own with a big quilt, but once I'm ready to quilt, the rest should be a breeze. Now it's only a question of finding the time to quilt...

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Not quite what I was going for...

unexpected result
Originally uploaded by crafty mathea
So I wasn't quite happy with that yellow fabric for the moon in the Haunted House kit in the previous post. I wanted a lighter, brighter version, like the one on the cover of the kit. Time to experiment with some bleach...
A few minutes later when I went to rinse it out - this is what I found: a pretty pink piece of fabric! Hm, interesting... - how did that happen? Now that could be an interesting colour for a moon, ("The night the moon turned the colour of blood..."), but I think I prefer the original dark yellow!
Luckily the kit had enough fabric for four moons, so I had taken the precaution of cutting it apart and carry out my experiment on one little piece, so there's still plenty of the original colour!
Well, back to Start, but with a pretty piece of pink fabric to add to my stash.
Now what if I add a bit of white fabric paint to that dark yellow...? Or wait - I have that white Paintstick...
- must dash !