Monday, March 30, 2009

I do get there eventually...

I announced a while ago that I was taking part in the Mod Sampler Quilt-Along at Oh Fransson! and at last I have got around to cutting my fabric and stitching the first blocks. It's not so much of a Quilt-Along as a Lag-Behind in my case, but that was part of the plan...
I really liked the design of this quilt when I first saw it, and thought it would be a good way to use some of those lovely Amy Butler and Sandy Henderson fabrics in my stash. I knew when I signed up that there would be little time to follow up in real time, as I was going away for a while. Now I'm back, however, and I spent a while on Saturday cutting all my fabric and putting the pieces on their assigned boards. Elisabeth's approach to keeping things sorted throughout the project is new to me, as are several of the techniques described. I think of myself as an experienced quilter, but I see that I have quite a bit to learn here. New ways of doing things can be interesting to try out, so I'm working my way through this, post by post. This quilt-along is a great reference, and is somewhere I would definitely direct new quilters to, because of the thorough descriptions of all the steps in making a successful quilt.
One of the things I've never (!) tried before is pressing the seams open. When I started out we were told that in quilting you were to press both seams in one direction so that the batting wouldn't migrate between your stitches and show up on top of the quilt. Batting qualities are much better now, though, and this shouldn't be an issue. I can see already that my four-patches are nice and flat, but I have to take more care with matching my seams when I cant butt the bulk of those folded seam allowances into each other. I suppose that's all going to improve with practise and pinning, though!
I haven't quite decided on the sashing yet. White has been suggested, and although I can see that it would look very crisp and bright, I'm not really sure that white is "me". I was thinking of using faded blue denim, but that would make the quilt much heavier than I would like, so I have ordered some denim blue chambray - a light cotton with the look of denim, if my memory serves me right... so we'll see how that works before I decide.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

More gorgeousness

I've been away for a few days, and wouldn't you know it - I managed to sverve by a couple of quilt shops... And we all know what happens then, don't we? I just couldn't control myself! But it is such a lovely feeling, though: "I'll have this please, and this and this..." and before you know it:

A bag full of gorgeous fabric! I do have a few pieces in my stash already (understatement of the year!), but I had been saving up for this trip, and it was great to indulge a bit. My local quilt shop is all about sweet, romantic fabrics in soft colours these days, and I'm not, so it was great to find some more colourful bits and pieces. Yesterday I just sat here and oohed and aaahed and tried out different combinations, but now they're off to the washing machine so I can start using them.
There will be a lot more sewing than buying for a while now! My work-load has lessened a bit, so I have convinced myself that there will be more stitching time, and I certainly have enough plans to last me a while.
And while I'm sorting through my UFOs, have a look at this:
Wonderful, creative Calamity Kim is having a very generous giveaway with lots of gorgeous stuff: lovely things she has made, along with an amazing variety of craft supplies. Go leave her a comment and maybe you'll win!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Buttons revisited

One good thing about tidying up is that you rediscover things that you had forgotten about. Like these buttons that I made some years back. There was a time when making buttons from polymer clay was all the rage, and I must have made hundreds. Some were used as embellishments on quilts, and handfuls of them were handed into eager little nices' and nephews' hands to take home and play with. I was such a cool auntie, always making things with them and for them, until they became more grown-up than me and too cool to be impressed anymore. Luckily the tide is turning again now, and they are becoming old enough to let go of that cool attitude from time to time - wow, how the years have flown by!

But I digress. The buttons: I used polymer clay rolled into thin sheets and tiny heart- and star-shaped cookie cutters. I added a bit of pattern with the end of a drinking straw, and a darning needle was used to make holes before they were baked. And I see that I've still got some carrot ones too, made to stitch on the snowmen on the kids' Christmas stockings.

The funny thing is, that once I had rediscovered these, I kept coming across articles about making your own buttons via Whip up and Craft Stylish. Have a look at these tutorials: Singleton Buttons, a great alternative to buying those costly kits for fabric covered buttons, and how about these Dorset Buttons made with embroidery cotton. And while we're at it, we can make hand stiched buttonholes too, or how about this Appliqué Buttonhole?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Aaah, much better!

I'm getting there - more organized by the minute! At least I can use my cutting table again! I've managed to find new places to store all the clutter - all the things I'm keeping that is. And there's a new project ready to be started. Yes, I know, I have a few (ahem) on the go already, but I was tempted to take part in the Mod Sampler Quilt-along on Oh Fransson!, and who am I - someone who can resist temptation? No Sir!

I might actually have managed to settle on the twelve fabrics for the blocks now after much dithering. I haven't quite decided on the sashing yet, though. White would be nice and crisp, but a bit impractical I think? I have never made a white quilt before, so I could make this my first. I was thinking of black initially, but have decided against it - the colours here are just so sweet and tender that the drama of black would be totally overpowering, I think. I'm also considering a light denim blue, and that could work. But so far I haven't got enough of any of those colours, so I need to get some shopping done. But that shouldn't stop me from making the first blocks!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The best laid plans...

Anyone following this blog could have predicted it. Big words are followed by ... Nothing!
Here I was, confident that I would finish quilting my Sunflower quilt last weekend. I had the whole weekend to myself with no plans at all. Well, there was the fact that my sewing area was a bit messy, and I had just bought a couple of those handy storage boxes with snap on lids. Hm, maybe I should tidy up a little bit before I started sewing? Yes, let's!
I started digging out all the bags of scraps, batting, rulers, frames and what have you stored underneath (and somewhat in front of...) my cutting table. Things were sorted, a pile for recycling, a pile for the bin, some things for the basement and some to be found a new home somewhere in the room. I made great inroads in all the stuff, and although the table is looking like this at the moment, the floor is clear and I can actually stand upright right next to the table, which is a relief :-)

My scraps are sorted by colour in paper bags in one of the new containers, and my batting in another, so I have made great inroads in all the mess. But I haven't sewn a stitch all week. But I will get there, and I already feel that I can breathe more easily in the room because it seems so open and light compared to what it was like when I started. Had I been a better blogger, I would have remebered to take "before" pictures, but at least ou will get "after" pictures once I have finished - but don't hold your breath!
Oh, and it's not true that I haven't sewn a stitch, by the way! I have sewn many - a whole block by hand, actually! Remember the block-of-the-month thing at my guild? I decided to choose new fabrics to make it more interesting (and it turned out that this new round is for 7" blocks, and the old ones were 6", so I couldn't have used them together anyway!).

So here it is, my hand-sewn Card Trick block. It needs seeing to with a hot iron, but at least it is finished with time to spare before the next guild meeting.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Odd blocks and contrariness

We have a quilting guild meeting tomorrow. This marks the beginning of the new year in a way - we elected a new chairman and board in February and this is the first meeting they are in charge of. And with a new board there are new ways of doing things. We have received a mail announcing that we are to make monthly blocks, to learn new techniques (or practise old ones). So why does that wake the contrary child in me? - "Been there, done that" was my first thought. I rummaged through my boxes of odds and ends and found the old blocks from the last round. That's them in the photo. I just grabbed a couple of fabrics for that first meeting without giving it much thought. After six blocks we stopped (or maybe I missed a few meetings?) and I never got around to making anything from them. I'm not so sure I like them, to tell you the truth. But the funny thing is that I realized while looking at them that this Block-of-the-Month thing was one of my contributions as chairman back then!
So what if it doesn't seem all that exciting to be making more blocks, I do remember how difficult it could be sometimes, to come up with a program that would be of interest to the majority of members, and I know that we have new members now who haven't learned the "old fashioned" hand piecing methods. So I'd better get down from my high horse and be positive and supportive!
- It isn't easy to get people to run for office in a small guild, and the least I can do is show interest and take part in the activities offered. Who knows, maybe I can help teach a novice how to improve her skills, the way one of the elder members helped me when I started out. Quilting is about honouring traditions after all, isn't it?
So there we are, I have talked my contrary inner child into participating with good grace, and enjoy the companionship with my fellow quilters. The question now is: do I continue with these fabrics so the blocks I've already made can come out of hiding and actually end up in a quilt, or do I pick some other fabrics and go off in a completely different direction? Hm, I'll have to sleep on that, I think...