Thursday 28 April 2016

what a difference

What a difference a day a week makes!
Thank you for all your thoughtful comments about these stars of mine. I didn't want to rush it, didn't want to waste fabric, or money, or sewing time. I tried walking away from them, ignoring them, working on other things, but they were all still there up on the design wall, waiting patiently for me!

You may remember, I started with a single line of fabric, Victoria Findlay Wolfe's 'mostly manor.' These fabrics are designed to work together, and they do indeed, all very bright & bold.

I decided it was time this week to have a bit of a rethink about these stars, and work out how best to move forward with them. But how to make- it- mine?
One of my favorite design sources are vintage quilts. We can learn a lot about technique, color, improv, using what you have, mixing up fabrics that may or may not be supposed to go together - and as I was looking through an old magazine with my morning coffee, I spotted several yellow vintage quilts, and I started thinking - what if ...

What if ... I added in a bit of a 'zinger', some Bella Solids Cheddar maybe? I do like this, it seems to tie the big hexies together, it links up the past with the here & now. And it's different.

But it still wasn't quite right. Again, what if...

What if ... I still kept a bit of a 'yellow' thing happening, but stayed with the VFW light stripe & floral for my setting units, altered the layout a little, and bordered with that yummy yellow floral? Now this has possibilities! I love how the edges of a couple of the blocks blur a little into the yellow setting units and it's hard to see some of the hexis - it will make it interesting and hold your attention a bit longer, hopefully.

So I haven't moved very far this week, my hexi/stars are all still up there on the wall
 but I have come up with a pretty plan
- and I'm happy! 

Linking up this week with Em for 'moving it forward'
and with Kelly over here for 'needle and thread Thursday'

Tuesday 26 April 2016

quilting 101

My daughter wanted a little cot quilt for a friend, so I suggested she make one! It was the perfect opportunity for me to share a few quilting basics with her, so I grabbed it!

First up, choosing the fabrics
... and like many, I love fabric! Lots of my stash is made up of scrappy little bits & strips, fat 1/4's, and lots of leftovers. I do buy the odd biggish piece from time to time, but I rarely buy more than 1 metre/1 yard!
Using my older stash and turning it into a quilt has been a focus this year. Which is where my daughter comes in... she has a great way of looking at things, colour first, mixing up the fabric styles, with no bias towards any designer ranges. And she loves my stash, old & new!

The boy/girl question is unknown still for this little quilt, but the mum-to-be is definitely a 'blue' person, so that was a good starting place. I pointed my daughter in the direction of my blue scrapbaskets, and let her go for it...

As she really wanted to stick with an all-blue look, I suggested maybe mixing up different shades of blue for a bit more visual interest...

We sorted even more. I felt we maybe needed more range of large/medium/small scale between the prints to give added contrast, and so I popped in a few of my choices too ...

Next up the maths
... and for this little quilt we kept it nice & easy. Lots of scrappy squares cut at 5", so the finished squares end up 4 1/2".
Then followed a quick lesson on how to use the rotary cutter. Safety first, and trimming up the raw edges of each fabric, and then lining up the ruler and cutting, using that good old "measure twice, cut once" rule.
She quickly progressed to layering up a few fabrics all at once, and once they were cut, she was very keen play with the squares all laid out. First alternating lights & darks, then laying them all diagonally. In the end she opted for 'scrappy' {like mother like daughter, yes?}

And then onto the fun part, the sewing!
... we chatted about consistent 1/4" seam allowance, pressing not ironing, and then got onto some time saving chain piecing {before Evie woke up and Olive got back from the park with Gramps!}

-  chain piecing

- and more chain piecing

- oops, side tracked looking at fabric again!
This time choosing the backing fabric
'la paloma' The Alexander Henry Fabrics Collection 2011

- close up pic just for me, checking those intersecting seams are lined up nicely! 

Pop back soon for part 2 - you too darling -  where we add in a bit of a 'zinger'! 

Sunday 24 April 2016

'strings' improv

If you've stopped by lately, you will know I've been playing with a little touch of improv!
I spent a fun afternoon today getting this colourful 'strings' improv quilt top together.
In the end, the result is nothing like how I first envisaged
... but that's ok!

 and a few closeup pics of the fabrics...

- a little bit of bright sunshine on a cloudy day

I enjoyed the free form cutting and fortunately, trimming up the blocks to get them to all fit together was quite easy! I played with the arrangement to get a bit of overall balance, and added in some longer connecting strips in the more trickier areas.
I used a scrappy selection of Carolyn Friedlander 10" squares, and those connecting filler strips are teal Acacia by Tula Pink.
Improv ideas, including using a framework & setting limits, came from this book 'The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters' and further inspiration from Ashley from filminthefridge.

Linking up with Cynthia for 'oh scrap' here
and with the April AHIQ over here
- where others are sharing more improvisational projects

Friday 22 April 2016

getting distracted

I've been getting a bit distracted again this week, in the nicest possible way with grandchildren J
 - oh, and with just a bit of improv piecing too.  

'The Improv Handbook for Modern Quilters' has been on my bookshelf for a while. I've leafed through it, but have not seriously read it. It's written in quite a different way, but what really caught my eye was the additional quilters' versions of the main 'scores' - the possibilities are endless. {see here for more details about this book}

So, on a whim, I decided to cut up my little selection of Carolyn Friedlander 10" squares, including the Carkai, Doe, and Architextures ranges. I'm planning at this stage to use only the fabrics from the pack - a little challenge for me in it's self! The idea - very briefly - is to make up fabric pieces that later can be cut up into shapes. I began tentatively with an orange & grey combo,..

... and then I forgot all about the book, forgot all about the 'score', and instead got quickly into a rhythm of making up a few more sections, adding in a few more colours! I started out using the ruler & rotary cutter, but slowly left them behind! And so far, the blocks are all different sizes, but I'm keeping the assorted greys & blacks for my inbetween strips most times.

It's still all very much at the 'let's see where this goes' stage
... but it's simple sewing, perfect for when time is restricted, and lots of fun!

"Strings"  improv 
Linking up with the latest Ad Hoc Improv Quilter linkup after the weekend

* EDIT: my daughter turned up today with her latest wrap, 
Oscha 50/50 linen cotton Raja Brighid
perfect colours to go with this improv playful piece J
- love the tiger face!

Saturday 16 April 2016

out of my comfort zone

Look what happened to my star blocks while I was out of the room...

... no no, just kidding!
But I am wondering though, if a scrappy EPP project will be my 'Plan B' here! 

Getting the right fabric combo for my 'star' project last week is still proving to be a wee challenge
{see earlier posts for more details}
- it's just not coming together as I had imagined
How do you feel when this happens to you? Does it happen to you?
Do you continue & finish something you're not totally 'in love' with,
or do you move onto something more enjoyable?

... in the meantime, I'm lovin' some EPP with all the leftover bits of fabrics J
Linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching over here
and with 'oh scrap' here

Thursday 14 April 2016

creative mission 101

There's a lot of comfort isn't there
 in sticking with those now so familiar, low volume/neutral fabrics for backgrounds, yes?

... and I was going use my leftover lights to fill in the gaps with my latest WiP 
but suddenly that felt, and looked, a bit boring to me!

I did start out with a pattern this time around. It was in pastels (which looked lovely, and was what first attracted me to the pattern!) (go figure!) But I really wanted to use my new selection of VFW brights for this, so I changed a few elements, slowly, one at a time, just trying to make it mine I guess.The problem was that everything was still looking very bright to me, sans the light backgrounds, so what to do?

Thank goodness for a design wall!
This week I've focused more on playing with the values, looking for good contrast. Initially, I was also trying to use everything in my fat 1/4 bundle, but after lots of unpicking, and reshuffling, & even more cutting out, I've fine tuned it a bit. I think I may, just slowly, be getting somewhere now! I'm adding a few pieces of quieter fabrics in here & there to lighten things, without dominating, and I think I'll make the outer edges of more of those hexis more medium/darks.

Still very much a WiP, but have a little look... 

... and there's still a few gaps, still a bit of reshuffling to do,
still lots more sewing of course
but finally, I'm feeling really excited about this!

Saturday 9 April 2016


Ever spotted something and- despite current WiP's- you just had to have a little play?

I saw a lovely pieced butterfly quilt recently over on one of Anna Maria Horner's sites, 16 beautiful butterfly blocks! The block pattern I immediately recognised as an antique one, but it was made up in Anna's fabrics, a lovely fresh take on an old pattern.

I had made a butterfly block very similar years ago, {see pic#2}. I remember, I was making a lacy, peaches & cream 'wedding' quilt, and this hand stitched block didn't make it in for some reason. 

I had long since lost my original pattern, so I had a little look around and found one similar here, but had a few problems getting it up to size. So I decided to unpick my original lacy block and, between both patterns, I worked it out. Love anything that helps with my machine piecing practice, but - I suspect hand piecing may have been the better way to go here actually.

No plans for this scrappy butterfly block, just a little bit of playful sewing on a Saturday! Will pop it in with my other orphan blocks for now - maybe for an 'everythingbutthekitchensink' quilt one day?

Linking up with Cynthia for 'oh scrap' here
and with 'scraptastic Tuesday' here
What blocks have you been working on? Check out more over here @ 'building blocks Tuesday' 

a bit more #48
Pop on over here to Ann's from fretnotyourself 
- where real butterflies are a hot topic! 

Thursday 7 April 2016

hexi-stars {update}

I shared a few pics earlier in the year when I started this hexi-stars WiP.  And, in-between other projects, it is slowly growing. Mastering those Y-seams took a bit of time... I sewed them together... I unpicked them... I sewed them together... you get the idea, yes?

And then, once I'd sussed out my Y-seams, I found I was starting to run out of fabric! I do tend to jump into things without working out the finer details, you know like - do I actually have enough fabric for this! Maureen from mysticquilter is kindly posting over some of her Victoria Findlay Wolfe stash, a very timely gift as I was running out of options here!

This fabric range is quite, hm-m-m- can I say bold? So now those background triangles are my next design decision...

... I'm thinking, maybe sticking with the VFW range, in assorted leftover lights?

... or maybe adding something slightly different, like this Denyse Schmidt lightish plaid?

Love to hear your thoughts on this.

a bit more #47
I missed this, but here's a monthly linkup
 for sharing your adventures with those Y-seam projects over here at 'Y-seam warriors'
- a great way to get inspired by some creative projects!

And, there's an amazing tutorial for piecing Y-seams  here

Sunday 3 April 2016

a touch of improv

Nothing like a bit of retail therapy to get inspired!

I initially didn't have any plans for my 3 new fabrics- a pretty Riley Blake floral and a couple of matching geometrics. I was simply going fold them up nicely and look at them sitting all pretty on the shelf for a bit. But instead, I began to pull out some scrappy bits of fabrics from my stash, ones that blended, ones that highlighted... and suddenly, I got totally carried away trying out a bit of improv sewing!

I've had a picture of an Amy Butler quilt pinned up on my noticeboard for a little while now, colourful & energetic, made using an eclectic mix of fabrics, just the sort of quilt that I love! There were no measurements or pattern. Feeling creative apprehensive brave, I had a little play, my quick unpick on standby! I started out small, making a little centre section, and then made bigger components as I progressed outwards.

Here's a few progress pics taken over a few days...

my favourite tool has to be my 'design floor'
... I still see a few gaps... now where did I put that initial little centre section...

A fun challenge, making up sections, and finding a way to put them together. It wasn't what you would call' free form' improv, as I did use a ruler, rotary cutter, and I measured each completed strip as I went, to make sure I was keeping within my self-made boundaries.

And of course, things certainly changed along the way, but here is what I ended up with
... h-m-m- what do I call it?
... maybe 'my moderne utility quilt'?

Linking up this week to:
 'oh scrap' here
to 'sew can she' over here
 to #brave quilter here
and to Needle & Thread Thursday here

a bit more #46
*EDIT: just spotted this
Improvisation category from the QuiltCon 2016 exhibitions
part 1 here, and pop over here for part 2
Such a stunning range of styles!

Saturday 2 April 2016

stocking up on a few basics

A parcel arrived in the post this week
a Fat Quarter selection of Anna Maria Horner's new neutral fabrics, 'Skipping Stones'
from hawthorne threads

a  yummy collection of greys & whites conjuring up all sorts of images
Stormy...  Hazey... Bleached...

beautiful neutrals in some of my favourite prints like Eucalyptus, Lineage and Overachiever
- these will be very useful I'm sure!