Monday 30 May 2016

fabric play

I'm sure you'll agree, sometimes you simply need to have some creative playtime to feed your creative soul. For example, when I made this butterfly block a while ago, I just started out simply by wondering 'what if.' I had no plans, no deadlines, but it was a chance to test my piecing skills and it resulted in a lovely fresh take on an old pattern, and it was a lot of fun!
... and so now & then I plan to put everything aside and spend some more time playing with fabric, maybe do a bit of research & learning, and share how I go, even if there's no big result!

These new fabrics arriving over the weekend got me thinking about what I could make next. But of course, I couldn't just cut straight into the new fabrics, I needed a pattern! And I needed to make a test block before committing to anything major, like a whole quilt.


This is a variation on the New York Beauty block, sometimes called suspension bridge, or sunflower, or broken circle. Once the blocks are joined together, you get quite a neat overall pattern and if you add in sashing it's different again. Lots of potential!

I did do a bit of research, and found this pattern from Bill at Wonkyworld, the Ladies Art Company No. 488, "Suspension Bridge" which looked do-able. I rummaged around, found some fabrics and had a little play...

... well, for a pattern published way back in 1922, it still worked! It's pretty fiddly piecing, using a scant 1/4" seam, and the finished block size would be approx. 14." I think by the time 12 or so complete blocks were made, you'd certainly have those curved arcs well & truly under control!

I also came across a pattern where the arc was paper pieced, which seemed a much better way to do this...

... but I didn't have the actual pattern pieces to make the rest of the block!

Back googling, and I came across this tutorial from timquilts (2013) where Tim has cleverly adapted this old design. He machine pieces the arcs instead of paper piecing. The result is a bit different, the points in the arcs are a bit 'wonky' but as he said, "I can live with imperfections to keep it fun." It's worth checking out his version- his colour choices are wonderful!

Along with trialling out various patterns, I was also keen to see how various colour combinations played out too. For this last little experiment I chose fabrics fairly close to the colours I plan on using- greys, blue, teal with 'pops' of purple/pink...

Well that pattern worked out ok, and the blocks end up a bit larger, around 16" but mr D. certainly had something to say about those wonky bits on the arcs - funny, he's usually very quiet about sewing room activities!

Here's how my design wall looked at the end of today's fabric play...

... the final decision may not be made anytime soon, but it sure was a lot of fun!
Definitely something I'd like to explore a bit more

*EDIT I have just come across the-perfect-pattern, it was in a book I had right here on the shelf
Feathering the Nest by Brigitte Giblin
- so I'm going back to the design wall for yet another play!

Linking up this week to 'building blocks tuesday'
and to show & tell over here at cookingupquilts

Saturday 28 May 2016

dapper wovens

A little while ago I linked into 'scraptastic Tuesday' over at shecanquilt and won a $US25 gift certificate from greenfairyquilts... such a lovely surprise! I chose a fat quarter bundle - 'Dapper Wovens' by Luke Haynes. The fabrics arrived safely here in NZ today... and it was a much larger bundle than I had expected... exciting...

- photo idea copied similar to one in the ads!

... now to decide what to make with them
I'm thinking maybe something along the lines of Gwen Marston's liberated log cabins,
or maybe something like Melinda Lin's 'braque' quilt
or maybe...

Linking up to 'sunday stash' over here at mollisparkles

Wednesday 25 May 2016

almost winter

*pic from here

The days are shorter, the temperatures have certainly dropped around here this last week 
... and it's time to put another quilt on the bed!

The third week in June marks the winter solstice,
and here in NZ, as we get closer to the shortest day of the year
we rug up warm, make lots of yummy homemade soups, have pot luck dinners
and get those fires going.
One of us is also going to download all the 'outlander' series
... and keep busy making more quilts of course!

We also embrace a wee bit of tradition.
 *Matariki is the Maori name for a cluster of stars (also known as the Pleiades)
which appear in the night sky late May or early June
For many, it signals the start of a new year ... and the beginning of winter
... and a time to sing & dance... and to be grateful for what we have

Linking up for 'show & tell' with Lorna over here
{*follow links for more pics & details}

Monday 23 May 2016

mainly amy {a WiP}

I've got a few in-progress projects happening at present, but I wanted to share a quilt top I've recently finished. I guess this could be what Julie from pinkdoxies would call a 'second chance' quilt... where you use up some of your favourite fabrics, all leftovers from earlier gifted projects... and you get a 2nd chance to enjoy them all over again as you sew another project!

I followed Ashley from filminthefridge's tutorial for her lovely version of a vintage quilt. While the piecing is fast, especially if you chain piece like me, I found getting that cohesion of colour does take a bit of time.

I used mainly Amy Butler fabrics, scrappy strips and fat 1/4's with chunks cut out of them. They are from her different collections over the past few years, going back to 2003 when 'gypsy caravan' first came out. I enjoyed cutting into these last few fat 1/4's in my stash, and if you can cut them up how Ashley suggests, there's very little fabric wastage...
which = no more scraps! I've paired them up with lighter coloured prints, solids, dots, and stripes to give a scrappy vintage look.

It's a fun quilt to make. But, while all I wanted was to make a vintage-y scrappy quilt, I found it wasn't simply just a case of throwing everything into the mix! I think the real trick is taking your time to find the right fabric combinations ... for you ... and getting enough contrast to keep your eye moving around the quilt. After making a few trial blocks up, and discarding a few, I ended up loving the effect of including some darks into the mix. That warm dark cabernet shade from Amy's 'bright heart' collection was the clincher for me. Without it, I think everything could have would have just blended together.

Just waiting for that little quilting fairy to stop by my place now!
Linking up with Cynthia here for 'oh scrap'
- where I see she's been giving her leftovers a second chance too!

Tuesday 17 May 2016

my english grandmother's garden

In the spirit of 'paying it forward' I have gifted my larger leftover pieces of mostly manor fabrics to my friend Glenys and also to a couple of members of the Monday Modern group here in Auckland. However, I do still have quite a few little itty bits left.

I came across this pattern recently by Karen Styles from Somerset... 

... yes, good old EPP!
What a great way to use up all those little leftovers! 

My version will be a bright-ish variation on an old theme, and just perfect as a 'slow sewing' project for over the next few winter months (and surely I can do a bit of EPP while little Evie sleeps too?).

I'm glue basting my hexi's, which I've never done before, but it certainly does seem quicker and easier... so far! Julie from justjulielou has some excellent tips about thread basting, where she stitches behind the papers, and there's lots of info around on how to glue baste

If you have ever done EPP, I wonder - do you glue or thread baste your hexis? and why?

Linking up for show & tell over here at Sew Fresh Quilts

Saturday 14 May 2016

seeing stars

There's been a bit of a love/hate thing-y happening with my hexi/star quilt this month, and by the time my daughter came over the other day I'd actually moved onto something else. But she wasn't having a bar of it! The conversation went something like this....
  • D: where's all your stars mum?
  • Me: in the wardrobe
  • D: what?
  • Me: in the wardrobe. I wasn't enjoying them anymore
  • D: but the fabrics are lovely... let's get them back out... now
  • Me: oh darling, I'm v.busy just now, about to start cleaning windows!
Next thing I knew, those stars were back up on the design wall! AGAIN! She had decided, and rightly too, that I needed "a few guidelines, a bit of order, what's the word mum?" "rules" I replied.

And together we stuck with it that day until I had plan B, hm-m-m- or was that plan C?!?  Well anyway, briefly here's what we did- the stripes & pastel small scale prints were discarded, and we focused on having one main 'bright' fabric (mostly) for the centres. I used the white 'minimal angles' print as my unifying {read  =calming} element, and she began adding some scrappy tone-on-tone bright bits for the joining triangles - an idea I copied suggested we try from Alison from littleislandquilting!

Then, a busy few days followed for me in the sewing room as I unpicked, re-sewed, pressed
and re-shuffled, and sewed, I'm sure you get the idea!

After all this playing and trialling different versions over the month
 I started to run out of some fabrics.
So, in true quilty form, there's a bit of joining up in places and substituting,
and here we are now with a finished quilt top...

- thinking of binding with a b&w stripe and maybe I could call this quilt "liquorice allsorts"

Loved working with my daughter on this and,
I definitely had fun breaking outta-the-box with all this colour too.
hm-m-m- so now my design wall is bare...
but I guess I can't avoid cleaning those windows any longer!

Linking up this week with:
Cynthia here for 'oh scrap' and Emma over here for 'moving it forward'
- head on over for lots more quilty inspiration!

Wednesday 11 May 2016

simple & scrappy

Some days just call for some good old comfort sewing. And sewing up this scrappy improv quilt was ideal for what I felt like  today, simple & scrappy! No need to worry about perfect points, or things ending up the right size - I didn't have a 'right' size with this! I just kept making up little slabs, adding on one way or another, until it became approximately a throw size quilt top!

I did make a few minor changes along the way, like adding in extra fabric. See that lovely Denyse Schmidt blue with the white daisy floral...

... it fitted in really well with it's little accents of orange!

a shot with the sunlight behind -  almost stained glass effect!

... sometimes simple is best!
All ready now for basting, DIY quilting & binding

Linking up for show & tell with Lorna over here at 'let's bee social'

Tuesday 10 May 2016

a little stash enhancement

Sewing my stash has been a real focus for me this year
but now & then I splash out on a few current fabrics, they add a bit of new life and a bit of interest
- and I do love a good 'mish-mash' {technical term} of fabrics!

This week there's some new additions to my stash...

... a few Cotton & Steel basics
plus a little assortment of the other C&S ranges, including Picnic, Mochi, Honeymoon, Moonlit.  
They are a bit different from my usual purchases, it could get kinda interesting!

Sunday 8 May 2016

connections & comfort {a WiP}

I experimented with improv quilting a few weeks ago and I've been wanting to have another go ever since! There's lots of inspiration around, like the improv handbook for modern quilters'. I have also been finding inspiration from other quilters, in particular LeeAnn from niftyquilts, and this also looks really great - a Denyse Schmidt workshop on improvisational patchwork! Not something we can attend over here in NZ sadly.

This time around I'm using my fabric stash as much as I can
- I love the adventurous "restrictions" of this!

The other day I discovered a few little fat 1/8th bundles of very old plaids in the depths of the wardrobe so I'm popping these in too, along with a piece of very old Laura Ashley fabric my daughter rescued from the garage where she was living years ago - love mixing up the plaids with florals!

And to add just a bit more, for the first time I'm repurposing a few fabric items...

... including a few of Mr D's older shirts
{he is ok with my picks from the wardrobe, truly!}

Oh and, I've added in a few precious pieces, like this Shasta daisy one
and a small piece of silky blue plaid that I've had in my stash for some time now.

I think this is turning out to be similar to one of those cosy vintage utility quilts,
- all about connections & comfort!

And here's how it all looks up on the design wall today...

Linking up this week with Cynthia for 'oh scrap' here

Wednesday 4 May 2016

gypsy wife {update}

I thought it was about time for an update on my Gypsy Wife #2
I changed a few bits around this week, just making sure all my colours were evenly dispersed
oh, and I also added in a couple of Jen Kingwell's new neutrals

So now I've got quite a yummy scrappy party happening,
with celebrities like AMH, Denyse Schmidt, Tula Pink, Liberty, Amy Butler, some C & S,
and a teeny tiny strip of Kaffe
 - I just love mixing everything up, don't you?  


It's all joined up together very nicely {insert happy dance} and I'm now moving onto section 6
As you can see from the pattern, it's quite an involved much larger section
... this could take a while!

splish splash stash

and there's lots more happening over at the Gypsy Wife QAL page on instagram here
Linking up this week with Lorna over here for 'let's bee social'