Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Change of Plans

Always loving a good bargain, I have been keeping an eye out on sale prices for Joel Dewberry's Modern Meadow line and over the past year have collected this lovely little bundle.

Just perfect for the quilt which will replace my Hopscotch quilt which had been intended for my aunt.

I chose a block pieced from large sections so as not to chop up those bigger prints too much and I love them.

I used a white on white fabric (some of you are now feeling slightly queasy, I know) to add sashing and borders and I love how striking the blocks look against the brightness of the white.  In all honesty, while I am often partial to a white on white print, I probably would have preferred something else for this quilt.  But, as September seems to herald the arrival of every known invoice for fees - music lessons, swim club membership, school trip deposit and on and on and on - I had to work with what I already had, so w.o.w it was.

This quilt top feels fresh and clean and it makes me sigh with relief that I made a decision and got on with it.  I enjoyed this quick block and imagine more of these quilts in my future as a "go to" pattern when time is tight!

Must get basting ...

Sunday, 23 September 2012

Weekend Update

Nothing big going on around here this weekend on the sewing front but there are some bits and pieces I can share.

First up is this fabulous Bee Blessed Antique Tile quilt top - 

I've been piecing the donated blocks together for the Bee and I think it's so stunning.  Of course, I have a penchant for blue and white quilts so this is right up my street, but I think you'll agree that this block looks great as a quilt.  Thank you so much to all of you who contributed blocks - can you spot yours?  If you don't see yours here, fear not, we have a second Antique Tile top in aquas/blues coming along with the remaining blocks that were sent to us so if yours isn't here, it'll likely be in there in due course.

September brought a return to hours of my week spent waiting poolside during swim training so I've been picking up my crochet again and the chevrons now look like this - 

Would you believe me if I told you there's an hour's work in every chevron stripe?  (Maybe I'm just slow!) This is soft and snuggly, and some days too warm to be working up in a stuffy swimming pool, but I am really enjoying making my waiting time productive again.

Also this week I finally got around to making a zippy cosmetic purse requested by my mum some time ago - bad daughter!

She likes angels, so while the rest of you are having heart attacks over the country angels in brown, I am happy that she will be okay with it!

And, I have finally reached the end of the 572 pieces I've been cutting from shirt scraps for my son's Squares and Strips bed quilt!

What's more, clever me already has 22 of the 88 eventual blocks completed? See ...

Single square blocks

Is that cheating? In any case it means just 66 blocks left to make!

So what have you been up to this weekend?

Friday, 21 September 2012

Let's Talk Scraps

If you've been popping in here lately, you'll have noticed that I have been prompted to try some scrappy blocks by Judith's choice of September Bee blocks for Bee Blessed and for hipBees.

All of this playing has got me thinking about scraps, so I thought I'd share my scraps with you.

Let's talk size ...

I have noticed over the past year and a half of blogging that one person's scraps are another person's stash fabrics and that's certainly true with me.

For some stitchers, scraps seem to be anything less a fat quarter, but for me, a scrap is anything less than about 8" square or less than 2.5" wide (like leftover pieces of jelly rolls), and anything less than 2.5" square is destined for my tiny scraps box.  It's not an exact science (even I'm not that organised!) but in general them's the rules.

Let's talk storage ...

Scrap boxes - just two!

My fabric stash is small by comparison to lots of folks' out there, but it's plenty to be getting on with and to be storing!  Anything bigger than a scrap gets neatly folded and sorted by colour (roughly) into my stash drawers.

But everything else goes into my Ikea storage boxes, one for larger scraps and one for the tiny scraps.  Again, I don't have a huge volume of scraps and I'd like to keep them consigned to just one box each so that they don't take over the room.

I used to just pitch all the scraps into the boxes with no sorting, but I found that by sorting them into colour packages (just little labelled ziplock bags) they take up less space and I am more likely to find what I need and to use them, which is after all the point.

As you can see, my tiny scraps are still in the process of being colour sorted.

Let's talk purpose...

A little while ago I confess I had a moment when I considered dumping my scraps.  I wondered why I was saving all these little pieces.  Did I have a plan for them?  Would I ever use them?

Of course, scraps are useful to have around for little applique projects or tiny embellishments, but really that didn't use up many in the space of a year.  Fear of scrappy projects also made me reticent to use them - how could I use them without making something look horrible?  Well, no more fear.  Making the blocks Judith suggested for this month has inspired me to make up some scrappies with a view to collecting them over time and making use of fabric pieces I might once have ditched.

So now I have what I'm calling my "By The Ways" (as I'll be making them alongside other things going on) -

  • 12.5" crazy scrappy blocks (blocks in one colourway)

  • wee 5" improv crumb scrap blocks (again in single colourways).
I love these blocks and am content to have found a way of using up scraps and playing around with my own abilities in "scrappy" (trying not to over-plan) in ways that aren't risking precious fabrics.  Besides all that, they are quite fun to whip up!

So, onwards and upwards with my scrappiness - thanks J for the kick in the pants motivation I needed to do something about the growing heaps of raggedy bits.

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

As the lady wishes ...

I got a bit carried away when I was taking this picture to show you the lovely bundle Jan has sent us (early) for her month as hipBees' Queen Bee in October.

I wasn't intending to start Jan's block until October proper, but I just couldn't put those wee FMF fabric back in their ziplock bag.  They called out to me to be played with (honest they did) and the chocolate didn't have a hope of ever seeing the inside of that bag again! Yum!

So, in my impatience to play, here's what I did

Jan requested star blocks of whatever sort we fancy really, but she did express a wee hankering after the Stargazing block from the Modern Blocks book.  So, happy to oblige, and because I have the book and I've been desperately wanting to make this block since I first saw it, the ipod went on and the the rotary cutter came out.

It was great fun to make and I will definitely make more of these one day.  Hope my version lives up to Jan's expectations!

Sunday, 16 September 2012

All Came Good in the End

As you are all painfully aware by now the Ruby quilt I have been making as a wedding gift for my cousin has been a sorry saga - desperate quilting, a hole in the back (discovered after I'd quilted), binding stitched on to the back instead of the front before I realised and I could go on, but I won't bore you. Anyway,  for better or worse it's now finished and ready for gifting to the newlyweds next week.

For all the mistakes I made along the way, this quilt is still beautiful and that reminded me a little of my own marriage.  So, that's the blessing that I'll be sending with this quilt - that these newlyweds will know that marriage can be beautiful even if it's not always perfect.

In case you are interested the free pattern for the quilt is here.

Saturday, 15 September 2012

Staying Organised

Whether it's a beginning of new term thing or not, I've had a bit of a frenzy around the house to try and get myself feeling organised again and my efforts have made it to the sewing room in the form of a shiny new magnetic notice board.

Exciting, huh?

Ok, well, maybe not.  But I just thought I'd show off my lovely new magnets which I thought of all by myself! (Not bad for someone who can barely speak her own name by 9pm these days!)

Little craft magnets, pretty buttons and a blob of craft glue and 30 seconds later Bob's your uncle - button magnets fit for your sewing notes, patterns, shopping lists and whatever else a girl's sewing room noticeboard needs to hold!

The little Union Flag brooch Di gave me last month has also become a magnet for the board just by slipping a magnet between the back and the pin (no gluing), which leaves it removable for when I want to wear it on my woolly scarf this winter.  Genius or what?  (No answers to the "or what?" please!)

I am really chuffed with these simple little magnets (instant gratification makes) and will be keeping my eye out for some much nicer buttons than my little box has at the mo to make a few more.  I also foresee some teeny, weeny bunting and a wee magnetic yoyo or two to continue the noticeboard prettification process (and hide the tops of the hooks we hung the board from).

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Oh Ruby!

Yep, that's the sound of a quilt that's breaking my heart.

On Friday afternoon the sun was shining gloriously so I popped out to take a better picture of the quilt top (though it was a little windy)

and also a picture of the back

I don't normally piece backs for my quilts but I did for this one.  And, at that stage Friday afternoon this quilt was breaking my heart because I wanted to keep it.  I loved every little piece of fabric and every great big splash of Ruby colour on that backing, and had a little sigh in acknowledgement that this quilt will not be mine.

Then, I took it off the line and drove myself crazy trying to baste the quilt so that the front and back would be aligned straight.  In the spirit of honesty, while I'd like to tell you I succeeded, I can't.  That back was on again and off again and I just really struggled to get it right.  It ended up being as good as I could get it and it's not too bad, but in my head I can't help thinking that it's not good enough.

Friday night and yesterday I had a go at quilting this baby and feel like I'm breaking my heart over it even more.  It just didn't go smoothly and I think that I have kind of wobbled under the pressure of having to have this finished.  There is barely a single straight line in this quilting and I really wonder at myself - don't I know better than this?  Can't I do better than this?  And why, when it matters so much, is this one of the worst quilting jobs I have ever done?

My one remaining hope is that after I get all those mosaic quilting ends taken care of and the binding on, a good wash and dry will disguise this ghastly quilting.  My report card on this one should definitely read "Could do better."

Oh Ruby, forgive me!

Friday, 7 September 2012

Little Asides

Okay, so I know I have all these plans that I should be concentrating on this month, but I have some 'little asides' to show you.

These are 5" crumb blocks made from the odd teeny scraps that find their way into my scrap box.  Following my crazy scrappy block fest at the weekend I was about to ditch some of the little offcuts when I had a mini lightbulb moment.  Some of the little scraps that had already been stitched together and I thought that if I had a few more of them they could be combined randomly into small blocks, turning teeny pieces into usable blocks. So I stitched together a few more and 15 mins later I had a block - easy peasy!

I decided that I wanted to keep my piecing squared, but of course, these could be pieced with all kinds of angles, and wonks if you wanted.  Would it be right to call mine improv without wonkiness?  Or is it all still too ordered for that?

Anyway, alongside my plans to periodically reduce my scraps by making the larger crazy scrappy blocks I think I will throw in a few of these 'little asides' as I go along too.  Of course, it'll take tons of them to make anything from, but there's no rush.

Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Bee Blessed September Blocks

After a wee summer break from our regular meetings, Bee Blessed will be getting back together later this month for more quilt creating and donating.

While the break in meetings might have allowed us to lose a few of the pounds gained from the fabulous home-baked treats that always put in an appearance at our gatherings (sorry bloggy members, we eat your share too!), stitching has not stopped altogether and the antique tile blocks popping up on flickr and through our letter boxes are going to make a great quilt top soon!

Anyway, it was time to get my act together and make up the block Judith set for September.  It's a version of Aneela's crazy scrappy block (click here for Judith's post with the Bee Blessed specifications) and is a heap of fun to make.  Want me to prove it?

I made this one and then kinda didn't stop until another two appeared.

And then, once they were done I made three more for me - oops!

I thought that these scrappy blocks would make a great contribution to my de-cluttering phase (long story, but had a bit of a wobble over mess and clutter in general earlier this week and am determined that a period of de-cluttering is required throughout our home).  The blocks I made for me are 12.5" unfinished and not bordered (unlike the Bee ones).  As always, I have a little wonking issue and occasionally my blocks veered back towards straight but I still like them.

I thought they would be a perfect way to use up some of my scraps and if I leave them aside and occasionally add more blocks as my scraps build up, one day I'll have a quilt's worth without really even thinking about it.  Great plan, huh?

Anyway, six blocks later that should prove they were fun!

So, if you fancy a wee bit of a quick fix fun block, why not give it a go and maybe even send us one for Bee Blessed (specific instructions here).  It'd be much appreciated and end up in a quilt being donated to someone who needs some thoughtfulness in their lives.

Monday, 3 September 2012

You Can't Have It ...

... 'cos it's mine!  All mine!

This fantabulous creation was awaiting me in a very unassuming jiffy envelope today.  I recognised the sender's surname (fellow hipBee Reene) immediately and couldn't believe I could get lucky enough to be receiving the quilt she'd made for this summer's Brit Quilt Swap 3.  But guess what?  I was!

This little quilt was no sooner out of it's tissue paper wrapping than I dashed upstairs to temporarily fix it to my sewing room door.

See, how perfect is that?

As if the quilt wasn't awesome enough for a Monday, Reene was kind enough to include some yummy scraps and a wee set of afternoon tea pintoppers from Poppy's Pocket.

Even the back of this mini is gorgeous - I love that purple fabric!

I feel like the cat that got the cream today!  Thank you truly, Reene, I love it all.

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