Wednesday, 22 February 2017

A week of finishes (again!) :: Day 3 :: Cloud 9 Sample Block #1

Up today is No 13 from my 2017 FAL Q1 list!  Back in September last year, I took part in the Cloud 9 New Block blog hop and, before making the block in the gorgeous Cirrus solids, I made a few sample blocks.  This was one of them.

This block is not actually the foundation paper pieced block that I finally did for the Blog Hop, but a rotary cut and pieced block.  I know that some people don't like paper piecing and so I was trying out an alternative to it.  Whilst it works OK, I wasn't happy with some of the sections and so plumped for the paper pieced version.

I had already quilted one of these to become a wall hanging for a swap at my local quilt club and so I knew how I wanted to quilt this one - just the same!  Even so it can be daunting when it's all loaded up and you haven't made that first stitch yet ....

I straight line quilted two quadrants with a gradual increase in the space between the lines and then free motioned quilted with a paisley motif in the other two quadrants.  I used Glide thread in light turquoise which I really like.

I decided against a traditional binding for this and went instead with a facing.  I followed Victoria's tutorial again, and it worked well.  This finishes at 14".  The fabrics used were Kona white, Bahama blue and cyan and then the reds were FQs I had picked up at a show so not sure what they are.

I like the abrupt change between the geometric straight lines and the swirls of the paisley design ....

and another, just because I can and I love this design!!

I am going to be linking up with Lorna over at Let's Bee Social. x

Tuesday, 21 February 2017

A week of finishes (again!) :: Day 2 :: Pears (Gillian Travis workshop)

No 11 on my 2017 FAL Q1 list is finished!!

Now, I'm not sure I really like this but a finish is a finish.  Let me explain.  My local quilt club had organised for Gillian Travis to do a workshop (January 2015) and, having seen her work at Festival of Quilts, I signed up.  It was the Pomegranate Workshop, but the technique is the same for any shape.  I had wanted to do my own shape but then, under workshop conditions, I realised I could spend far too long coming up with a shape that works for the technique and then run out of time to get anything done (it does happen!).  So I went with one of Gillian's shapes - pears!  

The requirement list called for batiks, which I had never used before and had none in my stash.  None of my local shops stocked batiks and I had to send away for some.  I liked the look of this charm pack, Moda Fire and Ice if I remember correctly, and they duly arrived in time for the workshop.  But do they really say pears?  No, not really but you have to carry on because you are at a workshop and I had nothing else to work with.

Whilst I love workshops for the teaching, camaraderie and, let's face it, having a day to indulge in your passion, I don't usually like what I come away from the workshop with.  Does that happen to you?  I enjoyed the day, I enjoyed the process of Gillian's teaching and I quite like the technique but do I like this piece?  No, not really.

However, I decided to quilt and finish it.  It was good practice for free hand guided quilting, some pears worked better than others for this!   Now, what to do with it?!!!

Monday, 20 February 2017

A week of finishes (again!) :: Day 1 :: Granny Square Blanket

As some of you may have seen before there can be quite a while between finishes being blogged about here and then suddenly there is a flurry.  Well it's happening again - I have just totted them up and I have a week's worth of finishes so thought I had better get them written about!

First up, No 29 from my 2017 FAL Q1 list, is a crocheted Granny Square Blanket.  All this needed were ends darning in - why did it take me so long to do?????  Well there is a reason for that ....

This was started at least seven years ago, when we lived in New Zealand.  Blankets, of any sort, were a necessity for me in New Zealand because none of our houses had central heating and I really wanted a woollen crocheted blanket for warmth. 

At that time we lived inland in a place called Feilding and had a bach at Waitarere Beach.  We had no TV connected at the bach and certainly no internet connection so I decided to have a hand project on the go for when we were three.  The local town had a great wool shop and so I decided to make a Granny Square blanket - no pattern to forget if it was a long time between visits and I could decide when it was big enough.

Fast forward a few years and we left New Zealand within 3 weeks after a house sale completed and things were put into storage.  (Although why it wasn't finished before then I can't quite remember!).  That storage returned to the UK last July and I was reacquainted with this blanket.  It was so lovely to sit for a couple of evenings in the New Year and remember the times when I was working on the squares.  There really is something to be said for 'slow work' - it does imbue the article with history and a story before it is even finished!

So it now resides in our lounge and is giving the warmth that I had hoped it would - I just no longer need it on my bed!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

The Weekend - 18/19 February .....

I should have spent Saturday sewing with the ladies of the Oxfordshire Modern Quilt Guild but this bug I have is not shifting and so I had to cancel.  I was able to nip into the studio for some of Saturday and work on a new quilt based on my Churned to a T block.  Having drawn up this design in EQ7 I was able to have a good play with layout and colours, more details in this post if you are interested, and settled on a design.

This was the first time I cut all the pieces out before starting to sew .... I did not get it 100% correct and had to cut a few more pieces along the way but it certainly made the piecing go much faster.  I love seeing the difference once the block is trimmed ....

The fabrics used are all Kona Cotton and the colours are silver, cerise, gumdrop, cyan, Bahama blue and graphite (not in this picture).

There were three colour variations on the same block resulting in 16 blocks with a measurement of 24".

I am finding it really difficult to get a true representation on the colours in any of my photos - but in real life I love them!!  I hadn't physically seen gumdrop before and I am so pleased with the colour.  I was wanting the change between the light and dark pinks to be the same as between the blues (which I already had) and I am really happy with what I achieved.

I have to say that I really don't enjoy joining the blocks when they still have their papers in however, when I have taken them out in the past I can not get the seams to match up as well as I would like.  I only ever pin if absolutely necessary so for me this was a nightmare!  Not to mention that I sewed this entire line but my bobbin thread had run out after the first three inches!

First line of papers removed ....

and then I moved upstairs to the lounge.  I have never removed the papers whilst watching TV before and I have to say it made the whole process a lot more bearable!

I had to see what it looked like so I ironed it just before I went to bed ....

Today was spent on an entirely different project.  In my bid to be more organised (as per my word of the year ORGANISATION) I am not leaving the girls' World Book Day costumes to the last minute.  Being at school for this day will be really good fun for them and even the secondary school children still dress up.  My eldest decided to go as the Mad March Hare from Alice in Wonderland and so of course needed hare ears!  I had thought I would make them from felt but my daughter found some faux fur in the studio - I have no idea where that came from.  This was my first time using faux fur so I wasn't really sure whether it would work or not.

I made a template and cut out the shape from pelmet vilene and then sewed some wire around the edges in the hope that the ears could be shaped ....

Then came the fur part - uuurggghhhhh!  It got everywhere ..... I found it best to cut out with a rotary cutter (totally ruined the blade but it was worth it) and then I hoovered them so loose fibre wasn't getting everywhere whilst I worked on them.

I joined the first side with a whip stitch but the second side was done with another stitch, similar to ladder stitch but I am not sure of the name, and it gave a much better finish with the fur in the seam.  I was thrilled with how it hard turned out and, most importantly, so was my daughter.  I felt like an old pro when it came to making the second ....

And the result .... attached to an old magician's hat my Mum made for her years ago they will fit the bill.

Will she actually wear the hat on the bus to school?  I'm not sure but I love that she still wants to dress up and spending some time in the sutdio with her today was really precious! 

Thursday, 16 February 2017

A FAL Q1 Finish :: Rainbow Mini No 2

Ever since I made and sent this quilt off last year I have wanted to make another for me.  I used the design as a learning lesson in EQ7 - it's much easier to design a quilt you have already made!

Then, just because the Kona White happened to be on my cutting table for another project I thought I may aswell cut some squares .... and whilst I was at it why don't I cut the coloured squares too?  And also why don't I make two Rainbow Minis at the same time?!!!  These squares are cut at 1 1/2".

It always amazes me how much smaller the blocks get when they are sewn together.  Yep, still working on two minis at the same time here!

At this stage I was considering what colour to make the star in the bottom left hand corner ....

and by this stage I had decided not to put one in at all because my idea for quilting it had changed!  Even though I can now do more formal design with EQ7 it's not going to stop my normal method of making things up and changing things as I go.

Choosing the rainbow coloured threads ....

The final choice were all Glide threads and the colours were: cardinal, mars, mango, turf, light turquoise, cobalt, amethyst and white (not pictured).

Initial straight line quilting from the coloured stars in coloured thread.  I was going to add feathers like I did on my original but in the end I forced myself to just go for straight lines having never quilted a quilt with just straight lines.  It did take a lot of will power but I managed it!

 I love the texture that the straight lines give the quilt but in a way I wish I had put some curves on it aswell.  Oh well I can do that on Rainbow Mini No 3 when that's finished!

It finishes at 21" square and I used Warm and Natural White wadding and Kona White for the background and backing.

A gratuitous shot at an angle - which I love!!

It has been interesting remaking a quilt, although it is slightly different in design.  I certainly don't love this one as much as my original but it has been a good learning curve and I am sure I will find a good home for it somewhere!

This is my first blogged finish of the Quarter from my FAL list which feels great!

I will be linking up to Finish It Up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

2017FAL :: Meet the Hosts - February

For the second Meet the Host of the 2017 Finish-A-Long we have Jess from Elven Garden Quilts.  In her own words .....

Hi, I'm Jess, otherwise known as Elven Garden Quilts. This is my second year as a FAL host, and although I'm not great at actually participating in the FAL (I have a pretty bad history of not finishing anything on my list!), it's great to be back to cheer you all along for a second year. I thought this was going to be a really hard post to write - but once I got started it was surprisingly easy. So I've inserted photos of some of my favorite quilts in amongst the text - feel free to skim the words if you'd rather just look at quilts ;o).

I'm a 36 year old mum of three not-so-small people - my eldest son (12 year old) started high school this year (grade 7), and I have a 9 year old son and a 6 year old daughter. Needless to say, moments of sewing have been few and far between over the last few months while they've had their summer holidays - but they went back to school last week, so there is some semblance of normality in our household again :o). I have an incredible partner too, who encourages me in all my quilty endeavours and listens patiently when I ramble on about my current projects. We also have two fur babies - Shadow and Pepper, our little quilt-cats, who spend at least 90% of their time asleep on various quilts and cushions around the house! I'll often go back to hand stitch binding and find my quilt has been invaded by cats ;o).

We live in Tasmania, Australia - that little island that sits off the southern coast of mainland Australia. It's a beautiful place to live - we don't have a huge population and we are surrounded by some of the most gorgeous wilderness in the world (in my humble opinion!). I grew up in a pretty arty/crafty family - my Dad studied ceramics at Art School and is an art teacher at a college, and my mum has always been involved with some sort of textile art. She made most of our clothes as kids, and is now obsessed with spinning and knitting all kinds of gorgeous yarn. So it's kinda unsurprising that I've grown up to be a maker.

Although I have a science degree (and work as a lab technician part time), I've always enjoyed making stuff. I started cross stitching when I was quite young, and continued that hobby right through to my university years. It wasn't until I had my youngest child that I decided to get a sewing machine - with the intention of making clothes and toys for my kids. I had fun doing this for a while, but then on a whim I bought a beginner's quilting magazine and that was the beginning of a true obsession. For me, quilting is the perfect marriage of maths and art - I love numbers and I love working with colour, so it's not surprising it has overtaken all of my spare time!

I started quilting around 5 or 6 years ago - and back when I started, my tiny sewing room overlooked the garden - so Elven Garden Quilts was born! After a few years, I outgrew that little room, so my 'studio' is now our garage - not the prettiest location, but I can be as messy as I want (and believe me, the term creative chaos fits me perfectly!) and close the door on it so no one else has to be subjected to it ;o).

I first started blogging for a few reasons. Mainly because I didn't actually know anyone who quilted and I didn't want to bore my family and friends to tears constantly talking about my quilts, and blogging was the perfect way to share what I was making. But it quickly became a way to connect with people all over the world who shared my passion. I'm ever in awe of how supportive and wonderful the online quilting community is, and my life would be very different if I hadn't started blogging. I am a self-taught quilter, thanks to the enormous generosity of so many people in sharing tutorials and ideas, and a love of trying to figure out how to make things work!

I loosely call myself a modern quilter - although I've made plenty of quilts that are far more traditional than modern! I think I'm probably best known for my love of free motion quilting - everything I piece is quilted to death on my domestic Bernina. About three years ago, I was actually invited to become a Bernina Ambassador here in Australia, which is an incredible honour :o). I have several free motion quilting tutorials available on my YouTube channel - and I plan on doing a lot more of these this year! I've been teaching patchwork and quilting classes on a weekly basis for the last three years (although I'm currently having a break, after burning out from a pretty hefty teaching load last year), which is something I absolutely love.

Last year was a big year for me as a quilter, both on a professional and personal level. I won several awards for my quilts at some of our national quilt shows (the Australian Modern Quilt Show and the Australian Machine Quilting Festival), and I taught a lot of classes - both patchwork and free motion quitling. On the personal side of things, I feel like I really grew as a quilter. Although I've always loved making quilts and been happy with the finished product, I've struggled to find my style. But in the last half of last year I feel like I started to find my voice, and started making quilts that are more 'me' than ever before. Although I've always used and loved my design wall, I now rely on it constantly as a tool to design my quilts. Aviatrix is one of the last quilts I made using someone else's pattern - and I think it will be the last for a fairly long time. I'm enjoying doing my own thing so much right now!

The last few quilts I've made (and my current work in progress) all started as a vague idea and a giant pile of fabric, and relied on my design wall to figure out what they would become. You can read all about the process I went through when making Scattered (shown below) herehere, here and here. And if you're attending QuiltCon this year, please go say hi to her - she was juried into the show which is enormously exciting!

I recently wrote about the process of making one of my recent finishes, Flow. Again this quilt started as a pile of fabric and a very vague idea (as in, I knew I wanted to use improv curves), but the design came together through trial and error.

Although I'm much better at starting and finishing projects than I used to be (which isn't to say I don't have any WIPs - there are lots of those!), I work best when don't feel like I *have* to work on a particular project. Which is probably why I make FAL lists and then largely ignore them... Having said that, I have several projects that have been ignored for far too long that I do want to finish this year, so next quarter you can expect me to fully participate and knock over some very long term WIPs!

Thanks for letting me introduce myself (and my quilts!), and I look forward to cheering you all on this year as you work through your FAL lists!

xx Jess