Thursday, April 29, 2010

UFO progress

I forgot to post this yesterday - it's one of the things I worked on. First, I made the binding and attached it to the shoe quilt, which I will probably finish off completely this weekend. Then, I pieced together the backing for this quilt (piecing backing is probably - no, definitely - my least favourite aspect of quilting!) and layered and pinned it. No idea when I will get around to quilting it - probably not this weekend, as there are other things waiting to be done. But at least it's there and ready...

Monday, April 26, 2010

Getting rid of stuff...

I had a clear-out of my sewing room over the Easter holidays, and clearouts always mean there is stuff to get rid of. So, I'm offering this stuff up to interested parties in the usual sort of way - leave a comment about what you are interested in and names will be drawn. Some priority will be given to longtime readers, makers of charity quilts, etc, but honestly, I don't want the stuff, so I'd rather some who did want it, had it. If that's you, leave a comment and in a week or two, I will choose some people to send it all to. One item per customer unless you are the only one who wants two different things! No obligation to do anything with any of it, but if you do, I'd love to see it. And feel free to cut things up, use only part of a set, pass stuff on, re-giveaway if necessary. Whatever.

First off, 7 blocks which are black and tonal fabrics. These are the leftovers from the Birthday Block Swap. There is nothing wrong with any of these blocks, they are just the ones that, for whatever reason, didn't fit in so well when I put the blocks together into four (or was it five?) different smallish quilts. In a few cases it was size, in at least one case the black fabric was a bit lighter than most of the others. All nice blocks, they just didn't fit quite right. And I just know that all they will do is sit around my sewing room doing nothing!

Next, 7 blocks which originally came from the HST swap I did (half-square triangle). Again, these blocks are fine in themselves, but didn't work as well with the others when finally got around to making my blocks into a top. These are all 12" (finished - i.e. 12.5") blocks except one, which is about a quarter inch too small. Can't remember which off the top of my head. A couple of these weren't used because in the end I decided to go for blocks which used smaller triangles, one has a bit too much white in the black print, etc. I can't remember just why they weren't chosen but again, I'm sure someone will be able to use them for something interesting and worthwhile!

This is a mini quilt - not sure how big - maybe 18x24? maybe not as big as that. It was originally made for the BQL Challenge last year, but the thing is, I don't really like it. Longtime readers here may remember I was a bit ambivalent at the time; well, I still don't really like it. Someone will! Needs binding of course, and you may want to quilt a bit behind the flippy strips (one of the things I don't like is the bagginess there), or not - up to you.

A set of 3" log cabin blocks, paper pieced (paper still on). Originally made for the Christmas 4SQS, but the contrast wasn't good enough, so I redid the mini with light blue and white in the background. In fact, I made two of them. I'm not going to use these for anything; if I manage to turn the second set of blocks I made into a quilt for myself, I'll be impressed. There's a strange number of blocks because the planned layout originally was on point.

And last but not least - in my opinion, the most interesting of the lot - the Widows and Orphans section. This is my bag of extra bits and pieces from finished projects - where you have one or two blocks too many, or where you are testing something out but don't use the tester or where you put a block together wrong and can't be bothered to take it apart again but don't feel you should throw it away... this really is a scrapbag assortment, but all the bits are pieced units of some sort or other; some are full blocks.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Shoes done...

...and upside down in this photo, I have just realised - the black should be at the bottom of the windows. Not that it really matters. I do still have to add binding, of course, but the quilting is finished. Wonder what's next? Nothing tomorrow, as I work all day on a Monday. Though I do have a small pile of things to give away from the last sewing-room clearout - maybe I'll get around to finally doing that!

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Shoes. And UFOs.

I did manage to squeeze some sewing in today, despite the 1001 errands and the temptation to sit in the sun all afternoon and read (I still did that - just not ALL afternoon). First, I made a couple of blocks for the May block lotto, but as that is still in sneak peek phase (i.e. secret until 1 May) I can't show photos. I can say, though, that the block was good fun to make, easier than you might think, a very cool choice of block to do, and involved lime green. What's not to like? I promise to post photos once it's public as I want to encourage people to give the block lotto in general and this block in particular a try.

Next up, I pulled out one of my UFOs (actually, I left it out the other day when measuring up) and layered, pinned and started quilting it. After a little time spent perusing Dijanne Cevaal's 72 ways not to meander or stipple, I decided to use a spiky frond pattern (or rather, my personal variation thereon). I love this book - it's great for ideas for quilt fillers which are a little different (especially for very small quilts, as some are quilt labour intensive). I frequently change the design slightly for one reason or another - and sometimes more than slightly - but it's a fabulous jumping off point when you are uninspired about what type of design to use. I am seriously thinking of buying the second one.

Anyway, this is the infamous (to some) shoe quilt. It's intended as a belated 40th birthday present for a friend in the US. I look forward to it being the first item crossed off on the UFO tabs.

And speaking of UFO tabs, you may notice there are now 4 of them - just too much stuff for one (or even two) so I have divided them up. Now I'm thinking about a finished quilts tab - or two...

Thursday, April 22, 2010

UFO tab

The observant among you may notice a new tab at the top of my blog - I am going to set up a page for my UFOs - starting today, but I don't think I will finish it today - there are a lot of them (nearly 40 complete tops of various sizes needing quilting, as well as a few block sets and miscellaneous other things - mostly the tops, though). Last year, I made a major push and got rid of nearly all my sets of blocks, either by turning them into quilt tops (hence the large numbers of quilt tops!) or giving them away; the next year or so is the turn of the UFO. A few of them, I am setting aside for longarming, but lots of them are small and can quite easily be done on my DSM. Several of the baby-quilt sized pieces I will probably keep as is until needed as gifts, as they take less space to store when they are only a top, but even allowing for those exceptions, there are still quite a few I could be working on...

I do have a list of UFOs already in my sidebar, but this is a bit more detailed - and is really as much if not more for my own sake than for those who may read this blog. I hope to get them all listed, along with a photo, the size of the piece (if a finished top) and some sort of date related to the project - when I started it, when it reached finished top state - something of that nature. I know one or two of these are really old...

I'm going to try to list them in size order (hmm - smallest to biggest or the other way around - decisions, decisions!) as that scares me less than in order of how old they are or how likely they are to get finished!

And of course I will also put up the handful of other things which aren't finished tops - but there are not very many of those at the moment - less than a dozen I think. And that includes a few ongoing things as well as those which are stalled.

So anyway, watch this space. Or rather, don't watch this space, watch the UFO tab! Hopefully there will be some crossing off of things on this list quite soon...

(edited to say, I have only done 5 tonight - I think it's going to take longer than I thought, lol. And I think I might divide it into several tabs - small, medium and large, perhaps?)

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Tropical Fish...

I've had this top hanging around for some time - it was even backed & batted & pinned together, just wasn't entirely sure how I wanted to quilt it, and toyed around with a few ideas. Today, I had about an hour or so to work, so I decided to tackle it. It's not particularly large - maybe 18" wide or so.

I quilted long wavy strands of seaweed coming up from the bottom, then added air bubbles above half a dozen or so fish.

The rest I filled in with a combination of wavy lines and little waves. I think it works fairly well.

A binding was attached this afternoon and sewn down this evening - and wow! two finishes in two days. But don't go thinking that's a trend or anything...

Noughts and Crosses

(well, just crosses, really)

Finished this little quilt last night (i.e. sewed the binding down) and have even, after a little juggling, found a place to hang it up inside. Now, what's next? (Yeah, I know, it should be to work on something already in progress, lol...)

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Canal House B, finished

Here's the second canal house, finished. Today I sewed down the bits that weren't sewed. It's totally different from the first one, but I like both. The big question now is what the third one will be like - no plans yet. I am basically picking a piece of fabric I like and going from there.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

A bit of quilting

So, here's the quilted article. Tomorrow I am going to attach a binding, which I will probably sew down on Monday at my quilt group. I think I'll use the blue fabric for binding, though it's possible that I might go with a scrappy brown. Will have to audition them, I guess. Then I just have to find a space somewhere on my walls (ha) to hang it!

Friday, April 16, 2010

Clamshell quilting

Started quilting this piece today - as I expected, I really like the pattern of the quilting with the design of the quilt. But then I like this quilting pattern on most anything, it's just time- and thread-consuming, so I don't use it on big pieces. At the moment, there's just one big clamshelly feather extending across the quilt - but I'll do more on it tomorrow - perhaps even finish, time permitting - it's not a big piece, after all...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

X marks the spot

Here's a little top I made today - the plan was originally to use the V&A reproduction fabrics I bought, and I did use them a little, but in the end, I found myself going in another direction - the browns are from stash - they were 4.5" squares to start with; I sewed four of them together, then slashed those blocks up to insert the "X" strips - and those bits of fabric were from the V&A collection. I then trimmed the blocks to 8", so the finished top is about 22" square.

The design idea, I stole unashamedly from a lovely little quilt I own, which I got from Julie in a swap a while back. I love this quilt and have for a long time meant to make something using it (or rather, something more with the technique - I did make a little quilt as part of the BQL challenge using the idea).

I plan to quilt this fairly heavily, using a King Tut thread I have which I love (#944 - Karnak) which is brown and blue variegated. I've ordered another spool of it, just to be on the safe side, but I hope to be working on the quilting this weekend (tomorrow probably not so much as I am taking the kids swimming at a place with cool slides and whatnot, and running some errands) - I may use the clamshell pattern, which I think looks great on many designs. It's quite thread intensive, though, so it's not such a good one for larger pieces.

Canal House B

I decided to take a different approach to Canal House B - frankly, I'm making them all up as I go along, so I think every one will be different. But anyway, this one was inspired by a sponge I was about to throw away, when I suddenly thought - hey, I could make a stamp from this. It was quite a soft sponge, so the possibilities were a bit limited, but I thought I could probably get away with making windowframes from it, and as it happens, I could. This saves me the effort of stitching down a number of window frames on this piece, as well! The water and sky (better photos of those later) are both single pieces of fabric, as is the house - again, a better photo later when the piece is dryer and I have the sidewalk and canal walk added in and the bits sewn together. I just wanted to show this in progress as I am trying to get my blog posts to publish automatically on my facebook profile, and I wanted to test if it works or not!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

V&A Visit

I like the V&A - lots of interesting things to see. We went up today to check out the Quilts Exhibition (which was good, but I still don't really get the point of choosing a number of works by non-quilt-artists to represent contemporary quilting. I mean, there are TONS of brilliant UK quilt & fibre artists to choose from, some of whom do quite traditional things and some of whom are completely wild & wacky and the rest of whom fit everywhere in between, so why not use some of them instead of, for example, Tracy Emin, who, whatever you might think of her art, isn't a quilter? But I digress...)* and had a poke around some of the other galleries, too. Not all of them, as I had two of three children with me - and there's only so much a 7YO can take of the V&A, bless him.

The kids also took part in a make your own patchwork-block-type-art-project that they had running, and these are the blocks they made - the actual blocks were left at the V&A for their project. The idea was to get inspiration for the design elements from around the museum and then use them in making the blocks...

This is Alex's - an elephant (from the India room) on a background of triangles taken from a rather fancy kimono in the Japan room.

And Olivia chose her inspiration in the Islamic Middle East room (I think) - anyway, it was the shape of the leaves in the above photo. I can see why she likes them - me too!

I did buy a few things in the shop (resisted the exhibition book, which was £25 even in paperback, though it did look nice), including a few FQs of the special fabric, which I intend to mix with some more calming fabrics and make something small from. I did find it a bit amusing that the FQs were selling for £3.50 each, but a bundle of 6, tied with a ribbon, was going for £25. I know, I can't do the maths on that, either...

Anyway, if you have the chance, I'd still recommend the exhibit, but for me, it was mostly the historical quilts which I was most interested in, rather than the contemporary stuff.

*Actually, not to go on and on about this, but can you imagine it happening in another field, for instance, if there was an exhibition of 300 years of British oil painting, and to represent the last 50 years, they chose 2 or 3 painters, and then half a dozen people in a totally different field, who created works to represent something about oil painting, possibly not even using oils as a medium? It wouldn't happen, would it!

(Which isn't to say I didn't like some of the pieces, I just feel that aren't perhaps the best choice for an exhibit like this - all the historical stuff is so interesting and varied and represents a good cross-section of the media in those times, but I felt that given that there are hundreds (thousands?) of works out there by contemporary British fibre & quilt artists which show a wide variety of styles, themes, media, messages, etc, why not use those rather than commission things from people in another field?? Or am I being too sensitive about this?)

Here's another thought - I've been thinking about this more, sorry! I can't quite put my finger on it, but I suppose I sort of felt that (the way it was presented) the older quilts in the exhibit gained their artistic validation by virtue of being old, detailed, having lots of pieces, etc (and by being beautiful, in many cases, of course!) but that all the recent quilts had to have some sort of artistic or political statement to them, a higher meaning, rather than just being excellent examples of using this media to create something beautiful (e.g. Grayson Perry's quilt about the politics of abortion; the piece with money; the Alzheimer's piece with the steel wool filling; the one which was very simple squares but which used dryer lint as wadding; and so on). But then again, many of the historical quilts focused on social and/or political aspects of quilting rather than just beauty, so perhaps they were trying to carry that theme throughout the exhibit.

I wonder what other quilters who have seen the exhibit thought!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Canal House A: Finished

So, all the bits are sewn down now, which brings Canal House A to a finish. Guess it's time to start thinking about Canal House B. Though not tomorrow, as I think I shall drag the kids up to town and force them to see the V&A quilt exhibit, lol.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Canal House again

The main thing I did today, I can't show on the blog (quilted a round robin), so I thought it was time to drag out the canal house again - I have now stitched down almost all of the windows - soon it will be on to the door, then sidewalk, canal wall and water. And then, on to the next house. Not sure what I will do yet for that one, but I have a few ideas - vague ones, at least. I'm sure they will all end up very different as I am just playing each one by ear and letting them speak to me as I work. I'm also trying not to dye any new fabric for this project (I might do a little painting or printing) so what I have in my stash will limit my choices - but not a lot, as I do have quite a stash! It's possible I may run low at some point, in which case I will dye, but frankly, I think it's unlikely, even with the blue issues for sky and water - the houses, of course, can be anything I like!

Saturday, April 10, 2010


Today was one of those days where it seems impossible that I got done all the things I got done - doncha love those days? They sure beat their opposites, the ones where you can't work out just what on earth you spent the entire day doing...

Alex and I had a quick trip to the Farmers' Market, first thing (by which I mean, 9am - it doesn't open until then), then I came home, did some sewing, had lunch, took Olivia and a friend over to a birthday party, came back, helped the others clean out the shed (a major spring undertaking), went to the park with Alex & some friends for an hour or so - and that was all before coming home to have dinner and watch the new Dr Who (which is on at the inconvenient time of 6.15 - really must update my television so I don't have to watch things when they are actually ON!).

Anyway. The sewing involved doing some of the satin stitching on the first canal house - not highly exciting to show, so will update later, when I have more of it done - and then making a set of ATCs using some of the spotty fabric I got from Karol-Ann the other day and a set of Japanese doll stickers (which are called Momiji, apparently, hence the title) I picked up at (I think) the V&A giftshop quite a while back. I found them during my tidy up and decided they really needed to be used in something. A few buttons and flowers and hey presto! I think they are really sweet, and they'll be good to put aside for birthday ladies in my ATC swap in a busy month, when I don't have time to make a set specially, which I'm sure will happen.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

A few pieces

Luckily for me, I got something in the post today which I can share, as we have been quite busy and not much sewing has been done in the past few days. Although I did spend a large part of one day clearing out my sewing room, which was useful, as it had got to the point where I could hardly work on the table for the junk therein - plus it was feeling dusty and cluttered.

Anyway, today, I got these goodies in the post from Karol-Ann - an African block for our swap (so now it's my turn - but it will be a few weeks before I get to it, I know), plus some other goodies, for use in making ATCs, etc. I particularly have my eye on that spotty fabric (which has a great texture) - I think it may well feature in something very soon...

Monday, April 05, 2010

House A

I did some more work on the first canal house today - nothing is sewn down yet, only fused, in case I want to move something. I'm not sure I want to do that, but I do want to put some sort of border around the door so it shows up more. The piece looks a little strange at the moment as I have folded under the seam allowance along the sides of the house (this was to help with the window placements), but on the whole, I think it works fairly well. Once I'm sure I'm happy with the bits, I will start stitching it down a bit.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

A bit of this & that

Lots of different things done today - first, I finished off the wonky shoo-fly blocks for the lotto. When it's light tomorrow, I will photograph all of them together for the block lotto blog - but it's too dark at the moment and anyway, too much effort! Some work better than others in terms of contrast, but in all, they should contribute to a nice, funky quilt or two.

I also put this together - this is a collection of Dear Jane blocks, 6", in Civil War Repros, which Cathi and I have been swapping for a while. We decided a while back to stop and DO something with the blocks, so today I dug them out and put them together. This will be a wall-hanging once it's quilted - not sure how I will do that yet, probably fairly simply, but it will definitely be by machine, not hand!

And finally, this is a project I am working on with my dyeing & surface art group - a fractured houses project. The top photo is the inspiration for the project, while an enlarged version of the line drawing is what we will work from - below the row of Dutch canal houses is approximately 8" of water, above is sky. The idea is that each person (there are 10) will make all 10 houses (separated), and then they will be swapped out so that each person gets a house from each other person. We can then join them up together. It's quite a large project - each house strip (including sky and water) is 33" high, and anywhere between about 6 and 12" wide. I started work on the far left house ("a" in the diagram) today, working on the water. Originally I was just going to use some strips of shibori fabric from my scrap basket, but didn't have quite enough to cover the area, so I ended up doing lots of piecing and patching. We all were given one piece of a common fabric, some of which has to be included in each house, somewhere. In house A, I think I am going to use it behind the windows; we'll see.

The project isn't due to the swap hostess's house until November, but time always runs out on these things, so I want to work on it in little bits and pieces through the year so it doesn't overwhelm me. I think it's going to be great fun, but a lot of work, too. And goodness knows what I'll do with the finished piece, which will be rather large!

We are working mostly in hand-dyes or altered fabrics, and should follow the shape of the houses, but otherwise, there is a lot of freedom in terms of colour (the colours in the first photo are irrelevant), style and method. I'm hoping to do a variety of things with my houses. We'll see. We can also embellish some, though not too much, as we will want to do that sort of finishing to our own pieces, once we have joined them all up...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Shoo-fly, don't bother me...

April's block lotto is Wonky Shoo-Fly blocks - these are 8" blocks and feature floral fabrics with a tonal (or white) fabric. I had a bit of time to sew (though not as much as I'd planned, as I ended up having a cup of tea and a chat with a neighbour who I don't see much any more due to us both working all the time!) so I made a few pairs. I have a few more to make tomorrow, and then, who knows, something else. Not sure what!

Friday, April 02, 2010

Marbled silk ATCs

So, in what I hope will be the first of several days of craft-related posts over this Easter holiday, here's one of the things I did on my first day off. I also finished the red, yellow & orange log cabin blocks, but I don't seem to have a photo yet - perhaps I'll save that for a day when I don't actually do any craft-related things.

The kids (well, the two who were home) and I did a little marbling on paper with some marbling inks I had knocking around, and I also had a bit of silk that I thought would work nicely - so these are marbled silk, with some free-motion stitching and a large metal grommit. I also used a bit of ribbon at the bottom and some decorative stitching. I debated back and forth adding something else towards the bottom left of the card, but couldn't find anything I liked to balance the large metal discs, so in the end, decided to leave them fairly minimalist. These are ATCs (Artist Trading Cards - 2.5x3.5") - some of which will be sent out shortly to the ladies in my swap who have April birthdays.