Thursday, April 30, 2009

Black and white...and green

I had lots of stuff to get done today, but did manage to make some more of the black and white framed blocks from scraps. I actually did 10, but it's an awkward number to photograph. Anyway, I will probably make 36 blocks (they are about 7" blocks) which will make a nice sized baby quilt.
I did almost work on the Exquisite Corpse piece - drew a few lines on it - but wasn't quite ready to work on it yet. Probably because I knew I'd be interrupted constantly by grocery delivery, laundry and so on. I will definitely get to it this weekend as I think I am finally ready for it.
The green fabric came in the post today - my monthly fix from eQuilter. I do like their selections; I will definitely keep this club going for a while - I really like the choices.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

A bunch of black and white

Here's a couple of things I actually did today - woo hoo. First, a small block (4") which is the starting point for the Blogger Round Robin I am taking part in - I won't be able to show the subsequent work I do, though as we are all showing "centres" to start with, I can show that part each month just to have something to post. It took me quite a while to decide what I wanted to do as the block I choose will be how everyone else decides what style and colour to use when adding to my piece. Personally, I'm not TOO worried, as long as it goes well with the starting point. So, I decided to use black and white with some nice, strong colours and pick a flower as the starting place... Anyway, in the end, I decided not to overthink it and just pick something I like and go with it.

When I'd finished with the block, I wanted to work on something else, but wasn't quite ready to work on the Exquisite Corpse, which is the next thing I have to do, time wise - I am nearly ready, probably will work on it on Thursday - but it's still speaking to me a bit, so I need to be sure to listen before starting, lol. Anyway, I wanted something small, simple and quick so I grabbed some four patches I'd been making as enders and leaders and put frames on them in black and white (I was in b/w mode, what can I say). Here are 8; I will do enough more to make a baby quilt, which will then probably go to charity.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Some bits and pieces

No work today, really (though I did do a tiny bit of cross-stitch this evening - I'll show it before long - hasn't been much progress lately) so I will just show these bits I got in the post. Well, the Dear Jane block was another that Cathi gave me before she went home - she did it while here. The batik fabric is a hostess thankyou from the birthday swap (lovely thought) and the little pile at front left is a gorgeous needle-felt ATC from Ati, along with some bits of ribbons for me to use. A nice post day indeed.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Secret sewing...

Well, okay, not secret, really, but what I did today was to make some blocks for the Block Lotto. However, as I was making blocks for the May block lotto (I had a sneak peek as I made my April Blocks before the end of the month) I can't actually show them yet, but I'm sure Sophie won't mind if I say that I did get a chance to use up some of the small bits of floral fabrics that were lurking around in my scrap basket...

If you've not ever made blocks for the lotto, you might like to come check it out - you never know, you could make a small handful of blocks and end up with enough for an entire (small) quilt!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Pressies from Cathi

So, Cathi has come to visit for the weekend, after spending the week in Sweden visiting Barbara, and of course, she's brough me some pressies. Here are a Swedish teatowel and a pushy up moose toy for my collection (of pushy-up toys, not of moose).

And here are my long-awaited socks (not that it's taken her long to do them, but I am impatient!) and a few bits of fabric from Barbara and some dear jane blocks from Cathi for our swap. Phew! Great pressies all, though my socks are the best of course!

Thursday, April 23, 2009

A few bits and pieces

No work today as I had a morning full of errands to run, but luckily, there is also a bead shop in Kingston (home of all the errands), so I managed to pick up some pieces for myself amidst all the other, less interesting stuff (like school uniform). The two packs of embellishments at the top actually came from the 99p shop - they have a small section of card making stuff. The rest is from the bead shop - and I didn't even need an umbrella, Anne!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009


So, here are a selection of ATCs which are up for grabs (well, for swapping). Anyone interested, just drop me a line. One per customer, please, and if you have a preference, please specify!

Monoprint ATC challenge

Textile Challenges (a yahoo group to which I belong) often has a monthly challenge to try to keep us all from getting into a rut. This month the challenge was to visit (or re-visit, as the case may be) monoprinting, and then to make an ATC from the resulting fabric. You saw the results of my monoprinting the other day, this evening I took a small amount of time and turned the rust dyed piece into some ATCs - one of which will go off to my partner and the others will go for trades at one time or another.

The colour in the close-up shot has washed out completely because of the flash but you can get a fair idea of the colours from the photo on the left. I've decided to keep them quite simple with some stitching (I FMQ'ed the entire piece before cutting it up) and only a very few embellishments (for once).

Monday, April 20, 2009


The challenge this month on Textile Challenges is to revisit (or visit, if that's the case) mono-printing and make an ATC using some of the results. I decided first to play with my NeoColour crayons again - I drew some squares on a handy piece of plastic, sprayed them with water, then printed onto this previously rust-dyed piece. Below you can see the piece face down, absorbing the colours and on the right, the right side of the piece once printed. I like this sort of muted, water-colour effect - I think it will make some nice backgrounds.

I then decided to try a similar thing, but with acrylic paints - again I used my big square ruler as a surface for printing and just dabbed the paint on more or less randomly. I printed this time onto a darker piece of fabric, and am very pleased with the result, which actually looks even better dried. I think this might form the basis of my ALQS3 - the centre part, at least. It's not big enough to be the whole quilt. We'll see how it goes, but I do have some ideas.

Once I'd printed it, there was still quite a bit of paint left on the ruler, so I added a few more colours, misted it with water and printed it again, this time onto green - obviously the second time round colours didn't print as strongly, but I still think it makes a promising background.
It was a nice thing I got a chance to work this morning, as it looks unlikely for the rest of the week - tomorrow I think I will end up at school all day - there's an open day in the morning which I have been roped in to help with, so there goes my morning. Wednesday I usually go swimming in the morning, and Thursday I need to run into Kingston to pick up a flute - Olivia is going to start learning flute and I need to collect the hired instrument from the shop. Perhaps if I have a little extra time I will treat myself to a visit to the bead shop while I'm there, just to console myself. Of course, Thursday is also the first meeting of the quilting club at school, so I guess there will be a little sewing - or at least some prep work! I'll probably just spend most of my time threading needles...

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Recycle spring

Various bits and pieces done today, amidst the laundry, gerbil tank cleaning, mini-golf, roast chicken and other miscellany. One of the things was to do some ATCs to a recycled theme ("Recycle Spring") - this is a FAT swap, where we were to use only things on hand and recycle where possible. I have pretty much only used recycled items, except for the thread and a few pieces of vilene, though some of those are pieced from scrap.

I started with some pre-made backgrounds - these were from an abandoned project which was essentially some silk crazy pieced blocks with embroidery and beads on them - having decided I wasn't going to complete the project I cut all the partially completed blocks into ATC backgrounds. There were 9 of them left in my ATC box, hence 9 ATCs. I then added some plastic fruit netting in various colours, a metal punched shape (the metal coming from a tomato puree tube (a lovely goldish colour) an empty hand cream tube and the old standby, diet coke can) and a large focus piece, most of which came from deconstructed costume jewellery (my mother buys me big bags of the stuff at yard sales - most of it, I wouldn't wear if you paid me, but it's great for art and every once in a while, there's a nice piece in there to actually wear). The backs (which I haven't photographed) are also recycled, coming from my scrap paper drawer - I think they are bits of painted wallpaper which a friend passed along to me when clearing out some of her stuff.

They are all different (a requirement of the swap, but also, the nature of the design dictates some differences in this instance), but I have only given a closeup of one - you get the general idea.

I also put together the purple roses (actually I did this first, but whose counting) - in the end I went for a fairly straight layout with lots of white (or cream, technically) space around it so Sophie can adjust the block however she likes.

And later in the day, I even managed another set of ATCs - this was while I was keeping an eye on Alex in the bath - he doesn't need anyone there with him except to help wash his hair, but I do like to have someone keep a general eye or ear on him to make sure there are no tsunamis in the bathroom and so on. So I often take the opportunity to either fold and put away laundry or do some work - in this instance, the laundry was done, so I made another quick set of ATCs. These have paper at bottom - more of the paper I bought the day of the bloggy picnic - fabric at the top, a nice bit of Tilda ribbon, a skeleton leaf which I sprayed with Adirondack colour wash and a few bits and pieces. Sometimes less is more...

In another few days, I think I will post some ATCs to trade - I want to keep a few in reserve for the next few months of the birthday ATC swap, but it doesn't need to be all of them. But I have another set I want to make first - a monoprint challenge for Textile Challenges - I won't do an ATC sized monoprint, so I'm sure there will be several ATCs rather than just the one I need. Anyway, watch this space...

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Purple Roses

Here are the two things I actually worked on today - I put the outer sashing on the cats - it will now have a sawtooth border around that - this will take a while to piece. I also started working a block with a purple rose theme for the April block for the birthday block swap - I have all the pieces ready (except the stems) - just have to work out how I want to put them together. I have used a pattern for a single rose, with bud & two leaves, but I decided to add another rose, so now of course I will need to fiddle around with it - I can't ever keep anything simple, of course! In the original pattern, the stem was pieced as well, but I may end up do bias strips appliqued on, as it may work better. We'll see - I'm going to try to get the piece together tomorrow, if I don't get too frustrated with it!

More virtual quilt show

Of course, as I mentioned yesterday, it's very hard to choose just one quilt to show and as I went to bed, I saw this, which is virtually always on my bed and realised it it's probably even more of a favourite in some ways than the one I showed yesterday. As it's older than the blog, I won't have blogged it since it was made, though you do get glimpses of it from time to time behind/under other things when I lay them out on my bed - the sawtooth cat blocks the other day, for instance.
It's hard to see the quilting detail in this photo, but you get the general idea. I won't write much about this, as I hope to be able to blog actual NEW work later today and that will no doubt be wordy enough!

Friday, April 17, 2009

Blogger's Quilt Festival

Amy at Park City Girl is hosting a virtual festival of quilts - lots of new blogs to suck away all my time inspire me...

And because I haven't got anything new and quilty to show today, I thought I'd share one of my favourite quilts. Now I can't really say this is my absolute favourite because let's face it, that changes depending on what mood you catch me in and/or what day of the week it is, but this is one I like a lot and often have hanging in my family room. At the moment, it's actually not up as something I recently received is hanging and I wanted to give this one a wash anyway - and at Christmas I hang my advent calendar in this spot, but usually, I like to have it where I can see it.
I don't have the best photo in the world of it, so I'll show the top as well before it was quilted, to give a better idea. I think this is one of my favourites not only because of the colours, but because I dyed all the fabric in it myself - the border being one of my first good rubber-band shibori pieces. In fact, the quilt was designed from the border in - I worked out how wide a border I could have using the shibori piece and built the quilt centre from that point using a design based on one in 101 Rotary Cut Quilts - a book I highly recommend for those new to quilting as it's full of fabulous ideas.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Tic Tac Cats

Yes, it looks like a giant tic-tac-toe at the moment (or Naughts & Crosses, as we call it here). I finished the last two cats today (bottom right) and joined the major pieces, but honestly, is there anything more boring than sashing? Seriously, I didn't have enough time to put the sashing pieces around the outside, so that will get done next time - perhaps tomorrow morning, before my life becomes consumed by Monsters and Aliens (a promised cinema trip), a pair of jeans for Olivia, finding a lunch venue that isn't McDonalds and an orthodontist appointment. Yes, the excitement of a school holiday takes some beating!

Anyway, the pale fabric goes all the way around the edges of the quilt as well, then there's a sawtooth border (yep, more piecing!) on the outside - quite a narrow one, and of course, that one's straight, so it's easy peasy.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

More cats

Despite a day full of typical holiday kid stuff (swimming, lunch, trip to the playground which is near the pool , refereeing disagreements) I managed to get most of the rest of the cats done - only two more to go, which will hopefully get pieced tomorrow, when the only thing on the agenda is grocery shopping. Then I have to put the pieces together - and then, on to the tails - yuck!

Monday, April 13, 2009

Arc of a cat

No whole cats to show today - though for the sake of good taste, I have resisted titling this post "disembodied cats". I did work on the quilt, as shown above - got all 6 of the remaining backs done. The next step will be to piece the two curves either side of the arc, and then add the background and cat bodies - those are fairly easy additions as all of them are simple shapes, like squares and rectangles. Once that's done, I can join the major pieces together with the other background fabric. All that should go fairly quickly, but I anticipate hitting a stalling point after that - I have to make 20 pieced tails - they are miniature versions of the backs. And then they have to be appliqued on. Ho hum. So I may take a break before I get to that.

For those of you who may be new here, there is a photo of what the finish quilt is meant to look like somewhere back in the dim past of my blog.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Kitties

Well, as my April goals and deadlines are proceeding along apace, I decided to tackle something I've been ignoring - my sawtooth cats. I had planned to make one a month starting in February, but it just wasn't happening. Not sure why, as they aren't that hard, but somehow I lacked motivation. It might be simply that there are lots of pieces to sort out for each one - even after you do the backs - and because of the layout, they aren't necessarily the same in each block - and so on. However, today I got stuck into it and made 6 blocks! The bottom left two (the backs for these were already done), and the group of four in the centre. Tomorrow I will try to do some more, as I am in the mood now and also, having worked on it today, it's fresh in my mind and will hopefully be less hassle to figure out because of that.
In theory, this quilt will be for my mother's spare bedroom, but she tells me there's no hurry for it, as she will have to repaint the bedroom if the quilt is to look good in there. I am thinking I might try to get it done for her next visit, which is in July. We'll see, but it somehow doesn't seem quite as insurmountable an obstacle as before!

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Handbags and elephants

Another productive day today - again with the bad weather there is so little incentive to go out anywhere, even to the park, so I get more sewing time. We did other stuff too, like playing some games and family reading time (a new daily ritual) but yes, there was some sewing.

First off, I put the handbags together and quilted them - the piece is about 15" square, so it didn't take long to quilt or to attach the binding, which I sewed down tonight while watching Dr Who and/or Little Miss Sunshine on telly.
The ATCs I made this afternoon in a downtime when everyone else seemed occupied with something and I was a bit restless. My stock was a bit low (i.e. none except the ones I made yesterday) so I wanted to get a few more on hand. Might do some tomorrow, too, if time and weather permit... The elephant paper is another I picked up at Millet's Farm, so I no longer need to feel at all sheepish about going into that shop!

I also put binding on the little class sample (this was spare binding left from something else - I have quite a bit of that, and think it might be useful for the class) and stitched that down during the telly this evening, too. And as both of those things were quite small, I also finished binding this baby quilt, which was about half done and has been knocking around for a while. Gotta love those weekends where you have no plans!

Friday, April 10, 2009

Variety show

Well, a nice productive day today, with lots of variety. The productivity is due to the rain, largely - if it had been nice, we might have gone somewhere; as it was, I organised a tons of photos on the computer & sewed; Geoff did some work, read, went for a run; the kids played on the computer & DS and did some work on their puffle houses (they have been creating with cardboard boxes & making little creatures out of pompoms - it's a whole town in the living room - I should really take some photos only they keep telling me they aren' t done yet...)
First order of businesss was this block in black, white and red, which is the March birthday block for Vicki - I know, it's late, but she's running behind herself, so I have put it on a back burner for a while. Finally got a chance (and the inspiration) to do it today).
And then I made some ATCs, using (among other things) a bit of the paper I bought at the craft shop at Millet's Farm on Wednesday at the bloggy picnic.

Then I went on to work on the April calendar page for the BQL challenge - handbags - which I shall put together & quilt tomorrow. It's only small - the blocks are about 5 inches square at the moment. The handles I shall leave free floating (mostly - will tack a couple down in places).
And finally, this piece on the right is a small sample for a "class" I'll be teaching - sort of. I offered to run an after-school quilting club next term (an hour once a week for 10 weeks) for the Year 4s. A lot of the teachers & TA's at school run clubs once a week - there's a minimal fee for the children to take part - and last term, there was virtually nothing for Olivia's year available, so I decided to step into the breach. I needed something which could be done by hand and which would be simple yet impressive. I decided to start with a small wall-hanging, the background being 6, 5" squares with small appliques (fused, then stitched over, but raw edge) with some handquilting. I confess to piecing the background on the machine for this sample (and likewise, will attach the binding on that way - in fact, I may take in my machine the week we do the binding - I will sew it down by hand of course, but can't quite see putting it on by hand - I know it's possible, but it's not necessary!) but I did do the quilting by hand (yes, really) to show that it can be done. It's not wonderful, but I think it's good enough not to be shown up by a room full of 8 & 9 year olds!

Thursday, April 09, 2009

A day to dye for...

Spent part of the day today dyeing, as I am taking part in a resist swap. I decided to do rubber band resist (my favourite) though I did do a small piece with elmer's glue, which I really liked (I've done this before, but today's was better) and may well do some more of those in the near future. I tend to only dye once in a while as I have to get lots of stuff out and it takes up space and so on - if I had a wet studio (or a basement or utility room) I might dye more as I could leave supplies out and leave things batching more conveniently, etc.

Anyway, the kids wanted to help, so I dug out a few old white t-shirts we had lying around as well as a white duvet cover we got ages ago with the intent to dye. We also did some shibori (folding, tying, banding) (like the pipe one, which didn't turn out - I think it was a problem with the fabric, which, although it was in my dyeing stash, didn't take up the dye well in places - my hunch is it wasn't PFD and needs scouring before dyeing with!) and some parfaits (layering fabric in containers and adding colours). Quite a few things turned out well, luckily, though Olivia's shirts weren't quite as colourful after washing as before - she still likes them, though.

The spiral one didn't get enough dye in the middle - which I suspected might be the case - if she wants, we'll over dye it next time we have a dyeing day. The red/yellow/brown one worked better, though it still has a fair amount of white in the centre (I might throw this one in a pale yellow...)

Alex's shirt, on the other hand, worked better, because we didn't fold it up much - did it flat. He put some rubber bands in it, then picked the colours to do the bunched sections, then I did the background with a pale green. He loves it - partly because it's cool, partly because he made it himself.

Here's the duvet cover - quite successful considering how much fabric there was once it was folded up. It seems to have lost a lot of the red, which worried me, but looking back, I think it was actually Hot Pink they used, a dye with which I've had problems before - it just seems really pale. Personally, I like the subtlety and remarkably, it looks like this on both sides - the dye has really gone through nicely. I got the duvet cover from the LaRedoute catalogue and have dyed their bedsheets before as well (yes, the gathered ones - that was fun!) with good success, so I do recommend them if you are looking for inexpensive white goods which dye well. Sarah gets to have the duvet cover on her bed first as she didn't get a shirt (nothing in her size knocking around).
The right hand photo is the rubber-band shibori for the resist swap. This is one of my favourite ways of dyeing fabric - you can see it in process in the top photo - it's the alien looking thing in the tray at the front - I rubber band (with nothing inside) bits of fabric- kind of like doing stones, only with no stones - sometimes a single band, sometimes two or three, then add dye with a small pipette to these peaks. Once that's done, I add colour to all the valley areas. I love the control this gives and I love the effect of the rings. This is a metre piece, but I am only swapping 5 eighths, so I will have some to keep.
And finally, the green is a fat quarter which I wrote on with Elmer's Gel Glue - I managed to get the glue to come out quite thin, which is why I think it worked better than the last time I tried it. I just used random, positive words - next time, I might try a piece of text. Then I dried it on the line so the glue would be dry, and threw it in a cup of green dye. Worked really well I think. The fabric was pre-soaked in soda ash and dried in this instance, but I'm not sure it would have mattered.
On the right are two FQs of the fabric which didn't work with the pipe shibori - these pieces were done by cramming them in cups and adding different dye colours - you can see how much white is left - and the two sides of the fabric (i.e. front and back) are different, so there was clearly a penetration issue - sizing left on the fabric or something. As it happens, it's worked to a really nice effect on these two pieces, even if it didn't work on the shibori at all!