Monday, 30 April 2012

A little bit of paper piecing... for a change.

So if you haven't noticed... I kind of like paper piecing. I'm drowing in wips right now, so it's nice to do a little paper pieced block in between to kind of clear the mind and then prepare myself to go back to the mammoth task of quilting those wips.

While I was floating about, looking at fabulous paper pieced patterns, I recently came across a freebie program called Quilt Assistant - which helps design quilt blocks and paper pieced blocks. Ooh does that not sound like fun? It's a rather steep learning curve to use it (well for me anyways, but I'm so not great at reading manuals before trying something out). So I'd um highly recommend you read the guide first. It does make things much easier.

So here is my first attempt at drafting and then sewing a paper pieced block! I went with something simple (and has likely been done before!) but I'm happy with how it looks!

The thing I love about paper piecing - look how tiny those rays get as they go into the middle and yet I didn't have to fiddle around with itty bits of fabric. I was keen to see how it would look all finished so I used great whopping chunks of fabric! Scraps be damned! That just means more fabric for paper piecing!

Oh and here's one of my possibly favourite things about Quilt Assistant - besides the fact it lets me make paper pieced patterns without having to actually draw them out on graph paper. I can play around with colours with just a few clicks! Look at this!

Oh the possibilities are endless! As you can see, I made the bottom left one. Such a simple design and so quick to make. I think these blocks would make cute cushions don't you?

Right enough of my showing off. Just pleased something I drew up on the computer actually worked in fabric!

Here are some blocks other people drew up on the computer that worked beautifully for me!

I'm calling this block Take Two. But Tiffany who designed it (t.anne quilts on Flickr) calls it Bird on a Star. Much more poetic. It's only Take Two for me as this was my second attempt at this block. This one was fully paper pieced rather than with those dreaded y-seams.

And here is one of the sweet blocks from the Garden Party blog hop.

I did have to unpick and resew a few seams here. Mainly because I sewed the butterfly's body in upside down.Yep. Smart huh? I was tempted to leave it and see if I could get away with it but it was driving me crazy! Much happier with it resewn. How on earth would a butterfly fly upside down otherwise?!

Besides all the paper piecing madness, I did give some attention to the XOXO quilt and did a bit more quilting on it.

My goodness that thing is HEAVY! I'm still not sure what I'm doing with all the quilting but I'm hoping it'll just all come together easily.

Now I'm off to play some more with Quilt Assistant instead of doing boring things like tidying the house. Hello, my name is Kristy and I am a procrastinator. ;) Hope you're having fun procrastinating too!

Linking up with Manic Monday over at SewHappyGeek and to Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations. :)

Friday, 27 April 2012

A Friday Finish

Feels like it's been awhile since I had a big finish! So I am more than pleased to say I have finished the mystery quilt! The proper name for it is Thrifty Star due to this bit in the centre:

As you can see I went for some basic straight line quilting on the diagonal. This was a tough quilt to decide on quilting - I went the minimalist approach. Glad I did because it turns out I don't actually enjoy the quilting process. I love piecing and coming up with ideas, but basting and quilting... not so much. I don't think I'm very good at it either. Is it meant to be all wavy like that in the lines? It really didn't look that wavy while I was working on it.

Anyways it is finished and that batting is not going anywhere! So I'll call the quilting mildly successful - as in its doing its job but it's not fantastically pretty. It was also a lot to shove through the machine. Final measurements are 150cm square. Not even sure how much that is in inches/feet. Lots for a throw for the lounge (which this is) but not enough for a single bed. There, that's precise now isn't it. Good thing I'm not a carpenter or engineer.

This quilt is ever changing in its greenness. It looks different in every photo. Bit of a chameleon quilt I think! The colours are more a foresty green in real life.

And for reference, here's some forest.

Okay not really forest. It's true Aussie bush. That's my backyard. Nope, not kidding. This is what it looks like at the end of my (unfenced) yard. Needless to say my wild monkey children would love to take a long walk off into the middle of that. Furtherly needlessly (yes I love making up words, why do you ask?) my children do not go out there unsupervised. Ever. Ever. Ever. Does that sound like I don't trust them? You're right, I don't.

End tangent.Back to quilting.

This quilt felt like it took awhile, sorting out a pieced back, and the binding etc. That's possibly because a lot of the time, my sewing machine looked like this:

It was cute for the first five minutes - hence taking a photo for posterity. After that, well let's just say there was a lot of "Would you please just let Mummy do it? It's Mummy's turn. It's not fair! It's my machine! It's my turn! I don't play with your toys so stop playing with mine!". You get the picture right?

So I was quite pleased to get the backing done without sewing it upside down, inside out or sewing Lulu's and my hands together.

I think I am finally getting the hang of this machine sewn binding thing. And I like it! I took a photo to show you how both the front and back of the binding look in case you're interested.

The top is the front of the quilt, the bottom is the back. You can see there's an extra row of stitching around the edge of the quilt but it's not very noticeable. I really love this machine sewn binding look. I learnt how to do it from this tutorial at Crazy Mom Quilts and it revolutionised my quilting life.

So there you have it. A Friday Finish. And I am feeling a little less frazzled as I can now tick off one big WiP as finished. Yay!

Linking up with TGIFF over at Quilt Monster in my Closet to celebrate!

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Making more WiPs

I already have a number of WiPs. At least three large ones that I can think of straight off the top of my head. Pretty certain I have more than that but I can't bear to think about that too closely. WiPs make me crazy. So why do I keep adding to the list?! Cue the Mystery Quilt - the newest in my WiP club.

The quarter block has been added to and is now a quilt top!

See that star in the centre? I thought that was pretty cool. I couldn't visualise how the centres of the blocks would form a star so I think that is quite a fun little feature!

Oh and this was made with just three fabrics - my green patterned fabric is actually a cheater. It's made up of 8 stripes with different patterns for each stripe. I had to do a tiny bit of fussy cutting to get them to work for this pattern but not much at all. I'm really pleased with how it turned out.

So add this to my WiP list. It needs a small white border then I'll bind it with the solid green which will also be the backing fabric if I have enough. This one is destined as a joint Mother's Day gift for my Nan. Mum bought the fabric, I'm sewing the quilt - good deal right? Well particularly when Mum threw lots of extras in when we shopped for the fabric - "Oh you need batting? Let's get 5m so it lasts forever" to which of course I said 'Thanks Mum, you're super awesome, I'll make you a quilt".

And so that my brain didn't explode with unfinished projects, I whipped up a quick finish project for me today. That and I was missing paper piecing after nearly a week of neglecting it in favour of regular piecing and quilting (I know, terrible right?!).

Here's the result:
Cute little bird isn't it? The pattern is from the Garden Party Blog Hop (lots of fab paper pieced patterns happening there!) and is designed by Liljabs.

I decided to make it into a mini wallhanging for my sewing room. Of course that would help if I added a hanging sleeve, which I didn't in my haste to finish it up. Ah well, it'll look pretty leaning against the wall I'm sure.

Looks cute with the Ta Dot binding. Total cheater binding too - it's the backing fabric wrapped round to the front and sewn down. Love shortcuts sometimes.

I also FMQ'd it to within less than an inch of its life. Except the actual bird - I thought he looked just fine without embellishment (must be a he with such pretty plumage right? I have spent too long looking at the word plumage. It doesn't even look like a word. Plus it's making me go all Princess Bride "I do not think it means what you think it means"). So the background is filled in with my attempt at a branching swirl vine thing - technical term, certainly.

I'm using my Mum's fab camera at the moment. It's pretty awesome but gosh it makes photos show up BIG and you can see all the stitches and needle holes. And this photo was sized down to 12%!! Awesome to keep in mind if I ever need something magnified to a ridiculous degree.

So now I need to go and work out the borders and backing for the Mystery Quilt as it has a bit of a deadline looming for Mother's Day.

But before I finish up - remember this awesome pouch I was given by Fiona on the weekend?

Well Fiona at Finding Fifth has written up a great tutorial to show you how to make one of your own. I have to say it's such a great size to fit all my sewing supplies in (and my rotary cutter too!).

Right, think that's enough procrastinating. Time to do something about that WiP list.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced :)

Tuesday, 24 April 2012

It's a Mystery!

A mystery quilt class that is. Though really, the mystery is how we managed any sewing at all with all the talking we did! We being Fiona and me! I don't think we stopped talking the whole weekend - so much fun :)

The class was at Hunters and Collectors in Coffs Harbour, NSW. I have driven past it so often but haven't dared go in as I usually have two wild monkey children attached to me. But gosh, what I have been missing out on!

Here are a few photos of the shop. You can imagine we were like kids in a candy store (though we did show some remarkable restraint amongst all this beautiful fabric).

And here's one of Fiona checking out all the goodies on offer. Oh so many pretties!

Then.. there were the quilts on display. I only snapped a couple of photos but there were so many lovely ones about (I think Fiona got more photos of quilts than I did). Very inspiring! I think I'd like my house to look like that someday. Guess I should get some of these WiPs done...

Loved this little bird one. Makes me want to get into stitcheries!

I did pick up a small pattern along this birdie line on my way out..

Now this quilt was my favourite - I wish I had a better photo. It is just amazing! All these little kiminos are folded fabric. Isn't that amazing?!

Here's a closeup of one:

Right well that's enough of the scenery! Now the class! I have never done a quilt class before, let alone a mystery quilt. But I knew the teacher, Lisa, as she attends the quilt group I go to. So it was lovely to see her and she is a fabulous teacher. I picked up so many tips and tricks throughout the day, it was excellent. That's when I paused for breath amidst chattering away to Fiona.

I think I looked like this a lot of the time:
Less talk, more sew!!! Bet that's what the teacher was thinking!
Fiona was more dedicated and she looked more like this:
Star pupil - sewing away!
So we had to show up with three fabrics - a feature, a contrast and a light colour. I decided to kill two birds with one stone (figuratively, obviously ;) ) and decided to use the fabrics I had set aside for a Mother's Day gift for my Nan. It's a joint gift from Mum and I. Mum picked the fabric, I sewed the quilt. Who got the better end of the deal I ask you?

I had my fabrics pre-cut ready to go! And it all started with clues set out on these cute little fancy papers:

Day One was a LOT of sewing, cutting, ironing. At one point we were cutting 2.5" strips. 96 of them to be precise. They were turned into 48 four patch units though. I was wondering what the quilt was going to look like at this time.

When it finished we headed off to the tavern for a wine (well for the other girls, I'm boring and don't drink - alcohol makes me sick. No, not just hungover, sick while drinking it. Shame, I know!). Met up with our lovely quilt friend Jane and had an early dinner while we talked quilting, fabric and kids. Have some pics from there but I'm not sure if Jane wants her photo plastered all over my blog. Forgot to ask her!

We also did our little handmade swap there - pictures and details of that can be found here. Then Fiona and I headed back to my place for a planned paper piecing lesson. Because I know Fiona is just dying to be a paper piecing fanatic like me (hehehe!). But alas, between children (see previous wild monkey children comment) and sewing fatigue, it did not happen. Next time perhaps!

So Day Two. I had lots of fabrics and pieces looking like this:

 Okay full disclosure. This photo was taken this morning after I did a lot more sewing at home haha! I did not accomplish this much in the two day class! There was one speed quilter in the group - we were all 'encouraging' her to hurry up so we could see what the quilt was looking like. And can I just say I was impressed that she nearly got her entire quilt top finished in the two days? Do you think Fiona and I came close? Okay well we did get a quarter done!

Day two was a bit more relaxed and we started putting blocks together. Even with a quarter done, I still couldn't figure out what the finished quilt wouuld look like. Here are the quarter blocks Fiona and I made.

The teacher relented and showed us two finished quilts in this design. It really is lovely! Would you believe that the final project has a fantastic star right in the centre? I have to get busy and sew the rest of my quilt to make that star appear! Which means I should proabbly end this blog post here and actually go and sew. Again, less talk, more sew. I think that's the story of my quilting life.

Thanks for reading through if you made it this far! It was lovely meeting Fiona (and please pop over and check out her blog - she makes such lovely things, I saw some of her projects in person! Gorgeous!) and hanging out. Who knew we had so much in common?! And can I say, for my first class, first bloggy friend meeting, first mystery quilt - it was all an absolute blast! Must do it again. Soon. :)

Monday, 23 April 2012

Show and Tell

What a fabulous fun quilty weekend I have just had! So much to share and show - decided to split it into two posts - else it would rival a novel for length (and possibly require a disclaimer against any pins and needles suffered while sitting so long reading!).

So let's stick with a bit of show and tell first! I gave a sneak peek of the needle books I made for the girls the other day. Well now they have their gifts I can happily share some photos of how they look!

This one below was Jane's. I used Good Fortune fabric for this one. The little picture on the front is meant to be a spool. It's supposed to be a needle book after all, so I thought a spool would be appropriate. The top and bottom of the spool (the fans) are actually from the selvedges from the Good Fortune fabric. Super cute selvedges.

Jane loves selvedges. I mean LOVES selvedges. I never paid attention to them before I met Jane. Now I look out for the cute ones and save them for her. Moda ones are especially cute with little pictures on them, not just dots! She makes such gorgeous things with them. I'm hanging out for her to finish off her spool quilt she's making with selvedges and pezzy prints. Gorgeous does not begin to describe it!

So I used selevedges for the pocket in the needlebook. I sewed them together like normal seams but after talking to Jane, learnt a better way is to overlap the selvedges and sew them that way. Means you don't cut off half the picture/dots with your seam and you have a better chance of them staying where you tell them to.

I decided these little needle books were the perfect thing to practice my FMQ on. Something small and as gifts for understanding quilty friends if it didn't turn out so great ;) I did loops and flowers on Jane's to fit in with the Good Fortune flowery theme. Bit of fun!

Fiona (from Finding Fifth - fantastic alliteration there) loves vintage teacups. So what else could I put on the front of her needle book? She scored this little paper pieced block (and I mean little - 2"x3"). For my fellow paper piecing fanatics (haha I originally wrote fantastics! That tells you how I feel about paper piecing!), the pattern is a freebie that can be found here at Piece by Number.

Fabric is Pear Tree which I love. I fussycut abit to get the bird lined up and tried my best to get the brown/blue stripes to look like they were very intentionally placed on the teacup! No one likes an unintentional stripe afterall. Nearly as bad as a wonky HST, wouldn't you say Fiona? ;)

More Pear Tree fabric inside. See the loops above the pocket? They were my new best friends during the making of this needle book. I totally traced them to get that fantastic loop design happening in my FMQ.

I nearly forgot to add - I used this tutorial as a guide for the needle book as I wasn't certain what size to make them. I think they came out on the larger side, but might possibly be able to fit in a small pair of scissors and some thread in the pocket which would be handy as a mini sewing kit. 

So that was my side of the little swap - actually that is my first complete swap! And so fun to do with two lovely quilty ladies!

Want to know what I got in return? I know they say it's better to give than to receive, but clearly "they" did not know my quilty friends and what I would receive from them! I am thrilled with these little goodies (big thank you Fiona and Jane - love love love what I got!!).

From Fiona - an awesome selvage pouch!check out these gorgeous colours! Ooh so pretty! I am loving that zipper pull too. Awesome use of a selvage. (Side note: I have just noticed that I have changed spelling on selvage and selvedge through this blog post. Oh the dilemma of not knowing how to spell the word! I'll consider it interchangeable).

This pouch is such a great size and she even put a pocket inside! Oh and the zipper on the top of the pouch is beautifully covered on the ends. Yet Fiona claims to be a pouch novice. Huh. (That was a pause to ponder because this does not strike me as novice sewing).

I'm going to use this for my sewing supplies. Much better than the massacred Aviary 2 pouch I made myself that has puckers and bunches in all the wrong places. No, no picture of that one. It does not fill me with pride.

And from Jane - who I was certain was going to go with a Pinterest creation but actually used a real life sewing magazine, amazing right? - this fantastic pincushion/pins+notions holder.

Check out that awesome vintage birdie ribbon around the edge! How gorgeous is that! I have to say, my son is rather disappointed it has a K on it as he now cannot claim it for himself. Sorry kid, some things are Mummy's and not up for sharing.

So that's the show and tell portion! I will have to post more next time about the actual class. So much fun. So much chatter (possibly mainly on Fiona's and my behalf, I don't think we stopped talking the entire weekend!) and met some lovely new people (hello Melissa and Belinda! Waiting to read your blogs girls!! ;) ). Oh yes and some fun sewing too! Plans in the works for another weekend somewhere down the track ;) Too much fun not to do again!

And... I'd best end here as I think I have reached my quota of exclamation marks for one blog post.

Friday, 20 April 2012

Storm in a teacup

I think that about sums up my week. Filled with lots of happenings and probably a little bit of over-reaction on my part (particularly regarding that unfortunate haircut Little Miss suffered).  But today is Friday. Which means tomorrow is Saturday. And not just any ordinary Saturday. It's my first Quilt Class tomorrow (so important that it needs capital letters) and I'm meeting my lovely bloggy friend Fiona from Finding Fifth! How fun!

After class we're going to have a little meet up with a couple of the other local quilty girls. Doesn't that sound like fun? So a few days ago (nothing like advance notice hehehe!) Jane suggested we do a little swap for our meeting! We are each making something different. Jane has pincushions (I suspect it has something to do with some awesome idea she discovered on Pinterest...), Fiona has pouches (now that she's a pouch maker extraordinaire!) and I took needle books.

I was told I wasn't allowed to paper piece a ridiculously small Circle of Geese. Ok I did pout for a moment at that because really, wouldn't that be awesome for the front of a needle book? So I sort of side stepped and paper pieced something else ridiculously small. (Don't tell Fiona - she thinks she's going to do a paper piecing intervention for me, but really I'm going to teach her how to paper piece and spread the paper piecing joy!).

A teacup! This measures 2 x 3". Fabric is Pear Tree (gorgeous isn't it?) and the pattern is a freebie from Pieced by Number. I also tried another pattern for the other needle book but it did not come together. Apparently some paper pieced patterns are not meant to be made on a small scale. So I winged my own and made a little Spool for the other book but forgot to take a picture of it before I put it all together!

I can't really show you much more as these are still surprises and I don't want to ruin that fun part yet! But I can show you a couple of sneak peeks.

Yep! I FMQ'd these little things! Getting some practice in before I work on the big XOXO quilt. Top photo has loop the loops (I cheated and traced the fabric on the other side), bottom photo is loops and flowers on some Good Fortune fabric.

I also had some fun fabric mail arrive today! That's sure to make for a good day isn't it? I thought so, until two minutes later Little Miss got her fingers jammed in the door, care of big brother. She's having a tough week. He's spending a lot of time in his room. Can I just say thank goodness holidays end and preschool starts again next week and we get back into routine. He does not cope well without routine!

But anyways! Look at these pretties:

I got 20 FQs for $40 in a mystery FQ package from Fabric Love Australia. Such gorgeous designer fabrics - Riley Blake, Michael Miller, Alexander Henry, Robert Kauffman, Moda etc... I'm a happy quilter.

So on that note, I am off to cut my fabric ready for Quilt Class tomorrow. It's a mystery quilt class - another thing I've never done! Ought to be fun! Woohoo - quilty weekend, here I come!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

WiP + a winner!

I have plenty (and I mean plenty!) of things in progress at the moment and yet I keep adding to my to-do list. So I am keen to get a few things finished up and trim down the WiP list. Too many WiPs make me a bit crazy - not like I need much encouragement on that front.  I have 2 kids. Enough said.

So here are my current WiPs:

The XOXO quilt. I have started quilting it! Yay! I decided to stop being so terrified of screwing it up and just get on with the job. It's for my mum. Who once wore a paper clip necklace I made her for Mother's Day when I was 6. In public. I think she's going to be okay with not so perfect quilting.

 Oh my goodness. It is a monster of a quilt. It took me an hour and a half to baste it and I have outlined the main diamonds (taking an hour of quilting alone).

I am a little bit pleased with myself as I actually managed to get the backing of this fabric lined up almost perfectly. I was worried the stripe would be wonky (and no one likes a wonky stripe). But it's pretty much right in the centre, which was proven when I outlined the diamonds. Little bit of puckering but I'm going to ignore that.

And... that's as far as I've gotten. I really need kidfree time to get stuck into the quilting. Being school holidays here, kidfree time is in short supply.

Side track. Here's what's bad about school holidays. Kids get bored. Kids have to think up their own things to do. They can get creative. Not in a good way. Results may take months to return to normal.

Exhibit A:

I'm sure there's something good about school holidays. Right now I am failing to remember it as I weep over my daughter's lost hair.

Oh and no I wasn't sewing while Child 1 was playing hairdresser with Child's 2 blonde locks but boy did I need some sewing therapy once Child 1 was confined to his room and told not to come out. Ever. Except to pee.

Back to the main topic of WiPs (which technically Lulu's hair is now a work in progress right? I just can't do anything about it).

I have decided my beloved sewing machine needs a pretty cover. So using the paper pieced block I mentioned last post (pattern is a freebie by Charise Creates), and a bit more fabulous Good Fortune fabric, I have made a start! Oh and yep I still haven't stitched a needle for the machine yet. I really better do that before I forget.

And that's about the bulk of the sewing I got done today. Sewing four borders onto a block. Ah well, something is better than nothing!

I don't think I'm going to list the rest of my WiPs because my head might explode. Suffice to say it is plenty to keep me occupied for the next decade or three. Or at least until my daughter's hair grows back.

To finish up - time for a winner! Thank you so much to everyone who played along with the little giveaways happening here and on Fiona's blog. I was  blown away by the way follower numbers jumped (doubled in a week, oh mygoodness!) so thank you for reading my little blog!

Now for the winner. The number please, Mr
And that winner is quilary! I will be in touch so I can send out your little charm pack and embroidery threads! If you didn't win and you want one of those cute little Oh Deer charm packs, I highly recommend Fabric Buzz or Want It Need it Quilt - precuts at great prices for us Aussies without the long postage wait. :)

Now I'm off to end my long day with a hot chocolate while watching the newest episode of Offspring. Right about now I kind of wish I drank wine. I could sure use it.

Linking up with WiP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced. Love seeing what others are up to though I definitely don't need any more inspiration the way my To-Do list is going.