Saturday 29 December 2012

Fabric Stacks

Since I did not go to the annual Quilt Show this year (went to Machine Quilting Show earlier in the year instead and blew about $150 in about half an hour), I thought I treat myself...yes, got sucked in again by the Magazine subscription deals. Signed up for another 6 months of subscription and  (for a good price) got 6 more issues, Bamboo batting and two fabric stacks of 20  pieces at 6.5"each (two of each design).

Not your ordinary fabric though...could not resist. The fabric stacks are from Robert Kaufmann Fabrics by designer Leesa Chandler in the Passage to India and Dutch Cottage range. Two pieces of each design...Just beautiful! This will be great for table runners and smaller projects.

Here is a selection of the fabric

My favourite

Have already got a few ideas what to do with this fabric...


Wednesday 26 December 2012

Quilt Along #45 - My FMQ year

This is the last Quilt Along for the year. To start off with, a huge 'Thank you' to Leah from Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesday for organizing and running this weekly Quilt Along. It has been amazing.

Last year actually around this time, I decided that I wanted to concentrate on FMQ for the coming year. This arose out of  a realization that I needed to get a bit more serious about FMQ if I wanted to expand my skill levels. Up to then, I would produce quilt after quilt and every time it came to the quilting I felt I was starting all over again in terms of FMQ...this invariably meant that I would return to the same designs because I felt more comfortable doing them. At one of the quilt shows that year I was again admiring some FMQ and realized it was time I do something about this. While not overly confident, I was sure that this was something that could be learned with time.

These were the two designs that I would normally do on my quilts, some basic stippling and my trusted leaf design.

I went on Leah's blog to look at some designs to pick for some practice when I saw Leah talking about the Quilt Along. I initially hesitated when I realized I probably would need to set up a blog...but then thought 'what the heck'...this also became an adventure, but that is another story.

My FMQ year

We have done some amazing work over the year...I looked back over the posts recently and realized how extensive this was. Initially we did some basic FMQ...lines, in-the-ditch stitching, stippling. Then came the little Wholecloth...I remember taking one look, thinking 'I cannot do that'. Well, it turned out stunning! After that we did several different designs, and I discovered I was born to zipple. I could actually zipple myself out of the tightest spot and fill any space pretty consistent.

I think by then I had produced what I called my 'practice quilt'. Just squares with some sashings in between with a simple border. This was invaluable as it meant that I could just pull it out from week to week and practice the designs on there...a huge time saver. Lots of practice of stitching in-the-ditch and backtracking and most of all, practice in not being perfect. Also discovered that I really do better with fairly contrasting thread rather than the blend-in variety. And who would have thought but I started to use Polyester batting and Polyester thread and ...nothing happened!

The Wonky Block quilt...what an adventure. Never had FMQ an entire quilt before.

I have learned so much this year. I think what has stood out most for me is that I am now:

- not afraid to FMQ in-the-ditch...simply had to get over that
- can backtrack over my stitching in an orderly fashion (more or less)
- not so reluctant to try new and different designs (have a look at my recent post So Inspired)
- able to just sit down and usually FMQ without any major tension or thread issues (and if there are, I am not so clueless)
- able to produce some fairly consistent stitches and seem to know what speed I need to use with different designs, and

I am totally addicted to FMQ!

Practice certainly is the key to FMQ and the Quilt Along has helped in pushing me along. Along the way I have enjoyed the company of other quilters participating in the Quilt Along. Lots of interesting questions and lots of great stitching by everyone and very kind comments all along. I have enjoyed this Quilt Along and am looking forward to the new year.  Definitely will keep up the FMQ.

Until next time


Friday 21 December 2012

Blockbase Sew Along #6

My block for the Blockbase Sew Along held over at the EQ blog 'Behind the Mouse':

This is #2354 of Barbara Brackmann's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Block Patterns and is called Crazy Pieces. Now I am not going to pretend...had some major hassles with the matching of the points and had to undo this a couple of times.

Here are all of my 6 blocks. I think I need to go a bit easy on the white background and build in a bit more variety in the next few blocks. Not sure whether the dark red in the Kaleidoscope block goes with all the rest of it...will have to wait and see, I still have some darker fabric to use up from my Moda Jelly roll.

So far this is looking pretty interesting.

Until next time


Wednesday 19 December 2012

Quilt Along #44- Starry Mess

This is Quilt Along #44 in Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesdays and the design for this week  is Starry Mess.

Starry Mess
I did mine on a smaller sample. I do not find doodling this star very easy at all, quite the contrary. I have to often stop and really think about this one and hence my stars turned out a bit on the smallish side.  I easily loose direction in this simple design, seems my brain cannot cope with the direction of the lines too well. Overall though turned out alright...I think that I would struggle making this on a larger scale and keeping the consistency of spacing in the design. However, quite like the random appearance of this.  This could also be quite effective in a border , to jazz things up a bit, I think.

Until next time


Monday 17 December 2012

So Inspired - Part 2

Here it is...finished the quilting.

For the first time ever, went around the whole border with a feather design and connected it up so that the whole thing is one continuous feather design. I am super impressed with this. Was not as hard as I first imagined. First drew myself a line half way along the border all around. I then lightly drew the first few feathers in...and of I went with some trepidation.  Went nice and slow and apart from some little irregularities here and there, it turned out pretty ok. More attention in the corners would have been good but I was just really happy that I made it around the corners in an orderly fashion.

As I had watched Patsy Thompson's video over at SewCalGal's December tutorial, I thought that I give the hyper quilting a go as well. Outlined my motif and put some swirls in there, and then 'in-lined' the feathers around the outer border. This worked really well and also helped with making the feathers appear a bit slimmer because some of them turned out a bit 'fat' for my liking.  It also made the feathers pop out a bit more and given that I used a different colour, it makes the border look more interesting, I think. Love that thread build up (used my favourite again - Aurifil 50/2).

Each side of the border has about 50 individual feather shapes, so I would have done the same shape about 400 times. Absolutely can confirm that continued practice does commit a shape to muscle memory.

I really like how this turned out.  Not quite sure what I am now going to do with this...


Saturday 15 December 2012

So Inspired/ Confront your Fears

I am so addicted to FMQ.

I would like to share something with you I have been working on over the last week or so. I have been following the Freemotion Quilting Challenge over at SewCalGal this year, visiting the tutorials every month and trying a few things here and there. Time wise I was unable to take up the challenge on a regular basis and given that I had also just started blogging, it all felt a bit overwhelming. Mind you just following along I picked up a few tips here and there...the tutorials were all very inspiring and I learned something from each and every one.

Then this month came along with the Patsy Thompson's look and I was hooked. And when I say hooked, I mean it. Her tutorial is about FMQ in borders, something that I have struggled with for a long time, reverting back to the same old designs I do most of the time because I know I can do them. I often get annoyed about this as I rarely try something different and when I do it is always a drama, requiring major marking or extraordinary math skills. I usually stand in front of my borders absolutely clueless and end up opting out of a more challenging design because I have convinced myself that I cannot do it.

I read through the challenge and decided to give this a go, even though I will not be participating obviously in the last month...but I thought I will do this just for me to confront some of those fears around borders. And what a challenge it was...tiny 1/2inch borders to start with. Would have never occurred to me to FMQ in such a small space, let alone do a design in it that I am not used to. I was so tense with concentration that my hands hurt after the first border...had to laugh at that and made a mental note telling myself that this was just practice and really did not matter how it turned out.

Took it easy after that, taking some time in doing the borders and also watched the video that Patsy Thompson included in her tutorial...very informative. A few future purchases (DVDs) coming up for me, I think. Have a look at her website Patsy Thompson Designs. Lots of very interesting things on there.

Anyway, here is my little project

SewCalGal Freemotion Quilting Challenge - Patsy Thompson tutorial

Not quite finished...have one more border to go and might practice a few more feathers in there as I am a bit wobbly with that in terms of making up my mind about what method of stitching I am using, i.e. backtracking along the length of the feather or over the top.  How beautiful is this! And I used the ugly brown fabric thinking this would just be practice...funny how things sometimes just work out.

The motif in the middle is done freehand, with having lightly marked the square with horizontal, vertical and diagonal registration lines and then just allowing the shapes to develop. I was very happy with the outcome and amazed how my FMQ skills have developed over the year. With that confidence I tackled the borders. None of this is perfect...far from it, but it looks really pretty and the flaws will only be noticed by seriously looking for them. The wavy feather border tested my drawing skills, however once I had the waves on there it was relatively easy to follow this. Absolutely love the effect of this.

A big thank you to SewCalGal for hosting these tutorials over the year and also Patsy Thompson for this excellent tutorial.


Wednesday 12 December 2012

Quilt Along #43 - Cat Hairball Filler is Quilt Along #43 on Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesdays. The design for this week is Cat Hairball Filler...had to laugh at the title of this design.

Sorry about the photo...did not have time to do it again...
Possibly one of the easiest designs to do. It is literally just doodling in e's of varying sizes across the area and for once being able to go over all the lines. Speed is of the essence here as Leah had pointed out in her video and she was not wrong. My machine was working overtime to do this design. The thing that I noticed though is that I could only do this design at a particular scale (1inch approximately)...somehow a larger version does not work that well for me.

Unfortunately this is super hard to see...did not think about this when I tried this pattern. Need to invest in some more solid type material.


Monday 10 December 2012

UFO Sunday/WIP- Foundation Piecing

Continued with my 'Sweet Gumleaf' block.

Given I had some distortion with the last block I had sewn (which was probably due to the thin interfacing that I was using as a foundation ), I decided to do the block with paper as the foundation. I also increased the size to 7" as this will allow me a bit more space to quilt in the skinny star that develops when four blocks are placed together.

Well, what a laugh...the block turned out nice and straight and you probably will not realize what went wrong this time. Another one of those 'huh'!!??? moments. I produced a complete  mirror image of the block by obviously placing the fabric on the wrong side of the foundation when sewing it together. Good thing that I have got a lot of patience.

This is how it should look like:

I do spend a lot of time in the planning stages...given that I am going to work on this for a while, I like to make sure that these blocks come together without any major headaches. Once all those little annoying things are ironed out and I have a fair idea of how everything will come together it is then just a matter of doing it and I can then concentrate of speeding up the process by cutting the fabric at once, drawing up foundations in batches of 10 to 20 and so forth. I find that this works really well for me and I rarely have any complications develop during the process. On the other hand, when I sew something that developed  out of a more spontaneous idea the likelihood of it becoming an UFO increases exponentially.


Friday 7 December 2012

Blockbase Sew Along #5

This is block #5 of the Blockbase Sew Along held over at the EQ blog 'Behind the Mouse'. This block is #1755 of Barbara Brackman's Encyclopedia of Pieced Quilt Patterns and is called Prairie Flower.

My version:

My block is 8 "finished size. I paper pieced this, using the foundation paper that I recently ordered over the Internet. Very's a bit firmer to what I have been using before and comes out easy. I decided to combine some orange print with different shades of purple. Like the crisp look of this block (and actually looks great when you put it in the quilt layout just by itself).

Have a look at all the different blocks on the Blockbase Sew Along...I am finding this very interesting to look at all the different variations of the one block.


Wednesday 5 December 2012

Quilt Along #42 - Spiral Ornaments

This is another one of Leah Day's quilt busting designs - Spiral Ornaments.

I am happy to say that I don't have any quilts to complete at the moment, except for the binding on my 'Practice quilt'. This design would have been good for the sashing in that quilt.

I am glad I watched Leah's video...before this, I imagined that this would be stitched all in one hit  and I wondered how I would keep this consistent. Then discovered that Leah just stitched a line and did the spirals after. So simple.

This is a great design. I could imagine this also in a border...with the right quilt this could look really nice and it uses a lot of space in a very short time, so is a brilliant idea to finish off a section very quickly. I stitched mine on a little practice piece and tried two versions, as I had already forgotten how many times one was supposed to go around it...I like the first one where I went around it three times. It's very easy to stitch and is really relaxing.

Linking up to  Leah Day's Quilt Along Wednesdays.

Until next time


Tuesday 4 December 2012

UFO Sunday #15


Finally the Table Runner is done and dusted. Running a bit behind because I had to sew on the binding which always takes me a while as I slipstitch this in place by hand.

Did not turn out exactly like I wanted it to...spent too much time thinking about this. However I am very pleased this is off my hands.


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