Thursday, 6 December 2012

Almost Caught Up

I have been madly practicing my free motion skills this week and I am happy to report that I am almost caught up with Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project.

I tend to work in fits and spurts.  Sometimes my life just gets too hectic to make time every day or even each week to practice like I should.  Things have become a bit quieter over the past couple of weeks so I have used the time to my advantage to catch up.

Today I worked on Weeks 34-41 which was mostly Edge to Edge designs. I re-watched each of the video's produced by Leah Day and got down to it.

First we did Flowing Lines:

Then came Goldilocks which is basically Flowing lines with some stippling in the gaps.

Next was Trapped Paisley which is again Flowing Lines this time with Paisley in the gaps.

Everything was going relatively smoothly until I got to Jagged Lines.  The principle was the same as for Flowing Lines but instead of flowing lines we used straight lines (jagged).  For some reason I really struggle with straight lines. I couldn't keep them consistent and I wasn't sure how to do the gaps but with a bit of perseverance this is what I came up with.

Not my best effort but hey, it's all practice.  Finally, the last edge to edge design was called Lost Data.  This is Jagged Lines with Zippling in the gaps.  My zippling leaves a bit to be desired so this is definitely on my keep practicing list.  I love the concept, I just need to get better at it.

And just for fun l continued the Jagged Lines theme and added some cross-hatching.  This was not one of Leah's designs and l know why - it required a LOT of travel stitching.  It is effective but it took a long time and would make a quilt very stiff.  I was trying to be creative but perhaps I need to keep trying!

After all those edge to edge designs it was time to try Matrix.  Leah used this design as a quilt busting design on a large scale but I didn't have anything large enough that was ready to quilt so I did it on a smaller scale on a practice sandwich.  I must confess I did this without first watching the video which was probably a mistake.  I think my initial lines are probably a bit too curvy which has effected the overall design but I can at least tick this off the completed list.

I skipped Week 40 quilt busting design Flower Power for the same reason as above - I didn't have anything  large enough prepared but I will come back to it.  I finished off my 6 hour quilting session today with Pod Quilting.  Again I did this on a much smaller scale than Leah intended.  I based my sample on Leah's 'Pebble Ripples' design which is one of my favorites   I must admit that I did rush this a bit because after 6 hours of quilting my shoulders were really aching and I really wanted to be finished for the day so it is far from my best but it was so much fun to do and a good way to finish up.

So that's it.  I am almost caught up with the Free Motion Quilting Project.  I have about 8 flimsy's waiting to be sandwiched so my next task is to get some of those done so I can start to quilt on some 'real' quilts rather than practice sandwiches.

Happy quilting everyone.


Tuesday, 4 December 2012

East Street Part 2

This week Bonnie Hunter released Step 2 for the Easy Street mystery quilt and it's Flying Geese.  I love flying geese but they don't always love me back.  I have been using the method of cutting one big square and 4 little ones to make the geese and this has been working but it does my head in trying to do the math for all the squares.

Bonnie showed us in a short video how to make the flying geese units using the Companion Angle and the Easy Angle rulers.  What a revelation.  I have had these rulers since last years Orca Bay mystery and after watching the video I discovered that I have been using the Easy Angle ruler incorrectly all of this time!

I am such a visual person and after seeing the video a light bulb went of in my head.  It all made so much sense.  Making the geese using just 2 inch strips was so easy and every single one of the units turned out the right size.

This method of making the units was much quicker and so effective.  Thank you so much for the video Bonnie.  It made such a difference for me and I am sure many, many more people will benefit from it.

Here are my completed flying geese units.

I am making my quilt as a wall hanging so I only need 64 units but I made 70 just in case.

I hope the yellow was the right colour choice.  I am not confident when it comes to colour. I want the yellow to be the colour there was the least of in the final quilt. As Bonnie's purple had the least amount of yardage of the three main colours, I thought it would be safe to assume that it will not be used as much as the other 2 colours (brown and orange in my case).

I am linking up with Bonnie's  mystery-monday-link-up-part-2.
There were over 200 people who linked up last week so make sure you have a gander (my attempt at play on words...get it, flying geese--gander.  Ok funny in my own head!).


Wednesday, 28 November 2012

Easy Street Mystery

I contemplated for some time whether or not I was going to participate in this year's Mystery Quilt by Bonnie Hunter at Quiltville.  I completed last years mystery (Orca Bay) and managed to keep up with most of the steps but it was very labour intensive and knowing Bonnie's penchant for scrappy quilts with a gazillion pieces I wasn't sure I was up to it this year.  However, Bonnie has assured us that this year's mystery is not going to be as intensive as in previous years (hence the name Easy Street!) so I decided to follow along.

My one concession is to make the quilt a bit smaller.  I am going to make a wall hanging so will only need to make half the quantity that Bonnie posts.

I am also taking a leap of faith in relation to my colour choices.  I once saw a beautiful paisley fabric that I fell in love with.  It comprised browns, oranges and yellows together with a hint of blue.  Now I know that might not sound good but I just loved it so I am going to try to emulate that with this mystery.

Here are my fabric selections:

I have decided to use the blue as my constant and use a solid off white as my background fabric.
I have completed Part 1 - 100 x 4-patches.

Make sure you check out everyone else's progress and great colour choices here: easy-street-monday-link-up-1

Bring on Part 2!

Back on Track

Ok - I have been off the grid for a while but finally I am getting back on track.

Whilst I haven't been posting I have been busy in the sewing room practicing my free motion quilting skills on a real quilt.  Way back in weeks 19 & 20 of Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project we made a Modern Quilt top to practice our stitching.  I did make the quilt top but never got around to the actual quilting.  Something always got in the way or another project took precedence.  I am happy to report that I finally finished the quilting and I am really pleased with how it turned out.  I used the principals taught to us by Leah Day as well as those taught to us by Angela Walters back in July with SewCalGal's Free Motion Quilting Challenge.   

Excuse the wavy bottom, the door handles on the wall where I hung the quilt got in the way.
Here are a few close up pictures of the quilting.

Now that that is out of the way, I am trying to catch up with Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project and I managed to finish Weeks 30-33 where Leah focused on pivoting designs.
Here are a couple of pictures of my efforts.

First we did Paisley.  I love Paisley and feel very comfortable doing this design.

Next we did Lava Paisley.  It took me a few attempts to get my head around this one.  I wobbled too much at first and that made the design look a bit too messy for my taste.  Once I did more relaxed "wobbles" I liked the design much better.

Next up came another pivoting design called Snake Paisley.  This too took me a few attempts and I found I always ended up with odd areas to fill in.  I love the overall effect though and can see myself using this design again.

And the final pivot design we did was called Pointy Paisley.  I love, love, love this design and although I did have trouble keeping my lines straight, I really like the effect and the thread play with this design.

So that's it for pivoting designs.  This week I hope to catch up on Weeks 34-38 which concentrate on Edge to Edge Designs.  I have read through all the tutorials and they look reasonably simple.  Now having said that I am bound to be tripped up.  It's always the deceptively simple ones that I have the most trouble with!

Happy quilting everyone.


Thursday, 2 August 2012

As usual I had fallen behind with Leah Day's Free Motion Quilt Along homework.  I don't know how you people manage to get everything done each week.  I am flat out trying to do this homework together with practicing Sew Cal Gal's challenges that I barely have any time to work on any of my other projects in progress.
The Olympics has me hooked and I can't drag myself away from the tv screen long enough to concentrate on practicing my free motion quilting.  Mind you, my hand piecing project is getting a work out while I watch.

Anyway, on to Leah Day's homework.  This morning I managed to complete the last 2 weeks homework.
First I started with Bare Branches which is quite straight forward in concept but the actual doing is a little trickier.  I started on a large scale and as you can see I am not too adept at travel stitching.

I have to learn to go a bit slower when travel stitching.  I am still trying to get my rhythm and when I tried it on a smaller scale l had a bit more success.  I call these chicken feet as that was my mantra as I stitched this.

Next it was on to tree roots which is the same design but with curved  lines.  I really enjoyed doing this one, my brain is so much more comfortable with swirly rather than straight lines.  In this sample I purposely did lots of travelling to get as much practice as I could.  I feel as though I have got the concept, I just need to slow down more when travel stitching and concentrate a little more on filling the spaces.

Overall, I am moderately happy with the results.  I think using a high contrasting thread on plain fabric really highlights the "oopsies".  When using this design on a 'real' quilt I think it will blend so much better giving a more pleasing result.

So whilst London sleeps, I am off to get in some more free motion quilting practice.


Sunday, 29 July 2012

I have been really pushed for time this month which left little opportunity to work on my free motion quilting challenges.  I managed to squeeze in an hour or two today but I am not particularly happy with my efforts. I can't blame the poor results on the lack of time though.

I have been doodling all month whenever I have found a few minutes and I was happy with the drawings so I went into Angela's tiles challenge thinking it would be relatively simple. I was very wrong - it was  deceptively difficult to stitch.  The concept is not hard but I found that I lost my way a few times and had difficulty working out of corners where I often seemed to be stuck.

I took the easy way out and did stippling in my tiles but even the stipples are not very good.  This is actually what has disappointed me the most.  I thought I was pretty good at stipples but today I couldn't get a smooth rhythm which resulted in 'jumpy' stipples and pretty inconsistent spacing.

I really love the tiles design and after a bit more practicing I can't wait to fill the negative spaces of my modern quilt with it.  I think that when it is quilted using white thread on a white background the design will be far more subtle and blend so much better than this practice piece done in contrasting thread.

I have ordered Angela Walters new book and I can't wait for it to arrive.  And although I use a domestic sewing machine, I have signed up for Angela's online Machine Quilting Negative Space class with Craftsy.
I know that by the time I am finished I will see a vast improvement in my skills which makes it a bit easier to swallow the disappointing entry I am submitting to Sew Cal Gal's Free Motion Quilt Challenge this month.

Thank you so much Sew Cal Gal and Angela Walters for your great tutorial this month.


Tuesday, 3 July 2012

This month I have decided to combine my homework for the Sew Cal Gal Free Motion Quilt Challenge and Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project.  Leah's homework was to make a modern quilt top on which we are creating a zentangle of different quilting designs.  This is very similar to last months Sew Cal Gal project which I loved doing.  This month's tutor at Sew Cal Gal is Angela Walters who is an amazing quilter and has made a name for herself in relation to modern quilts.  This month she is teaching us a quilting design she calls Tiles.  This design lends itself perfectly to modern quilts as it is a great way to fill the negative space with great texture.
So in keeping with the theme I have designed my own modern quilt top.  I chose to go a different way than what was suggested by Leah Day.  I was not comfortable with the wonky squares that she demonstrated.  So I sat down with graph paper and pencils and came up with a design I liked.

This is the finished product.

I think it will do the trick.  There is enough negative space for the Tiles design we have to practice this month as well as having other areas to practice the different quilting designs we have learned to date.

I have never done anything 'modern' before but I think I could be a convert.  It was really quick to piece and I loved not having to match lots of seams.   I found the whole thing quite liberating actually.

Now to start practicing the free motion quilting designs for a few weeks before I attempt them on the quilt top.

Sunday, 24 June 2012

I finally made the time to complete my June piece for the Free Motion Quilt Challenge with Sew Cal Gal.  Whilst not exactly the same, my finished piece does slightly resemble my initial drawing and I am pleased with the overall result.  I found that once I got starting l got into a rhythm and it was quite addictive.  Whenever I thought I was about done, I found myself filling in another space with another design then the same again.
I definitely need to keep practicing as there are quite a few whoopsi's but they blend in with the overall result pretty well.

What did I learn this month?

1. relax and enjoy the process
2. it doesn't have to be perfect
3. free form feathers are awesome
4. circles/pebbles are the enemy!

Here is a picture of my very busy but finished piece and a couple of close ups.

Thank you Cindy Needham.  I had to really stretch myself this month but your comprehensive notes and encouragement made this so much more attainable.
I feel as though I have turned a corner.  Whilst my fmq is not perfect, I have achieved far more than I thought I was capable of doing and that fills me with confidence moving forward.

Bring on the next challenge.


Thursday, 21 June 2012

As well as taking the free motion pledge at SewCalGal, I am following along with Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project (click here for details).  I am absolutely loving this project.  Leah has taken us back to the basics of free motion quilting and every week we learn a new skill to practice.  I have been a bit behind in the project but thanks to Leah having the month of May off, I have managed to catch up.

Last week we were focusing on straight lines and sharp points with a design called circuit board.  I thought this would be relatively easy but I was very mistaken!  I found the straight lines quite hard and really had to concentrate to stop myself from rounding the corners.  My practice sample leaves a lot to be desired. I was concentrating so hard on trying to get square corners and watching my stitch length that I forgot about spacing and scale.

This week we worked on loopy lines which was much more in my comfort zone.  The loops just seem to flow better for me and I feel relaxed when stitching this one.  I think I prefer a smaller spaced design although it would also look great on a larger scale meandering over a quilt top.  I have a couple of flimsy's ready to be sandwiched up so I just might be brave enough to try this design on one of those.

Thanks so much for this wonderful project Leah.  Your relaxed style of teaching means I do not feel at all intimidated and my confidence to try new designs is growing each week.


Tuesday, 19 June 2012

The primary reason I struggle to call myself a quilter is because of the actual quilting of a quilt.  I am a piecer but not so much a quilter.  I am terrified of doing anything other than the most basic (usually straight line) quilting for fear of ruining a quilt.  I mean we spend so much time, effort and money putting a quilt together, who wants to ruin it with below average quilting?

In an effort to get over my fears I have taken a pledge to complete the 12 Month Free Motion Quilting Challenge over at SewCalGal (click here for details).  Each month a quilting expert guides us with new ideas and challenges and it is up to us to practice, practice, practice.  So far I have thoroughly enjoyed the challenges and have been reasonably pleased with my efforts. I can definitely see improvement with my quilting skills and with it my confidence is growing.

This month's  tutorial came from Cindy Needham who is an amazing quilter.  I was intimidated as I drooled over her incredible and very intricate quilting but thought to myself that she too was once a beginner and I am sure her quilting was far from perfect when she first began.  Cindy has challenged us to divide and conquer and our first task was to just doodle a zentangle.  It took me a while to get the courage to start doodling but once I got going I found I couldn't stop. It is quite addictive and also very therapeutic!  It was so much fun and as I doodled I found my fears fading.  Here is a picture of what I have doodled so far.

I am quite happy with it but now it is time to take the plunge and have a go with fabric and thread.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

Yesterday I said that I do not consider myself a “quilter”.

I thought about this a bit and realised that maybe I am a quilter after all.  What lead me to this realisation? Well I have to explain something about me.  I have always been very fastidious when it comes to my house and in particular the housework.

Everything always had to be orderly, pristine and perfect.  I couldn’t even stand a coaster that was not lined up evenly with the corner of the coffee table!  I was so ‘anal’ that I had housework lists on the fridge.  Monday – sweep & mop floors, Tuesday – dust & polish, Wednesday – clean bathrooms & scrub kitchen cupboards.  You get the gist.  I know I am crazy but I actually enjoy doing housework.  I put on my favourite music and bounce around doing what has to be done and I love the feeling of satisfaction when it’s finished.

But something has changed….the quilting bug has firmly taken hold and suddenly the housework doesn’t seem important anymore.  Don’t get me wrong, my house is not a bomb site (well most of the time its not) but it certainly is not a patch on the showroom status it once enjoyed.  For me to ignore a dusty mantelpiece or not to sweep a floor that has a few specs on it or heaven forbid leave a bed unmade is a big deal.  But I am slowly coming to the realisation that it doesn’t matter.  I can clean like a maniac and it still needs doing a day later.  So instead of cleaning everyday, I am content with once a week or (gasp) even a bit longer if it means I have more time to sew.

It’s simple really - I would rather spend time in my little sewing room than doing anything else.  I don’t even need to be sewing – just being surrounded by my (albeit small) fabric stash and quilts in progress sooths my soul.  In fact quite often I can be found in there just enjoying a glass of wine and staring out the window.  It is my space, my haven – no boys allowed!    I fuss about, flick through books and move things from one place to another just so that I have an excuse to touch and play with the fabrics.  My new found love affair with scrappy quilts (thank you Bonnie Hunter) has also been a revelation.  For someone who liked everything so perfect, matchy and symmetrical, the fact that I love the sometimes disorder, chaos and mismatchiness of scrappy quilts is enlightening.  They just look so warm and welcoming which is just how my house is beginning to look now that it is not as clinical as it once was. I owe it all to quilting and you people out there in blog land. 

Yesterday I posted my very first picture on Facebook asking for some advice on borders for a quilt I am doing. I couldn't believe that so many wonderful people took the time out of their day to share their thoughts.  I received so many positive and flattering comments and I am humbled to the core. I love this new found online quilting community I have stumbled across.  

What a defining moment this is for me.  My secret is out – I feel like I am in therapy or at a meeting admitting my addiction.

 “Hi, my name is Sue and maybe, just maybe I am a quilter.”

Saturday, 2 June 2012

I call myself an accidental quilter.
Let me explain….I am the middle of three girls and come from a distinctly non crafty family.  I have no memory of my mother or grandmothers doing anything crafty whatsoever and both of my sisters have showed no interest in craft.  Yet curiously I have always been crafty minded.  From a young age I dressed my dolls using handkerchiefs or whatever I could lay my hands on.  In school I took home economic classes and started to make some clothing.  My beautiful (now departed) mother did not sew but she bought me a sewing machine so that I could continue to sew.  As well as sewing I enjoyed knitting, cross-stitch and cooking.  I continued to dabble making clothes throughout my late teens and early twenties and when I was pregnant with my first child I decided to make a blanket for his cot.
I sewed some squares of different fabrics together and thought that in order to keep my new baby warm the blanket needed to be thicker.  I found some fluffy stuff at my local craft store (I later came to learn that this fluffy stuff is called wadding/batting) and then backed my new creation with more fabric.  To hold all the layers together I sewed along the joins of the fabric.  Unbeknown to me I just made my first quilt!

I had no idea what I was doing; I was just ‘winging’ it.  Of course the quilt wasn’t great - the squares were cut with scissors and were not perfectly straight or square, the joins didn’t always meet and I finished the edge by folding the two fabrics in on themselves and hand stitched together.  But I loved it and it kept my son warm.

A couple of years later my husband (a serviceman in the Australian Army) was posted to the tiny Pacific Island of Tonga.  We packed up and went with toddler and baby in toe and it is there my quilting journey really began.  I was fortunate enough to meet a wonderful woman (also from Australia) who just happened to be a quilt teacher back home and she showed me the ropes.  I learned so much from her and although quality fabric was scarce in Tonga, with the guidance and patience of my new teacher I muddled through and started to make a small sampler quilt.  I must admit I cringe a bit when I look at that flimsy now (yes it is still a flimsy – must get around to finishing it one day) but it was a great learning tool.

I will always treasure that time in Tonga but when we returned to Australia I had a full life that didn’t allow time to indulge this new found love. I took a few classes and made a couple more samplers but that was about it. Fast forward several years my boys are teenagers and suddenly I have more time for me.   To date I have made about 10 large and numerous small quilts.  I still do not to call myself a quilter though.  I am not sure what it is…I still have so much to learn and I am a bit of a perfectionist (although I am slowly coming to the realisation that it doesn’t have to be perfect). 

Last year I discovered the big wide quilting community on the Internet (that too was an accident as I stumbled across a blog when I was searching for an answer to a quilting question I had).  I know l am a bit late to the online party but I plan to make the most of it herein.  I find it both inspirational and intimidating looking at all of the beautiful work and reading all the wonderful stories online.  I am totally in love with the generosity, kinship and the beautiful spirit of quilters from all over the world.   I aspire to being half as talented and giving as these women (and men).

After a year of following quilter’s blogs worldwide I decided it was time I started one so that I too can share my experiences.  

Let the adventures begin!