Monday, 26 January 2015

FMQ Challenge

In an effort to improve my free motion quilting skills I am participating in the 2015 Free Motion Quilting Challenge hosted by QuiltShopGal.

I followed along with the previous years challenges and learnt so much from the many incredibly talented quilters who kindly donated their time and expertise.  When I saw that Darlene was running another challenge this year I jumped at the chance to get on board.

This months expert is Molly Hanson who has has featured in many magazine articles and has written the book Free Motion Quilting for Beginners.

We were challenged to make a pillow using one of three options.  I have gone for option 3 - filling a heart shape motif with feathers.  I changed it up a bit and instead of filling a heart shaped motif with feathers, I have created a heart shape with 2 feathers converging (well that was what I was going for anyway!).

I was really pushed for time so instead of a pillow I made a mini mini.  It is only 10" x 10" and the feathered heart was pretty quick to do.  The double crosshatching on the other hand took F.O.R.E.V.E.R.  There was a ton of threads to tie of and bury which almost made me throw the whole thing away but I made myself persevere.

I tried to brighten it up by hyper quilting in orange but I am not sure that it had the effect I was going for.  In fact I may even like the back better than the front!

If I was to do it again, I wouldn't put the little swirly thing at the bottom of the heart.  It looks a bit odd but once quilted I really, really didn't want to unpick so it stayed.

Final thoughts - I love quilting feathers.  I prefer free hand to structured feathers and I look forward to incorporating them more frequently into my quilting.

Until next time.


Monday, 19 January 2015

Sew My Stash 2015

Yep, that's my mantra for this year and to keep myself motivated and on track I am joining in the fun over at Project Leasa.

Leasa posted her thoughts about sewing from stash on Instagram and thought she might get a few followers to join with her in the challenge.  As it turns out hundreds of like minded people have embraced the challenge and the SewMyStash2015 widget was born.


So if you are ready to play along head on over to Leasa's blog for more information on the challenge and to link your projects.  If you are on Instagram have a look at the hashtag #sewmystash2015 to see all sorts of wonderful awesomeness.

The first project I am sewing from stash is scrappy log cabin blocks.  I have cut up umpteen strips from scraps and have been happily sewing away between other projects.

This is my progress so far.

I decided to play with scale and make blocks of various sizes.  I'm not sure how to incorporate them into a quilt yet but I want the layout to be a bit random and abstract.  So more smaller log cabin blocks and some low volume filler blocks are needed to fill in the spaces. Again if you are on Instagram check out #scrappylogcabinqal to see the amazing things other people are doing with their log cabin blocks.

If you are not on Instagram, you should be!  It is addictive and a huge time waster but oh so much fun and there is just so much inspiration, creativity and talent on hand.

In amongst log cabin blocks I made a few design boards using the Bee in My Bonnet tutorial by Lori Holt and I also whipped up a little pincushion thread catcher which I made up as I went along (after reading a few different online tutorials).

Both of these projects were quick but they are far from perfect (the glue gun and I had a few disagreements whilst making those design boards and there were a few curses muttered and unpicking required as I made the thread catcher).  I am owning it - they are handmade after all and that sometimes means there will be imperfections.

Until next time.


Thursday, 15 January 2015

Roly Poly Block Tutorial

I am sure this block has another name somewhere out there but I couldn't find it so I made this to my own specifications and am calling it Roly Poly for the QCA Rainbow Bee #3 swap.

Fabric Requirements:

(4)  6.5" assorted coloured squares
(8)  3.5" low volume squares for the backgrounds

Step 1

Mark a diagonal line from corner to corner on the back of each 3.5" background square.
Mark a second line 1/2" from the first line (to yield a bonus half square triangle (hst)).

Align the square with the corner of the 6.5" square right sides together (making sure second marked line is on the outside corner.

Sew along the marked line.  Actually, I like to sew just to the side of the line rather than on the line. 

Can you see how I have sewed just next to the line?  This gives you that smidge extra room to press the triangle over the seam allowing the edges to meet.  Make sure you sew on the side of the marked line closest to the outside corner.

Sew along the second marked line and then using your rotary cutter and ruler carefully cut between the two sewn lines.

Flip the small triangle to the outside and press giving you a 6.5" square and press the hst in the manner you prefer (l pressed mine to the side of the dark fabric).

Step 2

Repeat this process for the opposite side of the 6.5" square.

And you will end up with this:

Repeat for each of the coloured 6.5" squares.

Step 3

Lay out the blocks to form a circle (low volume triangles will be on the inside and outside corners).

Sew 2 blocks together making sure to keep the alignment correct and press the seams open.
(I like to pin the intersection where the low volume edges meet to get a nice crisp point).

Next sew the 2 sections together to form completed block (this time I pin the centre intersection and the point at which the low volume fabrics meet) and press the seam open.
Pressing is a very personal preference but for these blocks can you please press the seams open when joining the 4 blocks together.

And there you have it, a complete roly poly block.

So far I have made 10 blocks and I love how they are looking together. 

Depending on how you squint you will see circles or crosses or both.  Oooh, maybe naughts and crosses would be a better name for this quilt?

But wait, there's more!!!

What about those bonus hst's?  

Don't throw them away.  You will be surprised at how they add up and what you can do with them.

Here is a pile I have waiting to be trimmed up from a recent quilt finish and from the roly poly blocks I have made so far.    

All together I have over 150 and that is after making 2 mini quilts with them.

Bonus hst's are perfect for mini quilts and for cushion covers or for the back of quilts so get into the habit of sewing that extra line when flipping corners and you will have a pile ready to use in no time.

Any queries, concerns or questions, do not hesitate to contact me.  I am more than happy to help.


Tuesday, 13 January 2015

First Finish

Hello and a very belated Happy New Year to you all.

I deliberately refrained from posting earlier as I didn't want to get caught in the trap of listing my goals and resolutions for the year. It is always so depressing to look back and see what I didn't complete so my focus this year is to plod along and enjoy the process. No deadlines, no stress.

But having said that, I do have 2 aims for the year.

Firstly, l am going to limit my fabric purchases and sew from my stash as much as I can.

My stash is modest compared to most and yet I still have oodles and doodles of fabric which I couldn't possible get through even if I pieced every day of the year.  Quite a bit of my stash is older fabrics that I no longer gravitate towards but I have decided to use it or loose it.  To that end I intend to concentrate on scrappy quilts which will be donated to local charities.

Secondly, I have to get my flimsy's under control.

At last count I had 14 tops ready to be quilted, some of them have been in the pile for a very, very long time.  I am talking in excess of 6 or 7 years in some cases! What the?  Why am I accumulating them?  So, this year I am going to try to get one of those flimsy's quilted each month.  I think I said exactly the same thing last year but I am determined that this will be the year!

So on to my first finish for 2015 (well almost finished, just the binding to go).

Made from easy peasy 9 patch blocks in pretty blues and greens, I love how refreshing this top is. Sometimes the simple things in life really are the best.  Because the quilt is quite simple and linear I wanted to go to town with textural quilting.

I decided to quilt a flowering design from the book Free Motion Quilting by Angela Walters.  Whilst the design is not particularly difficult to do, it is time consuming and uses a ton of thread.  The texture is beautiful but in all honestly it probably isn't the ideal quilting design if you want a soft and cuddly quilt.  Being so dense the quilt is reasonably stiff but I am hoping it will soften after a wash and tumble dry.

Apart from finishing this quilt, I have completed a few bee blocks

and my first blocks for the Cherish circle of do good stitches.

and a little mini just because.

Until next time.