Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Starts and Finishes and everything in between

Seems like forever since I did a blog post but that certainly doesn't mean I haven't been stitching. As I mentioned awhile ago, I am finding blog writing, reading and commenting a little cumbersome these days and I am sharing more and more on Instagram ( under the name happy_appliquer if you are interested) these days. I guess I am getting lazy but it is much easier and quicker and that leaves me more time for stitching. But it doesn't work quite as well for journaling my quilting progress so I will continue to be posting now and then.

Anyway first up is my new start, Irish Circles by Karen Cunningham a wonderful Austrailian designer. I have long admired the quilts based on an Antique Irish quilt by Jane Pizar but had been unable to locate a pattern. When one of my applique group friends mentioned that she was in a new group about to start this project and there might still be time to join I jumped at the chance. This was a few months ago and while I only got the pattern last week, I started thinking about colors and fabrics immediately. I decided to use a palette that feels early 1800's to me, teals/aqua, browns and pinks on a beige background.

Brown is not a color I have used much in the past so it is rather strange that both my new starts this year feature brown. The quilt has a large central medallion of a pieced circle surrounded by some applique but I decided to start with some of the smaller circle blocks. You make 2 of each of these smaller blocks and I am trying to vary my fabric choices so that the blocks look quite different from each other. A great lesson in value and fabric selection and lots of fun. These blocks are hand pieced and then the circle ring is prepped using starch and freezer paper and then hand appliquéd. Here is block 5.

And Block 7

I have also prepped the appliqued borders for Miss Porter and have stitched one. Amazing to see the before and after of needlturn applique.

I have also been busy on the longarm machine trying to catch up with the huge pile of finished tops. Here is "Bright and Jazzy", my version of Jen Kingwell's Gypsy Wife. The name is a nod to an outfit I wore in the 90's that my children were not too fond of and referred to as Bright and Jazzy. Those memories just make me smile and so does this quilt.

This morning I sewed my Moda Sampler Shuffle quilt together and am now deciding on borders. This is not the suggested setting but I have long admired 6" block samplers put together with background sashing and scrappy cornerstones and decided this was a perfect look. I think a simple border in one of the light blue fabrics that I have in my stash is the way I will finish this off.

And I loved the colors in this so much I am using a similar palette in the Splendid Sampler. This is a new free online sampler of 6" blocks hosted by Pat Sloan and Jane Davidson. If you google The Splendid Sampler or look for it on Facebook you should be able to find all the details. It sounds so fun and exciting, 100 blocks released 2/week by over 80 different designers. Lots of different techniques to be explored including applique, piecing, EPP, and even embroidery and a huge Facebook group where we can share ideas is something I just could not resist. And it doesn't start until Feb 14 so you have plenty of time to check it out if you are interested. Here are the fabrics I pulled for this one. I started with pre cuts from the Ambleside collection and some yardage I had from the same collection. I then pulled a few darker fabrics from my stash that I think will work and grabbed two different pieces of yardage, Kona Snow and a white on white dot in the same snow color, to use as background. Since the sampler is a mystery I am not really sure how much I will need of any fabric but the general requirements are 30-35 fat quarters with a good mix of light , medium and dark. I am really looking forward to a bit of spring each week!

And finally my leader ender project of brights continues to grow with. I am using those 4" blocks from my previous post as the centers of these bigger stars. Not sure yet exactly where this project is headed but I love the bright happy colors.

 

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Miss Porter and a Mountmellick update

As I said in my last post, my word for the year is Focus. Already I can feel myself wavering, but a quick look at my list and I decided that a new start at the beginning of a new year was in order. One of my favorite quilting books is Primarily Quilts by Di Ford. I just love her attention to detail and working on one of her quilt designs pushes me both technically and in fabric selection and that is what I was searching for in this new start. That and the fact that I wanted to work in a certain color palette that suits my need for calm after the busyness of the holidays. While many of my quilts are made for the process only, I really do like displaying them in my home. I felt I was needing/wanting a quilt that would fit into my main living space during the winter when I like to use a more monochromatic color scheme. Here is my winter blooms hanging in the space.

As you can see the space is very open and as I love all shades of teal and aqua those are the only permanent colors in the space. I love changing out the pillows and quilts by season to change the feel of the room and was looking to make something to hang over the couch which sits opposite the TV and my Winter Blooms quilt. The Miss Porter quilt is one from my list and I had been collecting the fabrics for awhile.

I began with the feathered star block and just let me say that while I have been working on improving my piecing, something went wrong. I will save the specifics for another post as I am happy to say I was able to salvage my mistake and here is the block without the shark tooth border. I had fun picking the motifs for the broderie perse in the center. The original had flowers but I wasn't happy with my selection of flowers as I really wanted to bring a bit of teal into the block. My finished block before the addition of the shark tooth border.

Here is the block on the couch with the border ready for applique - I am loving how pretty this looks in the room.

Next up were the 5" star blocks and while making these I decided that it was time to double check my seam allowance as they were ending up just a tiny bit too big. I could trim the finished blocks but I really prefer to adjust my needle position and see if that helps. Sure enough by moving it just one potosion to the left my block size improved and I had discovered one of the problems in the creation of my feathered star. So here is where I am right now on the design wall. The feathered star shark tooth border is awaiting applique and then this can be sewn together.

At the same time I am working on this leader ender project made with 1 1/2" cut squares of my bright scraps. My sewing machine is having issues picking up the first few stitches of a seam so having a leader ender project on the go is a must. I am getting ready to turn these blocks into something useful soon!

And finally a quick peek at the continuing hand quilting on Mountmellick, Quiltmania magazine's 2014 mystery by Di Ford. I have not done much hand quilting in the last few years and I am enjoying this so much. It is fun selecting a new quilting pattern for each round and I love the dimension achieved with this wool batting. I really hate marking a quilt so I do as much free hand as possible. However, this round I am marking as I go by simply tracing around a plastic template that I made to fit the space and it seems to be working out well.

Time to get back to stitching!

 

 

 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

A New Year evaluation and Allietare

Since my blog is primarily a journal of my quilting life, I like to the begin the New Year thinking about what I accomplished in the past year and what I hope to do in the upcoming year. I am sure that many of us with piles of UFO's begin the year with the lofty goal of finishing everything before beginning new projects and purchasing no new fabric until making a serious dent in the stash. I know that always seems to be my intention and when I fall short of the impossible I feel like a failure. But this year I decided to start the year by making a list of all the finishes of 2015. Since this was the year I got back to the longarm, after several moves, I decided that a finish meant quilted and bound. I included everything from tiny one block mini quilts to large bed size quilts and was shocked at the size of the list, over 20 large quilts and lots of little projects. Wow, I am not a failure at finishing after all.

Unfortunately I did not finish many of the projects that I wanted to and therein lies the issue. Sadly I suspect I suffer from a common problem, quilter's ADD. I am so easily distracted by what I see on blogs, Pinterest, Instagram, magazines, books, quilt guild show and tell, my applique group, well the list could go on and on. So this year I also wrote a list of tops that are finished and in the quilting queue and works in progress, primarily so I could focus on what I really want to do and what can either wait or even be eliminated. I find it so difficult to give up on a project that has been started but if it no longer interests me, then it is time to either pass it on or be dismantled so fabrics can be used elsewhere.

So today I got around to putting my 2016 goals in writing. And for the first time I made a very specific list of what projects I want to work on and how much needs to be done for each. I separated it into Applique, Piecing and Quilting so depending on my mood I can check the list first before deciding what to do, especially when I am tempted by something shiny and new. And I did include a few new starts cause let's face it, I am going to need/want some new starts this year. And thanks to a friend in my applique group, thanks Suzanne, my word on the year is Focus. We'll see how that goes cause after all quilting is all about fun for me and these lists are not written in stone.

So finally here is what I have been working on. I spent the holidays sick with some weird respiratory infection but was able to keep up with Allietare, the Bonnie Hunter mystery. Here it is on the design wall before assembly.

And here it is assembled and on my sofa while I decide on the inner border. I was unhappy with the amount of red in the finished quilt and was going to choose another color for the inner border but nope, red works the best. It won't be this fabric though as this was just a strip I had laying around that I used for color reference. But I do love that I can use the focal fabric for the final border. It should make a nice fall throw for the living room.

And since I made about 3/4 of the units and made the quilt in a 4x5 setting, I ended up with 5 extra blocks. Once put together and bordered this will make a perfect table runner.

I also worked on the We Wish You a Merry Christmas mystery mini by Temcula Quilt Company and used it as an opportunity to test a color palette idea and use some time scraps. These blocks finish at 2 1/4 ". I ended up adding the black border to make it a bit bigger and thin perhaps it ended up darker than I intended but it is cute hanging in my kitchen.

 

A good beginning to 2016.

 

Friday, December 18, 2015

Keeping Busy

It has been a long time since I have updated here but I have been busy stitching. As I mentioned in my last post, I am finding more and more frustrations dealing with blogger and my ability to see and leave comments but I do want to keep a record of my quilt progress so here goes.

First up is this Quilty Fun quilt by Lori Holt. I finally got it quilted but sadly have not taken a great photo. This will give you a bit of an idea of how it turned out. I used a swirls with pebbles for the background fill and then just free motioned each row in a design that seemed to work for me. Lots of fun experimenting with my quilting in this one.

A few more blocks on the Moda Sampler Shuffle. I have completed 21 so far.

Not sure this one is a favorite but I guess we will see how it ends up.

Here is a cute little mini tumbler quilt all ready for quilting. This has been my Leader Ender project for the last month or so.

And here is my Bonnie Hunter Mystery, Allietare. I have changed the colors a bit using a focus fabric as my inspiration. Hopefully I can use the focus fabric in a border or backing as I am not making the full size quilt. Right now I am making 3/4 the number of units and I will see how that works after the reveal.

Here are my Part 1 blocks. I changed the grey in Bonnie's quilt to taupe. My focus fabric is at the top of the picture.

Part 2. I changed the red in Bonnie's quilt to teal.

In Part 3 I changed her gold to red.

And the beginnings of Part 4. The black and neutrals remain the same as in Bonnie's directions. I still have 21 sets to make!

 

 

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Playing with the Longarm and Blogging Frustrations

I just realized that it has been quite awhile since my last post. I am still busy sewing but have been having some blogging difficulties lately. While I have no trouble posting it seems that my difficulties in leaving and receiving comments in my email is pretty much impossible. I get some of your comments in my email but not others and any comments I leave immediately bounce back saying they cannot be delivered! I miss my conversations with my blogging friends and the connection with everyone but am not sure how to fix it.

Anyway, I have been back on my longarm this month and finished up this fun winter quilt that was Quilt Doodles 2014 BOM. I made a few changes to the original pattern and love the finished result, a fun winter quilt in the guest room.

I even had some fun with the backing. I did not have enough of the backing fabric but did have a bunch of left over strips from the piano key border and one snowman face that I made the wrong size that I was able to incorporate into this pieced back.

And here are a few photos of the quilting detail. My longarm quilting still has a long way to go but I am learning to just have fun with it and try to come up with a few new pattern ideas here and there. This is the area I have the least confidence in but at least my tops are finally becoming quilts!

I also finished the 2014 Bonnie Hunter Mystery, Grand Illusion, just in time as this year's mystery begins on Friday.

You may have heard of the Moda Sampler Shuffle a block of the week available online through many different quilt stores. I am making my 6" blocks mostly from an old Moda fabric line Noteworthy by Sweetwater. These are fun little blocks and a great way to use up some fabric that I have had sitting around awhile. Perfect for those days when I just need some easy stitching. Here are the first 9 blocks, so cute and fun to make.

And ever so slowly I am assembling the blue and white Antique Wedding Sampler, sure hope I can show a photo soon.

 

Thursday, November 5, 2015

The last of the Antique Wedding Sampler blocks

My journey with the Antique Wedding Sampler is sadly nearing the end. Sad, because I have enjoyed this project so much that I hate to see it ending. But, of course, I am excited to be close to a finished top and have had to start thinking about putting it all together. But first the last of the blocks.

Here is Block 22. I was excited when I found the center fabric in my stash. I had not pulled it originally because there was a yellow background surrounding ovals of blue and white and I didn't really even consider using it. But I am happy I remembered the fabric and had a chance to add this little Chinese pagoda. Those corner broderie perse motifs also came from that collection and had a yellow background. Sometimes you just have to be brave and give it a try!

Block 24. Not my favorite block but I do love that fabric in the leaves. Wish I had noticed it in my stash a little earlier in the process.

And finally Block 25. The fish/carp is a popular Chinese motif and I was happy to get a final bit of Asian influence in the quilt. I really like how this block turned out, another favorite!

Before these blocks were completed, I began the process of arranging the blocks on my design wall. I can't show photos because I stupidly deleted them all before this post, but let's just say there was lots of rearranging. I am not sure it this will be the final placement but I think I am close. And I also cut my sashing and cornerstones and after much deliberation, my setting triangles. The original pattern has broderie perse in those setting triangles and I was planning to do that using this fan motif.

But as I started putting my sashing and cornerstones up I started thinking about just using the focus fabric as the setting triangles instead. I just love the print and had used it in several of the blocks as broderie perse but nowhere in the quilt could I see the actual fabric. I figured I would cut just a few triangles and see how it looked compared to the broderie perse and I loved the results. I prefer how it finishes the quilt and love that the print is now highlighted. I feel almost guilty for forgoing the broderie perse in those setting triangles but know this is a better choice for me!

Now if only I can figure out how to use my stripe fabric for the final border!