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.