Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Swaps and Pouches

This is a bit of a catch up post to share pictures of some gifted items and showcase my new obsession - zip pouches!

Since learning how to insert a zip I have gone a little zippy bag crazy, which is no bad thing as they are varied, versatile, generally well received as gifts and are a great way to play with different fabric combinations and ideas instead of committing to a large quilt.  Cushions are now a bit of a favourite too for the same reasons but more of those another time. :)

This first one is a quickie  - a little Hello Kitty themed pouch for Mr 4's little friend, Miss 6.  It was for her birthday and whipped up quickly when we received the Hello Kitty invitation to the Hello Kitty themed birthday a few weeks ago.  She apparently loves it and is using it for her pencils.

I used Noodlehead's "open wide zip pouch" tutorial for this pouch.  I would link but it seems the site is down, hopefully only temporarily as it is a great tutorial.

Also using this tutorial I made this pouch for my very first swap gift:

 The theme was "Fairy Tale" and we were matched with a partner that would (hopefully) align with out sewing tastes and style.  My partner was the lovely Heidi from the USA, which was very exciting.  One of her likes was Red Riding Hood and she liked a bit of Heather Ross fabric amongst other things...
I made this pouch by improvisationally piecing the outer using low volume, woodland themed fabrics to try and capture the idea of a snowy woodland walk....
...and lined it with this fantastic Japanese Red Riding Hood fabric for a pop of colour and unexpected surprise inside!
 Because it was a swap, and you can never have enough little treats in a swap, I also made this little hexagonal coin purse/ear phone holder and allowed the Red Riding Hood fabric to take center stage.
I was a bit limited in how much I could send before postage would require a second mortgage but managed to squeeze in a few Australian themed goodies with these two items - some Aussie fabric fat quarters and some sweet treats...as well as a cute Red Riding Hood themed applique.

I can't wait for mine to arrive now!

Charming!

Been absent a bit longer than anticipated and therefore have a couple of posts to do.  You know how it is, working on secret and not so secret squirrel projects that you *can't* post about (or forget to post about, ahem) and then they all creep up on you!

So this first post is dedicated to a quilt top I whipped up in a frenzy of inspiration (and as I admitted on facebook, procrastination), and I am rather glad I did.

A few months back I joined my very first charm swap run by the super organised and lovely MsMidge.  Why did I join?  Because it was for fabric by possibly my most favouritest designer Bonnie and Camille!  (And not just because the current line is called Miss Kate, I'm not that shallow, honest...)

So for the uninitiated, a charm swap is a bunch of fabric enthusiasts tracking down fabrics (and sometimes trying to outdo each other), sometimes hard to find ones, cutting them up into little pieces (charm squares which are 5") and then sending them to the organiser who then drives herself crazy ensuring everyone in the swap gets one of each 112 charms...and then most people make something with them.

I am not a huge charm square fiend.  I have always found them a bit limiting but loved the idea of having 112 pieces of Bonnie and Camille fabric.  And of course once you have it, you get the urge to do something with it.  My urge just happened to hit late at night when I was trying to force myself to finish another project I wasn't so inspired about.  Hence it becoming a procrastination quilt.

I had found a few charm quilt designs on the web, which I liked as they kept the integrity of the charms (ie they were squares :) ) and this appealed (read, I didn't have to do much more cutting).  I decided to challenge myself to use as many of the 112 charms as I could and to use a solid other than white/off white or grey...given I wasn't challenging my cutting abilities.

I sorted the charms into colour families - yellow/orange, green, neutrals, reds, blues and pinks and set to work... 

Border after border like a square medallion quilt I suppose!
And this was the result - All except 4 of the charms were used, so I was pretty pleased about that.
The turquoise? aqua? or as I like to call it "Bonnie and Camille blue" was just what I wanted.  I can't remember what it is call exactly but it is in fact a linen and the pattern, I suppose, although inspired by things I have seen, is my own design and measurement.

The combination of florals, checks and pretty designs which Bonnie and Camille fabrics are known for plus the addition of the solid gives this quilt top a really retro 50s feel, which I love.  I can't wait for the opportunity to quilt it and finish it off!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Hedgehogs and squirrels and owls, oh my!

At a very enjoyable baby sprinkle (apparently this is name du jour for baby showers for second babies...) I finally gave my friend the quilted wall hanging she had requested for her baby boy's nursery.

There had been some guidelines (most of which I listened to :)) which included - "greens and browns please...and woodland animals, no, jungle animals...no...woodland animals.  Definitely woodland animals."  So I started making it before she could change her mind.  Fortunately she had ordered a decal with woodland creatures so it now seemed unlikely...

Green and brown can be very chic but also a little muted for this colour obsessed quilter so I took a lead from the aforementioned decal and threw in a bit of orange and blue too.   Just to liven things up a bit.

The main "picture" fabrics I chose were from the "Bluebell Park " line by Kate and Birdie.  I love them so much!

I had bought some of the beige park themed fabric along with all the supporting fabrics while I was in Melbourne in anticipation of this project but discovered that I wanted more colour and cute stuff so broke up my charm squares from the range and used all the cute and colourful ones from that too.  The green background fabrics are both Riley Blake pirate fabrics and I just love the Japanese apples!  Such a zing of orange.

This photo was taken when I thought it was finished.  More of that anon...I quilted it simply in the ditch and used a fusible, lightweight batting as it is going to be hung on a wall rather than used as a cot quilt, so the lightness and slight stiffness of that sort of material was perfect for this project.  I also added a hanging sleeve.

I sat around admiring my handiwork for a while (as you do) and came to the conclusion that a) it needed something else and b) I was bored and wanted a hand sewing project.  So lead by the naive charm and texture of the prints I embarked on some hand quilting detail. 

This was the result, not particularly clear and unfortunately with me in it because I forgot to take a photo at home!

Basically I hand stitched in orange embroidery floss around each of the orange diamonds, which really lifted the look.  Overall I was really pleased with this little item, it was a lot of fun to make!


Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Many, many crosses...

I was hoping to get some better images of this quilt now that it has gone to its very happy owner because frankly I didn't have the space to photograph it properly. I really needed a balcony because it was a whopper. This is the finished product being shown at our guild's monthy meeting...

My client provided all of the fabrics after our initial consultation and a few suggestions about how things might look from me.  She wanted predominantly greens and blues with little pops of colour.  Crosses (being a very well prepared person she came with a pinterest board full of cross quilt designs) were a must.  After some discussion and thought we agreed that this "very now" interlocking cross design would bring a modern but also classic touch to her very classic and slightly retro choice of colours and fabrics.

After a lot of planning (thank you IPad apps) and thought about how I would approach such a large project I decided to piece the crosses as nine patches rather than rows.  It worked for me in this case and blocks fitted together like a jigsaw.  I made plenty of mistakes in placement so there was much reverse sewing, however errors were discovered earlier rather than later...like when the cross was embedded in the *middle* of the quilt! 

I took on this project with the caveat that I probably wouldn't be able to quilt it (ha!) and glad I did because by the time I had finished the top I could barely wrangle it single handed.  So off to my friend and long arm quilter it went.  We agreed on a more organic design in the mid green that runs through the quilt to give it some softness and contrast.  The leaf design can be seen in this detail:

I had pieced a backing out of some of the leftover green, unused turquoise (there was hardly anything left of the prints by this stage, it really came down to the line!) and some of the 30s feel fabric that didn't make it to the front of the quilt but was quite lovely.  Even choosing the binding took time!  We discussed plains, plaids and finally settled on the blue and white stripe that appears in some of the crosses.  Got to love a stripy binding. :)

So here it is - the oversized king sized quilt on top of my much smaller queen bed.  Doesn't really do it justice but you get the idea.  It looked much more at home on her giant bed in her beautiful bedroom.  Which was the point really.

Monday, 21 July 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt Along - The Finishing Line!

Finally the last 3 borders are on my modern medallion quilt!  They were a lot less time consuming than the "Cross my Heart" border (thank goodness or it might have been a few more months before the end). :)

So here they are:

"Stuck in the middle"

 This was a regular kind of border, with a little twist of a different fabric inserted in the centre of each row.  Hence stuck in the middle.  I wanted something defining, that balanced the saturation of the orange border so I put a visual full stop there so to speak by using two different teal greens, both with polka dots. 

"Equal Rights"

This is just a peek at the next border.  This one was heavy on the low volume so the wonky 60 degree triangles (which came together quickly and beautifully) had to really stand up and be counted.  A couple of people in the quilt along group had mentioned that my quilt reminded them of a Summer garden.  Great compliment and a bit of an inspiration at this point.  I decided to go with my more colourful fabrics such as the Hello Tokyo print used in the wavy border.  I also introduced a final print not found elsewhere, the one with flowers and butterflies, which is from Love U by Deb Strain.  The colours worked perfectly at this stage and reinforced the garden idea.  The teal Mirror Ball Dot ensures there isn't too much whimsy and fluff and makes the orange border from the same range feel less lonely. :)
 "I Was Framed" is the last but certainly not least border on the quilt. 

It was possibly the most challenging when it came to choosing the "right" fabrics.  Technically it wasn't hard as it was very similar to "Stuck in the Middle".  I say "right" because really there is no definitive answer when making a quilt as I hope this series of posts has pointed out.  In this case I could have gone low volume and let the quilt wash into softness towards the edges or I could have reinforced the teal or...
What I chose was a lime green linen feel solid which appears very briefly as highlights in the crosses, geese and central medallion.  On the corners I introduced a final print not found anywhere but which has the perfect blend of greens and oranges.  This print from the Love range by Amy Butler was a bit of a gamble and took some auditioning with other fabrics because I knew I wanted it but didn't know if it belonged.  It is a little softer around the edges than the other, more graphic prints but I think it sits well with them.  Together I think they pull the quilt together, give a conclusion to the introduction of the centre and make it all make sense.

And here it is billowing beautifully in the breeze after the (what seems like incessant) rain.
If you are interested in seeing what others have done with this challenge then look here and follow the link up!  It's amazing how different one pattern can look...

Monday, 14 July 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt Along (4)

Finally got back to my next medallion border properly today -  the "Cross my Heart" border.  I had had a varying number of strips, cross blocks ready to trim and finished blocks lying around for a while but I needed to crack on with assembling it.

This is what the (60) little cross blocks look like:






And yes, once again they are meant to be wonky.  I moved away from making as many orange ones in this border and more towards the teal as the quilt grows.  I love that spotty teal one with the peachicks in the background!

The blocks are fairly easy to make and great for chain piecing.  You don't need to worry too much about matching the + up and as long as the overall untrimmed block is more than 3.5" square then it's perfect!  The only real alteration I made to the pattern was to press all the seams inwards to make the cross pop more.  I had done this before with similar blocks to make presents for a Christmas wall hanging and it worked really well, so why change things?

The crosses, once sewn into borders, went onto the quilt traditionally, rather than wrapped.  I did pin them to add a bit of stability as there was quite a bit of stretch and give in each block making it a rather "flexible" border.  And here is the finished border on:




It's matching my vision so far so I am pretty happy with that.  Onwards and outwards!

Edit:  As the quilt along officially draws to a close (although there are plenty of us still going) check out the "mother ship" so to speak for link ups and other variations of this quilt.

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Memory Quilt

Other projects seem to be pulling me away from the next border of my medallion quilt at the moment, in a good way of course and this baby quilt is one of them.


I was asked to make a memory quilt for a little boy's first birthday - he's a second child and the poor chap had missed out on receiving a quilt when he was born while his big brother had been made two!  His mum wanted it to be made out of his baby clothes from his first year to make it extra special and fortunately she was wide open to the idea of a raggy quilt, which saved a lot of time and tears trying to stabilise the various fabrics.  She requested green flannel for the back which was a lovely choice I think as it really pops through in the front and unites all of the squares.  It also works well with the (more numerous) spotted muslin squares which filled the gaps when I ran out of clothes...You don't get much fabric from size 000 onesies!

Where possible I fussy cut motifs or included cute details like pockets to make it a bit more interesting...


Pretty much every item was sentimental to his mum and being a mother myself I can really relate to this!  I even had a bit of a tear in my eye when I cut into that first bonds suit and couldn't imagine going through the process of making one for my own little boy...even though I think it is a fabulous idea.

I think the hardest but most rewarding square to make was this car one.  The car is a multi layered applique which was located on the baby suit's bottom - so I had to remove the elastic from it before cutting.  She was adamant that this one had to be saved though so I found a way. :)


I hope I am given the honour of making more memory quilts for people in the future.  They aren't the most "beautiful" or modern quilts but they are just so meaningful and full of love.  Which is at the heart of quilting really, isn't it?