Monday, 16 June 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt Along (3)

This installment is the "Waving not Drowning" border.  Or should it be "Not Waving, Drowning"?  I thought it might be the latter when I embarked on this task but it turns out I had already unlocked skillz of awesome (yo!) in this area already.  How about that?

After reading a couple of related tutorials, mulling it over a bit, choosing my fabrics and having a bit more of a think I realised that I had learned the key technique while being shown how to join wadding perfectly.  It's the overlap cut.  Not very exciting to non quilt geeks but probably one of the most useful (and kind of weird) things you can learn in quilting...and versatile too apparently.

So that's what this border is.  An overlap cut, cut in a gentle wave...freehand of course.

 The freehand bit did terrify me slightly, not so much because it involved sewing curves again (I secretly kind of enjoy curves in sewing) but because it meant slicing through some of my favourite fabrics!

Particularly the "Mice on Bikes" by Lizzy House.  I just love the whimsy of those little mice on orange bikes...and the little 3 blind mice!  The outer wave is from the "Hello Tokyo" range of fabrics.

I am finding this whole process fascinating, the way the quilt is growing and changing identity and also saturation.  From what I have seen of other people's medallion quilts it seems this is as "dark" as it will get as the coming borders reintroduce that low volume background again.  Hopefully that will make my mice extra noticable!

Beep! Beep!

Looking back of what I have (and haven't) posted, I realised that this quilt slipped through the cracks...

I think I meant to photograph and blog about it when I finished it...but then its recipient, the cutest little 3 year old around, put it on his bed in the room next to ours and they have been inseparable ever since.  Well, actually I think it has been washed a few times but you get the idea!

It was made to go on his big boy bed to not so much replace the Spot quilt as keep it company apparently. I thought he had grown out of Spot (which he had, just not the quilt, which was a great compliment).  So Spot is now a bit small for his bed but perfect for snuggles on the sofa, while this emergency vehicle quilt is more his speed on his bed, being a king single bed topper.

The fabrics are all from the same range, bought with the central panel as a fat quarter pack.  I always feel I am cheating slightly by using all fabrics from the same range - it somehow doesn't test my creativity like choosing random fabrics does.  The current medallion quilt project is a prime example of this.  Anyway, in this case the challenge was to use the fabulous panel to best effect.  To do so I adapted a Cluck, Cluck, Sew design and instead of making the whole quilt out of it, I made a border using all the lovely fabrics from the pack.

It is quilted practically for quite heavy use in straight lines in a variegated thread in primary colours which works beautifully with the prints.  I also practiced my free motion skills by outlining each of those little vehicles on the panel.  It was a labor of love, trust me. :)  The binding is scrappy blues from the range as well.

I don't think he will be growing out of this one *quite* as quickly as the Spot, at least I hope not!

Sunday, 15 June 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt along (2)

It's time to wrap around some borders!

So, a medallion quilt has a centre followed by a number of borders, plain or decorative, which radiate concentrically to the outside of the quilt.  The New York Beauty Contest forms the centre of the Modern Medallion and it is followed by two wrapped borders, known in the pattern as "Plain Jane" and "Drunk Geese".  They both fundamentally use the wrapped border technique, which was something new to me (again!)

Normally I just pop on two opposite sides, press and then two longer opposite sides and press and there you have it, a border.  This one is different in that you start each side at the edge, leaving overhang at the other and sew, leaving a gap at the overhang edge. You then work like this clockwise and then sew up the flappy ends to form a continuous, flowing border.  No tutorial here as there are some great ones already - like this one by MsMidge. 

The wrapped border isn't really show to its best on the Plain Jane, but it did give me practice:
I chose the tangerine fabric (Michael Miller's Mirrorball Dot in case you were wondering) to really make that centre pop as there is a lot of low volume background material in this quilt.  So of course I needed to turn up the (70s) volume in this border!

The next wrapped border is the Drunk Geese.  Or in my case "Lost Goslings" - spot the little guys trying to get home :)

I played around with this one a bit as I have done wonky/cut loose geese before.  (For those of you wondering about the "Drunk" title - it is a quilter in joke.  This pattern done traditionally (ie straight, measured and precisely) is called "Flying Geese".  Except these guys are wonky, freestyle and not at all precise. Someone mentioned making a cocktail in their honour on our facebook page, I reckon it would need Grey Goose vodka in it...mmm.

Anyway, I digress.  So the border is also wrapped (you can see it better here with the little geese flying in from the edges) but I have fiddled with the design a bit to make it my own.  As you can see, some flocks are flying towards each other, or away from each other, while the original pattern suggests all in one direction.  I wanted a bit more movement and craziness here as it was all looking a bit polite by the end of the Plain Jane.  I also swapped a lime and orange goose around to join their opposite flocks...just for fun.

I have used the citrus oranges and greens from the centre but also added a more leafy/grassy green and a blue -green to my palette, hinting at how I want the borders to now develop away from a lot of orange and lime towards more muted tones.  I am hoping this makes this central section really draw attention.  We'll see if it works.  That's the fun (and really scary) thing about medallion quilts - you don't really know where it will take you or if things will work out as planned.  I get the feeling it will be a Tim Gunn quilt - "Make it work!"

Friday, 13 June 2014

Modern Medallion Quilt along (1)

Wow!  Two posts in one day after such a long time...must be feeling productive. :)  Possibly because the young man is now at an age where he is enjoying going off to play lego or draw for extended lengths of time and so my sewing machine and I are able to become reacquainted during daylight hours (when I am less likely to make a huge mess of something...)

Anyway, I digress.  This is, in fact, the first post of my progress in making my first medallion quilt.  I have the makings of possibly a second one in my work in progress container and so this seemed a good opportunity to try one on for size before committing to that layout for my improv blocks.  The quilt I am doing is also a huge skills builder - bonus!  If you are interested this is the quilt pattern in question.

So the story so far...First step after commitment and joining the Facebook quilt along page, was to choose my fabrics.  I wanted to challenge myself to only use stash.  Of course, it isn't such a challenge when you have *quite* a bit of fabric. *ahem*  Anyway, here was my selection:

 I had started out wanting to use green tones and make a fairly monochromatic quilt with low volume background and pops of green.  The greens needed something else so I widened the range to include those blue/greens on the left.  Still needed something...Orange!  Happy with my selection I printed off the pattern and...panicked.

The central focus of the quilt is a modern, wonky version of a New York Beauty block, renamed the New York Beauty Contest.  It involves freestyle cutting (yay!), curves (mmm, ok...) and foundation (paper) piecing (oh no!)

I am not a paper piecer.  I have done the grand total of one block of paper piecing which was under strict supervision and guidance at a retreat.  Every tutorial you read on the topic (including the one kindly written for this stage of the medallion quilt) says something like "Here are some pictures of me paper piecing and some very useful instructions but basically, it all sees rather weird, hard and counter intuitive until you do it for yourself and then it's fine, really so you just have to sit down and do it."  It is indeed all of those things.  It involves sewing on the wrong side of the foundation with the fabrics right sides together and then flipping them backwards to cover a void and somehow, just somehow, it works.  I am just glad that precision wasn't the aim here and that I could at least relax into my inaccuracies.

So here it is, stage 1, the central medallion - the New York Beauty Contest.

Thursday, 12 June 2014

ABC - A Birthday Cushion

I have already shared photos of these items on my Facebook page because I was so excited about completing my first cushion I just couldn't hold off.  However, here is the little story around it.

 I have just completed the most gigantic crosses quilt for someone (this one deserves its own post once it is with its new owner).  While making it however, I did fall a little bit in love with the design.  I was once a skeptic - it is very "now" to make crosses and I have never been very hip and with it really :).  What I really love about the design, apart from the play of light and dark you can do, is the fact it really showcases your fabrics in an interesting way.  It also makes less modern fabrics look a little more contemporary.  Like these ones I used for example. 

Now, mustard and dark green are not really my thing (although, having said that, each of these fabrics came straight from my stash, many of them much whittled away so go figure).  However, the cushion was for my father's birthday and so my mother chose the colour scheme to match their new home.  Some of these fabrics appeared in a quilt I made for her so hopefully that means they harmonise a bit too.

I was pretty happy at my first attempt at a cushion.  Thanks to some advise from friends, lots of reading and re reading of cushion tutorials and a (wise) decision to make an envelope rather than a zip back it all worked out.

So much so I still had the inclination to make a matching mug rug for him as a surprise!


I have just got back from a week in Melbourne with the young Mr and various combinations of my friend Liz and my husband.  It was mainly a holiday to give us the chance to introduce the young man to aeroplanes, trams and the fantastic dinosaur display at the museum.  Added bonuses were the Dreamworks exhibition, Zumbo's and the aquarium! 

I also made a point of making a craft pilgrimage to L'Uccello which was conveniently just around the corner from where we were staying and to GJ's discount fabrics, which I had heard a lot about and which was definitely worth the trek to East Brunswick.

So L'Uccello...the pictures say it all really:

It is the most beautifully presented haberdashery store I think I have every seen.  Every nook and cranny is packed full of buttony, ribbony, fabricy goodness.  The feel and theme is definitely vintage - the materials are soft and mellow, the buttons are mother of pearl, Bakelite or lovingly cleaned and restored originals from mid century.  Silk flowers and embossed gift cards burst forth from delicate displays and of course there is ric rac, bunting and threads galore.

This was my (restrained, yes restrained!) purchase:
Complete with beautiful carry bag.  There is felt, ribbons, buttons, Liberty fat quarters and glittery bird gift tags.  I left soooo much behind.  Honest.

GJ's was more your large fabric store kind of place.  Despite the "discount" title it wasn't cheap.  There were some $2 fat quarters I didn't buy for the sake of it.  Liz had some luck in the dance fabric section and I found some beauties on the bolts in the quilting section.

All of these are 1/2m cuts except for the foxes.  That's 1m because you can never have too many foxes. :)