Friday, August 22, 2014

Highlands Houses Finished

I've been debating whether I should put a question mark after "finished," but I think my little Highlands Houses quilt is done:

Highlands Houses, 19" x 19"

I started this quilt just under a year ago, when I rescued a plaid shirt that my Dad never wore from the donation pile:

It was one wrong turn after another with this quilt, and the challenges continued with the quilting! As a beginner free motion quilter, I decided to do a loose stipple with fine thread, and let the quilting fall into the background. My practice pieces looked reasonable, but it all went out the window once the real quilt was under the needle!

I learned that:

  1. Shirting is stretchier than regular quilting cotton.
  2. Paper pieced blocks are stretchier than traditionally pieced blocks, because the grains are not usually lined up.
So, there are a few bumps in the middle, and a few tucks under the binding, but at this point I'm going to call it a day and move on to the next project! 

The whole time I was quilting I had this song from Cathy Miller, The Singing Quilter, going through my head:

Three quilts done, a gazillion to go!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

100 to go!

First, I want to say thank you to the Slow Stitching group over at Kathy's Quilts. What a warm welcome! It is nice to have the extra encouragement (in addition to my wonderful regular supporters), when all my projects are such long hauls. :D

If you missed the finish on the stitchery project I showed two weeks ago, it is here. And the second motif, which I was just starting two weeks ago, is finished here. I just made it under the deadline for that one! This one will be next:

But today's post is about my ongoing Texas Star English Paper Piecing project. I started it back in October 2012, and work has been sporadic. I've been keeping track of my progress with the "Texas Star Ticker" in the right sidebar. Then last week I cut the rest of the gold squares for the middles:

About 120 x 2" squares

It is amazing how hopeful I felt with those squares cut! I felt like a horse that perks up when it smells home. And felicitously, this batch of five stars brings the total to 233:

Which means there are just 100 to go!!

Some of you may have wondered where the plan for 333 stars came from. Well, I wanted a quilt that would finish at about 60" x 80", and I thought it would be easier to sew the stars together in diamond-shaped blocks, and then sew the blocks together. I drew up a complicated plan:

And when I counted up how many stars I would need, it came to exactly 333! So obviously, it had to be. I am pretty sure that "333" will be the title of the quilt when it's done. The complicated plan, though, has been abandoned, because with all the points the blocks are just too hard to manage. I will start at the bottom, add each randomly selected star one at a time, and build up row by row.

According to my Daytimer, there are 143 days left this year. 100 stars, 143 days, it should be doable, and I am going to make a push! Also according to my Daytimer, today is the 222nd day of the year. Cool, eh?

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Cottage Garden Needlebook

Here, at long last, is my Cottage Garden needlebook, made up and ready for service. It is the cover project from Inspirations #53, designed by Kris Richards. I bought the kit in 2007, started the embroidery shortly thereafter, and finished the stitching early last year. 18 months ago!!

It's been languishing because I wanted to change the inside design to add pockets for needle packets, but there wasn't really enough fabric in the kit. And I really liked the pink and cream yarn dye that came in the kit:

But finally I realized that with a basement full of fabric, I could surely find something else that would also be nice. I came up with this romantic print from the Mary Rose collection by Quilt Gate:

The needlebook measures about 6" x 6" closed. I'm using it to keep all my milliner's needles in one place. So I added three 2" x 3" pockets to the inside front...

...and the inside back:

A nice thick wool felt came with the kit for the pages, which I cut to 5" x 10". It stays well inside the cover, which was my intention!

There is a three loop closure made from ribbon and beads, which was only partially successful. My first plan was to use elastic. That would have been better, but I couldn't find it in the right colour. Next time!

With this design, the back cover is just as nice as the front:

So, there it is, only my second finish for 2014, and it's already August! Time to pull up my socks and finish off a couple more that are close to the end. Now the challenge is to avoid pulling out another Inspirations kit from my stash until I get at least a few more things done!

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Another Blanket Stitch Variation

Isn't blanket stitch a great stitch? This time I used it as bunting:

It took a bit of trial and error, but I got there in the end! Surprisingly, it seemed to work best with four stitches up to the point, a catch stitch at the tip, and just two stitches back down.

As you can see, colourful bunting was a must on this motif:

This is one of my favourites so far. Bunting is always fun, and I love the lines of the elephant, too. Plus, I think the cardinals are becoming the spirit animals of the project, the way they keep showing up.

I'll leave you with a final detail, before it's on to the next! Don't forget to check out all the other links at WIP Wednesday, too.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Slow Stitching Sunday

While every day is a slow stitching day around here, no matter what I am making, today I am organized enough to link up with Slow Stitching Sunday over at Kathy's Quilts.

My ongoing hand stitchery project is Best Friends Forever, a block of the month from Australian designer Rosalie Quinlan. There are eight months in total, and each month has four different stitchery motifs. I am halfway! Today I will be putting in the final stitches on the first motif of Month 5:

The linen fabric is white, actually, and has been an ongoing challenge to photograph! Right now my plan is to get one motif finished and posted by every Wednesday. Check in with me then for the final reveal!

I'm hoping to get a start on the next motif as well today:

I have been choosing my own colours and stitches for this project, and I have done all the birds as Northern Cardinals, with their distinctive red and black colouring. Here's a finished motif from Month 1 as an example:

The female cardinal is tan, with the same black marking and coral beak. Cardinals mate for life, so I thought they were a good fit for this project.

I'd better get to work. See you Wednesday!
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