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!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Moving the Chains

It is now well over a year since I last posted on this project, which is my variation of Bonnie Hunter's Scrappy Trips Around the World. After I finished Edward's quilt this project became more insistent, so I have been working on it again, on and off. In American football they say "moving the chains," because if you keep moving steadily down the field, 10 yards at a time, eventually you will score a touchdown.

I think this is going to be a whole summer of "moving the chains" as far as my projects go. No exciting plays, just steady work. For example, this Scrappy Trips project is not great for blogging. With its two colour scheme, all the blocks look pretty darn similar:

Although this second block shows the danger of text-based fabrics in the upper left corner, where "hello" has become "hell," lol.

I also will have quite a few offcuts left over:

Each strip set yields seven or eight 2.5" slices, and only six are needed for each 12" finished block. With 12 blocks finished, I already have enough leftovers for more than 3 blocks, and I am debating what to do with them:
  • I could add another row to my quilt, which is currently planned to be 5 x 5 rows, or 60" square. My planned layout requires an odd number of blocks though, so it would have to go up to 5 x 7 rows, or 60" x 84", which is quite a bit bigger and a whole different quilt, really.
  • I could put them on the back, but it wouldn't match up well with my quilting plan.
  • Pillow covers. Maybe more pillow covers than I really need.
I'll have to see how it goes. In the meantime, I'm also still trimming hsts for my redesigned double star blocks, sewing a few hourglasses for the Hourglass Ticker in the right sidebar, piecing Texas Stars, cutting and appliqueing baskets, and doing a whole range of stitchery projects. I have a vague plan to finish one BFF block every Wednesday until that project is done. That will take me through to November!!

So, lots to do. :D

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

BFF Month 4.2 Stitching

Yesterday I was finally able to put the last few stitches into the second motif from Month 4 of Rosalie Quinlan's Best Friends Forever. It's been a frustrating time since my last post because I spent most of last week flat on my back after a stretch intended to make my back better made it much, much worse. I should know by now! No machine sewing to show, but at least I was able to do this hand stitching.

I tried a different stitch combination on the leafy border this time. Here's a (very dark) photo of the work in progress:

It looks like the middle of the night, doesn't it? Actually it's the reflection of the blue sky through my north facing window. This project has been a real trial to photograph...

But anyway, you can see that the pattern had the same rounded leaves that so far I've been backstitching. I did still backstitch the leaves in the centre for variety. For the leafy border I used a light green twisted chain stitch for the middle of the leaves, and a darker green regular chain stitch around it to preserve the feeling of the "line." It took a few tries to get right, but I'm very happy with it!

And, since it worked so well, I tried the same technique on the tulips at the sides:

I'm pretty sure I'll be doing this again.

I'm halfway through the next motif as well, but I'm keen to get back to my sewing machine now that my back is feeling better. And I'm finally getting organized on this project too. I'll try to post that one next!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Planning the Basket Quilt

I am thrilled with how these big prints* are working with the little baskets so far! And I am realizing that the whole quilt will be fussy cut...even the backgrounds!

It just doesn't seem right to leave the large background prints to chance, when the baskets are so carefully composed. The dotted fabric above, and the zig zag below, are all scissors-cut. It's not actually that bad. Easier than trying to line up the rotary cutter, I decided.

The quilt will not be particularly scrappy. I have four background fabrics in the "dove" colourway -- the dots, zig zags, some butterflies and stylized flowers. I also have four main basket colours -- green, turquoise, orange and pink. Since everything is already so structured, I've decided to use a consistent formula matching up the baskets and backgrounds. All the zig zags will have green baskets, and all the dots will have turquoise baskets (although the fabrics themselves have a lot of variation).

I expect that this will make the final layout a breeze. Plus, it will reduce decision paralysis along the way, while making it easier to keep track of where I am. Especially since I don't have a permanent design wall.

So, 8 down, either 171 or 305 to go!

*Note that the green bamboo fabric is my stock, photo-background fabric, not part of the block. It's so useful for photos that I may never put it in a quilt!

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Now that Edward's quilt is finished, I've been thinking about this project, which I started at the same time in November 2010. The last time I pulled it out I had taken apart all these squares and I planned to wash them, re-cut and re-assemble them. This week I decided to skip the washing and go straight to the re-cutting.

All the red HSTs went from 4 1/2" to 3 1/2":

And all the yellow HSTs went from 2 1/2" to 2":

Is this a good idea that I would recommend to others? NO! This is pure stubbornness on my part. I have been using the June Tailor half and quarter square triangle ruler, which is very accurate, but still awkward and tiring to use. I started with a plan to make four blocks in a single batch, and I ended up just managing the one, because I simply couldn't cut any more HSTs.

The block is now 12 1/2" unfinished. It's not perfect, but it'll do. I have redesigned this quilt at least a dozen times, and I am ready to see the back of it. As it stands now, I will only need eight of these large blocks. Hopefully I can manage that!

I am worried, though, that I may have to buy more of the purple and black background fabrics. Those corner squares weren't in the original design! It's Kaufman Kona, so at least more will be easy to find.
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