Wednesday, October 31, 2012

New Plan for the Hexagons

Remember this?

We all had a debate back in June about the half hexagons along the sides. I finally decided to take out the ones in the corners, but leave the rest. They were not easy to remove, which reassures me that the whole thing will be very sturdy!

My plan at the time was to put this panel in the centre of an appliqued border from Lori Smith's book, Fat Quarter Quilting. This is the quilt I had in mind:

Part of the delay, though, has been that while I really like the idea of the vines and birds, I don't love the flowers themselves. This month I started to play around with something that I might like better, and this is what I came up with:

This is just a little sketch on a 4" x 6" notepad. I have found that it is much easier to make a small sketch, and then enlarge it all later. Also, with these notepads the paper is thin enough that you can put a previous sketch underneath and trace the parts you like and revise the rest. I went through three iterations on this with very little fuss. I did the same thing when I made the template for the flowers.

I thought quite a bit about making the flowers in the borders from hexagons too. I figured that using hexagons that were half the size of the ones in the centre panel would be the right scale. Those hexagons are 3/4", so the flower hexagons would be 3/8". I actually like the challenge of using the small pieces, but when I auditioned some hexagons beside the centre panel, it all felt too stiff. It's just too much, and I like the contrast between the symmetrical hexagon centre and the looser, "fluffier" round-petaled flowers better. I don't have a photo of that, unfortunately. You will have to take my word for it!

Tomorrow I'll show you my debate about the background fabric.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Allegheny Santa

Just a quick finish to show you today.  I've been working on this while waiting for my replacement bulb for my sewing lamp.  It's one of the many Santa ornaments that Mill Hill has produced over the years.  This is one of the three Appalachian Santas.

Usually I work on these while on the road.  They are great take-along projects, and can be done in a small space and with any reasonable light.  I've done quite a few over the years!

In any case, my new bulb arrived yesterday, so now I am spoiled for choice while I consider what's next!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

You Know it was Cheap...

These were sold side by side at the store, but you can see they are probably not both licenced by Maywood Studio!  I am pretty sure, though, that they were both less than $5/yd.  Rite Aid stopped carrying fabric shortly after I bought these - maybe this dodgy supplier was the reason! The fabric quality is ok, with no obvious flaws, so I am happy to have them.

I have been working out the yardage I will need to complete the RVQG BOM.  I bought one yard of the stars, and only half a yard of the moons, and both have already been cut into for another project.  The blocks will all finish at 12" square, and many are applique so I will need the whole square.  But I have worked out that if I piece some of the backgrounds in quarters, there will be enough.  And actually, that will probably be more interesting too!

In any case, I intend to do the whole thing from my stash.  I have plenty of batiks that I've bought over the years "just because," so this is my chance to use them!

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Pumpkin Block

As promised, here is my second block this month for the RVQG BOM:

I found this to be a pretty challenging block.  The seam ripper was out more than once!  But I am already glad that I started this project, because it is giving me a chance to tweak my skills in a low-risk environment.

I made a very slight modification to the pattern by adding an angle to the stem.  I think it gives him a slightly rakish look!  I was up last night making more extensive modifications to most of the other blocks, and I designed the setting and border as well!

This is all because my sewing light burned out over the weekend, and I am waiting for the replacement bulb to arrive.  So all those new hand sewing projects I showed you last week are on hold!  No worries, though, I have plenty of other stuff to do.  ;)

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fall Leaves Block

Here's my version of the latest Block of the Month at my guild Rouge Valley. I did the whole thing today, so I am pretty pleased with myself. I made my own paper foundations again, and it went pretty quickly. It was a little challenging to put the four leaves together, especially at the point of the dark green fabrics, so it's not exactly perfect. But close enough!

This BOM is a two-year project with twelve blocks and a calendar theme. The first year has already gone, and you can see the first seven blocks here. The patterns are members-only, but they are not hard to figure out if you are so inclined.

I started thinking about doing this project over the summer while I was working on the RVQG website. To me, the challenge is to tie all the blocks together. I thought that might best be achieved by using a consistent background fabric for every block. I thought a dark background would look best, given the wide range of colours in the blocks, but I didn't want to use black. The "calendar" theme reminded me of the moon and the stars, and I remembered this night sky fabric in my stash. I bought it at the San Mateo Rite-Aid over ten years ago!  They had great deals on fabric. But anyway, I am really happy with how it looks.

Tomorrow I intend to do the pumpkin.  The foundation is already made and the fabric is cut, so hopefully it will go together quickly too.  The long term plan is to do two blocks per month, the latest one and one from last year.  By May I should be all caught up!

Friday, October 12, 2012

New Project - Texas Star

My third new project this week is another English Paper Piecing project, Texas Star:

There are probably dozens of different quilts called "Texas Star."  This one is from the 1940s, and was one of the projects in the first quilting book I ever bought, Scrap Quilts by Judy Martin (1985).

There are three quilts in this book that are on my quilting bucket list, however everything in the book is done from templates, and I never got the hang of them.  I would not be a quilter today if we were still piecing from templates!

I did try, though.  I started this quilt back in the late 80s using samples of home decor fabric, sewn on the machine.  I abandoned the yellow middles almost immediately, but I did manage to make around 200 stars.  I didn't get very far with joining them together though, and it became my second quilt UFO.  I found it all in my big stash clean-out 18 months ago.  Both this one and my first UFO from the late 70s went in the garbage.  Some of you may cringe at the thought, but for me it was very helpful to start fresh(er).

So when I discovered English Paper Piecing, this quilt immediately came to mind.  The original is based on 1.5" diamonds, but I wanted to make it a little smaller, so I am using 1.25" diamonds and 5/8" hexagons and jewels.  I emailed the people at Paper Pieces to ask about a custom order for the 5/8" jewels, and they were able to accomodate me immediately.  It did not even cost any more than a regular stock item, and they are now permanently added to their website.  I just love this company!

I have bought a little fabric for this quilt, but mostly I plan to use up the 1930s reproductions in my stash.  In the book Martin calls the mix of colours and use of black "far from ideal," but to me that is part of the charm, so I am hoping to duplicate the look.

None of my tv projects recently have involved fabric, so it is nice to be back to it again.  Do you think I have enough to do now?

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Project - Hourglasses

Do you all remember this project from the cover of Sew Scrappy, volume two?  I reviewed it back in January:

Well, it's the second project I've started this week. I thought all along that it would be a great way to use up a lot of the more dubious fabrics I've accumulated over the years. I'm hoping that once they are cut small enough they will all blend into a harmonious whole. At least, that's my story and I'm sticking to it! Here you can see the infamous banana fabric that has plagued me for several years:

Is that not the worst thing you have ever seen?  It came in a scrap bag from Keepsake Quilting.  I stopped buying scrap bags and fat quarter packs once I realized that they were full of fabrics that no one else was willing to buy.  When I started weeding out my stash, I found tons of them, so I think I will enlarge this quilt to a queen size.  That will be 7 ft by 8 ft, or 896 3" hourglasses.  63 down,

833 to go!

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

New Project - Meadow

As I mentioned on Monday, once Clara was finished I allowed myself to start a new project. In fact, in the past week I have started three. They are all projects that have been waiting in the wings for quite some time.

"Meadow" is going to be an embroidered quilt. It will be built from these massive 3" (6" across) hexagons:

After all the small English Paper Piecing I've been doing, it is a fun change of pace to work with these big ones. That is three days of basting that you are looking at. I had no idea it would take so long! But now they're going to be packed away while I start on the embroidery.

I am adapting a Susan O'Connor pattern from the Country Bumpkin book Beautiful Embroidered Quilts (2006). The pattern is "For the Love of Butterflies." Susan has embroidered oversized butterflies in Madeira stranded silk on a patchwork of Liberty lawn. There are patterns for 23 butterflies, but I think I will aim for five to ten. Her quilt is huge, mine is destined to be a lap quilt. Plus, her butterflies tend to get lost in all the floral fabrics. My position is that if I am going to spend weeks or months embroidering butterflies, you are darn well going to see them on the finished quilt. Hence all the simple green fabrics.

None of my usual stores stock Madeira stranded silk, so I have defaulted to DMC stranded cotton floss. And now that I've started, I think I will get a better range of colour with the DMC.

I've also tried a new product to transfer the design:

This is Sticky Fabri-Solvy, which comes in sheets that you can run through the printer. I already love it! You can see that this pattern would have been a nightmare to trace, so it was a blessing to be able to photocopy it onto the stabilizer. I was able to fit six butterflies on the page. Then I just cut it out, peeled off the backing, and carefully stuck it to the right side of my well-ironed fabric. I have basted it down just to be safe, because I will be handling the piece a lot. It is a little crisp, but not gummy. It feels like light Pellon. It is very easy to sew through, and provides good support for the dense long and short stitch I'm using.

Speaking of long and short stitch, this is only the second time I've used it in a project. It's going much better than the first time! I'm glad that I decided to start these butterflies before the needlepainting project that I also have in the wings, because it will give me a chance to work out the bumps in my technique.

The Fabri-Solvy also stands up well to unpicking, by the way! So this should keep me busy for quite a while. :)

Monday, October 8, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians!  I am looking forward to some pecan pumpkin pie later today.  :)

This is our hydrangea, which I always think looks best in the fall.  It first blooms a bubblegum pink, then loses all it's colour, and then these gorgeous deep tones develop.

Now that I've finished Clara, I've allowed myself to start a new project, even though the nine patch flimsy is not quite done yet.  It's another English Paper Piecing project.  Stay tuned!

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Fun with Crochet

What is it?  It's this:

I started planning this post right when I started this blog last year, but it got lost in the shuffle until now. I just thought it would be fun to show all the stages of these crochet octagons at once!

This was intended to be my easy tv project over a year ago now.  Once Clara was done I thought of it again and pulled it out.  It is the Spanish Tiles afghan from 50 Sensational Crochet Afghans & Throws, edited by Bobbie Matela.  As far as easy tv projects go, it is not actually that easy.  I have the octagons down, but yesterday I tried one of the small filler squares:

That final round of orange is stitched both under and over the previous round of red, and it requires complete concentration!  I'm hoping I will get used to it.

Here's an idea of where it is all going:

Yes, the square seems a little large for the octagons, but I think it will all work out when I sew them together.  It's not quite the same as quilt fabric!  There's lots of ease.

I have to say, though, that I am not completely happy with those squares, now that I see them in the photos.  I like the circle in the middle, but after that I may simplify things.  Anyway, there's no rush on this one!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Clara - Finished!

I popped over to Art of Fabric in Pickering last weekend to look for the thread I needed to finish Clara's ears.  It wasn't in my stash, but judging from the other colours I did have, I thought it was probably DMC 841 that I needed.  Wrong!  It was a good thing I brought everything along with me to the store.  It turned out to be DMC 3864.

The new thread looked ever so slightly darker.  I used one old thread and one new thread together in the needle to blend out the transition, and I don't think you can see it at all on the finished piece.

I gave you a bit of a close up in the photo above so you can see the Algerian eyelets in the waistband, and the great shading you get from the Sampler Threads in the blouse.  The light blue squares are Morning Glory, the green ones are Evergreen, the purple is Hyacinth, and the pink is Victorian Pink.  The dark indigo of the apron is Midnight, and the lighter indigo of the skirt is Blue Jay.  The inside of the ears and the hearts on the apron are Cameo Pink.

Because I decided not to use any of the charms in the kit, I added another heart to the band on the apron (see below), and just used French knots for the buttons on both Clara and Henry.

Once they were both done, I saw that Henry was actually a little taller than Clara:

The plan is to set them both into pillow covers.  Given the great faded indigo look of the Sampler Threads, I think I will sacrifice some old jeans and make the covers out of denim.  I am glad the flood uncovered them. Clara was a fun and easy project, and I think they make a nice couple!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Colours

In Japan they have started their Koyo reports, so I thought it would be fun to do the same for around here.  It is still a little early for fall colours in Southern Ontario, but I did get some nice shots.  Last weekend my mom and I drove up Lakeridge Road, past Hy-Hope Farm, around to Uxbridge, and then back home.

Some of my favourite shots are always of the ditches beside the road:

In the foreground are the purple fall asters, with goldenrod and sumac bushes further back.  I always think these would be a great colourway for a Fair Isle sweater in the style of Alice Starmore!

The sumac puts on a consistent show every year...

...and the purple asters and goldenrod are a nice contrast on their own too:

Even the new invasive grasses have their charm:

It was difficult to find more than a single tree here and there that had changed colour.  This hillside by Dagmar ski resort looked great in the sun:

I must admit that the above photo has been enhanced somewhat to get the colours to pop, because by the time I got the car stopped and the camera out, the sky was doing this:

Hy-Hope Farm on Lakeridge Road was busy.

Out front were many photogenic bushels of produce from the fall harvest:

Inside we bought a couple of butter tarts and some apple pie for later.  Their pie has always been good, but this time the crust was particularly nice, crisp and flaky.

Then we continued around up to Uxbridge.  I've been nostalgic recently for some small town Ontario scenery after watching The Cry of the Owl on tv, which was filmed nearby in Port Perry.  Uxbridge is very typical too:

You can click any of the photos to see them larger.  Uxbridge supports both a good knitting shop, On the Lamb on the main road, and a great quilting shop, the Quilters Cupboard, on the edge of town.  It was my first time at the Quilters Cupboard, and I was very impressed with the selection, especially of small prints and Civil War reproductions, which I have been hankering for recently.  I have been realizing that my stash has too many large prints!  Unfortunately there was a shop hop going on when we were there, so the place was packed.  But it will definitely be worth the drive to go back.

It will still be a couple of weeks before our own maples change colour, so it was nice to get a preview.  A great day!
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