Thursday, November 29, 2012

All Washed!

I think it was in June 2011 when I decided to wash all the quilt fabric in my stash. It has been an extremely long process, because, you know, I've kept adding to the pile. But, as of today, I am completely caught up! Woo hoo!

I've learned a couple things along the way:

1. I will never buy anything smaller than a fat quarter ever again. Long quarters and fat eighths are a nightmare to untangle in the washing machine.

2. My stash is never going to get smaller. Despite two supposedly "stash busting" projects, Hourglass and Texas Star, there has been no change in the size of my stash whatsoever. So I think a more reasonable goal from now on will be stasis, rather than reduction.

Now I just have to finish sorting it!

Related Post:

There was still lots to wash in January!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Some Beads for Celtic Spring

I decided that I didn't want to be stuck with all the beads at the end, so I have started to add some as I go along. It has been very rewarding:

Unfortunately, I have also found that I have a tendency sometimes to sit there mesmerized by all the sparkle instead of stitching!

The instructions do not include any information about which threads to use with the beads. Here is what I've been using:

  • Mill Hill beads 62037 (lilac) - DMC 209
  • Mill Hill beads 3025 (purple) - DMC 327
  • Mill Hill beads 3012 (dark green) - DMC 936. These "green" beads are actually half olive green, half dark purple or blue, which gives some unexpected results sometimes. You can see that in the wreath around the figure's head, where many of the "leaves" have turned purple. I think it adds interest, so I have left it:

  • Mill Hill beads 3054 (pearl gold) - DMC 676
  • Mill Hill beads 557 (shiny gold) - DMC 676 or DMC 3822, depending on the location. If the beads are surrounded by the metallic gold Treasure Braid, then I found that 3822 is a better match. If there is a mix of shiny gold and pearl gold beads, then I do them at once with 676. That's what I did in the side border:

It has been very challenging to get decent photos! The colour in the first one is probably the truest - the fabric is the Willow Green Cashel linen. You really have to see it in real life to get the full impact. It is surpassing my expectations!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Lima Beans Update

Lima Beans? Update?? I know, the beginning of this project was buried in another post, so it is unlikely anyone remembers it. But, it has been coming along this week:

This is the first of four seed packet patterns from June Grigg that I bought in the early 90s and am finally getting around to.  The stitching is on 18 ct aida, and the texture and coverage are really nice.  I remember now that the texture is what attracted me to the projects in the first place, when I saw the samples in June's booth so long ago. I wish you could all feel it through your screens!

Other than some cross stitch and a few more stars, I've mainly been waffling about some design ideas this past week.  I've been over to Fabricland three days in a row now.  Yesterday I had finished my shopping and was driving out the driveway, when I had another idea and turned around to go back again! Most of my plans have been for the RVQG BOM, but today I cracked and bought some Christmas fabric too.  It's hard to say no to $5 per metre! And we need new Christmas placemats...

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Filler Diamonds for Texas Star

This is pretty much all I have been working on this week. Today I have forced myself to take a break to give my hands a rest! Earlier in the week I cut some more fabric for the project, including these stripes, and the white filler diamonds.

I wanted to start putting in the white diamonds now, so I am not stuck with them all at the end. Now that I have done some of them, I am doubly glad of this plan, because the diamonds are somewhat more challenging.  The points are heavier to baste, and the white fabric is heavier too.  That's why there are holes in my finger that have to heal! But if I just add three diamonds to each star for now, I can arrange them as I like at the end:

I will have to leave a few without the diamonds to finish off the top and right edges.

I have also decided to make the whole quilt bigger. My original plan was to make it about 60" square, but recently I have found myself preferring rectangular quilts, so I am going to bump it up to 60" x 80". With a 4" border, that will require 315 stars. I find that 3 lengthwise strips from a fat quarter give me 4 to 5 stars, so I am going to shoot for about 70 fabrics total. That should be plenty of variety!

I have realized that this is probably not going to be a very blog-friendly project, because I think you can only look at so many stars, but I will try to show a few of the more fun fabrics that I have for this quilt.  The only fussy cutting I am going to do is for the stripes, so it is only here and there that a complete motif shows:

Fortunately, a little bit of mystery about how exactly each star will look keeps it interesting!

Monday, November 5, 2012

Stripes Win!

And here's why:

Sue Garman just posted this photo (among many other excellent photos) of a French quilt from the exhibit Legendary Quilts at the recent International Quilting Association show. This quilt, Le Nid (The Nest), by Anne-Marie Schmitt, is an original design based on several historic appliqued quilts. When I contacted Sue about using the photo, she very kindly sent me this one as well:

In her post Sue calls the striped background "an interesting and unusual choice." It seems to me that the stripe differentiates this quilt from all the other applique quilts that are out there. Let's face it, there are a lot of similar quilts in the world. It seems to me that something that will make the viewer look twice, and maybe think about the quilt or discuss the quilt a little more, is a good thing.

So as far as my little hexagon quilt goes, the stripes may not be the safe choice, but maybe they will be a more interesting one! Thanks again to Sue for the great photos.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Tipsy Tree Brooch

It was like opening Pandora's box when I pulled out the Allegheny Santa the other day! Those Mill Hill kits are addictive!  Here's another quick finish to show:

Cute, eh? This one is almost all beads, with some satin stitches and Smyrna crosses to give variety.  Less than four hours, all in.  My mom wants one too, so I have kept the pattern this time. I think I can dredge up enough supplies from my stash to make one more.

I'm getting in that holiday mood!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Viceroy Butterfly Progress

Here is my progress on the Viceroy butterfly for my Meadow quilt:

I was worried that these were going to take forever, but actually it is not as slow as I thought. I have done the split stitch outline, and made a good start on the long and short stitch filling.

I am trying to get a satiny effect from the long and short stitch, with no obvious lines or bumps. It takes practice! I intend to get serious use from this quilt, so I am keeping the stitches a little shorter, at about 1/4" to 3/8". It is challenging to the keep the stitch length about the same, yet place them randomly enough that no lines or bumps appear. I think my success is only moderate, especially compared to the photo of the original further down, but it is a quilt, not an art piece, so I think I can get away with it. A good opportunity to practice!

I have read some debate online about whether you should come up through the previous stitching, or go down through it. I believe the theory is that coming up through the stitching makes smaller holes and a smoother effect. I have tried it both ways, and what is best for me, now at least, is to go down through the previous stitches, splitting the previous threads.

For the colours, I am using DMC 742, 740, and 720, light to dark:

They are all more orange than they appear in this photo. 740 especially is quite fluorescent! In the original design Susan O'Connor used Madeira stranded silk thread in a range of mahogany:

Switching to DMC cotton gives me the opportunity to punch up the colours. I have been using this photo as my colour inspiration instead. In this case, I think the brighter colours are also more realistic, although realism is less important to me than pretty! Based on the photo, most of the shading will be in the upper wings rather than the lower. I am just about to start that, I think it will be fun!

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Auditioning Backgrounds for the Hexagons

The new design for my hexagons has wider borders, so it is not going to fit onto a fat quarter any more. Yesterday I was auditioning backgrounds. My original plan was to use this fabric from my stash:

When I was redesigning it, though, I kept thinking of a wood grain fabric that Connecting Threads used to have. I liked the idea of the flower vine "climbing up" a wooden wall. But, it's all sold out now, so I found this striped fabric that I hoped would give a similar effect:

And then, lo and behold, after I ordered the stripe, I found a yard of the wood grain fabric in my washing pile! I forgot that I bought it. Here it is:

It is interesting what a great design tool this blog is. When I started to write, I was sure that the stripe would be the winner. I thought the wood grain was too dark and it didn't really "read" as wood. But now I am not so sure! The first one is definitely out, now I am seeing a greenish undertone in that one that leans too far in the dreaded "baby poop" direction. But I think I'm on the fence between the wood grain and the stripe.

What do you all think?
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