Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Break

Now that all the birdhouses are done for Down in the Garden, I've been picking up a few of my other projects. Yesterday I finished up the piecing on this block of Best Friends Forever:

Although it's pretty cold today, on hot days it's nice to work on smaller, individual blocks like this, so I think I'll be doing more of them over the summer.

I also think that I'm going to unplug this summer, and take a blogging break. The last day of school was this week, and I've been reminiscing about how nice it was to look forward to a completely unstructured summer. I also remember that I used to go home with as many library books as I could! These days I'd rather stitch than read, but I still have a big line up to keep me busy.

Last winter there was steady, behind-the-scenes progress on Jacks and Cats:

All the wool felt pieces are sewn together, and I'm currently working on the back stitched lines for the teeth. The oval Jacks pumpkins will get their stems, vines and leaves once they are appliqued onto the blocks. I'd like to be well along on this by Halloween, although I doubt it'll be finished.

For Slow Stitching Sunday today, I'm going to put a few more stitches in this Dimensions Gold cross stitch design, A Kiss for Snowman:

This one will be finished soon -- just a few more stitches in the background, and all the outlining left to do.

In all the chaos with the basement flooding (we had three floods total last month), some of my new fabrics have been sitting on my sewing table, waiting for things to settle down. Tempting me. Eventually I started cutting them up:

They are the two new summer collections from Connecting Threads, Island Hopping and Batik Paradise. I thought they would be perfect for the cover quilt on Carrie Nelson's book, Schnibbles Times Two, which I've been wanting to make for ages. I put together a few rows, just to see how it works...

With the crosses and the Hawaiian-themed fabric, I'm calling the quilt "Aloha Kisses," The white fabric is from Northcott. Around here it is the same price as Kaufman Kona solids, and I actually like it better. It is smoother, the thickness of the threads is very consistent, and it has a dense, higher thread count that makes it stable and easy to sew. I am very happy with it!

And, of course, Down in the Garden still has plenty of work left to do. Here's the first of those dratted butterflies:

They're a trial, but I know they'll be worth it. They'll probably end up as the key feature of the whole quilt.

So, I don't think I'll have time to be bored this summer! But, I'm not going to schedule anything. And who knows, there may be more new projects as well. Like the kids, I'll be back for sure after Labour Day. If the finishes really pile up (she says optimistically), maybe you'll see me sooner. Our basement problems are half fixed, so there's still plenty left to do there as well.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great summer (or cozy winter if you are down under)! I'll still be around and answering email if anyone needs me. Take care!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Honeysuckle House

Here's the last birdhouse for Leanne Beasley's Down in the Garden stitchery quilt. The curling vines and three petal flowers in the original design reminded me of honeysuckle. So, I chose a light yellow floss, and, after some trial and error, settled on these pistil stitch flowers instead. I think I left the best until last, because this one is definitely my favourite!

When you stand back, the birdhouse shape is dominant, which is what I hoped to achieve with the light-coloured flowers. This will be a wall quilt, so I want the structure to be clear from several feet back. Then you can step in to see the details:

Beasley has a great eye for line, and I really love the natural movement in all these curling vines!

Over the winter I seriously considered changing all the birdhouses to applique, and skipping the vines, but I am glad I stuck with the easier path. Now all four birdhouses are done:

Next up will be the four watering can stitcheries, which have some wickedly difficult applique butterflies. I guess I can't avoid them any longer!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Slow Sunday Stitching

Today I'm linking up with Slow Sunday Stitching over at Kathy's Quilts. With all the disruption here I feel like I've earned a quiet day!

As you can see, the third birdhouse from Leanne Beasley's Down in the Garden stitchery quilt is now complete. Since all the birdhouses are the same banana cream colour, I've been naming them by the colour of the flowers instead. So, this is the "blue" birdhouse.

I was careful to "book" the green variegated thread around the window. I pulled one strand of floss and stitched it from the bud up to the centre flower. Then I pulled another strand from the same length of floss, so the variegation would be the same, and stitched it up the other side. It was also important to do this around the outer edge so there would be no obvious breaks where I had to end the thread. But otherwise, I let the colours do their own thing.

Today I will work on the fourth and last birdhouse. The flowers will probably be this light yellow:

On this one I will do the vines first, so I doubt I'll get to the flowers today. That's not a worry, because I really love this green floss, DMC Color Variations 4050. None of my photos do it justice. I think there must be some ultraviolet dye in there that doesn't show up, either in my camera or on the monitor. It glows! My belief is that when you are stitching narrow lines like this on a quilt, the floss should either be dark or bright, so this has been perfect. Quilts are usually viewed from several feet away, and if the stitching is too pale, it disappears.

Anyway, enough chatting. On to some stitching!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

WIP Wednesday

Isn't this Jolly Jungle fabric cute? I just adore it. I remember that the local quilt store where I bought it sold out very quickly, so I know it was popular.

I know I have been MIA for the past two weeks. I had volunteered to take over WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network, but then that weekend our basement flooded, again, So that resulted in a quick change of priorities, and I had to bow out. We've had two more floods since then, so I think that was a good decision! We have a big job now to get it all fixed. But, I am happy to report that my stash is still ok, thanks to the plastic bins I use for storage!

I've had very little time to sew, but today I finished assembling all the rows on my Collector quilt, and I joined the last three to make the bottom corner:

What a relief to get back to some sewing!

My original plan was to make the setting triangles out of solid black. But, when I went to my stash the solids were way at the bottom, and this new colourway of Kaffe's Millefiore, "dark," was sitting on top, so I used that instead. I think it is better. Weather permitting, a couple more days of sewing should get it to the flimsy stage.

I'm also still plugging away at the hand stitching on Down in the Garden (DitG). I took a photo last week after I finished all the flowers on the "blue" birdhouse:

To me, the flowers look like butterflies! The vines are nearly finished now, so hopefully this one will be done soon too.

My resolution to stick with one hand and one machine project at a time is still working. I'm very keen to finish them so I can start something else! So that's motivating. And, I think the balance is also working well, with one "quick" project and one slow. After Collector, I have one more quick UFO to finish up, or maybe two, and then I may start something new!
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