Thursday, May 28, 2015

DitG Pink Birdhouse

Here's the second birdhouse stitchery from Leanne Beasley's stitchery quilt, Down in the Garden. Now that it is summer it so nice to be able to take things out and photograph them in the sunshine. What a difference!

Although it is not this obvious in real life, you can see in the photo above that the green Pigma micron pen that I used to mark the stitching lines did run a bit when it was painted over with the pale yellow Tsukineko ink. I have read complaints that the blue Pigma pen tends to run as well. I assumed that there was some chemical in the Tsukineko ink that was to blame, but maybe it is just the blue Pigma ink that is unstable. Anyway, I don't mind it here, I think it adds to the atmosphere a bit.

The flowers are simple chain stitch lazy daisies with long anchoring stitches, and the buds are also short, round detached chain stitches.

I really like the curling vines on these birdhouses. It's a lot of flowers! But I made a push last night so I could get it in just under the wire for WIP Wednesday at The Needle and Thread Network. Why? Because this week will be Monika Kinner-Whalen's last week running it, and next week, I have agreed to take over! Yes, another Monica. I am excited, because I have a lot of ideas for it.

Out in the backyard, our young lilac is putting on its best show so far:

And, while I was out there taking photos, this butterfly came to visit:

Lucky shot! Except for the blog name (and resize), the photo is completely unedited. Don't you love that combination of lilac and sky blue?

Monday, May 25, 2015

Last 9 Stars

The fun thing about a charm quilt like this is admiring all the fabrics. I absolutely love this green fabric! I may use this colour scheme in a future quilt. I have no idea where I got it, which is rare. It must have been from a show, maybe back in California.

Most of the Kaffe Fassett fabrics are from Glorious Color. They provide very good service, and I love that they have all the fabrics in all the colours.

I'm pretty sure these are both discontinued now, but sometimes they re-release them in new colours. If anyone from Westminster is reading, I'd love to see the Star Flowers come back! And the Lichen, that looked amazing in quilts too.

Anyway, here are the last nine stars:

Next stop, flimsy!

Saturday, May 23, 2015

In the Groove

This was on the radio the other day, and I've played it quite a few times since then!

I was pretty rock'n'roll when I was younger, but these days I mostly listen to dance music. I like the happy upbeat mood of dance music, and I think I'm too old for all that rock'n'roll angst.

I am really enjoying my new "one at a time" approach to my projects. It's so much easier, and a lot more relaxed. Less angst. As I mentioned in my last post, I've pared it down to one hand sewing and one machine sewing project. My machine sewing project is an old one, Collector, started back near the beginning of this blog in 2012.

In January I was re-evaluating all my UFOs, and I decided to make this one smaller than originally planned. Just nine more star blocks would be enough to finish it up. Here they are!

This one is my favourite. Remember this old Kaffe Star Flowers design?

What an edgy mix of colours!

These went together pretty easily, and I already had so many other good fabrics pulled, so I've decided that I have room for 9 more:

Then that really will be it. The original plan was for 9 x 9 of the light blocks, which would have been about 76" square. I realized that would be an awkward size, too small for a bed and too big for a lap quilt. The new size, with the extra 9 stars, will be 9 x 7, about 76" x 59".

The alternating dark squares are also all cut now and ready to go:

It's going to be fun to see how it all looks together!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

DitG Block 5 finished!

We've had some beautiful, clear sunshine today, and I was finally able to get a good set of photos for this block. It's the centre, Block 5, of Leanne Beasley's stitchery quilt Down in the Garden. Yes, I know it's wrinkly, but I don't want to iron it until I'm ready to assemble the quilt.


There has been quite a lot of "let's see what happens" so far, but in the end I'm well pleased with how it came out. I really like the double curve, ogee outline around both this block and the birdhouse blocks. I also like the way Beasley used the green sprigs and the outside points to suggest a diamond shape inside the curves. I chose the coral and pink colours for those flowers to emphasize the diamond, and I think that worked well.

My original plan for the small lazy daisy flowers was to make them dark blue, same as here. It was not successful, and I am sorry that I didn't take a photo to prove it! In the light blue, the small flowers provide some contrast and support for the large flowers. I was really surprised by how much better the large flowers looked once those little blue flowers were stitched! It was a good lesson to me. And, I think that same colour of blue is going to fix my problem with Prairie Star as well.

With all the stitching completed, this block has ended up quite a bit darker than the light, watery effect that I originally intended. This was mostly because the Tsukineko inks were too difficult to control when they were really watered down, so I had to keep them more intense and pure. I think this has also made the project more formal, and I'm not sure all those gingham fabrics that I hoped to use are appropriate any more. But the inspiration fabrics by Tamara Kate still work well.

It's a big block, 15 inches square, and a lot of stitching. I really like all the words and sentiments in the poem, but gosh, the words were boring to sew! Fortunately, my commitment to stick with just the one project made it easier.

I keep thinking that now I am mostly done, which is not true at all! There are still 3 more birdhouses, and all four of the watering can blocks to do. The applique butterflies on the watering cans are wickedly difficult, but I think I have them under control now.

In any case, my plan to focus on just one project at a time is a big success, even though I have changed it to two projects - one hand sewing and one machine sewing. Momentum is building, and right now I'm not even tempted to change projects. I'll show you the machine sewing project next time -- I think it will be a surprise!

Thursday, May 7, 2015


Sedona Star 1.0

For a change of pace, today's post is (mostly) about what I'm not going to make!

Early in January I had a big hunt through my stash for this orange fabric, which I wanted for My Country House. It is the perfect orange, not too gold and not too brown, but that's beside the point right now. The point is that my search started a whole process of digging through all my old quilty projects and making some decisions:
  1. Keep going
  2. Keep going but make some changes
  3. Toss.
The result has been that suddenly I've been working on, and thinking about, a whole bunch of projects at the same time. There hasn't been much to show, because I'm spread too thin. For example, in February I set myself a schedule to get Texas Star to the flimsy stage. According to the schedule, I should now have 227 stars joined up. As of today, the total stands at 146...

...which is progress over last time...

...but not ideal. Still, although progress is slow, I think we will all agree that it is looking pretty good. 

What you may not remember is that this is Texas Star 2.0. In 2011 (before this blog), after about 25 years and two cross-continental moves, Texas Star 1.0 went in the bin. At that point there were about 250 machine-pieced stars finished and ready to join. But, it just had too many problems, including dodgy fabrics and dodgier sewing. About 16 months later, Texas Star 2.0 got off to a much better start, and it will definitely be finished. But for now, I'm packing it away, because as I said, I'm spread too thin.

As you've probably guessed, the project I'm not going to be finishing is Sedona Star, shown at the top of the page. In fact, those photos are all that remain, because it all went in the bin in February. It had many issues, but the biggest was that it was big -- bed sized -- and my colour scheme was more suited to a wall quilt. So yes, Sedona Star 2.0 will be smaller. It is all planned, but not started.

I've already mentioned that this project, Trick or Treat baskets, was abandoned last fall:

Baskets 1.0

In fact I had about 12 to 15 done, but there are no photos, and these went in the bin in February too. Gosh, I imagine you are saying, I know they could have been used somewhere. And surely something could have been done with all those pretty Sedona Star circles. Yes, I thought about that quite a bit. But finally I realized that I can't do it all, and it would be a bigger shame if my newer, and much nicer, projects didn't get made because I was still flogging a dead horse with these.

So, Down in the Garden will get the nod, and we will see what happens when I focus on just one project at a time. I think it will be a perfect summertime project. :D

Friday, May 1, 2015

DitG Tagore

In addition to the large embroidered blocks that anchor Leanne Beasley's stitchery quilt, Down in the Garden, there are little bits of stitching scattered all around it. I really like these little details that are stitched over printed fabric, so there are two layers of interest. The fabric is from Tamara Kate's 2013 collection, Flight Patterns.

I intended to use these medium dark blue flowers all over the quilt, but it turned out that they didn't work elsewhere, so this is the only place they remain:

The quote is from Indian writer and painter Rabindranath Tagore's Poems on Time. Wikipedia also has this nice piece of synchronicity, written exactly 100 years ago:
Who are you, reader, reading my poems a hundred years hence?
I cannot send you one single flower from this wealth of the spring, one single streak of gold from yonder clouds.
Open your doors and look abroad.
From your blossoming garden gather fragrant memories of the vanished flowers of an hundred years before.
In the joy of your heart may you feel the living joy that sang one spring morning, sending its glad voice across an hundred years.
The Gardener, 1915.[165]

These butterfly sections will be scattered around the quilt, while the contrasting bee quote is featured in the large centre block. You haven't seen it since the end of Ink Week last fall, but it is now almost done. I just have a little of the lettering left. But, I also want to do it justice with some good photos, so it will need some sunshine as well. With luck, next week!
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