Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Compass Centre

Look what happens when I manage to avoid turning on the computer in the morning!

I managed the whole thing today. Didn't get the laundry done though!

I haven't shown this project since last May, when I bought all the fabrics. The pattern is Judy Niemeyer's Prairie Star, which is the same pattern as her Hawaiian Star, only a different colourway. I have decided to call it Riviera Star, since many of the fabrics are from the Riviera II collection from Connecting Threads. It's almost sold out now.

Here's my colourway again:

The background cream fabric with the red flowers is darker overall than I expected, but I think it still looks ok.

The foundations are printed on newsprint. This worried me when I first opened the box, because it feels very fragile and easy to tear. So far, though, working with the smaller centre sections at least, it has been pretty good. It's easy to fold accurately, and it does tear away easily. I suspect, though, that those large outer sections are going to be a challenge!

But anyway, it was a fun day today. I love paper piecing, and it's always interesting to try out a new pattern!

Monday, February 18, 2013


This is an old UFO that I started in 2010. Recently I've been tossing around ways to rework it, so I dug it out again today. It had a variety of problems:
  • The fabric wasn't washed
  • The HSTs were not cut accurately
  • The design didn't use its feature fabric to the best advantage. These blocks were so bold, they drowned out the border print.
Because the HSTs were inaccurate, the blocks were a bit of a mess too. The red one is not too bad, but you can see the yellow one is worse:

So, I have a new design, and my plan is to take these 8" blocks apart down to their square units, wash them all in lingerie bags in the machine, and then square them up to make 6" blocks and re-use them. Fortunately, there are not that many finished blocks to deconstruct.

The seam ripper is not usually my friend, but this time I am enjoying it because I am interested to see how my plan will turn out.

Think it will work? I'll let you know!

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Sweet Hearts Update

Happy Valentine's Day!

It seems appropriate to show how far along I am with the Sweet Hearts redwork designs that I first showed last Valentine's Day. Not far at all! But at least one is done:

Adding the loop knot to my repertoire was a big help, but I was still struggling with these for a long time. I used a ceramic pencil to trace the designs, and it rubbed off quickly, so I had to guess where to stitch half the time.

Finally last fall I saw that Pigma Microns come in red, so I bought one in the smallest size, 005. Pigma Microns are permanent, archival quality pens, and I found that the 005 makes a very fine line:

Now these are finally easy to stitch! I sincerely hope that they will be done before next Valentine's Day!

But honestly, I am not sure that there is a lot more redwork in my future once these are done. Even though I love things that are red and white, I have been finding it hard to warm to this technique. We'll see how I feel when they're all done. There will be nine in all, so lots of time to change my mind...

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snow Day

For the most part Toronto has not seen the bad weather that most of the northeast has received this year. I often say that we have a protective bubble over us! Today, though, we caught it. It has been snowing and blowing all day, and we have had at least 30 cm (one foot) of snow at our house.

A good day to stay inside and sew! I know two other ladies from my guild who said the same thing to me this morning. I started a new quilt! I made two of these:

And two of these:

These are the Scrappy Trip Around the World blocks that seem to have taken Blogland by storm (I have storms on the brain today). Bonnie Hunter posted this demo in 2005. Recently Hetty made a few blocks, which caught my eye. Then LeeAnn made her massive 96" square version, which really tempted me. I was holding the line, though, until I had a look at the Flickr group, which is at 1300+ photos and counting. I started to look for interesting settings and I was a goner.

Usually the line of contrast runs from corner to corner, but I saw one quilt sewn this way on the Flickr group. You can make some cute layouts with this block.

I love the way it looks like a collage of old newspapers! All the fabrics for this quilt are from my stash. I bought the text-based fabrics for another quilt (Collector, actually), and then changed my mind and decided to use just one fabric in the background there. Personally, I think this quilt is a way better use for them!

Friday, February 1, 2013

Two From Trish Burr

Some of you may recall the butterfly embroidery in long and short stitch that I started last summer. The more I looked at it here on my blog, the less happy I became, so I figured it was time to call in the expert! I bought these two books from Trish Burr:

The first one is Needle Painting Embroidery, Fresh Ideas for Beginners (Sally Milner Publishing, 2011). The second is Long and Short Stitch Embroidery, A Collection of Flowers (Sally Milner Publishing, 2006). Although they were not published in this order, this is the order I recommend you buy and read them in.

Once I started to read, I immediately saw where I had been going wrong on the butterfly. Although it is called "long and short stitch," there are in fact no short stitches in the technique. My mistake! In her books Burr does something that is really genius, and which for me was totally the missing link. All her photos and patterns are the same size that they will be in real life:

So you can see exactly how long your stitches should be, how close they should be, and how they will blend together. The 2011 book has several little practice petals and leaves that you can do to perfect your technique. It also has a number of projects, organized in three levels of difficulty. The Little Bee Eater, which Burr recently taught in an online class, is one of the projects in this book.

The 2006 book is more advanced, and goes into more detail on shading and choosing colours.

This book also has scale photos of the projects to go with the patterns. Surprisingly, there is not that much overlap between the two books. All the projects are different, and the 2006 book focuses more on colour, while the 2011 book looks more at technique. Although obviously, those things cannot be entirely separated! I think you would do fine with either one, but personally, I am glad I bought them both. My long and short stitch has already improved!
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