Wednesday, August 21, 2013

BFF Month 1.1 Stitching Finished!

Here's my first completed stitchery for Rosalie Quinlan's BOM, Best Friends Forever:

If you are familiar with the pattern, you can see I have made some variations. I am sticking with my Northern Cardinal colouration for the birds. This time I was able to include the brown female as well as the red male. Aren't their coral beaks pretty?

I have also decided to keep those small leaves on the stems open, rather than closing them in with satin stitch. I like the feathery, ferny effect this gives them:

These were back stitched with four strands of floss to balance them with the stems.

For the flowers I stuck with the half pinwheel petals that I showed you previously. This is a crazy quilting stitch that would normally be used as a seam treatment. It is sewn continuously, so it goes quickly:

I also used blanket stitch pinwheels on the round flowers:

I tried at least four variations on this flower before I was happy with it. I am sorry I didn't take photos of the rejects, sometimes it is interesting to see what didn't work too.

Finally, I want to show how I handled all those little crosses. Wretched things! I don't think they add anything to the design, and they're a time consuming pain in the neck. I elected to stitch them all in a very light blue, DMC 828, and try to blend them out as much as possible:

You can see that I couched down the centre of each cross. I'm hoping that this will prevent them from snagging when the quilt is used. It also gave me a little more thread on the back to work with when I tied each and every one of them off. After a while I did get into a rhythm with them. Good thing, because it looks like they appear on almost all the motifs!

So, one down, 31 to go. Hopefully the rest of Month 1 won't be far behind! I'm linking this post up with WIP Wednesday #104 at The Needle and Thread Network. Check out some of the other great blogs there!

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Hexie Pincushion

Ever since I started English paper piecing, over a year now, I've been wanting a small, stable pincushion to park my threaded needle while I prepare the piece for stitching. I looked at a lot of pincushion patterns, but nothing seemed right. Yesterday I was looking at old cross stitch patterns when I found this pincushion pattern in the July 1997 issue (Number 75) of Needlecraft magazine from the U.K. They made theirs from 1" hexagons, but I scaled it down to 1/2" hexies. I also added some quilting to the top!

I am really happy with how it turned out, but it took some doing! I started with some scraps of Kaffe fabric from my scrap bin:

The one on the right is the Lichen print, which is now out of production. This was my very last bit. If anyone from Westminster reads this, please bring it back! It looks a little scary on the bolt, but it is magic when it's cut.

The green on the left, by the way, was not a big enough piece, so I used a larger scrap of green Millefiore instead.

I was disappointed with how the middle fabric (it's Kirman) turned out after it was cut and stitched. The hexagon shapes are a little lost. I put that one on the bottom! The one on the right, the Lichen, came out great:

The pattern says to attach the side pieces to the bottom flower, but I could see in the magazine photos that this makes the join visible around the top. So I attached the side pieces to the top flower. Here it is with the 1/2 squares inserted between the side hexagons:

At this point I took the paper pieces out of the centre flower and sandwiched it with batting and muslin. It is quilted with #8 perle cotton. Then I carefully (!) trimmed away the extra batting and muslin:

FYI, this is my first completed, hand quilted project! It is so small that I didn't need to do a proper quilting stitch on it, but I am counting it towards my New Year's resolution nevertheless!

The big challenge was joining the top and bottom together. Holding the pieces right sides together, I first sewed five of the side hexagons into the "V"s in the bottom, and then went back and joined in the four squares between them. This left two squares and one hexagon unsewn. I took out all the paper except the ones around the opening, and turned the piece right side out.

I closed up one square and the last hexagon, wrong sides together with tiny whip stitches, removing the papers as I went. That left just one square open. Then I used a paper funnel and filled the pincushion with lentils to give it stability, removed the last paper, and whip stitched the opening closed. I'm sorry there are no photos of the final assembly, at that point it was getting late and I just wanted to finish it! However, you can see the join in the first picture, which is not really what I planned, lol!

The magazine says the project can be completed in an evening, but it took me a solid eight hours. A lot of that time was spent scrounging around for materials, cutting the paper 1/2" squares, etc. The quilting was at most an extra hour. I'm sure a larger one would be easier to manage! Here's a final photo to show the scale:

What a refreshing change for me to have a quick finish!

Friday, August 16, 2013

BFF Progress

I haven't posted in a while, because although I'm still stitching away, there doesn't seem to be much to show. But, I figured I better at least show what there is, if you know what I mean. Month 1 of Best Friends Forever is coming along:

While I'm working on one motif I'll have an idea for a colour or stitch on another motif, so I've been working on them all together. But for a while now all other stitching has come to a halt, because I've become obsessed with preparing the background setting, which is English paper pieced. I've basted 60 x 2" hexagons:

I know the photo looks like just three hexagons, because I didn't want to take everything out of the bags. Trust me, there are 60 there! For Texas Star I don't pre-baste anything, it is all basted and sewn in one step. A number of these units for BFF have to be pre-basted, and I've been surprised at how fun it is! So, in addition to the hexagons, I basted a further 32 x 6 green 2" hexagon kites:

Some of the green 2" hexagon kites have already been joined up with two more yellow kites each to make these triangle units:

I've been piecing Texas Star with Superior's Kimono, 100 wt silk thread, which is completely invisible and perfect for all the different coloured fabrics in that project. But it's a strain to use, and I've been piecing this project, BFF, with regular 50 wt cotton thread instead. There are fewer colours in this project so it is easy to match the thread to the fabric. It is SO much easier to use! I think that's part of the reason I've been doing so much of it lately.

Somehow I managed to precut too many of the green pieces, and not enough of the yellow pieces, so I'll have to scrounge some more yellow from my stash down the road. But I have plenty to keep me busy for a while yet!

A Cold Winter Coming?

Here's the Mountain Ash outside our house. I have never seen it so full of berries! The branches are actually bent under the weight. Traditional wisdom would say that this is a sign of a long, cold winter coming. What do you think?

Here in the Northeast we had a couple of hot weeks in early July, but late July and August so far have been unusually cool. Personally, I've loved it! But I do have a threshold for how much snow is too much snow, so I have some concerns, too, lol.

At least there is a good meal here for all the migrating robins and other birds, once they start to travel. Anyway, a stitching post is up next!
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