Saturday, March 26, 2016

Wooly and White

I think it's going to be a long and rambling post today, so be warned!

I've finished one of my Little Wooly Baskets, Block 3:

I'm doing my own thing with the colours, so I went with my signature Black Eyed Susans for the large flowers, and sort of a rosehip or bittersweet thing for the berries. You can find links to all the patterns for this free design by Dawn Heese in my last post right here.

In the end, I stitched it down the same way as always, with a single strand of co-ordinating DMC floss. But I did try some other ways:

I like the look of dark blanket stitching when other people do it, so I gave it a try. But, it really looked out of place on my block. I don't think it fits with my lighter, brighter colour scheme. It might have worked better if I stitched everything that way, but I had already sewn down the basket body with the light thread. I also tried perle cotton a few different ways, but the only things that stuck were the little crosses on the berries.

The coloured wools for the flowers and leaves are all by Wooly Lady. A local store once had many of their pillow kits on sale for half price, and I bought a few! I really loved the bright hand-dyed colours and stylized natural designs. But, it turned out that I'm too allergic to wool to sew a large, all wool project like that. So, I use a little here and there for smaller projects like this. When the backgrounds are cotton, I'm usually ok.

The basket fabrics are from my old jackets. I threw the whole, wool, jackets in the washing machine so they would felt a little, hung them to dry, and then cut them apart. Considering that I only ever use small pieces, I probably have a lifetime supply of wool now!

This past week, though, I've had new projects springing out all over. I did no improv sewing this month. Instead, I spent two days planning and rough cutting pieced backgrounds for a new applique project:

The hearts are Post-It notes. Pretty and functional!

I've planned these down to the inch, and I hope the result will look completely random! So, not improv at all, I'm afraid. The backgrounds are from a few Tim Holtz Eclectic Elements collections, and the applique will be these fabrics that I got in September:

Painter's Canvas by Laura Gunn

Yes, it's the exact same colour scheme as the Wooly Baskets. I can't seem to let it go! But, I've been thinking about it for more than a year now, so I'm glad to get it started.

And that's not all! In January I spent a lot of time looking at all the patterns offered by Gay at Sentimental Stitches. She has lots of great applique patterns, but the ones that caught my eye were another free Block of the Month, the Vintage Blooms stitchery designs. You can find all the patterns for that right here.

This is a very easy stitchery project that once again has a lot of scope for personalization. I spent a couple of days re-designing it in January, and then I managed to file away my drawings and get back to some existing projects. But, recent days have been very stressful here at Casa Monica, where we have been having a lot of trouble with my elderly father. So, a very easy, "low volume" project seemed like just the ticket.

My idea for Vintage Blooms was to try it in white work:

I've been admiring white work quilts all over lately, including Julia's here, and this one at Keepsake Quilting. I really like those low volume batiks!

For the white stitching to show up well, it has to be heavy. So, I enlarged the pattern to 130%, and I'm stitching with four strands of white DMC floss. The background is some of the Connecting Threads fabric I bought in the fall for Stars for a New Day. Now that I've redesigned that one too, I will have lots of the light fabric left over. I used it for a test run of the white stitching because it was handy, and it was so perfect that I'm going to use it for all 20 blocks.

They are fast to sew. A second one is almost done too:

Right now I'm thinking of using some pale colours in the setting for these blocks, so it won't be completely white and beige. Earlier this month I was hoping to avoid buying any more new fabric this year, but after the past two weeks here, I feel like I deserve it! So, I've ordered some of this, from the same Keepsake Quilting catalog, for the setting. I hope it will be light enough!

And, I will just gloss over the fat quarters I bought at one of my local quilt shops last week...

More neutrals! But hopefully, not another new project. :D

(Not yet, anyway.)

I have found that for me it works best to just buy for stash when I see fabric I like, and then start projects with mostly stash fabric. Often if I buy a few yards of one fabric for a specific project, I will change my mind about it before the order arrives! But then, another new idea will come along that is perfect too, just as Vintage Blooms will use my extra fabric from Stars for a New Day. It's all good.

My plan for Easter Sunday is to spend some quiet time on one or both of these hand stitching projects. Let's hope that materializes! And check out all the other Slow Sunday Stitching at Kathy's Quilts tomorrow too. Happy stitching!

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Little Wooly Baskets

Little Wooly Baskets, block 2

Resistance is Futile

Or, even more accurately, resisting something makes it a certainty!

On Thursday night I made a quick list of the projects I want to get done in the next few months. Plenty to keep me busy! "Really," I thought to myself, "I would have a satisfying year without one more new project. I have tons of great projects already started. I should resolve to spend the rest of the year finishing some of them"

Friday morning I was clicking through blogland, and this project, "Little Wooly Baskets," caught my eye. Again. I know a few people have joined in with this free BOM by Dawn Heese at Linen Closet Designs, but I have deliberately resisted looking at it too closely. Because I know that once I start thinking about how it might work, I am done for. But, on Friday I had a look at the patterns:

I really love those unpretentious ink sketches! So much scope to make it my own way! For me, that is the primary appeal of any given pattern -- how much room for personalization does it have? So, that was that. I've been wanting to design a pattern with neutral baskets and colourful flowers for a couple of years. Now I don't have to, I can just make Dawn's!

There will be two blocks per month for a total of 24 blocks. I went down to my stash and pulled 12 beige fabrics, but somehow I only cut one square from each of them. What to do? Should I unfold and cut them again, or can I find 12 more suitable beiges in the stash? Well, it wasn't too hard to come up with 24 unique backgrounds:

Now I'm well on the way! The first four blocks are all cut out, laid out, and basted into place. I plan to spend an enjoyable Slow Sunday Stitching stitching them down.

(Edit 16/5/16: Well, somehow I got the wrong end of the stick, and there are only 12 patterns after all. I guess I read "12" and "2 per month" and jumped to the wrong conclusion!)

Little Wooly Baskets, block 4
This past week I've been breaking my back with machine quilting, so this little project will be a welcome relief!

As I mentioned, this is a free BOM. You can download the patterns for Blocks 1 & 2 here, and Blocks 3 & 4 here. You can also read Dawn's introduction and the fabric requirements right here.

(Edit 16/5/16: To see all my Little Wooly Baskets posts so far, please click here.)

And finally, don't forget to see what everyone else is making for Slow Sunday Stitching by clicking this link right here.

You can see that Mod Trips is now washed and put into service. On to the next!

Have a great day everyone!

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

March Butterflies

The Kaleidoscope of Butterflies continues this month, and I've been stitching all weekend to get my next butterfly block done.

I'm glad this link up came along! I've been feeling a paralyzing amount of angst about the fabric choices for this project. But, these stitched sections are all decided, so I can do them now, and worry about the rest later. And I have a feeling that once these are done, and I can put everything up on the wall together, it will be easy to see what's next. Or at least, easier.
This is Block 2 of Leanne Beasley's stitchery quilt, Down in the Garden:

There was a lot of stitching on this one! And most of it yellow and gold. I seem to be on a yellow theme right now. But, given that this is the scene outside today...

 ...I think it balances out. No real life butterflies here! A spring green needleturn butterfly will have to be enough for now:

For more kaleidoscopes and butterflies, check out the Kaleidoscope of Butterflies link up, right here.
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