Tuesday, February 28, 2017


It's over two weeks since my last post, so I think I will do a general update today. A little of everything -- embroidery, hand piecing, machine piecing, quilting, and binding!

As many of you know, I badly wrecked my back last fall. Now, it's healed very well, and I would say it is better than it's been in years. But a strange by-product has been that hand stitching is clearly bad for my back -- somehow I sit and tense in very awkward ways when I hand stitch. So I can't do it. An unfortunate casualty of this new situation has been my guild challenge quilt, that I started in September. You can see the challenge fabrics here. It was due yesterday, so I think it is now safe to show you what I was doing before my back went out:

I started by embellishing the large scale print with hand embroidery. Stem stitch around the petals, pistil stitch in shaded tones around the centre, and I have some silver lined, forest green glass beads for the centre.

Here is another one:

My plan was to make six "vignettes" like this from the one fat quarter. Four are mostly done.

Then I also started fussy cutting the smaller white print...

...to make hexagon rosettes:

The small ones on the right are the finished size. Half inch (12 mm) hexagons! I wanted 20 rosettes in total.

What's the plan? A half-scale version of the first two rounds of Brinton Hall:

Last fall I was going flat out with my full scale version of this quilt. I already knew the pattern well, so I thought it would be doable in the allotted time. It will be awesome, I thought, to have both the big and little versions together in the show! Well, as I said in December, "Woman plans, God laughs."

Nevertheless, eventually I AM going to figure out a better ergonomic approach to hand stitching, so this is all packed away until then.

And my machine sewing projects are really coming together. The centre of Allietare is down to four pieces:

This is my "quadrants" strategy for a diagonal-set quilt. No seam is longer than 5 blocks. I plan to fussy cut the borders, so there is still a way to go.

Then those muscles were getting sore, so I decided it was time to finish quilting the border on Hen Party:

You can still see the shadows of the previous straight line quilting that puckered so badly. It took me weeks to unpick it, months of dithering, and one day to quilt it again! I like this fat, free form stipple a lot better. And, I think I've finally got the hand/eye/foot coordination figured out for free motion quilting. No stitch regulator here!

In my stash I had a striped fabric that I knew would be perfect for the binding. It ties together all the main colours of the quilt:

Imagine my dismay when I pulled the piece out of the box, and it fell apart! I thought I had yardage, but in fact I had three fat quarters left over from kits. But nothing else works as well, so I'm piecing it all together. This binding will be machine sewn.

The binding on my Cardinal Stars quilt, however, is still only half done:

This was about one quarter sewn when I wrecked my back, and there is no way to switch to machine stitching it now. Long sessions with it have proven too painful. Now I'm thinking that maybe if I set myself to do no more than two threads a day, I will eventually get it done.

In any case, Allietare is going well, Hen Party is finally going well, other projects to be updated separately are all going well, so it's not like this focus on machine sewing is a big sacrifice. My tentative plan for my summer break is to put new effort into figuring out machine applique, both raw edge and turned. But for now, I have plenty to do.  :D

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Flamingos en Provence Flimsy

Yesterday I sewed the last long seam to finish the pieced centre of my version of Bonnie Hunter's 2016 mystery quilt, En Provence (now available to buy as a digital pattern, right here). Bonnie's quilt has 16 blocks, and I simplified it to nine:

Since I still wanted a bed sized quilt, my plan was to sew a pieced border that would transition to my flamingo feature fabric from Iza Pearl. I carried the cornerstone diamonds out into the low volume border:

The diamonds were outlined with one of the flamingo collection fabrics, a leafy green blender. I love how it looks in the photo above, but it did get lost a little when I sewed on the final wide border today:

Flamingos en Provence flimsy, 86" x 86" (218 x 218 cm)

I do kind of wish now that I had made it full size, with all sixteen green blocks and less border. But, I just have a few strings left from my two main white fabrics, so it's done! And I like it.

Huge thanks to Bonnie for another great mystery! And thank you to all the other mystery participants too -- this year I picked up a few good ideas from other quilters in the link up:

  • Let the seam allowances go the way they want. A couple of Allietare makers said this last year too, but this is the first time I tried it. It is much easier and faster to just twist the seam allowances as needed so they all butt together.
  • Sew in quadrants. When you sew together the quilt in four quadrants, and then join them at the end, there is only ever one long seam. That made it easier and faster, and it's going to be a big help as I finish Allietare, too.
  • Count down the pieces. A couple of quilters counted down how many pieces they had left to sew, until the whole thing was in one piece. I thought that would be motivating, and it was! When there are a lot of pieces, the seams are short, so it feels like fast progress. And when the seams get longer, you are also down to the last 20 or 15 or 10 pieces, and the end is in sight. Worked for me!

So, I'm thrilled to be done pretty much on schedule. I had hoped to be done by the end of January for OMG, but my fall back position was always Bonnie's final link up in February. It'll start on Monday, right here.

To see all my previous posts on this project, please click here.

And now I am done with schedules for the year! But the list is still long -- Allietare, Hanami and Hen Party are my first priorities, and my next "new" quilt is still going to be Prairie Star, with new improved fabrics and hopefully, better feng shui. Stay tuned!

Monday, February 6, 2017

Still Sewing

I fully expected to log on this evening and see everyone's finishes for Bonnie Hunter's 2016 mystery quilt, En Provence. But the link up's not there! Just as well, because I'm not finished yet anyway. Perhaps Bonnie was distracted by the epicness of this year's Super Bowl! For some reason, I kept watching even when it was clearly over, and I was glad I did! What a game.

Since I'm late with En Provence anyway, today I decided to pull out Allietare and see how it looked. It was still in blocks, which was worse than I thought. But now it looks like this:

This is three large sections laid out together. Mine seems to be more red than many of the others I've seen. Those red Kaffe Collective fabrics really glow! The black stars will be 5 x 5, so you can see I'm almost halfway already. I've realized that I don't need to iron every seam as I sew, and that has sped things up remarkably.

It was also interesting to compare Allietare with En Provence:

About half the whites are the same in each project, and it does give them a similar feel. Plus I put a bluish constant fabric in the background of both, so that ties them together too.

I'm thrilled with them both, so I'm not complaining! But next time (yes, I'm already thinking about the next one), I'll have to try something different.

En Provence is currently in 23 pieces, so it's still coming along. That's the centre block plus sashing in the photo above. Shouldn't be tooo much longer!
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