Showing posts with label English Paper Piecing. Show all posts
Showing posts with label English Paper Piecing. Show all posts

Sunday, April 17, 2016

All Together Now

Earlier this month I sewed the last two long rows on my Texas Star quilt. Now all 333 stars are joined together:

The bright sun seems to wash out the colours a bit, but I thought it would be a good plan to take a photo before the weeds and ants take hold again on the patio!

I still plan to applique a narrow white border to even out the edges. But it is a nice milestone to get the English Paper Piecing part of the project done. There are around 3200 pieces -- I added it up once, but lost the paper the math was on! By some EPP standards, that is not a lot, but, it's plenty for me! I am glad to have this part done. To see all the posts on Texas Star so far, please click here.

Now I can re-focus on finishing the setting for Best Friends Forever, which is also EPP. Of the 22 BFF blocks, 8 are done...

...and another 4 or 5 are almost done. They are hard to photograph! I have not really looked at this project for about a year now. Seeing it with fresh eyes, I am very happy with how it looks so far. I'd forgotten how pretty the stitcheries are!

Remember this fabric that I bought after Christmas? I was going to cut it up and use it for the pieced background for BFF. But, I've changed my mind on that, again.

Now, for sure, I am going to piece the background with scrappy prints -- mainly light green, and a little pale blue and yellow thrown in.

Each flower block will need 24 scrappy kite shapes to turn it into a large hexagon. It sounds like a lot, but it is actually a simpler plan than some of the ones I've considered!

I know you will laugh, but I've also been considering making this quilt larger. The complete BFF pattern set has 32 stitcheries, and I didn't stitch them all. Since I've decided to make the background scrappy, the project is more scalable, and I may embroider a few more.

To see the posts so far on Best Friends Forever, including all the stitcheries, please click here.
We have company coming this Sunday, but I am still going to try to squeeze in a little sewing on BFF. Maybe start a new stitchery? We'll see. In the meantime, you can see what everyone else is doing for Slow Sunday Stitching right here.

We have just a few flowers in the garden now, but in a week there should be lots more. Enjoy your weekend!

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

What I Did This Summer

...And What I Didn't...

This foundation-pieced pine cone was designed by Cyrille Zellweger, who has an Etsy shop full of cute camping-themed paper piecing patterns. I bought several of them last fall...

...and promised myself that I would make them this summer. Full of enthusiasm, I started the pine cone right after my last post in June. I'd really enjoyed all the paper piecing I'd done previously, so I thought I would take it to the next level. My plan was to make the entire project with fabric by Art Gallery, which is really beautiful -- lightweight and with a high thread count. And it is great for paper piecing. The only problem... that they seem to have banned forest green from their production line. So that didn't work, but fortunately I still had a lot of my trusty Kaffe Aboriginal Dots in forest green left over from Sedona Star 1.0. I used that in the first photo above, and also in my second block:

You can also see that I used a medium scale modern print for the aqua sky. The colour in the pine cone photo is more accurate. It was an experiment, but I think it worked quite well.

But, even though they didn't take too long and all the problems were solved, I lost interest at that point. The thing I like best about paper piecing is the rhythm of sewing all those points. You can pre-cut your strips, and just sew -- light, dark, light, dark. When I looked at the rest of the blocks, I could see that every piece was a different size, and that templates would probably be needed, and it looked more like stop-and-go city driving than driving on the freeway. So I put it aside. I'm not saying I won't go back to it, but it wasn't the big summer project that I planned.

The big event in Toronto this summer was the Pan Am/Parapan Games. Although I didn't seek them out, the Games still found me. Near the end of the last week I was driving home from the grocery store, far from any of the venues, when I passed a couple of cyclists from Chile dressed from head to toe in their team colours. They caught up to me at a red light, and I could see that they were having a fantastic time, laughing and smiling from ear to ear. Toronto cyclists are not usually that happy, lol. It was like seeing a couple of flamingos among the pigeons, and a very nice moment.

It was also in July that I became very motivated to work on Texas Star again. Surprised me! After reading EPP guru Karen's blog for a while, I noticed that she sections her large quilts in rows, and then joins the wide rows at the end. My diamond section experiment was a total failure, but I decided to try Karen's approach. So far it's been a lot easier to manage, and I now have 245 of the stars joined up:

That's 99 more than last time, and there are just 88 left now. Isn't it funny how the numbers keep working out?

In my Summer Break post I thought I might work on Down in the Garden (DitG), Jacks and Cats, and Best Friends Forever (BFF) over the summer, but I've done very little on any of them. I think I need to pack DitG away for a while, because I've totally run out of steam on it. I may still pick up Jacks this fall. BFF is on hold until Texas Star is done, and I'll probably be happy to get back to it by then. I'm embarrassed to say that I still haven't bound those Homegrown placemats, but at least the potholders are done:

I really like them, actually, they're like fun little mini quilts.

And, over the next three Fridays I have three finished flimsies to show you, starting with Collector. I was hoping to bring that up to five, but I promised myself that I would make a big push to get some things quilted this fall, so that's a higher priority. But then again, after less than a week of catching up in Blogland, I was captured by the Ad Hoc Improv Quilter's link up that Ann and Kaja are starting. I knew immediately what I wanted to make for that! And then the next day this order of Laura Gunn's Painters Canvas, for a completely different project, arrived in the mail:

It is awesome, so you can understand how I am torn between too many options.

I know it seems like I am picking up right where I left off before the summer, but the long break from blogging was actually very helpful, and I will probably do it again next year. It gave me chance to step back and gain some perspective on all my projects. I'm tired of working on ideas that are three or four years old, or more, so I'm very motivated to clear out some old UFOs this fall, and get more current with my projects. We'll see how it shakes out!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Summer Break

Now that all the birdhouses are done for Down in the Garden, I've been picking up a few of my other projects. Yesterday I finished up the piecing on this block of Best Friends Forever:

Although it's pretty cold today, on hot days it's nice to work on smaller, individual blocks like this, so I think I'll be doing more of them over the summer.

I also think that I'm going to unplug this summer, and take a blogging break. The last day of school was this week, and I've been reminiscing about how nice it was to look forward to a completely unstructured summer. I also remember that I used to go home with as many library books as I could! These days I'd rather stitch than read, but I still have a big line up to keep me busy.

Last winter there was steady, behind-the-scenes progress on Jacks and Cats:

All the wool felt pieces are sewn together, and I'm currently working on the back stitched lines for the teeth. The oval Jacks pumpkins will get their stems, vines and leaves once they are appliqued onto the blocks. I'd like to be well along on this by Halloween, although I doubt it'll be finished.

For Slow Stitching Sunday today, I'm going to put a few more stitches in this Dimensions Gold cross stitch design, A Kiss for Snowman:

This one will be finished soon -- just a few more stitches in the background, and all the outlining left to do.

In all the chaos with the basement flooding (we had three floods total last month), some of my new fabrics have been sitting on my sewing table, waiting for things to settle down. Tempting me. Eventually I started cutting them up:

They are the two new summer collections from Connecting Threads, Island Hopping and Batik Paradise. I thought they would be perfect for the cover quilt on Carrie Nelson's book, Schnibbles Times Two, which I've been wanting to make for ages. I put together a few rows, just to see how it works...

With the crosses and the Hawaiian-themed fabric, I'm calling the quilt "Aloha Kisses," The white fabric is from Northcott. Around here it is the same price as Kaufman Kona solids, and I actually like it better. It is smoother, the thickness of the threads is very consistent, and it has a dense, higher thread count that makes it stable and easy to sew. I am very happy with it!

And, of course, Down in the Garden still has plenty of work left to do. Here's the first of those dratted butterflies:

They're a trial, but I know they'll be worth it. They'll probably end up as the key feature of the whole quilt.

So, I don't think I'll have time to be bored this summer! But, I'm not going to schedule anything. And who knows, there may be more new projects as well. Like the kids, I'll be back for sure after Labour Day. If the finishes really pile up (she says optimistically), maybe you'll see me sooner. Our basement problems are half fixed, so there's still plenty left to do there as well.

Anyway, I hope everyone has a great summer (or cozy winter if you are down under)! I'll still be around and answering email if anyone needs me. Take care!

Monday, March 30, 2015

MCH Month 3 Finished

Probably for the first time ever, I have finished a block in the same month that it was released! This is Month 3 of Lynette Anderson's 2015 BOM, My Country House. Of course it helps that it was the easiest month so far, and I simplified it further:

Instead of piecing the heart, I just fussy cut it whole from the same red fabric that I used for the house door in Month 1.

I've had the stems sewn down for over two weeks, but then I waffled quite a bit about how to sew down the hexie flowers. Click the photo to see it larger:

I pieced the flowers with 100 wt silk thread, which is completely invisible. But it felt wrong to use the same invisible thread to applique them down. So I had three options:

  1. Sew down the flowers invisibly with the 100 wt silk.
  2. Use cotton thread for the applique, same as the stems and heart. But, should I then change colours for the coral and orange hexagons?
  3. Use perle cotton and a running stitch for the applique, same as I did for Jacks and Cats. But what colour should that be? Yellow, orange, coral, or even black?

I do not believe that an invisible applique stitch is the only right way to applique. Rather, I think it depends on the type of project and how it will be used. In this case there will be a lot of wool applique, which I like to whip stitch down with a single thread of embroidery floss. And I appliqued the stems with cotton and a regular, visible applique stitch, so they would relate to the leaves.

Finally I chose to use pink perle cotton and a running stitch to applique the flowers. I had some size 8 perle cotton in my stash, so I used that, but ideally I think a narrower size 12 would be better. I think the pink blends well with the coral and orange, and it will look nice as a big stitch quilted detail on the heart, once I get that far.

I also waffled about whether to stitch the vein on the leaves, because that is a big commitment for the 48 leaves still to do in Month 2. But, since I went with the perle cotton on the flowers, I decided it would be a nice touch for the leaves. Fortunately, I had the perfect colour in my stash! It is also size 8, DMC 580 perle cotton, and back stitch. And it didn't take long at all.

At 3/4 scale, I was just able to squeeze the 40.5" block into one width of fabric. I still need to finish the trees on Month 1, and then I'm going to move ahead to all the pieced blocks. There's a postage stamp border between Month 1 and Month 2, and I have the idea that it will be more efficient to make the stamps from the leftovers of the pieced blocks. I'm not sure it really is efficient, but I will try!

Thursday, March 12, 2015

Final Line Up for BFF

Last time I posted about Best Friends Forever, I said that 23.5 of the stitcheries were done. Before I did the final wash and cut, I decided to finish up that last ".5:"

And it's a good thing I did! Look what happened here:

I used the acrylic cutting guide from Paper Pieces to centre each stitchery on the 3.5" hexagons I'm using for the setting. It turns out that these two motifs, the basket and the house, were printed too close together. It's the only place I had this problem for the whole quilt -- usually there was 1/2" or more in between.

I'm not upset, because I wasn't a big fan of the basket anyway. When I stitched it I worried that it was too big, which it isn't. But I guess I knew something was wrong!

I always wash my finished stitching (cross stitch too) in plain unscented dish soap (environmentally friendly) to get out any oil or dirt. It works great, and I've never had any colour run. The linen was hung to dry, and then ironed from the back on a clean pressing cloth:

Cute, eh? Even the grunt work has been fun on this project.

Then all the motifs were cut, backed with muslin, and basted to the big paper hexagons:

I miss stitching these, actually. It was fun to come up with different stitches and colours for each one. The stitching for Down in the Garden, which I'm doing now, is not as challenging and is starting to feel dull. I may need to add something else to the mix!

Anyway, here's a reminder of how the BFF setting works:

As fun and exciting as this all looks, I'm not sure I can work on this and Texas Star at the same time without a total English paper piecing overload. And I've kind of set myself a schedule for Texas Star... So it may be a while before you see any more.

Finally, one problem I often have with internet photos is that you lose the sense of scale. So, here's a last photo with one BFF block, one Texas Star, and one of the hexie flowers from My Country House:

Is it different than you thought? They are 3.5", 5/8" and 1/2" hexagon centres, respectively. I should have put a ruler in the photo too. Anyway, lots to do!

Monday, March 9, 2015

Country Flowers

Although I've been quiet for a couple of weeks, I'm still sewing! A little here, a little there. Here's a preview with the two kinds of flowers for the TQS 2015 BOM, My Country House by Lynette Anderson.

The "fried egg" flowers are felted wool from Wooly Lady. I love the colours! Felted wool is my big secret plan to minimize the difficulty, especially with the 3/4 scale, and stay on schedule with this BOM. All the critters will be wool.

The hexies are 1/2", which I decided would be the best fit for my smaller scale version of the quilt. The coral and orange fabrics are long time stash inhabitants, and the yellow and green are both fairly new Quilter's Candy Basics from Connecting Threads. There will be a lot of CT fabrics in this quilt. They seem to match the simple feeling that I want for this project.

Month 3 will probably be the first month to be completely finished. I plan to make good progress this week!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Texas Star Schedule

Paulette made me laugh, somewhat hysterically, the other day when she asked her readers if we were ahead of schedule on any of our projects. We all know I am not good with schedules!

But my one successful schedule so far was completing all the individual stars for this project, Texas Star. Since then I have been sewing them together, on and off, and I have a good sense now of what is involved. So, a couple of weeks ago I did set up another schedule to get them all sewn together.

Here's my progress so far, the first 99 of the 333 total stars:

My plan is to add 12 stars per week, which should see them all joined by the second week of July. It seems far away now, here in the deep freeze, but the key to success is to make the schedule really easy. A few stars here and there in my spare time at the end of the day.

I have been really surprised by how soft the top feels! It's difficult to photograph "softness," but I've been trying:

I've realized that it's the English paper piecing that results in such a soft, smooth surface, because all the seams are left open:

Wrong Side
English paper piecing is definitely much slower than regular hand piecing, but I am so impressed with the result! I had been thinking that Best Friends Forever, which will also be English paper pieced, would be my last project using that technique. But now I think the door is open to another one, down the road!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Near the End on BFF

At the end of Ink Week, one thing that became clear to me was that I was ready to close out my current stitchery project, Best Friends Forever by Rosalie Quinlan. Now that all the individual stars are finished for Texas Star, I am also ready for my next English paper piecing project, which is going to be the setting for BFF. So I have two strong reasons to finish the stitchery portion of this project!

Today I have just finished the telephone, which is part of a motif from Month 6, and I'm about to turn on the tv and backstitch all the lettering while I catch up on a few episodes of CBC's Strange Empire.

Since it's Sunday and I haven't linked to Slow Stitching Sunday in ages, I thought I'd do that too! Recently it's seemed like Sundays have been a good day to devote to the sewing machine, but today I'm going to kick back. Plus, I'm keen to finish this up now!

The original, eight-month Block of the Month had 32 hexagon motifs. As I'm not doing them all, a smaller but still nice layout will be 22 hexagons, roughly like this:

Including the telephone, I need three more, so that's the plan for the next while. My cross stitch snowman is back on hold, by the way. My cross stitching neurons are rusty, and I was making mistakes all over because I was rushing it. BFF may not be Christmas-y, but it will sure feel like a nice gift to get this phase of the project done!

Thursday, December 4, 2014

333 Finished Stars

Yesterday I finished the last star for my Texas Star quilt:

I decided to use this low volume print, called "Warm Wishes," for my last three stars. As I got to the end I realized that I had some of my least favourite fabrics left, and I thought the last star should be nicer. I had a strip of this set aside for the binding of Mod Trips, so I cut it up and used it here instead. Against the white background they will almost disappear, and I like the idea of a few "ghost" stars among the rest.

I've been adding three background diamonds to most of the stars as I sewed:

Now I can sew the stars together without the boredom of all the white pieces. I've already made a start:

Back in August I made myself a schedule of six stars per week, in order to finish them all this year. I am so pleased that I have managed to stick to it! Some weeks I was ahead of schedule, and some weeks I had to catch up, but in the end I am right on time. If you missed some of the Ticker photos, here they all are again:

In the new year I may make another schedule for the rows, but I'll see how that looks after the holidays. After working on these for so long, it feels a little empty to think they are all done. I'll have to regroup a little now, and think about what the next big project will be. I put aside the baskets in order to finish these, so I may go back to those. We'll see!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

100 to go!

First, I want to say thank you to the Slow Stitching group over at Kathy's Quilts. What a warm welcome! It is nice to have the extra encouragement (in addition to my wonderful regular supporters), when all my projects are such long hauls. :D

If you missed the finish on the stitchery project I showed two weeks ago, it is here. And the second motif, which I was just starting two weeks ago, is finished here. I just made it under the deadline for that one! This one will be next:

But today's post is about my ongoing Texas Star English Paper Piecing project. I started it back in October 2012, and work has been sporadic. I've been keeping track of my progress with the "Texas Star Ticker" in the right sidebar. Then last week I cut the rest of the gold squares for the middles:

About 120 x 2" squares

It is amazing how hopeful I felt with those squares cut! I felt like a horse that perks up when it smells home. And felicitously, this batch of five stars brings the total to 233:

Which means there are just 100 to go!!

Some of you may have wondered where the plan for 333 stars came from. Well, I wanted a quilt that would finish at about 60" x 80", and I thought it would be easier to sew the stars together in diamond-shaped blocks, and then sew the blocks together. I drew up a complicated plan:

And when I counted up how many stars I would need, it came to exactly 333! So obviously, it had to be. I am pretty sure that "333" will be the title of the quilt when it's done. The complicated plan, though, has been abandoned, because with all the points the blocks are just too hard to manage. I will start at the bottom, add each randomly selected star one at a time, and build up row by row.

According to my Daytimer, there are 143 days left this year. 100 stars, 143 days, it should be doable, and I am going to make a push! Also according to my Daytimer, today is the 222nd day of the year. Cool, eh?

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Another Time Out

Well, I have another busy time coming up, so I'll be taking another break from blogging, likely until May. Yes, there's another hospital visit in my future, but no, nothing risky is going on, and I'm looking forward to feeling much better when it's all done.

I don't know if there will be much stitching time over the break, but I thought I'd tease you with some photos of a completely new project, that you may not see again for months. I know that's not fair! But it's just so pretty, isn't it?

The fabric is Flight Patterns by Tamara Kate:

That's all I'll say on that for now, except that since I've been inspired by the watercolour effects in the fabric, these...

...will also be unwrapped later this year. See you in May!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

L'Herbier Applique

The day after my last post, I did take a run at the applique on my new project L'Herbier, and I was quite pleased with the result, but I didn't take any photos of the process. Yesterday I did a second one, and I think I got carried away with the photos! But, I have never seen this exact combination of techniques anywhere else, so I might as well show all the details. Be warned, this will be a long post!

First, why am I going to all this trouble? There were quite a few considerations:
  1. Some of the embroidery that will go in the circles is quite heavy, with beads, etc. So, a backing is required. 
  2. I decided on a muslin backing because a) I prefer not to use a fusible stabilizer in a piece that I want to last a long time, and b) with my chemical sensitivities I need to wash everything before I work with it, so nothing with a lot of starch or sizing would work.
  3. The kit came with just the bare minimum of fabrics for the circles, and then I had to wash it as well. So I really couldn't do the embroidery without sewing it into the blocks first, because the pieces would be too small to hoop, and finishing the edges to prevent fraying would leave them even smaller.

These light card 5" circles from Paper Pieces, one of my favourite stores, are what made this whole idea come together. Although the circles in the pattern are about 5.5", I reduced them slightly to 5" so that I would have a comfortable seam allowance to work with.

To help centre the circle on the four patch blocks, I started by carefully pinching the four compass points on the circle.

Then I used a hole punch to make holes for the pins to go through later.

For the fabric, I cut 6" squares of both the top fabric and the muslin lining.

The top fabric and the muslin are layered together, and the prepared circle is lined up so the folds follow the grain line. Lining up the grains is not strictly necessary, but it seems to follow naturally from the process, so I thought I may as well do it.

To start the basting, I took at tack stitch at one of the folds in the paper, and then ran a loose running stitch through both layers of fabric, but not through the paper, about 3/16" outside the edge of the circle. I made a second tack through the paper at the next fold, and pulled the running stitch tight to gather it around the paper.

Here's a close up of the basting. On my first circle I used some old polyester thread for the basting, but I found that it was too stretchy to hold the two layers of fabric firmly. This time I went with the same strong cotton quilting thread I used for my yoyos (embarrassingly long ago).

Here you can see that the only threads visible on the front of the circle are the tack stitches at each fold. I continued with the running stitch and tacks at each fold all the way around.

Now the basting is finished. I leave the wide seam allowances in place until after I take the circle to the ironing board and steam press a crisp edge all the way around. That way I don't burn my fingers!

After ironing I trim the seam allowance down to about 3/8". After the applique is finished I will trim it again to about 3/16".

Then I repinch the fold lines at the compass points to help position the circle on the block. Even though the paper has been ironed, it "remembers" the original folds.

The folds at the compass points are lined up with the seams in the block background.

The circle is pinned down through the holes that were punched in the paper circle. You can feel them through the fabric, so you know where to put the pins.

Now I was finally able to sew! I was careful to catch both the top fabric and the muslin in the applique stitches. I admit it was heavy going!

I used 50 wt cotton sewing thread and a Clover embroidery needle for the applique. I have been using an embroidery needle for all my heavier English Paper Piecing, such as the Best Friends Forever blocks. I find it is easier to thread, easier to hold, and sharp and strong enough to pierce several layers of fabric.

In this photo you can just see the line of applique stitches around the edge of the circle. When the stitching is finished I trim away the backing fabric behind the circle. That's when it's particularly nice to have the cardboard in there, so you don't cut through the top fabric!

The backing is trimmed to about a 3/8" seam allowance. There was a lot of bulk in the seam allowance, so I graded it by trimming the muslin and top fabrics down to 3/16". It lies wonderfully flat!

The paper circle, though, is completely mangled by the time you are done. Most of the damage is done by the steam iron, but I like using the steam so the fabric edge stays crisp while you applique

The final test will be to see how the block holds up for the embroidery. That's next! I want to make sure it's all good before I prepare any more blocks.

Now, what do you think I should do with these?:

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