Showing posts with label Jacks and Cats. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Jacks and Cats. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Enough for Now

So yes, they're very cute, but I think that my Hallowe'en diversion with Jacks and Cats is over for now. It is just over six weeks until the next Bonnie Hunter mystery, and before that

At least I finished up all 55 of the wonky nine patches I planned for Jacks and Cats...

...and that feels like a natural stopping point. They will be trimmed to different sizes depending on where they end up in the quilt. Next time I open the box, I will have to finalize my plan for the applique. Right now that still feels tricky, so it's back to the basement for this project!

Technicolor Turkey is going really well, and I'm feeling good about that. And about 20 months after I bought it, I've finally realized that I don't like the fabric I bought for my Allietare border. New fabric is on the way! So I'm hoping that will be an easy finish now too.

With the year end approaching, my list of 2017 finishes is feeling too short. I'll have to see what I can do about that!

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Feels like Fall!

Well, the season has finally turned here in Ontario. Even though the colours have not been the best this year, I still love all the gold undertones in the leaves, contrasted against the grey sky. I've been contemplating this colour scheme for Bonnie Hunter's next mystery, but I'll wait until she reveals her colours before I make up my mind. I still think blue & white is a good idea too...

But anyway, Technicolor Turkey is well in hand, so I felt like I could take a break and pull out my old Hallowe'en UFO, Jacks and Cats. I need 55 wonky nine patches for the alternate blocks and pieced border. I'm making them in pairs:

And I've been rediscovering a lot of interesting fabrics in that box! Love those sunflowers above. These oak leaves on the right are terribly dated, but I do still like them. Back in the spring another quilter expressed surprise that I have fabrics from the 90s in my stash. And I was surprised that she was surprised! But I was thinking today that the 90s were 20 years ago, so maybe I am a little out of touch. :D

All the blocks are still waiting for their final trim, but I made reasonable progress today:

I have no illusions that I'm going to finish this quilt this year, but it will be nice to move it along. I've changed my mind several times about how to handle the applique blocks, and more experimentation is necessary. In the meantime, I can play around a little more with these blocks. I think I will give them a little extra improv treatment.

And once these blocks and the border are done, there really will be no more excuses for avoiding the applique.

Plenty to do!

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!

Saturday, December 20, 2014

2014 Year in Review

I was going to do this after Christmas, but yesterday I noticed that the new moon and the winter solstice coincide this year, so now is the time to put the old year to bed, and then make Christmas the celebration of new beginnings that it is meant to be.

So I'm back! Last year Toronto fibre artist Kit Lang did a wonderful post reviewing her projects and learnings from the past year. I believe that improvement, whether you are an artist or an artisan, requires regular reflection and adjustments, so I decided then that I would do something similar this year. Here are the highlights of what I've learned in 2014.

I'd been stressing about UFOs for years, and last January's resolution was to cut them all loose. Clean slate, start over.

Well, it was easy to say, hard to do. All my old projects crept back on the list.

My final thought is that it's like gardening -- cutting away the dead wood makes the whole plant healthier, but over pruning can be equally bad. The trick is balance,

In May I got a new sewing machine, the Brother Nouvelle 1500s high speed, single stitch machine. What a difference it's made!

I've never thought that it's reasonable to spend thousands of dollars on fancy gadgets for a hobby, but I can feel my opinion changing on that. I'm finding that better equipment gives a better result, and makes the process a lot more enjoyable as well.

Also in May, I was able to get this project, It's Warm Inside, from start to finish in about 3 weeks. That was the fastest I've ever done anything quilty! It broke down some mental barriers for me about starting and finishing in a timely manner.

Why was this one so easy to finish?
1. I had all the materials ready to go.
2. It was just 16 blocks, so there was no time to get bored.
3. I planned and cut the whole quilt before I started to sew. Then I wasn't slowed down by decision making during construction.

No, it's still not quilted, but I count it as a success nevertheless!

Mod Trips
Finishing those 16 log cabin blocks empowered me to get back to these Scrappy Trips blocks that I'd started in 2013. You could say they were a UFO whose time had finally come!

I applied what I'd learned. Rather than choosing, ironing and cutting fabrics for the blocks one at a time, I chose and cut everything for the rest of the quilt in one go. This streamlined the process, and it helped me make better choices, because I could see how everything worked together.

Even still, it was a grind to get the 25 blocks done. I think my threshold is around 20 blocks!

On the other hand, the two pillow covers I made from the leftovers were really fun. I think I liked the puzzle of how to fit them all together. That's something I plan to do again!

Over the summer I also put myself on a schedule to finish my "forever project," Texas Star. The schedule was easy, just six stars per week, and it worked.

I had to put my other forever project, Trick or Treat baskets, on hold while I finished Texas Star. Then, as I was finishing up Mod Trips above, I came to a big realization. It's not enough for a project to be interesting, I also need to have an emotional connection with it. Mod Trips is nice enough, and I'm happy it's done, but it's all intellectual.

And the baskets will be the same thing, too much head, not enough heart. I like the grey colour scheme and the fabrics intellectually, but I don't love them. I may start it again down the road in different fabrics, but this version is definitely dead.

Although it's nowhere near finished, this new project Jacks and Cats was still an important lesson. I learned that it is good to have a big stash.

I hear the groans! Over a year ago I resolved to only buy fabric for specific projects, and to stop buying just for stash. But I've changed my mind.

What I've found is that when inspiration strikes, it is very helpful to be ready to go. I bought the magazine and started this project on the same day. The whole thing flowed together beautifully, and it was super fun to be able to ride that initial wave of inspiration. For me, I think that's the best way to work.

Yes, I'm a little worried that now the brakes are off the shopping cart, but actually, I've bought less fabric recently.

Ink Week Finale

November's lesson was about the importance of the blogging community. Really, it should be whole separate post, but I'll just keep going here.

I am so appreciative of all you, bloggers, readers, and commenters, for the support, encouragement and inspiration you provide!!

My project Down in the Garden, had been languishing with just a few of these herb pots done, when I noticed that Kaaren at The Painted Quilt had started it too. She encouraged me to get back to it, and crucially, added my blog to her blog list.

That's so important, because I can see the traffic coming in from her blog, and it's very motivating. It is very helpful to borrow someone else's confidence when your own is flagging! It gave me the encouragement I needed to just go for it with Ink Week.

Then Mary Corbet recommended the series, and sent a huge spike in traffic my way. But, right between parts 3 and 4, a family emergency briefly knocked things askew. Once again, it was knowing that people were watching and waiting for the rest of the series that got me back on track and helped me to finish. And I'm so happy I did, because it turned out even better than I'd hoped!

So, when I say that I appreciate you all, it's not empty words. I really mean it! You make me better. Thank you!

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Jacks and Cats Progress

There's been progress on many fronts on my Jacks and Cats Halloween quilt. Last time I showed you all the felted wool cats glue basted and ready to sew. Now they are all sewn together and ready for the next step. Somehow the stitching makes them even cuter!

I've also prepped the pumpkins (Jacks). At the end I had an extra set of eyes! I guess the cyclops pumpkins threw off my count:

I remembered early on that the Roxanne Glue-Baste-It is not enough to hold everything together while I stitch, especially since I don't like to use too much. So you can see that I've added a few basting stitches as well. The pumpkin stems, vines and leaves can't be added until the faces are stitched onto the backgrounds.

Speaking of backgrounds (nice segue, eh?), I've sewn eight of the fifteen circles:

I really like those moody dark ones!

After the circles, the next layer is a wonky starburst, which I decided to make from my fall coloured homespuns. They are horrible to work with! Too loose and stretchy by half. But, they do look pretty nice:

I thought these stars would be the perfect opportunity to try out some running stitch applique:

I first saw this technique in Piece O'Cake's book, Applique with Attitude, and I've been waiting several years now to try it. It is stitched with #12 perle cotton, the edges are turned, and the inner corners all have a little crow's foot to hold them down. I love the way it looks! Plus, it feels surprisingly sturdy, and I don't think it will fray. I won't be cutting away the background, though.

However, I still need more practice with it. My stitches got smaller, tighter, and closer to the edge as I went around the star. It was not an improvement! I will probably have to back out some of the last stitches.

Here's an idea of how it will all go together:

It's a bit of a fibre lover's dream, this quilt! The mix of textures, colours and patterns is very satisfying.

In all, I think I am still less than half way, but I'll probably pack it up for a while now. I think I've had my fill of fall colours, because for the past couple of days I've had the most incredible craving for flowers!

Monday, October 6, 2014

Making Cats

I can't seem to leave this new quilt, Jacks and Cats, alone! Today I was just going to cut out all the white smiles, when before I knew it I had all eight cat heads cut out as well:

Then I thought I may as well choose colours for the noses:

And, since I was that far, I should probably glue baste them together before I put them away:

Now I can sew the features down at my leisure, and backstitch the teeth.

The hand dyed felted wools are from Wooly Lady. The colours are beautifully saturated but still luminous. The fabric feels like blanketing, lighter than other felted wools I've tried, and a little fluffy after washing. The freezer paper patterns stayed on well, though. Overall, I am very pleased with them!

I also spent most of yesterday sorting and cutting fabrics for the wonky nine patches that go between the faces. It's been mind-boggling trying to keep it all balanced (but wonky!), and I don't think I'll know for sure how it's working until I start piecing.

I'm really enjoying the wide variety of fabrics and techniques on this project -- machine sewing, felt applique, and some hand applique still to come. It's keeping me motivated!

Friday, October 3, 2014

Making Eyes... you?

Here's looking at you, kid?

The eyes have it?

Billy Eye-dol?

Yes, it's been silly fun so far on my new Halloween quilt, Jacks and Cats. I made all the eyes with black felt pupils, instead of the satin stitch embroidery suggested in the pattern. I didn't want any white to show through, and I think it was about the same amount of work either way.

I will say that "easy and fun" changed into mindnumbing and dull about halfway through, but in the end I was surprised when they were all done.

Now I can start on the faces, which is when the fun will really start!

Friday, September 19, 2014

New Project - Jacks and Cats

A funny thing happened to me back in August, while I was working hard to stay on schedule with Best Friends Forever. I ran out of ideas! That's never happened to me before, and it was kind of disturbing, to be honest. I know it was rushing through the project that did it.

So since my last post I've been taking a break. On Wednesday my Mom and I went out to the mall, and I said we need to look at different things in different stores for a change. But of course I still bought three quilting magazines, including the latest AQS magazine and this one:

Primitive Quilts, Fall 2014
I keep saying this magazine, Primitive Quilts, is not my style, but somehow this is the third one in a row that I've bought! Then, since we were in the neighbourhood, we stopped at Art of Fabric and I bought a few fat quarters and a half metre of this, just as something useful for my stash:

At home I spread out my spoils and sat down to read my magazines. I love magazines, but I have been trying not to buy too many, because there is always a new project that I must make. Sure enough, when I opened the page to this project, it fell on fertile ground:

"Jacks and Cats" is a flannel lap quilt designed by Emily McGlothlen of The Little Red Hen. All the background fabrics are fairly dark, and if you squint your eyes all you can see are the white eyes and teeth of the cats and pumpkins. Click the photo to see it larger. I think it is genius!

I meant to say now that I intend to make the quilt pretty much as written, but I've realized that I've already changed quite a bit:

  • I scaled the blocks from 8" up to 9" to make it a bit larger
  • I changed all the fabrics
  • I changed the technique on the applique blocks
  • I changed the border
BUT, hopefully I've kept the spirit of the quilt the same, lol!

The pattern calls for 6 different shades of mostly solid orange flannel. I quickly realized that I might shop for months before I could find six different solid orange flannels, and I remembered some fall coloured plaid homespuns in my stash that I bought from Keepsake Quilting a couple of years ago. I was going to make these stuffed pumpkins, but I never did. A quilt will be better! In fact, almost all the materials will be repurposed from my stash. Instant gratification! 

I matched the homespuns with some co-ordinating quilting cottons:

I still had that black fabric out while I was playing with these, and I thought it would be really interesting to use it for the applique background, instead of the solid black in the pattern. So I had to buy another metre the next day. 

Actually, none of my fabrics will be solid! I'll use the leafy green Asian blender in the photo background for the inner border, and I'll have to piece the outer border.

The pattern calls for fusible machine applique, several layers of it, with a few hand stitched details on top. My hands hurt at the very idea of stitching through all that! Plus, I have some really nice felted wool in fall colours in my stash, from another unstarted project. So the faces will be felt applique, the stars underneath will be the homespuns, hand appliqued, and the circles under that will be quilting cotton, sewn into my new black fabric. At most there will only be three layers to sew through.

That gives me several new techniques to try with this quilt! I've already made a start on sewing in the circles:

I think the fabric mix will work! It looks like a harvest moon, doesn't it? And the black could be stars, or it could be spider webs. 

The circle is 8" across, and I used 32 pins to coax it into the background:

The AQS magazine I bought conveniently had a good tip for sewing curves. They suggest that you cut the curve that has to stretch, in this case the black, with pinking shears. Then you don't have to clip it:

It worked really well. My first one, the one above, came out nice and flat. The second one is never as good as the first one, I've noticed. Does that happen to you too? But I love the fabric:

Not much of the gold background will show once the applique is on, and I don't think it will detract from the glowing eyes. Plus, most of the rest of the circles will be quite dark. I'm really glad that the hardest part of the project, the sewn in circles, will be first, when my motivation is highest! After they're done, everything else will be easy.

I'm under no illusion that this will be done by Hallowe'en, but it is fun to work on a seasonal project in the right season, for a change. They say a change is as good as a break, and now I've had both!
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