Thursday, January 22, 2015

We had to take a trip to Jamestown yesterday, to pick up a quilt from the patchwork shop.  It's always dangerous when we go there, and this time I was determined to limit my buying to 4 FQs.  HAH! There were some remnants of batiks at $12 a metre, and Mereth & I fell in love with a big floral and each got 2m, plus some Jo Mortons.....  Well, it was only 5.5m in total, so if I get busy and make some backings I will remove that much from the stash easily.

We had a lovely time visiting with Elaine, the shop owner, and Sharon, a longtime customer of ours; it's so nice to spend time with people who 'get' what you do.  As I was leaving the shop (with my bag of goodies)  I told them about my 4 FQs intention, and they roared with laughter.  Seems like I was the only one who thought I would actually be able to stick to that.  And I was wrong.

After I'd finished a few chores at home I messed around with some trial blocks, because this year is going to be about more than just UFOs.  I've been wanting to do something with my cheddar/orange fabrics for a while, and the quilt Bonnie showed a couple of days ago might just be The One.
Super Simple, but fun too, and it would make an excellent Leader-Ender.  My red nine-patches are nearly all done, so I need something else.

I also have a preoccupation with tree quilts, and spied a pattern on Mereth's computer that appealed to me.  I made a trial block, and I'm still deciding if I want to go ahead with it straight away.  It's a lot of HSTs, made easier with the Accuquilt, but nevertheless, a lot of piecing per block.  It can sit on my design wall for a while, till I make my mind up.
Of course, the leftover madder stars are still on the design wall, but I'm not going to finish them right now.  I want to have a good rummage through the stash and make sure I pull out every large print that I could possibly use in these alternate blocks, and maybe make more stars.  This is going back in the project box for now; I love having a simple project like this up my sleeve, for those hectic times when I can't devote time to making decisions.

Then there are two batik quilts simmering in the background, as I try to choose which one to work on first for a quick finish.  Should I do a 16-patch, which is lightning quick, or a cross quilt like this? (Second part of tutorial here).  I may very well do both, but which one first?  I love this time of choosing what to do next, like hesitating with one hand over the chocolate box.  Whatever I choose, I'm going to enjoy it.

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Monday, January 19, 2015

Binding Blitz

I don't seem to have any trouble making tops, I happily churn them out one after the other.  Quilting them is difficult, mainly because of time constraints.  I could quilt several a week, if I had the time and the Statler was free.  I don't have that much free time though.  And then there's the binding.  I think I have about 9 quilts sitting around, just needing to be bound.  There's really no excuse for not doing that last step on a quilt, so this year I'm bound and determined to get them all totally finished.  Less than 1 a month, surely I can commit to that?  JulieK is hosting a Binding Blitz this year, so that should give me an incentive.

Last year I had visitors for Christmas, and floor space in my living room was really tight.  The Christmas tree had to go up, literally.

I covered the corner unit with a quilt, Stacked Album, and the tree went up on top of it.  It worked really well, looked very pretty at night with the lights lit, and we had more room to move around in.
Oh the shame!  This quilt has been waiting more than 6 years for a binding!  The binding is already made, so this will be the first one of 2015.  Two hours will see this completed.  I finished piecing this in December 2008, so it's very slack of me to have left it unfinished for so long.

The second binding will be this scrappy bar quilt, which I quilted during the early days of the Statler.
I think this yellow is so cheerful, and this will be my bed quilt for the next few months.  I need to go choose a binding from the yellow stash, and that makes me happy too.  Using up the stash and completing quilts, it's a great start to the year.

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Second top finished for the year. 

The good thing about working on UFOs is that some of the work is done already.   I had nearly half the stars made, and pieces cut out for many more.  So it's not like I made this top in just a few days, there was a lot of prep work already done.
I'm still really pleased with the setting.  I adore the quirkiness of most madder prints, but that can make them hard to use in a lot of quilts.  They can take over centre stage without any encouragement.  That big paisley in the centre is beautiful, but everything else takes a back seat to it.  I saw a photo of an antique quilt once, where there were so many huge madder prints it was chaos; I tried to replicate that feeling, but with a more controlled edge to it.
I wanted to go with a dark border, but the quilt kept saying 'No!' to everything I tried.  Instead of a heavy, dark quilt it's going to be a cosy autumn one.  I'm glad I listen to the quilt when it has something to say.

I have a lot of large madder prints, and there is another set of madder stars to use;  I don't think I will combine them in the same way as this one, but there will be big alternate squares.  I just love the look of this.


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Friday, January 16, 2015

For a long time Mereth tried to make me watch NCIS, but it just didn't really appeal to me.  My DD is a huge fan too, and she shared her collection of DVDs with Mereth;  I caved and borrowed them just for something to watch.  I'm enjoying the first series, and it's helping to keep me sewing hour after hour.  There are about 9 series, plenty of episodes to look forward to. And yeah, what's with Gibb's hair?

I'm working on some madder stars I started more than 10 years ago, just simple sawtooth stars. 
  I do love these madder prints, they are one of my favourite colour groups.

When I began them I used the four at a time method of making Flying Geese, which was accurate if a bit laborious at the trimming stage.  This time around I have the Bloc Loc ruler ( scroll down the page to find the Flying Geese rulers) and it's a breeze to trim the completed units.  I may never complain about Flying Geese again.

I googled the four at a time method to find a tutorial to link to, and all of the ones I found said to add 1 1/4" to the finished size triangles to get the large geese square, and add 7/8" for the small sky squares.  Now this is the formula for regular piecing, and my flying geese nearly always turn out  a bit hinky, so this leaves no room for trimming them down to size.  So I add 1 1/2" for the geese, and 1" for the sky squares.  Then I've got a little more fabric to play with, and I don't have to concentrate so hard to make them perfect.  The Bloc Loc ruler makes short work of trimming the completed units to the perfect size.

I originally made the Flying Geese with dark and light backgrounds, but I didn't have a plan to use them together.  I had some vague idea about a medallion, but nothing was inspiring me so I just chose to put the dark background ones together with sashing and alternate setting blocks.
It was a good way to pad out the blocks, I only had 18 to start with and I didn't fancy making a whole heap more.  This is a decent size quilt, but only took 42 6" blocks; this is a great setting to stretch a few blocks into a quilt, and it's fun to use big squares of favourite fabric as well.  It's nearly in one piece and I'll have photos of that tomorrow.  Then I will have to choose borders, which is usually a lengthy process around here.


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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Second week of January, and I have a finish.  That's a good way to start off the year, I hope I can keep it up.

 I love these colours together, and I still have enough left for another quilt.  I just hope I don't go and buy a whole heap more purple, just because I've whittled the stash down nicely.
It's better to be quilting than sewing a dog bed.
Dolly scritches around in her bed so much she ripped apart the mattress that was in there.
I finally took pity on her and made her a new mattress, out of strong cotton, and hopefully it will take a lot longer for her to destroy.
'That's better!'

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Wednesday, January 07, 2015

All the time I was making my Jarred Take A Wife blocks I had a nagging feeling that I was missing some purple fabric.  I had more than this, I kept thinking, but I couldn't find it so I resorted to raiding Mereth's stash, and buying several FQs. 
When all the blocks were done  I was worrying about what I could use for borders with such meagre pickings from the stash.  I resigned myself to a shopping expedition, when I happened to notice a box on top of the highest stash drawers. 


This is what I found; all the purples that I put aside for the project, including enough for a border.  Really, I need my head examined.  Why would I put fabric I knew I needed in a plastic container above eye level.  Out of sight, out of mind. And none of these made it into the blocks, which is annoying because there are some nice prints in there.
I decided not to have yellow sashing, it's so light and fresh with the white in between the blocks.  So there will be no shopping trip today, and I'd better get the borders on the quilt without any more prevarication.

It's cool and raining today, so lovely after the 40° scorching heat of yesterday.  I stayed in the air-conditioned shed for most of the day, but had to spend the evening in the hall because there was work to do.  It was still 35° at 9.30pm, perfectly horrid.  Poor Dolly was so hot; I draped her in a wet teatowel, kept the fan on her and sprayed her with cold water to keep her damp.  It worked, but she didn't like it one bit.

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Monday, January 05, 2015

My final figures for fabric usage in 2014 were:
Fabric bought;      138.1m
Fabric used;          170.15m
Total for the year; 32.05m

It's a good result, my stash shrank by 32 metres but I know I could have done better.  I had a lot of fun buying that 138 metres of fabric, and it certainly livened up the quilts I completed last year.  I don't want to limit my buying this year, but I want to use a lot more fabric. 

I'm going to have a backing and binding blitz for the tops I've already completed.  A lot of them do have backings stored with them, but many don't, so I want to go through the stash and see if I can get them all paired up with backings.  I like pieced backings, so it will be good to make some out of the smaller pieces in the stash.

I want to put aside bindings as well, I really love having the binding made and hanging in a bag with the top, it's one less job to tackle after the quilting.  And even if I change my mind, bindings never go to waste, I would just use it on another quilt.  It's only .5m for most quilts, so I can go through my regular stash and choose any half-metre that I'm not in love with, or has been hanging around too long.

I've been thinking about what I want my stash to look like at the end of the year;  I want lots more batiks, and more modern fabrics. 

This is my entire batik stash; not much, just two baskets, but once upon a time I had zero batiks, so I've come along since then.  My gosh though, it's expensive to build a stash from scratch!
I want lots more pretty colours, and not just the Reproductions that I love.  My stash used to contain a much wider variety of materials, and gradually it was pared down to just 1800s reproductions.  I don't mind that, I use them all the time, but I miss the pretty stuff, the things that I used to buy just because they made me smile. 

I think I'm going to have fun shopping this year, with an eye on expanding the variety in the stash drawers.  Maybe I should make this the year of Batiks!

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