A cautionary tale

I’ve often joked that if all else fails, I can at least serve as a warning to others. So here is my quilty cautionary tale of woe, much of which would have been avoided by listening to my gut right at the start.

I decided to sash my Kona Modern Quilts blocks individually, because I was worried about getting it all lined up and square with long lengths of sashing (ha! the irony!). I got the first strip of sashing sewn on, and my blocks looked like this:

(The top isn’t really wonky, it’s just the picture. The bottom, however, is). I contemplated trimming the sashing back to the edge of the main block, but thought better of it. Here’s what that overhang looked like close up:

“I’m sure I can fudge the seam allowance when I sew the next sashing strip on,” I thought. “It’ll be fine!”

Which is how I ended up with 77 seams that looked like this. So far, so reasonable. I got a bit cocky, thought I could wing it, failed. This is recoverable. But, you see, I was lazy. I decided I didn’t want to rip and re-sew 77 seams. I would just plough on. I could fudge it, it would all come out in the wash…

(It really is this wonky, it’s not just the picture). Which is how I ended up with blocks that look like this (these are edge blocks, hence missing a strip of sashing. All the middle blocks are like this too). At this point, the best I can hope for is ‘endearingly wonky’. Perhaps even ‘deliberately wonky in a modern sort of way’, given the fabric. I’m really hoping this doesn’t finish up looking like it was made by a four year old. Ooops!

In other news, I’d originally planned to make one big quilt from these, for a teen-ish boy. I thought they weren’t quite baby quilt colours. But now they’re coming together, they’re actually much brighter than I thought, and those pastel blue squares with the little circles really stand out. I have enough blocks to make two baby quilts, so I think that’s what I’ll end up doing. Here’s the original layout:

But that’s all for a fortnight. I’m off on my hols (finally!), spending the next two weeks looking at views not unlike this, eating lots of delicious French cheese and drinking delicious French wine. Can’t wait!

 

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a holiday whoop whoop!

Have you ever wondered…

… just how many scraps you can stuff into a flat-rate USPS box?

This many! Thank you, Laura Ann at Fuzzy Hat Quilter! I see a happy afternoon with the iron and cutting board in my future, turning that glorious pile into a rainbow of squares and strips for my scrap box 🙂

Sewing has been slow. It turns out this pesky ‘job’ thing is a real timesink. Who knew? I was away for work last week, and I knit when I travel, so just a very little progress to show on the Kona Modern Quilts quilt:

It took me an hour to press all those seams! An hour! I’ve got them all pinned again (that’s my pinning station, aka ironing board), ready to chain chain chain again tomorrow. Then I can start carefully crafting my ‘random’ square layout.

In other exciting news, I’ve signed up for my very first swap:

I Love Kona Charm Swap at Pile O' Fabric

Alyssa over at Pile o’Fabric is running the I Love Kona swap again, and I was lucky enough to snag a spot. All those gorgeous solids! I’m thinking a bow tie quilt, maybe…

Linking up with Plum and June’s Let’s Get Acquainted Monday Linkup, and SewHappyGeek’s Manic Monday linky party.

A little progress

I did, indeed, get my sashing cut for the Kona Modern Quilts quilt. I decided to cut sashing for each individual square, rather than using long strips. I was concerned I’d end up with squares out of alignment, from stretching or just plain inattention, if I used long strips of sashing. So then I spent what felt like all weekend pinning at my ironing board pinning station:

And today, lots of sewing. Very meditative, chaining piece after piece after piece…

I cut them apart this evening and stacked them all up (no pics, it’s dark), ready to press 88 seams and sew another piecing of sashing on the next side (tomorrow? Perhaps). And lo, I felt better for making tangible progress with something.

Happy mail never hurts, either 🙂 I got these pretty pretties in the mail from Miss Beau Jangles today, from the recent Back to School blog hop. The boyish quilt I’m making right now is from winnings, and is going to Project Linus, so I think these girlish fabrics will go with some others I have in the stash for another Linus quilt 🙂

Linking up with Manic Monday over at Sew Happy Geek.

Re-entry

Re-entry to work has been a little harder than I anticipated. In fact, it’s kicked my butt. I’m tired and sore and fairly stressed. The first two have put a major dent in my sewing time, while the last one means I need it all the more! Hopefully things are settling down now, between a new routine and new medication. Fingers crossed, eh?

I haven’t sewn much, but I have cut things out. First up, a t-shirt:

I got some inexpensive cotton jersey from good old Abakhan to fiddle around with this t-shirt pattern. Just two pieces, and it looks cute. I cut the pieces, then realise that stripes were perhaps not the best choice for a first go. The stripes match on one side, but not the other. Ooops! Nevermind, it will do for proof of concept. With any luck, I’ll sew it up this weekend.

I also cut out squares from my stack of Kona Modern Quilts:

I’m going to make a simple sashed square quilt. I think the fabric needs large, simple pieces, because they’re busy enough on their own. I briefly considered big equilateral triangles, but went with squares because it was the end of a long day and I had run out of brain. They’ll be sashed with Kona Ash (the background in the pic). I’ll get the sashing cut out today, I think.

And I got happy mail! I entered some giveaways in the recent ‘Back to School’ blog hop, and I won! In fact, slightly to my embarassment (I’m English, it’s a national sport), I won four! In no particular order, I won some buttons and floral fabrics from Miss Beau Jangles, and some scraps from The Fuzzy Hat Quilter, which I’ll post about when they get here. Two parcels arrived yesterday:

A pack of gorgeous hand-dyed fabrics from Vicki Welsh. They’re so pretty! I’m contemplating what to do with them. They might become lovely fish swimming in a blue sea – the hand-dyed fabric has great depth and movement.

And last, but by no means least, Kristy from Quiet Play sent me some of her paper piecing patterns and a charm pack of Pure by Sweetwater. Pretty fabric! I love the chocolate and pale blue combination 🙂

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict for a Friday Whoop Whoop! I think I need one just for getting this far into September!

It’s the little things

Some weeks, it’s the little things that make a difference. Here’s two little things that have brightened my world this week.

Thing the first: my first free motion quilting!

I knew those batting sample squares would come in handy for something. My first effort is top left, my last is bottom right. I saw a lot of improvement even over those 5 little squares! Mostly, my loops became a little smoother and I resolved a thread-breaking issue (tension and a new needle). On the first square, I set my stitch length to zero, used a darning foot and covered the feed dogs with a special needle plate that came with the machine. I wasn’t happy with the tension at all. I came across Leah Day’s Free Motion Quilting Project and gave her method a shot – same set up as before, but with the feed dogs uncovered, just like normal stitching. The improvement in my tension was immediate! Here’s a close up of my final stitching (the red stitches, not the white).

My next step is to go for an actual quilt. I’ve got Colourful Lemonade all basted and ready to go, just as soon as my place mats are bound. I’m going to scribble all over it and I’ll bet I’ll learn a lot!

The second little thing that cheered me this week: I won a giveaway! Alyssa, over at Pile of Fabric, hosted a giveaway sponsored by Marmalade Fabrics. I won a half-yard bundle of Kona Modern Quilts in the Pacific colourway. Isn’t it lovely?

I think this will turn into a teen-ish boy quilt for my local Project Linus group. I’m inspired by this quilt from Red Pepper Quilts, and I’m thinking Kona Ash for the sashing…

Linking up with Whoop Whoop Friday over at Confessions of a Fabric Addict!

Squares within squares

Or rectangles, more precisely. It’s been a week of them. I’m quilting away at my placemats. Thank goodness there are only 6 of them – I think doing the same thing more than 6 times in a row is my limit for going bonkers!

I’ve done all the middles, with 3 concentric rectangles. They’ve turned out pretty nicely. Half of the mats have a red back, and half have a gold back, so I used bobbin thread to match the back. It worked better than I feared – not too much show-through on the front at all!

Next are the gold borders. I was toying with the idea of FMQ some swirls, but I’ve never done FMQ before and I’ll be staring at these mats every day, every mealtime. I’d rather save my first wonky stitches for something I’ll be scrutinising less often! Instead, just one rectangle, at a different spacing to the centre, matching threads to front and back again. I’ll have that done this week, but they probably won’t be bound, because tomorrow is my first day back at work! Exciting 🙂

In other rectangular news, I also whipped up a batch of ‘reusable kitchen roll’. I cut squares from old t-shirts and zig-zagged the edges. Voila, small, light cloths for small kitchen tasks which can be washed and reused. I don’t have a photo of these (bad blogger!), but imagine a pile of t-shirt squares carelessly zig-zagged in a casual ‘using up random thread’ colour scheme!

I’ll leave you with a shot from our weekend trip to the Yorkshire Dales. So pretty, and so relaxing. Just what we needed!

Linking up, as always, with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, hosted by Rebecca this week.

WIPing along

Progress is a little slower this week, but I won’t complain – last week was exceptional and I did have a day at the Olympics on Sunday (men’s basketball final – fabulous!).

My skirt now has side seams and a hem. I’m finishing off the waistband at the moment. Yes, I know, wrong order, long story. We had a bit of a ‘disagreement’ and I put the partial waistband in time out while I did the hem. I could have done 3 waistbands by now, with all the ripping and re-sewing! With luck and a prevailing wind, it’ll be done today.

My placemats are basted, too, and all ready for quilting. I just need to decide what to do with them. Probably some echo quilting in the centre rectangle – I want to keep it simple.

I’ve got a stack of old t-shirts I’m going to cut up and hem for reusable ‘kitchen roll’ in the kitchen, too. Shouldn’t take too long (famous last words!). Hmmm. Perhaps this is why my To Do list never gets any shorter – I keep adding new things!

Linking up, as ever, with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, hosted by Cindy this week.

Captain ProductivePants!

What a week! So much done, and so many new things learned.

Sheets and pillowcases – not scary! (I had no idea there was more than one kind of seam). Bags (and a bonus basket) – also not scary! That’s four finished objects right there (five, if you count both pillowcases).

And works in progress, too. I said I wanted to make some placemats on Wednesday. Well, as of Thursday evening, I have 6 pieced placemats, 6 backings cut, 6 sets of wadding cut, and 6 sets of binding, all ready to go. Next step, basting and quilting!

I also said I wanted to make a skirt. Here’s how it looked on Thursday afternoon:

All cut out and ready to go. I winged the pattern (I drew around my favourite skirt and added a seam allowance). At bedtime Thursday, it looks like a skirt! I need to sew down the waistband and hem it, and then I have a new skirt! Woah! There must be something in the water, or I’m drinking way too much caffeine 🙂

Linking up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict, for my well-earned Whoop Whoop!, and with Blossom Heart Quilts for this week’s TGIFF.

Holy productivity, Batman!

I’ve got so much sewing done this week! They’re all small projects. Hmmm. Perhaps these facts are related…

Let’s start with the WIPs (it is Wednesday, after all).

  • Colourful Lemonade. It’s been basted and ready to quilt for a few weeks now, I was just waiting for the right colour thread to arrive. I also want to experiment with some of the pretty stitches on my machine for this one, so I need to do some test drives. The thread is here now, though, so no more excuses!
  • Placemats. 4 are cut and pieced. I might make another 2 while I’m at it, because they took so little time. I’ve cut the insul-bright, but need to cut regular wadding and backing fabric for them. I also want to make a table runner to go with. Hmm. Need more insul-bright.
  • My next quilt. I want to make a quilt for the spare bed. However, my mind keeps going back to the idea of a fishy quilt with my leftover ‘watery’ fabric. Ah, temptation.
  • A skirt! I have some jersey fabric laying out on the living room floor at the moment, while I think about what to do with it. I want a simple maxi skirt. Can’t be that hard, can it? (famous last words…)

And FOs galore! I’ll do some individual posts for these later, but I have a bag, an accidental basket, a fitted sheet and some pillowcases. All done since Friday. Not too shabby, eh?

 

Linking up with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced, hosted by Bethany this week.

Pezzygon Park – finished!

Yes, that’s right. Wednesday’s WIP is Friday’s finish. Tiny quilts are clearly the way of the future!

Stats:

A variation on Hexagon Park by Lynne from Lily’s Quilts. I reduced the size of the hexies (I started with charm squares, not a layer cake), and I changed the size of the strips between them too. I also made fewer blocks to finish up with a quilt approximately 20″ square, which will be headed to my local branch of Project Linus for a preemie baby. Hexies are Pezzy Print, surrounded by Moda Bella Snow. The binding is from Happy by Me and My Sister from Moda (22315-14), and the backing is a ‘waves’ print from Fabric Freedom. Machine quilted down the zig-zags between columns of hexies in a thread that toned with the background fabric.

I love that backing fabric. It makes me want to sew a bunch of fishy blocks using it as the background 🙂

Lessons learned:

I learned a lot with this one, too. Spray starch helped so much when cutting those bias edges. I don’t think I got much stretching at all – I think I’ve conquered by fear of angles! Not all of my points match, but they’re a vast improvement on my first quilt. Pinning and accurate cutting helped a lot (imagine that!). I squared up my blocks at a couple of points during the construction process, which also made a big difference for how accurately they came together at the end.

I mostly used this technique for machine sewing the binding. I was a little apprehensive, but it worked a treat – you really can feel the back of the binding from the front. It also gave me lots of practice at stitching in the ditch, which I’m getting better at. I only went up onto the binding in 2 or 3 places, which I’ll count as a win! Next time, I just need to adjust the width of the first binding seam (attaching the binding to the front), because it’s a little wider at the back than I’d prefer.

It was really nice to see how much I’ve learned so far, compared to my first quilt. This is only my second complete quilt (the third top I’ve pieced). And just like last time, the machine quilting was so much fun!

I have the thread to quilt Quilt 2 now, but first I need to whip up a little bag for a birthday surprise. I’ve got the pieces cut, I just need to sew it together (my first adventure with interfacing!).

And finally, but certainly not least, I got lovely fabric in the mail today! I won a giveaway at Very Kerry Berry this week, and got these gorgeous Art Gallery FQs in the mail today. The pale one on top has got the better of my camera, I think – it’s very pretty in person. I think I might need a pretty lunch bag of my own, too!

Linking up at Confessions of a Fabric Addict for my Whoop Whoop!, TGIFF at Missy Mac Creations this week, and Richard’s LAFF. Also linking up with Quilts are For Giving’s Tuesday linky party, and 100 Quilts for Kids.