Sunday, 26 April 2015

Wandering in a Jeweled Rainforest

Today I was woken rather earlier than I had hoped by a pair of marauding felines, so I decided to get my day started early by working on one of my Finish Along projects. The Jeweled Rainforest quilt has haunted me for quite some time. I made the top at Stitch during an afternoon of fun. Sadly Stitch is no more, but the Rainforest quilt top glows on. I freely admit that I have had my doubts about this creation. Too bright? Gaudy? Tasteless? So it lurked around waiting patiently.

This is a stack and slash quilt. Eight fat quarters are stacked, then cut across with the rotary cutter, rearranged and sewn back together. Then the stack is slashed again, recombined and sewn. Repeat, and repeat and repeat until you have a set of lovely blocks. The sharper the angles of the cuts, the more abstract looking the result. No, this is not a tutorial (a bit vague) - but I'm sure one wouldn't be hard to find if you go Googling. My only tip for making one of these is to use a new rotary cutter blade as you need a good sharp one to get through the layers.

I found the most perfect fabric for the backing - an amazing wide Echino linen (blend?) spot in a brilliant loud pink.

Good friends, I think.

I had a lot of help this morning. Fergus seems to be determined to lose his whiskers.

He already thinks the top looks very inviting.

We had quite a battle over the batting.  

I got rather a large piece of batting to use for at least two quilts, and had quite a lot of trouble getting it trimmed to size.

Nothing to do with the batting... the brawl going on between my furry assistants made the job very difficult. This batting is a high quality poly batting that feels very soft and dense. Apart from teeth and claws, it was so easy to work with. I usually choose wool or cotton, but this is actually brilliant stuff. I got it at Cottonfields.

I usually pin baste on the hard floor in the hall, but this quilt is too wide, so I just did it on the carpet and (gasp!) didn't tape the backing to the floor. It all sat together beautifully, and I methodically smoothed and pinned in quarters, working from the middle outwards.

Mr Mouse decided to test the quilt in the early stages too. He approved.

So I pinned and pinned and pinned. I really don't enjoy pinning.

But it is worth it because now the fun begins. As I pinned I considered how to quilt this. I am going to stitch around all of the different patches so that there are frames on the reverse, and then I will free motion quilt inside the frames to suit each fabric design. Hopefully this will result in an interesting quilting pattern on the reverse side. Yes - lots and lots of fun!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Little Hexagon Mini Quilt

I had to share this dear little mini quilt. I made it for The Crafty Neighbour. 

I cut some little hexagons for English paper piecing. I am a big fan of the glue method. I use a tiny dab of Sewline fabric glue on each point where the fabric overlaps. I try not to get it onto the cardboard template because they are a bit more tricky to remove from the fabric hexagons. 

These are Tilda fabrics. I wanted them to blend together, rather than having any feature fabrics.

Once I had hand pieced the hexagons I used white hanky linen as the base fabric. I was thinking about using my spray basting glue, but was a bit worried about it making marks on the really fine linen.

The Crafty Neighbour loves the effect of stipple quilting, particularly the way that it makes applique "pop" out from the background. The stippling needed to be perfect on the background.

I was so pleased. It was my neatest ever machine quilting.

Then I trimmed and used the wee star fabric for the binding. It is about time I mastered mitered corners. A goal for the next quilt?

This is such a cute little quilt. I loved making a mini because it didn't feel arduous, and was great for experimenting. The mini hexagons are adorable. I love them.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Pantone Marsala Challenge Finish

Wow- my first ever challenge quilt finish! I'm very pleased with myself, and the result. Marsala is not really a colour I am drawn to in the fabric store, so I had to think outside the square for this one. It all started with this fabric - a pure linen shirt weight fabric that I used long ago for making - you guessed it - a shirt.
Then my loyal assistant Mr Mouse and I rummaged through the stash to find whatever we could to match. I declared that no new purchases would be made, and creative recycling would be encouraged. This is what we came up with:

I have quite a lot of Kaffe Fassett Collective fabric in my stash, purchased as both fat quarters and scraps, and discovered marsala lurked within many prints. I also have a passion for velvet, and have a number of rescued garments waiting for a new life. Not least of which were the dungarees of glory (or Hell - depending on your point of view). 
These are made of a gorgeous deep plummy/sort of marsala velvet, and I took to them with my scissors with gay abandon. 

As often happens around here, I had no plan, just enthusiasm, and started improvising some blocks randomly. I had one rule - each block started with the original marsala linen, and was built around that. In my vintage thread stash I found several rolls of perfect marsala cottons. It was meant to be!

So I made nine blocks. Originally I was going to sash the blocks, but when I put them together they belonged. Can you see where the blocks start and finish? 
As you can see, the result was lumpy and bumpy because I was not working with a lovely orderly selection of quilting cottons. Stretch velvet is a rather uncooperative fabric to work with, but so perfect for this job. 

At this stage I had visions of Gustav Klimt paintings, and got the idea of gold quilting thread in my head. I was well and truly prepared for a disaster - gold embroidery thread + free machine quilting? It was perfect. One breakage when I started and the rest went smoothly. I did a wiggly pattern all over. 

I'm a bit disappointed that the photos don't show the metallic glimmer of the gold stitches. The thread catches the light just how I wanted it to. 

I backed the quilt in the original linen. I included the wee triangle fabric corners to hang this. 
When I looked at the quilted panel I decided that it was so deliciously tactile that it would have to be a cushion. I imagined it being the perfect choice for the iron throne from Game of Thrones -  that thing looks horribly cold and uncomfortable. But then my darling husband declared it is too fabulous for people to put their backsides on, so I made a mini wall quilt instead. I can still stroke the velvety fabrics as I walk past it. 

After binding with dungaree velvet, I must admit I am totally thrilled with the result. I wasn't expecting to be as enamored with something based around what is almost a brown shade. With the mixture of fabrics, the golden thread and the rich colours, it almost glows. 

So I am entering my creation into the mini section of the Pantone 2015 Quilt Challenge - Marsala and linking up my entry at Adrianne's blog On the Windy Side
Vital Statistics: 
Size 22 inches x 22 inches. 
Fabrics used - Kaffe Fassett Collective quilting cottons, various velvet fabrics (including stretch) and linen shirting. 
Batting - cotton offcut from stash. 
Threads - from stash including marsala tones and gold metallic Mettler. 

Bonus: This is the first finish of the Finish-Along with Adrianne at On the Windy Side

Monday, 13 April 2015

Q2 Finish-Along List 2015

I'm excited to still be a part of the Finish-Along for 2015, hosted by Adrianne from On the Windy Side. I love visiting Adrianne's blog to see her creations, and she has great tutorials and the most gorgeous cats! I'm not too good at sticking with things, getting discouraged with projects, then distracted by other creative pursuits very easily, so I'm pleased I am still in there for Q2 of the Finish-Along. 

First up we have my almost finished entry for the 2015 Pantone Quilt Challenge - Also hosted by Adrianne, plus Play Crafts. I am on the last stage of this project, and the big reveal takes place later this week. I'm binding my creation currently. 

Secondly we have the (still) unfinished Mimi blouse from Tilly's Love at First Stitch. I found some interfacing in the craft cupboard, so we can get back into this. No excuse.

Pinwheel quilt in 1930's fabrics. Wow - I set this as a goal in Q1 and have made heaps of progress. Now we have a top!

 I love the cute patterns, but the colours are not really my style. I have the backing fabric ready, I just have to get onto sandwiching it.

I have been really enjoying some English paper piecing - sweet hexagons hand-pieced and quilted. This is going to be a cushion. I already have some new mini hexagons cut for the next hand-piecing TV watching project.

I'm not sure this project will ever be finished (yes it will!!!! Growl). This is Tanya Whelan fabric and I love it. The problem is the size. It is queen bed sized, and far bigger than my usual projects. I need some suitable backing fabric and might resort to a large pure cotton sheet to save money. Any ideas on making backing large quilts affordable would be greatly appreciated.

Mini experimental project - to be a bag. I photographed this in the carrot patch- appropriate I think.

Kaffe Stack and Slash quilt top - ready for sandwiching - but I don't have the backing fabric for this yet. Even if I get the fabric organised by Q3 that would be good progress. The colours in this quilt top and gloriously rich and jewel-like. They glow.

I made progress on this Tilda project - very simple, but pretty. I have fabric for binding.

I have just remembered two more projects I have stashed away - so I will list them with this list, and will add photos next post (promise!)

Experimental sampler quilt using mostly Tilda fabrics. I played around with piecing squares, then combining them, and cutting them up and re-piecing in different ways. I have nine blocks (if I recall correctly). The colours are oatmeal and cherry reds mainly.

Large hexagon quilt in Lecien Flower Sugar fabrics - I wanted to learn to machine piece hexagons, so cut lots out in anticipation. Then I found the whole idea a bit scary, so they are still lurking around.

So we have a grand total of ten WIPs on the Finish-Along list for Q2. If I manage to complete more than one I would have done better than Q1, which had one completed project. You will be pleased to hear that I spent quite a lot of time over the past three days sorting out the storage in my craft room. What an improvement!!!! I just need a few more storage containers, and possibly a very tall, narrow book case, and then some improvements to storage in the garage so that I can put stuff away that can be brought out when required. Now I have a lot less clutter, and there is more room on the floor for laying out blocks etc. I don't have room for a design wall, unfortunately, but we can't have everything.

Right- I'm off to do something productive now. Thank goodness for the school holidays - I'd go (even more) insane without them!

Sunday, 5 April 2015


Adrianne from On The Windy Side is one of the hosts of the Pantone Colour of the Year Challenge for 2015. Entries close shortly, but I have been mulling the challenge over in my mind for quite some time. I have seen some absolutely stunning evening gowns in marsala, but it is most definitely a colour I haven't been drawn to when fabric shopping. I prefer to think of it as a rich red brown, rather than a browny brown. I am mentally grouping it with other warm wine/berry hues. Dark red garnets, deep burgundy, rich plums and burnt tangerine belong with marsala. On its own it is rather a drab offering. In fact, it can be sort of a pinky mushroom gill brown, which is delightful when discovered under the cap of a field mushroom, but a bit insipid out of context.
Mr Mouse and I went for a prowl through the stash to see what we could come up with. We started with a true marsala - linen shirting which I used many moons ago to make a rather masculine looking shirt (with mother of pearl buttons- in case you are interested). Apparently I never dispose of anything that may possibly come in handy, and indeed these pieces of marsala linen form the basis of my creation (the original shirt is long gone): 

Then we found the piece de resistance- a pair of rich wine coloured dungarees in velvet. No, I never wore these, but must have decided the fabric was a pretty colour. 

Proof that I am not responsible for making these abominations. Oops- I think I may have broken the "dryclean only" rule! 

Then Mouse and I pulled a selection of fabrics from the Kaffe stash (mainly). Do they go? Mouse thinks so. Most have a touch of marsala, or tone in with the dungaree plum.  

Amazing how the colours look from photo to photo. I fiddled around to try to get the true marsala tone as the baseline, but even that varied lots from photo to photo. In this last one the orange really glows. Burnt tangerine?

Mr Mouse thinks next year the Pantone Colour of the Year will be a lovely grey. 

So we have some fabrics, of varying weights, and no pattern. What shall we make? Time for bed. This is going to take some brain power (and patience with that thick velvet and light quilting cottons). 

Ed. on Friday: Just fiddling with the layout etc of the blog - man those dungarees are hideous! You'll be pleased to hear I rescued the lovely fabric by taking the scissors to those bad boys.