Sunday, 10 August 2014

Green, but a red block repeated

Variegated Sedge in a pot on my balcony
For the Rainbow Scrap Challenge this month's colour is bright and light green. This is unfortunately all the green I can show this week!

Do you remember I showed a photo last week of the kaleidoscope block in red, that turned out the wrong size.
6.5" finished size
Well, this week I made another in the same colour scheme using the same pattern.

6" finished size
But this time it's the right size. I used the same paper-piecing pattern from Sew Mama Sew, but changed the size. I had printed the pattern again, but couldn't change the size on my printer. The photocopier at my work can change the size of documents, but the setting works on percentages. No advanced mathematics here, I'm afraid, as I just couldn't remember the formula for converting a vulgar fraction into a percentage. (Please feel free to tell me if you know; I knew it once too!)

Highly unscientific mathematics now:
What I did know was that:
6 1/2" is 1/13" larger that 6"
1/10  =  10%
1/20  =  5%
1/13  =  somewhere in between (highly scientific!!) but closer to 10% than 5%. Let's try 8%.

So I set the photocopier to -8%. Bingo! The sewing line on the outside of the newly printed block is exactly 6".
If you try doing this
BEWARE: the distance between the sewing line and the cutting line is NO LONGER 1/4 ". 
The difference is negligible but just to be safe I cut the pattern out using ruler and rotary cutter (old blade) and adding 1/4" outside the sewing line.

I'd like to thank those of you who commiserated, and offered suggestions for possible uses for the oversized block. I was toying with the idea of making my own design following the design-your-own-quilt tutorial by Sarah Schraw at Sew Mama Sew(again!) and this will be the basis of my first block. All orphan blocks now go into their own box to be incorporated into my design. I had too much going on when the Quilt Along started in April, but I've taken pencil to graph paper and have made a start. I shan't be relying on orphans, but will be making most of the blocks deliberately to fit into the design. The next large project has announced itself!

After all this powerful maths I didn't get round even to looking out green fabric, let alone making any blocks.

I'm linking up to:

Soscrppy  stitch by stitch

so head over there to see what else has been going on in quilting land.

Happy sewing


Monday, 4 August 2014

Around the World Blog Hop

I wish we could just hop across the Atlantic as cheaply and easily as this! I was tagged for this hop by Judy at Quilt Paradigm , whom I met during the Triangle Quilt Along, and she's in  the USA, I believe in Arizona, and I'm in The Netherlands, Europe. I've managed to tag two others, for me much closer to home, but more about them later. First I have to answer some questions.

1. What am I working on?

At present I'm working on a few projects. I've finished three bed quilts and one throw this year:

two patterns from books,

Good Night

and two from QALs

Triangle Quilt 
Celtic Solstice
(Click on the captions for a link to the relevant posts.)

They were all destined as presents and I needed to concentrate on getting those done, before working on skill-improvement projects. So now I'm making cushion covers to try my own layout ideas and to practise FMQ on something small; I've had my fill of trying to manage 2kg of quilt going through the throat of my Bernina 440QE. (Bernina call it Quilters' Edition, but in my opinion that's something of a misnomer, the space is far too small.)

First cushion cover: finished 

The next two cushions in the making.

I'm also trying different piecing techniques. So far I've made this sample following a "workshop" in Jean Wells' book "Intuitive Colour .." but it needs to have a border and quilting before I start on the following "workshop".

I already have Ricky Tims' "Convergence Quilts" lined up for a future challenge.

My next start, however, will probably be something for Christmas. I have a charm pack of  "Midwinter Red" bought in a sale in January, and hope to start using it at the beginning of October.

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

To start with, my patchwork and quilting doesn't fit into a genre yet because I only started two years ago this week! (I'm not counting my false start at patchwork when I was nine years old and vowed never again! or the quilt for my granddaughter's crib, that was started nine years ago and took 5 years to make!). I consider myself to be searching, finding my way, discovering new forms, and accepting new challenges. Just like I have rarely read the same novel more than once (exception: Pride and Prejudice: six times!) I doubt I will ever repeat a quilt. Life is too short.

8 August 2012 was a turning point in my sewing experience when I followed a workshop in my LQS, Quilters Palet, in The Hague, where I made this:

(or at least started it. I was painfully slow at cutting and had never heard of chain piecing.)
and another workshop, where I made this:

purple stars
and that winter followed the beginner's patchwork course (nine lessons) and made this:

Green Sampler

Also two quilting courses one for machine and one for hand quilting that same winter, which enabled me to quilt the green sampler in both techniques.

hand appliquéd EPP and, hand quilted
machine pieced,
machine quilted in the ditch
and hand quilted in the centre unit.
So far these seem to fall into a traditional style. Is this a 19th century genre? Please don't label me!
Perhaps it's because I'm a teacher that I'm nervous of autodidactic. I had to be taught the basic skills. I don't want to invent the wheel, but I do aim at modifying it!

A quilt to cover the long thin window in our front door was next on the list. I thought it should be double sided:

from the outside
so people waiting outside had something to look at. Unfortunately, although the rows on both sides are the same height (the geese are 3" high) they don't match perfectly so from the inside we have an unusual stained-glass effect!

Double Vision!
Friendship Stars on the inside and Flying Geese on the outside shining through
This was my first attempt at making something on my own: no teacher, no pattern other than the traditional blocks.

Since last August I have been on a two day fabric-dying retreat, but haven't used any of the fabric yet. I have done workshops in thumb-quilting and FMQ and I have challenged myself severely by taking part in Bonnie Hunter's Celtic solstice mystery quilt along (photo above). Fools rush in where Angels fear to tread! I underestimated the speed at which she expected people to work. I just about managed to keep up, but almost missed Christmas in my single-minded patchworking! (Good job I didn't need to work for nearly two weeks). It may seem odd, but in the last six months I've made so many HSTs that I'm almost perfect! A hurdle overcome: now just join them all up perfectly! Compare the points in the Green Sampler with those in the Jigsaw, or Triangle Quilt and I think there's hope for me yet!

I'm also participating in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge hosted by Angela at SoScrappy. I was so hooked by the word "rainbow", that I overlooked the "scrappy", so jumped in with only a 2 litre box of scraps to my name. Ha ha; I've been buying "scraps" (alias fat quarters) all year! At one stage I thought of using my self-dyed fabric for this, but decided I wanted to save it for something over which I had more control.

RSC January to June line up

OK, maybe now I've moved forward into modern traditional? Traditional blocks, modern fabrics. But genre isn't important at the moment: for me it's all about challenging myself to try new things and to perfect my existing skills. Who knows what I'll be doing a year from now?

Back to the original question: how does my work differ from others in its genre? It doesn't, except it was made by me, and I'm not others!

3. Why do I write/create what I do?

I write about my quilting experience to have a record of what I'm doing, but I've only been blogging since December last year. I started so I could join the link ups around the Celtic Solstice project and ask questions to other quilters. I unashamedly pick the brains of other blogging quilters, and will give my opinion, for what it's worth, when asked. Never (I hope) when not asked; I'm a teacher, remember, and we are a group prone to holding opinions!

Quilting is for me the last in a long line of handicrafts: knitting, embroidery, crochet, dressmaking, spinning, weaving, lace making (yes, really) in that order. Even though they're all different they're all textiles, and I've always wanted to create an eclectic project, combining several of the skills.

I learnt many years ago that all artists and crafts(wo)men have to learn their skills before they can branch out on their own and, in the case of artists, develop a genre. Pablo Picasso and Piet Mondriaan spring to mind. Until now I've been developing skills and pushing myself further: finding challenges, and I expect that to continue till I drop. I have been collecting patterns online from everywhere, but have the most quilting satisfaction in creating my own layout, like the window hanging or the cushions.

I don't consider myself an artist, but aim on being a good craftswoman in whatever field.

4. How does my writing/creating process work?

Both my writing and my patchwork and quilting processes are planned, with pauses for deliberation between times. Professionally I write concisely, and think sometimes my blog comes across as rather terse. I like to plan and to finish a project before starting the next, but sometimes fate conspires otherwise: someone really needs a quilt, or a workshop comes up which I really want to follow, both of which have resulted in current projects being put on the back burner.
Toadstool mini quilt,
workshop project.
Planned, but not by me.
After nearly a year: not a priority.
Is it a WIP or  is it a UFO?

However, looking back over the past few months I see a development away from the planned and into the experimental influenced by what I see online, especially Victoria Finlay-Wolfe's "playing", and LeeAnna's use of colour.
I'm moving away too from civil war reproduction fabrics and traditional layouts, and towards modern fabrics, again influenced by all the fabulously creative people out there  in the wide world of blogland.

I would like to introduce you

to two quilting bloggers who will be continuing the hop next week.
Firstly to Ruth of  Charly's and Ben's Crafty Corner who is an active member of the Irish Modern Quilt Guild, but not only creative with needle and thread, but also with lenses and shutter speeds, and probably much more besides.
Secondly to Gina, The Occasional Quilter, who lives in Wales and whom I met through the RSC. She is a real planner: she decided in January exactly how she would tackle the rainbow quilt and so far has stuck to her plan. I expect she will reach her goal by 1 January 2015, but I'll let her tell you about that and much more, next week.

I'm linking up to

stitch by stitch

   WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced    Sew Fresh Quilts

So head over there now to see what else is happening among quilters and other needle and thread addicts.

Happy Sewing


Saturday, 2 August 2014

July was red in the RSC

The last July block was kaleidoscope. Isn't it super?

Kaleidoscope - oversized!

Unfortunately the unfinished block measured 7" square instead of 6.5".
I used the paper-piecing pattern at Sew Mama Sew, and even checked the paper before I started piecing. So what went wrong?  The checking square on the pattern sheet was exactly right, and I measured the edge of the block when finished: 6". BUT  I used my 12.5" square ruler and must have been measuring from the WRONG SIDE! Ugh! I tried cutting back, but because it's paper pieced it's exactly right and taking off 1/4" all round meant I'd be cutting through on the points. 

Now I have an orphan block, 6.75" square with 0.125" seam allowance and a self-draughted pattern following Angela's instructions. I still have to start sewing it. It's a pity I cut away the seam allowance before I realised it wasn't going to help because I like the cushion cover pattern on Sew mama Sew, and this could have been my first block. Aah! and learn!

Monday It's my turn on the Round the World Blog Hop so be sure to check here from Sunday evening.

Linking up to:


Nip over there and see what others have been doing this last week.

Happy Sewing


The first of three cushions

This is my first finish for the

Finish Along 2014

I am making three cushions for the chairs in my living room. I'm practising machine quilting techniques and experimenting with layout on a small scale.

The first cushion is finished and in use.

All three cushions will be 16" square and of off-white Bella Solid (I don't know name and number, I'm afraid) with 2.5" strips of anonymous modern prints I received in a giveaway last autumn.

I did FMQ in the print panels: a freehand design of flowers and leaves worked with Aurifil 40 cotton in pale pink. This was not such a good choice as it hardly shows against the busy fabric pattern.
quilting detail
For the off-white section I did matchstick quilting at 1/4" intervals using the 1/4" mark on the walking foot.which didn't produce a consistently accurate result. Here I again used Aurifil 40 thread, in off-white (2309), pale dusky pink (2564), pale blue (2846) and pale yellow (2123). The contrast between the threads is very subtle, but maybe you can distinguish two lines of yellow followed by four lines of blue in the photo below. The contrast is a bit too subtle, as it hardly shows.

quilting detail
Altogether I'm pleased with the result, even the subtle colour changes in the white section; more contrast would have detracted from the impact of the central panel.

I'm linking up with:

at Quokka Quilts
Happy sewing