Friday, April 11, 2014

Tone it down quilt top completed

Hip Hip Hooray! My Tone it Down quilt top is finished.
I last updated on its progress in February, when I had completed 6 blocks. Not long after I purchased a new sewing machine (Woot) and this created some enthusiasm to visit my sewing room and I giddily sewing up 14 blocks in the same space of time it had taken me to do the first 6.
Here is a progress pic when I had two blocks to go. I was starting to think about the layout and had added in the sashing pieces.
Here is the first row of blocks, with sashing and corner stones stitched together.
And by the next night there were two rows.

And then, after one final push in the sewing room, I had the top complete.
Can I just say that I really love this quilt :) It was a lot (and I really mean a lot) of effort! I don't think I quit grasped how much work it would be when I first started. There are 97 pieces in each block, and owing to the scrappy nature of the background, many of them are individually cut and joined.Twenty blocks, plus the nine patches for the cornerstones was a lot of piecing. I guestimate each block was 3 hours, plus another few hours to put the quilt top together. So lets say 65 hours all up.

Lucky its being made for Miss 14, so I get to enjoy seeing it every single day. Here it is photographed on her bed.
Some close up shots of the quilt.
The back of the quilt is pieced and she is to be dropped off to the LAQer this weekend. Stay tuned.
In case you skimmed past the mention up post, I have bought a new machine! I splashed out on a Brother Nouvelle 1500s- its a light weight industrial machine (a domestic/industrial cross over if you will). It does only straight stitch and has a fantastically fast speed of 1500 stitches per minute (my Pfaff was one of the faster domestic machines at 950 stitches per minute). Its fabulous for piecing quilts and I just love the thread cutter and knee lift. Those two things speed up piecing just on their own, never mind the faster stitch speed.
I researched for a few months and narrowed down to the Juki, Brother and Janome models. I managed to track down the Juki and Brother models in the same store and went for a play. There really wasn't much between them, and I was basically swayed by the fact that the Brother was slightly cheaper ($200, about 10% of the purchase price) and came with more inclusions (extra feet etc). I was also mindful that Brother is a much more well known brand in Australia, and thought I'd better stick to the known brand.
The new machine inspired a complete tidy and overhaul of my sewing room. It had been a while and it needed it.

Since I spent most of last year "sewing my stash thin" I found I didn't need quite so much storage in there and took out a 2x4 Expedit unit that used to live under the window.

All my fabric, notions, patterns etc not live in the larger 4x4 Expedit and some plastic drawers lined up along the back wall.
This week I have been testing out the new machine on some kids clothes patterns (it is Kids clothes week after all).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Twinnie quilts

Here are a couple of quilts I made over about a week or so using a layer cake of Lucy's Crab Shack. The quilts have been gifted to identical twin girls who have just been born.
I used this tutorial to make central square-in-a-square blocks. The one layer cake made all 32 blocks, with some left over layer cakes pieces.  I bought the quilts up to a more usable size with 5" borders (I think- they have already been gifted and I cant remember exactly what I did now).
I used a pink low volume border for one quilt.
And a green colour way of the same for the other.

For quilting- I stitched in the ditch around the main square-in-a-square blocks. The backing fabric is a pastel floral print from Spotlight.
And did some free motion flowers in the centre of each block. The twins are little sisters for the recipient of this quilt, so I wanted to carry through the quilted flower theme.
Binding was a lovely linen bland strip from Spotlight.
Welcome Georgia and Maggie!

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

10 down, 10 to go

Finally I am getting somewhere with this quilt! At yesterdays Stitch and Bitch session I powered out 4 more blocks, bringing my total up to 10.

That's halfway there!

The blocks get sashed with nine-patch corner stones thrown in too. So the layout will look more like this.


Lucky Girl

George has a birthday party to attend this weekend. The party girl is turning 3 and I thought it might be a bit fun so dig out some of my 'little' patterns and make something really girly for her. Now my girls are older, they really don't like the frilly stuff any more, so, really I was just looking for a reason to get all nostalgic and play with pink fabric!
I started off with the Laguna skirt pattern by Studio Tantrum. I really love this pattern, so pretty. It's really hard to get your hear around how to cut out and sew it together, but once that's sorted its actually a really simple (but clever) concept.
I stash busted some fine pink cord for the main body of the skirt and some love heart cotton for the flounce.
The edges were bound with (metres and metres) of pink bias binding. That part took quite a while, but I do think the finish looks a lot nicer than trying to turn and hem. Another option could have been to do a rolled hem on the overlocker, but I was happy to take my time with the bias binding detail.

These couple of pics show how the skirt is constructed... it really is just two identical spiral pieces stitched together. Looks so simple right? But boy does it hurt your brain cutting out the spirals and working out how to put them together, especially if you add in the flounce as well.
After making the skirt, I still didn't feel done with the itty bitty girly patterns, so I decided to make a matching t-shirt. I used Ottobre Creative Workshop 301, which is a 'go to' t-shirt pattern for anyone that is into indie pattern makers.
I added some store bought iron on patches.
And had some fun with the sleeves before I stitched them to the main body of the top.
Since I was STILL feeling keen, I decided to make some leggings to wear under the skirt, and turned back to Laguna, which comes with a matching leggings pattern.
I didn't quite have enough of this grey marle knit and had to join a scrap to the bottom of leach leg to get a full length pair of leggings. I decided to turn the join into a design feature, using matching thread for the hem and adding a heart applique to boot.
This is way more effort than I would normally go to for a 3 year olds birthday party present. but I had a heap of fun putting this outfit together, and hopefully little miss loves it too.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tone It Down quilt

I started a quilt in in the new year. I saw a few blog posts around about the Tone-It-Down quilt and accompanying quilt along being hosted by the American Patchwork and Quilting Magazine. The pattern is featured in the February 2014 issue, and the quilts are popping up in the Flickr group and Pinterest boards for the quilt have even started appearing.
I love that the background of this quilt is a lovely mish-mash oflow volume fabrics but the strong diagonal and circular elements give the quilt definition and form.
I was able to raid my stash for abour 75% of the fabrics and needed only to buy a few fat quarters of low volume and high contrast colours.
Each block takes AGES to complete as the scrappiness of the background means that very little chain piecing/slicing  can occur to create the various units for the block.
I stared out working on just one block at a time- because that's the way I usually like to work.
But it soon became a little bit tedious... sew, cut, stand up and walk to ironing board, press. trim, sit down, repeat.
Meanwhile... I finally took the plunge and joined a local sewing group. A room full of actual ladies that come together each week to stitch (and bitch) for 3 hours. I have just completed my second week and I am having a  really nice time working with a group of other women. Everyone works on their own quilts/patterns and there is a ring-leader/teacher who helps out when required. The skill level of the group ranges from beginners (one lady is making her first quilt) to very experienced quilters and the overall vibe is friendly and busy.
I decided to take the Tone-it-down quilt along to the group sessions because it was all cut out and packaged into snap lock bags (ie very transportable). Over the last two sessions I have been a lot more methodical about sewing the quilt. I have taken to laying out the remaining 15 blocks on the table in front of me and and piecing the same small unit for all 15 blocks (eg. the nine-patches or the central unit), then moving onto the next unit and piecing that one for all 15 blocks. The down side to sewing like this is that I feel like I have got absolutely no where in almost 6 hours of industrious sewing. On the upside, the 15 blocks will be completed together, and, Ta da, it will feel like a huge achievement!
In so far as colour and fabric choices go, I started out with a Zen Chic 'Comma' fat eighth pack. This was a great starting point because it had a fair few low volume prints, and the remaining colours (grey, yellow, green and orange) were very intense, saturated prints with little white in them. In my quilt the "X" elements of the block are made up of red, yellow, orange or pink prints and the "O" elements are made up of green, blue or grey fabrics.  About half of these are from the Comma range, the rest are saturated prints picked from my stash or bought for the purpose. Most my background low volume fabrics were raided from my stash and scrap bin- as a result I had to broaden my initial definition of "low volume". Not only are they white, cream, yellow and grey fabrics, but also pale green, blue and pink fabrics. I even allowed prints that had colourful images on them (flowers, etc) as long as the background was predominantly a pale colour. As a result I think my background has a lot more 'dirtiness' to it than the original quilt, which is why I made sure to pick extremely-saturated, high-contrast fabrics for the "X" and "O"
I think its working out just fine!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Matilda's Matilda quilt

I received Matilda's quilt back from the long arm quilter at the same time as Georges Star Quilt. This was a rather quick and dirty quilt brought on by spotting a fabric line called "Matilda" by Alice Kennedy. I started and finished the quilt top in December and. It spent only 5 weeks with the long arm quilter, too, which in my (limited) experience is very quick- especially as I had two quilts quilted in that time.
I cut the half yard fabric bundle up into large diamonds and pieced together a quilt top. I brought this up to bed size using some borders.
Matilda picked out a swirly edge to edge butterfly design.
Matilda also picked out the cat backing fabric and I brought it up to size by inserting some left over "Matilda" scraps and two strips of brown polka dot.
I did some creative applique in the corners of the quilt, which I discussed in the original post about the quilt top.

A lovely blue strip for the binding.