Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Staaash, Buttons and (managing) Obsession

Oh it has been a long time since I've acquired fabric. Oh yes, how I miss the feeling. I've bought a fat quarter here and there, mostly for bee blocks but yardage is very different.

Yardage has substance to it, significant weight. Like you could endeavour to make a big quilt out of it and not find yourself stranded, having run out of fabric in the middle of piecing. Or like you could hit someone with it and it would hurt. Substance.

I confess, I didn't even buy this bundle. I'd left it behind with a whole bunch of other fabric when I moved back home and I've only just gotten it back now. But it feels like new fabric!
  The quilt I'd decided on for this bundle was mail-themed and I obsessed over it, I loved it. I've changed my mind though, I'm not sure if I like the combination so much anymore, and the mail-themed quilt has lost its allure. I know I'm going to use this selection to test out the centre of a medallion quilt I have planned, so that will help me see if I do indeed like these fabrics together, but apart from that, this bundle is project-less!

A couple of weeks ago I bought two sets of covered buttons because they were very cheap and I was dying to play with them. I've a perpetual calendar in mind, based on the one in Rashida Coleman-Hale's book I Love Patchwork. She's made a few iterations over time and I adore them all. She uses covered buttons in other projects as well, and I think I'm just falling in love with them in general!
   Do you ever have those projects that just consume you? Ones that you get obsessed over and you think them and re-think them and re-think them again just because it's such a beautiful idea? I absolutely love it when that happens. It's a strange kind of obsession because while it can take away from other creative pursuits, suddenly you just have so much fire in you for this one thing and it's beautiful, to be full of that energy.
   I get obsessed sometimes, not just with projects but with whole crafts, or games. It was crochet, then knitting, then Pokemon (oh that was a bad time for me) and now quilting. Recognising that I go through stages of obsession is important for me so that I can weigh up if I really do want to start this new thing, because it may not last. It also means that I refuse to get sucked in to TV shows ('fandoms', I guess you'd call that) because I just can't afford to lose the time and creative energy if I got hooked. I'd like to lightly enjoy an episode a week of something-or-other but I don't seem to have a 'gentle river outing' setting on that sort of thing; it's more like a 'waterfall' setting. Quilting appears to be the closest I've come to that 'gentle river outing' level, and that's rather pleasing.

Have you had creative ideas that consume you, that you just can't stop thinking about? An idea for a new quilt, perhaps?

Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Rada WIP

I had to stop working on my sewing machine cover because the quilting was hurting my fingers. I haven't found a thimble I can use comfortably. So I decided to work on something else for a while!

I've been working on Rada, the quilt for my older brother that was due... oh, about the 12th of May, you know. Progress on it had slowed considerably given several factors that couldn't be overcome, and this time, I'm not going to be hard on myself about it. Things happen!

I changed the design around a tiny bit, mostly to compensate for the missing row - my brother decided that he couldn't stand a square quilt. That's okay, I guess. Little less work for me, and four extra blocks to make into pillows. Neat!

I used QAYG sashing to join the QAYG blocks together. I was worried that the sashing would be too stark a contrast against the blocks, especially the light grey ones, but I think they hold their own pretty well!

I used this tutorial from The Quilting Edge to help me with the sashing, except I folded over the wider strip an inch instead of folding it in half, to save fabric, and used the narrower strip for the front of the quilt instead of the back. I would definitely recommend that you cut the wider strip wider and fold it in half because folding over that inch was annoying, fiddly and imprecise.

I used the narrower strip on the front of the quilt because I wanted the sashing to be crisp and uniform there, without the slight variance of width the folded-over strip adds into the mix. This also meant that I needed to hand-stitch down the flap on the back of the quilt since I didn't want a stitching line showing on the front. Doing that really makes you appreciate just how long the total sashing in a quilt is!

It was pretty exciting seeing the quilt come together as I pictured it! The scale drawings helped with visualising the quilt, that's for sure.

Wow quilts get large and unwieldy very quickly. I couldn't imagine free-motion quilting anything this size (it's almost queen-sized, I think?), definitely not with my current machine anyway.

So this is what it looks like at the moment! I've just got to trim it and add a 6" black border all the way around. I think I can do some fun piecing on the backside of the border to use up some of the scraps, too!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced!

Tuesday, 24 June 2014

Sewing Machine Cover

My sewing machine doesn't have a cover yet, and since it mostly hangs out in the garage, it badly needs one. So I'm making one for it this week!

I sewed, pressed and trimmed 120 HSTs for this cover. Then I discovered that the layout I wanted (a random, scrap-happy sort of thing) was most definitely not going to work with the fabrics I'd chosen because they were far too busy. Cue frustration.

My sister to the rescue! She rearranged them into the perfect pattern for the fabrics I had, and in a layout like this, I'm shocked that she managed to get everything to go together so perfectly. She always has been good at Tetris.

I'm at the quilting stage now! I even did a lovely pieced back for it, too.

I'm hand-quilting it because I love hand-quilting my machine isn't happy with me and it's skipping stitches. Maybe when I present it with a lovely new cover it will love me again!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced!

Friday, 20 June 2014

Quilted Pillow

When we were down in Masterton visiting our grandparents, my sister and I got to choose six fat quarters each! I chose aquas and purples for the stash and my sister went the project-oriented route. She found this marvellous duck fabric and decided she wanted to make a pillow out of it!

I kind of took command over the project. I did this for her birthday. She really liked it, and I have to admit that I'm really impressed with how it came out!

I did some straight-line quilting-in-the-ditch  around the centre square and light green fabric, then a couple of lines on the ponga border. I really like the ponga fabric! It's directional so it was a bit interesting getting the borders out of the fabric I had, but I managed it.

I did some hand quilting in the centre square! I outlined the ducks and did some wavy lines across the water. It didn't look great until the pillow was inside the cover - they really pop now, and I'm so glad I took the extra time to do that.

For the back I used some strips of the fabric that was left over and just did some straight-line quilting.

My machine did not like attaching the binding through that many layers. I think I'm going to have to fiddle with the settings or try out different needles in order to make that bit easier.

All in all, a very satisfying finish! The quilting gives the cover structure while still being delightfully squishy. I think I'd like to make these to accompany the quilts that I make!

Monday, 9 June 2014

April and May Bee Blocks

I'm involved in two bees, Hive #8 at Newbee Quilters and Ausbees at Australian Quilters, both on Threadbias. We've been going for two months now so I thought I'd post pictures!

First up for April was a Road to Oklahoma block for Emphill of Hive #8! These blocks look absolutely stunning when you put them all together. It's very similar to this block that I would love to make at some point. Beautiful!

Also for April, two Star Crossed blocks for Joke of Ausbees! I really liked working with the navy, I'd like to get more navy fabric to work with in the future!
 I wasn't a fan of how the HSTs were made in the tutorial, so if I do this again (I might do one for Asterism) I'd make them differently. I felt like they stretched a little and made matching points up a little more difficult than necessary.

For May, a feather block for Libellenart of Hive #8! I was really pleased that this was chosen; it was a great way to test out the block, since I want to eventually make a quilt out of these for me! I didn't like how the pattern didn't have a 1" reference square on the templates, nor did it say anywhere what size the block was supposed to be - I don't know if it turned out the right size or not!

We only do one block for Hive #8 but this one was for a charity quilt so quite a few of us made two. I didn't have enough background fabric to complete a second block so I just made the feather pieces. Typically, I like the second feather pieces WAY more!

And the April Ausbees blocks were modified Bento Blocks for Quilbee. I really like that one on the left. I can't believe I only have one fat quarter of red! Lots of purple, lots of pink but only one red. I'll be stocking up on all sorts of coloured basics once I get a job.

Saturday, 7 June 2014


This is the quilt I'm making for my little sister J who will be 17 in January next year. Little early to start on hers, especially since I don't even have the fabric for the Fractured quilt that's kind of maybe due in five days... Yeah I'm going to be late with that one.

Originally the idea was purple and grey cat faces from Elizabeth Hartman's Catvent QAL, but I changed my mind to stars! I think the variation of stars in this quilt, which I'm calling Asterism, will really be a visual treat once it's done!

Jean-Ginge is supervising
The reason I've started so early is because June is my month as Queen in my two bees! I'm in Hive #8 in the Newbee Quilters group on Threadbias and I'm also participating in Ausbees in the Australian Quilters group on Threadbias!
I've asked for purple and grey star blocks, they can be any pattern as long as it's a star and it's 12.5" unfinished. I'm so excited to see the wonderful mix of blocks I receive!

 I'm making twenty or so blocks, I think, and I'll hopefully be receiving twenty or so from my bee-mates. I've decided to treat my blocks as a sampler of sorts, a way to try out all sorts of different techniques!

This one is an EPP block done by hand that I'm very proud of - it took me two days! I drafted the pattern myself and I think it worked really well. I really enjoyed having something like this to work on so I'll be doing another EPP star, I think.

This is a lovely paper-pieced block from Lily's Quilts called ET Phone Home. I chain-pieced this one in an assembly-line style and messed up the middle section rather spectacularly on all eight pieces. I'd recommend doing this one two spokes at a time, I think, so that you can check the placement before making the same mistake on all of them. Lesson learned!

Wee signature block in there too!
This one is my favourite! It's a spiderweb block but the spiderweb only shows up as a secondary pattern when you put the blocks together, and I thought just one looked like a lovely four-pointed star. I used this tutorial from Sew Mama Sew except I wanted a larger block and didn't want to use the foundation method as it felt like a waste; I made a paper-piecing pattern instead.

I really like this one! It's very simple, just four different wonky stars in different feature and background fabrics, but it was quite fun to make, and very quick. I used this tutorial for the stars as I'd never made them before, and I think it worked very well. They aren't very wonky at all, really, but I'm happy with them!

This block is a bit of a shame, really. It's four Hunter's Stars blocks with the secondary pattern of the star forming in the middle, and it really is a fantastic block. My fabric choices leave much to be desired, there isn't enough contrast between the grey and the purple for you to see the star properly, which is a bummer. This one may end up being the back of a cushion, I might make a better one for the quilt itself.

Carpenter's Star! This is usually quite a large block due to the many pieces, so I had to size it down to fit and accidentally made it too small, oops. I can always add a border though, so that's okay. Not happy with some of the fabric choices, they kind of bleed into each other and the design isn't as crisp as it could be. I'm getting better with that though!

I'm pretty stoked about this quilt. I'm so excited to see the blocks all together! My mum's going to make a block too, which is pretty amazing because she hasn't done any patchwork in about twenty years. And I've asked my auntie if she'd like to contribute as well, and I think she might, so that's awesome! So many different fabrics will be in this quilt! It makes my heart happy.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014


I finished Zigs just before the birthday of the recipient - perfectly on time, exactly as planned!

I'd changed my mind about the quilting so many times. First I was going to follow the zig-zags, then I was going to go straight across but with rainbow quilting on the border, but ultimately I settled for nice simple diagonal lines.

If I were to do it again I'd add more quilting lines as it feels like it could really benefit from a few more. For a first quilting experience it was pretty full on, though, so I'm not going to be too hard on myself by saying that I should have done more.

I really like the back. The colours show up very happily against the darker grey and the light shines through them like pretty stained glass. In hindsight I wish I had've used the darker grey for the front, but it's done and being slept under so that's the main goal.

I'm so proud of the binding - it's a rainbow! I was going to sew it down by machine since this quilt is for a 5-year-old boy, but nothing would have matched all those colours so there was absolutely nothing for it but to use 9 different colours of thread and hand-sew it.

I got it done a lot faster than I thought I would. I ended up taking it to my grandparents' place over Easter and working on it there.

I did up a little label too, I'm really pleased with how it came out, though it ran a little in the wash so I obviously need to get a proper fabric pen for any future labels.

It's on my brother's bed at the moment and I think he really likes it. It's hard to tell, he's five and he got distracted by Hot Wheels, but he did tell me that it was "the most beautiful thing that's ever been on the floor". I think that's a good sign!

Monday, 5 May 2014

Busy Busy

So moving house was a bit more overwhelming than I thought it was going to be.

I did manage to get my bee blocks done and mailed, and I even completed Zigs, the quilt for my baby brother, and gave that to him on his birthday! He was more interested in his Hot Wheels but I can understand that.

I'm working on a quilt for my older brother now!

Hopefully I'll have pictures up soon - the camera doesn't like talking to this computer so I need to borrow my sister's laptop.

Friday, 21 March 2014

Quilty Bucket List

Stacey at The Tilted Quilt is hosting a blog hop on bucket lists of the Quilty variety. I've had so much fun reading everyone else's that I thought I'd like to contribute mine.

On my Quilty Bucket List, I have 5 quilts and a piecing project.

(I like to do my brainstorming on the computer, making diagrams as I go along. I find it helps me get more done.)

This is a quilt that has been floating around in my head for a while. It's one of those things that you care about so much, that actually making progress on it is terrifying - what if you mess it up? I've got to get over that. Currently I'm at the stage where I'm testing the stamp blocks to get the little jagged-edge border just right.
I admit that I'm not confident about the fabrics that I've earmarked for this project.

Triangles are a popular quilt for the list, it seems! Originally I wanted to do a simple 60-degree triangle quilt, but came across this gorgeous pillow from Kitchen Table Quilting that makes the piecing of the triangles indistinct, and I thought that was fantastic. So I'd like to do a whole quilt like that!
I think the most difficult part of this would be choosing fabrics that play nicely together, because there won't be any sashing to break them up (I do rather like sashing).

NZ Map
A work of art of my home.
This would be a pixel-quilt, I think, or something similar, of the map of New Zealand. All I know so far is that I'd like to use as many different blue and green fabrics to make the land and sea, and that I'd like to include Tartan Kiwi's beautiful kiwi block on the back (or indeed, all of them!). I still haven't decided the level of detail, or style I'm going for - do I depict the snow on the mountains, for example, or should I include fussy-cuts of novelty prints featuring important things?

 This one isn't one I've made up, obviously. Anna Maria Horner's Feather Bed Quilt is such a lovely quilt, and I love that so many people have made it so that I can look at all the gorgeous images out there!
I think that I'd like a quieter version for mine, in more natural, soothing colours. Unfortunately, the style that I like (what do we call it, coordinated scrappy?) uses so many different fabrics to communicate a single colour, that it would take me a very long time to amass all the fabric for this quilt. What do others do when they encounter this problem?

Cross Stitch
Alyssa from Pile o'Fabric has a cross-stitch block tutorial that has inspired many - my favourite is the gorgeous Mr Fox quilt by Samantha of Making Life Prettier. I love how this looks - so structured, but the use of different fabrics breaks up the formality a little bit, for a sweet, interesting twist on tradition. I'd love to do this with a simple picture of a rose on a white background.
This is one of those 'one day' quilts. It's on the bucket list, but it's not a concrete idea yet.

I love this sweet paper-pieced duck pattern! I'd love to make a quilt out of it but I think I'd settle for a lovely little cushion for my sister, perhaps with some nice built-up borders around the block?
This is another 'one day' project, because of the fabric. I'll collect natural muted textures one by one until I have the perfect set for the look I want.

Looking at my list, it is apparent that two things hold me back: a little bit of intimidation, and my pitiful stash. I'm determined to push through the scary things, but I'll probably be sighing wistfully at the pictures of others' stashes for a long time yet.

Wednesday, 19 March 2014


You know how in life, things happen that maybe we weren't expecting or don't want?
Well, things happened.

This is what moving back to New Zealand looks like.
Except I can't take my cat. Or my partner. So I guess it actually looks pretty lonely.

Regular crafty stuff will resume once my life has stabilised.
Now if you'll excuse me, I need to get rid of a LOT of stuff.

Tuesday, 4 March 2014


I have a big, ambitious goal for this year.
I want to make a quilt for everyone in my immediate family. That's two brothers, two sisters and my mum.
I'm not behind yet!
My youngest brother, D, is 4, and his birthday is in April.
My older brother, AJ, is 21, and his birthday is in May.
My younger sister, A, is 18, and her birthday is in June.
My mum's birthday is in December.
My youngest sister, J, is 15 and her birthday is in January.

I guess it's not really a super-ambitious goal for anyone with a reasonable number of quilts under their belt, but for a beginner quilter it may just be out of reach. I'm hoping that I haven't bitten off more than I can chew!

I've got ideas for each person's quilt, thank goodness! I'd feel a bit lost if I didn't, I think.

D's quilt is Zigs, so that's okay. Just need to piece the back and get a walking foot to quilt it up all nice and he's done.

AJ's a bit older, and likes things to be neat, with clean lines. I don't think he would appreciate a quilt that looked too busy, or one where the design is hard to make out (shame, I do love coordinated-scrappy quilts!). So, for him I'm choosing to go with solids, and simple shapes.
Oh and his favourite colour is orange. I'd actually put this idea together before asking him about colours to go with it, and when I did ask him he said "black and white". So I'm on the right track, I think I have his style nailed down!
I've decided to call this quilt Rada, because it just feels right.
There's nothing really difficult or 'special' to it, just a square-in-a-square that's then sliced up with a rotary cutter and 1" strips re-inserted. The difficult part will be that I want to do this in a QAYG style, so that will be a challenge for me. I think I'll like being able to make the lines of quilting go different ways. Perhaps even echo the direction of the lines?
I actually still need to order the fabric for this.

A's quilt is next. For her I'm going to be adapting Charlotte Newland's Fracture quilt. It's originally about a square metre, for a lovely wall-hanging size, but I'm going to be sizing it up to about a queen. After talking a bit with Charlotte (who is extremely helpful and lovely!), she suggested adding in another border of larger squares before sizing the whole thing up. I think that was perfect advice - it allows the centre to stay all shatter-y and small when I size it up.
Because it's paper-pieced, I've been having real difficulty estimating fabric requirements. I finally resorted to tessellating all the pieces onto a scale-drawing of a yard of fabric, and then adding a quarter-yard just to be sure. I think that's the most accurate way to go, although it did take a long time!
At least choosing the colour was easy. She loves pink, and the design of this quilt brings to mind a little something else that I'll keep a secret until I do it just in case I cave and show my family my blog. I just wish it were less expensive. Ah well.

Mum is the one that I'm really not sure about. I want to make her something with triangles, because that's her favourite shape (I find it really cute that she has a favourite shape), but I also want to use hexagons, because I think she'll like them (she's a huge fan of English paper-piecing). On top of that I want to add another little bit of interest into the mix, but I'm just not sure what. The colour scheme is another easy one; red, black and white (although I'll throw in some grey to make it easier for me).
I'm seriously considering a quilt like this one. Every time I look at it I really really want to make it.
   For this quilt I'll definitely use prints, so if I did the hexagon-in-a-hexagon pattern, I'd do it all in black-and-white prints, matching nicely, contrasting nicely, that sort of thing. Then in each inner hexagon, I'd take out one of the triangles of other colour and put in a triangle of solid red. I think I'd really like that.
   The other option that my heart so dearly wishes I'd pick, is to do a quilt out of QAYG hexagons, like in my last post. Doing it that way would make a double-sided quilt with no binding, backing or quilting to worry about at the end. I'd make them much bigger of course, but that's still a huge amount of hand-stitching. Incidentally, I really enjoyed hand-stitching the hexagons, and even put binding on a little FMQ practise piece (which is awful) just so I could hand-stitch it in place. So it's not the irritation of hand-stitching everything together, it's simply the time it takes. I have a lot of time before December, though, so it's very very tempting.
   The other-other option that niggles at me is doing a quilt entirely out of triangles. Lots and lots of different sized triangles, tessellated together any which-way they fit. That would be a fun, interesting and challenging project to undertake! It highlights one of the things that bothers me about the hexagon-in-a-hexagon idea: it's too easy. It doesn't feel right to do something easy, not when it's this special. But we shall see.

J's another easy one. She likes purple and she likes cats. So! Elizabeth Hartman's Catvent Quiltalong it is! I'll be doing it in purples with a light/med grey background. I haven't decided the size to make the blocks just yet, but I rather like the idea of having them the same size as the original Catvent quilt. Tiny cats would make for an interesting quilt! However, scaling them up would be much easier.
I'm planning on asking my Bee-mates to make me these blocks, to help with the scrappy feel I want! However, because it's a beginner Bee, asking for lots of the same shade isn't really fair, so I'd be perfectly happy with some just done in one purple.
I'm planning to have one of the cats be done in blacks to represent the cat J has in real life. I'm going to put it where the quilt's heart would be, to signify how much she loves him. I think she'll really appreciate the gesture.

So! Those are my ambitious goals for this year!
I also have in mind two quilts for us - a blue Fracture quilt like A's (my partner said it looked awesome! That's a definite vote!), and a mail themed quilt in a colour-scheme that has yet to be determined, although I think it will have pink in it.
I'm so excited about designing the mail-themed quilt, but because it's our house, it feels like it has to be perfect. If it came to pass that I couldn't get the right colour fabric for, say, AJ's quilt, then I could easily settle for a very similar shade - he won't know the difference, and as like as not it'd turn out basically the same anyway. But in a quilt for me... I feel like it would have to be perfect, otherwise that wrong colour would niggle at me every time I saw it. Hmm. Hopefully I can somehow train myself to not worry so much about it.