Tuesday, 27 January 2009

Hexagons and more hexagons!

I thought you all might like to see this unusual hexagon quilt I came across in Australian magazine Down Under Quilts. If you sign up to their newsletter you get a free 6 month subscription to the digital version of the magazine. I've been browsing some great articles and sighing over lovely quilt patterns, and this is where I found this beauty. Take a look by clicking on the picture below.

Look Inside >>

Issue 124, September 2008

It's fussy cut hexagons surrounded by log cabin strips. I love the use of Japanese fabrics and sashiko in the hexies. A great combination of traditional techniques and so unusual that I think I'll need to file it away for future use ... well maybe not too far into the future! [laughs]

Or what about this one - whirligigs in hexagons! Oh dear, I think this magazine will be doing some serious damage to my stack of WIPs! I'm off to do some more browsing.

Look Inside >>
Issue 122, July 2008

Saturday, 24 January 2009

Cute, cute, cute ...

Don't you just love this fabric? It's from a range by Lori Gardiner for Moda called "Sleepytime" - even the name is cute. If you look closely you'll see it's lots of little dogs, cats, bunnies, lambs, monkeys and frogs all in their PJs!

As you may know my sister gave birth to her second child on 9 January - a beautiful baby boy, and the first boy on this side of the family.

I feel a need to make a quick and easy cot quilt but it's so much harder to find nice fabrics that suit boys. Girls are easy as there are flowers aplenty and while I could find ranges that would be great for older boys - Thomas the Tank Engine, space, sport, cars, dinosaurs - not much for the young baby boy around town!

So I'm going with Sleepytime which I hope is suitably unisex although it does have a bit of pink in it. I'm pairing it with another two coordinating prints, a green, a yellow stripe and an equally cute blue with lthe alphabet on it.. With so much else on the go and a baby that is growing fast, this will be a quick quilt of 4" squares in a 7 by 8 square setting with a simple border.

Let's hope this one gets finished before he starts school ...

Friday, 23 January 2009

The Power of 10

As promised here's some details of the Power of 10 way to get some of those UFOs out of the cupboard and on to the bed! And even better - freeing you up to start some new projects. How bad can that be?

It goes something like this ...

  • Make a list of 10 projects you would like to finish.

  • Write a list any supplies that you'll need to finish your projects.

  • Here's the good part - drop by your local quilt shop to get the things on your supplies list. Woo hoo - a reason to go shopping and it's for things that will help you get quilts finished so DH can't complain!!

  • Begin working on one of your projects but you're only allowed to spend 3 hours on it.

  • When your 3 hours are up, put it away and move on to the next project on your list. Apparently you start to lose interest after three hours.

  • Carry on working through your list, working for 3 hours on each, and when you get to the bottom go back to the top.

  • Keep a note of the number of hours you've worked on each project.

  • If a project looks like it will take 4 hours to complete just go ahead and finish it so you can cross it off your list.

  • When you finish a project .... add a new one to the list. And give yourself a pat on the back!

Now I don't know about you but it can take me 3 hours to gather all my bits and bobs and get seated at the sewing machine. So I'm going to adapt this a little. For my rule of 10 I'm going to work for 10 hours before I rotate.

Have you tried the Power of 10? If so, let me know how you got on!

And just so this post isn't all words here's a photo of my DN - a self portrait - and don't those nasal hairs just look fantastic ... laughs!

Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Garden of Faded Memories

I've joined a fantastic blog called the Great Hexagon Quilt-Along. Why not pay them a visit and admire all the beautiful hexagon based quilts that are being posted there. I'm hoping that they will inspire me to press on with the latest UFO to be displayed here.

As you will see this is the proverbial hexagon quilt that I’m sure most quilters will have started at some point in their quilting career.

Indeed, paper piecing hexagons was my very first foray into the patchwork world many years ago. Much to my disappointment I can’t remember exactly how it came about. My mother knew nothing about patchwork although she very into sewing and as a young child I had been taught how to knit, crochet and embroider. I must have been fairly young as I can recall sewing classes at primary school when I would have been around 10 or 11 where I took in my embroidery to share with the teacher. You know the sort of think - a table cloth with the pattern printed on it that you embroider in stem stitch, lazy daisy and other stitches.

Anyway, I’m digressing! In my early to mid teens I did some large hexagons and not knowing the first thing about patchwork I used whatever materials my mum had lying around - a mixture of all sorts of polyester and cotton blend fabrics. The piece was never finished (a sign of things to come!) but I came across it a few years ago and the interesting thing was that the colour choices were really quite good. Now I get myself all tied up in knots agonising over colour choices but then I did what came naturally and it worked. Somewhere along the line I became crippled by colour indecision! How did that happen?

A couple of years ago a bought a beautiful book of Japanese style floral patterns A Floral Affair by Jennifer Rounds and Catherine Comyns.

There is a beautiful hexagon quilt in it made from Japanese taupes and that inspired me to have another go.

I’m using the Moda Faded Memories range and bought some charm packs to ensure a good mix of fabrics. Each 5” charm square is large enough for four 1” hexagons. Every know and then I take it out and do some more paper piecing and it’s really quite additive once you get going and satisfying to see all those little hexagons building up. Originally, following the instructions in the book, I was going to wait until I had them prepared before I started piecing but the thought of putting all those hexagons on a design wall and playing around with them was a bit overwhelming so I’ve started sewing some together.

Can anyone really wait until they've pieced over 1200 hexagons before being tempted to see what they look like when sewn together?

Monday, 19 January 2009

Patchwork Party ... Part 2

Well I managed to restrain myself from signing up to do the Autumn 2007 party but then along came Spring 2008 - must be something to do with spring fever!! Note to self: Do not even look at the Spring 2009 party!

Like many people I just fell in love with the Minck and Simpson Prairie Paisley range that was being used and just couldn't resist. These beautiful fabrics just seemed to whizz off the shelves when they were first released and it’s no wonder.

The finishing kit I opted for this time was a combination of pieced and appliqué blocks so rather than do all the piecing and then be faced with doing 9 identical appliqué blocks one after the other I decided to alternate between pieced and appliqued. I've now completed 7 pieced blocks and 6 appliquéd. This photo of the finished quilt doesn't do it justice but will give you the general idea.

But you know how it goes … the lure of new projects! I also had a rotary cutting incident which meant that I didn’t have enough of the green Moda marble that is used in the blocks. None of the local shops stock a good range of these marbles so I couldn’t get a replacement and I was reluctant to buy online as I wasn’t confident of getting the right match. At a show last Autumn I gave a swatch to the owner of a shop that is around 60 miles away and they left a message saying they had it in stock. I did phone back to place an order but they never returned my call which is so frustrating.

Thinking about it another quirk of my quilting behaviour is that I get totally caught up in a project that I do it non-stop over a very intensive period and then get fed up of the sight of it. I think the key message is that I should try to rotate through a small number of projects rather than focus on one. There is a system called the power of ten that I will post on later which may help people in the same position.

These blocks have been on my design wall (aka the flannel sheet pinned to the kitchen wall) since around Easter. The fabrics are very different from those from the previous year and it’s another of those on-point settings that I seem have developed a like for recently. It would be a shame if it doesn’t get finished so this is another one for the priority list.

The only other issue is that I didn’t buy any border or backing fabrics at the time and the range is pretty much sold out in the US now, although it s still available at some UK shops. First item on the agenda should be to sit down and calculate home much fabric I’ll need to complete it. If all else fails and I’m not able to get more of the Prairie Paisley Minck and Simpson have other ranges out that seem to be in same colour way so I could probably find a good match in terms of style and colour.

Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Have you ever been to a Patchwork Party?

Now I’m not suggesting we all get together and dance around our sewing machines to the sound of The Ramones' “Needles and Pins”!

Patchwork Party is a different take on the block of the month concept. Instead of one shop sending you a different block each month, you buy a different block from 12 different shops.

The patchwork party runs twice a year - spring and autumn - and using an agreed fabric range each shop designs its own 12” block. Each shop also designs a finished quilt that uses the complete set of 12 blocks in a setting of their own choice and using whatever techniques they fancy.

Along comes yours truly and after much ooh-ing and aah-ing decides to take part, I visit the websites of the participating shops and order their block. I then decide which if any of the settings I like the best and order the finishing kit from that shop as well. With me so far? Well so far I have succumbed twice - to the spring parties in 2007 and 2008.

Spring 2007

The Spring 2007 Party used the Moda Sanctuary range - a beautiful range of gentle pastel florals - and caught me during my romance period (see previous message). The guidelines on the PP website said that it recommended using a Marti Michell’s template set so I ordered this as well. I did try using them but must admit that I couldn't get the hang of them and struggled to rotary cut around the small acrylic templates. I ended up drawing around them and cutting them out with scissors. Could have saved myself some money and just made some cardboard templates but never mind.

I went for a beautiful finishing kit from the Fat Quarter Shop. I do love their online shop, the service is second to none with same day shipping and packages often arrive from the US faster that if I had ordered from a UK-based company. I know that I should support my local quilt shop (and believe me I do) but if I’m ordering large quantities of fabrics it is so much more economical buying from the US as long as you keep an eye on the customs limits. Of course the falling exchange rate has affected this and it’s sometimes not such as good value these days.

So how far did I get? All the blocks are complete and the setting squares and triangles are all cut as per the instructions. But I then hit on a problem with the pattern. I had cut the pieces to the stated size but there appears to be no seam allowance so that when I add a border on to these pieces it will chop the top off my triangle. I'll post a photo soon as this is difficult to explain properly. The quilt was going to be so beautiful and I was having so much fun that this soured the experience for me and I put the top away. You know I’m starting to see a pattern here - I hit a rough patch (excuse the pun) and instead of working through it I stop and put it away. There’s a lesson to be learned here I think.

I have everything I need to complete this quilt - blocks, setting fabrics, wadding and backing - so it’s a shame that it’s still sitting in a box unfinished. I think I will be making this one a priority on my UFO list. Even just typing about it here has reminded me how much I liked the fabrics and the quilt.

Look out for more Patchwork Party in a future posting ….

Monday, 12 January 2009

Baby Bowties

When I got the jelly roll to make my Millie's Garden quilt I also got some charm packs because it was on sale and who can resist fabric that has been marked down? Well not me it seems!

So this little baby was made using one of the charm packs (still got two left) and a couple of leftover strips from the jelly roll. It's now I confess that I didn't much fancy doing all those set in seams on the bowties so I cheated and appliqued the 'knots' on top of a four patch. But hey there are no quilt police so as long as I enjoyed myself. If you look closely you'll see there a still two to be done.

As soon as that is done it will be ready to quilt and I've got a scrumptious pink fleece for the backing. It's a bit unfortunate (in the nicest possible way) that i have a new nephew and not a niece as this would have made a beautiful cot quilt for a little baby girl. So I may just donate this one to Project Linus.

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Seaside Romance

You know, for a very very long time I hated pink - with a vengeance! I still don't have a single item of pink in my wardrobe ... it doesn't really go with the Celtic colouring if you get my drift.

But somewhere along the line I managed to develop an urge to do a pink quilt. I think it may have been at the Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in 2006 when I came across some lovely bundles of pink fabrics at the Quilt Room stand. All beautifully wrapped and overflowing from a basket they looked like little sweeties just waiting to be picked up and taken home. Not sugary pink but shabby chic pinks teamed with beige and ivory. Roses, shells, stripes and checks ... just too much to resist.

Coincidentally they also had a quilt on display showcasing these wonderful Moda Seaside Roses fabrics, and even better it was done using the quilting technique of 'stack and whack'. Great I thought, this should be a breeze to do.

And so far it has been. The fabric was in fat eighths - cut them into 8" squares and put four of them face up in a pile. Then make three random cuts through all four layers. At first it was quite difficult to let go of the need to measure before cutting but I soon got past that.

Leave the first slice untouched. Move the top fabric in the second slice to the bottom of the pile. Move the top two fabrics from the third slice to the bottom and three from the final slice. Now you should have four different fabrics on the top of the pile.

Rejoin the slices to make a square again and then join the squares in the usual fashion. This photo shows about a quarter of the finished quilt. Sorry it's not a great picture. I plan to add two borders, the first narrow and pink, with a second wider and patterned one to finish it off.

So what still has to be done? All the piecing for the centre is completed. I have fabric for the two borders so all I need to do is find some backing material that I like. Then, having learned my lesson I will be quilting this in sections - the four centre panels followed the the borders - and then joining them all together for the finished product. So watch this space to see how it goes!

Thursday, 8 January 2009

The role of shame starts here

Well I thought the best place to start would be a run down of those little guilty secrets - the UFOs!

First up and in no particular order is .... Millie's Garden. This one was supposed to be a Christmas present for my young niece but some last minute machine quilting problems meant it didn't get finished in time. Don't worry she got something else as a present and the aim is now to get this finished for her 6th birthday in April.

The fabric is from the Moda range "Sweet Baby Jane" and the pattern from Pam and Nicky Lintott's book "Jelly Roll Quilts". This is a fantastic book with loads of great patterns for using these Moda fabric rolls we all love so much . You know it was only recently that I discovered what a jelly roll is. Up until then I had no idea it was what us Brits call a swiss roll. Well we live and learn!

I've decided I'm never machine quilting a quilt in one piece again though! This quilt isn't the biggest at 60" by 88" but I'm finding it a real slog to quilt it on a domestic machine - the weight is really affecting the evenness of my stitches. So much so that I will probably end up taking out the stitching I've already done and starting from scratch again.

I'd sort of sickened myself of it because I spent so much time working on it in the run up to Christmas and now I don't feel that enthusiastic about going back to it. But I don't want to make the mistake of leaving it too late again so I really must press on with it.

UPDATE: This situation has now been further complicated by the birth of a new nephew so I see a crib quilt on the horizon!

2009 Reading Challenge

In a desperate effort to reduce the amount of time I have to quilt even further I'm doing a reading challenge this year.

The aim is to read 100+ books over the course of the next 12 months. I'm under no illusion that I'll reach the magic number - that's two books a week folks! - but at the end of the year I'd like to be able to look back over the books I've read. I used to get a lot more reading done before I moved to my current job as I had a 45 minute bus ride in each direction. Now I work much closer to home and only have 15 minutes each way but I've decided to commit to reading for a minimum of 30 minutes before I go to bed each night.

My list will appear here and be updated as the year progresses.

Now Reading
The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent
Bolter by Frances Osbourne
The Suspicions of Mr Whicher by Kate Summerscale

The Russian Concubine by Kate Furnivall (abandoned for the moment)

Completed Books Total = 17

1. Light My Fire by Katie MacAllister
Holy Smoke by Katie MacAllister
3. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen (****)
4. The Lollipop Shoes by Joanne Harris (****)
5. The Uncommon Reader by Alan Bennett
December by Elizabeth H Winthrop (***)
7. The Brutal Art by Jesse Kellerman (****)
8. The Luminous Life of Lilly Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin (***)
9. For Lust or Money by Kate Hoffman (trashy M&B)
10.Married or Not by Annette Broadrick (more trashy M&B)
11. Ian's Ultimate Gamble by Brenda Jackson (even more trashy M&B)

12. The Gargoyle by Andrew Davidson (****)
13. The Cellist of Sarajevo by Steven Galloway (**)
14. The Luminous Life of Lily Aphrodite by Beatrice Colin (****)

Non-fiction Books
1. Stash-Busting Quilts by Lynne Edwards

Audio Books
1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (UK version)
2. Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (UK version)

Friday, 2 January 2009

Hello world!

So here we are - a new year and a new start for Quilts Ecosse!

It's that time of year when we think about what we've achieved over the past year and make plans for the next 12 months.

High on my list of priorities is to make a dent in my stack of UFOs. Last year I at last got around to organising them - moving them from assorted plastic bags strewn in various places around the flat and putting them in clear boxes along with the relevant patterns and fabrics needed to complete them. To my shame I had to keep returning to the shop to buy more boxes but eventually there they were in all their glory and if I can muster enough bravery I may even show you one day!

The upshot is that there is now no way to avoid the issue any more. They are no longer hidden in their bags in cupboards and on top of wardrobes but staring me in face each time I open the door. So what have I done so far this year?

Well ... and I put it down to the fact that I've had the flu for the past week and haven't set foot outside the door other than to stock up on painkillers and tissues ... I've started a blog and two new quilts!!!!! Oh well, the intention was good.

I stopped by Bonnie Hunter's blog at Quiltville to discover that she's running a new mystery quilt. The enthusiasm of everyone on the yahoo group was so inspiring that I pulled out some of those boxes and picked out some FQs that will hopefully look good together. I'll let you see them next time around once I've figured out how to upload photos to this thing. I've been busy cutting out squares and triangles for the first clue and as I'm not the quickest rotary cutter in the box I'm already falling behind but no matter.

While hunting through that multitude of boxes I came across some civil war reproduction charms and decided to use them for a tumbler quilt as I've seen a few on blogs over the past year and much admired them. Again watch this space for progress on this one.

So it's 2 January 2009 and the new year resolution isn't going too well yet but I'm having some fun and my nose isn't quite as red as it was yesterday, so welcome to world Quilts Ecosse!