Monday, 24 March 2008

More chaos crumb

Later this year, I am demonstrating Chaos Crumb blocks at my local group, Piecemakers so I thought I would do some more experiments with these fabulous blocks. I have recently bought a copy of Gwen Marston's 'Liberated String Piecing', which has some gorgeous techniques and quilts in it. I think what makes Gwen's quilts so lovely, is that they are set very carefully and beautifully quilted. I decided to set the Chaos crumb blocks in fours and then sash them with cornerstones.

Once this is quilted it will be fine. I'm going to bind it with the same blue as the cornerstones (I think) which will pull it together.
Here is a clearer photo of a four patch. I just love those scrappy blocks, and can't stop making them! My next trial is to make some blocks using a restricted colour selection - more of which later.Tomorrow, DH, DS, DD and I are going on an eight day family holiday to the US! We'll be staying in Las Vegas and San Francisco, so if you're in any of the quilt shops there, look out for me!

Friday, 21 March 2008

Happy Easter!

It's Good Friday today, and we always start the day with hot cross buns. For those unfamiliar with these delicacies, they are enriched bread buns, with lots of dried fruit in them, glazed with a sugar and spice mixture and marked with a pastry cross on the top, to remind us of Jesus's death on the cross. They are particularly delicious toasted, and fill the kitchen with a warm, spicey aroma. Yum! They are available in the shops here from Christmas onwards!

Next I put up my Easter display. I would have done it earlier, but DH was carrying the step ladder around in his car (don't ask why) and I needed it to get the Easter box down from the loft. First to come out is the Easter hen (rather the worse for wear, but then, she's about 25 years old, which is good going for a hen!). She sits on a basket nest of blown eggs, done by the children over the years, and 'lays' something every day from Good Friday to Easter Day. Lucky that DD was still in bed while I got her settled on a little chocolate egg! I have an extensive collection of fluffy chicks and other animals which I display along the shelf in the lounge. I'm always on the look out for different ones to add to the collection, and it's surprising the variety you can find. I am not prejudiced at all, and have yellow chicks, pink chicks, blue ones, grey ones, ones on nests, ones in baskets, ones with bonnets and a couple of Rasta ones in little knitted hats!

However, my pieces de resistances are my two fluffy rabbits, complete with fluffy carrots and my pig in a nest!

I can just see the scene in the chick factory in China. 'Now, Mr Wong, what can we make for Easter that will be a big seller? We've already got chicks and bunnies - do you have any ideas?' 'Well, Mr Ping, what about a nice Easter pig?' 'Fantastic idea Mr Wong, and we'll make it yellow. That's a really good colour for a pig!' 'Exactly, Mr Ping, and what about putting it in a nice little nest? That's very seasonal.' 'Mr Wong, that's a master stroke! A yellow fluffy pig in a nest it is!'
Or something like that!

Wednesday, 19 March 2008

It's a quilt!

What was I doing on March 15th, National Quilting Day? Well, what would I be doing, except quilting! I was finally quilting the borders of my BQL Ostrich from 2006. Note the lovely mug DS bought me for Christmas containing my essential supplies of tea!

The good thing about this quilt is that it was essentially a frame quilt, and so I quilted each frame individually. I started in the middle, and hand quilted round the applique, to give a softer look, and then stipple quilted in the spaces. I suppose some cross hatching would have looked good, but maybe a bit too formal. Anyway, it's too late now, and I think the stippling makes the applique stand out nicely.

Then I did mainly in the ditch on the geometric sections, as I think the design can be blurred with too much all-over quilting. Besides, I like my quilts a bit cuddly, not stiffly quilted within an inch of their lives! There is meander with flowers in the pale blue hand-dyed section, but I don't hink you can see it. The border was quilted with free machine feathers, which gives a touch of extravagance to the edge. I marked in the curves with a white pencil and then just went for the feathers as they came. The two sides of the feathers don't match up, but since when was Mother Nature symmetrical?!Here is the completed quilt. I started it in 2006, so it's only been two years in the making. Quite quick really!

Saturday, 15 March 2008

My Stash

Most patterns in quilt magazines are designed to showcase a particular fabric range, so it was refreshing to see the gorgeous quilt designed by Valli Schiller in March's 'Quilters Newsletter'. This quilt is made from fabrics from her stash. She says she rarely buys fabric for a specific quilt, buying instead "on speculation". Here are are the five reasons for her to choose a particular fabric.

  • it's so beautiful she has to have it

  • it fills a colour/style gap in her stash

  • it's useful from a design standpoint

  • it's polka dotted or striped

  • it's on sale and she felt sorry for it.

Since I buy fabrics in exactly the same way, as and when, it made me think about the reasons I buy fabric.

1. It's so beautiful I have to have it.

I love colours (all of them) and don't often buy 'pretty' fabric.

2. It fills a gap in my stash.

I often have enough fabric to start a quilt (look before you leap has never been my motto!) but often have to go and buy more fabrics in a particular colour or style to finish it off. Here are some of the 'extra' fabrics I have had to buy recently.

3. It's wacky.

I love novelty fabrics and always buy them. Sometimes I use them as feature fabrics, but often just go with the colour and use them in scap quilts - they add interest to the design.

4. It has writing on it.

As a teacher, it is my mission to bring literacy to the masses, and I try to include a piece of fabric with writing on it in every quilt. I like scrappy quilts, and many of these fabrics are neutrals, which blend in well.

5. It's reproduction or vintage.

I am very interested in social history, love old fabrics, and old quilts. While I'm not especially interested in reproducing old quilts, there is something charming about their look, and I cherish the link I feel to our foremothers who made such beautiful items.

6. It was in the sale bin, and I thought it would 'do' for backing.

I am such a cheapskate, that I have quite a few fabrics which seem to lurk in the bottom of my boxes. Sometimes they come in, but often are sludgey and difficult to use. Sometimes they are just what is required for a certain design, when they give me a great feeling of achievement (and keep the bank manager happy!) Never mind, they were all bargains!

When I first started quilting, I bought lots of cheap fabrics, but now I try (and try is the operative word) to be more discerning. My current maxim is to buy 75% of what I need and 25% of what I want. Except if it's in the sale bin, of course!

Wednesday, 12 March 2008

It's a top!

I have finally managed to finish my 'Blind man's fancy' top! I'm quite pleased with it, as it's very busy in the middle, but the calm plain border seems to calm everything down and pull it together. The flying geese were worth every minute of tedious piecing as they bring a lot of movement into it.
(I have just realisee that the bottom left hand block has managed to rotate itself by 90 degrees when I wasn't looking! Ah well, as my dear mother would say, a blind man would be pleased to see that, so I'll leave it in for him!)
We will be seeing the recipient after Easter, so I'd better get it layered and quilted.

Thursday, 6 March 2008

More orphans

After my recent success at reducing my orphans, I decided to raid my box of little orphan blocks again - well, I had to actually, because I could hardly get the lid closed! I found quite a number of 2 1/2inch sqaures joined together in pairs. They must have been left overs from a four-patch or even nine-patch quilt at some time. I arranged them on the floor to see of they would make anything reasonable.

The answer is patently no! Even the addition of a few half square triangles and flying geese couldn't help. Then I remembered there were half a dozen wonky houses I had made some time ago, waiting in my UFO box. I added them, along with more half square triangles made into diamonds and pinwheels, and suddenly, we have lift-off!

That's more like it! It was quite tricky to join together, but a bit of adjustment here and there and it all went together in a very satisfactory way.

Here is the finished top (alongside some books of DD's waiting to go to the charity shop!) which is bright and cheerful, and joining the pile waiting to be quilted.

And here is my small orphans box, not even half full. A result!

Wednesday, 5 March 2008

And the winner is ......

Many thanks to all those who stopped by to comment on my last post (and drool over the fabric!) Thanks to DD for her impartial yet excellent fine motor skills in picking a name from the (literal) hat.

The winner of four fat eighths and a surprise is Lisajo!

Please let me have your snailmail address Lisajo and I'll send it straight off!

Looking forward to the next 50 posts!

Saturday, 1 March 2008

Fifty not out!

I knew I had been blogging for a while, but my fiftieth post crept up on me unawares. I can't believe it's been over six months since I accidentally started a blog, and that I have had enough to write about for all that time! I'm also grateful to all the other bloggers who have stopped by to say hello. I know it's called the World Wide Web, but I had no idea that I would get visitors from so many different locations all over the world! I'm especially grateful to those who visit regularly, who I am beginning to count among my friends.

So, here's a thankyou. I will select a name at random from anyone who comments on this post and send them four fat quarters of my best novelty fabric and a surprise! looking forward to hearing from you.