Friday, 31 August 2012

On track (sort of)

It's the end of August, and my UFO challenge quilt is all done!  I can hardly believe that I have managed to keep on track with this challenge for eight months - that's a whopping eight UFOs out of the drawer!  This one will go for Project Linus (hence the tractor border) and I hope it'll be well loved!

What I haven't been on track with is some other things.  Last year my challenge group made blocks from Lynne Edwards' sampler quilt book, and mine are still not finished.  I decided to make a kind of homage to the Sundial Quilt in the Victoria and Albert Museum, so did four of every block, and a central sundial.  I kept to reproduction colours, blue, brown, pink and cream.  The centre is together (I'm adding the borders 'quilt as you go') and I need to get on with the quilting.  The problem is that the blocks are so different, and need to be quilted individually, lots of them by hand.

I have quilted all four clamshell blocks,

and all four Celtic Knots,
 not to mention the centre, so that's nine blocks quilted.

Nine out of a total of 49 blocks, plus four corners.  Better get quilting!

Monday, 27 August 2012

Weed whacker

My challenge group is continuing its journey into the wold of scrap quilts, and who better to guide them than Bonnie Hunter!  This time we have decided to make 'Weed Whacker', which isn't much use in the garden, but certainly goes through your 2" strips! 
I must admit, Muriel chose this one, and it wasn't one which had attracted me, but I'm quite pleased with the way it's going.  It's mainly scraps, but I have added a few strips from my stash, as sometimes the scraps can be a bit boring, and the addition of something jazzy (like the red with white stars or the purple Kaffe Fassett) can lift the whole thing.   

 The addition of the triangles meant there was an opportunity for bonus triangles, which I have made into pinwheels.  I'm going to put a 2" blue border on, then the pinwheels and then either another blue border or just bind it in blue. 

Meanwhile, I have finished sewing the binding on my Japanese X + scrappy.  I love it, and will give it to Project Linus, where I think the child who gets it will love it too.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Festival of Quilts

Yesterday I went to the NEC in Birmingham to visit the Festival of Quilts!  This fabulous show (apparently the biggest in Europe) is in its 10th year and never disappoints.  This year I went with two new quilters, Kate and Maria, who were delightful companions and really enjoyed their day.  The show is so big, you'd need to visit more than once to see everything, so we started with the traditional quilts while we were still fresh. 


This is an applique quilt with lots of papercut designs.  The workmanship was superb - the stitches were invisible, the points were all sharp and we loved the red and white palette.
This photo doesn't quite capture this quilt's wonderfulness.  The streaky bits are due to the clever use of stripey fabric, and it looked much better 'in the flesh'.

Another red applique quilt, this time in Hawaiian style.  The logistics of handling such a big applique piece must have been sustantional.  Again, the workmanship was impeccable.

This little quilt, called Swallows and Geese caught our eye because it was a perfect composition.  All the borders add something to the whole, and the cornerstones in the last border pull it all together.

This was a kind of charm quilt, as the jockey cap blocks were all different.  Another simple quilt with good use of colour and lots of appeal.

Maybe it was because my companions were beginner quilters that I took so many photos of simple quilts or maybe it's to do with my love of traditional and scrap quilts.  This one is four-patches and half square triangles, but the use of darks and lights and the star border just looked so good.  Not a prize winner, but something very pleasing.

I continue to be fascinated by medallion quilts, and this one (starting with 1" squares if I remember correctly!) has a completeness about it.

Another medallion combining piecing and applique.  The birds in the air blocks had very small triangles, and were complimented perfectly by the appliqued centre and borders.

We didn't spend much time looking at the contemporary or art quilts but loved this quilt by Ferret.  The design was made by the quilting thread - it's actually a wholecloth quilt, quilted in different coloured threads to make the design.  Her quilting is amazing!

Kate is examining the stitching on this one.  Each shape has quite a heavy satin stitch around it - something I don't usually like, but which looks perfect on this.  It made the flowers look a bit like crewel work, and added extra depth of colour and definition to it.  We were surprised this wasn't a prize winner.
Wearable art was as fascinationg as ever.  This one possibly was wearable,

the one on the right probably not! (What is all the pink stuff round the neck and decolletage?  It looks a bit macabre to me!) 
This banner was to represent Scotland - looks good to me!

This year, all the prizewinning quilts were grouped together, which we quite liked.  If they are left in their numerical sequence, it's easy to miss them, and that would be a shame.  Part of the fun is to see if we agree with the judges, and this time, we pretty much did.  (We didn't agree with the Quilter's Guild Challenge winner, which was basically a painted, printed hedgerow with a few embroidery stitches in it.  Very nice, but not a quilt show winner in our opinion!)  This fabulous applique quilt was the winner in the traditional quilt class.  Gorgeous.

This one was contemporary (or  art, I can't remember!) and we loved it.  It was beautifully pieced (not stuck or painted) and the movement in the dance is captured perfectly.  A very worthy winner.

This was the winner in the group category.  It's Sunbonnet Sue goes to the Olympics!  The first event is throwing the iron, the second synchronised sewing, next the team pursuit, then rotary cutter relay.  (That event looks as if it could be a bit dangerous to me!)  On the bottom row we have the quilter's bolt, the balance bras, jumping to the quilt show and tacking round the needles!  A perfect example of the rich humour of quilters - especially good at poking fun at themselves!  Well done, No Name Quilters!

Here is a close up of tacking round the needles!  Sue is saying 'Tacking! You call this tacking?'
Jsut two more quilts which caught my eye as we went towards the exit, with heavy shopping bags and weary legs.  These fish shimmered and sparkled as they swam round.
And last but not least, some more weary ladies with shopping bags.  We're the same the world over!  It was a great day with wonderful quilts, fabulous shopping and lovely company.  Here's to next year! 

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Mauve, avacado, ochre, peach, bright yellow, dusty blue, orange, rust and tomato

I have really enjoyed this colour challenge from but enough is enough.  I'd like to make more colour 'made fabric', but I think the nine blocks is enough for a nice sized quilt - 16 would have made a much bigger quilt, which I don't really want at the moment.  I'm going to add a piano keys border, and then have some fun quilting it!  I love the stars and the lovely big diamonds which cry out for some lovely quilting designs.  Quite what, I don't know, but any suggestions gratefully received!

I've been getting on with my Challenge UFOs too, and have put the final inner border on this UFO, and another border too.  Not the most wonderful quilt, but at least it's a top now. (I didn't have any of the original navy fabric left, but I don't think you can tell which border is slightly lighter - or can you?

Here's a close up of the digger border fabric.

Sure to be a hit with small boys - hopefully!

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Mauve, ochre, avacado, peach and bright yellow

Hooray!  I'm inspired!  After the mauve block, I continued with ochre, avacado and peach. 
 The peach was hard, as I hate peach, and have next to nothing in that colour in my stash.  However, a bit of rummaging in the pink drawer and the brown box, and I found some pieces of fabric which fitted in fine.  I started to use white for the background colour (don't ask me why, as I rarely use white: maybe it was because I had a big piece of it in the box!) but I think it's too stark.  For the rest of the blocks, I've used different creams, which is working out to be much better.  I'll either unpick the mauve one or tea dye it.  (And I know which of these two is more likely!)

And I even continued with bright yellow.  Perhaps it was a bit late by that time, as the pieces had chance to rearrange themselves while I wasn't looking!  Never mind; a bit of unsewing will sort that out.  Now to look for orange!

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

I think I've been bitting and bobbing because I'm bored.  Lots of things to do, but nothing which has really fired me up.  So I looked on hoping that Victoria would have something to rescue me from the doldrums.  There is lots of inspiration on her site, and I decided to take her colour challenge, as I'm always looking to improve my use of colour.  I started on Week 1 of the challenge, which is mauve.  The first thing to do is to find a piece of mauve fabric in your stash.  Here it is.

Then find some more mauve fabrics.  Easy peasy!  I included one with turquoise, yellow and mauve stripes to add a little contrast.

 Then use those fabrics to make some new mauve fabric.  For someone who loves Mile a Minute, this was heaven!
 Cut a square from the made fabric and cut that on the diagonal.  (Put the leftovers into the scraps drawer for future fun.) 

Use neutral fabric to made hsts and a new block, using the first fabric I chose for part of it.  Detailed instructions for sizes are on Victoria's site.

 Tah dah!
And here is the next block - ochre!  Onward and upward!

Friday, 3 August 2012

Bitting and bobbing

DH will certainly tell you that I have been busy sewing recently, but I don't seem to have achieved anything specific.  I've just been bitting and bobbing.  I have quilted my Japanese X + scrappy and sewn the binding on, and am part way through sewing it down.  I'm quite pleased with the quilting, as I just sewed in the ditch between each block, and then sewed round each cross in the middle, which has emphasised the design beautifully.  I just need to pull my finger out and get the rest of the binding stitched.

 For my challenge group, we're continuing with the scrappy theme and are all making Bonnie Hunter's 'Weed Whacker'.  I've made some blocks for that too.  The little pinwheels are made from the leftover triangles, and I'm hoping to incorporate them into the quilt - wate not, want not!

 I never fail to love Mile a Minute, and if I feel the need for some mindless sewing (which I have done recently) I make a few blocks.  Digging through my crumbs and strings brings back lovely memories of quilts and shopping trips gone by! 

 Because I use Bonnie Hunter's scrap savers system, I cut a lot of my leftover into strips of 1.5", 2" or 2.5" and store them in boxes ready for action.  The 1.5" box was getting quite full, so I made a few scrappy log cabin blocks - but I didn't make enough to do anything with!
 So I need to get focussed and see something through to the finish.  What better than my UFO Challenge quilt for this month, which is number 7.  Why, oh why hasn't this been finished before now? 
I'm just hoping I've still got a piece of the navy border fabric!  Keep your fingers crossed for me!