Friday, 22 November 2013

Cuzco Charm Crossing

In early July I shared the top of this quilt, and estimated that it would all be quilted and bound in a month. Well, it's been over 4 months since then and it's finally finished. Yay!!

Cold, clear, crisp Winter's day.

When I started quilting it I had plans of using bright pink and bright orange thread to do a double grid on the diagonal across the front. By the time I got to the end of making the grid in the pink thread I'd had enough, so I said done and started binding.

Phone pic, but love the binding all rolled up!!

Do you ever start a post and just not know the most coherent order to say things? That's me today, so I apologise if this is a little all over the shop.

The front of the quilt is Charm Crossing, a Moda Bake Shop recipe by Crafty Tammie. I was trying to figure out how to make a charm pack of Cuzco by Kate Spain into something big enough for me to keep and use when I came across the pattern. I have to say I found the making of the hourglass blocks horrifically boring, though Tammie does warn you and give you good ideas on how to make it more enjoyable! But now that the quilt is finished I actually wish I'd gone nuts and made it twice the size...

I love this quilt though. It's already keeping my toes warm on the bottom of my bed at night!

The backing is the solid colours recommended by Tammie to go with the quilt pattern. They're fabulously bold and vibrant. I made up strips at varying widths and then sewed them together like a jelly roll strip quilt for the backing. Adding in a few of the leftover Cuzco hourglasses - the leftover solid hourglasses are all grouped together in a wee bag, and waiting to be made into a baby quilt at some point in the future!

Then I took my leftovers and made scrappy binding!! I love scrappy binding.

I have to say I found the quilting on this really frustrating. The sewing machine here is really reliant on constant speed for regular stitches and even with a walking foot I found it hard to get this quilt going smoothly. It didn't help that my machine backs onto a wall, and that by deciding to make a diagonal grid I ended up with a long roll of quilt going through the machine.

I'm also trying out all-machine binding, as practice. I like to do it on baby quilts for security, and thought I'd practice on this quilt because I'm keeping it so it doesn't matter if there are lumps, bumps, and wobbles. I know it's practice, but I get quite frustrated when the result is a lot poorer than I'd like. However, Maureen Cracknell wrote a post this week which helped ease those frustrations a little, and I'm feeling slightly more upbeat now about practicing and improving.

One more for the road!

I've run out of things to say now, so this is probably a good place to leave it! Linking up with TGIFF over at Never Too Hot To Stitch and Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

WIP: Max's Quilt

I've been making two quilts from the same materials since the middle-ish of October. They're going to end up at just over 50" square and are fairly simple patterns that I decided on myself. However, I totally got into a rut with Max's quilt a couple of weeks ago. I tried to force myself to work on it for a week and ended up browsing the internet, eating, going for walks, tidying around, basically anything that wasn't working on the quilt.

I had gotten this far.

It took me that whole week of self-annoyance and beration before I just decided to do something else. And it worked. I spent a week quilting and binding a quilt top that I finished in July (more this Friday). And this week I've been speeding along and now have Max's quilt top finished and am about to start the second quilt top this afternoon!! Woohoo!!

I'm using a fat quarter bundle of Urban Zoologie by Ann Kelle, a variety of colours in Sketch and some white solids in both quilts. Max's quilt features fussy-ish cut prints of the Urban Zoologie surrounded by the bright colours of Sketch and then sashed in white.

Slightly odd angle, but I couldn't resist the pretty morning light on the final seam!

I designed the patterns, worked out yardage, and ordered it all. Which worked great, thank god. Because since then I have made multiple mistakes in piecing and cutting maths. I have had to cut extra strips of both the Sketch and the white fabrics because I calculated wrong first time round. And annoyingly it wasn't just one mistake that I kept repeating, but I managed to make whole different mistakes each and every time.

And the last night, when I was ironing my finished blocks I notice these two:

Yep, I sewed the sashing on backwards with a lovely big seam on the front of two blocks... Either this quilt is haunted or I'm losing my marbles this month.

And the final piece of annoyance. Sketch, in my experience which is just with these two quilts, frays like a mad thing. It has been driving me crazy. Even when I go along and clip the threads away they just return to get caught in seams and snag and generally make me growl in frustration. This experience has turned me off buying Sketch again.

I'm going to do a final clip of threads right before basting, but I am a little worried about how the quilt will hold up in the long term. I've been thinking about it the last couple of days, and have decided that instead of quilting on either side of the seams, I'm going to zig-zag stitch over the seams in the hopes that it will reinforce them. But really, I shouldn't have to worry about this sort of thing with modern quilting fabrics. In my opinion.

Admiring the look of the sashing before bed last night.

Enough ranting, it looks pretty and there are solutions to the problems so all in all this is a happy work in progress!!

Linking up to Lee at Freshly Pieced!

Friday, 15 November 2013

George's Quilt - finished!!

This is the largest and heaviest quilt I've made. Last Winter after hearing I'd made a couple of baby quilts my uncle asked me to make him a quilt. His duvet kept slipping off his bed and he needed something heavy that would stay in place. He stomped off upstairs with a measuring tape and came back to say he needed a 5' by 7' quilt (60" x 84"). It's nice when people are so definite in their quilting desires!

Slightly dodgy phone pic!

George lives in a drafty house, on the side of a mountain, in eastern Ireland. I knew the quilt was going to have to be heavy, and manly. No room for florals or busy patterns here. My mother (George's sister) bought the fabrics for the top as his Christmas present last year.

Bit ripply at the edges... Not well smoothed at all - shame on me!
I learned lots making this. I used chenille and wool and something that felt closer to canvas. The chenille clearly has a nap. I didn't know anything about nap before this quilt. I did know that the brown velvet trousers I owned as a teenager felt nicest when stroked in one direction, but that was the extent of my knowledge.

You can tell from the above photo that despite my efforts to  discern the nap when joining the chenille for the central stripe that I failed miserably. Miserably. I blame the poor light in Ireland, in Winter (technically I put this together last Spring but let's not quibble). I did just now realise that if I had taken a photo with the flash on of the fabric aligned before sewing then I would have known whether I had it right or not! Next time, I guess...

Anyway, the top was heavy, but we wanted to make sure to keep George warm up that mountain. So we found a heavy wool blanket and a brushed cotton sheet about the house that were perfectly sized for this quilt!

After moving the dining room furniture out, I got down to basting. And then, I got cross. Our trusty old sewing machine just couldn't handle this thickness of fabrics. There were skipped stitches. There were bad words. There may even have been some stomping. My mother and I decided that we'd ask the very excellent seamstress in town if she had an industrial machine that could handle it. She said yes! Relief.

I used every basting and safety pin in the house.

The quilting is not very dense. She did small diamonds of stitching dotted around the quilted, kind of similar, I guess, to hand-tied quilting but with an industrial sewing machine. It works. It's not particularly pretty, but you can barely see it on the quilt top, and I didn't have to do it!

This only left the binding. But at this point I was leaving for DC again. I left the binding undone and headed off, with promises of finishing when I came home in September for our big wedding bash. This is where love and luck came back in; Mammy took it on herself to do the binding. I think there was more than once when she wanted to eat the quilt rather than continue to put the binding on. But with the help of some online tutorials she got the WHOLE THING FINISHED!!! On the machine that I had given up on when quilting! She has a lot more patience and stamina than me, that's for sure. So in July my parents brought the quilt around the house and took photos to send to me - no more photos of the dining room floor!

Hanging on the line...

And being modelled by Dad!
The verdict from the man on the mountain, now that the weather has turned towards Winter here, is good, excellent in fact! Woop!

George's Quilt marks the end of the quilts I was making on the side and now I can get back to stuff I'm currently making/struggling with/dreaming of!

I'm very happily linking up to TGIFF this week, over at Audrey's lovely blog Hot Pink Quilts :)

Friday, 8 November 2013

Apple of My Eye Improv (Emilia's Quilt)

So I have two more quilts that I finished in the first half of the year, but that weren't gifted until September that I haven't shown you. Emilia's Quilt is first up.

I knew there was going to be a plethora of babies arriving over the summer to friends and family, so I started making quilts. I had the end of some yardage and a jelly roll of Apple of My Eye, which I think is just so perfect for little girls - not too girly or babyish, possible to be useful for picnics and tea-parties and forts until you're heading off to school! I had bought the fabric originally to make this quilt:

Freya's Quilt
And after doing Stitched in Color's Curves Class at the start of this year, I wanted to try out some improv (no added curves though, as I didn't want to bite off more than I could chew on my first solo improv-ing). All I did was take out the scraps and sort them by relative size and then start laying them out on the couch willy-nilly. There were two larger scraps and I decided they could be the central pieces on either end of the quilt and then I just had to figure out how to use the other pieces to join them together...

It took me just one day to go from scraps to quilt top. I'm not saying it's the most interesting or beautiful quilt top out there, but I had so much fun making it. Once I started I couldn't stop and it came together so quickly! Admittedly, the jelly roll strips helped in keeping the improv quite simple. I just strip pieced in various orientations to break up the quilt top. I also added in three QST blocks, which I just adored. Though they blend in very well with the top and can be hard to pick out (centre bottom in the above picture, staggered placement).

To try and make the QST blocks stand out a bit more I decided to do the quilting along all the seam lines. Which meant that in some areas of the quilt there is a grid and in other areas you get some diagonal lines cutting through - the picture above illustrates it best.

In fact, I'm quite cross with myself. The fact that I knew this would be a gift meant I took minimal photos while making this, and then I ran out of time before giving the gift to Emilia's parents! I wish I had a picture of the back with the quilting showing, it would show up so much better. I think this is a lesson learned.

Finally I backed the quilt in just one piece of fabric, which I can't remember the name of, so here's a weird photo of the quilt hanging off a door that shows it:

And finally, a picture of the finished quilt. Bound in a solid green, from the leftover backing of Freya's Quilt - this quilt really is sort of the full stop to that quilt... I can't tell if that makes sense but I'm going with it!

A small part of me wishes I could go back and put a felt applique 'E' on one of the large squares with blanket stitch all around and have it slightly puffy and stuffed... But I didn't have time for that this summer, nor did the idea really occur to me until after it was gifted! Something to keep in mind for the future.

All in all, I really love this quilt. It feels very happy to me, and girly without being in your face pink. I had a blast making it, and really need to find regular time in the New Year to play with my scraps - so much fun!!

Linking to Thank Goodness It's Finished Friday which is hosted at Quokka Quilts this week :)