Thursday, 30 October 2014

BQF - Pigeon House

Pigeon House was inspired by a photograph I saw of dawn behind a Dublin landmark, the cooling towers at Poolbeg (locally referred to as Pigeon House). I lived in Dublin for 8 years before I moved to America and I always loved seeing the towers as part of the skyline there. If you want you can read my original post here.

Pigeon House

The MQG's Riley Blake Basics Challenge fabrics made me think of dawn/sunset colours and so I made this quilt at the start of this year, though I didn't finish on time for the challenge. I designed the top section in mostly 1" squares and HSTs, and the bottom is a self-drafted paper-pieced pattern. I took my sweet time with the quilting. I knew exactly what I wanted to achieve, but I had never deviated from quilting on either side of seams or some diagonal lines. So even though I kept to straight lines here, I changed it up in different sections to suit.

Yellow quilting around sun, black in buildings, and white on the strand!

Burying threads was definitely the most time consuming part. I'd never done it before, didn't really know how to do it, and trying to bury black threads on a black backing fabric is tedious to say the least! However, the effects are amazing and for the right project I would definitely do it again. The lovely people of instagram also informed me when I started complaining about batting fluff on my black backing that black batting exists - I have so many things left to learn in quilting!

Black Backing - thread burying headache

This quilt definitely pushed my boundaries, and even writing about it now has reminded me why I should do that more often. It was trying at times, I took a long time, but I really loved learning so much and now I get to see a little bit of home that I've made for myself every single day!

My new view!

I'm entering this into the mini quilt category at the Blogger's Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side! And then I'm going to spend most of the next week looking at all the entries in all the categories, I love this festival - so much to discover!!

Quilt Stats:
Fabrics: MQG Riley Blake Basics Challenge Fabrics
Size: 20" square
Pattern by: Me
Pieced & Quilted by: Me on my domestic Brother

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

I actually finished a project!

Like to the actual end. It's also my first Christmas present ready for this year (but that's not organisation, oh no! read on).

I was asked to make my almost 3 year old niece a nappy/diaper bag for her dolls back in the Spring. I said yes immediately, but it took me a couple of months to gather the right fabric and figure out what sort of pattern I'd use. I knew I wanted a messenger type bag with pockets she could use for doll paraphernalia! So I decide to take the only bag pattern I've ever made and scale it down by 2/3s. Don't do that, well do if you want to, but bag pattern makers know what they're at and I think that bag was at the right size for making it on a home machine with the recommended materials - I'm starting to think bag designing is voodoo and only something to be undertaken with proper instruction! Three dimensional objects be hard.

I made some early mistakes but it was super promising. Then it went horribly. The combination of Soft'n'Stable and denim made my machine super grumpy. On the final seam it ate two needles, and then I broke a handstitching needle, and I gave up. It went in the bin, which was sad because I'd grown attached to it as possible even a funky clutch!

It took till September before I tried again. A new pattern fortuitously surfaced on the internet right before me, the Malibu Satchel by Fabric Mutt! It's the perfect size for a small handbag or as a toddler's messenger bag! The body of the bag went together really quickly and easily, even with the dreaded denim. I added an extra elasticated pocket. Procrastination took me another month to gather the bits and bobs I needed for the straps and I finished it all off yesterday.

I'm really happy how it turned out. The strapping is polyester, and not the lovely cotton webbing that Heidi uses in the tutorial. I've seen people on other sites use other brightly coloured webbing too which looked lots of fun, but I quite like the bright white I've got even if it feels a bit naff. Plus, if my brother- and sister-in-law want to keep using the bag as Grace grows then they can easily switch out the strap as it's only attached with lobster clips. Just buy and cut a longer piece of strapping and you're away!

If I was going on a beach weekend, or to a laid back music festival I would make another one of these bags in a flash! I just need to broaden my hardware buying locales - my local Joann's and Hancock's are not fantastic in this department.

Wednesday, 15 October 2014

Rediscovering Improv

I took the 10 Ways to Love Improvisational Quilting class with Malka Dubrawsky on CreativeLive last week. It was free when it was live, though you have to buy it if you want to see the recording now - it's $79. It was the first time I've taken a class on CreativeLive. It was an experience, I decided on a whim. I had some free time, and needed something to pick up my mood and my sewing mojo.

Improv log cabins: warm, cool, & rainbow

I did find that the class was poorly explained in advance. I did know it was live, and that it would be running from 11am to 6pm my time. But I didn't realise at first that it was on for two days, thankfully I had both days to spare. They didn't provide a list of required materials ahead of time either so the first day was quite the scramble. I just pulled two black and white fabrics, a white fabric, and a collection of solids I bought over a year ago for a different project. I culled that project off my to do list at the end of the summer so they were looking for a new home :)

Pinwheels made with improv'd HSTs

Sewing along at home was ambitious, they really raced through the projects. True Malka had some pieces half prepared, and the people in the studio had baskets of materials provided, whereas I was dashing about, but Malka is a machine! I'd say I only attempted half the blocks Malka demonstrated. But it was so much fun!

Flying geese - I have a not great track record with
making these look nice, so we'll see!

I forgot, somehow, that the answer to how much I hate the cutting part of making quilts is improv quilting. It's so freeing! I had so much fun, I learned some new things, re-learned some stuff I'd done before but let flow out of my brain through lack of use. It is exhausting though, there are so many decisions to make all the way through. It's like when you go and do the groceries, and then they try and get you with sweets at the checkout because they know you're exhausted by making choices and you're weak now and will just buy random crap. After two days of improv, even with Malka leading the way for me, I was exhausted - thank god it was a Project Runway night!

I always sew these better super slowly and without pins.

I did some more sewing over the long weekend and added in some more blocks, including a giant HST star.

Really like this star that Malka suggested making with HSTs

I'm now thinking about trying to join all these up like a medallion quilt - ambitious! But I'm loving these colours and shapes so much, plus I want to see if I can do it ;)

Dodgy pic, but thinking a triangle border after this, then drunkard's paths,
then a final string/strip border.
Linking up to WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced!