Wednesday, 2 September 2015

WIP: Cheer You Up Cushion

Last week I decided on a bit of a whim that Paul would like a big cheery cushion to have in Raleigh when I'm not there. It would make the place cosier and might give him a smile when he sees it. I don't know.

Initial fabric pull.

However, I'm not the titan of sewing you'll find on other blogs. I just about finished the front of the cushion before I left. So this is relegated to work in progress status. However, I tried out a new block, used non-white, low-volume (I guess?), backgrounds, and cut into some Alexander Henry Calaveras Alegres fabric for the first time!

First ever wonky star!

I wasn't sure the low volume backgrounds to the wonky stars (I used The Silly BooDilly's tutorial) was going to work. The skulls are so vibrant, that I started and then thought, oh god they need really punchy, contrasting stars, I should have just done pure white and black backgrounds, and solid, clean colours for the stars. But then, I had no white fabric.

Using the back side of fabric for better contrast.

As I made more of the stars, I started to realise that, to my eyes (and possibly addled brain), they were bringing a comic book element. Do you know when the character's clothes are coloured in on the cover with a lot of little dots for texture, and the like? And after that, I started being reminded of the paint with water books from when I was a kid.

Still amazes me how much blocks shrink with seam allowance loss.

Paul really liked the stars all the way through, which I think is all that kept me from freaking out and starting over right at the beginning. But I really like them now too, so all's well that end's well? Plus, I've learned to give my brain some time to adjust to things. And there isn't just one right answer. I don't know, I'm jetlagged, if any of this is going in and staying in I'll be amazed.

One cushion front - sewn together mere hours before my plane! Success!
(no one was looking for a finished cushion, right?)

Before I left I pulled all the other pieces I needed to make the back and insides of this cushion. I'm going for a really big one, I love sitting up in bed with a big cushion behind me. So this is for a 24" form. Now all I have to do is get back to Raleigh and finish it! Who knows, maybe I'll talk Paul through the end of the process over skype...??? Shall we take bets?

Friday, 28 August 2015

Year Apart Quilt - Creating a Mini Stash

As many of you know we moved from Texas to North Carolina this summer. Paul got a much better job, with a much longer contract and the prospect of permanence in several years. We have been really wanting to be somewhat more settled for a while now so this is fantastic on all levels, plus Houston has really awful weather and a lot of concrete. Though I really like the rest of Texas.

x and + quilt laid out in full.

However, as you may have gleaned from allusions to bs, from my absence here and elsewhere, and the title of this post, this hasn't and won't be the straight road we expected. My visa is going to take longer to apply for and get than Paul's (thankfully, he's already working - woo!). A lot longer. We can ask to speed it up, but likely be rejected. What all this means is that I'm going back to Ireland on Sunday, where I'll stay for at least the next 7 months, more likely the next 11 months.

Things could be worse. Paul has a flexible-ish job now and will be able to work from Ireland for a little bit early next year, hopefully. I can look for a job and work while I'm back home - yay! Also, scary, because it's been a while. Mostly I'm looking for things I can distract myself with for when I'm lonely or ragey (because parents, again, at 33). So I've made probably a way too ambitious list, for my suitcase, let alone my time, of projects to bring home and make.

USA Embroidery Map

In July I was following Adrianne from On The Windy Side's instagram feed and her #year30quilt, and I thought, well why don't I make a block a day for the time we're apart. So I started a little notebook of daily block ideas over the last month to see if I could even come up with some inspiration each day and it's been fun! I thought I'd forget completely before the first week was out, and I do forget every week or two for like a day, but then I pick right back up. So I think I'm going to go for it, a #yearapartquilt.

I'm going to cheat on the concept slightly, and use the notebook, so my blocks will be from inspiration that happened a month previous, but it will mean I can plan what I need for a whole week on a Sunday night. Hopefully, if I actually am that kind of organized, and don't just think it at the beginning. Let's find out!

How have I never used this print?

In deciding this I realized I don't own any fabric in Ireland anymore. Buy more, you say! Just moved state, I say! So I decided to cut a 6" strip off every piece of fabric I own (ok, I skipped a few of the more ugly ones). I still filled two of those plastic shoe boxes. I didn't even cut all the solids, I figured I'd defo buy them locally. This is just a starter pack? Have I gone too far?  Sometimes it's hard to tell where too far is.

I also have a pile of large print/multicolor fabric equal to the one on the left,
and a pile of solids equal to the one on the right not pictured.

I've also started a very pinterest-cliche USA embroidery project. By started I mean, gathered all the materials, transferred the map outline, and packed it back up again. I plan to color in the states that I've been to, as I visit them. So far I'm good for 13 states and D.C.

Trimmings not looking that much smaller...

I've reached the point where I'm beginning to worry about suitcase limits, even though I'll be buying a 2nd one (have to bring home the winter coats, because I will freeze - I'm coming from Houston, people!). Even so, I'm still pondering whether I should bring my x and + blocks and finish that off, along with a quilt for my parents, and an AMH footwarmer for us. (not going to mention the quilt I already have in Ireland, or the smaller clothing projects I also plan, nope, they don't count)

Bit more like it, that's yellows and oranges.

I think the packing will provide a natural culling point. And Paul gets a 2nd bag for free, so he can always bring me more stuff at Christmas, right!??? I think that's how marriage is supposed to work, fill your suitcase with fabric for me, that's defo a vow...

All the neutral and warm fabrics in one shoe box.

This is approaching rambling territory, it's getting late, and I'm getting hungry. So it's time I let you go. I guess I just wanted to update you on why after one move, I'm making another one so soon. Why it's only me this time, and why not to be surprised when another one hopefully happens next Spring/Summer. Wish me luck, even if only with the packing!!

A :)

Friday, 21 August 2015

The New Addition Quilt

It's been a long summer, filled with mostly non-sewing bs. But there has been one quilt that has gone from beginning to end and found its home with a little girl I haven't gotten to cuddle yet but will find in just a few more weeks.

Sometimes the wind wins.

As the newest addition to a family, I thought it fitting I use plus blocks for this quilt. The colours are inspired by a photo of a mountain at sunset I have pinned, on a background of cream. I had a lot of fun looking for just the right fabrics, and then fussy cutting little details here and there - kids in trees, butterflies, baby toys.

We found a still spot ahead of the rain.

A navy binding with a thin zigzag gives lots of directional changes and a nice firm frame. But the backing was so perfect - Ann Kelle's superkids;girls in pink! I just LOVE this fabric. I bought extra.

The Supergirls are Flying!

I free motion quilted this one. The very first time I've done anything larger than a 10" square. I just chose a loopy variation on a straight line, some baby pink thread, and went for it. It went surprisingly quickly and well. I tend to lose concentration as I get further down the line and speed up as I go around the loops and so my stitch length can get a little funny in those areas. But I definitely improved as I went on. And I enjoyed it, in an 'enter the zen' kind of way. If I was trying to do a lot of different designs I'm not sure how much I'd enjoy that right now, but my skills aren't there yet so no need to fret about that for a while!

Girl in a Tree and loopy FMQ-ness.

I finished sewing down the binding when we arrived in Ireland at the start of July and tried to find a good day to take some photos. However, the nice days were incredibly windy and the non-windy days were wet and overcast (and freezing). But it was fun trying to find the still spots, or the calm between the gusts, and eventually for close ups I reverted to the clothesline in the back garden.

Just realised this picture is taken on the seam line of the back, but here
are the supergirls!!

At the moment I find myself overwhelmingly just wanting to make things. But by the time I've figured out what and how and gotten the sewing machine out I don't want to anymore. It's like I'm overthinking the quilts right out of me. One part of me wants spontaneous creation to feel better and another part of me feels I can't start until I know exactly where I'm going, and the two parts don't seem to be able to co-exist. One saps the joy from the other. Does anyone else ever feel that way? Or have I finally started to unhinge?

Lovely post-wash texture.

Overall though, I made something this year and it has a snuggly home! There's definitely some joy right there.

Thursday, 7 May 2015

Planning for an East Coast Autumn

Just a quick drop-in, the last 5 weeks since I got back to Houston have been busy busy busy. Paul went straight to a job interview two days after I got back, and then was offered two jobs within the week following his return. He'd been sending out resumés and doing the odd interview since the end of last year and nothing had been happening so we weren't really expecting this sudden frenzy. We got some good advice about going to visit the prospective new towns, we didn't do that with our move to Houston and we've found the adjustment here pretty hard. So you saw some of our visit to Muncie IN last time, and we also visited Raleigh NC. I took much fewer photos in Raleigh, the weather was not as good and it turns out it doesn't matter because come August that's going to be our new address!!

Street art, Raleigh.

I was completely wiped out last weekend after a month of travel and decisions, following on from a month where I was stuck in Ireland recovering from a bad scald. I had bought some AMH velveteen in a sale a couple of summers ago and planned on making a throw for the bottom of our bed. Before Christmas I had begun cutting out squares from my AMH collection, bits and pieces from various collections (scrap packs, FQ bundles, charm packs, whatever I'd gotten my hands on). But life had gotten in the way, that happens easily for me when it comes to lots of cutting or basting!

Fussy cut prints. The Big Squares.

Last weekend I was in just the right head space to mindlessly cut squares though, fussy cut in places, and then play with layout and enjoy the colours! Paul got into it as well, and the squares stayed on our bedroom floor all weekend. We had to use our phones' torches to go to the loo in the night - totally worth it though to wake up to all the colours in the morning!

I couldn't decide if the gaps should be filled in with more AMH or if that
would be too chaotic, so I tested in the top left corner first.

All The Colours!

Blocks got moved, one got replaced with a big leopard print square, I
couldn't believe how much tinkering I did before I was totally happy.

Anyway, this one's packed away into a plastic shoe box now and maybe it'll be my first quilt to make in our new place in NC, when we find one - it looks kind of perfect for Autumn to me! In the meantime, I have two quilts that need making before we leave Houston, one that's a top and partial back. And another that's only a plan, but will need to go to Ireland when we do for visas. I will keep you updated ;)

All The Colours!!!

Tuesday, 28 April 2015

A Few Days Away: Muncie, Indiana

A week or more ago I got the chance to visit Muncie, Indiana for a long weekend. I'd never been to Indiana before and I have to say everyone we met there was really lovely and very chatty, even the cop who pulled us over took us on a mini tour of the village we were in before letting us go on our way with a warning to pay more attention to stop signs and less attention to our gps when lost (duly noted, first time pulled over, fully lighted up chevy suburbans are kinda terrifying tbh). In light of recent events and laws passed in Indiana I do realise that this straight Irish couple are always going to have it easy in the getting a warm welcome department though.

Ball State University, home of the weeping angels?

I got a chance to visit Muncie's quilt shop, Cotton Candy Quilt Shoppe! They were genuinely lovely people and chatted for ages, told us lots about the area and sold me this bevy of neutral beauties. I'm collecting for the background of a quilt I'm making my parents, hopefully this year! They even invited me upstairs to join in on their class that was on, but we were in the middle of touring our way back to Indianapolis that day and I didn't have the time :(

Hard to tell, but the one in front is a Moda Grunge fabric.

I brought some handstitching for the plane and the hotel evenings (that one didn't happen, just conked straight out each night after walking the feet off myself). But the planes required entertainment, and I got this block finished!

I have this next block all ready, the final block in this batch of ten for the Farmer's Wife quilt, but I don't know how long I'm going to take to make it. I do love the colours so it's at least enticing still! I need to get back into the habit of stitching in the evenings, or find a lot of time in waiting rooms soon...

I was going to say let's time me! But let's not!! It would sap the joy. And right now I'm all about the fun in sewing :)


Monday, 20 April 2015

I'll start at the start

I went to Ireland for 6 days in late February for the wedding of a longtime friend, the wedding was beautiful even if the weather was not. But the trip itself turned out to be pretty doomed for me, and my constant refrain was 'it's all uphill from here' - it is not always uphill from there it turns out. One of the hill bottoms was scalding my right thigh quite badly with a cup of freshly made herbal tea about 5 hours before my flight back to Texas. My dad was thinking and suggested the shower, I later found out that running water on the burn (not necessarily cold because over a large area you can induce hypothermia, so tepid is fine) but running it for 20 minutes can reduce scars and skin grafts (I didn't need them, still waiting to see on the scar side). It would have been good to know that before, so now you know just in case!? I really hope it never happens to you, it's truly awful. It took about 3 weeks for the wound to heal over and because Paul was travelling a lot for work in the US we delayed my flight back another couple of weeks and I got back at the start of April. That was a whole other debacle, that uphill bit again, and it's good I stayed in Ireland that long because my burn did not like having to sit around all that time in the airports and planes. But I'm here now!
These are Hovering Birds, Jackknife, and Mother's Dream!

While I was home I had three farmer's wife blocks to distract me, and I downloaded the netflix app to my phone - it didn't care if I fell asleep randomly. I got those blocks finished - woop!

The centre of the Handstitched Medallion by Stitched in Color!

Once my leg was up to having some pressure put on it again I could get out my mother's sewing machine and I pulled out a really old project, I didn't get much done in the end but I did bring it back with me to finish off - I'm quite close. The blanket stitching took a long time around these blossoms, maybe because I got a bit strange and pernickety about spacing. Too little to do, idle hands and all that.

I really like the fabrics I chose for this quilt. This was the first pattern I'd ever shopped for and it took a really long time, involved Paul, and I second guessed the whole way through. But since then I've gotten in the habit of working within designers or within lines, I'm scared of mixing things. I tried last year again and it went disastrously - I'll show you sometime, I kept all the HSTs I made in case I figure out a way to fix it. But I want to break out of that, that's a new long term goal for me.

The neon threads are unrelated, but I found them in the LQS at home!

I'm going to leave it here for now, I'll be back with the tiny bits I've been up to since I came home in a few days :)

I've missed you, sorry to have been gone so long!

Friday, 13 February 2015

IQF 2014 Post 7: Modern Quilts

These are about a third of the quilts that were in the Modern Quilt Guild's exhibition at Festival 2014. They are the ones, like all the quilts in this series, that really caught my eye. For whatever reason. I kept the MQG exhibit quilts to last because I knew QuiltCon would be following soon after and I thought it might be a nice lede (not 100% sure I'm using that word right). There are a lot of pictures this week, and some detail shots of a good few quilts so I will try and keep the writing short and sweet!

Amazonia by Nathalie Bearden

Amazonia by Nathalie Bearden, a minimalist take on the mystical jungle of her childhood dreams. There is different quilting styles in each of the layers. The quilt was machine pieced and free motion quilted. It reminded me of those block diagrams you learn to draw in geography class, I loved those.

Detail of Amazonia by Nathalie Bearden

Anni Albers' Orange Chair by Martha Peterson

Anni Albers' Orange Chair by Martha Peterson was made for the Seattle Modern Quilt Guild's Binary Challenge, a two colour quilting test. An email ad for Anni Albers' designs sparked some exploration and inspiration from Triangulated Intaglio IV. The lone orange chair made its own way in to this red and white quilt using HSTs in a 'non-traditional setting with irregular negative space'.

City Center by Angie Henderson

City Center by Angie Henderson is a medallion quilt, although the design is Modern Log Cabin by Art Gallery Fabric Staff in Generation Q. Magazine Jan-Feb 2014 edition. The tiny little borders make me the happiest, and then the inserts of perpendicular rectangles and squares within some borders come a close second!

Disruption by Barbara Lockwood

Disruption by Barbara Lockwood is here to play with your mind. Seriously, how did she put this together and not go barmy? It's more than a little bit brilliant. My photo has not done justice to the colours. The inspiration was a traditional Chinese porcelain design, and from Barbara's fascination with tessellations and Escher. To disrupt the orderliness of the pattern and create energy Barbara changed the colours and allowed her quilting to flow from that.

Entropy by Elisa Albury

Entropy by Elisa Albury was conceived from the shapes and negative spaces created by dropping a container of ice-cream sprinkles. And from a distance it did indeed make me think of hundreds and thousands! (Is that an Irish term for sprinkles?) This quilt is fun.

Detail of Entropy by Elisa Albury

Funky Junk by Renee Tallman

Funky Junk by Renee Tallman is just great. It's made of drunkard's path blocks and a quilt top that was sewn together and cut apart 7 times. It got thrown in the bin twice out of frustration. But finally, Renee made this beauty inspired by another quilt she saw once 20 years ago. Renee thinks Funky Junk is now acceptable and she quite likes it. There is some beautiful handstitching too! That is some mad-ass tenacity right there, and that's what makes this quilt my favourite.

Detail of Funky Junk by Renee Tallman

Grand Canal by Casey York, quilted by Ann McNew

Grand Canal by Casey York and quilted by Ann McNew is kind of bland I think, not the quilting - that's spectacular, but the perspective use crossed with the total minimalism is new for me so I'm including it here. The perspective play is based on work of garden designers of the 17th century and this vista is from the gardens of Versailles designed by Andre le Notre. In the 17th century apparently they were all into having it look as if their landscaping extended into almost infinity. Casey has a book on using applique to create illusions of depth if you're interested, more details at the link on her name above.

Detail of Grand Canal by Casey York, quilting by Ann McNew

Homage by Jacquie Gering

Homage by Jacquie Gering is based on the colour principles of Josef Albers (nice to have him now and Anni above!). This quilt illustrates the principles of making one colour appear as two. Jacquie has used Albers' book Interaction of Color as a touchstone while she's grown as an artist so this quilt is aptly named. I enjoyed spending time at this quilt and following the different colours around and watching how my perception of them changed. Maybe more fun to do than describe...?

Only three more quilts lads, we can do it!

Off Center by Charlotte Noll

Off Center by Charlotte Noll was an entry into the MQG's Riley Blake Challenge. The front is appliquéd and I love the spiral in the centre of the crazy whirlpool of colour lightning that's happening here. It's like something that pops out of a cartoon characters head after they've been biffed with a mallet.

The White Rainbow by Shruti Dandekar

The White Rainbow by Shruti Dandekar was a quilt I was really looking forward to seeing in person and it didn't disappoint. I love the idea of writing the rainbow in braille on white fabric and then quilting it trapunto style (never quite sure how to use trapunto in a sentence). Shruti also added some coloured quilting lines among her matchstick quilting so when you get up close and personal with the quilt there is a rainbow hiding there, as well as the slightly larger one in the binding.

Detail of The White Rainbow by
Shruti Dandekar

Tune in Next Week by Chawne Kimber, quilted by Pamela Cole

Finally, we have Tune in Next Week by Chawne Kimber, quilted by Pamela Cole. Another MQG fabric challenge, this time from Michael Miller. The fabric reminded Chawne of Sputnik and early TV antennae and so a mid-century mod design was born. Improv log cabins of irregular sizes 'bounce' around the quilt top and elsewhere 'playful deconstructions of architecture' take place. I'm not a fan of mid-century mod design but in this quilt I clearly see the playful television vibe and I really like the changes in line thickness throughout, just like above. It draws me in and makes me want to stay.

That's it, we're done. I've really enjoyed doing this even if it might have been overwhelming to read? Those of us who aren't going to QuiltCon get to wait for the photos of the quilts that are hanging there to start showing up next weekend. I'm interested to see all the directions people have been heading in, though I guess I have to remember it is a curated exhibition of those directions.

Sunday, 8 February 2015

IQF 2014 Post 6: Appliqué

This week is appliqué! I've had several ideas for quilts over the last year and all of them seem to require appliqué to pull off. Something I swore to myself I'd never start, too fiddly, too much perfection, etc, etc... I'm still on the dubious side. I have little to no idea how my patience will last or what the durability of me-made appliqué might be like. But there is only one way to find out, and to get these ideas out into the real world!

Thankfully for you lot, you get to see other people's appliqué quilts right now. Ones good enough to be in a big show. So let's sit back and enjoy this.

Hudson Trader by Colleen Wise

Hudson Trader by Colleen Wise is for the quilter's sister, made of her favourite fabrics and named for her username. The spherical drops of fabric gobsmacked me. I wish I had a better photo for you. Colleen used machine piecing, appliqué, painting, and machine quilting to achieve these effects. I assume the light and shade of the spheres is what's painted, the circles are appliquéd, and everything is pieced and quilted as you would. But I'd like to be looking at the quilt in person while I thought about this, and not this photo. This is why people go to shows over multiple days!

Not Hiding, Not Revealing by Sharon Hightower

Not Hiding, Not Revealing by Sharon Hightower is inspired by the Valspar Paint ad, you know the one. Her feisty chameleon is taking on three colours courtesy of raw-edge collage and machine quilting. Now, I'm not sure what raw-edge collage is, but I'm guessing somewhere between appliqué and that mad tiny almost dust bits of fabric under tulle (is that tulle?) where you get the crazy landscapes? I really like the non-squareness of this quilt. It also takes me a minute each time to see the chameleon, but he's actually really detailed.

Libby's Leaves by Laura Wasilowski

Libby's Leaves by Laura Wasilowski was inspired by Libby Lehman's Leaves in Living Color and uses fused appliqué and machine quilting. There are some lovely close-ups of the quilting and the stitching around the appliqué on Laura's site at the above link. The colours on this one really got me, as did the shapes within shapes and unusual layout.

Wanna Cookie? by Teresa Duryea Wong

Inspired by David Taylor's Maynard quilt, Teresa Duryea Wong has captured her dog Chip's attentive response in Wanna Cookie? as well as his greying muzzle and bright eyes! Hand appliquéing hundreds of pieces of fabric and then using machine quilting to define Chip's fur and bone structure Teresa wanted to capture his calm, happy personality. This is an appliqué technique that does fascinate me. It appears simple, but as you consider how you would have to divide up the subject into smaller shapes without losing their bone structure, then choosing colours and colours gradients that keep perspective and depth, light and shade, before adding the final details of quilting back in on top of this again. It must be very complex.

Spring Has Come by Akiko Kawata

Spring Has Come by Akiko Kawata. This is closer to traditional appliqué quilts, while still having unexpected elements. The background is made up of sinuous strands of various yellows and there are appliqué circles of purple bubbling there way across the quilt also. The pansies stand proud, each different but all somehow uniform. Like a beautiful flower show. There's a gorgeous dark satin stitch around each petal of the pansy, and metallic thread in the centre.

Spring Has Come detail

Finally, we have Tessellating Wings by Wendy Butler Berns. This quilt was one of the first to catch my eye when I got to the hall. The Monarch wings twisting in on themselves to form an almost chrysalis, against the pale blue but not static sky. Techniques used include machine appliqué, machine quilted, embellished, and painted. Wendy drew a sketch of a butterfly wing and then tessellated it to see what would happen. She wanted to push herself design wise and also used oil sticks for the first time in her quilting. Wendy teaches the technique she used to make this quilt on Craftsy, you can find out more on her website at the link above.

Tessellating Wings by Wendy Butler Berns

I think when I started quilting I had an idea that all appliqué quilts were those very 19th century perfectly turned out appliqué quilts, with the sort of abstract bowls of fruit and hearts and flower motifs. They seemed very proper and not at all like me (messy, impatient, too many curse words). Seeing these quilts at Festival has made me realise what I should have figured out by myself, appliqué is a skill that can be bent to serve whatever purpose you want. Have fun and make what comes to mind. I'm still not convinced on durability ;)