31 January 2013

The Shelves of Doom

The great sewing room tidy up continues with the dreaded bookcase. My room is too small to stand back and take a full photo and I still have to sort out all the paper & patterns...
But I have finished organising all my threads etc and now the top shelves look a lot better...

I did have all my DMC thread on bobbins sorted by number, but I only ever use DMC for adding embroidery details to quilt projects etc, so filing by colour seemed to make much more sense to me.
Duplicate full skeins are in zip lock bags in this pretty box, and I have a colour thread chart if I need to find a particular number quickly.
Thanks to everyone who suggested storing silk threads in floss-away bags, they are too expensive to leave in a tangled heap in a box! These are by brand name and colour number on rings.
 AVAS have their own special box, with room for growth!
Hand dyed cottons are loosely arranged by colour family in this box
Beads, trim, braids etc are in the three 'Marken' boxes
The beautiful sampler boxes were purchased over a period of several years at craft shows when I lived in Holland from the Kunst & Vliegwerk stand, they are still available HERE. The duck egg boxes were bought in the Laura Ashley sale. My mother gave me the little statue years ago as it reminded her of me and my two boys...

30 January 2013

Dear Jane Wednesday

This week the challenge block was G11 'Decisions, Decisions'. In an effort to become bestest friends with my sewing machine I decided to machine piece and machine applique this one, I fused the diamonds with steam-a-seam and then machine buttonhole stitched around the edge.
DJ wednesday seems to be working out for me, my block chart is slowly filling up.

27 January 2013

SDW Sampler SAL Week 13

Not as much progress as I would have liked this week, I was distracted by the need to sort and tidy my sewing room! I am still waiting for a skein of the dark blue to arrive, hopefully I can finish this band next week.

25 January 2013

Sometimes things have to get worse before they get better...

It all started when I went into my small sewing room to look for some green twill to line the log basket. I knew I had some, but I couldn't find it. In fact my room had become really disorganised with things being dumped in there over Christmas. Baskets were filled with fabrics from finished quilts waiting to be put away, fabrics for new quilts were piled up waiting for empty baskets etc etc. So I decided to sort it out properly, which meant it looked like this for a while...
and after...
 Baskets containing the pattern and fabrics for 'Easy Street' which I am currently assembling, 'Grandmother's choice'- next up after ES and Wip's 'Birds of a Feather' and 'Vintage Valentine' and an empty basket!!
 I used to knit and would like to start again, I have some lovely yarn that was lying about in plastic bags, I did find another bag tucked away after I took this photo! now I can see it all I am inspired to start doing something with it!
 Project bags and sewing wallets I have made, I much prefer using these to plastic bags.
 A Jelly Roll, some charm packs and a couple of Fat 1/8th bundles just waiting for inspiration.
Fabrics sorted by colour, large pieces are in the right hand drawers which are out of view. These baskets contain the bulk of my collection - mostly Fat quarters or less. I love that I can see what I have!

I have moved all my quilting books to the study/library where I can access them easily, but I still need to finish tidying the bookshelves, I have a mountain of paper - patterns, pages from magazines etc. I am thinking of putting them in plastic sleeves in magazine holders so I could have a neat row of them all the same. Does anyone have any tips for the best way to sort and organise patterns on the shelves?

23 January 2013

Dear Jane Wednesday's

Today is Wednesday so I have been working on my Dear Jane Quilt; setting aside one day a week seems to be working so far. The challenge block was a little more tricky this week so I only managed the one. This is F10 'Pot Holder' I decided to reverse applique this one as I am not a fan of paper piecing and I couldn't see how else to do it!

22 January 2013

Trying something new

In February some of us in my applique group will start work on the fabulous Vintage Valentine quilt. I decided to get all my pieces prepped this afternoon so that I can start sewing on the 1st.
Over the years I have tried lots of different applique methods and always come back to needleturn, it works well for me. I cut the pieces out of freezer paper and iron them to the right side of my chosen fabrics.
I draw round the FP pattern with a silver or white Gelly Roll pen and cut them out. I normally leave the freezer paper on until I am about to stitch, then using a vinyl overlay I place each piece in position one at a time, remove the freezer paper and stitch in place. This method works well but it can be a slow process placing one piece at a time. I have noticed a number of people have started gluing all the pieces in place before taking a stitch so I thought I would give it a try.

I used a Sewline glue stick to attach all the applique. I like that I can see how the finished block will look before I start stitching. The block is now completely portable. The pieces lift off with a little pressure very easily and the glue dissolves in water. I don't know how easy it will be to stitch and I don't know if the pieces will start to fray. I can always go back to my old way if this doesn't work. Sometimes it's good to try something new!

20 January 2013

SDW Sampler SAL Week 12

I can't believe we have been stitching this sampler for a couple of hours a week for twelve weeks already. I still love it and am really enjoying our SAL ;)

19 January 2013

Un-sewing :(

Today I have been practising my frog stitch - Rip it, Rip it, Rip it...

I have always loved old quilts that have a block turned the wrong way or a bit of wonky applique! I like the handmade quirky look! I love the Amish philosophy that only God is perfect and the fact that they sometimes make a deliberate mistake.
I alway try to be accurate and follow the pattern instructions, but let's just say I have never had to make a humility block on purpose! After all does it really matter? I don't profit from my quilts and I don't enter competitions, no-one has ever rejected a quilt I made on a cold winter's night because a block was upside down!
So when several people pointed out that some of my four-patch blocks (orange & cream squares) for the Easy Street Mystery were the wrong way round (There's a right way?!!) my first thought was to leave them. The more I thought about it, the more I realised that yes, this would actually bother me. These squares form a second design when the top is sewn together, framing the blocks beautifully. You can see how nice Bonnie's looks (her's are grey/white)
While mine looks a sort of mess, with orange squares all over the place, obviously wrong even to the proverbial blind man on the back of a galloping horse...
So as much as I hate doing it, today I have been unpicking and correcting the mistakes, luckily it's not every block. I still couldn't face spending all my time in corrections, so I have decided to pull the blocks needed for a row at a time, correct the mistakes and piece the row. I now have my first row completed, it only took 45 minutes, it feels like I am actually progressing with this quilt, even if I am going two steps forward and one back!!
I have also decided on my border fabrics, at least I think I have...

18 January 2013

Easy Street Mystery Clue 8

I have a very nice sewing machine, but we are not the best of friends ;( Whenever I sit down at the machine, I can feel myself tensing, it is not a very enjoyable experience. I can sit and stitch by hand for hours at a time, but I will never live long enough to make all the quilts I want to if I hand piece them all!
So I limit my machine time, an hour or so at a time, I don't stress so much and I am sort of getting to enjoy it ;)
A couple of hours after Bonnie posted the final clue on New Year's Day, completed quilt tops were popping up all over Blogland. I am progressing at a much gentler pace!

I have all my 'A' Blocks pieced...
All my 'B' Blocks...
And my corner and setting triangles ...
I really love how this quilt is starting to look, now I just need to sew the top together...
and make a choice for the border fabrics...

EDITED - It's not obvious until the blocks are laid out, but I have sewn most of the four-patches the wrong way ;( the orange squares are meant to form a secondary quilt pattern. Question is do I undo them all or keep going and call it finished? I have already sewn some of the flying geese upside down!! I told you I didn't like to piece by machine! This is destined as a well used bed quilt - no competition entering around here! What would you do?

17 January 2013

Hibernating projects

A few years ago I was visiting a quilting friend who had the most beautiful soft floral coverlet on her bed; she gave me some of her scraps and introduced me to the Shabby Fabrics Website I ordered a couple of FQ packs and made my own simple machine pieced coverlet, I use it every summer; I loved it so much that I decided I needed another one for the guest bed, but this time I would hand piece it out of 2" hexagons ;) I drew a rough plan for a 90" x 100" (I know!) coverlet and it was my take along hand piecing project for that summer and the next and the next...
Winter came again and the project was packed away, we moved house a couple of times, there were other fabrics and other quilts to tempt me and these beautiful fabrics were forgotten.
I don't have the inclination (or the time!) to carry on with the original idea, but I do not want to abandon these beautiful fabrics and the work I have done already. Then I remembered seeing a fabulous quilt in Brigitte Gilbin's book 'Feathering Your Nest'
I read that it was inspired by an original quilt by Anna Brereton, which is featured in the 'Quilts of the British Isles' book by Janet Rae - wait a minute I have that book! Doesn't the original look so completely different? I love it too!
I decided to see if I could find fabrics for the centre medallions and some how reuse the part I have pieced as borders. I spent a happy afternoon  making a complete mess careful plan, before starting to EPP some small hexagons for the frames.
I plan to send the next few evenings making hexagon rosettes before auditioning fabrics for the centre fussy cut sections. I have plenty of large hexagons which can be trimmed to complete the centre. I will worry about the rest later!

16 January 2013

Dear Jane Wednesdays

Today is Wednesday, so I have been working on my Dear Jane Quilt, my goal is one block a week, I managed two this week as the first was very easy.

A very simple machine pieced B13 - Four Corner Press
and a very wonky E9 - Quilt Jail, I will definitely be going to jail if the quilt police catch sight of this one! I was going to redo it, but I quite like that it's quirky!

14 January 2013

Birds of a Feather Block 1

My evening hand work these past couple of weeks has been block one of the 'Birds of a Feather' quilt by Blackbird designs. I have had this book for years, don't know why it has taken me so long to actual start the quilt! The fabrics all came from my stash, some are also years old, and I only have scraps of several of them. I love pink, green and yellow quilts, and have made several over the years. I wasn't sure about the green leaves to begin with, but I will add lots of green to the other blocks too. I also took considerable liberties with the placement diagram!

Lots of lovely whimsical applique...
A bit of nifty piecing...

And block one is complete...