Monday, 20 January 2014

First Flimsy Finish

Anyone that knows me or reads my blog knows that I am a huge Bonnie Hunter fan.  I love her quilts but more than that I love her philosophy and outlook when it comes to quilting.  Every year Bonnie gives up so much of her time and hosts a mystery that thousands of people follow.

This year my first finish is Bonnie's Celtic Solstice mystery.  I chose to go a different colour way than Bonnie which is always a gamble because without knowing the quilt design it is difficult to know how the colours are going to play together.

Here are the colours I chose for this year.

And here is the finished quilt top.

And here it is on my bed.

There are thousands of pieces in this top (another Bonnie trait). Had I seen the picture before starting I may have passed thinking it was to complicated but when broken down into weekly steps it is really easily achievable.

I love the design and the way a secondary pattern is created when putting the blocks together. The colours on the other hand....well let's just say I am not enamored with them.  I liked them together when stacked in a pile but in the quilt top not so much.  If I had my chance again I would probably rotate a couple of the colours.

The top finishes at 75 x 75 which is a nice snuggle on the couch in front of the TV size.  When quilted I will be gifting it to a special friend (who for now must remain nameless).

Now to get on to some WIP busting.

Until next time.


Saturday, 18 January 2014

Japanese x & + Block Tutorial

OK bees, here it is....I have decided on a scrappy Japanese x & + block for my month.

I don't even know how or where I stumbled across this block but it was love at first sight.  It seems that once again I am way behind the trend as this block was apparently viral in early 2012.  How come I didn't notice it back then?  Anyway, after many, many hours (I tell ya, this internet thing is like a black hole in time - what seems like 10 minutes looking at all of the pretties is really 2 hours) and after much deliberation I am going with pink, yellow and orange with low volume background for my colours.

There are quite a few tutorials in blogland but none of them were for blocks at the size I wanted so I did some reverse engineering and came up with a block that finishes at 10.5"

Here are a few of the blocks I have made so far.

Aren't they pretty?  Seriously, check out the japanese x & + quilt a long flickr group.  So many beautiful blocks and some incredible quilts.  Just gorgeous.

So without further ado, here is how I made my blocks.

Fabric requirements:

(4)  4.5" squares assorted colours for the crosses
(8)  2.5" squares for crosses background
(1)  6.5" x 2.5" rectangle for the plus
(2)  2.5" x 2.5" squares for the plus (same as 6.5 x 2.5 rectangle above)
(4)  2.5' x 2.5" squares for plus background

Step 1 - Crosses

Mark a diagonal line on the back of each 2.5" background squares.

Align the square with the corner of the 4.5" square right sides together.

Sew along the marked line.  Actually, I like to sew just to the side of the line (marked with the arrow) rather than on the line.

Can you see how I have sewed just next the the line?  This gives you that smidge extra room to press the triangle over the seam allowing the edges to meet.  Make sure you sew on the side of the marked line closest to the outside corner.

Repeat the same process on the opposite side of the 4.5" square.

Next cut away the corner triangles 1/4" from the seam line.  I just eyeball this and cut with my scissors but that's just me. I am all about getting it done quickly and I really can't be bothered getting up to cut it with my rotary cutter.  If you are perfectionist by all means cut away the excess with your ruler and rotary cutter.

This is what you will end up with.

Press the triangles out  giving you a 4.5" square.  I forgot to take a picture of the triangles pressed out but I am sure you get the idea.

Step 2 - Plusses

Sew the (2) 2.5" plus square to (2) of the 2.5" plus background squares.  This will give you a 4.5" x 2.5" rectangle.
Sew the remaining (2) 2.5" plus background squares to each end of the 6.5" x 2.5" rectangle.

Step 3 - Putting it all together

Lay out the pieces ready for joining.  Make sure the crosses are pointing into the center of the block.

Sew the 4.5" squares to either side of the 4.5" x 2.5" rectangle making sure the cross fabric is aligned correctly.  It's no fun unpicking 4 seams if you get it wrong.  Ask me how I know this!!!
Once you have sewed these together you will have (2) 4.5" x 10.5" rectangles and (1) 2.5" x 10.5" rectangle.

Next sew the (2) outside rectangles to either side of the center rectangle .

Ta Da....finished 10.5" x 10.5" Japanese x & + Block

I will even show you the back just so you can see how I pressed my seams.  It's a bit hodge podge but it lays flat so I am OK with it.

All up these blocks are very quick to make.  I think each one took me about 20 minutes to complete and that includes cutting the fabric.

Before I go, I would like to acknowledge and thank Amy Badskirt for her wonderful blog post and tutorial on this block. She did extensive research as to the origin of the block and credits Setsuko Inawaga's submission the the Tokyo Quilt Festival 2011.  I have Amy's permission to share her post and tutorial with you so if you would like to learn more about this block please read Amy's post here. 

So there you go.  Now I can breath...this is my very first tutorial and I hope I have been clear with my instructions.  I would like to post more tutorials in future so please let  me know if you think I can improve.  I welcome your feedback, positive or negative.  I promise I "can handle the truth"!

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Welcome 2014

One of my goals at the start of 2013 was to blog on a more regular basis.  Well clearly I failed miserably.  I read dozens and dozens of blogs each week but never seem to make the time to sit and write on my own.

I think part of the problem is that the writers of the blogs I read are so witty and their blogs are full of wonderful stories and beautiful pictures.  After reading them I can't help but wonder why anyone would even bother to stop by my blog.  It is so ho hum compared to what is out there.

But then I have to remind myself that I started this blog for me not for the world at large.  I might not have anything particularly noteworthy or witty to say but the purpose of this blog is not to entertain the masses but to document my experiences and achievements on this quilting journey.

So onward and upwards I that a new year has begun I can reflect and feel proud of what I have achieved this past year.  I met some wonderful people, learned some new skills, gifted some quilts that were well received and had a blast making them.

I try not to make New Year's resolutions cause I am always disappointed when I don't keep them. Instead this year my promise to myself is to keep doing what I love and to enjoy the process, no matter where it leads and no matter how prolific or slowly I may go.  It's all about the journey.

With that in mind I plan to finish at least some of the UFO's I have laying around.  So to make myself accountable I am going to list them all.  So here goes (in no particular order).................

This is my oldest WIP.
I made these blocks in 1999 when I was first introduced to quilting whilst living in Tonga.  It's about time I finally made this into a quilt (maybe a wall hanging?).

I started this quilt top about 8 or 9 years ago.  It is evolving over time as I keep adding another border to it. The piecing is so bad in the first (pieced) border that I set it aside for a couple of years whilst I pondered whether or not to take it off and do it again.  I decided to leave it as is - mistakes and all, as a reminder of where I began.  I still have to applique some leaves on the vine and possibly put another border on it before I can call it complete.

I took a Paper Piecing Class in 2006 and this is the result.  All the piecing was done during the class but it took me another 3 years to put the quilt top together.  I initially added a border (as per the class sample) but I disliked it so much I took it off again.  Just a bit nervous to start the actual quilting on my domestic machine.

This is my Orca Bay quilt, Bonnie Hunter's 2011 mystery quilt.  I want to rename it but I haven't been inspired with a new name just yet.  The colours look a bit Christmassy so I think that once I finally get it quilted it will get a new name and come out each Christmas.

This is one of my ongoing hand piecing projects.  I am still messing around with the 'abstractness' of the layout.  Something is not sitting well with me so I will keep playing until I am happy with the final layout.

This is my Easy Street quilt, Bonnie Hunter's 2012 mystery quilt.  The colour combination was not as successful as I had hoped.  I love the pattern but cannot bond with the colours so when it is finally quilted I will donate this to charity.

Donation quilt using recycled shirts from thrift shops.  Border and quilting to be completed.  And if you noticed the 2 mistakes where the blocks were pieced in upside down, they have been fixed since taking this photo!

I made this star based on a picture I saw in a magazine.  I had a fat quarter bundle that I thought would suit and this is the result.  I have made the backing using left over fabric so it is just waiting for me to get myself organised to be finished.  This was my first attempt at a 'modern' quilt.

Low Volume is something that I never thought would be for me but I loved the pictures I saw and one weekend I had an incredible urge to make one.  No reason other than 'I had to have one'.  So I dug into my scraps and pulled everything I thought could pass as low volume.  I absolutely love the result so much so that this is my 'favouritist' quilt I have made to date.

On another whim I participated in Mollie Sparkles Broken Herringbone Quilt Along(MSBHQAL).  I wanted to challenge myself to make something new and exciting and this definitely fit the bill. I had a blast putting it together and learned a few new techniques in the process so I am happy with that. This one is actually sandwiched and ready to quilt so should be off the list very soon.

This was my Leader and Ender project last year (as set by Bonnie Hunter).  I am not sure what I want to do next so I am just sitting on it waiting for inspiration.

I am part of the online Facebook Group - Just Us Quilters.  This is a Block of the Month Project which is almost at it's completion.  One block, corner blocks and sashing to go.  Should be ready to put together mid February 2014.

Japanese x & + block is my new favourite block and these are my new favourite colours.  I have made 5 blocks and have another 10 cut and ready to put together.  This is my choice for a bee group I am in so I look forward to receiving another 10 from around Australia.

Strings, strings...oh how I love strings.  I received these blocks from swap partners all over the world.  I can't wait to put this together.  I just need to make some more blocks to make a decent size quilt to snuggle under.  Hope to get this done soon.

I really am a scrappy quilter at heart.  Strings and Crumbs just delight me and they are so liberating to make. I have 50 of these 4.5" bad boys so far and I want to make another 200 so I have a ways to go.

Phew, in all I count 15 projects here and that doesn't include my ongoing hand project and a couple of bee swaps that haven't commenced.  If I can finish one of these projects each month I will be happy.

I think I will always have WIP's because I am so easily distracted and inspired by all of the pretties out there in blogland.  I can't wait to start the next project and usually do start before I finish a current one.  I am OK with that though.  It's nice to have varied projects that you can go back to when the mood fits.

With that I sign off to make a start on WIP Busting 101.

Until next time.