Sunday, 1 February 2015

blue, blue, blue

RSC 15
No, I’m not suffering from depression; I have three projects to talk about and they’re all blue.
The first is my blue scraps project, Crumbed Churn Dash, for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge over at SoScrappy blog.

In this post, I talked about the twenty-two 4” crumb blocks I made on 3 January.
22 crumb centres for Churn Dash

Before I could proceed, I had to choose the fabric for the churn dash motif. I had thought I would use solid black but, in my eyes, it didn’t enhance the colours in the crumb blocks, and I thought it made the blocks seem flat and lifeless. (I’ve changed my opinion now that it’s too late!)
black background

Then I thought I’d try a pale blue background, even though I was pretty sure I knew what the outcome would be!
pale background

I needed quite a large amount of a darkish fabric to make those medium blues stand out. This was the only blue I could find that served my purposes (I tried others but they really didn’t work!). 
blue background
I thought it looked good and I had an adequate amount of fabric but I just wasn’t sure… working with checks can be a problem – one needs to keep them straight to look good and there 160 units in the quilt!

I wonder what you would have chosen? I had decided to go with the solid black but was still restless – I have a philosophy that I live by: “if in doubt, don’t!” I really didn’t want to use the black but what could I do? Then I had a brain-wave!

Brown, being a shade of orange, adds some warmth to the quilt and I quite like the combination of chocolate brown and medium blue so I went with that. Of course, I wasn’t going to cut 160 pieces in case it didn’t work so I did four of each unit to begin with; enough to make one block! (The brown is actually much darker than this photo shows)
first block completed
I was hoping that I’d be able to tell you today that I had finished making all 160 sub-units for twenty churn dash blocks.

But, I was wrong.

On Friday, I finished all twenty blocks! I started the day with eight done, worked consistently all day, and finished all twenty around 4pm.
20 blocks finished
I love how the brown churn dashes make a grid for the large blue diamonds to hang off!

As you can see, it’s planned scrappiness. I spent quite a bit of time determining the placement of each piece of ‘rag’ (as my teacher calls them)! I’m looking forward to having a ‘proper’ design wall soon so I don’t have to keep working on the floor in another room.

I pressed away from the centre but I think I’ll have to go back and press all the seams joining the top and bottom rows to the centre rows of each block; in this way, I’m hoping I’ll avoid the problems of too much bulk where the blocks meet. It’s a hassle but better than the alternative!

Yesterday, WM and I discussed possibilities for basting. We have carpet throughout the house. I’ve tried basting on carpet and usually end up pinning my project to it! Besides, it’s too hard on my knees and back. Our dining table is timber so I can’t use that for fear of scratching the surface with pins. WM told me that I could use the kitchen bench/breakfast bar  so I tried it out with the Bargello table runner. The bench-top is Caesar-stone so it will be interesting to see how it stands up whilst having pins pushed against it. When I removed the table runner, the bench-top didn’t seem any worse for wear – I was very careful not to push the pins too hard! The only marks I can see are from the masking tape and I’m assuming they will wash off.

Not only did I get the table runner basted, I also got it quilted, trimmed and bound. Woo-hoo! This is the fifth finish of 2015 and the first of five of my own projects that I had waiting to baste, quilt and finish.
2014 Blue Bargello finished
There will probably be another post for this project: I wanted to say more but this post is already quite long enough!
With all those to-be-quilted projects, I need another scrap piecing project so I’m joining Sharon’s Let’s Book It challenge this month. 
Dust Off Those BooksWhile I had my blue scraps out, I started a quilt based on a pattern called “Slices” from the book Scrap Republic by Emily Cier. That quilt is only 30” square; I need to make mine 48” x 64” so there’ll be twelve triangles of most colours not the four shown here.
scrap republic 2 inspiration from Emily Cier book Scrap Republic

It’s a new project but it will take me all year to complete given that the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is one colour a month. Interestingly, Emily Cier recommends making one triangle at a time; I’m thinking it might be easier to sew a whole lot of scraps together then cut the triangles from the resulting fabric. Of course, doing it Ms Cier’s way means that every scrap is followed by a different scrap; doing it my way, while possibly faster and with less wastage, will result in the same scrap combination over and over. I’ll have to think on it some more. Here is the first ‘triangle’ I made. I’m not cutting the triangle properly until I have all the triangles for a row – bias edges are tricky things!
first blue triangle
If you’ve got a few minutes, why not drop into Angela’s blog to see what people have been doing with their blue scraps; and/or Sharon’s blog to see what projects people are making from the long neglected patterns in the books on their shelves?

Also, I’ve now edited my previous post and linked it to JulieK’s Binding Blitz link-up. Please check out that link too; and if you’ve bound a quilt this month, add yours to the party! You know what they say, ‘the more the merrier’!

Time for pink – the colour of February… stay tuned! ;-)

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

fourth fifth finish in ‘fifteen

I admit that none of these projects began with me. However, I did finish them.

Firstly there were two quilts for which I had to make binding, attach and hand stitch. For our quilting group, they were big quilts; both of them were 280” around.
four patch Triangle Flowers and Brights quilt

Then there was the quilt donated by my quilting teacher. When donated, it was at the basted stage so the quilting and binding are my work ( although K. made the binding which was a time saver).
Kerrie's quilt finished 

A couple of years ago, someone donated a pile of 9.5” QAYG string blocks. I made a quilt from some of them that was shown at the Airing of the Quilts in 2014. 
Diagonal Strings finished

While sorting through UFOs at the beginning of January, I found another 28 blocks. That wasn’t enough for another quilt so I made another 14 blocks – and in the process discovered that I don’t really like making QAYG string blocks!

Nevertheless all fourteen were made and the quilt was put together. I thought the blocks looked dull and decided I would probably not make another of these quilts in the future.

I chose a royal blue printed fabric for the sashing. It did a great job of making every individual block like a little window or piece of art in its own right and made the quilt look more cohesive. Better still, the quilt went from being dull and lifeless to being quite a ‘happy’ quilt.

Unfortunately, I didn’t have enough of the blue fabric (which was left over backing fabric from the quilt in the first photograph above) to make the binding. WM laughed when I told him yesterday that I had to audition fabrics for the binding. I wanted a darker blue but didn’t have enough of any blue fabric that worked so I changed to red. I found a reddish-brown that had tiny blue dots on it that I thought worked. Of course, the dots are so small that the fabric reads as solid maroon from even a short distance. This is a very inaccurate photo of the colour which is much darker in reality but at least the photo shows the blue dots!
Scrappy Strings 2015 binding fabric
I finished hand-sewing the binding at 12:30 this morning – I didn’t intend to stay up to finish it but you know how it is – once I was approaching that fourth corner I couldn’t put it down. I like the way the blocks seem to fold in and out!
Scrappy Strings 2015
Speaking of corners – this is the first time in nearly five years of quilting that I have four perfectly mitred corners on the back and front of a quilt! Woo-hoo!
 Scrappy Strings 2015 corner detail
That’s my fourth finish for this month – I’m so pleased. Maybe I have time to get my Bargello table runner quilted and bound before the end of the month? I have to make a back and quilt it before I can bind it!
2014 blue Bargello top completed

ETA: I did get my fifth project finished before the end of the month! You can see it in this post.

How is your January progressing?

I’ll be linking this post with WiP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced, Binding Blitz at juliekquilts and Thank Goodness It’s Finished Friday as they go live this week.
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

more works in progress

Before I continue, thank you to all the people who left comments in my Sunday post about binding quilt – it seems we all use more or less the same method!

My year will not continue in this vein. Right now, many Australians are on their summer break. Schools are having their summer holidays/vacation. Nearly everything I am involved with is in recess until later in January. That means I have plenty of time to play in my sewing room if I feel so inclined.

Since my post last Wednesday about works in progress, these are the projects that have had some attention:


I only had to finish sewing down the binding on this quilt. However, I had a lot of trouble with the fourth corner, even more than usual, so I had to unpick the binding and carefully sew it back on again. The fourth corner is now the best corner of the lot! I referred to my issues with mitred corners in my post on Sunday; this is a skill I really want to master this year, sooner rather than later. Here’s a photo of the finished quilt (not my work remember; I only added the binding -- I wouldn’t mind laying claim to it though! It’s a great pattern beautifully constructed; if a little too large for me to hold up for the photograph!).

four patch


The only task left on this quilt was to hand-stitch the binding down. I completed this by the bright, fluoresent light of my sewing room around one o’clock one morning! This is another beautiful quilt (not made by me) but, again, too big for me to hold the width while being photographed!

 Triangle Flowers and Brights quilt


This was the project I showed in my post on Sunday. I was quite surprise and pleased to find that I could quilt almost the whole block in one continuous line – joy! It may not look like it but, with the exception of the two grey lines which were quilted in a different colour, this was how it was done. Quilting gloves and the extension table for my sewing machine made the job easier too!

Kerrys quilt block quilting

Despite my joy at completing this project, I’ve decided that quilting in the ditch and dragging a twin-size bed topper through my wide-necked machine are not my favourite parts of the process!


Between bouts of quilting, to alleviate the stiffness in my shoulders and neck, I tried to work on the QAYG blocks. I found and cut some batting and backing. I learnt, very quickly, that pre-cutting QAYG backs the finished size is a recipe for disaster! Of course, this makes sense given that we always make our backing larger than our quilt top before quilting and trim away the excess afterwards! So, after carefully cutting several backings to 9.5”, it took only two strips to realise that wasn’t going to work. Fortunately, I have a lot of fabric so making new backings, 10.5” this time, wasn’t a problem. I will save the 9.5” squares (they’re all the same fabric) for another project.

I made a mess of the first block made on the 10.5” backing by not using strips that were long enough! We live and learn and now I know two ways not to do it! Plus I have one orphan block for another project! I watched several videos about QAYG (hurrah for YouTube) and thought I could see my way forward with this project.

Today, I am feeling unexpectedly lethargic (despite a full night’s sleep) so have been pottering on this project. Unfortunately, it means I’ve learnt yet another way not to make it work! The pre-existing blocks are made in a particular way, with a 9.5” front and back and a piece of 9” wadding centred between! I started with a 10.5” back and made all my strips the same (diagonal) length as the ever-shrinking back (it’s being quilted remember) but the wadding moved and ended up less than a quarter of an inch from the edge of the front and back in some places and nearly an inch away from the edge in others! I thought securing it with pins while I sewed on the strips was enough but apparently not enough to stop it from shifting! Thank goodness for seam rippers! Any hints you can give would be greatly appreciated since it’s another three weeks before I see my teacher again!


To complete each churn dash block, I need four ‘side’ units and four ‘corner’ units. I am making the corner units with HST (as expected) but I’m making the ‘side’ units from one strip and two squares – it’s a little bit different and helps remind me that these are scrappy blocks after all! I was very excited to see the first Churn Dash block come together – this is my first ever churn dash block and I’m very pleased!

first block completed

So far, I have made two complete blocks and have eight extra ‘corner’ units completed.

Other than that, I have also cleaned my machine – I try to remember to do it regularly, especially after working with batting: that always seems to make additional lint!

I’m not sure that there will be a “works in progress” post next week – I will be away for three and a half days: tomorrow, WM and I are joining several other couples from church for a long weekend away at Sanctuary Point on the south coast.

I’m linking this post with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced blog (hosted by Lee) when it goes live later today.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

What about you?
What have you been working on this week?

Monday, 12 January 2015

slow stitching on a wet Sunday afternoon

WM is not well so what could be a better way of spending a wet Sunday afternoon than curled up in front of the television watching the final two-part episode of “A Touch of Frost” (a British detective series) while sewing down the binding on a quilt?

The quilt was donated to our quilting group by my quilting teacher in 2013 in response to the terrible bush-fires that occurred in September of that year in which 200 homes were lost and a further 200 were damaged. This donated quilt was only at the basting stage and no amount of effort by me at the time it was given would have gotten it done in time. I asked my teacher if she’d like it back but she said that once given, it was given (or something to that effect).

In my last post, I explained that my week had been spent working on other people’s projects.  Quilting this fairly small quilt (48” x 62”) took me three days – I haven’t quilted anything for more than a year and I found my muscles tensed up a lot; each quilting session was shorter than the previous one! Anyway, I finished the quilting late on Saturday night; thank goodness for excellent lighting in the sewing room. I was so exhilarated by finishing that I even attached the binding which went on extremely easily and quickly compared to the previous two quilts! I found a video on YouTube which instructs the quilter to stop a quarter of an inch from the corner, which I have always known, then turn the quilt clockwise 90 degrees and sew off the edge of the quilt. Those extra three stitches have made turning corners so much easier than my previous method, which was to backstitch when I got the quarter of an inch mark!

Kerrie's quilt finished

What was even more exciting for me was that the corners mitred on the back so easily! I am absolutely stoked with the results I got this time. The only thing I don’t like is that the binding is not as “padded” as I prefer because I trimmed the backing and batting to the same size as the top (as instructed on this video) – my previous teacher had me trim a quarter of an inch out from the quilt top which gave that little bit of extra padding to the bound edge.

For my next binding, I will try this new method of doing the corners (which logically shouldn’t make the slightest bit of difference!) with the extra quarter of an inch batting under the binding! I might find I need to cut my binding at 2.75”, or even 3”, to compensate for that extra padding but I won’t know until I try.

Did I mention that I’m just so happy that the binding looks almost as good on the back as it does on the front? ;-)

How do you do your bindings?
By hand or by machine?
With a 2.5” binding strip?
What about the corners?


I’m linking this post with Slow Sunday Stitching over at Kathy’s quilts.

Slow Sunday Stitching

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

works in progress

Everything I have been working on this week is not originally my project. However, they all need to be completed for the Airing in April so I had to get them done, sooner rather than later. Most of my own projects are at the basting stage and I need to make a trip to my LQS to use the big table there for that process so now was as good a time as any to work on other people’s projects!

Here’s what I've been working on (or plan to work on) this week:
  1. four patch quilt – to be bound and labelled
  2. triangle brights and flowers – to be bound and labelled
  3. pink brights and gingham – backing required
  4. K’s project – quilt, bind and label (binding supplied)
  5. QAYG string blocks – 14 more blocks needed
At our community quilting group, when projects go to the long-arm quilter, there must be a top and a backing. When projects come back from the quilters (who volunteer their time to help us), the project is usually given back to the original maker to bind. Sometimes the original creator is not there – either they are a member who is absent that day or the quilt top was donated.

Projects #1 and #2 came back from the quilter but the original makers were not there so I ended up with the quilts to bind and label.

For some reason, the member who donated project #3 did not provide a backing so I was asked to make one.

Project #4 was donated to our group by my quilting teacher – the quilt sandwich is made so the trickiest part is done for me!

I have already made a quilt from the donated QAYG string blocks (project #5) but I still have 28 x 9” blocks left. That’s not enough to make a quilt in the size required in our group so I will have to make some more blocks which shouldn't be too much of a hardship given the number of scraps around here!

So, how has my week gone so far?

I didn't do any cutting or sewing: the heat/humidity has stopped me sleeping well and I was too tired to use my rotary cutter and sewing machine safely! Instead, I auditioned fabrics for bindings for projects #1 and #2, both 280” around.
 2017 binding fabrics
Then I read a novel in a day! It was The Dancing Master by Julie Klassen – historical, romantic (Christian) fiction. Ms Klassen has been described as a ‘modern day Jane Austen’ – I’m not so sure but it was a light, enjoyable read.

I auditioned fabric for the backing of project #3 then put the fabric in the washing machine (on the  ‘easy iron’ setting) because it was stiff and very creased. It’s the same pink fabric in the photo above.
I cut the binding strips, joined them and made binding for both quilts. I then made labels for both quilts from leftover triangle scraps (note to self: write the label after attaching it to the quilt – or write smaller!).
2015 label for Triangles Brights and Flowers
I had to watch a video on binding, because I haven’t bound a quilt for over a year and couldn't remember how to start! Thank goodness for YouTube and all the generous video makers! Eventually, I attached the binding and label to project #1 and began the task of hand-stitching the binding down – I got a little more than halfway (the quilt is 280” around) before it was time for bed!
What looks like a brown and white check is actually tiny white stars on a brown background; which I didn’t notice until I’d already cut the binding strips. It doesn't look like a good choice with that blue backing; but the quilt was mostly browns – here’s a hint (see the checked fabric in the block?:
2015 binding Four Patch not mine hint of front
I started writing this post before I got on with attaching the binding and label to project #2, then I watched another video on mitred corners because mine just weren’t working! They are fine on the front but the back is terrible! I attached the label to the quilt then started sewing on the binding. I got to the second corner and realised there was a hole in the fabric, eight on the fold line of the binding. I had to undo twenty inches so I could remove the hole – it was close to a join in the binding strip – and rejoin the strip. I was about to start sewing again when I realised I was attaching the binding to the back of the quilt! *sigh* 

If it were my quilt, I might have been tempted to keep going but it isn’t and I couldn’t take the risk of bad corners on the front of someone else’s quilt so I spent more than thirty minutes un-sewing the rest of the binding! :-(

Things improved somewhat; I got the binding on eventually. It’s not perfect but it really is the lest I can do. After pressing the binding (I can’t remember ever doing that before but I think I must have – my teacher is very big on pressing) I moved onto project #3.

Piecing a backing involves a bit of maths and, for me at least, the rough drawing of diagrams. Eventually I had it sorted and went to find some strips to join my pieces together – I can’t help myself; it has become my signature to have a panel or some sashing on the back of my quilts. This isn’t mine but I did it anyway. I cut the pieces for the sashing and for the backing. There was some more reverse sewing after I sewed the right side of one piece to the wrong side of another piece but, all in all, with the help of lots of pins, I got the backing finished.
2015 backing for Joyce's quilt
What looks like an off-what fabric is actually a very pale pink. It has some lovely details on the fabric which, of course, can only be viewed close up.
2015 backing for Joyce's quilt detail
Because I have so many other projects to quilt in the near future, and because I think J. would like this quilt in this year’s Airing, I am not going to attempt to quilt it myself. I will pass the backing and the flimsy on to our coordinator, who will in turn, pass it on to one of the long-arm quilters. If I feel so inclined, I may even make the binding to go with the quilt. I’m thinking I’ll make it out of the same fabric as the back – I have some binding left from project #2 and lots of that fabric left. I’ll think on it – it may be too much having the same binding as backing fabric.

So, here it is, Wednesday evening, which still leaves me two full days to work on the other two projects and to get the binding done on projects #1 and #2. I’m linking this post with WiP Wednesday over at Lee’s blog, Freshly Pieced.
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
What about you? Are you crafting this week or is something else occupying your time?