Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Zen and the Art of Hand Sewing

Greetings fellow crafting and quilting enthusiasts taking part in Blogathon Canada. I'm happy to be participating again this year, and excited to get acquainted with, and be inspired by, other Canadian makers. To find out more about the event, head on over to the Sew Sisters blog, and be sure to stop by and visit today's Albertan hosts: Leanne at She Can Quilt, and Kelsey of Everyday Fray. Did I mention that there are prizes?

So what have I been up to lately? Well, there wasn't much time to spend in my sewing room this past summer, and I started looking for a way to get my sewing fix without having to spend hours in the cold dark basement. The solution: hand piecing.

I started out with a fairly simple Wheel of Fortune block inspired by the Spin It Again quilt from Vintage Quilts Revival. I traced out all of the pattern pieces on foundation paper using my laptop screen as a lightbox, and then stuck them in a ziplock bag with some scraps of rainbow and background fabrics, my needle book, clips, and some airline-friendly scissors. A week later, I had most of a quilt block completed and a new addiction.

Foundation piecing done this way turned out to be much more approachable for me. It's easier to hold the fabrics in place and see what I'm doing when things aren't zipping by at sewing machine speed.

I ramped up the complexity a bit for my next attempt, with the Starlight block from the Quilting Gallery's Delightful Stars QAL. I decided, in my naive enthusiasm, to change the order of assembly to make the seams nest together more tightly. The result was in fact the opposite, and it made my points a little bit unbalanced. Important lesson learned. It isn't particularly noticeable though, and I'm really happy with the block.

I also attempted to adapt an English paper piecing design so that it would result in a square block (without applique). I came across this excellent Rose Star tutorial over at Summerfete. It not only shows how to draw the templates from scratch, but also has some examples of how to set it into the background by adding hexagons. I look forward to many more hexagon-turned-square EPP blocks in the future.

Stay tuned for the next hand pieced sampler block, a Circle of Geese, which is only one goose short of completion!

Sunday, 16 November 2014

Bookcase Runner

Now that winter is upon us, it's time to catch up a bit on the past summer's projects, starting with this small quilt that I made as part of the Modern Quilt Guild's Michael Miller Challenge.

When we first received the fabrics for the challenge (a set of six fat eights), I wasn't too sure about the prints. The fabric that really caught my attention was the solid coral, so I decided to base my design mostly on that one bold colour. I used a nice warm linen as a background, and added a small pop of each print. I think the concept of wonky squares within squares worked out really well.

With the front being rather minimalistic, I had a lot of fabric left over. The best way of using prints that were so different from my usual aesthetic seemed to be as a backing, that no one would have to see if it didn't work out. With a bit of improvisation, I came up with this, and I'm surprised how much I like it!

There's nothing very complicated about the improv technique I used, but somehow it mixed the bright prints up just enough to make the whole thing look really fun. For the most part, these aren't fabrics I would have chosen on my own, but I'm glad I got a chance to experiment with them and be surprised.

I quilted the whole thing with straight(ish) lines, and found it was pretty much the exact right size to display on the end of a bookcase, so here it is brightening up our library:

Saturday, 5 April 2014

Seventh Doctor Embroidery

This is the seventh block of my Doctor Who quilt, as part of the Fandom in Stitches Doctor Who Sew Along. I designed this block to offer a different perspective on the seventh Doctor than the oft referenced image of him hanging by his umbrella.

I used this picture of Sylvester McCoy as a reference for the pattern. I think the design actually captures the posture pretty well, considering that it has no face. It looks like he's laying claim to that seven under his foot. Originally, his jacket was billowing in the wind, but that got vetoed in the final stages of the design process.

The pattern for this block can be downloaded HERE.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Sixth Doctor Embroidery

Continuing right along with the Doctor Who quilt blocks, I present to you the sixth Doctor! This block is based on the Fandom in Stitches Doctor Who Stitch-Along block.

The intention behind this design is to show the Doctor's trademark coat in full. I used this picture of a Doctor action figure as a model. If you've been here before, you probably know that I'm really bad at following patterns. That's why I drew my own block in the first place. In this case, I took it up a level and didn't even end up following my own pattern.

The pattern for the sixth Doctor with jacket can be downloaded HERE. I warn you, however, that it's slightly different from the block I ended up making. I turned his head to the side at the last minute so that he would look more like the original stitch-along block.

The orange Architextures print is the loudest of all the fabrics I've chosen for this project. It was a fun background choice for this specific Doctor, since it does actually look a little bit like the plaids in his jacket. This particular fabric was so thick that even with optimal light it was very difficult to trace the design through it. This is great news in terms of the quality of Kaufman fabrics, but if you're tracing, be sure to check your fabric first to make sure you'll be able to see through it.

Monday, 31 March 2014

My Very Own House Hippo

If you grew up in Canada in the eighties, there's a good chance you'll remember the House Hippo. It was the subject of a memorable media literacy PSA that I encourage you to check out. (Second only to the War Amps PlaySafe PSA.)

I was lucky enough to get a copy of the Henrietta Hippo pattern from 529MasonStreet in order to make my very own. The best thing about this little dude are his repositionable limbs. This leads to nearly endless action shot possibilities! Here is my hippo playing outside:

At this point you may be wondering why Mister hippo has a white butt... This is what happens when you try to mess with a pattern before knowing how it comes together. I thought it would be cute if he was all grey, with a white tummy (the bottom of his paws is also white), so I cut the part that I thought would correspond to the stomach out of white felt. Turns out I overestimated by a long shot, and the white patch goes all the way up his back. That's ok, no one here is judging.

House hippo likes to spend his days daydreaming on the windowsill and hanging out with his best bud Sigmund.

Sunday, 30 March 2014

Fifth Doctor Embroidery

Last fall, I posted my first four embroidered blocks for the Fandom in Stitches Doctor Who Sew Along, but have been taking forever to follow up with number five. That's because the fifth Doctor is the favourite around here, and due to design difficulties it ended up being the block I made last. I wanted to continue posting them in order, so I've had to wait until five was completed before sharing the others.

Here he is at last!

This block is inspired by the sew along block number 5, which I really like. My resident whovian pointed out, however, that the Doctor's very distinctive Panama hat was missing from the design, so I set about adding a hat onto the original block. It turns out to be rather difficult to position a natural-looking hat onto an image that didn't originally have one. All of my attempts looked strangely awkward.

Instead of pursuing that, I traced out a new design, based on this picture of the Doctor wearing a hat. I think he has turned out to be pretty recognizable. I have the pattern for this design somewhere, and will upload it when I find it (Update: pattern is now available HERE). In the meantime, there will be plenty of Doctor Who posts coming up, with blocks six through twelve that I've been waiting impatiently to share.

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

Exploring Modern: A New Sampler

In my early quilting days, I signed up for the Earthly Goods Primary Patchwork class (good times!) and made my first sampler quilt from traditional quilt blocks. Our instructor mentioned that this was likely to be the last time many of us made a sampler, as most quilt designs were composed of multiples of the same block.

One thing that I've discovered about myself since then is that I'm not one of those people who can make one block over and over. After I've made it once, I feel like I've learned what there was to learn and I'm ready to move on. For this reason, I've decided that my principal project for 2014 will be an updated take on the traditional sampler.

This is also an exploration of the MQG's "official" definition of modern quilting, which is something our guild has been discussing. In particular, I'm focusing on modern traditionalism with the use of greys, negative space, bold colours and solid fabrics.

This updated Ohio Star might be my favourite so far:

I made two variations on the traditional Jacob's Ladder block. The purple and pink one turned out to be especially modern, since I seem to have attached one of the corner squares upside down and didn't notice until pretty much right now. (I'm tempted to take it apart and fix it just as an excuse to realign the point that came out crooked, but that doesn't seem very modern of me, so I probably won't... Maybe?)

I also made the 2014 Sugar Block Club January block, which fit perfectly into my theme. I'm still on the fence regarding the February block.

The dark grey will be making more of an appearance in the next couple of blocks, and the light grey will continue to be the main background colour throughout the project, including setting squares and joining strips.

This sampler is a light, self-contained project to work on while I baste and quilt unfinished projects from last year. Things tend to get backed up at the basting stage (I really don't like basting) but over the past few weeks I've been getting it done, which has led to some cool FMQ progress. So much progress, in fact, that I've now run out of black thread and batting. Looking forward to more!