Friday, November 7, 2014

Up Down Quilt

I asked Eleanor if she would kindly pose with my new quilt, and while she agreed, 
it was with some reluctance... 

she doesn't trust that little vintage kitty chalk head staring down at her!

I made this improv wall hanging using those lovely Cirrus Solids from Cloud9 Fabrics, 
(shown at the bottom of my last post). Very happy with how this turned out. 
Love the colors and I gotta say... 
this fabric is soooo soft!

I choose to finish it with a "faced" finish instead of a traditional binding. 
If you have never tried this technique, (or have had trouble following facing instructions) I have a very easy tutorial on my Tutorials page, (listed above) or you can go directly to it, here.


PS. Well aware at how infrequently my posts have been lately... I love this blog, but posting is a very time consuming activity, and I really only want to post when I feel like I have something interesting to share or something important  to say. However, remember, I can always be found over on Instagram, where I usually post something everyday. It's the "behind the scenes" stuff... works in progress, design ideas or a local photo of something that inspires me or makes me happy!

Hope to see you over there as well as here!

Have a super weekend everyone!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Amused Inspiration

I've been continuing to play with the possibilities of the EPP block that I showed in my last post. I'm calling the block "Porch Steps" and I came up with so many possible quilt designs, with just this one block, that I had a hard time deciding in which design to invest my time. 

(Oh, if only there were enough hours in the day to sew every design option!)

But it was after a fun trip to Knoebels Amusement Park with Hubby, (first time there without kids!) that I knew for certain which direction to take.

Who could help being inspired by the fun colors and the turning, twirling 
of everything that one finds in such a place? 

Certainly not me!

(Which coincidentally is exactly what I say when anyone wants me to ride one of theses stomach turning, world spinning, vertigo inducing things!)

 Now that I had settled on a direction, fun colored Grunge fabrics were selected.

Paper templates pieces were cut, covered in fabric and stitched into the blocks.

Coded pieces and helpful binder clips helped me stay organized and hold it all together.

Blocks were stitched together.

And a sigh of happy amusement was uttered when I saw it all come together,
reminding me of my my happy inspiration.

Now I just have to quilt her and bind her and I think create a PDF pattern for her!
(And I think I shall call her "Ferris Wheel" as it's a ride that I actually enjoy!)

And as for my next project, I already know what fabrics I shall be using...

These oh so lovely Cirrus Solids from my friends at Cloud9 Fabrics
I was so happy when I first heard that they were coming out with their own line of organic cross-weave fabrics, and floated on my own cloud 9 when they generously sent me this gift bundle. 

By the way, cross-weave's belong to the same family as shot-cottons and chambrays and the names often get used interchangeably, so it can be confusing. All three types share the same trait as having different colored weft and warp threads. Technically, (at least from my understanding) chambrays traditionally used white as one of those colors, (think of those pale blue chambray oxford men's shirts). However I have bought fabrics listed as chambray's that had no white in them at all, and were more of a traditional shot-cotton. Cross-weaves and chambrays generally tend to have a more quilt weight hand to them, while shot-cottons traditionally are more light weight, and have a lovely drape to them, but again, I have bought shot-cottons that were more quilt weight. Most cross-weave fabrics that I have used, (including these Cirrus Solids beauties) have a more subtle color variation to them, meaning that while the weft and the weave are different colors, the difference is minimal. Most, (but again not all) shot-cottons that I have used have more of a defined difference in the weft and warp colors, creating an almost iridescent color about them. All three however have a depth and interest then any regular solid colored fabric where warp and weft threads are the same.


Many thanks to those that gave me useful info on my last post concerning the stiffness of some hand dyed fabrics and the difficulty I was finding in hand sewing with them, I truly appreciate the info!!

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Block Play

If you have been following along with my last couple of posts, you know that I have recently fallen in love with EPP, (English Paper Piecing). I'm continuing to explore the design possibilities of combining this method with creating new blocks, and seeing how those blocks create various designs.

My brain is joyfully being stretched in new directions and I am having great fun playing with block possibilities using this hand stitching technique.

Above is a block that I have recently been working on. I picked some lovely hand dyed fabrics that I bought at my local fabric shop to use, and while I love the effect, I did find that the fabrics were a wee bit stiff, slowing the hand sewing down. 

Question: Is it just me, or do others find hand dyed fabrics, as beautiful as they are, also a bit stiffer to stitch through? And if so, why are they stiffer, even after washing? Is it the mordant used? Can you do something to soften them up? I have experienced this before, and am just wondering... is this my imagination, or do others experience this as well? Would love to hear your thoughts and tips!

Here is what the block looks like repeated 4 times. I am crazy about the large center diamond effect created when the blocks are combined!

Very anxious to explore this block in other colors, and also have several more blocks that I want to begin playing with. Now, if I can only figure out how to squeeze more sewing time into an already too short 24 hour day... !


Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Circles and Stars EPP Quilt and Pattern Finished!

I finished my first English Paper Pieced quilt last week, and have been busily working on writing and illustrating a pattern to go along with it. Both are now finished, and the love that I feel for this quilt has spilled over into the pattern, as I love it as well. Very colorful just like the quilt and fully illustrated with easy to follow step-by-step instructions. I've also included photos, lots of helpful tips, quilting and binding advice, a coloring sheet and of course a full size printable template.

The piecing of this patchwork quilt was totally relaxing. Because the individual pieces are sort of "pre-assembled" the piecing seemed almost effortless.

(See that photo above? Well, I've been wanting to get a shot of myself hand stitching for ages... hard to do with only two hands! I finally got this one which I originally posted on Instagram, by using a shoelace to hang my phone camera around my neck and then used the timer feature so I had a chance to position my hands. Where there is a will, there is a way!)

Here is a close up of the hand stitched seams. The circles are stitched in, not appliqu├ęd on, and the pattern fully illustrates how to do it. (Really rather simple!)

I think the most challenging part of this project for me was coming up with a quilt design that I liked. It took several attempts, and some ripping out of stitches in between, but finally I hit on something that really worked. (The photo above was also taken on my phone as well, but late at night with poor lighting. Still you can see the quilted motifs pretty well.) 

I found it helped me to print out a line drawing of my quilt block and simply do some pen and ink doodles on it, trying out different ideas and how the stitch movement would flow. That little exercise helped loosen me up and think more creatively about my quilting.

The finished result reminds me of a vividly colored press tin ceiling... not that I have ever seen a vividly colored press tin ceiling, but if there were to be one this might be what it would look like!

is now available for immediate download here in my Etsy shop.

Now onto my next EPP project... I think I am hooked!

Have a great week everyone!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Playing with English Paper Piecing

I was totally enamored the first time I ever saw an English Paper Pieced hexagon quilt, as they are extremely charming. The idea of stitching bits of fabric over the paper templates sounded so utterly relaxing. Over the years and on several occasions, I have set out to make my own wonderful stack of little hexies, dreaming of stitching them into pretty motifs.

And yet on each of those occasions I don't think I ever got past the second hexie before feeling bored and restless. (I think I once made it to the 3rd one, but that was it.) Apparently EPP simply was not for me and I put the notion to rest. So I thought.

However with Pinterest and Instagram, it seems that everywhere I look quilters are stitching up hexies and projects made from hexies that simply make me swoon with hexie envy, and once again I could feel my desire to join in the EPP hexie love-fest swelling.

"This time will be different" I told myself. But in my heart I knew it wouldn't be. It is just who I am... a person who is easily bored.

Then it occurred to me, why do I have to just stitch hexies? Why can't I come up with something that will hopefully hold my attention? And that is how these EPP blocks came to be. Within 10 minutes of thinking the thought, I had the design sketched out and printed onto card stock.

Four done and I am still enamored!

I did find by the completion of my first block, that the hand stitching kicked my hand pain back up into high gear. So I switched from hand-basting, (as seen on the left) to glue-basting, (as seen on the right) and that has helped considerably.

My goal is to keep it doable, making a total of 9 blocks. This will give me enough for a lovely little wall quilt, or a nice sized pillow. We will see.

On the heels of my last, admittedly long winded, (but I think important) post, I'd like to add my apologies in case anyone else has already come up with a similar design. It sure is possible because it sure ain't rocket science, just geometry. I only did a quick look afterwards on the blogosphere, and while I did see other EPP piecing projects that went beyond the hexie, I didn't see anything that looked like my block. If I am wrong, please someone, let me know!