Sunday, December 27, 2015

One nearly done, another starting

Here's my latest bee block, Abacus. I like the colour scheme the queen bee picked with grey, purple and black. But a black background sure is unforgiving, especially with all those points. I think I did pretty well, though. Although I've been working over the holidays, I was able to make a fabric basket and the signature block last night so I can get my package out on time.

The first year of the Bee Hive is almost over with just one month left. But that's the same time a new one starts! This bee has been lots of fun. And it spurred me to try new blocks and techniques, including paper piecing. And boy that has opened up a lot of options for me! My last couple swap minis were paper pieced (Mariner's compass and New York Beauty) and that's what I've got planned for the second round of the rainbow mini swap with one block from Arcadia Avenue.

Still I definitely do prefer patchwork and I'm always happy to get back to that after a paper-piecing project. This coming year I've decided to sign up for fewer swaps. After a couple less than stellar swapping experiences and just feeling overwhelmed at times by the deadlines, I think it's best to focus more on making things for people I know. Maybe even for me! I am doing the rainbow swap and two private swaps, but that's all I've got in the works for now.

I am planning on a second round of the Polaroid Greeting Swap sometime in the new year because people really seemed to like that and it was low pressure (with blessedly few flakers), although not so much the hosting! That was a steep learning curve hosting a swap, and continues to be even after the mailing deadline. I also said earlier I want to host a mini quilt swap just for people who got burned, although now that my swap outrage has simmered down a bit it seems like a lot to take on. Hopefully I haven't bitten off more than I can chew. I guess I'm a bit sad that swaps have been tainted for me by a few people who obviously didn't care to send good packages to their partner. I was so excited about swaps when I first joined IG and met some amazing people through them, so I really would like to regain that good feeling. Anyone else feeling a bit burned out by swaps, and sad about that?

Here's the bee package before I got it into the mail, just under the wire this month because it was a busy one crafting wise. It's a little blurry because yet again the best I could get was early morning dim light. I don't mind the cold of winter, but it sure is tough getting good photos of things I make with such short days.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Soft and subtle

I've long wanted to make the raspberry kiss block, and making a mini for a friend's birthday seemed like the perfect occassion. I've been holding onto a bundle of Denyse Schmidt Flea Market Fancy forever, and it was the perfect soft shades for my friend Tara. The shimmery print went so well with the blues, and I actually picked up at an L.A. fabric shop while on vacation with her so some good memories with that one! And then I grabbed five different text prints from my stash for the background.

The blocks themselves were pretty tedious. A lot of little pieces to cut out and a lot of ironing. Also I wasn't especially fond of sewing on those triangles in the last step because no matter how careful I was, the blocks seemed to end up a bit wonky. But I got them all together fairly well with a bit of fussing.

I really love the effect of using several text prints. It adds a whole new dimension to the quilt. I really need to make something similar for myself, although I'm not sure I'm up for more raspberry kiss blocks.

The quilting is simple to let the blocks shine. I love how soft and fluffy it felt compared to minis I quilt densely. Then I finished it with a wonderful Grunge teal for the binding. I picked that up on a whim and I'm so glad I did because it's perfect. So I'm gonna use that as an excuse to grab those random FQs because you never know when they'll come in handy!

I love the bit of "Love" peeking out in the middle block, and thankfully the disjointed deer aren't too noticeable. This mini is definitely far more soft and subtle than my usual wild colour scheme, but I adore it. A good reminder to try new things!

Pillow parade

Suddenly I had the urge to make a few Christmas presents and with not a lot of time left, I knew it needed to be something I could make fairly quickly. I decided to go with quilted pillows - because what's better than a quilted pillow? - and I'd use a modified version of the Tic Tac Toe block from the quilting bee I've been doing this year, and signed up for again next year.

I made four different ones, fabric combos picked out to suit the recipient. I made a plus-sized version of the bee block so they'd be 15.5". If you want to make the same size, cut 5.5" and 3" squares.

Then I got quilting! I used a light blue thread on this pillow, which reminds me of sunshine and green grass, and the joy of cycling again when spring finally arrives. It's fitting I finished it on a day when we got our first real snow for this winter.

This one has two of my favourite fabrics - a great newsprint and the amazing saturated colours of Alison Glass. I fussycut the text fabric to capture some of the nice messages. Then I quilted with a favourite teal thread.

I pulled out my neon yellow thread for this Tula pillow. It goes so wonderfully with her bold colours.

The back is pretty too. I love this fabric that makes me think of all the great European cities with lovely sprawling parks. I usually finish my pillows with an envelope back because that's fast and I don't need a zipper, so if the mood strikes to make a pillow I can just dive in.

Then I lined all my pretty little pillows up in a row (to get this oddly fuzzy photo. I really need to get out my real camera more often).

I still have one more to finish, but I'm just about there.

And here it is, magically added later!

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Playing at the sewing machine

Sometimes when I sew, I really feel like a kid. But instead of a colourful array of crayons, I've got fabric. Back when I did the modern fabric postcard swap, I got my first taste of quilt-as-you-go. I made a mental note that I needed to try that on a much bigger scale than a teeny 4" x 6" canvas.

While scrolling through Instagram recently or maybe it was a blog post (so many sources of quilty inspiration!) I was reminded of it again. Good timing because I was also trying to come up with an idea for something to make for a fundraiser hosted by an IG friend to help out a woman going through a rough patch. I made a Hazel pouch for the last round and it was a popular auction item (the top bid was $70!!!), but wanted to do something different.

I grabbed my bin of Alison Glass fabric and got started. I had seen some examples of quilt-as-you-go and found this tutorial to give me a few tips. But, as usual, I mostly just dove in and figured it out as I went. Unlike my usual M.O., I didn't really have a plan for the fabrics or colours. I just started with the orange and went from there, cutting about 2" strips as I went of fabrics I thought would look good next.

I soon realized this would be far from a quick project. Suddenly the 16.5" batting I cut out seemed enormous! But I just kept plugging away, adding layer after layer. I used a soft blue Aurifil thread for all the quilting. Oddly it's a colour I probably would never pick myself, but it was a generous extra in a swap package and I find myself often reaching for it. It's almost a neutral that seems to go with everything.

All told, it was at least four hours of quilting to cover the batting. Also I should have cut the batting bigger because it shrank a good 1/2". But I was being lazy and just wanted to use my 16.5" square ruler. I still trimmed it to 16.5" because I figured the edges without batting would be hidden in the seam anyway.

How awesome is this?! Such saturated colours and great movement and texture.

Then I made it into a pillow. I am over the moon happy with how this turned out. It's always so fun to try something new, even if it is a bit nerve-racking not being sure how it's going to come out in the end. And now I definitely have to do this again.