Thursday, March 24, 2011

Back in business

And feeling so much better for it!

I managed to get 3 plates pieced tonight. I feel a bit like a cliché today. Nothing happens for ages then 3 come along at once. Oh well, I don't think I'm falling behind yet, Lilly's only just put up the piecing instructions. Although I still haven't cut or even bought my background fabric...! 

Oh, and you'd think I would have taken advantage of this time without my trusty sewing machine to do something productive, like baste my hexagon quilt, or the 3 others that are waiting. But no. I decided to get into a new TV show. Good one Laura. (Parenthood... its epic btw). So the WIPs and QUIPs and QALs and Swaps are all building up. It's getting a little overwhelming. I've got some serious sewing to do!

Monday, March 21, 2011

Oh Brother...

*Disclaimer - This post is wordy. My first no-picture-post. I had no real sense of direction when writing it and am feeling fairly introspective today* 

My sewing machine is kaput. After a particularly heavy sewing session this weekend she finally gave up the ghost and there's something terribly wrong with her tension. She's gone in for servicing today, with an explanation that I have 2 and a half quilts left to finish by the end of the month! Hopefully she will be returned all spick and span very VERY soon. 

I feel like I've lost a limb or something without her. Weird how these things grab hold of your life. Which leads me on to something I've been thinking about quite a lot recently. 

I've been quilting less than a year. Knitting and crocheting slightly longer. But even so, I just can't understand what I did before that. Sewing, thinking about sewing, planning the many MANY quilts I want to start, reading about others quilting adventures and buying researching fabric takes up pretty much all of my spare time. I mean, there are the other things that life throws at you, and other things to enjoy, but pretty much every spare moment I have to myself I think about some sort of crafting. I just can't imagine not doing. I wonder what I thought about before... In a way it makes me slightly worried. Am I forgetting things? Should I be thinking about something else? How did I fill my spare time a year ago? 

I've come to a few conclusions... 

A year ago I was still at Uni, studying for Finals. So obviously I had less time, period. 

I also used to read prolifically. I would literally digest books. 2-3 a week. Now I only read on vacation (which, btw, is once a year, if that). That makes me a little sad, because I do love to read, and I have a stack of books waiting to be read, or re-read in some cases. But the silver lining here is that I now read so many more blogs than before. I feel like I spend half my life reading without ever picking up a book. And of course I've "met" and made friends with so many other lovely people because of it. So yes, overall a fairly positive outcome. 

I played more video games before, but that too has gone out the window. Less sad about that because I spend all day looking at a screen at work. I do try and avoid it at home (writing and reading blogs, is of course excluded here haha!).

I guess I probably watched more TV, but I'm sure I'm not missing anything. I just watch my 3 shows (Grey's, Private Practice and Vampire Diaries) religiously, and not a lot else. 

Maybe I went out more, but then, I've always been a bit of a home-bunny (Is that a phrase?). I'm a July baby, Cancer. Nurturing, homely, secure, comfortable. I love the idea of creating beautiful practical things. Things to snuggle under, things to wrap yourself in. Things to wear to keep your hands and your head and your heart warm. These are the things that make me happy.

And I'm happy with that. I just sometimes wonder if I've gone a little mad...! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

QAL: Progress

Just a quickie here, I've started cutting all the blades for my Lilly's Quilts Quilt Along. 

I'm using Innocent Crush again, just because I'm like totally in love with this fabric (I may have just ordered more....haha!)

It's looking good so far. No piecing of any kind has occurred, and I still haven't chosen my background fabric. I'm thinking white, but then it really would be the same as my Hexagon Crush quilt. So maybe purple? It's gotta be purple really... it being my favourite colour an all. 

 Happy St. Patrick's Day to all!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Hexagon Crush: Progress

My quilt top is finished! 

Isn't she a beauty? (But don't look to closely, theres some pretty major seam-wobbles and a few point-matching-problems)

I really do love this pattern, it was challenging enough (for me) without being so hard you want to start gnawing on your rotary cutter, you know? ;-)

Lynne did a beautiful job of writing the instructions, even down to re-using the cut off scraps in the corner pieces. I love those little triangles, they make the hexagon setting really pop! 

I do have a couple of little suggestions for anyone else following the pattern:
First, I didn't have the 60° lines on my cutting board; I thought about getting out my old school set square (lol) and drawing them on, but then I noticed they were on my 6x24 ommnigrid ruler, FTW! After a bit of jiggling around, and an extra cup of coffee, I figured out how to place that line on the bottom of the shape to cut, and sliced away it worked perfectly (as you would expect really… haha)! 

Also, in my haste to start quilting, I cut my fabrics before checking the pattern (not sensible, don't do this!) So I cut all my FQ’s into layer cake squares, and then did the same for a lot of white yardage, doh! I thought I should try to be frugal and use up those white layer cake squares, so I cut the “thinner shorter” white strips into 5” lengths, not 5.25” as specified in the pattern. It really was just to get the most out of my fabric, but it worked fine. I had to trim a teeny tiny minuscule amount off the side of a couple of hexies, but that was just down to my poor sewing really. Just thought I’d mention it, in case anyone else had a few white layer cakes slices hanging around to use.

I bought the fabric for backing and binding this weekend; a gorgeous cranberry red for the back, and an equally lovely tangerine orange for the binding. Both solids. Not sure about using a solid for the binding, but I couldn't resist the colour. Think I will mull that one over for a bit before going ahead. I'll post some pictures later in the week, your input would be much appreciated!

Finally, has anyone noticed the new button in my side bar, I'm joining Lynne's Quilt Along! It's my first one, but Lynne herself is lovely (and incredibly talented!) and all the ladies seem like such a funny bunch. Would anyone else like to Quilt Along with us?

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Love Bento: Ta-dah!

Do you love Bento's?

I love Bento's...

So here's my Bento, Love.

Sorry its taken so long, I've practically finished my hexagon crush quilt and not even showed you this yet. Bad Laura.  I just lagged on the binding, and photographing...

 I used 7 different prints from Amy Butler's Love collection, coupled with Kona Cotton in Coal. 

I have quilted it in a standard stippling pattern, which I think helps to calm down the crazy of the contrast. It ties it all together, sort of.  
The binding is the same as on my snowball quilt, but in orange. I really like it in orange, I was thinking of going for a scrappy binding for this one, but I'm glad I stuck with a solid stripe in the end. It needed the brightness to lift all that grey. 

To be honest, this quilt was a bit of a journey for me. I loved it when it was in my head, I loved it when I had the fabrics, but as soon as I started to piece it, I stopped loving it. I don't really know why... I guess it doesn't quite have as much pizazz as I was expecting? And maybe the quilting isn't as good as it could have been... And maybe there's one too many puckers in the back. 

But maybe I'm just being overly critical. 

After I sewed on the binding, washed and tumbled it, and really stood back and had a good ol' look at it, you know what? I love it again. 

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Strip-frayed Cushion

While I was at Mama's house on Tuesday I managed to get some photographs of a cushion I recently made for her. Its a really interesting technique that I thought I'd share with you guys...

I don't know what its called, some people say its "fake chenille", but I just call it strip-frayed. I used to do a lot of projects in this technique back when I studied textile design at college, but the fabrics I used were very different. I have come across 2 ways of layering fabrics to make this lovely wispy frayed effect:

Either use 8 or more layers of thin voile/organza (but don't put your favorites on the top as they get mostly brushed away) or use 2-3 layers of plain coloured cotton solids with a top layer of interesting print. I opted for the second version for this cushion as I had this lovely vibrant Kaffe Fassett print, and some coordinating purple and blue solids. 

I didn't take any photos of the sewing steps because I wasn't really intending for this to be a tutorial, but you basically layer up your fabrics onto a plain backing (muslin, linen, plain cotton etc), then stitch repeated lines all across about 1-2cm apart (as if you were straight line quilting). You then cut up the center of each gully between stitch line making sure NOT to cut the backing fabric. Ya hear that? DON'T cut the backing. (I did, a few times). 

Then grab a wire brush, or general scrubby thing from the kitchen cupboard and go to town. Fray away! You could always pop it in the washing machine to really give it a go... 

Here's a closeup to show how mine looks after a few weeks of wear and tear round the house. It does get better over time as the fabrics fray a little more, its so tactile you just can't help stroking it!

And here's a shot under the fluro light, not usually my favourite setting, but it shows the print off beautifully.

I finished this baby up with some home made piping, and used a simple envelope-type backing made out of stone coloured linen.

It would seem I'm in time to link up to the Bloggers Pillow Party this month, so here's the link to see all the other lovelies. 

Blogger's Pillow Party

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Pancake Day Funsies

Yesterday was Pancake Day over here in the UK, or Shrove Tuesday for the more religiously inclined.

Here's a little peek into how it goes down at Cafe Mama (Moms just make the best pancakes right?)

Great selection there Mama :-)

2 at a time baby, yeah!! (I even managed to flip one, well, kind of...)

Vanilla ice-cream and Maple syrup. Arguably the pancake filling ever. Srsly.


All rolled up and ready to go. Gone in 60 seconds? More like 10... haha!

And of course, an evening at Chez Mama couldn't be complete without a spot of Tasha-cat cuddles.

How did y'all spend your pancake day?

Monday, March 07, 2011

A "Big" Decision

Those of you hoping and waiting for a reveal of my Love Bento Quilt will have to wait a little longer I'm afraid. I know it's really bad of me, but I actually started a new quilt this weekend... So sorry! I actually do feel a little guilty... woops. 

But the big decision in question concerns the "Needles" part of my namesake. On my needles, as some of you know has been The Effortless Cardigan, previous post here. I was worried about sizing at the beginning, I didn't check gauge, I didn't even understand the concept of negative/positive ease... (still don't really, but Sarah's explanation definitely helped!). 

So yes, I really should have measured, I really should have swatched. As a result, I'm now faced with the gut-wrenching decision. To frog or not. 

I already know the answer (helped by the fact that it's probably about 4 sizes too big), I've just got to come to terms with the fact that the last 3ish weeks of knitting have been for nothing. 


And other choice expletives.  

Moving on to the brighter aspects of this weekend, my new QUIP. I woke up Sunday morning with an idea in my head, and after a very short time researching, I found the perfect tutorial to help me realize it. Here is the beginning of my Hexagon Park quilt, or Hexagon Crush as I like to call it. 
I just couldn't wait any more cut into these gorgeous gorgeous fabrics!! It needs another 3 borders, but I pieced all of those lovely hexies in one day :-) My kinda project!

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Jodi is having a giveaway!

For an accuquilt go baby none the less! Oh how I swoon over those little cutting machines! Jodi's blog is one of my very favourite's. I've followed her for such a long time, she has lovely pictures, great tutorials, and she is ever-so friendly! 

The giveaway is all in aid of her very first Grandbaby, a baby girl due in April. Having just become an auntie for the first time (but no children of my own... yet...!) I kinda get how excited she must be, and am ridiculously over-the-top pleased for her. Head on over to Pleasant Home and while away a few hours checking her out. (ha!)

In other news, progress on the cardigan is slow, but my Love Bento quilt is almost done. 

We have a top, half quilted, and the binding is cut. Just need to pull all the stops out this week and maybe I'll have a FO for you by Friday. 

Also this week, I got a lovely semi-surprise in the mail at work:

 Lovely because well, aren't they just? And a semi-surprise because I totally wasn't expecting them so soon. 

2 gorgeous stacks of AMH's Innocent crush line that I won over at Red Pepper Quilts

The question is, what shall I do with it????

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