NO GIRLS ALLOWED BEE – DECEMBER, AND THE FINAL POST.

At only a modest two months late we find ourselves at the last post of the 2014 No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee! It’s fitting that the bee should come full circle, ending with the founding father, Molli Sparkles.  Mr Sparkles needs no introduction, having already left his glittery stamp on the modern quilting world in far more impressive ways than I could describe here.  I count myself so fortunate that I was able to connect with Joshua way back when, and am both pleased and proud of where our interaction has taken us.

For the final month of the bee, Joshua requested hash tag blocks in a rainbow of tone on tone colours.  Now, as the tutorial so helpfully suggests, a test block is indeed a mahvelous idea; if you haven’t nailed down that exact quarter inch seem, your block isn’t gonna grow up to be the right size.  Trust me; I have an orphan block stuck to my design wall to prove it.

Once I sorted the seam issue, I sewed up a storm, choosing to focus my fabric selections on the teal and yellow areas of the colour wheel. Since I made blocks for Mr.  I’ve grown quite an attachment to fabric arranged in colour order, so it was great fun to pull these. Tula makes an appearance, as does some great small-scale prints that seem to be the staple of my stash.  I can’t get enough of fabric like that!

If these blocks seem familiar, you’ve probably seen a ton of them crop up on Instagram as part of the Sew For Sydney movement Joshua initiated to help victims of the Sydney terror attacks.  It was a real call to arms, with hundreds upon hundreds of blocks from all over the worlds being sent to help the cause.  What a great bunch you all are!

And with that the bee comes to an end!  Mark me off the list gentlemen, I’m officially up to date.  What fun the whole experience of being in a bee has been!  I’d stumbled upon the word many times in the early days of my foray into quilting, and was eager to be involved in one.  Well, I couldn’t have wished for a nicer bunch of bee mates.  I’ve learnt so much from these guys and can’t wait to see what they all get up to in the future!  I hope you’ve all enjoyed taking this journey with me.  Be sure to keep your eyes open for the finished quilts over the coming months.  They’re going to be ace!

A SECOND SCHNITZEL AND BOO MINI QUILT SWAP QUILT

These days, I seem to be finishing quilts quicker than I can blog about them, which is something I’m not use too!  When I began blogging, the computer would wait patiently whilst I frantically sewed on binding.  Now, there’s a seeming endless list of post waiting to be published!

Today is the turn of a quilt I completed last month as part of round three of the Schnitzel and Boo Mini Quilt Swap.  You may remember the quilt I made for round two of the swap last year, which was great fun and just a little bit difficult to part with. This time around I was pleased to discover my assigned partner, Nicole AKA kwilter100 on Instagram,  had similar tastes to my previous partner, so I was once again able to express my love of all things improv.  I was thinking bright colours, wonky piecing and a lot of quilting; all things my partner seemed to like!

I began by cutting random widths of fabric and strip piecing them.  These were then sliced into and sewn back together, creating a stepped effect.  Like most of the quilts I make, the fabric pulling was one of my favourite parts.  My partner requested large-scale floral prints coupled with aqua and pink.  I purchased some Anna Maria Horner ‘Pretty Potent’ floral as a starting point, and then raided the stash for coordinating prints.  There’s a little Tula in there, as well as some Carolyn Friedlander (surprise, surprise) and some Cotton and Steel.  Everything just works so well together!

I made a total of four improv blocks before cutting them down and filling in the negative space with some black yarn dyed linen by Robert Kauffman.  I then went to town with the quilting, both following and going against the seam lines, even crosshatching in some areas, with the lines around a quarter of an inch apart. For the backing, I chose a stash staple that I’ve been waiting for the perfect project to use.  The colours were just right.  Binding was another Carolyn print from her Botanics collection.  Love, love, LOVE!

Received and hung up, I pleased to say Nicole was happy with it, which is the whole point of a swap I guess!

NO GIRLS ALLOWED BEE – NOVEMBER

Now that I’ve finally completed all my bee commitments, it’s time to get the last few block written about and posted here.  Though these are for November, I actually made these blocks last, for reason you’ll soon discover.

Mr November is Scott Hansen, who can be found on Instagram as Bluenickelsudios and in the blogsphere here.  For his month Scott requested something which, at first, sent a shiver down my spine.  He asked for Union Jack blocks, based on a tutorial by fellow bee member and all round fabulous Molli Sparkles.  He wanted the flags to be made using ‘Liberty-inspired florals’, and since I had no actual Liberty to hand, I had to do a little shopping.  The life of a quilter is often hard!

Now, since improv piecing entered my brain and took over the controls, blocks like this, with long cutting lists and precise measurements, are something I’ve avoided.  That’s not to say I was drawn to them in the first place; all that measuring and maintaining of accuracy just isn’t for me.  I get too stressed, too worked up with precision.  Now you see why I avoided making these until the last days of January!

I finally bit the bullet and got down to it, feeling terribly guilty that I made Scott wait so long already.  After all the hype, they really weren’t that bad.  Yes, accuracy is needed, and yes, your seam allowances has to be on point (though one of my blocks was a hair breadth shy of the final size) but as I began the second block I actually found myself enjoying the process, probably for no other reason than the end was in sight!

Anyway, Whilst I won’t be making these blocks again in hurry, I’m happy to contribute to Scott’s vision, which I think is going to look awesome.  These fabrics aren’t something I’d usually be seen at a checkout with, but I did enjoy picking florals and matching them to solids.  I love the contrast between the two blocks and hope that Scott will too.

A UNITED STATES OF AMERICA QUILT

Regular readers of this blog will know it’s no secret I’m not enamoured with my job.  Yes, I must have one, and yes, the money pays the bills, but after five years doing the same thing, I’m really ready for a change!  I recently found out that a colleague and close friend would be moving on to pastures new.  In fact, as I write this, he’s working his last shift.  I couldn’t let the occasion pass without giving him a small token of appreciation to thank him for all the times he’s lent me his ear and kept me relatively sane in the workplace!  So, I did what us quilters do best and made him a quilt.

One of our traditions was to play a game of “Name all the American States in the shortest amount of time.”  Every other Friday, during the graveyard shift, we would try to best our previous record and not get tongue-tied over all the ‘M’ states!  When I began thinking about what to make him, the answer came quickly – a states quilt!

This was so fun to make!  Followers of my Instagram account may remember I already attempted one of these.  I ran into difficulties early on when I realised that the state templates I found were all different scales, and so fitting them together would be nigh on impossible!  Fast-forward to the second attempt and I decided to use a map that already had the states fitted together to make my templates, thereby ensuring a perfect fit.

The first step was to cut all the states from the map.  I decided to laminate them to make them more durable.  I’ll probably make another of these in the future so having the templates ready to go will be a great time-saver.  The states were transferred to fusible web before being ironed to the wrong side of my fabric choices.  It’s important to remember when transferring shapes to fusible web that they need to be reversed, so that when you cut them out of the fabric they are the right way around.  Of course, this doesn’t apply to circles, squares and other symmetrical shapes.

Pulling fabric for this project was my favourite part.  After some secret information gathering from his girl friend, I learnt the recipient’s favourite colours.  The fabrics are modern, manly and evocative of the states.  Florida is green and swamp-like, Colorado has a rocky feel and Arizona evokes hot, dusty plains.  There’s a really eclectic mix of fabrics in the map; Kona solids, Oakshott cottons, Tula pink, Carolyn Friedlander and Cotton and Steel.  Once the states were cut out, they were pressed into position on a background of black Essex Linen; a go-to fabric for me these days for all sorts of projects.  I ensured the first state, Washington, was placed level on the fabric before placing the others one by one.  It was fun to watch the map grow with each new addition.

Due to some of the states being quite small (bloody Delaware!), I thought it best couldn’t be bothered to stitch around each one individually, so I chose dense matchstick quilting to add texture to the quilt and secure all the pieces down at the same time.  I began by marking a straight line on the edge of the quilt and used this as a guide to quilt across the top.  I started with lines a quarter inch apart, then went back and filled in twice to leave lines no more than an eighth of an inch apart.  The texture is awesome!  To finish the piece, I used a Joel Dewberry wood grain print for binding.

The last addition was a label, made with the monogramming feature on my new Janome.  I have to admit I’m a little bit in love with it and it makes the perfect finishing touch.  I’m pleased to say the quilt was well received and hopefully it’ll be a reminder of our fun-filled Friday nights for years to come.

NO GIRLS ALLOWED QUILT BEE – OCTOBER

With the new year comes the end of the No Girls Allowed Quilt Bee.  I have to confess that I still have one month left to make, and two to write about, and that’s not including my own month, October.  The bee has moved along as a leisurely pace and there’s been no pressure from anyone if blocks have been running a little late.  I’ve already received a few of mine and I have to say that they are looking amazing.  My brief was quite simple; improve block using solids and prints inspired by my favourite painting, and one which I’ve yet to see in person.

I’ve been enamoured with Salvador Dali’s ‘The Persistence of Memory’ since I was in school.  Despite having visited New York City three times, I’ve always managed to miss seeing the painting at MOMA.  So, I thought I’d ask my bee mates to help me make my own version.  The idea is still forming in my head and I’m planning on waiting for more of the blocks to arrive before I start thinking about layout.  Watch this space!

HAPPY NEW YEAR…LET’S PLAY CATCH UP!

Happy new year…although even that’s belated now, owing to the fact that it’s the 6th of January already! Can you believe it? Time doesn’t just fly…it hitches a ride on a super sonic jet and doesn’t get off!

It may seem like I’m complaining…and I am…but time’s relentless pace has its pros too. I have a great feeling about 2015, particularly for me and my quilting journey. I have several things in the pipeline that are really exciting, and I’ll be sharing details about those as soon as I know more myself.  For know, let’s deal with a little bit of forgotten house keeping from last year.  Over the next few days my posts will be dealing with all the loose ends I forgot didn’t have the time to tackle during the frantic festive period.

First up is my Instagram Mini Quilt Swap quilt I made during the last few months of 2014.  Organised by Sandy Greenberg, AKA curly_boy1 and Mr January in the #NGAQB, the swap was a huge success, attracting over 600 swappers.  It was the first time Sandy had organised anything like this so it was great to see the Instagram quilting community showing faith in a novice.  The swap was totally stress free, most likely due to the large period of time between receiving partner details and the posting dates.  This also allowed for a lot of thought on what to make, as well as a lot of mind-changing!

My partner was Meli, who posts as theshortmunchkin.  I was told that she’s a US Navy RN, so I used that as my inspiration for her mini.  I really wanted to do something with naval flags, but with more of a modern twist.  I imagined them all strung out on some string, rows above rows, with bright, vibrant colours replacing the traditional reds, blues and yellows.  I drew up some basic paper piecing patterns for a variety of different flags and set about pulling fabrics.  I didn’t start out with a rainbow of colour in mind, but the fabrics seems to arrange themselves like that as I was rummaging through the sash, and who am I to argue?  Sometimes, in my more subservient moods, what the fabric wants, the fabric gets (unless it’s destined for a vegetable patch block, in which case it’s being starched into submission).

I am so pleased with how the quilt turned out.  There are some old favourites in there, including Tula Pink and Carolyn Friedlander, mixed up with some vibrant Kona solids.  For the background I used some widescreen crosshatch that I seem to have an abundant supply of due to it’s 108″ width!  The quilting was wavy matchstick in an off white thread; simple but very effective.  The binding was my new go-to print from John Lewis.  It’s like a black scratchy line, not too dissimilar from those featured in the Botanics collection.  This was also the first time I used any applique in a quilt.  It was only a small circle, but it really finishes off that particular flag nicely.

I’ve been assured that Meli likes the quilt and have seen that she’s hung it up already, so I couldn’t have done that bad a job.  I’ve become really addicted to mini swaps recently and have signed up for three more this year!  Do go and check out this swap’s hash tag on Instagram.  There were so many great makes, and the one I received was particularity fetching…even if I am a little bias!

Here’s to a creative year.  Thank you all for following along and taking the time to read my ramblings.  I really appreciate all your support and can’t wait to see where the attic takes us this year!

STASHING #27

I’m so looking forward to a day in the very near future when I can sit down and fill you all in about recent attic antics!  The festive period has proven to be one of the busiest, both in work and outside of it.  I can’t wait to just sew, write and drink tea with gay abandon!

For now then, a visual feast.  A little stash addition that had me weak at the knees.  Carolyn Friedlander’s Botanics collection, in all its gorgeous glory.  I may have or may not have had some of these prints already…

Enjoy, for however long you want, then check out all the other fabric goodness over at Molli Sparkle’s Sunday Stash.