My quilting thoughts and inspirations sprinkled with a glimpse of life down on the farm

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Christmas item and some sampling

As it nears the end of the month, the 1 Xmas Item a Month blog is getting pretty busy. I was quiet with Christmas items during January and February but am pleased to be able to post something this time round :-)
This little wallhanging (3" x 9") is one of the blocks from the Christmas Fun Button Club Lynette Anderson did a couple of years ago. All it needs is a hanger and then I will have to decide if it will go into the Gift basket or My basket.....!
Narelle is doing a great job of rounding us up each month and motivating us to keep some planning for Christmas on track :-) Click *here* to go to the blog and see what ideas everyone has.
In the past I have pattern tested some lovely foundation piecing blocks for Juliet of Tartankiwi. Recently I have done two more. The Kowhai is one of my favourite NZ native flowers so I was more than happy to test this one —

— And for a bit of fun, I was also happy to sew up this one for her as well —
I don't really have a history or connection with Combi Vans but found this a really neat pattern to sew, I enjoyed the circling around the headlights and the bonnet. I think this will make a cool cushion. The neat thing about sewing samples and pattern testing is that you get to try things you possibly wouldn't have otherwise done. Thanks Juliet! (Juliet's patterns are available via her Craftsy site *here*).

My last post with the red and white quilt 'designs' was lots of fun; the next stage of the SewCalGal Year of Red and White challenges is now open. If you want a little push to make a Red and White quilt you may like to consider starting one now. If you complete one before September 30th, you can join in the linky party and be in the draw for some lovely prizes, too. SewCalGal is promising tutorials and tips throughout the year too so I will be keen to see what she comes up with. 
Happy stitching, have a great day, and thank you for visiting,

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Red and White Challenges

You may recall that SewCalGal is inspiring us with a year of Red and White challenges. As you (could) know I am a sucker for challenges, especially ones that stretch me out of my comfort zone, so I here I am, taking part :-)
A bloghop and phase one have been and gone but the links are still up if you want to spend some time visiting and viewing some gorgeous Red and White quilts. Visit the bloghop and phase one here.
Now we are into Phase Two. For this we design a quilt!
Yes, that's all!!!
I have used EQ7 for mine but computer software is not necessary.
Anyway, here is what I have come up with......
During the EQ7 bloghop, I took a simple block and played with it, seeing what happened; my Bears Paw became this 'serendipity enhanced kaleidoscope' block.
I really loved this new block and decided I would like to use it as the basis of my quilt design. Examining the block, I am sure the best way to sew it would be by foundation paper piecing. Even that would not be a 5 minute job but I think it would be so worth it! One setting I tried used 4 of these and looked really neat with its secondary patterns emerging, but it would take forever to sew so I ditched it!
Because of the nature of this block I decided it was best suited used as a bigger block; the settings below use it from 12" to 24".
Quilt One -This version has a simple border which I think frames the
main block nicely.
(22" finished, EQ7 estimates I would need 1/2 yd white and 5/8 yd of red).
Quilt Two - In order to make the quilt a little bigger, this version has a
simple chain block to frame it, and an outer border.
The Bears Paw in the border acknowledge the block's beginnings.
(52" finished, estimates 1 1/4yds white and 2 1/2 yds red).
Quilt Three - Here I got even more complex. I really do like the way
the chain blocks frame and mimic the shape of the centre block.
(60" finished,  estimates 1 3/4 yds white and 3 3/4 yds red). 
Quilt Four - This is the same quilt with the addition of the narrow borders,
which I guess could also be red.
(63" finished,  estimates 2 1/8 yds white and 3 3/4 yds red). 
Quilt Five - Inspired by the previous attempts I also came up with this version.
Less complex to sew. I decided the Crown and Cross blocks in the
outer border suited the centre block better than the Bears Paw.
(28" finished, estimates 1/2 yd white, 7/8 yd red
48" finished, estimates 1 7/8" yd white, 7/8 yd red)
Something I do a lot when I am playing around like this is to do print previews to check the cutting requirements to see if a block, size, design is feasible. All of the above 'worked', but of course differ in their complexity. They are all different sizes too, it really was a case of having to do the maths to get everything to fit right.
These designs all passed my 'go out of the room and view it' test. If they didn't look good from 6 metres away, they didn't last.
SewCalGal is amazing at getting great sponsers for her challenges. Island Batik is a sponsor of this particular challenge. They will select their favourite design and the winner will receive fabrics from them to make up the design! (To be eligible for entry to this, I needed to state the estimated yardages of my design/s.) 

If you go *here* and scroll down, you will see the link-up to see what other 'designers' have come up with. I am enjoying reading the stories that go with every-one's designs.
This challenge ends on March 23rd so if you are interested in taking part, it's not too late. The next phase of the year of Red and White Challenges is the 'make it' stage so I would love to know which design you like best - and your thoughts on them all too  :-)
Thank you for reading along,
Happy creating,

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Weekend Sewing

We spent Friday battening down the hatches in preparation for Cyclone Lusi which was bearing down on New Zealand. As we are in drought conditions we were excited about getting some rain and we were happy to put up with the strong winds if we were going to get a good downpour. Sadly we got some rain (and a fair bit of wind) but not nearly the amount predicted....
....However it was 'stormy' enough to stay inside and sew!!
First up, I got the final borders on this quilt for hubby! As he has been waiting patiently for this for a few years and as March is his birthday month, this one has gone to the top of my quilting pile!! (I thought I had it to the flimsy stage a while ago but decided I wanted the extra size created by the borders.)
This is a Cozy Quilt Designs pattern using a Reproductions Jelly Roll.
Then I finished up this little cutie for a friend - I love the little hanger! The stitcheries are from the Anni Downs book called Simple Pleasures.
Isn't my calendar a great backdrop for
this photo?!
Last post I said I was putting 'Goodnight Irene' back into leader-ender status; however I got a little hooked on her and on Sunday afternoon she took over my life and I have got her to this stage. I am now caught up - I am sewing this one with Terry of Terry's Treasure - she has a linky on her side bar so everyone can share their progress. And it's not too late to join in if you want to use up some scraps too!
This photo is a little murky actually but you get the idea.
I have decided not to join the rows yet just in case I need to do some colour re-balancing at a later stage. I'm tempted to make it a little wider but I will see how my scraps go and decide later on.

As this is quite a photo-light post (odd for me!), I just had a quick look through my camera and have realised that I had nearly forgotten to share one other sample I made for The Country Yard for our New Year's launch.
This is a Crabapple design and is mounted in a picture frame for something a little different; isn't it lovely? (No quilting needed!) The doiley is an old one which I trimmed up and tea-dyed.
That's another two finishes for this month - how exciting!!
I hope everyone else had a productive weekend as well, thank you for visiting,
Happy stitching, have a great day!

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Where to start?

You know that feeling that you have when deadlines are met, the climax has happened and you are left hanging - what to do next? Well, that's been me this week! (You can read my last post here if you have no idea what I am talking about!)
The need to sew is so ingrained in me that it didn't take long for my itchy fingers to start wriggling again.
But what to do?
I decided a good start would be to have a good look at the leader and ender project I've had in the background for the last few weeks. I always like to have a leader and ender project (ideally a scrap project so I don't have to think too hard) on the go. 'Goodnight Irene' is a good gobbler of 2.5" squares, of which I have plenty! Terry from Terry's Treasures has inspired many with this project, and it goes together very quickly and well.
Goodnight Irene so far. After looking at others in Terry's linkups,
I think I am going to slow down on my use of the creams, and try to
make those 16 patch blocks a little more colourful.
And as is the way, scrap sewing does not always use scraps - it generates them too.......!!
I've been sewing 2 seams on the X-block instead of one so that when I trim it off,
I have a half square triangle - something else to find a project for!!
Now that my head is a little more sorted and I have some direction for Irene, I will send her back to leader and ender status and poke around for my next main project - I have plenty to choose from!!
In the evenings I have pulled out my applique again, starting on Block 3 of the 2103 Quiltmania mystery. Here's the first little person from this block —
Can you guess what they are doing this time?!
 I said in my last post that I have a couple more projects (yaay, finishes) to share; ones that I've been sewing at home for the New Year's Launch my favourite quilt shop held last week. This first one is a 'Seasons' project we are doing, with the first season being Autumn (naturally, for those of us in this hemisphere!). As the year progresses we will work our way through the other seasons.
The stand for them is really lovely and I look forward to making more of these little hangings :-)
 And on the wall in this corner of the shop you can see another wall hanging I have made; the long, skinny-ish one —
When I remember the name and designer I will edit this post!
The single ladies are also very lovely and are by the same designer.
Quite clever how she has done the perspective, from left to right rather than
front to back.
Isn't she sweet?!
It's been nice to have these finishes, but now it's time for me to rummage through my sewing cupboard :-)
Happy stitching, have a great day - and thank you for visiting

Saturday, March 8, 2014

No more sneaky peeks...

... for now!!

This afternoon sees me a little jaded but happy! The lovely quiltshop I work at (The Country Yard), has just had its New Year's Launch. We always have a lot of fun with this, the planning of new projects, cutting into brand new fabric, trying new ideas, and of course the frantic sewing of block of the months, kits, class samples, shop samples 'for inspiration' and so on.
Somehow we always seem to get everything made and the day before the launch is spent turning the shop upside down and inside out and putting it all back together again.
Partway through the day!
 We pull down our 'old' displays and we reorganise shelves. We move fabric. (Actually we move everything!) We hunt out the 'back shed' for fresh display units and props. We bring out the ladders for the hanging of new quilts. We stand in the middle of the shop wondering where everything will go, but as the day progresses, it all falls into place. We spend the last hour or so finding homes for the little gift items or extra kits that appear homeless. Of course there is the paperwork; newsletters, class list, sign-in sheets, signage and so on.
Ahh, it's all worth it in the end!! —
And then launch-day dawns and we have a fabulous time with our customers who come and visit. There's lots of excitement; often we feel like we are welcoming old friends. Did I mention the baking and the cups of tea in the marquee out in the parklike grounds? As well as 'us girls behind the counter' we have a wonderful band of helpers who meet and greet, pour the tea and help the day tick over smoothly.
So that was this morning, and now it means I can share some quilts I have been working on here at home.
The sneak peek (in the first photo of this post) which I shared last post morphed into this quilt below —
"Paint box" by Laundry Basket Quilts.
I absolutely love this quilt. It was fun to make and was the first time I had really used batik fabrics. Edyta Sitar has a wonderful knack of combining batiks and the prints and this range is testimony to this.
Quilting was 'swirls and twirls, Raewyn-style'. It worked to help the
baskets shine; the baskets just needed a bit of straightline quilting to
stabilise them.
I also finished this quilt by 'The Buggy Barn' which I started last year. It was for a class we decided to delay holding so it got put on the bottom of the pile for a while. One of the things that slowed down the finishing on it was my indecision as to how to finish quilting it. It is mostly straightline quilting around/within each star but I really didn't know what to do in the border. Finally, very simple, wide 'piano keys' won the day and I was pleased that they didn't distract from the 'stars of the quilt'.
Another finish that I really love!
The Buggy Barn quilts are fun as you layer the fabrics, lay a freezer-paper template on top, cut along the lines of the template, then (in an orderly fashion) shuffle the piles. By the time you have sewn it all together you have lots of unique blocks.
I've done several smaller projects as well but I think I will save them for another time. I love the photo below so will leave that with you for now :-)
When photo-shoots go wrong!
Happy stitching, have a great day!
And thank you for stopping by,