Monday, 31 December 2012

Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Quilt - Part 6

I managed to print off the instructions for Part 6 of Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt just before I left for a weekend away on Friday, only to read that we are heading for a Rapid Fire Finish! Being away, I have not managed to sort our Part 6 until today. 
It looked easy, but for some reason I have laboured over it for most of the day.  I think this is partly because I have reached the end of my 'black and white' prints, and the mix is more limited, so I have had to introduce some fabric from my Moda 'Seasonal Little Gatherings' 5" Charm Pack, which has taken longer to cut and sew. 
It was the same for the squares, some of my 'greens' were too narrow, so I was making the triangles up from smaller strips.  However, as you can see, I got there evenutally.
Part 6 Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt
Part 6 Easy Street Mystery Quilt
Bonnie has set the release of each part of the mystery quilt for when it is about 11 o'clock in the morning in the UK, so Part 7 has been live for over 7 hours. I have resisted the temptation to look at it before I completed Part 6, so that is where I am heading now.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt

One of the Christmas gifts I received was the book 'The Farmer's Wife Sampler Quilt' by Laurie Aaron Hird. OK, so I had made some heavy hints - but Santa delivered.

I am keen to start up a new hand piecing project, and think that this will be the long-term marathon that I usually enjoy. But then I paused, as I realised that there were several other sampler quilts out there, such as the 'Dear Jane', 1863 Jane A Stickle, 'Sylvia's Bridal Sampler Quilt' by Jennifer Chiaverini, and no doubt a host of others. Here are some basic facts - the numbers, to get you thinking.
'Dear Jane' = 225 blocks
'Farmer's Wife' = 111 blocks
'Sylvia's Bridal' = 140 blocks
What are the other differences? Do you have a preference?
I am guessing there a a very few brave souls who have tackled all three, but I would love to hear about other quilter's experiences of any of these quilts, and what the positive and negatives are. I would be doing it by hand - probably English paper piecing, I would also probably move away from the traditional colour scheme also.
Let me know.

Monday, 24 December 2012

A Quiet Evening with my Pies and Tarts Quilt

Pies and Tarts Quilt Navy English Paper Piecing
Final Stages of the Pies and Tarts Quilt
This evening I managed to get back to my English piecing project, my Pies and Tarts Quilt.
The top of this is almost complete, I just have to sew on the 36 half circles to the edge of the
quilt.  I dithered over whether they would be necessary, but have decided to go for a more modern look edge to edge quilt.  I have manged about half of these this evening whilst watching the television, and I hope to get the top finished over the holiday period.
Having hosted several parties in the past few weeks, it feels good to be having a quiet Christmas.  I hope everyone has been good, and Santa comes tonight.
Merry Christmas!

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Quilt - Part 5

I got a little behind last week with Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt, but today I feel as if I have pulled it back a bit.  Firstly, I caught up on the fabric cutting.  Last week we were assigned to cut squares in our final colour, which for me is PURPLE.  I was itching to work with another colour, but it just didn't happen last week, so it felt like a bit of a treat to dig into my stash and pull out the purples.

Purple Quilt Fabric Squares
145 x 3 1/5" Purple Squares
I noticed that a lot of my fabrics have cherries on them, and I have mixed some more fruit into my quilt, with some juicy blackberries, courtesy of RJR Fabrics Farmer's Market (2008).  There is a cute print 'Crazy Daisies' by Buggy Barn for Henry Glass (Pattern 1394).  They are meant to be daisies, but I think they look more like to intergalactic stars, against this deep purple!  There is also another 'Ditzy Daisy' (1005) print, and a swirly black and purple 'Lava'  pattern (730), both by The Henley Studio for Makower, a few batiks, and a few odd scraps.  Once the purple was done, I cut the red squares, and green squares I needed for Part 5.  The red fabric on top of the pile is called 'Santas Got the Goods' by Diane Knott for Clothworks - I sure hope he has!

Red, Green, Purple Qult Fabric
Red, Green and Purple Fabric cut ready for Part 5
The construction of this little block was quite simple - if you follow Bonnie's excellent instructions.  My first few attempts were not squaring up very accurately, but once I started to sew along the right side of the line, as Bonnie suggested, they were much better.  I have decided to keep the square in tact, mainly for greater accuracy further along the line, just trimming out the excess of the triangle.  On a previous quilt I was sewing a similar block, but I had to cut both excess triangles because I was using a light fabric and the dark pattern was showing through.

Up until now my colour scheme has been looking a bit too festive, which has been concerning me, but with the addition of the purple I think it has been brought back to a 365 days a year quilt.  Do you think I have got away with it?

Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt - Easy Street Part 5
All my cutting is up to date.  I still have to join up some of the Flying Geese from last week, and to complete the rest of this weeks block.  I also have A LOT of trimming to catch up with.  I am really pleased with my colours and can't wait to start piecing all these parts together.  It has been great fun playing with the pieces to create patterns, and seeing everyone elses ideas. Here is my 'guess' for the Mystery Quilt, using this weeks pieces. 

Friday, 21 December 2012

Blue and White Broken Dishes Quilt Mug Rug

Everyone has been so busy getting quilted Christmas gifts together on their blogs, that now I finally have some time,to myself, I decided to make my first Mug Rug for a gift.

Broken Dishes Quilt Pattern Mug Rug
"I'd Rather Be Quilting" Mug Rug
I have purchased this 'I'd Rather Be Quilting' Mug from Stubbs Mugs, which is a lovely Fine Bone China, printed in blue, so the blue and white combination was the inspiration for the mug rug colour scheme.
I have used a nice Japanese blue and white fabric, with a little floral motif on it. I have had this for along time. Those lovely Japanese fabrics are so enticing, that they don't often need an excuse to come home with me.
I have used a Broken Dishes quilt pattern , made up of quarter-square triangle units, for the centre of the mug rug. I had a few 5" charm squares in cream, cut them into four and used them as the basis of the quickpiecing method outlined in the back of Katharine Guerrier's 'Scrap Quilt Sensation' book. They are quite little, so they were a bit fiddly.
This is now ready to wrap for a present swap rendez-vous this afternoon.
With that finished, I have just popped over to Bonnie Hunter's Quiltville Blog to see that she has Part 5 ready for us.  With this large ongoing project, it was nice to have a 'quick win', and something to share on Finish It Up Friday.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Quilt - Part 4

Part 4 of Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt has been out for a few days now, and it is only today that I have been able to dedicate a few hours to getting it completed. 
Pfaff 2058 Sewing Machine - Flying Geese, Easy Street Quilt
Easy Street Quilt - Flying Geese
This time round we need to cut Flying Geese blocks, using the same colour for the large 'goose' as we used for Part 2, but using theTurquoise (= RED) for the wings.  I am glad I wrote out my colour scheme clearly in  my post a few days ago, it has been a VERY useful reference, to ensure that I have been using the right colours. Luckily, for Part 2 of the Easy Street Quilt I had cut surplus Flying Geese, so most of that cutting had been done.  I am now confident using the Creative Grids  45 / 90 degree ruler for strips, and so the cutting out for this part has not been so daunting. 

Part 4 - Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt
Part 4 - Easy Street Mystery Quilt
Once the Flying Geese have been constructed, the next step has been to attach them to the other set of Flying Geese that we made, to make a square block.  I made a few to start off with to check I knew what I was doing, and now have the weekly production line in operation.

Part 4 - Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Quilt with Cat
Suzi the Cat admires Part 4 of the Easy Street Quilt
When Part 4 was revealed on the Quiltville Blog, I was excited to see that we can now cut into our next colour, for me, this is PURPLE.   It has been a busy few days, so my usual slot for completing Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt, has been usurped by chores such as Christmas shopping and some extra work I have taken on leading up to Christmas. Also Suzi the Cat has not been in the mood for patchwork, whereas she is usually a great source of encouragement.  She is not very amused that I am using her chair as a 'design wall' either.

Friday, 14 December 2012

#4 Butterfly Quilt - What did I learn from this Quilt?

Each quilt I make, I tend to learn something new.  With the Butterflies Quilt being my first large project, over a long period of time, it was perhaps my steepest learning curve with regard to patchwork and quilting.  Looking back, I realise how naïve I was, and how this project really opened the doors to the quilting world for me.

Butterfly Quilt on the Bed English Paper Piecing
Butterfly Quilt on the Bed

English Paper Piecing is Great!
As long as the paper is cut to the right size, you can get away with rough cutting fabric, and along with hand sewing , you have much greater control of what is going on with your quilt - this is why I love working with the English Paper Piecing method. Also, cutting out the paper for quilts reminds me of cutting out dresses for paper dolls when I was a child.  I used to love this.  It is a quiet, peaceful pastime.  Sometimes I like to be on the machine, but when you have no choice in order to get a project done, it can feel like you are chained to it, and you really have to find a block of time to get the job done - not easy when you work full-time.  In the two years it took to complete the Butterflies quilt, I never once got frustrated with it.  It is portable.  You can fit it in to small gaps of time.  Just make sure you have it with you all the time!
Go With the Scraps
For this quilt project, the only fabric I bought was the cream calico and the fabric for the butterfly bodies.  Otherwise, I kept to what scrap fabric I had.  This led to, what felt like, some heavily compromised colour combinations, which made me wince as I sewed them together.  However, once the quilt was together, it looked perfect.  Go with the scraps, in general, they know what they are doing.
I used an off-white cotton to sew my pieces together, which worked for the majority of the quilt, but not so well on the coloured fabric.  As it travelled around with me  A LOT, just having to worry about one reel of thread, made it easier, however, with the quilts I have done since I have taken more care to match the thread to the fabric.
This quilt needs more quilting.  I look at it every day and think this, but part of me is happy to keep it as it is, as a reminder that there is a ‘tipping point’ of too little, or too much quilting on a quilt.  I am still working on the balance of this.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Couture for IKEA, with Bemz

When we built our house, I made sure that it accommodated a workroom for me and my sewing.  Even though we have been in the house for over two years, it is only now that I have started to make the room, my space. 
Over the summer I made some check curtains and a pelmet out of the Voyage Lorient Contemporary range, called Bonnie ( .. is that a coincidence?), which I purchased from Fabric Mills, Monmouth.  I have made lots of curtains over the last few years, and with the lines of the check to follow, these were by far the easiest - why didn't I start with them? 
With the curtains in place, it has started to feel more comfortable, so we popped to IKEA to buy an easy chair as an addition to the room.  I had visions of me looking out of the window, watching the world go by, as I sat quilting, with some relaxing music in the background...

IKEA Jennylund chair from the EKTORP range
We purchased the Jennylund chair from the EKTORP range at IKEA, as the back was a bit higher for you to rest your head.  You can purchase them without a slipcover, so it comes with just a plain cotton cover.
At the NEC Festival of Quilts, on the Rowan stand, I noticed that within their display they had covered some IKEA chairs in some of their bright Kaffe Fassett quilt fabric.  They looked amazing, and they have even produced some patterns for other IKEA chairs (Henriksdal, Tullsta) which can be found on the Coats Craft website.  However, I felt this was a project too far for me at this stage.
Whilst I like the quality and design of IKEA furniture, I am rarely taken with the quality and colourway of the covers, so I looked elsewhere. There are a handful of companies which make covers especially for IKEA furniture - Save My Sofa, Ikuva and Bemz, are the ones I know about.
Their websites allow you to order free samples so you can check the colours and the quaity of fabric.  I have ordered covers from Bemz before, and the quality is really good.  I was looking for something to go with the new curtains, so after waiting for the samples in the post, I finally decided on a textured cotton 'Tegner Melange Sand Beige' from Bemz. 
Bemz fabric samples
Bemz are based in Sweden, but as far as I know, they ship all over the world. The covers are preshrunk and machine washable at 40 degrees C.
Anyway, my cover has arrived, and today I have put it on the chair. 
Jennylund chair, with Bemz Cover
(Tegner Melange Sand Beige)
If I wasn't so busy with the Easy Street Mystery Quilt, I might have a moment to sit down in it!

Sunday, 9 December 2012

Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Quilt - Part 3

Removing cat hair from fabric
Removing cat hair from fabric
I started the day knowing I had to cut a lot of pieces of fabric, so I thought I would do a bit of housekeeping before I started.  Suzi has adopted the role of my 'fabric manager' , so I needed to remove her cat fur from where she has been sleeping keeping guard.  The most effective way I have found to do this is to put on my Marigold's and rub them across the fabric.  Suzi's cat fur is not as prolific as the other cat, so there was not too much to remove.  
Removing lint from cutting mat
Removing lint from cutting mat
I have also been fastidiously trimming my blocks for the Easy Street Mystery Quilt, and a lot of it has been tiny slithers of fabric, which disappeared as I cut them off.  I have found the same rubber glove technique works nicely to remove the lint that gathers up on my self-healing cutting mat.  Once I had tidied up, we sat down and read the instructions with a cup of tea.

Suzi cat helping with cutting fabric
Suzi cat helping with cutting fabric
Before I cut the whole batch, I cut out a few pieces, to check that it worked. It is the first time I have made a block like this before.  As usual, I followed Bonnie's instruction, and the blocks have come out fine.  By lunchtime all the cutting was done, and by teatime all the blocks were pieced, ready for trimming whilst I watched 'Strictly Come Dancing'. For some reason I cut way too many red triangles, so I will wait to see if I can use them or work out another project to use them up.
I was pleased to be using a different colour.  I am using for red fabric for Bonnie's turquoise, for this part, and for this colour my stash has plenty of choice.  The latest addition to my red stash has to be the most perfect fabric - a red dotty tone on tone which is from a Moda Collection "Christmas Past" #1457, by Polly Minick and Lauri Simpson.  I bought a large piece of it, knowing that I will want to include it in every quilt I ever make.  Another favourite in there is a crimson floral tone on tone fabric, from the 'Oriental Traditions' range designed by Adam Guan for Robert Kaufman.  This piece is getting smaller and smaller with each project, and I think this quilt will use up the last of it.  However, as this is a scrap quilt, it is an opportunity to scatter in some of those prints which are perhaps not my 'favourites' too.

Friday, 7 December 2012

Easy Street Mystery Quilt - Part 3 Released

Bonnie Hunter has released the third part of the Easy Street Mystery Quilt today.  The weeks sure go fast, but so far I have kept up with the pace.  This week we have to produce shaded 4 -patches.  I have never made these little blocks in my life, but I am using this Mystery Quilt as an exercise in getting my machine quilting skills up to scratch, and so another week, another string to my patchwork bow.

We are allowed to use another colour this week, Turquoise.  I have a different colour scheme, and up until now I haven't finalised whether her Turquoise is my Red or Purple.

Easy Street Mystery Quilt with Cat
Suzi chooses Red for the Easy Street Mystery Quilt

However, it looks like Suzi the cat has chosen for me.  Clearly the one I want will be the one she is sleeping on - so it is Red.  I have loads of Red.  I love Red, and it goes in all my quilts. This one will be no different ....
Suzi is joining in the Feline Friday Link today, so be sure to visit all the Internet Kitties.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

#3 Butterfly Quilt - Showing the Butterfly Quilt

It was great to eventually see my Butterflies Quilt hung up at the NEC Festival of Quilts in Birmingham.  It was also lovely to hear the kind comments that visitors made about my work.  Because of its size, I had previously had nowhere to display it where I could stand back and have a good look at it myself.  This was a great opportunity.  At the time, I lived in a three storey house, and the only place large enough to lie it out was in the garden, and then to run upstairs and look at it out of the top window.  Not entirely satisfactory.

Butterfly Quilt
'Butterflies on the Move' Quilts UK 2007
This was the first quilt I entered into a show. The NEC Festival of Quilts is the biggest show in the UK, has a vast array of styles, and the quilts are well displayed (not to mention the shopping!).  It attracts visitors from all over Europe, mainly because Birmingham International Airport is on its doorstep, and you can literally walk into the exhibition centre from there.  I enjoy showing my quilts, especially when you have spent so much of your time on them.  
The following year I entered it into the Quilts UK Show at Malvern, and was fortunate to be awarded a Judges Choice Award, from the quilter Carolyn Forster, and to win the 2007 South West Quilters Award for Traditional Quilts, which can be seen here on their website .  It also won First Prize in 2007 at the Great Northern Quilt Show, in Harrogate, in the category ‘My First Bed Quilt’.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Quilt - Part 2

Bonnie Hunter's Mystery QUilt  Easy Street Part 2 Flying Geese Units
Easy Street Quilt - Part 2 Flying Geese Units
Here are some of my 128 Flying Geese Units that are required for Part 2 of Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt.  I am using GREEN where Bonnie is using PURPLE at this stage, mainly because it is the colour I have least of.  My cutting seems to be OK, as my finished units are working out the right size.

Flying Geese Units - Strips
Already I am loving the way my colour scheme is working out. Here are some of the green strips I have cut out.  I have snuck in a sparkly fabric, "Sing a Song of Christmas" by Woodrow Studio, some Primitive Gatherings for Moda, and the 2002 Classic Cottons range, of which I seemed to have plenty.

I have made Flying Geese before, by a different method, and was quietly dreading the prospect when I saw the Easy Street Part 2 instructions on Friday, as before I had found that my corners frequently went down the black hole of my sewing maching, chewing up the fabric.  However, a MAJOR penny dropped when I realised I needed to use a single hole sewing machine plate, instead of a zig-zag plate. 

Pfaff 2058 Sewing Machine Zig Zag Plate and Single Hole Plate
I had read about it, but had never acknowledged its importance.  The next challenge was, how was I going to get hold of one in order to keep up with the weekly Easy Street Quilt tasks?  I didn't know what I was looking for.  Then another MAJOR penny dropped.  When I purchased my Pfaff 2058, it came with a bonus Quilters Toolbox.  But where was it?  I checked online to see what was included in the kit, and sure enough Pfaff included a single hole plate.  But WHERE was it?  I checked all the usually places, but with no joy.  Since buying the machine, we have moved house, and most of Friday and Saturday were spent pulling everything out to find this 2" square piece of metal.  Yes, I finally found it.  It was in the side pocket of sewing machine trolley. Sew far, sew good - no fabric down the black hole.  I also changed the blade in my Rotary cutter - that improved things too!

I don't follow Bonnie's Scrap User's System (a scrap in  my book starts when it is less than 2" square), but Suzi the cat and I watched her very informative video on her Quiltville blog, and decided to construct the Flying Geese Units in the same way.  Since we are meant to be shopping our stash, I also used the rulers I already had.  I prefer to use the Creative Grids range, and have the Multi-Size 45 / 90 degree Triangle for making Half and Quarter Square Triangles from Strips.  From what I can gather, this one ruler does what the Easy Angle and Companion Angle rulers do together.  I did a few samples, checking the lines I was following, and the units came out to be the right size.

Multi-Size 45 / 90 degree Triangle for making Half and Quarter Square Triangles from Strips, Creative Grids

Not all of them are sewn together yet, but most of the cutting is done. I had a few obstacles along the way. Here is Suzi the cat sitting on my cutting mat, just as I am about to cut another strip. You may be able to see the blur of her tail moving - this is usually moving within inches of the Rotary Cutter!

Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt Easy Street Part 1 - Finished

Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt, Easy Street Part 1
Easy Street Mystery Quilt - Part 1
With the additional fabric purchased yesterday at the West Country Quilt Show, I have finished the first task of Bonnie Hunter's Easy Street Mystery Quilt, the 192 4-patch units.  Once I got started it was relatively easy, but already I have learnt several things.
  1. Nesting - Bonnie's tip about feeding the pairs through in the same direction, meant that each pair nested together comfortably.  There were a few which I pressed in the opposite direction, and I soon noticed that the pairs did not nest.  I knew that rather than forcing them through, I had to be disciplined and press them in the opposite direction to save heartache later.
  2. Spinning Seams - This technique was completely new to me, but I completly see the value of doing this - well I will down the line!
Along with the Easy Street Mystery Quilt, I have been reading 'Quilter's Academy - Vol 1 - Freshman Year' by Harriet Hargrave and Carrie Hargrave.  Applying the knowledge in the book on this project is a real lesson in experiential learning.

Saturday, 1 December 2012

West Country Quilt Show

West Country Quilt Show

Today I visited the first ever West Country Quilt Show.  It was at the Bath and West Showground, near Shepton Mallet, Somerset. 
The traders had some lovely fabric, which I found hard to resist, especially with Bonnie Hunter's Mystery Quilt, Easy Street, currently at the forefront of my mind.   The Laughing Hedgehog , normally based in Buckhurst Hill, Essex, stocked the Kansas Troubles fabric from Moda, which I am using for my 'background', so I was able to stock up on that, as I had realised that with the scraps I am using, I will not have enough for the whole quilt.  I also managed to get some of the 'Seasonal Little Gatherings' by Primitive Gatherings for Moda, from Sew Enchanting, based in Ashburton, Devon.  The Cross-Patch had a lovely display of the Lynette Anderson Designs, with a good selection of the fabrics, buttons and threads. There were so many other lovely stalls there, I had to pull myself away.

Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt Boutique by Chez Moi Moda
Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt - Boutique by Chez Moi

I only heard about it a few weeks ago, and saw that the deadine had not closed for entering quilts.  With nothing to display myself, I encouraged my sister to enter her Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt, which she made using a range called Boutique by Chez Moi for Moda Jelly Roll.  It was Hand stitched using the English Paper Piecing method, and hand quilted.  I was her first quilt.  She got the pattern from a Mystery Block of Month published on the blog of The Quilt Room, Dorking, which started in March 2010.  The pattern is now published in their book 'Jelly Roll Sampler Quilts' (Pam and Nicky Lintott).

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Pies and Tarts Quilt - Final Slices

Pies and Tarts Quilt
Pies and Tarts Quilt - Final Slices

At the weekend I had a lazy Sunday afternoon, sitting in front of the television watching the final race of the Formula 1 2012 Season from Brazil, with Sparky the cat on my lap, hand sewing the last slices of my Pies and Tarts quilt together. I started English paper piecing my Pies and Tarts Quilt in February 2011, so this marks the end of an era.  These are the small 'tarts', which will be appliqued up to the edge of the quilt.
What does this mean?  It means that I do not have a hand piecing project on the go at the moment.  This is probably a good thing, as it means I will have to concentrate on hand quilting some of the quilt sandwiches that are waiting for my attention.

Ferrero Rocher Tower

Ferrero Rocher Tower
Ferrero Rocher Tower
I thought I would share this picture with you.  For the celebrations at the weekend I created a Ferrero Rocher Tower. 
It used about 73 individual Ferrero Rocher, mounted on cocktail sticks, on a cone of Florist Oasis, with a 12cm diameter base.  I covered the cone in gold paper, so that when our guests indulged in a chocolate, there was a pretty paper behind.
It certainly had the WOW factor when it was revealed. 
The chocolates were tasty too!

Monday, 26 November 2012

Easy Street Part 1 - Mystery Quilt

Suzi Cat on Easy Street Quilt Fabric

'I think it is time you made your decision ...'

I have been putting off making the FINAL colour choice decision for Part 1 of Bonnie Hunter’s Easy Street Mystery Quilt, but my assistant, Suzi the cat, insisted that I start it today, in order to keep up with everyone.  Suzi only joined us in April, but already she is a VERY keen quilter.

My final decision was to use the tan ‘Kansas Troubles’ print from the ‘Back to the Prairie 2 - 9195’ Moda range, for Bonnie’s grey (yes, it is grey here in the UK) .  I don’t think I have the full yardage for this, but I think I will have enough for Part 1 of Easy Street.  Any remainder, I can supplement with some other scraps from the same range, which I have. Let’s hope I get away with it.

The background fabric is made up of similar tan based fabrics, but with prints all over them.  Again, a lot of my scraps are from the Kansas Troubles ‘Christmas’ range from a few years ago which I purchased as a lovely fat quarter bundle from Sunflower Fabrics.  There is also a lovely Sandy Gervais 'Friendly Folk' Moda print in there for which I have about 2 yards.
The 2 inch strips from these scraps have varied from a full bolt width to 4 inches – so no scrap is safe.  The other colours will be red, green and purple.  The key thing was to ‘shop my stash’, which I should be able to do for 90% of the quilt.
Easy Street Mystery Quilt Sewing Machine

I have been quilting for several years, but all my quilts have been hand stitched and hand quilted. Machining a quilt together has not really entered my radar, until recently, and I am using the Easy Street Mystery Quilt, to bring me up to speed. Using the machine is much quicker, but I do like to get my seams accurate.  Sew far, sew good. Bonnie’s tips about how you feed your units, and the pinwheel seam were great.
Part 1 Easy Street Quilt - Twosies
Part 1 Easy Street Quilt Twosies

Part 1 Easy Street Quilt 4-patch
Part 1 Easy Street Quilt 4-patch

With my scrappy scraps, I am having to cut in batches, to ensure that I still have a good mix of backgrounds for later on, as I don't have a clue how much I am using. So far I have done about 50 units, but have some more time today and tomorrow to get this first step finished.  Everso pleased that I have got started on this. I wonder what pattern it will end up to be?

Friday, 23 November 2012

Easy Street is Launched!

Easy Street Mystery Quilt Fabric Selection
Easy Street Fabric Selection
With the first reveal of the Easy Street Mystery Quilt launched today whilst I was at work, it was a tense day until I got home. 
With the first pictures revealed, it has helped me make my final decision regarding the colour scheme.  I have gone for the cream option, but I will be quite particular to keep out any white, to blend nicely with that 'Kansas Troubles' fabric.
With that excitement out of the way, my attention has moved onto the preparations for a BIG family celebration tomorrow.  So no sewing for the next few days.  I might have a chance to cut up and sew some fabric on Monday, but unlikely before.  If I get up early, I might be able to get something done before all the followers wake up in America.  I can't wait to get started!

Monday, 19 November 2012

Christmas Countdown - Advent Calendar

Country Christmas Advent Calendar 107, Makower UK
"Country Christmas Advent Calendar", Makower UK
Whilst looking for scraps for the Easy Street Mystery Quilt, I came across this panel in my stash, #107 Country Christmas Advent Calendar by Makower UK.  I must have bought it at the Knitting and Stitching Show in Harrogate, several years ago, and several Advents have passed since then.  It has a pocket for each day, just big enough for a chocolate.  I am sure I have had it for 5 years or more. This is clearly a missed opportunity.  It must be AT LEAST 120 chocolates that I have gone without!  In an attempt to redress the balance, I thought I could get this ready for 1st December, THIS year.

It is a neat little project. Everything you need is there, including the instructions. Once the pieces have been cut out, the hems need to be folded back, pressed and sewn. 
Advent Calendar, Isamet 0500, Pfaff
Stitching the pocket hems for the Advent Calendar
With red and green pockets, there wasn’t really an ideal thread colour to use, so I opted for a gold metallic (Isamet 0500), to add to the glitz of Christmas. 
Box pleats for the pockets of the Advent Calendar
Box pleats for the pockets of the Advent Calendar
The 24 pockets are in strips, so they need to be folded to create a box pleat, and then attached to the main fabric panel.  So far, there has been more pressing with the iron than stitching, but all the pockets are attached, ready for a quilt sandwich, and the decision of whether to hand or machine quilt.

There are still 11 days to get this completed, within in which time Bonnie Hunter’s Mystery Quilt will have started.  I notice it will be 24 days since Bonnie made the announcement, maybe next year I can use the calendar to count down to her Mystery Quilt, and refill it for 1st December!

Saturday, 17 November 2012

#2 Butterfly Quilt - Techniques and Construction

Butterfly Quilt English Piecing Blocks
English Paper Piecing the Butterfly Quilt

The Butterfly Quilt was hand pieced, using the English Paper Piecing Method.  This involves tacking each piece of fabric over a paper template, to give it shape and structure, and then sewing the pieces together.  I tend to leave all the paper in until the top is complete, again, to keep its structure.  I find that this method leaves me with a dead flat top at the end. 

This was a great project.  I spent hours playing with fabrics from my stash and choosing the colour combinations.  It was a great portable project too.  I used my train journey to work to cover paper templates and piece blocks, and it went on many car journeys, as well as holidays to Amsterdam, France and the USA.  This is where all the action took place, and without a fuss, quietly the blocks came together. Once the blocks were together I decided it needed a border to frame it.  I pieced 2.5” x ¾” strips together out of the scraps, and that made up the border, along with calico borders. In a large quilt like this, don’t underestimate how long it will take to remove the paper templates!  For the back of the quilt, I used the same cream calico as on the front.
Before I put the sandwich together I needed to add the 64 antennae. The antennae of the butterflies are hand embroidered, using a backstitch, in a regular stranded embroidery cotton.

The wadding in the middle is 100% polyester.  All I remember about it is that I wanted one piece of wadding, and with the large quilt, my choices were limited.  I had also previously had a BAD experience hand quilting cotton wadding, which ‘bearded’ on a navy background, so I knew I wanted to give that a wide berth.  Having used the quilt daily for several years, I still really like the feel of it.
When it came to the quilting, I knew I wanted to hand quilt it, but I didn’t know where to start.  As the top gradually came together, I knew I had to do something about it, so I booked onto a
Sandie Lush Hand Quilting Workshop, at Busy Bees, in Newport. That was a brilliant class, and I left with the confidence to start quilting the Butterflies Quilt.  I didn’t know what to quilt on it, so I made up my own pattern (not without MUCH deliberation), having outlined the butterflies, and ‘stitched in the ditch’ of their bodies.  I remember quilting this quilt quite distinctly. It was July and August in 2006.  It was HOT.  And I was underneath a quilt, hand quilting.  I was quilting to a deadline – I had entered it into the NEC Festival of Quilts in Birmingham, so it had to be done, ready for delivery in August.  Without the deadline, I think I would have done more quilting on it. 
Butterfly Block Scrap Quilt
Example of Butterfly Quilt Block
Once complete, I washed it in the washing machine.  I had been dragging this quilt around with me everywhere for a couple of years.  The cat had regularly sat on it whilst I quilted, and the heat of the summer meant that more recently, it had taken the brunt of my perspiration.  It washed up a treat on a 40 degree wash, and luckily the sun remained out long enough for it to dry outside on the washing line. However, almost immediately, it was packed up and taken to the depot where they were collecting the quilts for the show.  I was missing it already.
Further information about the Inspiration Behind the Butterfly Quilt can be seen in earlier posts.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Easy Street – Bonnie Hunter Mystery Quilt

Bonnie Hunter Easy Street Mystery Quilt - Black Background
Easy Street - Choice 1 Black
Easy Street Fabric Selection Cream
Easy Street - Choice 2 Cream
I’ve never done a Mystery Quilt before, and I am the sort of person that likes to know where I am heading before I start on anything.  But there are times when you have to move out of your comfort zone, and try something different.  Viewing some of the beautiful ‘Orca Bay’ mystery quilts that participants made as part of last year’s Bonnie Hunter’s annual Mystery Quilt, has really inspired me, and I hope this one works out as well.
Details of Bonnie Hunter’s 2012 Mystery Quilt, Easy Street, can be found on the Quiltville Blogspot

The first part will be revealed on Friday 23rd November, 2012, and every following Friday for the next 6 – 8 weeks.  If you care to look, quilters all over the internet are going crazy about the prospect!  Bonnie Hunter is a fabric scrap addict, and her quilt designs are usually scrap quilts – that’s just fine with me.  Naturally the aim is to use up your scraps, but her colour scheme doesn't correspond to my stash, so this is what I have come up with.  I plan to use deep colours red, purple and green.   My background is the pretty tan print, "Bound to the Prairie" #9195 by Kansas Troubles for Moda, which I used for the background for another Irish Chain scrap quilt, but I am still wondering what to use for the ‘background’. My first choice is using black prints. Again, this was inspired by the use of black in some of the Orca Bay quilts that were done last year. 
 My second option is to use cream, ditsy floral prints for the ‘background’
It’s so hard to decide when you are moving into the unknown!  Which is your favourite?

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

#1 Butterfly Quilt - Inspiration Behind the Quilt

Butterfly Scrap Quilt Fabadashery
Butterfly Quilt by Frances Meredith
The inspiration for this scrap quilt came from a picture in a quilting book I took out of our local library, early in my quilting journey, about 2003.  The original picture in the book was no more than a couple of inches big, but it was enough for me to work out a pattern for a block.  I like a scrappy quilt, and this quilt used all sorts of fabrics.  At the time, the only patchworking I knew was English piecing, so I made my own paper pattern, cut out all the pieces, and off I went.

History of the Butterflies Quilt
During the period when I was making the quilt, I went to a JOAnn’s store, during a trip to America, where I saw a pattern of the same quilt being sold on the shelves. I guess it was only then that I realised that the quilt I was making already had a history.  Further research when I returned home to the UK revealed that a pattern, and the history of the quilt was published in a book “The New England Quilt Museum Quilts: Featuring the Story of the Mill Girls -Instructions for 5 Heirloom Quilts” by Jennifer Gilbert (Paperback,1999) [NB: Which I notice you can currently access via Google Books].  I discovered that it was originally made in about 1935, by a lady called Nina Shrock, Harvard County, Indiana, USA, using a design by Laura Wheeler. When we were back in America in the Autumn of 2007, we made a pilgrimage to the New England Quilt Museum, in Lowell, where we able to see the quilt on display, the one I had seen originally in my library book, back in the UK.  It was a nice feeling. I now have a pencil with the same butterflies on it, as a memento!

What fabrics did I use?
My creative journey has included dressmaking and embroidery, and it was only in about 2002 that I inherited a collection of beautiful quilting fabric and I considered doing some quilting. Amongst the collection were packets of fabrics, which I later learnt were called Charm Packs.  There were 5” squares, 4“ squares, and tiny 1.5” squares, mainly from a mail order company, Strawberry Fayre based in Chagford in Devon, UK.  I wanted a project that was going to use these up, and the scrappy nature of the quilt, seemed like the ideal choice. 
However, I did notice in the small picture that there were ‘constants’.  For instance, the body of the butterfly was the same for each.  I did not have anything suitable, so I went to my local quilting and patchwork shop, BusyBees, based in the Craft Units at Tredegar House in Newport, Wales.  There I found a brown batik fabric.  I was recommended to give it a wash before I used it. I think that was a good idea.  Otherwise, I didn’t wash any of the fabric – the bits were too small.

There is a whole mix in there.  Ironically, it was only after I had completed the quilt that it was brought to my attention that there were a lot of 30’s reproduction fabrics in it.  This was not intentional, it was serendipity at work.  At the time I didn’t realise what 30’s reproduction fabrics were.  I also have one or two bits of special fabric in there, including the first piece of fabric I ever bought, at the Marldon Apple Pie Fair in Devon, back in the early 1980’s.  You can see details of Techniques and Construction in this post.

Dimensions: 243cm x 243cm (approx 8ft x 8ft)
Blocks: 64 blocks, 10” x 10”
Piecing Method: English Paper Piecing. Hand Pieced
Quilting Method: Hand Quilted
Dates: 2004 – August 2006

2007 South West Quilters Award for Traditional Quilts, Quilts UK , Malvern
2007 ‘My First Bed Quilt’, Great Northern Quilt Show, Harrogate

#4 Butterfly Quilt - What did I learn from this Quilt?