Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Winter and Spring Japanese + and X Blocks

Ok, so you are probably going to get sick of seeing these + and X blocks, but really, this is the best fun I have had since I started quilting. I really love making these blocks and trying to fussy cut and come up with color or story themes for each block.  Not every block, but I want to have something to look at in this quilt.

The first block is my Winter block with snow falling in the background.  I'm laying in bed(I believe I'm a princess of course) drinking my morning coffee (brought to me by Tim), ah a perfect way to start the cold morning.  Then, I'd go out for a ski (too bad this girl is on a scooter.)

The second block I'm calling Purple Rain in Paris.  That would also be April in Paris or Springtime in Paris...  Anyway, you get the idea.  I need to stop this, it's too much fun!

Japanese + and X Block For Alexander

So, of course I had to make a block for each of my boys as well!  I will have to do Oliver's next, but this one is Alexander's.  It's hard to come up with ideas as they are both still so young yet, but one thing that is for certain is that Alexander loves cars!  Tractors too, but I didn't have a piece of fabric with a tractor on it.  This block is mainly about his name.  We love the name Alexander, but here in Australia everyone makes nicknames out of people's proper names.  We were prepared for that.  We always planned on nicknaming him Zander.  Everywhere we go though, as soon as I introduce him as Alexander, people say, "oh, hello Alex."  Ugghhh!  I really do not like that!  Then somehow along the way, my husband started calling him Dandy (he did/ does what we call a little Dandy dance).  Then that turned into Dandelion by me, though he just calls himself Dandy. Can you find his name and day of birth? 

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Japanese + and X Block for my Husband

Ok, back to projects that are a little more fun.  I made this block this morning to be the representative + and X block for my husband.  It's fairly self explanatory, except maybe the rulers as the background.  He is always seeing how things "measure up", so sort of a literal translation of that personality trait.  Now you know his name as well:)  The tree in the center was a must have as my husband has planted several thousand trees all over the farm.  He believes in taking care of the land, loves the outdoors and truly is a genuine person of top quality.  I debated about adding a bit I found that said "extra fine" but I didn't want to inflate his ego too much;)

Little Houses Quilt Top

There is a lesson in this somewhere, I'm sure of it.  Yesterday I pulled out the pieces to this top that were deep in storage and hidden away from sight.  What I mean by that is this is a top I was not sure I would ever get the energy to complete.  I started this some years ago with great gusto.  I didn't have a pattern, but I drafted the houses the best I could and paper pieced the middle bit.  I used a fabric line by Moda called Urban Indigo and was quite pleased with it as I went along.  Then suddenly and I mean suddenly, I lost all interest in the fabrics and even the design.  It was so strange to be so into it and then suddenly be so unmotivated. Also, as I was going along I miscalculated fabric amounts and only made enough for a 5 X 5 layout instead of the 7 X 5 that I wanted to make.  That put me over the edge and the project was set aside. 

When I pulled this out yesterday, I thought, Ok, I'll finish this with the blocks that I have finished and have a simple 5 X 5 small square quilt.  It will be done and then I can move on and be satisfied that it is not sitting in the closet.  I mustered up the energy to finish the quilt in the 5 X 5 layout during the boys nap time.  I took a look at it and still didn't feel quite happy about it.  I did what I told myself I would do, but I hate square quilts and it was never my intention to make it square!  So, I pushed on, delved down into the scraps and the half started blocks and found that I had enough to finish my 5 X 7 layout.  Whew, and last night I finished it!  It looks a mess on the back, I compensated for many many errors by adjusting seam allowances on the back so it looks wonky and messy back there.  I hated finishing this quilt, it felt like a chore, but the lesson is that once I finished it I realized that I like this quilt again!  It is going to be a perfect one to send to my mom.  She will love it--it will make a perfect throw for a couch and the fabrics and style of the quilt are very much her sort of tastes.  Oh happy happy, done done!!!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Another Finished Top to Add to the Stack

I'm trying very hard to motivate myself to finish projects that I have started over the years.  I spent about an hour and a half yesterday night finishing this quilt top.  This top was started about 3 years ago and I got as far as sewing the rows together until I realized I was short one block!  I couldn't understand how I was short just one block.  I was sure I had made enough and my brain was too tired to go back and make the one extra block that I needed to make to finish!  Then I just didn't get to it.  I lost interest in the fabrics.  They were purchased when I was last in the States visiting home and family, which was four years ago now.  I also made this quilt here out of the same fabrics...

Then I decided to use as much of the 30's fabrics as I could so I started making the yellow one.  I love the design of the quilt and hope to make one like it with modern fabrics someday.  It's a good design in that you can use charm squares to make it.  The one on the bed also uses 5 inch charms squares.  That's it, no more 30's fabrics.  I sold the rest of what I had on Ebay and now can move on.  I do think these quilts will improve once I quilt them.  It will give them that vintage crinkly look that they need to be really 30's style.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

+ and X Block for My Mom

So, I've been thinking about my Japanese + and X quilt and I thought I would add in some special blocks dedicated to special people in my life.  Of course one must then start with one's own mother first!  This is what I came up with for my mom.  It includes a little bit about her hopes and dreams as a younger person (to become a figure skater, to teach French) etc.  I kept the colors of the block simple as she would prefer.  The leaves are for her love of nature and of course she has always said that she loves to cook.  If you look closely (my husband didn't see it) you can find her name and of course the day she was born.  Yes, I do put a lot into each of these blocks!!!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

String-X Blocks for Stitch 'n' Bits

I've been feeling a bit like I'm in a fog the last couple of days.  I think it's because Oliver has just gotten through some more teething (he got his two front teeth in now) and I've been getting up in the night somewhere between 4 and 6 times.  Normally I get up 3 times and consider myself lucky as Alexander was a lot more demanding.  Ha!  He still is too, but in different ways.  I'm pretty much convinced now that boys are more demanding all around than girls.  Our house is so lively, jumpy and loud! It could be the weather too.  They need to get outside, but it has been cold out, or wet, etc..  Even when we bundled Alexander up to go out with dad, he comes back and says, "Mama, bike's cold!"  We have a ritual that every morning I ask him what he dreamed about during the night and yesterday he surprised me and said, "Warm bike!"  He's only two and a half, but the things he comes up with are so entertaining.  I think anyone that knows me would know that I am in my element having two boys.  I love the action, the liveliness, and most of all the cuddles. 

So, did I tell you that I signed up for my very first quilting bee?  I'm in a new bee called Sew Australia and I am excited to be able to get to know some online peeps a bit more and sew together!  This month's block, the first round,  is for Stitch 'n' Bits. Isn't it beautiful?  She has beautiful taste using the Henna Garden and I'm looking forward to seeing how her quilt comes together.  If you are interested in making one of these blocks/quilts for yourself.  This is the tutorial we are using here.  I do love love the look of the quilt when finished.  If you want to see an example of a finished quilt check out this link here.  I did have trouble making my blocks though.  It's not quite as easy as it seems.  There are a lot of biases to work with and it requires precise trimming.  It took me a while and a couple of goes at it before I felt I had something workable.  I did find that I didn't like the part in the tutorial where you have to use a triangle laid underneath each corner to show where to cut.  I don't like procedures that are not precise and require a lot of adjusting to get right.  Instead, I marked the centers at 2.25" and then used the 45degree line on my ruler to cut off the corners.  Made me much happier!  I will make a quilt out of this design one day--I really love it!

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Japanese + and X Progress

I thought I would share with you how I am progressing along with my Japanese + and X quilt.  I scanned all of my blocks into my computer and then have been able to use the collage feature in Picassa to be able to put them together.  I think it is a great way to have a "design" wall without having to move fabric around.  Also, gives me a great way to play with arrangement and be able to save an arrangement I like to refer back to.  I might start scanning all my quilt blocks after this! Well, maybe.

So, I would love if you could help me by leaving a comment.  Can you see what I was trying to do with the second layout?  Do you like this method better or do you prefer the randomness of the first one?  I didn't play around with the second one too long, but hopefully enough that you can see my intent.  I'm considering either a 10x10 or a 12x12 layout with this quilt.  Each block is 7 inches.  I would love to hear your opinions!!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Climbing Jacob's Ladder

Joining the seam
Mitered corners with joining seam in lower left corner

In case you were wondering what the boys get up to while I'm sewing and such...

Are you watching me Mama?

We like it!  And so relaxing too!
Ok, what else can we get into?

Mud! That's what!

Another completed quilt top!  This one also only needed the final border putting on it to be considered a finished quilt top.  I know that most of my readers will not be enthusiastic about this quilt as it is not modern, but I actually like this one a lot.  I like modern, but I also like civil war prints too and I think I will always appreciate them.  These fabrics were from a line by Moda called Climbing Jacob's Ladder.  Of course that is what inspired me to make a Jacob's Ladder quilt out of the fabrics.  And the turquoise blue is what makes me particularly like this quilt. 

The reason it took me so long to put the final border on this quilt is that when I ordered the border fabric for this quilt I thought that if I bought enough to go the entire length of the quilt that I would only have to cut it along the grain length to make the border.  Nope. The direction only worked for two directions not all four.  So, I realized that I was going to have to piece the border together.  And to line it up as well.  Ugghh!  And, to make mitered corners, which I've never done before.  So, all of that seemed quite daunting. But, yesterday I took it slow and after a couple trials, I did managed to figure it out.  I almost felt like an experienced quilter by the end of it.  Get that word, Almost.  Not really quite there yet.  I did wonder if there was a way to line up mitered corners so that the print would look continuous on the corners as well.  But, my head got tired and I figured I was fine with it as it was.  Does anyone know the answer to that question?

I thought I would include a few pictures of the boys to show you that even though it looks like I'm getting work done, they are always here with me keeping things lively!  Never a dull moment, most obviously boys and always as cute as the dickens!

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Chocolate Lollipop Quilt Top Finished

So, I'm trying to finish up quilt tops that just need borders added or blocks sewn together, etc.  I have a few more to get through yet!  This one just needed the borders though.  In case you are wondering, this fabric is by Anna Maria Horner from her Chocolate Lollipop line.  I bought this fabric last time I was in the U.S., which is now 4 years ago!!!  At the time I thought this fabric was a little bit crazy, but I was somehow attracted to it.  Now, I feel that there have been many fabrics that I have lost interest in since that time, but this line I love more and more with time.  I have to say that I really love Anna's fabrics and the vibrancy of her color palette.  And I do love the way that this quilt top turned out too.  I know I have an obsession with octogon quilts--don't know why, maybe because my favorite number is 8? No, really, I have no idea why.

In case you might have a fondness for octogon quilts too, you can find the pattern for the 1974 quilt (from my previous post) here.  The 1974 quilt is different than the Lollipop quilt if you look closely.  It is made using a free pattern that Tula Pink published for Moda.  On the other hand, the Lollipop quilt is made from a template set that I bought here in Australia.  If you are interested in purchasing the templates they are only available through one quilt shop as they are made by a local guy for her shop specifically.  This is what she told me, but she also said that she would be very happy to post out templates to anyone who would like to purchase a set.  You can find her shop here.  Just click on the contact details for information to call or write to her.  Hope that helps =)

Monday, June 13, 2011

1974 Urban Chiks Quilt Top Finished

So, I've had this one on the pile for quite some time now.  It was all done except for the sewing on the borders, which I did last night.  This is one that I totally love.  I am sure that it is going to be the kind of quilt that dramatically improves once quilted, so I am looking forward to doing the quilting on it when I get the longarm.  I am thinking custom quilting is in order for this one!  I'm so glad that back when I started this quilt I had no idea how popular and loved a line 1974 would become otherwise I might have been reluctant to cut into it!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

It's All About Cars

Yesterday I was tidying up the sewing room and found this fabric by Alexander Henry.  Alexander is absolutely crazy about cars, trucks, trains and most especially tractors.  I asked him if he would like me to make him a shirt from the fabric.  He's so cute, he stokes the fabric and says, "nice, soft."   I thought it would be good for him to see the transformation of turning a piece of fabric into something wearable.  Good thing he isn't too concerned about my sewing abilities yet.  He helped me put the snaps on this morning and happily put the shirt on.  This photo shows that he needs a haircut, I'm just waiting until his hair recovers enough from Grandpa's buzzcut a few months ago--we will never do that again!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rain + More Rain = Flood

Yesterday morning I woke up early and took this photo out the on the deck with the eery sunrise light to show that the river had come up higher than usual.  We had two mornings of bright red sheperd/sailor warning sunrises.
After my husband decided to go to the farm and check on the pump by the farm river I took this photo.  It was about an hour later...
 It quickly turned to this.
And this. Lucky he got the pump, but it was in the water and had to go waist in to get it.  This is the second flood we've had this year.  Before that, it was about 20 years that this river has had so much water flow down it!

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sewing For the SUTK Swap On a Cold and Rainy Day

Ok, so I just have to say that I am NOT a good three dimensional sewer. I seem to make so many mistakes in my execution.  Often, it's directional mistakes.  These are the gloves/oven mitts I made for the Spicing Up the Kitchen Swap.  They were very time consuming, which I didn't quite expect when I started out. It took me as much time to sew these little guys up as to sew up a quilt top.  And there are a ton of mistakes, but I did the best I think I am capable of at the moment.  I do love them and wouldn't mind them for myself.  I don't mind showing these now as I know my partner doesn't read this blog, but I'm fairly positive that she will like them too.  In my opinion the colors will go well in her kitchen.  I really enjoyed making them as I learned a lot and was able to stretch myself a bit in deciding what to make. If I have a little more time before the mailing due date I might add a trivet into the mix as well...  Trivets are always useful.

Can you see what sort of weather we are having today?  It's very cold, very wet and windy. We are all indoors today, making messes, cooking and not getting very much done.  I do love days like this!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Red and Aqua Half Square Triangle Quilt

See, I am actually finishing up old projects!  Well, at least I'm gathering up some quilt tops for when I get the long arm machine.  I am really trying to organize and get my old projects squared away, but sometimes I can't help but get excited and carried away with the new.  This top was created from the left over half square triangles that I had from a couple of quilts I made previously.  I am kind of fascinated with half square triangles and the way they can create so many different designs.  I was so inspired at one point that I started this group on Flickr here.  Go ahead and have a look at the many wonderful half square triangle quilts in the group and feel free to join up as well and add your own versions!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Hullabaloo Wonky Cross Quilt

So, it's sort of tricky getting a half way decent photo with the winter light we've got going on here now, but this is my latest quilt top I  recently sewed up.  I had a fat quarter bundle of the Urban Chiks Hullabaloo fabrics staring at me in the face and I suddenly decided that I had to do something with them.  I really have an obsession with Urban Chiks's fabrics.  I started a Flickr group for quilts made from Urban Chiks fabrics a while ago here, if you want to take a look.  Feel free to join the group if you are interested and post pictures of your own quilts made with their fabrics.  I like their Hullabaloo line, not my favorite, but a good one.  I thought it needed to be split up though into two groups--masculine and feminine.  I used Elizabeth Hartman's Wonky Cross tutorial to make the quilt which you can find here.  It's a really fast and simple quilt to make, the only tricky bit is getting the cross to line up on both sides in the final part of sewing the block.  After a couple goes, I figured out that I need to pinch the seams and hold to find out where it needed to line up adjusting it carefully, then I just sewed over one seam to hold it in place.  After checking to see that it was straight I could go back and sew the entire bit.  It saved me a lot of ripping out and realigning and made it quicker to do.

The other half of my fabrics I will pair together with Kona medium gray (instead of the Kona coal in the Wonky Cross).  Not sure yet what I will do with them, but I am thinking about making something wonky, but not crosses...  I'll test it out soon.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Dear Spicing Up the Kitchen Partner...

I forgot to write a note to my secret partner in the Spicing Up the Kitchen Swap.  You've probably already seen my inspiration mosaic in the top picture and what my kitchen looks like.  In case you are wondering what I would like to receive, I would be excited to use anything that you make for me.  Do let your imagination run wild, I'm not really set in stone.  I often decide my tastes are a certain way only to discover the next that they are something else yet again.  I do like fruit themes, blue is my identifying color (I have imperial blue Denby dishes and blue Le Crueset). I like hints of yellow. I have an obsession with duck egg blue as well.  I love linens and tea towels.  I love anything that helps me organize, cool ideas to do things more efficiently and effectively--I am truly a gadget girl.  I would love oven mitts or a trivet -- placemats  would also be at the top of the list.  But, really, please go wherever your creativity takes you and follow your heart.  I want you to put yourself in what you create, that is what will make it truly special.  And Thank You for all your effort.  It will be appreciated.  My kitchen is valued highly--it is a place for me to create and I love every thing about it including what you will add to it:)

Friday, June 3, 2011

Spicing Up the Kitchen Swap

Ok, so I finally signed up to do some online Flickr swaps.  I've been wanting to do it for a long time now as so many people seem to be in on the action.  My problem though, is that I am so so reluctant to make commitments.  I hate the feeling of having too much to do and the feeling of not being able to get done what I want to get done.  But, I also don't want to miss out on some fun in life, so here I go to a new life chapter of getting myself more involved in things!  I signed up for Spicing Up the Kitchen swap. You can read about it here.  I've been going round and round in my mind what I should make for my partner and found some of this teacup fabric and thought that it might be something she would like.  It's so hard to know what someone else will like!!!  I'm going to make some oven mitts to match and then see where to go from there.  This apron still needs a pocket too... 

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Denyse Schmidt Picnic and Fairgrounds in Australia!

So yesterday I had my first day off as a mom and went to Canberra on my own mainly to visit a friend who is going away to the States for a couple of months so I needed to catch up with her.  We had been putting it off for one reason or another and in the end it worked out perfectly!  I was able to stop by Spotlight and pick up some of the new fabrics just released by Denyse Schmidt called Picnic and Fairgrounds that was only ordered over here.  These prints (in the top photo) are available only here in Australia!!!  I bought quite a bit of it and decided I will sell a small portion of it in my Etsy shop.  I don't foresee going back to get more anytime soon, so once it's gone it's gone as far as I can see right now.  I'm going to use these prints in my Wonky Log Cabin quilt that I have been working on.  I was waiting for these prints to become available so that I could add them into the quilt to help balance out the color.  So, I hope it will be worth it.  I also plan on making a kaleidoscope quilt out of these fabrics as well.  When I get to it that is... 

Can you believe what I found at my LQS up there as well?  I know that they must bring out fabric from the back or somewhere else as I have been looking for brown posies EVERYWHERE.  It has been almost as hard as grey seeds for me to find.  I will do a back flip if I walk in there next time and find grey seeds.  Can you imagine?  Eeeek!  I'm now obsessed with trying to find some fabrics by Suzuko Koseki for my scrap quilt and because I just love them, but I guess they are very hard to come by.  I will keep searching.  And for some other text prints as well.  I would be happy if anyone could point me in the right direction:)

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