Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Groove Quilt - Step One

Pile O' FabricThe fabric for my Totally Groovy Quilt Along project finally arrived late last week, just as I was admiring the completed quilts that other participants have made. I spent the weekend calculating, pre-washing, and pre-cutting everything in order to get started. I plan to assemble this quilt using Amanda at The Crafty Fox's log cabin pattern hack approach. This will save time, use less fabric, and result in a quilt that is less bulky going through my sewing machine - win, win, win.

A huge thanks to the designer Emily Cier and to Alyssa at Pile O'Fabric for providing me with a copy of this pattern. I'm excited to see it come together.

I ordered a total of 21.5 yards of fabric for this, whoa! Finishing at 99" by 99", it will be the biggest quilt I've ever made. If the weight of the box was any indication, this quilt will not be lacking in weight and warmth.

Kona solid fabrics in Chartreuse, School Bus, Brick, Pepper, and Celadon
There was quite a bit of setup required, so I don't have much to show for my hard work yet. I hope that the sketching and cutting that I've done over the last week will pay off with some quick assembly this weekend. I am very proud of my very first pieced curves though! Here is the panel I've made so far, which represents about one tenth of the overall size.

This week's exercise over at the Free Motion Quilting Project fits in perfectly with what I am currently working on. Leah suggests creating a mockup in order to audition different quilting designs and see how they will work together. I grabbed my handy dandy Groove Quilt colouring page tried a few combinations.

Winning so far: the top right combination (tree roots, stippling, looping, zippling, and pebbles)

It didn't take me long to realize that lines weren't going to work, both because they require too much movement, and because the width of the sections changes often. Once I eliminated that possibility, I was left with five designs that only require moving the quilt a little bit at a time. These are also designs that I feel comfortable using on a quilt this size, without fear that I will get frustrated and stop enjoying it.

At this point I've got the back of the bedspread completely planned out, and the designs I'm going to use while quilting it. I should probably get moving and actually assemble the top now!

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Jester Hats, Roots, and Vines for Animal Rescue

While on vacation two weeks ago, I made a great find at Mitchell Fabrics in Winnipeg Manitoba. What could make better backing for a sixties Groove Quilt than fabric that is actually from the sixties? I snatched up all the yardage they had left and immediately got to work creating a design.

I was accidentally overcharged for this fabric, but it was still totally worth it!

Having been away for a few weeks, I was looking forward to catching up on my sewing homework this weekend. I decided to put together a new kitty rescue blanket to practice all the free motion quilting designs that I'd missed. My blankets are inspired by the Snuggles Project and will be donated to a local animal rescue organization at the end of the year.

I divided the blanket into quadrants and used a different quilting design in each. The first one I tried is Wendy Sheppard's jester hat design, the Free Motion Quilting Challenge for August. This design is deceptively simple. Looking at Wendy's instructions and diagrams, I was pretty confident in my ability to replicate this design. By the end of the first row I realized there was actually a lot more complexity to drawing jester's hats than I had anticipated. I took a break and practised drawing the design on paper to get a better feel for it before I returned to my sewing machine. I'm not sure it helped all that much.

My jester hats have very little in common with the graceful curves of Wendy's work! I found it difficult to transition from one hat shape to the next, and to keep the spacing even. Adding an element in between each individual 'hat' shape seemed like the best way to even it out, so I moved on to the second exercise, which was to add a tail to each hat.

While I can't say that was a huge success either, I do like the way this design flows when done correctly. With more practice I hope to be able to control it and make it look graceful. I think this will replace feathers as my doodle of choice until I get there.

Next, I tackled Leah Day's Free Motion Quilting Project designs from the last few weeks. Cucumber vine also turned out to be rather difficult. I stayed with the basic curly shape for my first attempt.

I think that by the end (navy blue section) it was starting to come together and look a little bit more like an organic shape, and a little bit less like an arrangement of fishing hooks. Next time, I will make it more curly. I think cucumber vines will be a great border filler once I've perfected the transition from one curl to the next.

My favourite filler from this group was this tree roots design:

This one came out looking smooth and organic. I'm already looking forward to trying it again.

Here is a look at the finished blanket:

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

A First Attempt at Hand Quilting

Earlier this year, I made some mushrooms out of felt to keep myself busy on a long plane ride. I wanted to recreate Natalie Lymer's mushrooms on a larger scale to use with her Woodland fabric. Sewing on a plane isn't easy since bringing scissors on board has become an issue, but if you cut all your materials in advance it's a great way to pass the time. I left with a baggie full of tiny felt pieces, and came home with two adorable mushroom houses.

If you look closely, you will notice that these are exact reproductions
of the Woodland mushroom in the centre, down to the smallest dot.

Last week's visit to Winnipeg seemed like the perfect opportunity to get these out and finally use them to sew something for the bathroom. I put together a quick mini quilt, pinned it thoroughly, and stuffed it into my travel bag along with pre-cut lengths of thread.

Over the past week, I've been working away at this during my spare moments, including a plane ride and a car trip. Turns out it's quite difficult to sew sitting in the back of a truck driving on a dirt road! I resolved not to pull out any stitches no matter what. The crooked ones would just give it more personality.

The front of the quilt turned out awesome! I whipstitched the mushrooms on first, and then went around them a few times with black thread to create a bit of contrast with the similar colours of the background.  Next, I quilted around all of the solid red areas with matching red thread.

No learning experience would be complete without a few mistakes. The major thing I'd like to improve upon next time is the appearance of the stitching on the back. When you flip the quilt over, those mushrooms are nowhere near as adorable, and the red lines nowhere near as straight...

Mistake number two was in the placement of the mushrooms. One of them is so close to the edge that once the quilt gets trimmed to size and bound, half or more of it will disappear.

It will be a shame to cut through that mushroom on the left edge, because a lot of work went into sewing it on. I predict the binding will also be annoyingly misshapen in that spot because felt is quite thick. Unfortunately, I didn't take into account the final shape of the quilt when I starting sewing.

Overall though, I'd say these are great results for a first try. I doubt anyone will ever see the back once the project is finished and takes its place in our bathroom. What is this mini quilt destined to become? Stay tuned to find out!

I am linking up with Quilty Embelishment Day over at Color Me Quilty.

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Fabricworm Shout Out and Sewing Plans

A little while back, the folks at Fabricworm put out a call for fabric bundle suggestions. My idea was for a mix of solid fabrics and clean modern prints in bright orange, pink and lime green. A few days later, they released a bundle based on my suggestion, which they named Sorbet. How awesome is that?

Here it is, my newly arrived Sorbet bundle!
Fabrics pictured: Kona Solid Sprout, Riley Blake Dottie Scat Lime, Riley Blake Argyle Lime, Kona Solid Azalea,
Riley Blake Dottie Scat Bright, American Jane Geometric Tonal Pink, Kona Solid Kumquat,
Riley Blake Ombre Dots Orange, Riley Blake Daisies Tangerine

Shipping to Canada isn't cheap, so it makes sense to stuff as much as possible into that envelope. I filled it up with some test fabrics for my upcoming urban quilt block designs: skyscraper grey, traffic light yellow, city park green and clear sky blue.

Fabrics pictured: Birch Fabrics' Organic Avalon Birdie Spokes in Concrete,Michael Miller's Huevos in Stone,
Kona Solid Coal, Robert Kaufman Quilter's Linen in Stone and in Sunflower,
Timeless Treasures' Solid Crosshatch in Organic Green and Pool.

Pile O' FabricSpeaking of ordering fabric, I've just signed up for a new project starting this month, the Totally Groovy Quilt Along! I'm not sure yet how all of my ongoing projects will fit with my new work schedule, but I couldn't pass up the chance to make this Groove quilt. It's gorgeous! If all goes well it will be our new summer bedspread.

This will be my first attempt at sewing curves. Luckily there will be many experienced quilters on hand to help out. It will also be the first queen sized project I attempt to quilt on my small sewing machine. The awesome Leah Day has assured me that it's doable if I'm stubborn enough. A big thanks to everyone who has done it before and offered me their reassurance, I am totally ready to show that little machine who's boss.

With over a hundred solid coloured fabrics to choose from, I came up with a combination that I think is groovy enough to do this pattern justice:

Kona solid fabrics in Celadon, Pepper, School Bus, Brick and Chartreuse 

While I wait for my Groove pattern and fabric to arrive, I've put together some small projects to keep my hands busy during an upcoming trip. One of them is super geeky and inspired by Wil Wheaton. The other is all about toadstool mushrooms. I look forward to sharing them when I get back!

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Sigmund on Quilts and Rescue Blanket Update

Pets on QuiltsWelcome to everyone joining us for the Pets on Quilts Show! Before I get into details about the fluffy quality inspector that likes to nap in my sewing room, I'd like to take a moment to tell you animal lovers about the cause I am sewing for this year.

The Snuggles Project is an organisation that encourages people to donate blankets to local animal rescue shelters. Each donated blanket, or "Snuggle", provides comfort to a rescued cat or dog during their difficult time at the shelter, and will stay with them to ease the transition to their Forever Home. Find out how you can help on the Snuggles Project website, including a list of shelters in your area looking for donations.

So far this year I've made ten kitty rescue blankets. Each blanket will have a label attached with details and contact information. Here they are, all ready for snuggling!

To read more about the project, and find out the story behind each blanket, visit my Blankets for Kitties page. My favourite feline Sigmund was rescued as a kitten, and he now takes his role in my kitty blanket project very seriously.

Here he is assisting with the construction process

Here he is performing the all important comfort and nappability test

And here, checking the lighting as my photography assistant

When there is no kitty blanket underway, Sigmund likes to use his expertise to help with other essential tasks:

Modelling my fabric selection

Holding down table runners so they don't fly away

Checking for loose threads

Protecting our bed from blanket thieves

And, finally, getting some well deserved rest after a hard day's work

And now that you've seen quilts for pets, and quilts under my pet, how about some actual animals on a quilt to round things out? A collage of turtles!

This Houndstooth Turtles mini quilt was one of my first ever quilting projects. Each of those little guys is made out of felt, hand embroidered, and hand stitched onto the quilt. I then quilted around them to make them nice and puffy. (I'll admit, I mostly added the turtles to detract from the piecing mistake that made the pink hounds' ears twice the size of the green.)

And now I'm off to 'Oooh' and 'Aaah' at all of the other participants' adorable pets and colourful quilting!