Monday, 31 December 2012

Colour Block of the Month: Green

The 2012 Colour Your World Challenge ends with green, the most christmassy of colours. Thanks M-R for the inspiration to play with colour this year! A few months ago, I had experimented with designs for a street sign, and since the first take didn't quite work out, I had a lot of abandoned block components to work with in green and white.

I piled all of the pieces on my cutting mat to see what could be done with them, and the random arrangement looked really good. I decided to try and reproduce the visual effect of this pile of scraps in my block.

The original block components were roughly rectangular, with a white side and a green one. I cut out some of the extra white and replaced it with the smaller scraps that had more green. I also added little bits of green print fabric to make the shapes more regular where needed.

Once everything was sewn together and trimmed, I ended up with some new pleasingly wonky block components. They looked much better individually than the original batch, though not nearly as interesting together as the pile I started out with.

Once everything was sewn together, I added a green border to match the other blocks. Here is the result:

The twelve colour blocks of 2012 look surprisingly harmonious together!

Now that I have my twelve improvised blocks, I'm ready to move on to the next step and make a quilt. I have in mind a twin bedspread, measuring 60" x 90". It will be made with 24 blocks, each measuring 15" square, which means I'll be making another twelve blocks to complement my collection of colour blocks.

My goal for 2013 is to make one block each month in the same colour as one of my improvised blocks, and quilt both of them individually over the course of the month. I will probably base most of these on the Pile O' Fabric BOM and the Craftsy BOM. At the end of the year, they should be ready to assemble into one crazy cool looking bedspread for our "guest room" (also known as the inflatable bed that just fits between the bookshelves in our library).

Thursday, 27 December 2012

2012 Free Motion Quilting in Review

When I signed up for my first quilting class last October, I had no idea that there was such a thing as free motion quilting, or that my basic little Kenmore sewing machine was equipped to do more than sew in a straight line. One of the first (and best) resources I came across was Leah Day's incredibly helpful blog The Free Motion Quilting Project. With her help, I figured out what sewing machine feet I needed in order to get started, and how they worked. I ordered all three of my quilting feet from the Day Style Designs Shop since Kenmore didn't bother to make their accessories available for order in Canada. My free motion foot arrived pre-customized, which was awesome, and it has served me extremely well since then.

The first month was extremely frustrating. I spent more time re-threading the machine than actually sewing, but the key to learning anything is to stick with it and practice. Plus, my fellow quilters were full of tips and encouragement. I was able to follow along with the FMQ Project Quilt-Along for most of 2012, as well as the SewCalGal Free Motion Quilting Challenge. Both of these activities encourage you to practice consistently and learn at your own pace. I have to say that this model did much more for me than a physical FMQ course that I took this year. (One 8 hour FMQ course felt very wham-bam-thank-you-ma'am compared to learning online, and didn't really leave much time to address my questions.)

So how much have I learned this year? Well, here is my very first quilting sample from January:

An attempt at heart shape leaves - seen from the back

And here are some more recent projects for comparisson:

Over the course of the year, I also managed to turn my practice materials into twelve quilted flannel kitty rescue blankets. These blankets will be donated shortly to a local animal rescue organization, where I hope they can provide the comfort and reassurance necessary to help rescued cats find a place within new families. To find out how easily you can help, visit the Snuggles Project.

I've gained a lot of confidence in my sewing abilities over the past year, and learned a lot about troubleshooting and dealing with my machine's little idiosyncracies. I'm still finding it difficult to work on very large projects with the small amount of space I have available (the larger the project, the more often my thread snaps) but I'm sure practice will eventually make that easier as well.

For all of this, a big huge thank you to Leah Day! Thanks especially for taking the time to answer really basic questions which helped get past the small frustrations in order to make FMQ fun. I really enjoyed all of the designs, as well as the wholecloth and modern quilt projects. I plan to continue learning in 2013 with Leah's Craftsy course Free Motion Quilting a Sampler. I hope to quilt one of my improvised colour blocks every month, along with a matching sampler block. Can't wait to get started!

Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Holiday Spirit in Felt

We made three adorable stockings at home this year, they were a Daddy, Grandson and Grandpa set. Of course I didn't think to take a single picture before mailing them away. Instead I am sharing some of the ornaments I made for our office decorating contest.

All of these are made from recycled felt and tiny fabric scraps. To fill up the rest of the space, I cut a few dozen cardboard ornaments out of colourful file folders from the recycling bin. Everything is attached to the wall using pins, which had to be pushed in quite hard and left their mark on my fingers for a week. I think they've all turned out quite well and look forward to adding to the collection next Christmas.

Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Colour Block of the Month: TARDIS Blue

November's Colour My World Challenge colour was blue. Yay! I'd been especially looking forward to blue, and planning what to do with my scrap of TARDIS linoprint fabric. You may remember this TARDIS fabric from the first installment of my Doctor Who drama "Oh no! The Doctor's been transformed into a penguin".

I've been using a different improvisational piecing technique for each month's block, and this month I went with the log cabin method in order to ensure the TARDIS would be the central element of this quilt block. The log cabin can be as traditional as quilt blocks get, but with some variable widths and unusual angles it can also go very modern.

I started with strips in lots of different shades of blue. I sewed the first one to the left side of my centre fabric, then one strip across the top, and kept going clockwise until it looked big enough.

I trimmed the shape into a square, added a matching border, and here is my finished blue TARDIS quilt block! It probably could have done without the dinosaurs... but that's the whole point of improvising.

So far I've got eleven colour blocks, there's only green left! The quilt size I plan to make with these actually requires 24 blocks, so each will be getting a companion block as they are quilted. I've got a plan for this in 2013. Can't wait to show you what I've got in mind.