Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Medallion Corner Blocks

I have found my sewing mojo!  Woo hoo!  It took me a little while there to figure out what I was doing before the Christmas market mania, but now that I have dusted off my old projects and figured out where I left off (and where I need to go) I am back in the saddle.

This past weekend I focused mainly on the medallion quilt.  We had lots of visitors, so there was little time to sew with all of that sheet and towel washing between groups!  But I did find time to do a little foundation paper piecing to create the corner blocks for my flying geese border. 

I used a free downloadable template from Wombat Quilts to create these little stars.  She is my go-to girl for anything paper piecing with such an amazing variety of templates to choose from.  I originally wanted to do a scrappy orange center with navy shading on an LV background, but that would look a little funky with the rest of the medallion that is full on scrappy and in no way color coordinated.  I choose then to go with a warm center and cool shading.  I do not know if that idea carries through, but really I do not care one way or the other.

I have pieced all 16 sections now and just need to stitch them together and rip out the paper.  I find the stitching of sections together WAY more difficult than stitching the fabrics on the template.  It gets awfully bulky, so I need to take my time and be sure seams are aligned, etc.  It’s a job for a quiet night this week when I have some energy and an attention span.  

It is small progress, but progress none the less.  I will take it.

Friday, January 22, 2016

New-To-Me Overlocker = New-To-Me Excitement

Several weeks ago, we found a listing for a used, industrial sewing machine on Done Deal in our local area.  It had such a massive harp and was built into a table, so we had to go give it a test run. You see, it was listed by a lovely man whose wife used to make wedding dresses from the back of their house.  She had several high-quality, well loved industrial machines for her business (and a pile of thread!!!).  She recently passed away, so he was trying to find new homes for her machines where they would be appreciated.  As it turns out, it was not the sewing machine for me.  However, next to it sat an overlocker that we could not leave behind.  Total score!  We popped it into the back of the truck and went home delighted with our luck.

I set it up in the kitchen and immediately started making pillow cases and napkins to sell at a Christmas fair.  She is smooth and fast, purring along.  The crazy, rapid fire double needles and blade scare me a bit, but I am starting to figure out how we can work beautifully together.  The only down side?  She's INSANELY heavy, so we couldn't get her up stairs to my sewing space.  She lived in the kitchen for weeks and weeks and weeks...until an unsuspecting friend came over for breakfast last weekend.  (insert evil laugh here...)  The two boys grunted and strained the entire time, dragging her up stairs to her forever home.  

In preparation for my napkin making mania, I started to prep fabric from the shop.  You see, eventually these napkins will be sold via the website or in pop up shops as a way to sell to local fabric appreciators/lovers who don't sew.  It's a super way to bring a bit of color and design to your home at a low cost and with little commitment.  

I decided on sets of four, mostly because it keeps the purchase price reasonable and because I came from a family of four.  In my head, dinner tables are always set with four place settings.  Irish families, though, may have to buy two sets of napkins :)  Anyway, I pre-washed fabrics, ironed them, then cut out 16 inch x 16 inch blocks.  The edges were rounded (for the over locker) by tracing around a cereal bowl, then cutting with fabric scissors.

I was on fire.....overlocking to my heart's content.  Until I realized not every fabric would look great with a white thread edge.  With an overlocker I needed 4 spools/cones to sew in one color, when I'm used to buying and using one spool of each color at a sitting.  I had tons of white thread so it was easy enough to scrape together four spools in the beginning, but when I needed a color like pink or navy, I was out of luck.  Only one spool of each in my thread stash.

While I was in the US over Christmas, I saw my opportunity and jumped.  Joann's (of course!) had an entire wall of overlocking thread at a very reasonable price.  I kind of lost the run of myself and bought white, red, yellow, blue and green cones.  I wish I bought pink too, but there had to be some sense of reason. When I got it all home and dumped my bounty on the living room floor, I think my mother was questioning my sanity (clearly!).  I'm sure it was also a first for Customs to find on a search....made their day more interesting, didn't I?

So, I think I am ready to roll now.  New colored thread - check.  Overlocker in her new home - check.  Fabric washed, ironed and prepped - check.  

The only thing we're missing is a name.  What do we call her?  When I see her, names like Fang, Jaws or Tarantula come to mind, but they're not very feminine.  Any suggestions?

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Dusting off a UFO

I absolutely love my medallion quilt top. I love the colors.  I love how each of my favorite fabrics make an appearance.  I love how the random unplanned borders work together.  Sadly, though, it has become a UFO.  You see, I hit a bump with my last attempt at a border and then could not find my rhythm again.  This past weekend, though, I dusted it off, spread it out on the landing and had a good planning session to find a way forward....

I'm sorry for the very poor indoor lighting....its winter, you know.
My next border is going to be a series of flying geese, using a template made especially for this project by the wonderful Kelly of Jeli Quilts.  I gave them a test run 6+ months ago (the template makes them so easy peasy!) and then promptly lost interest.  I do not know why.  For some reason, though I have the itch to finish this top off.  I keep day dreaming about the corner blocks for this next border.  About how it will be quilted. About the binding fabric.  I had better get stitching while I have medallion mojo!

So, my quilty math tells me that I need 80 low volume charms for this next border.  That is a bit of a problem for me as my LV stash isn't huge.  I have 68 cut and am sure I can find the last 12 if I dig deep enough.

And then I need 80 focus prints for the actual geese.  Now here I had no problem pulling fabrics.  Are you sitting down?  This is the first time EVER that I have voluntarily pulled a few brown fabrics to be included in a project.  I have even shocked myself.

I cut like a maniac this weekend and now have 80 focus prints ready to be paper pieced into a pretty, color-saturated flock.

As my Sunday was drawing to a close and I would not have time to truly, diligently sew flying geese blocks (even though I'm now mostly prepared...), I thought I would have a dig through the old scrap bin to pull out my mini scraps for the next (after goose) border.  I know I am really getting ahead of myself, but it's a pretty mindless, rewarding project that I can dive in/out of during the week after work.  There's something to be said for having a go-to goal for nights when I'm tired.

I think I have found a bit of a medallion vibe.  I am energized, excited and inspired so I am just going to run with it.  I can already imagine where it will hang in my stairwell, so I had better get my bum into gear and start stitching!  Happy happy to be back in the saddle again.   

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Q1 Finish Along Linky Is Live!

2016 button 250 best

Let's kick off 2016 with an optimistic list.  That's right!  It's time to imagine, hope, dream of finishing those projects you have lying around your sewing room.  This year the 2016 FAL is going global with hosts from all over the world joining together for a bit of fun.  Be sure to check out the blogs of the other hosts (links below) - some you will have known for years, but others may be new opportunities for chatter, inspiration and a bit of fun.
For those of you who are new to the FAL, it is a place to find motivation and encouragement to complete those unfinished projects that are hanging about becoming UFOs. Every quarter you post a list of projects you hope to finish in the next three months, and then at the end of the quarter, you post a link from your blog, flickr or instagram of each successful finish from your original list.  There is no penalty for not finishing a listed project, so feel free to make your list  long or short, as you wish.  The 2016 Schedule and the Rules for the FAL are on my permanent FAL page.

Each finish, three months from now, is an entry for wonderful prizes from our sponsors. Here are the fantastic and generous sponsors for Q1 of the FAL - you can see each of their prizes listed under their logo:

For the 2016 FAL, we will have the return of a tutorial week at the end of each quarter, between the opening of the link for finishes and the day that link closes.  Stay tuned for more on that closer to the spring. If you have a tutorial that you would like to share, please let me know.
It's time to round up those projects you want to finish over the next three months, take a photo of where you are now, and make your list. Please ensure that you have at least started your projects - good intentions of starting a new project are not enough.  You need to have pulled fabrics, cut them, even started sewing to have the project qualify.   Similarly, while we love to see your bee blocks, the "finish" is when they are a completed, quilted quilt.

The 2016 Q1 link for your list of proposed finishes is now open below on my blog and on each of the hosting blogs. You only link your list once, on one blog - and that link will show up on all of the blogs. If you are using Flickr or Instgram, link a mosaic and put your list in the description. Katy of The Littlest Thistle has a great tutorial on how to link-up if you have need it.

We also ask that you become part of the FAL community. Please check the links of others (and my own!), and visit their blogs and comment on their projects. We all need encouragement to get those finishes done, so please share some of your own too.

Now its your turn. Get those lists together and get linked up. The Q1 linky party will stay open until 11 PM EST, January 16th.  That's 4AM on 17 January for those of us in Ireland. Remember: you only need to link up on ONE hosting blog and it will automatically show up on all hosting blogs.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Color Theory Charm Star - Finished Top

Another top!  Not messing, now, are we?  This is my third finished baby quilt top from the Christmas holiday.  I started this months ago, but it sat on my design board waiting for rows to be sewn together.  I just lost my drive, but now that it's together I love it!

The photos do not give the colors in this top justice.  There's more contrast and depth when you see it in person.  Anyway, I used a Color Theory charm pack in combination with Kona Snow from the bolt (but there are charm packs in the shop which would make this top even easier!) to create HTS, arranged them so the prints look "random" and stitched them together in a pretty design.  For any normal, focused person it would only take a day to finish the top - for me it took months of dithering.  I got there in the end.

That's it!  My three finished tops from the Christmas holiday.  Come back tomorrow (7 Jan) for the opening of the Q1 2016 FAL linky.  There will be some amazing prizes available, so be sure you join in!

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Hello Friend Panel Quilt - Finished Top!

A second finished quilt top to show you!  Now this one was easy peasy.  Did you see the Hello Friend panel and complimenting child-friendly fabrics in the shop?  They are so stinkin' cute I could not leave them untouched for long!  This quilt top was an impromptu creation, made to be fun, wild and colorful.  

I took one panel, trimmed the sides and bottom a bit and then added in my first Hello Friend vine border in orange and yellow.  Two more borders followed:  a stripe from Color Theory and then a novelty yellow Hello Friend print that coordinates with the characters in the panel.  

As it grew, I had to either stitch together borders or add corner stones to give extra length.  I went with a light blue and navy pinwheel block in each corner using Hello Friend and Gooseberry.  They are perfect together.

I am delighted with how quickly this came together, what impact the color has on my eye and the super adorable critters that will entertain some small person one day. 

I have one more quilt top to show you tomorrow, so pop back for a peek!  

Monday, January 4, 2016

Urban Zoology Charm Quilt Top

Happy Monday!  Did you return to your normal routines today?  I did.  I have to say it was worse thinking about it on Sunday night than it actually was this morning.  It was nice to be out of the house and trying to remember what I was doing before Christmas mania kicked in.

Over the Christmas holiday I finished three small child quilt tops that I'll show you today and tomorrow.  They were all partially started in October and November with the idea that I would try to include them in the shop stall at Christmas markets, but I just did not finish them in time.  So, they sat in my sewing room as a pile of blocks that needed to be sewn into rows and then together.  Low hanging fruit for my Christmas break.

First up, I used an Urban Zoology charm pack from the shop (which has now sold out) mixed with Kona solids to make a charm quilt.  I split the charms in half (to 2.5x5 inch rectangles), framed them in Kona white, lime, red or peacock and then squared the blocks to 6 inches on all sides.  

The entire quilt is surrounded in Kona navy.  I have to say I am not convinced that border should stay on.  I was pretty happy with the unisex brightness of the quilt before I added the border, but after it looks quite dark and male-ish.  We'll see.

As usual, my glamorous photographic assistant was with Sunday while I snapped a few photos.  It is rough taking pictures this time of year - it is always sideways raining, windy and dark.  Sunday it was just overcast and slightly breezy, so you'll see most tops are not straight on the line, but it is the best I could do given the time of year.


Poor Molly hasn't been dry in weeks with our crazy weather.  She has been swimming in the floods a good bit, which makes her happy.  The bad thing is the garden is totally saturated, so even when she just goes out for a trot around the yard she's soaked.  Can you see the puddle that formed under me while I took photos of this top?  Crazy!  I was actually sinking the longer I stood still!

Thank goodness for awesome, waterproof boots, huh?

Friday, January 1, 2016

2016 Finish A Long Kick Off!

Happy New Year, my quilty friends!  Let's kick this year off right with the promise of many finishes.  To help us along, let me tell you about the newly revised 2016 Finish - A - Long!

For those of you who are new to the FAL, it is a place to find motivation and encouragement to complete those unfinished projects that are hanging about becoming UFOs. Every quarter you post a list of projects you hope to finish in the next three months, and then at the end of the quarter, you post a link from your blog, flickr or instagram of each successful finish from your original list. Each finish is an entry for wonderful prizes from our sponsors.

The FAL has grown and grown since Rhonda - now Rhonda's Ramblings - started it in 2012 in the USA. It moved to Canada in 2013 where Leanne - She Can Quilt - hosted it, then in 2014 it was off to Scotland in the UK where Katy - The Littlest Thistle - was in charge, and in 2015 it moved to New Zealand where Adrianne - On the Windy Side - has been doing the honours. And it really has become too big for just one blogger.

So the 2016 FAL is going global - a community of bloggers across the world will be jointly hosting the FAL. Our hosts will be:

There will be shared link-ups that you only need to join on one blog for your links to appear on all the hosting blogs. Otherwise, the FAL will remain mainly unchanged and we are hoping that everyone will join us.

2015 Finish-Along

Please link up your Q4 2015 finishes with Adrianne at On the Windy Side, from December 31, 2015 through to January 6, 2016.

And please plan to join the 2016 FAL. The Q1 link for your proposed list of finishes will open on January 7, 2016, on all of the new community hosts.

In the meantime, you can grab the 2016 FAL button and follow along with everyone in the hosting community. On Instagram and other social media, for 2016, please use the hashtag #2016FAL and follow the FAL account @finishalong.

It's going to be great fun!
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