Monday, April 27, 2015

Making a Mini Gem

A few weekends ago I decided to make a quick and easy project using mostly scraps.

Spinner mini-quilt
Spinner mini-quilt
Here is the result! It was finished in less than a weekend.

It’s a paper-pieced project from the book: Little Gems, 15 paper-pieced miniature quilts by Connie Kauffman.  The book is eye-candy. I would love to make most of the mini-quilts in the book.

Little Gems by Connie Kauffman
Little Gems by Connie Kauffman
This pattern is called Spinner. The quilt in the book is made up mostly of softer pastels. I started that way, but that didn’t last. I just had to use my bright lovely fabrics!

I loved making these paper pieced blocks and I didn't spend much time planning the fabrics. For the amount of effort I put into it, it’s really great. Sometimes it’s great just to grab some fabric and sew. The worse thing that can happen is that it won’t come out, but then I can always use the blocks to make more scrappy blocks.

I placed the 12” by 12” quilt on a metal hanger I bough over a year ago. It’ll be fun to make different mini-quilts and rotate them.

I finally got around to taking pictures of the quilt. I love pictures of quilts taken outdoor so this quilt was perfect since it has its own hanger and wouldn't get dirty.

What I learned:

  • The colours work well but for the next one I may plan the final layout a little more.
  • As much as I love FMQ, this little piece didn't need it. I only stitched-in-the-ditch.
  • Making a mini-quilt on the spur of the moment is a great way to have fun and play with fabrics and colours.

Here is a photo of some beautiful miniature irises in my garden. They were at their best last week.

This post is linked up at Quilt Story's Fabric Tuesday. Check out the gorgeous quilts!

Saturday, April 25, 2015

April Challenge Completed

I did well this month. For the April version of the Lovely Year of Finishes, I wrote that I would complete my South-West art quilt from 2010, since it was also one of my Common Thread Quilt Guild UFO (Unfinished Objects) Challenge projects. I was hoping to finish it for our May Guild meeting, but ended up finishing it for the April meeting.
Landscape quilt completed
Landscape quilt completed

To be honest, I only had about an hour and a half of embroidery left to do, but I did have to FMQ it and bind it. I just have the label to make before it goes to its new home – my daughter’s room. She’s my biggest fan :-)

I couched most of the grass area located in the bottom third of the quilt. I used three kinds of novelty yarn and then embroidered some areas with different colours of floss to represent various grasses and flowers. Since the view is from afar, I just added splashes of colour rather than individual plants.

At first I didn't like the sparkles within one of the novelty yarn, but then as I finished the piece and worked on completing the lightning, the sparkles look like they are reflecting the lightning.

Grasses using mostly couched novelty yarns
Grasses using mostly couched novelty yarns
I wasn't sure how to quilt this piece since I didn't want to take anything away from the landscape. I did do some thread painting / FMQ around the lightning to help emphasize it and create a little more contrast where it begins.

I then quilted around the different parts of the rock to emphasize it. I finished by doing a little bit of quilting in the sky to create some mouvement within the clouds.

hread painting and FMQ the lightning and sky
Thread painting and FMQ the lightning and sky
What I learned:

  • As always, when I’m not sure what to do, it’s best to leave the project until the answers come to me, either through ideas but more often by looking at how other quilters have handled that same issue.
  • I used a fine brown permanent market to touch up some of the thread that was showing on the rock. It’s allowed since it’s an art quilt!!!
  • I really love the way this came out and how much I enjoyed working on it, once I knew what to do! I suspect this is the beginning of many more landscape quilts.

Check out the other finished quilts at the Lovely Year of Finishes – Finishes Party.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Learning Through a Table Runner

The Common Thread Quilt Guild in Orleans, Ontario organised a Print Windows table runner workshop last November with teacher / designer Valerie Miller. Her designs are quite modern and incorporate some lovely details – gentle curves, piping, mini squares, etc.  When I saw a sample of her runner, I decided to take her course to learn the techniques involved in making these.

Here is the link to her Print Windows table runner pattern.

Details of Print Windows Table Runner
Details of Print Windows Table Runner
Valery came to our guild as a guest speaker, so that evening I chose my fabrics for the weekend workshop. I liked the fabrics, although I have made few projects with a black background.

The workshop was enjoyable and I did learn a few tips and tricks. For instance, the fabrics that make up the mini windows within the grey strip were strip pieced. Since I don’t usually have great success with these, I did get a couple of tips to help me.
Print Windows Table Runner
Print Windows Table Runner

  1. Sew the strips together from alternate directions. This helps the fabric stay flat.
  2. Use a smaller stitch so that they won’t fall apart after you cut them.
Sewing gentle curves isn't difficult. You just have to take your time. The trick is to use pins and then to clip the seam allowance once you've sewn the curve. I just find that this gives the piece a nice flat finish once it’s pressed. I've included a link to a Connecting Threads tutorial, in case you’d like to learn to sew curved pieces.

Finally, when cutting and inserting the grey strip into the runner, you just have to be careful to adjust the curved piece that it’s going through so that the curve will continue evenly on both sides of the strip.

What I learned:
  • The sewing tips I've written while making this runner are above. 
  • My life lesson was more difficult. As much as I enjoyed the workshop, it was during the time that my “best friend” Bandit died. The quilting helped me get through those rough days but as lovely as it is, it will forever be associated with those difficult times. I guess that’s how life and perception works (and the black background doesn't help.)
This post is listed on Link-a-Finish Friday. See what other quilters have been up to!

Tuesday, April 07, 2015

April Challenge

This is a quick post about the upcoming Lovely Year of Finishes Goal Setting Party.

In April, I will finish one of my Common Thread Quilt Guild UFO (Unfinished Objects) Challenge projects. I wrote about this challenge in my March Goal Setting.

South-west art quilt to finish by the end of April
I originally entered five UFO projects to complete. I wrote that there was a possibility of completing two of the projects:

  • Snippet flowers in a vase from 2008 (ready to FMQ if I can find it); and
  • South-West art quilt from 2010 (I've written about the project in September 2014)

I did find the Snippet flowers quilt (it was stored under the bed!) but I really don't like the borders that I put on it. It's ready for some thread painting though, so once I undo the borders, I'll start on that part of it. It will not be ready for the guild challenge since the deadline is our May guild meeting.

I will therefore finish my South-West art quilt by the end of April! Come by and see  me at me at the April Finishing Party.

I am presently visiting relatives in Vancouver BC. We spent some time driving through the mountains. I can't wait to review my photos to see if there is another art quilt that I can start (after I finish this one of course). Stay tuned.