Friday, June 17, 2016

Crazy Quilting Pillows

Last post I mentioned that I had spun flax for a little project, and this is it. 
A few weeks ago I was asked to make a pillow for a Singing Bowl. Once I looked up what a Singing Bowl was, I knew what I would make.

The little pillow was part of a retirement gift for the Librarian I have been volunteering for for the past 7 years, so I was thrilled to be asked to make something.
I wanted it to be very natural and 'earthy', so I used neutral colours of linen, cotton and silk fabric for the crazy quilting. I spun the flax for the linen tassels

The pillow is about 6" square (this bowl is about the same size as the singing bowl, which is copper and silver in colour).

For the embroidery I used silk, rayon, and cotton threads, as well as some of my hand spun yarn. There are tiny seed beads and a few garnet chips for embellishment.
The pillow is stuffed with plastic pellets (it is like a bean bag, so the bowl can sink into it).

The final pillow wasn't the first crazy quilting square I made, this one is-

My family and I thought that it was too busy and wouldn't work for a singing bowl.

Crazy Quilting is one of my favourite things to make (and the one craft I have been doing the longest, I made my first piece when I was 13, and I just turned 50!).
I did take pictures as I made the first square, and this is how it came together-

Basic Crazy Quilting (CQ) is about sewing pieces of fabric around an irregularly shaped centre piece, in a log-cabin style way, on a larger piece of foundation cloth (plain cotton fabric in this case)
I like straight lines for CQ, so if a seam is going to be too long I will sew two pieces together, and then add it to the block.

I like to match the seam with an other seam - this intersection then becomes a great place to add buttons to hide it.

Here the piece is the right size. I drew a square,

then stitched around it with a row of straight stitching and a row of zig-zag stitching.

the finished CQ square ready for embellishment
Then trimmed the whole thing. I like to keep the foundation fabric large, so I have somewhere to hold for the embroidery, and if I need to use a hoop for any embroidery.

My favourite piece of quilting I have made is a wall hanging with a square of crazy quilting (shown here), so with this extra square I decided to make something similar.

I bordered the square with raw silk, and had more fun free motion quilting. I chose feathers radiating from the square.

And 'organic straight lines' as a background. To keep the lines kind of parallel I laid down a few strips of masking tape as a guide. The quilting was done with 100Wt Invisafil thread. I used one layer of cotton batting with a full layer of wool batting on top - the feathers came out nice an puffy.

I purposely kept everything a bit skewed, so that I wouldn't have to worry about having to match anything when finishing the square.

I made a pillow with this square - it is about 16".

I finished the cushion like a regular quilt, with binding (a bit wider than normal because there is an extra piece of fabric for the backing), the backing has some buttons for closing.

I also finished a pair of socks this week. This is with hand dyed yarn I bought in Montreal.

As if there wasn't enough pictures in this post! These next photos are for my Mom, who I thought I had died because I didn't phone her this week, because I was busy working outside -

My youngest son and I have been renovating in the back of the yard (taking out more grass and adding a little patio around the fire pit). Hopefully we will be finished this weekend.

Some other garden pictures -

 Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, June 3, 2016

Finished Blocks and a Linen Doily

It is nice to stay caught up on QAL blocks for a change!

These are the two Circa 2016 blocks for this week.

I recently spun some flax to make linen tassels for a little project. It was the first time I have ever spun pure flax and it turned out to be much easier than I had anticipated. I came out quite fine - about light fingering to lace weight.

Since I had a bit of linen left over, I thought it would be interesting to see how it would knit up. Rather than just making a swatch I knitted a doily (about 12"). It really softened up as I knit (I did 'beat' and boil the finished yarn to help soften it before too) and was lovely to work with. I am looking forward to spinning more flax for a bigger project.

Here is the finished project along with more flax ready for spinning. This flax top is from Louet.

Thanks for stopping by and have a great day!

Tuesday, May 31, 2016

More QAL Blocks

It is always good to catch up on quilt along blocks!

These are 4 weeks worth of Circa 2016 blocks (3" blocks).

The tin is getting quite full (still lots more to make since this QAL goes until October).

The Westering Women block for May.

All five blocks so far (12" blocks, there will be 12 blocks - this QAL runs until December).

I was able to catch up on sewing inside today because it is windy, raining and cold outside.

front flower bed

All the rain is helping the garden grow.

vegetable garden

It is always exciting to see seeds sprouting! These are peas.

This bird house is full of babies and the sound of them chirping away is lovely

Beautiful blooms.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, May 13, 2016

Clamshell Table Mat Tutorial

Last week at the Morden Quilt Show I bought a 4" Clamshell die for the GO!.

I was undecided the first time I saw it because I was worried about how hard it would be to sew (especially after watching the Accuquilt promotional video for it - they made it seem so hard!). The second quilt show I saw the die at I bought it.
After making one project with it, this die is right up there as one of my favourites - right next to the little Tumbler die. I admit I am used to sewing curves - I am not a fan of Y-seams or paper piecing, but curves are fine.
At first I thought these would be small clamshells, but they are really quite big for clamshells - still a nice way to use smaller pieces of fabric though.
I am not affiliated with GO!, just love the products (I only buy dies for shapes that would be hard to cut by hand).

I precut my fabric to just over 4+3/4"squares, and cut the clamshells out. You can see in the above photo of the die that I marked little dots on the die with a silver Sharpie marker to make lining up the squares easier (I also added the lengthwise grain direction).
For this table mat I used 46 different fabrics and cut one clamshell out of each fabric.

The website recommends glue basting or using lots of pins, but I found that I only needed 5 pins for each clamshell (one at the beginning and end, and one on each matching notch),

and my handy-dandy serger tweezers (these always work great for tight curves).

I sewed the pieces together with the concave side on the top, and the new clamshell I was adding on the bottom (I tried the other way and it wouldn't work for me).

I repositioned between each pin and used the tweezers to pull the top fabric over as I sewed. I found the clamshells to be quite forgiving - they weren't all sewn perfectly, and they all still came out looking wonderful (spray starch helped for the final pressing).

I found that I really had to push the last couple of pins in far, otherwise they would fall out with all the repositioning needed. A tip is to take a small 'bite' with the pin at the stitching line when sewing curves - this is from a great Craftsy class on sewing curves.

The clamshells went together in rows, from the top down. The first row was stitched together for about 1" along the sides of the clamshells and the seams pressed open. The rest needed to be pressed after each additional clamshell was added, with the seams pointing towards the new clamshell.

 All the clamshells sewn together,

and trimmed ready for quilting.
I used two layers of batting since this will be a table mat for my coffee table.

Since this piece was a trial piece I decided to try out different free motion quilting designs in the clamshells (some of the designs became favourites, and some I didn't like, but I left them in - this will be helpful when I make a large quilt).

It works perfectly on the coffee table. The finished size it about 12"x24". It is quilted with 60Wt Bottom Line thread in the top and regular thread in the bobbin. I used 1+1/2" strips of fabric for a single binding. Normally I like a dark binding to frame the piece, but this time I used a fabric the same colour as the wood box, so it would blend in and make the clamshells pop out - it worked for me.

I realize that I share these tutorials on my blog for my own benefit - I can never remember how I made something! I have a few projects lined up before I will make a clamshell quilt, but I can't wait.

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 29, 2016

This Week's Blocks

This month for the Westering Women BOM the block was Lone Elm.

It was so much easier than last month's block! I have always loved this block, but never made one before. This BOM is very interesting - Barbara Brackman has tidbits of history and photos to go along with each block.

All four of my blocks so far (12" blocks).

These are last week's and this week's blocks for the Circa 2016 QAL (3" blocks).

I have done some spinning recently -

Last time I showed a photo of this yarn being spun (now it is about 1400m, 450g sport/DK weight, 100% Merino yarn).

It started as this fibre that I dyed (two different colours, one for each of the two plies).

I am making a top-down cardigan (just making it up as I go along - the ribbing is the collar and the start of the front band).

I also spun this fibre - 50% Silk/50% Superwash Merino, that I dyed various shades of green (I am trying to step out of my comfort zone with colours).

Came out to about 360m, 110g fingering weight yarn, this one is 3 ply (I chain plied it to keep the colours).

Have a great day and thanks for stopping by!