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Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Butterfly Flimsy

The Butterfly flimsy is at last complete. It took about a month to get the border together, primarily due to lack of interest. I am not sure why it was a slog, only that it was. It was so hard to pay attention to it that it only ever saw progress on weekends. My sister finished hers up over the weekend as well, and she’s already started basting. Hopefully I’ll get that done over the weekend. This morning half of the backing fabric got a light spritzing of starch. Wrestling with 2.5 yards of 108” fabric is not really that much fun, but I thought I’d give it a shot to see if it makes any difference.
My Aunt Carolyn, Uncle David and I went to the Creativ Festival (no that is not a misspelling) last weekend, where several sit-down quilting machines were given a go: Pfaff, Handi Quilter, Bernina and Janome. Price immediately rules out the Bernina ($12k show price), and the Handi Quilter had visible vibration issues (you could see the table shake) and a high-pitched running sound that immediately knocked it out of consideration. It’s fun to fantasize that a dedicated quilting machine might come home with me one day. Of the remaining two machines, I’d go with the Janome. Not because it was any better than the Pfaff, just that it could be purchased and serviced less than three kilometers from home. 

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Butterfly Border and a Cute Little Dress

The Butterfly flimsy is finished aside from the top and bottom borders, which are slowly being constructed. While the original design calls for wide swathes of fabric as borders, I wasn't at all crazy about that idea. 

A couple of border ideas for Butterfly were tried and rejected. What I really wanted were 1” squares for an 11” deep border. Let’s just say my sewing skills just aren’t there. What is underway is a border made with strip sets resulting in pieces that are 1.5” wide. The skill for sewing straight and consistent strip sets really isn’t all there, but it’s good enough, and whatever the errors are, they won’t really be noticeable in the end. 
 I’ve been a bit bored with Butterfly since the initial ideas for border construction did not work as planned (and spending 2 full weekends on them). The project is now firmly in slog land. With most of the strip sets sewn and ready for cutting, and the prospect of quilting near, the enthusiasm will hopefully return.

There was a bit of down time while waffling about Butterfly’s border, so it seemed only right to take advantage of it to make a gift for a baby shower. Since baby girls become little girls, a larger size seemed appropriate. Hopefully the new Mum will like the dress. I certainly loved making it.
Things to like: The fabric. Oh my! Simple design with over the top cute factor. There’s so much to learn about sewing.

Not so much: There’s so much to learn about sewing. There’s a minor alignment issue where the front bodice and skirt are attached under one arm, and I could use some practice in getting smoother armholes. Since I wanted the seams to be fully finished, the skirt has French seams. This was a mistake for the bottom border – it leads to bulky seams at the sides and back of the skirt. Hopefully these issues won’t make the dress uncomfortable to wear.

Pattern: Geranium by Made by Rae, in size 3T

Fabric: Main – The Hypnotizer. Trim - The Wanderer. Both from the Chipper collection by Tula Pink in Raspberry. Many thanks to Liz at Needlework, who helped select the fabric combo.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

A is for Archer

The Fancy Fox II quilt has left the house, destined to be given to a new baby boy. His name is Archer in honour of his grandfather. It had a slower finish than expected and it sure feels good to tick it off of the to-do list. Work has also been occupying some weekend time, due to an upcoming project launch. Volunteer activities have also ramped up due to year end requirements of organizations I do some data analysis for.
The trying-new-to-me-technique effort was continued with the binding for Archer’s quilt. My heart had been set on a piped binding, but the wrong kind of cording made it home. Rather than wait for another shopping opportunity, a bi-coloured binding was made instead. It was easy and I love the result. The binding was sewn on completely by machine.

Things to love: EVERYTHING. The noses, the glasses, the pointy faces. I love it. Certainly the quick construction factor helps with the love thing. May Archer drag the quilt around until there’s little left to make it recognizable as a blanket.
Not so much: Most of the techniques used for this quilt could use improvement, but there’s nothing wrong with feeling like that. Overall the project is a screaming success and I am proud of the end result.
Details: Fancy Fox II pattern by Elizabeth Hartman of Oh Fransson. Lap sized. Background fabrics, binding flange, letters, eyes and noses are Free Spirit solids; backing is from the Noe collection by Erin McMorris. Two foxes from Mochi by Cotton and Steel. That’s all I can remember.

There will be another fox quilt finish soon, this time with smaller blocks. The flimsy’s finished, but it lost its spot for attention when my sister sent me a picture of her assembled-but-for-the-border-Butterfly-flimsy. I have almost caught up with her. We’ve been discussing border options, and we each have decided on slightly different versions of the same kind of thing. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Fancy Fox II Progress

Elizabeth Hartman’s whimsical aesthetic pleases me greatly, and given the time, I’d probably make everything she designs. Everything. Last month a Fancy Fox II quilt top was assembled for my friend Natalie. Returning to the project on the heels of Gravity has been fun, and I am excited about free-motion-quilting the piece and trying some other new-to-me techniques.
Technique 1: The backing was embellished with the baby’s name. It’s on straight, and is centred. And yes, that surprised me too! Bias tape was the first choice for writing the baby’s name on the quilt, but that failed miserably. There was bulging at the seams which did not make for smooth lettering. The thin strips cut for the resulting ¼” binding weren’t done as well as they could have been, also leading to less-than-desirable results. Thankfully there was enough fabric left to make the name as it now appears. It was typed in Adobe Illustrator (Creative Cloud)* using a large font. The colouring on the text was set to outline the characters, and the whole thing stretched so that ‘A’ would fit onto a letter sized sheet of paper. Fabric was then ironed to the plasticized side of letter sized freezer paper and then sent through the printer (inkjet). Depending on what would fit on a sheet, one or two characters were printed at a time. Guidelines were marked on the quilt back for name placement. Once the letters were cut, they were then stuck down using a fabric glue-stick. Fusing the letters down would have been a better option, but there was nothing suitable in the house at the time. Two trips around the letters with a straight stitch secured them on the back. This technique will probably be used again and was learned in the Craftsy class Word Play: Personalize your Quilts, with Sarah Fielke.
Technique 2: Wood grain quilting. Easy to learn, and easy to sew. A very forgiving quilting design for a newbie free-motion-quilter like me. There are loads of slips, macro/micro stitches, and variations in stitch length in this quilting. Mistakes are largely hidden by the density of the quilting and the nature of the stitch pattern. Irregularity does not really matter. As ever, practice is making a difference, and the quality of the stitch length and stitching lines improves with every session.

Hopefully this feeling that free-motion-quilting is the entire reason for breathing right now will last. Aside from this project, there are 2 completely finished flimsys (Vintage, Postcards from Sweden), and 4 that are mostly pieced (Reflections, Butterfly, Fancy Fox lap quilt and Dad’s pinwheel-like top). I’d like to get most of these items to completion in the next few months so I can feel good about starting some new ones. 
And my favourite fox of the group. They myopic one.
*Adobe offers a number of products for use on a subscription basis. From time to time, something special needs to be done that the usual tools cannot handle. Ideas are collected, and every now and then, 20 USD is spent for a month’s subscription to Illustrator. It’s more manageable than buying Illustrator (a lot of money), and cheaper than hiring a graphic designer to do it for me. The down side is that like most Adobe products, it’s got a steep learning curve and is hard to use. Cancelling and restarting the service is easy, and I’ve never experienced an issue with the on again/off again relationship I have with this subscription.

Monday, February 29, 2016

Before the End of Winter

Gravity is at last finished just before winter's end, and Tikka could not be happier to have it on the bed. She loves that quilt, and wanted to be on it throughout the quilting. Getting anything done on it with her in the room was almost impossible since she also really wanted to be close to me at the same time. Many challenges were faced while making Gravity. Most of the blocks were hand-sewn due to a complete sewing machine melt-down. Getting the sandwich together was an enormous undertaking due to ineptitude. Finally, getting up the nerve to start free motion quilting the centre was really hard.
It was overwhelming to even think about starting the centre quilting. I certainly worried a lot about it, but finally managed to push back the fear of failing on a project that was really important to me. A great deal of progress was made in free motion quilting and  that is evident. 

Things to love: A wonderful walk through a spectrum of colour resulting in a dramatic quilt for our bed. Peter likes the quilt, which is a big bonus and made it so much easier to put it into use. New-to-me techniques were tried and enjoyed. Working on Gravity has also delivered some new-found confidence and removed a number of self-imposed barriers.
Not so much: A good portion of the colours used in this quilt, well, I really don’t like them. At all. At the same time, they create the sparkle factor of the design, which certainly wouldn’t be as successful without them. This quilt will probably not have a long life. It saw a lot of experimentation and picking out of seams and quilting. The quilting unintentionally reminds me of an eye.
Even with the dense quilting, the quilting isn’t dense enough in the background to keep kitty toes from potentially snagging in the hand-sewn seams. This isn’t something I’m going to stress or worry over. It’s meant to be used and loved. Next time, I will make more of an effort with a quilting plan.
There are 3 completed tops in the house, with 3 more well on the way towards completion. It’s a good thing I feel like more free motion work right now.

Finally, an action shot.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Patience Padawan

We all know what this means. Gravity is almost off of the to-do list. Many hours of hand-stitching remain, See Wookieepedia for a definition of padawan. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Quilting Gravity's Centre

Gravity is currently unfurled on the dining room table. It’s the best surface in the house for marking, sewing in ends and contemplating the work. This morning’s musings were about how the quilting started in the next section looks seriously lame next to the pebbling. The stitching in the star’s points may need to be reconsidered in the future, but that’ll wait until the centre is finished.
Caution dictated placing a dinner plate under the coffee to avoid a spill. You never know when someone furry and cute is going to come to check things out. While Gravity seriously needs a bath, she sure doesn’t need a drink of coffee. White rum, maybe. But not coffee.
I love how the pebbling has changed the look. Sort of like lava on the boil.