When I'm not thinking about work, I'm daydreaming about quilts, or daydreaming about the time I have at home to make quilts. It's actually all I've thought of for the last few weeks. To make matters worse (or better if you're me) I picked up a couple of Jennifer Chiaverini novels from the Elm Creek Quilts series at the library the other day.
I first got into these novels when we were staying in Portland, Oregon 8 years ago on a holiday. We spent most days visiting Powell's Books, a massive bookstore which had just about everything. I remember staying up until 3 am and beyond reading these new-to-me books. I love the characters, and their stories. I love the idea of a big grey stone mansion being used as a summer quilt retreat. Love the history about the quilts. Just love them.
When I'm not reading, the Line Art Quilts potters along. I've sewn the top ten strips together now, and a few of the green ones too.
I'm going away tomorrow for a long weekend and I realised a couple of days ago that I didn't have a single portable handwork project to take with me. My hexagon quilt is still missing it's 4 blocks (and that's a whole other story) and the wonky quilt that I'm hand quilting isn't exactly portable or easy to lug around a muddy folk festival. I'm not crocheting at the moment, so that wasn't a possibility. So tonight I spent an hour in the sewing rooom racking my brain for a project I could start. I asked the universe via twitter, and the answer came.
English Paper Piecing.
I had a heap of two inch hexagons lying around from the twisted hexagon project. Perfect. I used a charm pack I had in the stash (Apron Strings by Chloe's Closet for Moda) but it was a little washed out for my liking so I added some stronger 1930s fabrics from the twisted hexagon leftovers to complement them.
I thanked my lucky stars yet again that I'd bought a lazy susan cutting board several years ago. It's perfect for cutting small shapes and the fact it turns means I don't have to turn my fabric. It also came in handy when I was glue basting the fabric to the paper shapes. Yes, this time I'm gluing. I normally thread baste, but I bought a fabric glue basting stick the other day for another project, and thought I might try it out first.
My poor little well-worn two inch papers, that I'd promised could retire once my twisted hexagons were finished, are back in use. Sorry, little guys.
I have no idea what I am making. I'm just going to join these suckers together and see where it leads me.
I have my hexes, my togs, towel, book and festival ticket ready to pack for a fun weekend of friends, sun, surf, music and quilting. See you on the other side!
As usual, my day job is killing any energy, time or enthusiasm for sewing during the week. But this morning I had half an hour spare before swimming to do a quick test for colourfastness on the Kona Cotton Roll-up.
I'd done my research and other quilters seemed to think that the Kona Cotton was very coloourfast, but I like to check things out for myself. It's pretty simple to test for colourfastness. Just snip a bit off the end of each roll in the colours you are most worried about. In my case, it was the reds, purples and blues I had concerns with. You also need to cut a strip of your background fabric.
Thoroughly wet all the pieces of fabric, and then lay the little pieces flat on the background fabric strip. Press down on the fabric with your fingers, and then put somewhere to dry.
Once dry, lift your fabric pieces off the background fabric, and make sure they haven't "bled" into it. Good news! Mine passed the test!
While I was out swimming this morning, Ange started her Line Art quilt. And it looks so, so, SO good! When I came home I was put to work in the garden for a couple of hours which put me way behind. But after lunch I had the energy to cut out my coloured strips.
And then I put them on the design wall in the order I wanted to sew them. This was more fun than I'd imagined, working out which shades look the best together. I'm going with a rainbow theme. Looks pretty good on the off-white flannel, doesn't it?
By the end of the afternoon I'd cut 10 strips of the grellow fabric and attached them to the top 10 coloured strips. I think I'm stopping there for today - I might finish cutting out the 27 more grellow strips, but I think the rest of the evening will be spent finishing this.
I've been slowly plugging away at the top and bottom of the twisted hexagon quilt to square it up, but tonight I ran out of half hexagon blocks.
I was just four short, so I went back to the project box.
And picked out some pre-cut half hexagons.
My papers are starting to look a little worse for wear, but I've promised them it's only one more time through the wringer and then they can retire for good.
I pressed the fabric around the papers with my little Clover finger presser, and pinned them, ready for basting.
A quilt shop owner asked me around this time last year why I wasn't using a fabric glue stick to baste my pieces. I replied that I loved basting with needle and thread. It was all part of a very meditative process, and besides - I wasn't in any hurry to finish.
This time last year I'd been working on the quilt for six years. This year I have been working on it for seven. I'm going to really miss it when I've finished it.
In the meantime, it sits and waits for it's missing pieces.
Once upon a time, I came across a beautiful quilt kit in an online store, and tweeted about it because I was so in love with it and couldn't get the concept out of my head. But the postage was kind of prohibitive. Like a LOT prohibitive. Angie, known round these parts as Gnomeangel, also fell in love with the quilt, so we hatched a plan to DIY this 'quilt kit' ourselves. The Line Art quilt pattern is a freebie, so we thought we'd also have a lot of fun having a two person quiltalong.
I did a good image search, and came across a few different versions of this quilt. I wanted to see how other quilters had done it. And I wanted to do something completely different, mainly because where's the fun in doing a colour scheme someone else has already done?
The fabric we decided on was a roll of pre-cut strips of Robert Kaufman Kona Cotton Solids, which was actually what was used in the much-lusted-after-but-expensive-international-postage quilt kit. The strips are bold, brash and totally wonderful. The beauty was going to be in how we matched them with the background fabric. The original quilt kit had a white background.
On Sunday Angie and I met at our local quilt store, and decided on fabrics. Before I arrived, I was fairly convinced that I was going to select a soft polka dot. But on auditioning my strips against those fabrics, I realised I wasn't after a muddled look. I wanted clean, defined colours, similar to a box of freshly sharpened Derwent coloured pencils. So I headed for the shelves of solids.
Off-white turned out to be quite beautiful, but I resisted as it would have been exactly the same as the original quilt kit. But then I spied the citrussy grellow solid, and...
I was sold. I may have to eliminate some of the yellows from the Kona cotton strips, but I don't need the entire roll so it will be OK.
Now to get His Royal Kaffeness sewn together and off the design wall so I can start on this new baby!
Angie will also be posting about how she came to her background fabric choice (wait till you see it! DOUBLE KAPOW!) so check out Gnomeangel for the other side of our story.
At the beginning of this year I dug out my twisted hexagon quilt to attempt to finish it. I knew I had one half of a top, and part of the other half, and a whole lot of blocks which needed to be sewn on to that half.
That memory issue I have mentioned before? Turns out both halves of the quilt were already complete. I can't recall doing that, so it must have been the quilting fairies. So I sewed those two halves together a few weeks ago - unbelievably, it only took me about 8 hours - and this is what I now have.
It doesn't look that big in that photo. Let's step back a bit and put a 2 1/2 seater sofa in the shot for scale, shall we?
That's a lot of quilt. And a lot of weight to be carrying around when it's all stitched by hand. I have a morbid fear of it falling apart on me before it's quilted, so I'm very careful, and I get a little bit mother-bear when people get grabby hands when they see me working on it. Hence I tend to work on it more at home. Mainly to stop me being rude to people.
I now have these "half" blocks to sew onto the top and bottom, and then I will trim them so I have straight edges at the top and bottom of the quilt. I've attached one so far. Took me 4 hours to sew three edges. I seem to have lost my hex-jo.
But I now have a fully charged needle dome which should last me for one side of the quilt. And then I'll thread those ten needles again and do the other side.
And then, so help me God, I'm sending it to the machine quilter.