Design wall (and life) in progress

Not being particularly gifted in DIY home improvement activities we didn’t rush at the idea of creating a design wall. I did my usual wifey trick of dropping the idea onto my husband’s radar and then giving time for it to move from the periphery to the centre of his screen (so to speak)! After studying the quilt hanging arrangements shown in photos on various blogs and Facebook pages I decided the IKEA Dignitet wire curtain hanging system was the way to go. The system looks fairly unobtrusive and would not be out of place when my sewing room becomes the guest room – in fact I’ll be able to hang a quilt above the head of the sofa bed to make the place look more homey🙂

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The Dignitet hanging system includes little clips that are perfect for gripping quilts🙂

I found a helpful tutorial on You Tube to fill in the gaps left by the rather brief instructions that came with the curtain wire pack. All went well until it was time to cut the cable to the correct length. None of our pliers or cutters would cut cleanly through the many strands of wire that made up the cable and despite borrowing a more substantial pair of cutters we didn’t manage a clean cut so the ends of the cable splayed out *groan*. It took more than half an hour of coaxing (no cursing), considerable pondering, a bit of snipping and deep breathing to finally get the battered end of the cable into the spindle and the screws tightened. But the result looks just fine🙂 Now I’m on the lookout for some of that fuzzy backed pvc table covering to hang from the cable as a removable design wall.

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My Dignitet hanging wire in place🙂 (The quilt is a jelly roll design by Pam and Nicky Lintott from their book ‘Two from One’)

On a personal note the past few weeks have been a bit of a whirl. Two weekends ago we had both our boys at home and our lovely daughter and Son-in-law visiting. This week husband and I are finding our way to being ‘just the two of us’ after 26 years of sharing our home with one or more of our children – having taken youngest son to university on Saturday and having waved goodbye to older son on Monday as he sets out on training for a new career. So, we are adjusting to some big changes in our family and whilst doing our best to prepare our children for their new beginnings also find ourselves at the beginning of a new phase in our lives.Duncan and I celebrated our 29th wedding anniversary on Monday and were treated to a meal out in the restaurant where our wedding reception was held – lots of happy memories shared and an opportunity to contemplate the future. It is very reassuring and uplifting to know that all these changes and the future are God’s plan for us and we can confidently entrust our children to His care – not necessarily to always be happy but always to be faithfully loved by their Heavenly Father.

Allison

Linking with Lorna for Let’s Bee Social! Click the link and take a look at Lorna’s new designs for a farm animal quilt.

Sew Fresh Quilts

 

Posted in Awe and Wonder, Family, Home | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Running with an idea and five happy things

My priority project is the Autumn Star quilt. Progress came to halt when I ordered fabrics for the borders, binding and backing.

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Border-less Autumn Star 

These took longer to arrive than I’d anticipated so rather than down sticks I decided to run with an idea that had been swishing around in the rather hazy back of my mind, draw a quick plan and realise it in fabric. It has been a lot of fun rifling through my fabrics and, I confess, purchasing a few more🙂 to fussy cut 5″ squares ready to make an I-Spy quilt.

 

 

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Fussy cut charm squares

The blocks have come together really quickly. I hope to be able to complete the quilt top alongside working on the Autumn Star (fabrics have arrived, been washed and are now ready to cut and sew). I have been taking photos of the method I’ve been using to make the I-Spy blocks and plan to publish a tutorial here very shortly. With this plan in mind I was super happy to read Yvonne Fuchs post informing us that she and Stephanie (aka ‘late night quilter’) have agreed to share in the work of reviving Tips and Tutorials Tuesday – hurrah! This was one of my favourite quilting link parties as it encapsulated the best of this on-line community with bloggers sharing helpful information gleaned from their practical experiences (good and bad) of patchwork and quilting. It was also an ideal platform for sharing tutorials with a wider audience than would be reached with an unlinked post🙂 Check out the link to Yvonne’s post for the proposed scheduling of Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.

Although there hasn’t been much time to post on the blog this week I have been taking photos with the intention of linking with Amanda for Five Things Friday. A day late, here are five things that have made me smile this week:

1  Fussy cutting so many cute fabrics for the I-Spy quilt(s) – see above

2  Seeing the beautiful soft rain drops clinging to my sweet pea plants

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3  The return of Tips and Tutorials Tuesday

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4  The joyful truths we sang at the children’s Holiday Club Service:

Our God is a great big God…

He’s known me and He’s loved me

Since before the world began

How wonderful to be a part of God’s amazing plan…

5  Having our children and son-in-law staying with us for the weekend🙂

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Allison

Posted in Awe and Wonder, Family, Garden, Works In Progress | Tagged , , | 1 Comment

Quilt-a-longs coming along

Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts has created a second quarter review linky for those of us following the Modern HST Sampler QAL. Here are my blocks 7 to 12.

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The QAL is now up to Block 16. Thankfully there was a weeks grace in August, there having been 5 Mondays in the month, so I’ve been able to catch up.

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Block 16 of the Modern HST Sampler: Whirly-Gig designed by Keera of LIVE.LOVE.SEW Pattern Co.

My current big project has reached a natural break while I await the arrival of the border and backing fabrics. It’s been a relief to turn my attention to the two QALs I’m following. Here is my latest 2016 Sugar Club block (August’s block made on 3rd September!)

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Shenandoah designed by Amy Gibson 

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These are the cut offs from the snowball corners in the block – not quite sure why I saved them and stitched them together but I did…

Amy Gibson  usually issues the blocks to be made on the first day of the month. I’ve checked her blog page and her Facebook page but can find no updates for the September block.  I hope she is ok – the mother of 4 young children she is sure to have plenty of distractions and family issues to deal with.

At the start of the year I decided to follow three QALs. I’ve found the two mentioned above have not only fitted into my patchwork/life balance but have gained me new skills and proved a welcome break in the midst of bigger projects. The third, 2016 Finish-A-Long, just hasn’t clicked for me. I’ve found myself embarking on new projects (to fill shelf space in the pop up shop, projects for classes at Purple Stitches) rather than finishing UFOs, new opportunities that I hadn’t factored in to my plans at the start of the year have brought UFO completion to a standstill.

Participating (or not) in all three QALs has taught me a few things about what to look out for at the start of next year when all those enticing QAL posts appear across the bloggosphere and how best I can use QALs to enhance my enjoyment of patchwork and quilting:

  • First I have really benefited from the gentle pace of the HST Sampler and Sugar Block Club; a new block every 2-4 weeks allows for flexibility around current projects; I don’t feel pressured, even if I do drop behind, as finding time to catch up is possible;  for this reason daily or even weekly issuing of blocks wouldn’t suit me. In fact stopping off from big projects to make just one block has had an invigorating effect on me, so different from that sometimes suffocating, overwhelmed feeling induced by starting a new project before another is finished. Of course the danger is that at the end of the year I will have accumulated two more UFOs!
  • Second, I got myself organised at the start with the fabrics and blocks stored in their respective boxes; opening up the boxes and revisiting the fabrics gives me real pleasure and once the latest block is completed the blocks, fabric and even the scraps can be tidied into the box until next time rather than becoming another UFO without a home!
  • Third, being part of an on-line group is encouraging and informative; seeing the variations quilters make to the blocks, the variety of colour palettes used and the scrapes and triumphs shared all adds to the motivation to continue. On this point, I will in future pay more attention to which social media platforms are to be used to share and communicate before I commit to a QAL. Alyce’s Facebook group works for me along with her quarterly blog link ups, unfortunately I am far less engaged with Amy’s group as I don’t ‘do’ instagram and that is where the photo sharing and interactions occur.
  • Finally, planning ahead is good, setting goals is a good motivational tool but ‘life happens’ and it’s healthy to accept that what appeared to be an achievable goal i.e. finishing a UFO each month/quarter, has become a burden rather than a motivator and to adjust goals accordingly. Although the decision to stop shouldn’t be taken anymore lightly than pulling out of a night class, in fact I’m talking to myself now as I feel guilty that I have given no personal explanation to the organisers of the 2016 Finish-A-Long as to why I’ve dropped off the group…

I have to say I am in awe of those bloggers who organise QALs. The amount of time and commitment it must take to create a pattern, the instructions, schedule the posting of each block and answer comments and queries can not be underestimated🙂 Thank you! And that makes me wary of signing up to something and then falling away – it must be so disappointing to have created a QAL and then see participation melt away over the year – it most definitely should be a two way commitment.

I’m linking with Alyce and followers of the Modern HST Sampler QAL for the second quarter linky. Even if you are not taking part in the QAL do take a moment to look at the link and see just what a difference the chosen colours and fabric designs can make to the look of a quilt block – you may well find the inspiration you need for a quilt you are planning to make.

IMG_1850Finally, a little tip I picked up from Christine Porter: Pencil marks can be transferred by an iron onto the sole plate and from there onto the ironing board cover and other pieces of fabric. Switch to using a fine tipped permanent marker instead – I’ve adopted this tip when marking diagonal stitching lines for HSTs and quarter square triangles.

Allison

Posted in 2016 Finish-A-Long, Modern HST Sampler QAL, Quilt Alongs, Sugar Block Club 2016, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

The never ending middle of the journey

I haven’t embraced the idea of different aspects of life being classed as ‘journeys’. You know the sort of thing: ‘my journey to healthy living’ or ‘my weight-loss journey’or ‘my journey to the truth within’? BUT today there has been an insistent little voice in my head repeating over and over again, ‘Are we there yet?’ *SIGH* It has been a very long day putting this quilt top together, so many seams to align and pin. I’ve tried to lighten the mood with music and there have been quite a few cups of coffee on the go but the hopeful start of this quilt seems a very long time ago and the end destination, well that seems far off too, although there is a deadline to add a bit of urgency to the ‘journey’!

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In fact the journey has got to the stage where I’m wondering why I ever hit the road. I’m starting to doubt the combination of colours and prints. I think I’m so familiar with each fabric after all that cutting and piecing that I’m seeing the individual fabrics competing with each other rather than coming together in harmony. Incidentally the dominant fabrics are from the gorgeous Autumn Elegance by Sentimental Studios for Moda and Brenda Brackman’s Morris Earthly Paradise also for Moda.

I’m getting tired of this journey and the, ‘Are we there yet?’ repeats. I’ve taken the opportunity to get off the road and take an extended rest break while a decision is made about the colour of the border. It seems to need to be a medium/dark fabric picking out one or two of the colours in the blocks. I think whichever colour is chosen will determine how the quilt is seen – a red, green, gold or grey quilt.

Do you think it will be possible to pull this top together? Any ideas about the colour of the border gratefully received – a push to get me back on the road please!

It’s Tuesday, so later I’ll be updating my ‘Pins of the week‘ board on Pinterest. I’ve sorted out my boards too – separating out quilting tips from free motion quilting and walking foot quilting. I hope you will find some useful links on those boards🙂

Allison

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Seasonal work

Whew! What a scorcher!  And all that! Here in ‘central southern England’ (a geographical reference point often used by weather forecasters) we have been enjoying/suffering a run of hot, humid weather. Even so, there are a few indications that Summer is coming to a close and we are approaching a new season: Just a hint of Autumn colour on a few leaves at the tips of branches; the sound of Robins rehearsing their song; and the arrival of the ridiculous ‘Daddy-long-legs’ drifting through open windows and bumping into light bulbs!

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I found this leaf in my garden a couple of days ago – a little sign of Autumn on the way?

All of which makes me feel more in tune with the Autumnal hues of the fabrics I’m using in my current work in progress. It has been a bit hard to push through the piecing (hot weather and all) but I completed the 25 Ohio Stars earlier this week and yesterday, at a sewing day with friends, I pieced the 16 setting triangles and four corner triangles needed to complete the top🙂

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The first few blocks sewn together. The pile of star and nine patch blocks are all individually numbered in the hope I’ll put them together in the correct order! The small light coloured triangles of the setting triangles have their outer edges with the grain of the fabric.

This is the first time I’ve made pieced setting triangles. If I had followed the pattern instructions the little triangles running along the outside edges would have had biased edges. Experience tells me that having stretchy bias fabric along the edges of a quilt top is not good, with the likelihood that borders will not lie flat. So I improvised; the instructions were to make the little triangle pieces by cutting squares in half diagonally, instead I quartered slightly larger squares of fabric so the longer exposed edges of the triangles are the outside edges of the squares, running with the grain. Hopefully this will make adding the borders a little easier. Those borders are giving me food for thought, I guess they will be made from a medium to dark fabric but as yet I’m not sure of the colour…

Linking with Myra at Finished or not Friday.

Allison

Posted in Colour, Piecing tips, Works In Progress | Tagged , , , | 5 Comments