In Under The Wire

June and July have been rubbish for crafting; for some reason, they often are for me. But since I already let June slide by without a single post, I couldn’t let the same happen to July! I’ve managed tosneak in a bit of sewing here and there, and I have a few things I’m excited to work on or be working on, so here they are. 🙂

Honey Pot Bee Blocks

In some ways, you could say that this has been a “distraction” from finishing other projects, but on the other hand it’s actually been one of the few reasons I’ve had recently to slope off to the craft room for a bit of quiet sewing that I’m not sure I would have managed otherwise, so on balance I don’t think this was a bad project to join up with! I’m not yet caught up with all the blocks, but I have made progress with several of them.

One of May’s blocks was the Feather-Leaf block by Julie of Intrepid Thread. Initially I decided to modify my version by piecing my strips slightly wonkily on a foundation of interfacing, and used scraps of the Kona Graphite background to make the leaf edges look jagged:

They’re…. ok? I liked the effect in general, but for me they didn’t sit as well with the other blocks as they might, so last week I whipped up a more “vanilla” version but gave myself permission to use some “virgin” FQs to make them. After all, if I didn’t have scraps in the colours I wanted, it was clearly time to create some!

Much better! These are a bit more zingy and modern in feel. Not sure if I’ll use all four yet, but at least I have the option.

June’s blocks were the Economy Square by Alyce of Blossom Heart Quilts and the Urban Woven block by Mimi of Sew Says Mimi. The Economy Squares are super-easy to snap together and highly addictive! I bobbed together nine in no time at all to make the centre of a top for a Project Linus quilt:

I’m not completely sure about that autumn leaf/”cornflakes” fabric choice, but it’s done now and it certainly won’t show any baby puke! 😉 It was a really nice way to showcase this scrap of Forest Animals fabric that I had knocking around for exactly this kind of project, and I will be making some more for my Honey Pot Bee quilt(s). I’ve already fussy-cut a bunch of centre squares, now I’m auditioning borders:

The Urban Woven block gave me some hesitation, partly because of how I wanted to interpret it, but when I finally transcribed the instructions onto a piece of paper, took it into the craft room and got to cutting and piecing, it went together really nicely:

July’s finished blocks are the Blended Scraps block by Leanne of She Can Quilt and the bonus Mushroom block from Stitching Notes.

After an initial, “Meep I don’t have enough colours!” moment, it turned out that really I totally did have enough colours and this was a very enjoyable block to make, and very effective.

The Mushroom block was proposed as a possible alternative block back in May and I had five printed out and on my list of Do Wants already, so when Molli posted a Magic Mushroom Giveaway chance, I whipped one into shape:

These things are loads of fun to make, the other four should follow along soon. 🙂

The “RSC17” blocks are starting to look pretty good as a group, though it’s going to be one heck of a quilt in size!

My floor isn’t big enough…

I still have a couple of book blocks and a stack of mini log cabins (and maybe the bonus trees from back when the Bee was announced) to make, but I’m pretty pleased with Operation Catch-Up. 🙂

French Knot Folly

Inspired by a swap on Craftster (which thankfully I didn’t join, or I’m sure I would have disappointed my partner), I started a rather epic embroidery project of French knots on a silk ground (lined with cotton for better stitching and sturdiness):

I’m using a sit-on hoop that I might like a lot better if I replace the hinge hardware with something half-decent. As it is, it’s quite hard to tighten it enough to really stop the hoop drooping when stitching at the furthest points. And zillions of French knots are slow going! But it’s a nice project to have next to my chair in the sitting room because it doesn’t require loads of thought – just grab some variety of blue embroidery thread (so far we have cotton floss, silk perle, cotton perle, rayon and metallic threads) and get knotted! The beads have added a glitter and sparkle that I’m really enjoying and I also have more buttons and shells to add to break up the area. The tide’s coming in – slowly!

Hexie Swap #2

A Craftster swap that I did decide to join was the second Hexie Swap, to add to my stash of 3/4″ hexies for the Infinite Hexie Map project (infinite because it might be infinity before I finish it!) This time I sent hexies to six people and have so far received hexies from two partners. These are the groups I sent out:

And these are the ones I’ve received so far:

They chose some great fabrics, although I realised I would need to re-make the hexies in the left-hand photo because they came up a whisker under 3/4″ and at that size a difference is really quite obvious and irreconcilable. Such things are always a risk when swapping with other people, but one I accept. They’re already unpicked and pressed and I have plenty of spare templates! Speaking of, here is the mini-mountain of finished hexies so far:

It’s been a lil while since I counted, but I think there are well over 400 hexies there already! Many have been made by swap partners, but quite a lot are ones I’ve sewn from my scraps. It’d be great to reach 800 or even 1000! My hexie-stitching kit is well stocked so I’ve no excuse:

I’m going to need to print and cut more templates soon, though!

Something Old

Oooo look! Progress on an old (very old!) WIP! I was having something of an off-day where I wanted to do something but didn’t want it to be anything terribly complicated or fussy, so I made myself trim down all the shockingly badly cut batik charm squares I bought to extend this Disappearing Nine-Patch:

Pro tip – 4.75″ is a terrible size of square to use in a D9P quilt! But I’d started so I figured I’d try and finish, so a load of trimming and half-a-dozen new D9P blocks later and I have this:

I like it rather better now it’s bigger. It still needs some borders to frame it and make it a bit more sensible still, but now I feel like there’s hope for it. What it probably needs next is a really narrow dark border that will pull it together and also allow me to “fix” any size weirdness caused by the initial use of 4.75″ squares. I already have several batik samples and bits in a similar colour palette, so a border of some kind should not be too hard to create. Flying Geese, maybe?

ArtLanka Elephants

Staying on the subject of batiks and borders, I had a very lucky find at the local car boot sale at Clarach not long ago. It was 99.999% total tat, but during my brisk cruise around the rather tired offerings, my eye snagged on something that looked a little more promising and a little more fabric-y. Some examination revealed two batik panels in similar colours and both with elephants as the central feature. At £3 for the pair, I genuinely couldn’t leave them there! Other than a cup of tea and a bacon sarnie, they were the only things I bought.

They even still have the artist’s information and serial numbers stapled to them:

Currently I’m thinking that the tall narrow one could become a wall hanging and the more square one might make a great bed or throw quilt. Hmmm, matching decor, too twee? I suppose I’ll find out! If I manage to organise myself a trip to the Festival of Quilts next month, I’ll be taking these two along with me and hunting for suitable batiks to make borders for them both. The loose plan currently is to base border designs on the batik designs present in the panel, if I can figure out how to implement them nicely.

So, that’s about where I’m up to. It actually seems like quite a lot, it just doesn’t feel like I’ve made much recently! Perhaps I will have to sneak in another crafting holiday if/when work permits. 🙂

 

With Love… – March #TheHoneyPotBee Mod

Here is my block mod for #TheHoneyPotBee #AsYouWishBlock by Alida of Tweety Loves Quilting. It was inspired by Alida’s own suggestion for a border for the envelope block – I saw those lovely Flying Geese and my mind started flying too!  I’ve often wanted to play with “wonky” Flying Geese because so many of the designs with them are so striking, and I wanted to show that this was a letter with love in it, so I tweaked my Geese to slowly evolve into hearts.

You will need:

  • A completed #AsYouWishBlock, made with Alida’s pattern found here
  • The Flying Hearts pdf pattern, found here
  • Your usual sewing paraphernalia
  • Fabric for the Flying Hearts (scraps work well for these)
  • Fabric for the background
    • Cut a rectangle 4-1/2″ x 5-1/4″ from your background fabric before you start
  • A rotary cutter, cutting mat and quilting ruler
  • Clover wonder clips or similar (optional, but they do make life SO much easier!)
  • Embroidery thread and needle (optional)

All seam allowances are 1/4″ unless otherwise noted. Familiarity with the foundation-piecing technique is assumed.

Piecing

First, download the pdf of the paper pattern and print it out. Seam allowances are already included in the pattern and do not need to be added.

IMPORTANT!  Make sure that you print the pattern in landscape format with no scaling or at 100%, and use the 1″ square to make sure that the block has printed at the right size, or it will not fit the #AsYouWishBlock!

Cut out sections A-G, and note the layout and piecing as shown in the coloured image and described below.

  • Section A – A1, A5, A8, A11, A14, A17 and A20 are Geese, all other pieces are background.
  • Section B – B1 and B3 are the Arrow, all other pieces are background.
  • Section C – C1 and C4 are the Arrow, all other pieces are background.
  • Section D – D1 and D5 are the Heart, all other pieces are background.
  • Section E – E1 and E5 are the Heart, all other pieces are background.
  • Section F – F1 and F5 are the Heart, all other pieces are background.
  • Section G – G1 and G5 are the Heart, all other pieces are background.

TIP! You may have noticed that this mod has some pretty small pieces in some of the sections. Don’t panic! Make sure you cut a bit of fabric that will cover that piece and that is generous enough for you to handle comfortably. After all, it will be trimmed to size during piecing and you may even be able to use the offcuts for another area! 🙂

Piece all sections using your preferred foundation-piecing method. Join D>C, then DC>B, then DCB>A. Join E>F>G. You should now have two rectangles ABCD (4-1/2″ x 14-1/2″) and EFG (4-1/2″ x 5-3/4″). Do not remove the paper until the entire #AsYouWishBlock has been fully assembled.

Embroidery (Optional)

If you would like to embroider something on the top-left rectangle, do so before assembling your block. A blank “template” rectangle is given in the pattern pdf for you to draw and/or write on… as you wish! You can then use your preferred fabric-marking method to transfer your design onto the 4-12″ x 5-1/4″ rectangle of background fabric (I used a window as a “light-box” and traced my letters with a fine pen), then embroider it with the thread and stitches of your choice. If you need a lil inspiration, I highly recommend checking out Mary Corbett’s Embroidered Letters lessons. She also has a wonderful array of different stitch tutorials if you want to try something new. 🙂

Block Assembly

Join the 4-1/2″ x 5-1/4″ rectangle of background fabric (with or without embroidery) to section EFG.

Join this to the top of the #AsYouWishBlock.

Join section ABCD to the right-hand side of the #AsYouWishBlock to complete the Flying Hearts design.

Enjoy your letter, sent with love!  🙂

Pantone Challenge 2017 – Something Greenery for St. Patrick’s Day?

Remember that fashion for lime-green a while back? That stuff was EVERYwhere! Now that trends have moved on, it’s pretty common to find unloved lime-green apparel on the racks of many a charity shop round about. Some of it is really nice quality linen, and I have been diligently collecting such items whenever I have encountered them for… hmm, several years now!

Some of my pre-loved pieces are more lime-green than others! (Terrible photography notwithstanding – stupid rainy Welsh weather, spoiling the light…)

Charity shops are great places to “mine” for interesting specialty or luxury fabrics if you don’t mind doing a bit of rummaging and can adopt a “work with what you can find” attitude to the process. Originally I started collecting old ties and other 100% silk items from charity shops and have amassed quite a collection of gorgeously coloured and patterned silks that I would have struggled to assemble from “regular” fabric shops. Some of my silk ties were recently showcased in a EPP hexagons project with a bit of a difference.

Something else you may find in charity shops is hand-embroidered linens, and here began my linen-hunting journey. During a routine tie-hunting mission in the Tenovus shop in Haverfordwest several years ago, the lady behind the counter drew my attention to a set of circular table mats in several different sizes – six small, six middling and one large, just right for a very decorous tea party – with an attractive pink-and-purple pansy-ish design.

“They’re clearly machine-done,” she sniffed, “but you could take the lot for £10.”

I looked a lil closer.  They were not machine-embroidered.  The back of machine embroidery doesn’t look like that!  Not to mention, the Mystery Embroiderer who made these mats has missed little areas – the curve of a pansy petal left not quite finished, the curious absence of clusters of French knots.

Did she miss these bits by accident?  Run out of floss or time?  Get bored and just want finished?  We’ll likely never know!

Given the cracking deal I was getting on all the ties I’d found in the shop, I figured that a tenner for the mats wasn’t bad going and so they came home with me. I’m not a huge collector of embroidered pieces but these were rather appealing. But what to do with them? The obvious idea, given my growing interest in patchwork and quilting, was to use them as appliqued elements in a quilt, but the linen ground fabric looked “wrong” on the quilting-weight cottons I sat them on and the local fabric shop’s linen offerings weren’t much better, being quite a coarser weave and in not terribly attractive colours. Back to the charity shops, then! The linen used in clothes is usually a fairly fine, nice quality and I decided it would be quite fitting to applique my charity-shop embroidered mats to charity-shop linen patchwork.

One smaller mat lived permanently folded up in my handbag so that I could pull it out and “sit” it on any potential candidates and gradually my collection of green linen grew. I did once try buying a couple of things from Ebay, but the colour matching was horrible and something advertised as 100% linen proved to be a linen/viscose mix – not what I wanted at all!

To date, this has been a real back-burner project, rumbling on gradually as I’ve slowly collected resources for it. The clothes have been washed as I collected them (some of them more than once after an Unfortunate Coffee Incident…), but not taken apart because I was afraid of it all shredding before I could do anything sensible with it – piecing the body of the top is definitely an “in one fell swoop” task, I feel.

It’s being poked forward into the light now thanks to the 2017 Pantone Color of the Year Challenge, run by Sarah of No Hats In The House and Rebecca of Bryan House Quilts. What could be more suitable for Greenery than a quilt made of recycled green linen? At the very least, it’s made me dig out the supplies and examine them and I believe I have enough to make a nice throw quilt at the least. No guarantees on whether it’s likely to get finished by the Challenge deadline – I’m definitely no Cindy Needham or Kelly Cline! But it’s a really good excuse to make a start on this project at long last. 🙂