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!  🙂

The Crystal Crown – February #TheHoneyPotBee Mod

After the very positive response my modification of the #SewRoyalBlock got on #TheHoneyPotBee Facebook group, I asked Molli about the idea of sharing the pattern for it and got an extremely supportive thumbs-up, so here it is – a foundation-pieced band of glittering jewels to adorn your crown.  Rainbows optional, but fabulous!

You will need:

  • The pdf of the pattern, found here
  • Molli Sparkles’ pattern for the #SewRoyalBlock, found here
  • Your usual sewing paraphernalia
  • Fabric for the “diamonds”
    • approx. 3″ x 2″ scraps work well for this; note that the central diamond is longer than the others!
  • Fabric for the background
    • a 5″ strip cut from a fat quarter should be more than enough
    • cut two 1″ x 4″ strips from your background fabric before you start foundation piecing
  • A rotary cutter, cutting mat and quilting ruler
  • Clover wonder clips or similar (optional, but they do make life SO much easier!)

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

Assembly

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 #SewRoyalBlock!

Cut out sections A-G and note the piecing order and layout as shown in the coloured diagram. Piece 1 in each section is the coloured diamond; all other pieces are the background fabric.

Piece the sections using your preferred foundation-piecing method, then join them in the order A>B>C>D>E>F>G. The clips are really helpful for holding sections together and flat as you join them. Do not remove the paper until the entire #SewRoyalBlock is completely assembled.

Take the two 1″ x 4″ rectangles of background fabric and join them to the short edges of your jewelled band as shown below. Use the ruler and rotary cutter to trim the strips level with the top and bottom of the band (see diagram).

Your finished band should measure 3″ high and 8-1/2″ long.

Now, get on over to Molli’s place and follow the instructions there to assemble your #SewRoyalBlock, using your jewelled band in place of the horizontal gold-and-purple band.

Stand back and admire your beautiful new crown!  🙂

The Honey Pot Bee – March Blocks

How did it become March so fast? Moreover, how did it get to be almost the middle of March so fast?! That’s just rude, that is.

Anyway, I managed to finish my March Honey Pot Bee blocks over the last couple of days, so I can show them off now. 🙂

First up is the Echo block by Amy Garro of 13 Spools.

These blocks went together so quickly and smoothly that I didn’t take any progress pics! Despite (or perhaps because of) its elegant simplicity, this block gave me a lot to ponder as I tried to fit it into my “scrappy, RSC17+contrast colour” theme for some of the Honey Pot Bee blocks. This month’s RSC17 colour is red, for which the contrast colour is green. Although I like Christmas colours, I wanted to avoid a very “Christmas” vibe for these blocks, which meant very careful selection of the green – tricky, since I love dark forest greens and consequently have a lot of them! Going completely scrappy was an option, but I liked the colour contrast between the two halves and wasn’t sure I had enough different red fabrics to pull off the look I wanted. I briefly considered making one half of each block green, but then decided that was less of a highlight and more of a direct competitor for the red. In the end, I decided to use two different reds in each block, and “tie” the blocks together by using the same greens in each. Even while making the blocks, I came up with still more ways I could have approached it. Part of me is still pondering whether I should try and make some of the other variations I considered! However, I’m pretty pleased with these ones, especially the way that solid red vibrates against the grey background, and they look pretty smart next to the other blocks in this “family”:

I think I did the right thing. 🙂

Next up is the As You Wish block by Alida of Tweety Loves Quilting. I had a LOT of fun with this one! I really like foundation (or paper) piecing and have really started to explore the possibilities of my own paper-pieced designs, so when I saw the Flying Geese as a “serving suggestion” in the original pattern, I couldn’t resist having a play with the idea and taking it a little further. I drew up an encircling string of Flying Geese in Inkscape, then tweaked them so that they gradually became Hearts that are either floating into or out of the envelope, depending on how you view it:

The blank space on the left looked rather bare, so I decided to embroider the words “With love…” on it in a pretty font – more on that below!

Although the Geese in the layout are all the same colour, I decided to do an ombre look in the real thing, running from blue through purple to red:

The Geese pieced really well despite having some quite dinky bits, and I was really pleased with how they framed the envelope block:

Being a bit of a Doctor Who fan, I couldn’t resist making the envelope Tardis Blue and lined with stars. I don’t think that’s the Doctor’s handwriting, though… 🙁

The embroidery took the longest, partly because of decisions I made. I chose a font that was not very complex, but also wasn’t a very thin line, so it had to be filled in somehow:

I used a red Frixon pen to trace the font onto my background fabric, then set it up in a plastic clip frame:

Not sure how much I like this frame, it was quite difficult to get much tension on the fabric without the clips coming undone. I don’t think I’d want to use it for Srs Embroidery.

My next poor decision was to use pink-and-purple variegated rayon to do the letters in satin stitch. The thread colour doesn’t go well with any of the other block colours and embroidering with the rayon proved quite a fiddle! If I did this block over, this is the bit I would do very differently. However, I didn’t have much of the background fabric left so I persevered with it, and the final block is not too bad, even if it’s not what I would choose with hindsight!

And you’re going to laugh at me now, but I didn’t know Frixion pens erased with the heat of an iron! I’d only chosen them because of the fine line they draw:

My careful marks to indicate the corners of the embroidered area vanished along with the creases I was trying to get rid of after I unframed the fabric – whoops! Instead I had to use a quilting ruler to get the text reasonably central when I trimmed it down. This block was a real learning experience in so many ways. Overall though, when it sits with its Bee mates, I think it looks pretty good.  🙂

I still don’t quite know what the destination is, but GOLLY I am enjoying the journey!  🙂

Jars and a Crown

Yup, more Honey Pot Bee blocks!  I shook off some work yesterday and spent the afternoon happily making Quilter’s Pantry blocks to, imo, good effect:

This is the one I’m keeping – I couldn’t resist pairing up these two novelty fabrics like this!  Here it is next to the Strawb:

Not totally sure where this is going, but if nothing else, I’ll end up with a number of blocks that I can use in smaller projects if I like and I’ll have had fun making things I might not have otherwise.  That’s a win in my book.  🙂

The jars were so much fun to make, in fact, that I decided to make more and put them together into two little tops for Project Linus:

They’re intended for premie babies and babies in ICU, so they really don’t want to be too big.  Now, however, I am trying very hard to shake off a mental image of a larger baby quilt with lots of different shapes and sizes of jars to play “eye spy” with.  And I totally don’t have enough novelty-type fabric for that.  *sits firmly on hands*

While I was playing with my jars, Molli smacked us all with another Wild Card block – the rather glorious Sew Royal block – because what’s a bee hive without a Queen (or several!) and what’s a Queen (or King) without a crown?  A challenge was also issued – take this crown and make it your own.  Challenge accepted, my friend!

I woke up Inkscape and marked out a rectangle for the band of the crown, thinking that some foundation piecing and diamond shapes were in order.  After some fiddling, I ended up with a band of off-set diamond or kite shapes I was happy with:

Once I had the foundation-piecing sections marked up, I printed them out and got piecing.  I used two diamond prints from Jennifer Sampou’s Shimmer 2 for the points of the crown, and a third dotty Shimmer 2 print for the band because I didn’t want a directional print in all that foundation piecing!  I think this crown may end up going with my RSC17 blocks, so I used Kona Graphite for the background:

The scraps of colour were just that – scraps I dug out of my recently sorted baskets and arranged in colour order to make sure they flowed well before I pieced the sections.  I still rethought my red and purple choices during assembly, though.

In general, I think it came out ok.  There was one lil hiccup, but I saved it and I don’t think it’s obvious to the casual observer so I’m certainly not going to point out what it was.  You get an Internet Cookie if you guess, though.  😉  (Or possibly a Welsh cake, since I made a bunch of them yesterday.)

See my side-bar for link-up buttons!  🙂

This Is My Proud Face

…and also my Tragedy face and my Comedy face:

Here’s the original design for comparison:

So, that worked then!

Well. Crap.

I’m not going to claim there were no hiccups along the way, the seam ripper saw action more than once, but on the whole I was pleased by how well this design went together.  It was probably rather overkill, but it was also massively educational and will give me loads more confidence to tackle the creation of the other foundation-pieced designs I have in mind to do.  It’s now all basted up and ready for me to start quilting on once I’ve shovelled a bit of work out of the way first.  Yay!

Craftster Mini Quilt Swap

Work is trying to bury me under the Christmas backlog, it’s tax return month and I just lost a favourite pet, so of course it must also be time for me to do a craft swap.  In fairness though, I signed up for this one before life went a bit nuts.  Just one of those things you can’t predict.  To add to the fun, I have elected to do a massively complicated self-designed quilt layout – again, a decision I made before things went a bit sideways in my non-quilty life.  However, it’s been a good distraction and I adore a challenge, so for the past couple of weeks I have been chasing polygons around in ever-decreasing circles.  Also, diamonds?  They are SO not a girl’s best friend!

My partner in the swap specified red, black, white, grey and silver as favourite colours, and the theatre and travel as interests.  I’ve always quite liked the duality of the tragedy and comedy masks, so I did a Google image search and looked at loads of images to get some inspiration.

Comedy and Tragedy by Martha Bennett

This one in particular, which featured diamond patterns in red and black on the masks, really caught my eye and set my mind whirling.  I didn’t want to copy the image exactly, but I liked the notion of diamonds and red/black and fragmentation so much that I decided to play with it more, and came up (after a few variations) with the image below.

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Did I mention recently that I love Inkscape?  I really love Inkscape!  Hooray for open-source vector jiggery-pokery!

Drawing the basic image, however, proved to be the easy bit.  The swap organiser has firmly stated Views on the subject of applique, so this is going to have to be foundation pieced, and I’m aiming for it to finish at about 16-1/2″ square.  It will be by far the most complicated foundation piecing I have yet done, and orders of magnitude more complicated in design than my Origami Cranes.  Even with my slowly improving skill at getting Inky’s snapping features to do my bidding, it took me quite a lot of fiddling, experimentation and pondering to sort out a workable-looking “map” of component parts for the comedy side, and yet more time to do the same for the tragedy side because of the very awkward blend of mirror and rotational symmetry, except not quite.  The diamonds proved to be really quite awkward to piece around in a reasonably non-destructive way, but I’m pretty much there now and part of my shopping trip last Saturday was to Calico Kate in Lampeter so that I could pick up some nice fabric for the quilt – because of the fiddly nature of the pieces, I wanted to make sure I had fabrics that would “read” clearly (and enough of them!).

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The red, the black and the silver/grey dotty ripples are new, the other bits are scraps of RK’s Shimmer 2, Michael Miller’s Fairy Frost and a speckly white/silver/light grey effort that I can’t recall the name or make of, which I had kicking around in my newly sorted scrap bins and wanted to also include in the background.  This is a pretty good representation of the actual colours, unlike subsequent pics, which were taken under the rather yellow lights in my craft room!  As a useful exercise, I wrote out comprehensive piecing instructions and diagrams to help with assembly.

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Tentatively, I started assembling the first section, and was gratified to find it behaving itself.

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I’m loving this squiggly red print!  Really striking against the shimmering background.

Right from the get-go, I decided to trim all seams within each section to 1/8″, rather than the more usual 1/4″, which has helped a lot to manage seam bulk already.  Given this is an art/mini/wall quilt, and I’ll be quilting it fairly well, I decided I could get away with a smaller seam allowance here.  Completed sections are joined with a 1/4″ seam pressed open:

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Another thing that has proved extremely useful for joining completed areas is mini binding clips.  I bought some recently because they looked so jolly handy for all sorts of things (and they were on offer on Craftsy!), and decided to use them here instead of pins to avoid rippling up these fairly small and heavily pieced bits.  It works a lot better!

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The top section was joined using pins, the bottom section was joined (mainly) using the binding clips – there’s a definite difference in accuracy!  I’m thrilled that this looks to be working so well, and I hope to crack on and do the rest in fairly short order so that I can get to the quilting.  🙂

Origami Crane Pattern and Tutorial

At long last I’ve managed to do a tutorial for my Origami Crane block (finishes at 12″).  I’m planning to request it as my block in an online quilt block swap, so it seemed only fair to provide some instructions to go with!  If you’re confident with foundation piecing, you can download the pattern here: Origami_Crane_pattern and get started (print the pattern with no scaling!), or see below for how I pieced this block.

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Preparation

Basic sewing and rotary cutter skills will be useful.

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You will need:

  • the pattern – printed with NO scaling!
  • three different fabrics (background fabric, fabric 1, fabric 2)
  • fabric scissors
  • paper scissors
  • a rotary cutter
  • a cutting mat
  • a quilting ruler with a 1/4″ mark
  • pins
  • neutral-coloured thread for piecing
  • a seam ripper (hopefully not necessary, but just in case!)
  • a sewing machine
  • iron and ironing board (steam setting OFF!)

The pattern is intended to print on A4 paper without scaling, though I have tried to ensure that it will print ok on US Letter paper.  There are six pages – five with different parts of the block and one with an overall joining scheme.  Each block part also has a list of fabrics that correspond to the labelled areas on the block part.

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On each block piece page, there is also a grey 1″ square for checking the scale – if this square is not 1″, the block will not be the right size!  I recommend printing just one part to begin with and checking the size of the grey square to make sure your printer settings are correct before wasting paper printing out all the pieces at the wrong scale!

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Once all the pages are printed, cut out each part carefully around the outermost lines and make sure to keep the piecing lists:

The outer line is the seam allowance for joining the block parts – don’t cut it off!

Lastly, make sure you have shortened the stitch length on your sewing machine.  About 1.5mm works well.

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Assembly

Here’s how I pieced part A – the other parts are all pieced in much the same way.

Important!  When cutting out fabric pieces, always make sure that the fabric is right-side facing down and the foundation paper is printed side facing up.  This will ensure that the fabric always ends up the right way round and less fabric is wasted due to miss-cuts.

In my example, I have chosen a cream music-score print as the background fabric, a big floral print as fabric 1 (the main parts of the crane) and a solid pink as fabric 2 (the smaller detail parts of the crane).

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The first piece (A1) of part A is background fabric.  I folded the paper along the stitch lines so that I could get a good idea of the shape of the piece, then cut out a piece of background fabric with a very generous seam allowance.  It’s a good idea to secure the first piece of fabric to the paper with a few pins to stop it wandering off where it shouldn’t.

I then repeated the process to cut out A2 (here, A2 is cut from fabric 2).

When held up to the light, you can see that the fabric comfortably covers area A2 with plenty of seam allowance.

Next comes the clever bit!  I stumbled across this trick on the internet, but can’t remember where, I will add a link if I find it again.  This is an easy way to join the two bits of fabric and make sure that they cover the right areas.  It seems fiddly initially, but it works brilliantly and soon becomes second nature.

First, make sure both pieces are covering their respective areas, then pin along the stitch line between the two areas, like so:

When the piece is flipped over, the pins create an anchor point for where the seam will be.  You can check whether the seam allowance is large enough, and trim it back a little if it’s very large.  (I recommend caution with trimming, though – if something goes wrong then that extra fabric might be useful for re-alignment.)

Next, fold down and pin the main flap of the second piece (A2 here) so that the fold runs snugly along the stitch-line pins, like so:

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Try not to distort the fabric, and make sure that the pin(s) does not catch any of the seam allowance underneath.  Flip back to the paper side and remove the pins along the stitch line.  This will allow the seam allowance of A2 to be unfolded:

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The fold in the fabric should line up nicely with the stitch line.  If it does, sew along the stitch line between A1 and A2:

Fold A2 back along the stitched line to make sure that it is still correctly covering the whole area:

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If all is well, the seam allowance can be trimmed to 1/4″ (with a rotary cutter – the scissors are just attention seekers!), set and pressed:

Repeat the process for A3 (fabric 3 here):

The last piece of part A is A4, another background piece, attached in the same way as before:

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Once the whole part is pieced, it can be trimmed to size along the outer edges by using a ruler and rotary cutter (there is no need to add an “extra” 1/4″ allowance, it is already included):

If you have cut out the paper parts carefully, the risk of cutting paper with the rotary cutter blade should be minimal – the 1/4″ seam allowance should line up with the 1/4″ mark of the ruler.

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Part A is finished!

Assemble parts B-E in the same way. and join them as described in the pattern.  Note that the seam for D6 can be trimmed to 1/8″ if necessary.

Joining the parts

For larger areas of fabric (particularly the background), it is helpful to pin it in place to the paper to stop it wriggling and wrinkling during the final assembly.

Part A is joined to part B:

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Use pins to line up the two parts so that the points match:

I put a pin straight through the all points I want to match and then use more pins to secure the two pieces together, then sew along the seam line:

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Then open it up and check that the points match!

Hooray!  🙂

At this point, I removed the paper that covers the seam allowance between the two parts (this saves a lot of hassle later!), making sure not to stretch the surrounding fabric too much, and press this seam open to reduce bulk:

Part C attaches to part D like so:

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Part E attaches to the top of CD:

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Last of all, AB is attached to CDE to make the finished block:

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If all has gone well, no unpicking will have been necessary and the block will be 12.5″ square (12″ finished):

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If the blocks aren’t going to be used for a while, it’s probably worth leaving the paper attached for support; it can be carefully removed if the blocks are to be used straightaway.  Be gentle when handling the blocks and removing the paper; due to the nature of foundation piecing, the fabric grains will be pointing in various directions and it will be very stretchy and easy to distort as a result!

Ooops…

Things don’t always go to plan:

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I wasn’t concentrating and attached a new piece before I’d pressed the previous one!  That seam ripper came in handy; luckily I could get away with a partial unpicking to release the pink triangle so it could be pressed properly.

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So don’t do that!  🙂

Over to you

I hope this tutorial is interesting and helpful.  If you make something with this block, please link back to me and show me what you’ve made, I would love to see it.  🙂  If you have any feedback or comments, I would also love to hear them – please let me know if there’s something that I’ve missed or if something isn’t clear!

Linking up with Monday Making, Sew Cute Tuesday and Let’s Bee Social when it goes live.

Craft Swap!

A friend from an online game and I decided to do a craft swap before Christmas.  She’s a very clever beader and made me three truly fabulous bracelets.

In return, I am making her a wall hanging using my Paper Crane pattern.  I hope she likes it!

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I re-sized the pattern from the original 12″ finished block down to 8″ finished, which was more manageable (and meant I could fit more of the pieces onto one page of printer paper).  Then I picked out my fabrics and set to!  After some humming and hawing, I ended up with four pairs of fabrics I liked, and decided to make four cranes.  The set-in triangles are fabric I originally bought to make box bags with, but the slightly oriental feel and the colours went so well that I couldn’t resist using it for this project!

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Then a house move/Christmas/New Year/work happened and I didn’t manage to make much more progress until the last couple of weeks, when this project has leapt forward again.

Craft goes in craft place; unfortunately, so did everything else...
Craft goes in craft place; unfortunately, so did everything else…

I’m now busy quilting it and hope to be able to send it off to its new home in Kentucky very soon!  🙂

Linking up with Monday Making!

Origami Crane Cushion

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And here’s my finished Origami Crane cushion.  I’m really pleased with it.  It’s actually been finished for a lil while, but the weather’s been too foul (and I’ve been too busy) to take any decent pictures until today.  🙂

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The back is another envelope arrangement, with some nice wooden buttons I found at a local haberdashery shop.  It now lives on my bed and is great when I want to sit up and read a book.  🙂  Hooray for finished things!

Linking up with Monday Making, Can I Get A Whoop Whoop? and TGIFF (when they go live).  🙂

Foundation-Pieced Crane – Quilted!

Here’s what happened to the foundation-pieced crane I showed off in the last post:

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I rootled around in my stash and discovered some more postcard-themed fabric, which I used to set the crane on point, then gave it a border with some textured chocolate-coloured fabric to bring it up to a better size for a cushion.

For the actual quilting, I started by quilting in the ditch for all seams, then elected to try matchstick quilting for the first time, by following one edge of each polygon shape of the cream background fabric:

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I love-love-love how it looks and feels (as a chemist, it reminds me of crystal grain boundaries!), and it gives the crane some definition and dimensionality that it was lacking before quilting.  🙂

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I didn’t want to clutter the busy postcard fabric on the corners, so I ended up using some neutral grey thread to quilt around the postcard edges and stamps.  I’m very pleased with this – it gives a nice feel and look without weighing down the design or competing with the matchsticks in the centre.  Even if it did mean I had zillions of ends to bury on each corner!

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And here it is all together:

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Currently I’m auditioning fabric for the back of the cushion; I’m an idiot, so I don’t have quite enough of the blue and white postcard fabrics left to do an envelope back with them.  Something fairly neutral is called for, I think!  And I need to hunt down some nice buttons, too.  🙂

Linking up with Let’s Bee Social and WIP Wednesday.  🙂