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. 🙂

 

Craft Swaps

I’m a member of crafting forum Craftster and have settled into the quilting community there.  It’s a cosy group with some really lovely, informed and helpful people!  Of course, it’s a general crafts forum so all kinds of people do all kinds of crafts, and craft swaps (both private and public) are very popular.  It’s a great way to exchange like-for-like or trade your skill in your craft for someone else’s skill in theirs – with the upside that you both get something beautiful and personal to enjoy.  🙂  I haven’t joined many craft swaps so far (I’m acutely conscious  of my time management and only want to commit to deadlines I’m sure I can manage without too much stress), but the ones I have joined have been great fun and have really enriched my crafting.

The Quilt Block Swap

The first quilt-related swap I joined was a Quilt Block Swap – swapping blocks with four other people, although the more ambitious quilters could choose to join several groups if they wished!  I only joined one group to start with, which meant making three blocks per partner for a total of 12 blocks made and sent out.  It’s a great way to “access” other peoples’ stashes and accrue a number of blocks that might be tedious to make en masse, but are quite bearable if everyone is only making three.  The swap has guidelines about block size so that the exchange is reasonably fair, although some flexibility is cheerfully accepted if all the swappers are on board with the concept, as I’ll show!

These are the blocks I made and sent out to my four partners, according to their specifications:

From top to bottom, we have Scrappy Trip Around the World and/or Ohio Star, Bright Hope blocks with a central feature fabric plus coordinates, Wonky Houses, and Words.  Yes, I totally made a swear word; the recipient made it clear that any and all words, including swears, were acceptable!  😉  The Words blocks were a bit unusual, but everyone really loved the idea so there were no issues with the person choosing them – in fact I think she almost had to beat us all off with a stick!  All the blocks were fun to make, although interestingly the Wonky Houses gave me the most pause – possibly due to some kind of “blank canvas” effect.  Once I got going with them though, I think they came out well – and are really going to make an amazing quilt when put with the rest of the “village”!  I also can’t wait to see the Words quilt come to life – the crafter making it is a complete dynamo when it comes to crafting, so I’m sure it won’t be too long.

In return, I asked for versions of my Origami Crane block:

cranes_2004_1

I specified that the background should be cream or off-white and the cranes themselves were “quilter’s choice” with oriental/asian-themed fabric if available, but no problem if not.  I have to say that my fellow crafters did not disappoint!  I love all the Cranes I received and how diverse they all are!  All of them are beautiful and well made, and I’m so looking forward to turning them all into a quilt (possibly with four more cranes made by Yours Truly).  In the photo above, you can already see my plan, which is to intersperse Flying Geese blocks between the Cranes to mix things up a bit – and having two birds on one quilt is a notion that rather tickles me!  😉  I need to re-do that example block though – sadly the fabric is a bit cheap and that solid pink has already faded unevenly.  🙁

The Hexie Swap

So how ’bout that EPP, eh?  It feels like it’s going through a bit of a revival recently, what with the apparent popularity of EPP patterns such as the Passacaglia (I adore that pattern, not sure I’m yet brave enough to try it myself!).  EPP is something I’ve so far watched curiously from the sidelines, thinking it might be fun to try but lacking a suitable impetus to give it a go.  When someone on Craftster mentioned the idea of swapping fabric squares or finished hexies, I decided it was high time to jump on the EPP bandwagon!  After all, what’s more appealing than the thought of chilling in the summer afternoon sunshine whipping up some traditional patchwork, favourite drink at elbow?  Of course, living in Britain means the sunshine ain’t all that reliable, but it’s still a nice idea!  Also, I have some vague plans for quilt designs that would revolve around EPP and this seemed like a good taster session to find out whether it really is something I would enjoy doing a lot of before I commit lots of resources and supplies to a larger, more complex project.

Because it ended up being quite a small group (eight of us in total), we decided to do a mass swap together, meaning that I have seven people to send squares or hexagons too.  Of course, it also means that I will receive squares or hexagons from seven people – I can’t wait to see what they have in store for me!  😀  For the sake of my sanity, I ended up creating a spreadsheet to keep track of each crafter and what they had requested, and I already have all the squares and templates cut:

hexies_3007_1

There we are, all ready to go!  In fact, one package is already in the post.  🙂

Having never really tried EPP previously, I thought I ought to have a bit of a practice to make sure I’d be ok with making them for other people, so I whipped up a quick half-dozen hexies in my chosen size (3/4″ sides) to put on a personal project:

snip

Yay!  These were fussy-cut from an Eclectic Elements model aeroplane blueprints print that I love so much I went back for more!  The project they’re on is one that I would like to try and work into a magazine pattern submission, now that I’ve made a prototype and identified the areas that need smoothing out a bit, so I’ll be keeping the rest of it under wraps for now.  😉  I will, however, post my progress with the swap hexies so I can show off all the fabrics I picked out.  🙂