Monday, 26 October 2015

Mini rainbow New York Beauty quilt - 2nd entry in Bloggers' Quilt Festival

My second entry for this autumn's Bloggers' Quilt Festival is my variation on a New York Beauty mini quilt. I am entering it into the "Mini Quilt" category. To be honest, 2015 has been the year of the mini quilt so it seems appropriate to be entering a quilt in this category.

I made this mini quilt for the Sew My Stash mini quilt swap that finished earlier this month. My initial plan was a rainbow New York Beauty variation made of 9 blocks arranged diagonally across the quilt.

My initial sketch

After making a test block, I realised I didn't have enough rainbow coloured fabrics to do my vision justice, so I decided on an alternative arrangement of 4 blocks with a little more variety in the pieced arcs. At this point I was considering a pieced background of various black-on-white and white-on-black prints.

My initial fabric pull and updated plan

By the time I started piecing I had decided to use plainer black and white background fabrics to let the rainbow scraps really stand out. Here are the first four arcs pieced on foundation papers.

First four arcs pieced

 I added a bit more complexity with another 2 pieced arcs...

All components pieced and ready to sew together

Once the top was finished, I stopped for a couple of days to consider my options. My original plan had been to quilt the white background areas in white and the black areas in black. However, I had recently finished another mini quilt where I had used matching threads for complex quilting, and had been a bit disappointed that all the quilting was pretty much invisible on the front of the quilt. So, I bit the bullet and went for grey thread that would show up on both black and white background fabrics. It was a bit nerve wracking and a bit exhilarating, but I'm glad that I went for it. I stitched in the ditch around the points, and then free motion quilted in concentric circles using my domestic sewing machine.

A little bit nerve wracking and a little bit exhilarating!

I used the same black fabric for the binding and then sent it off to its new owner in Canada.

the finished quilt

And here's the mini quilt that came to live with me. I love it! Bright colours and plenty of kitties - what's not to love?!

Saturday, 24 October 2015

Coronet - my blogger's quilt festival entry

My first entry for this autumn's Bloggers' Quilt Festival is my original mini quilt "Coronet". I am entering it into the "Quilting on a Domestic Machine" category.

finished mini quilt

It all started when I visited the dentist and noticed the brickwork above the front door of the surgery. Some of the bricks were shaped like pyramids and I noticed how it would be possible to create the illusion of 3D pyramids by using 1/4 square triangles in graduated shades of colour.

The idea languished in my sketch book for a while, until I was trying to decide on something to make as a secret sewer gift for a retreat I was about to attend. Using some ombre fabrics from my stash I made a selection of pyramid blocks, and then auditioned various background fabrics.

auditioning the blocks on dark grey fabric
In the end, I chose a fabric with a beautiful silvery sheen for the background, and arranged the blocks in a rainbow ordered circle, being careful to orientate the pyramid blocks to look as though light is coming from above.

the quilt top

Then came the quilting. I used two layers of Warm and Natural cotton wadding to make the quilting really stand out, and used a walking foot to quilt a few concentric circles, and to outline the pyramid blocks. After that, I switched to a darning foot and added a different free-motion quilting pattern within each circle leaving the pyramids unquilted.

free motion quilting in progress
 I think my favourite part of the quilting is the circle that looks a little like a mandala.

I finished the binding minutes before gifting the quilt to my secret sewer partner. There's nothing like working to a deadline, is there?

done, with minutes to spare - phew!

Tuesday, 13 October 2015

Kaffe Fassett Mini Quilt Swap

I've been a fan of Kaffe Fassett's colour sensibility for a very long time. I used to look at his colourful knitting designs for Rowan and wish that I (or my mum) had the patience (and in my case, skill) to make a jumper or cardigan. When he started to design quilting fabrics, I would lust over them in quilt shops and imagine ways to use them. So I was delighted when a Kaffe Fassett Mini Quilt Swap was announced on Instagram.

My partner didn't list any specific likes or dislikes on her sign-up form, so I had free reign to create. I started with choosing a selection of fabrics in rich blues and purples, offset with bright lime green.

Fabrics from the Kaffe Fassett Collective in blues, purples and lime green

I designed a quilt based on an adaptation of a half pineapple block. My partner did say that she would prefer a small mini (!) so I drew up 6" foundation piecing papers for the blocks and started to sew. The quilt needed just four blocks, so it didn't take too long, but it did create quite a bit of mess in my sewing room.

Foundation piecing the blocks

I added sashing and cornerstones to finish the 15 inch square quilt top.

The quilt top ready for quilting

I decided to use quilting threads that would not fight too much with the beautiful Kaffe Fassett fabrics, so picked out a Sulky variegated thread in lime green, and a gorgeous Wonderfil Tutti thread in a ranges of blues and purples. I had not sewn with Wonderfil before, but I think I'm a convert. My machine liked it, it stitched beautifully and it left very little lint. I stitched in the ditch around all the lime green squares and triangles, before adding little free-motion flower motifs in lime green thread. After that, I switched to the purple/blue thread and stitched long spindly curls which remind me a little of water lilies or chrysanthemums.

Detail of quilting in progress

I chose a green shot cotton for the back of this quilt, and I couldn't be more pleased with how the quilting looks from the back. It feels great to have gained enough confidence to use contrasting threads.

The finished quilting from the back of the quilt

After quilting, I completed the quilt with another shot cotton - this time purple for the binding. I had been worried that the busy Kaffe Fassett prints might detract from the overall quilt design, but I think using similarly coloured fabrics makes this hang together pretty well.

The finished quilt

And here's the quilt that came to live with me - made by Kari in Pennsylvania. On my sign up form, I had said that I love aqua and red and plenty of quilting, and Kari did a great job of choosing fabrics and sewing a quilt that I love. It looks fantastic in my sewing room, along with my spoils from other mini quilt swaps.

The quilt that came to live with me

If you would like to see more of the quilts made for this swap, check out the #KaffeMiniSwap hashtag on Instagram. There are some really amazing and inventive quilts.

Sunday, 11 October 2015

Text Me Mini Quilt Swap

I've joined quite a few mini quilt swaps this year, all of which have been arranged through Instagram. The most recent one to conclude was the Text Me Mini Quilt Swap, which required participants to make a mini quilt containing at least two fabrics with text designs.

My partner listed her favourite colours as hot pink, gold, mint green, aqua green and lavender, and I thought I would try to make something incorporating as many of those colours as possible. The only thing I could think of that might look good with all those colours was a flower bed, so I started to design a flowery quilt block. This is what I came up with...

A sketch of my original mini quilt design

181 pieces in a 21 inch block. Crazy! I decided that I would use a selection of black-on-white and white-on-black text prints for the background and use my partner's favourite colours for the "flowers" and "leaves".

Keeping track of all the pieces

Completed top
Once the top was pieced, it was time to think about quilting. I am not really one for minimal quilting, so I decided to quilt the different components of the quilt with different patterns and in different colours of thread.

Thread choices for quilting
After some deliberation, I went for free motion feathers in the pink flower petals, starbursts in the gold flower centres, leafy shapes in the green squares, and pebbles in the background areas. Plus some stitching in the ditch around all the different areas.

Quilting the flower petals

The background quilting - I call this "pebbles", but Mr Q thinks it looks like a skin disease and calls it "pustules"

I finished the quilt with another white-on-black text fabric for the binding...

The completed quilt
As my partner is also a knitter, I added a Boxy Pouch sewn following a tutorial from Pink Stitches in similar colours so that she can store a small knitting project on the go. To give it a bit of structure, I fused the outside fabric to some felt before straight line quilting it.

Boxy pouch
I really enjoyed putting this quilt together. As usual, the top went together really quickly and then I agonised over the quilting. But once I had a plan, I really enjoyed the free motion quilting. I think I need to learn to trust my quilting instincts and just get on with it.

The quilt that arrived at my house was made by Charity in Washington. It is really lovely - beautifully understated with impeccable points and quilting that really enhances the design. I love that Charity let the text fabric (with lots of words about making and creativity) take centre stage. It looks fabulous on my expanding wall of mini quilts.

The mini quilt that I received

If you fancy having a look at the other quilts that were made as part of this swap, check out the #TextMeMiniQuiltSwap hashtag on Instagram.