Sunday, 6 July 2014

Airing of the Quilts - Sunday

DAY 3 - Quilt 3

The Colour Wheel Quilt

The third and final quilt that I have ever made is the Colour Wheel Quilt...

Here is the back...

... third time's a charm. Finally, I made a quilt I can be proud of.

OK, now that it is nice and aired out, I will give you the backstory...

Quite a while ago I bought a book called 'Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts' by Joelle Hoverson...

... although it is a great book, full of excellent projects, I bought it mostly for the Color-Wheel Quilt pattern. I love this pattern, and I knew instantly that I wanted to make it for someone who would really appreciate it.

When one of my life long friends (who studied visual arts at university) got married, I thought this quilt would make an excellent wedding gift. There were only two problems with that idea: problem one, it turns out that the Color-Wheel Quilt is actually quite small, more of a baby sized quilt, really; problem two, I had approximately zilch skills or experience in quilting at that point in time, so to turn it into a queen sized quilt (like I wanted to) was beyond my abilities.

Anyway, a couple things happened that finally pushed me to get around to making this quilt. Firstly, my arty friend became pregnant. Yay! The quilt was baby sized. Secondly, I won a rainbow bundle of fat quarters when Laura, from Little and Lots, held a "pay-it-forward" giveaway. Coincidence? I think not.

I set to cutting up my prize straight away, along with all of the other suitable fabrics that I owned...

... and I still needed more.

I bought lots of new fabric and decided against using some of the fabrics I had already cut up. 

When I finished the quilt top... 

... it kind of pocketed out in the middle, so I had to give it a bit of a re-measure, re-cut, and re-sew (no Ugly Quilt rules for this quilt). 

I decided to make the back out of diagonal strips in the same fabrics, and in the same colour order, that I used in the colour wheel...

... I thought it would look good, and would be more baby-friendly than the plain white backing that the pattern suggests.

I also went with 'rainbow' binding instead of the plain white binding used in the pattern. My binding was made up of little strips of each of the prints I used in the colour wheel. There were 52 different fabric designs used in the colour wheel, and 50 of them made it into the binding (two were trimmed because I made a little excess binding).

The quilting was done in a rough spiral inside and outside of the colour wheel, and by stitching in the ditch between the 'spokes' of the colour wheel...

I had planned to buy white thread for the quilting, but, in the spirit of keeping with my goal for this year, I used a variegated blue Aurifil thread that I already had, instead...

I didn't prewash any of the fabric or the batting, I just threw the finished quilt in the washing machine and hoped for the best - and the best happened :)

Remember that winning the Little and Lots "pay-it-forward" giveaway was just the catalyst I needed to get started on this quilt? So, of course I paid it forward. I held a giveaway on my old blog when I finished the Colour Wheel Quilt in January. The prize was my copy of 'Last-Minute Patchwork + Quilted Gifts' by Joelle Hoverson (the book that the pattern came from), plus 52 rectangles of coloured fabric (one of each of the 52 fabrics I used in my colour wheel), cut just big enough (roughly 4x12 inches) for someone to make their own colour wheel. The winner was Sisbabe from SisbabeStitching.

By the way, my friend loved this quilt! And I loved that she loved it :)

WHAT I LEARNT: Following someone else's pattern doesn't have to be boring. Spiral quilting can lead to puckered fabric that then gets sewn down on top of itself. Quilting ruins my little sewing machine.

WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY:  I would probably enlarge this pattern and give it as a gift for an adult (there is too much white on it for a baby, I can't imagine it staying white for long - even as a lap blanket, or wall art, it would be inclined to get dirty).

FINAL THOUGHTS: By far my favourite quilt that I have made - I think it turned out great. Plus it was received with so much enthusiasm that I felt extra good about making it and giving it.

Saturday, 5 July 2014

Airing of the Quilts - Saturday

DAY 2 - Quilt 2

The Ugly Quilt

The Ugly Quilt was my second attempt at quilting. While it came together much quicker and easier than my first quilt, it was uuuuuuuuug-LY! ...

... I made this quilt for my son because he was outgrowing his cot-sized bedding.

After finishing The Hive and the Honey Bee, I decided I needed to get The Ugly Quilt done in time for my son's 4th birthday. It was not originally intended as a birthday present, it was meant to be finished months earlier, but presenting it to him as a birthday gift elevated some of the guilt I felt for having let him shiver all through winter (slight exaggeration - he had other blankets, but they were getting too small for him).

The quilt was unintentinally ugly (it was out of necessity that I used what I had on hand and made something as quick as I could), but that didn't stop me from coming up with an Ugly Quilt tutorial...


How to Make an Ugly Quilt Top...

Find any greeny coloured fat quarters that you have in your stash, whether it's greeny-yellow, greeny-brown, greeny-green, greeny-blue, or in some cases just plain blue. Do whatever you have to do to get enough fabric to make the size of the quilt you are trying to make (plus a bit more for seam allowances). Don't worry if the colours don't match, or if the patterns clash, or if the fabrics don't even look nice together - we're going for ugly, remember?

Cut those fat quarters up into rectangles of roughly the same size, no need to be too pedantic, no need to iron the fabric first - near enough is good enough.

Now sew those suckers together...

... for maximum ugliness, randomly place the fabrics together, with no thought for what the final outcome might look like.

Sew enough rectangles side by side to get the desired width of the quilt. Then start again on the next row. REPEAT until you run out of fabric.

Don't pin - pinning is for wimps.

Don't press seams - pressing is for nerds.

Pinning is for Wimps, Pressing is for Nerds
The 'Ugly Quilt' Motto

Now sew those rows together...

... and make sure you sew them like brickwork to hide the fact that your edges don't line up.

Congratulations, you now have an ugly quilt top.



The Rescue Mission...

Although my son didn't see the ugliness of the Ugly Quilt top (in fact, he loved it), I knew in the years to come it would slowly sink in that his mummy made him an UGLY quilt. I wanted him to remember the quilt fondly and to know that, even if his mum is a wimpy nerd, she loved him enough to try make his quilt a little less ugly.

That's right, I nerded up and pressed those seems, and wimped out and pinned like crazy...

Plus I went out and bought the cutest backing fabric I could find for a little boy. I even ironed it...

Although I kind of followed the ugly quilt rules with the binding - I measured roughly and cut quickly - I did take the time to choose nice fabric and iron a crease down the centre of the binding (nerd!)...

... seeing that the back was clearly much cuter than the front, I sewed the binding onto the back first, so that it would look the prettiest, then folded around to the front and stitched in the ditch on the back. I've got to say the back turned out quite cute, and the binding sets it off nicely.

I sewed a little message for my son on the back of the quilt, in the bottom corner. He likes to sleep with the quilt upside down so that he can feel the writing in the dark :)

WHAT I LEARNT: Even ugly quilts can be loved.

WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY: I would make a better fabric choice, definitely. Also, I would put a bit more effort into the design and the piecing.

FINAL THOUGHTS: Even though I should be embarrassed to say I made such an ugly quilt, I actually like this one quite a lot, maybe because it was made with love and received with love.

Friday, 4 July 2014

Airing of the Quilts - Friday

DAY 1 - Quilt 1

The Hive and the Honey Bee

The Hive and the Honey Bee is the first quilt I ever made. It took me over 2 years to make (I thought is was going to take a month!).

Having no previous knowledge of patchwork or quilting, I started making this quilt as a 70th birthday present for my dad, one month before his birthday. After stopping and starting numerous times, and adjusting my original idea to make my design a little easier, I finally finished it a couple of months after Dad's 72nd birthday. He received the quilt on a random day in spring - just in time for him to air it out and store it away, I imagine.

Well, now it's my turn to air it out...

... tada! I'm a little frustrated that it turned out so bland and boring, because a whole lot of love and effort went into making this one.

If you're wondering what it's meant to be, I was attempting to make it look like a beehive box with one frame pulled out and placed on top - kind of like this... (click here to see a lovey picture from ) ... but a birds-eye view (my dad is a beekeeper).

I posted about this quilt on my previous blog, and it was featured on Heather and Megan's blog, 'Quilt Story', under its working name of 'The Beehive Quilt'. If you would like to see more pictures of the completed quilt (including my hidden bee), just click on over to their blog (I figured this post was already a little too picture-heavy).

If you are wondering how this design varied from my original, harder idea, here is an early picture of the middle of the beehive frame (the wax foundation sheet), compared to my original attempt... 

Beehive Quilt

... the one I completed (top) uses much larger pieces of fabric compared to what I was originally using, and it measures about 104cm (41 inches) across and 65cm (25 inches) down. My original attempt (bottom) used tiny pieces of fabric, and the size of my beehive frame was going to be a lot larger - I believe it was going to be as big as the whole queen-sized quilt. I was making it to scale! (Remember how many little hexagons were in the foundation sheet of that Northwood Apiaries picture?). By the way, foundation sheets are pre-made sheets of beeswax (or plastic) that are placed in the beehive for the bees to use as a foundation for their hive building. I'm sure you have all seen them before in the form of rolled beeswax candles. My multicoloured hexagons (which many see as cubes) are actually meant to be indentations in the wax.

Here are some progress pictures of my quit...

Beehive Quilt

... I pieced the beehive box, to the beehive frame (except for the frame handles, which I appliqu├ęd later)

To complete the beehive effect, I had to do a fiddly little job of sewing on 22 little squares. You probably can't even tell the difference, but in my mind it was a necessary addition to the quilt...

Beehive Quilt

... it was boring work, it took ages and after I'd done two or three of them it seemed easier just to set the quilt aside for another year or two... but I forced myself to keep on going. Even at this stage I didn't think it was looking very impressive. It was looking very little like the image I had in my head, which did nothing to help my motivation.

Then I added the blue-green border (meant to represent the grass that the box is sitting on). The material actually came from a second-hand valance (bed skirt)...

Beehive Quilt Top in the Sunlight

... this photo comes with a free shadow-puppet show.

 I also added a bee border. Here it is a close-up...

bee border

Then I made the back...

Beehive Quilt Back in the Sunlight

... with lots more of that wonderful Buzz Buzz fabric! ...

Buzz Buzz Fabric in the Sunlight

I used these variegated Aurifil threads for the quilting...

I hand quilted just inside the yellow hexagons...

... and then machine quilted either side of all of the long straight lines of the beehive box and frame, and around the bee border. The machine quilting can probably best be seen from the back...

Beehive Quilt - Quilted Back

I did a little more quilting - you can see that over at Quilt Story - but, really not enough. That stuff takes patience and skill, both of which I seemed to be lacking.

For binding, I used the same yellow that I used for the hexagon borders. And, as a finishing touch, I added a label...

... I created a patch, sewed a little picture and writing onto it, and then sewed the patch onto the quilt. It says 'For Dad / Happy 70th / With love / from Faith'. It also has the start and finish date (AUG '11 - OCT '13), and the name of the quilt, plus there is a little picture of a bee flying past a flower. Call me strange, but I also made up a special quilting signature and decided to number my quilts (this one is #1).

WHAT I LEARNT: Making a quilt requires a lot of patience. It's probably better to start off making mugrugs and placemats, and then building up to baby quilts and single bed quilts, perhaps even following someone else's pattern (someone who has previous knowledge of patchwork and quilting), rather than starting a queen sized quilt with no knowledge of how to do it, and making it up as you go. Thank God for online tutorials :)

WHAT I WOULD DO DIFFERENTLY: More quilting - perhaps woodgrain quilting on the 'wood', and something swirly on the 'grass'. Better colour choices - although Dad is colourblind, so I don't even know what colours he is seeing.

FINAL THOUGHTS: It's not great, it doesn't leave me thinking what a wonderful job I did, but it was a very good learning experience.

Thursday, 3 July 2014

Airing of the Quilts

This Friday, Saturday and Sunday there will be a local 'Airing of the Quilts'.

I tried to look up the history of quilt airing: one website said that people traditionally hung their quilts out in autumn, to air them out for winter after a long summer storage; another site said quilts were aired out in spring after a long winter of use. I assume both are probably correct, so it's a little odd that our local airing of the quilts is held in mid-winter, but, hey, it's a nice excuse for me to do my own digital airing of the quilts...

The local Airing of the Quilts runs over three days, and I have only ever made three quilts, so - you guessed it - I am going to 'air' one of my quilts each day, from Friday to Sunday.

Fair warning: My Internet friends may have seen these quilts before, and tomorrow's post will be particularly long and picture heavy.

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Toothy the Tooth Fairy

A couple of years ago I bought a yard of Toothy the Tooth Fairy fabric from Spoonflower (designed by SammyK). It isn't available at the moment, but, luckily, I had bought enough fabric to make four 'Toothys'. Here is one fat quarter...

... each fat quarter has the same pattern, but with a different coloured backpack and sock stripes.

I bought this fabric with the intention of making one tooth fairy cushion for each of my three children as they started losing their teeth (I gave the fourth one away). I made the first one for my daughter a couple of years ago (it  is currently in safe, yet unknown, location), then I had to rush to make one for my middle child last week, before his extremely wobbley tooth fell out.

I got out the sewing machine for the first time in about five months (it wasn't working properly the last time I used it, and I haven't had the motivation to try fix it). The stitches came out so badly, that I didn't think they would even keep the fabric together, so I took the machine apart and cleaned and oiled it as well as I could, and still it didn't work. I had a feeling it may have been a problem with the bobbin tension, so I unscrewed the screw from the bobbin case... and dropped it! Am I the only one who thinks these tinsy little screws should come in the brightest colour known to man? I still haven't found it.

So hand sewing it was. I have no skill or speed in hand sewing, so, even though I was doing a really rough job, it still took a few hours to make this thing...

... it may be a little rough around the edges, but it still worked its tooth fairy magic - a tooth went into the backpack one night, and money came out of the backpack the next morning.

As for this guy...

... he is going to have to wait a year or two to turn 3D.

Linking up to:
Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story

Tuesday, 1 July 2014

Rag Rug (update)

After seeing how much material it was taking to make my rag rug, I consulted the head decorator in my niece's bedroom make-over (my mum), and we came up with a new plan. Now my 'rag rug' will become the top of an oversized cushion that will be filled with bean bag stuffing. My niece can keep it on her day bed (which, judging by my sister's description, I imagine looks a bit like this), or she can  throw it on the floor and use it as a seat when she wants to.

My mum has bought this wall decal for the room, so I tried to decorate my rag rug/cushion to match. Here it is, all done except for the cushion part...

Crocheted Rag Rug with Branch Detail

... it is about 60cm in diameter, and is made up of one pillowcase, two single doona covers, and one single fitted sheet, plus a bit of cut up shirt for the tree branch detail. I mostly followed this King Soleil tutorial, and was inspired to try the branch decoration after viewing a similar decoration on one of their rugs.

Linking up to:
Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Rag Rug

My niece is having her room redecorated (with plenty of pink and purple, I believe), and I wanted to contribute, so I am attempting to make a rag rug.

Here's my pile of rags...

Rags for Rag Rug

... it's a torn up doona cover.

I have looked up rag rug tutorials online and found that there are many ways to make a rag rug! The two that appealed to me the most were the crocheted ones and the braided ones. I attempted to crochet my rags, but there was virtually no give in the material and I found it too hard, so I decided to do a braided rug instead. I'm guessing I didn't really make my fabric strips wide enough, because my rag plait ended up being less than 1cm thick, and it would take me a million years to sew that into a decent sized rug. I was just about to give up on the idea of a rag rug, when I realised that, by plaiting the fabric, I had made it a little more stretchy, and I was now able to crochet with it much easier.

So here is my plaited and crocheted rag rug so far...

Crochet Rag Rug

... and out in the sun, for a more realistic view of the colours...

... it is currently about 17cm in diameter (and, considering I have so far used the rags from a whole pillow case and a strip or two of the doona cover, I don't think it is going to get as big as I had hoped).

I am using King Soleil's rag rug tutorial as a guide, and using my finger as a crochet hook.

Have any of you guys ever made a rag rug? What was your experience?

Linking up to:
Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story
Slow Blogger Linky at Weekend Doings
WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced
New to Me in June at Celtic Thistle Stitches