Thursday, 1 February 2018

The Endeavourers Challenge - Nature

Last year, I answered a call for quilters who wanted to take part in quarterly challenges and push themselves to try new things.  The idea was to have some fun, learning and playing with fabric together, through themes randomly chosen.  I was delighted to see names of quilty friends and those new to me on the groups blog page : The Endeavourers.  There are 14 of us taking part and encouraging each other in our explorations. 

Today is the reveal day for our first challenge: Nature.

I am very happy to share my quilt idea, 'Making Waves'.  Mine is a top only at this stage and not a finished piece which it should be.  As my back issue, though settling and improving, had a bit of set back a few weeks ago and sitting is still no fun at all, I haven't been able to sit at a sewing machine.

The Irish Patchwork Society (IPS) national exhibition theme is Making Waves and this has been on my mind so with a theme of nature and my love of the west coast of Clare, part of the Wild Atlantic Way,  I guess it had to be a wave! To read more about the inspiration and influences behind the idea for this wave, please visit The Endeavourers blog.

I thought here I'd talk a bit about how I made it, in case you were inspired to break out the bondaweb and a big bucket of scraps!

I made this sketch to work from as a pattern, fiddled with it for ages, even though it is a simple enough shape.  I printed it on A4 and taped it all together and then thought now what?  My friend Louise asked if I had seen Shannon Brinkley's collage quilts using animals and cityscapes, so remembering her bear quilt, I looked her up and her website here where she offers an online course and patterns to buy.  I didn't use Shannon's process as I hadn't the materials she recommends but I was inspired by her bear pattern to make the quilt as a collage, and knew I wanted a strong line for the wave and not a broken one with overlapping collage pieces.  I highly recommend Shannon's process as she has multiple ways of finishing the edges and using different types of collage pieces to build up your design.  If you take her course you get to choose a pattern available from her shop so worth having a look!

I had previously made an art collage quilt before, of a boat on the river Shannon, for our branch's Local Landscapes exhibition.  I wanted to try something different for my wave and this feels a little more grown up for some reason.  I think it might be the fabrics; less contrasting colour and more blended maybe?  

I pulled a lot of aquas, turquoises, teals and blues and in the end used mostly scraps and very little from the fabric pull.  Still, creating that palette helped me select from my scrap basket (yes this is all the scraps I have!).

I wanted some strong clean curves in the piece even though it was going to be made of scraps and many pieces of fabrics, so I remembered my quilt friend Paula Rafferty telling me about drawing directly onto fusible bondaweb and not the paper at the back.  This means no faffing about with reversing patterns and I could stick pieces directly onto the fusible paper.  A pencil was no good as it's hard edge caught the bondaweb but an embroidery transfer pen was perfect and glided over the fusible smoothly.

I traced the whole pattern and then some of the smaller elements separately.  I used some parchment paper between the pattern and the iron to prevent my iron getting all gunky when fusing down the fabric.  I have a silicone A3 sheet for just this type of thing but I couldn't find it anywhere- it has to here somewhere in my kitchen/sewing room but no luck finding it when I needed it, so parchment paper it was!
The paper stuck to the fusible around the pieces and instead of pulling it apart which might dislodge the fabric pieces,  I simply cut around the shape I wanted and the parchment under the fabric just fell away. There are loose spots where the pieces overlap but I'll be quilting it all down at some stage so I am not worried about raw edges or un-fused pieces.  This little wave is not intended for washing!

Then using some photographs of real waves from a google search as inspiration for fabric placement, I built up the collage keeping the lightest sections at the top left hand corner of the wave and adding my curved pieces where I liked.  I used some backing fabric as a cushion for the iron to press onto and kept on building.

Finally I had a finished wave.  Next decision: background fabric.  I tried patterned, solid baby blue for sky, black for high contrast,  and eventually settled on a graduated blue that seems to fit the highlights of the piece just right.

This is where I have gotten to as the next step involves basting and quilting and that means sitting at a sewing machine!  I do intend to face it when quilted so there will be no visible binding and hope it will look something like this. 

I always use the Silly Boo Dilly's tutorial for facing a quilt - it is a very well written tutorial and super handy to have when you don't want binding to show on the front.  So even though I didn't get her finished I certainly feel like I have lived up to the spirit of The Endeavourer's group challenge.  This was a great first theme and I am looking forward to seeing what nature themed projects are being revealed today.

If you want to see more from our group please visit the Endeavourer's blog and my fellow group members below:

Catherine -  
Janine –
Nancy –
Carol –
Barbara –
Ruth –
Gwen –
Martha –
Julie –
Maureen –
Tonia –
Kay –
Soma –
Fiona -

Friday, 5 January 2018

Thank crunchie it's Friday!

No chocolate crunchie bars on hand this Friday - I have to admit being all sugared out at this stage and looking forward to getting back to normal.  I did manage to sit at the sewing machine for a very small time this week and get my Home is Where the Dog Is quilt top finished! To be fair it was all done bar sewing the rows together.

So glad I got all the zig-zag done on the letters before the disk in my back came at me as that bit took ages!  Finishing it into a quilt now is going to have a wait a while as I have left a blank space on the first floor to add something special and have no idea whatsoever what that could be!  I do need to try and get on with a quilt and teaching samples I need for workshops I am teaching in February and March so I am happy to park it for a while, while I mull it over in my head!

Not being able to do to much at the sewing table means there is still lots of knitting going on!  Here's an update: Winter hat for Gordon - Done!  Pattern is A Hat Fit For a Fella by Shana Schasteen.

A sparkly Christmas cowl for mum - with her help!  I get bored with plain and purl and mum hates following a pattern so we share the workload sometimes.  Mum knits looser than I do so when gauge matters I give her a smaller needle.  This was her first time using metallic circular needles - my favourite - she didn't like them!

Still her finished cowl turned our lovely and perfectly matching Christmas decor.  This pattern is the Miss Marple Scarf free on Ravelry.

Chunky hat and shawl for me - done!  Hat is my own design using two a white and a pink ball of Tivoli super chunky wool.  The shawl pattern is Clouds in a Blue Sky by Andrea Rangel.  I added a bit of Swiss darning to it to tie in the edge yard to the brighter cream from my stash.  This technique was a lot of fun and I would definitely do this duplicate stitching technique again.

And if superchunky isn't fast enough I got a present of some Jumbo Merino wool for Christmas along with 25mm needles! 

I wanted to make a cushion for my cousin as a thank you present but the 1kg ball wasn't enough and the cable I attempted to add in ended up rock hard and messed up the width so I started again!  I found the needles hard to work with and had too tight a gauge to start with so loosened it well up on the second go.

This is how thick the jumbo yarn is and it is so soft!  Unspun, it is quite delicate and frogging it is not a good idea to do too regularly!  You can't wash it as it will felt but you can dry clean it.

 Second attempt went better with a simple pattern over 10 stitches!

 Yup only 10 stitches and I had the front of a cushion.  Now to figure out the back!

I had a bit left over to make a cowl for mum though - only 3 stitches and arm knitted and done in about 15 minutes!  Feels cheating to call this one a finish!  The arm knitting was much faster once I got the hang of the cast on!  She loves it and it is really soft and warm.

I am planning on arm knitting  with a bigger ball of 4-6kg acrylic yarn to make a blanket for the bed.  I normally buy the best wool I can as I think if you are going to take the time to knit up something might as well treat yourself to the best.  Acrylic is washable though and a good bit cheaper so while I would love a Merino wool blanket I think the Acrylic is the way to go for the moment.

Happy New Year everyone - hope 2018 is a good one and a cosy one to you all!
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