Athena Big Scroll

What’s a girl to do when she needs to make a quilt in a hurry? Why not by a quilt kit from a machine quilter who admits that she’s not crazy about piecing, and better yet, why not buy fabric that tells you how to quilt it? That was the thought process that resulted in my buying Angela Walter’s Athena Big Scroll kit. If I’d been brave enough to try and quilt it immediately, it would have been the perfect emergency quilt.

As it was, it sat around for about a month – all the while Angela’s “finished is better than perfect” motto echoing my head – before I worked out what to do with it. It turns out that follow the line quilting is a lot more difficult than it looks. Fortunately for me, Christa was working on something very similar with another of Angela’s fabric lines at about the same time as I was finishing this up, and came along a lot of the same problems, so I don’t feel remotely bad about mine being somewhat less than perfect.

The hardest part of this was working out how to follow the lines without too much backtracking. After all, it’s a print of a continuous line, quilting motif that Angela uses often, and one that I’ve played around with time and time again. I think I eventually got it though.

Fiddling around with all that negative space was fun. It wasn’t something I’d gone in to with much of an idea of what to do, although I knew I wanted to fill it with very fluid designs.

Athena Big Scroll Angela Walters

This is off in the post this week, along with a few other gifts I’ve finished recently, which will be popping up when I have time to write. I hope the recipient likes it. It will be a complete surprise, I hope.

I think it bears mentioning, for those of you who don’t know her, what a lovely person Angela is. I mentioned previously that I’d taken a few classes with her at HMQS back in May. I arrived to one class rather early, and saw her sitting alone, and decided that seeing as I didn’t know anyone else there, I may as well say hello. Well, she’d just been to Sydney; I’m from Sydney, we both like quilting; there was a lot to talk about. I’d very much expected a polite “Hello, nice to meet you. I’m busy, I’ll see you in class,” but instead had a very lovely conversation. Perhaps I’ll eventually stop being surprised by how willing established quilters are to share their time and experience with those of us who are newer in the field. I doubt it happens in very many other industries.

Big Scroll Athena Angela Walters

It turns out that Angela recognized my name when I placed my order on her website, and my fabric came with a lovely hand written card attached. Dear mystery gift recipient, Angela hopes you love your new quilt just as much as I do. Perhaps you’ll be kind enough to send us some photos of it in its new home (if you want to tag Angela in she’s @angelafmq just about everywhere).

In other news, last night, I noticed that I was getting an unusual amount of blog traffic coming in from Japan. It turns out that an Instagram acquaintance of mine, Red Coconut Shop, gave me a bit of a shout out on the shop blog, so I’d like to do the same, and of course, hello to everyone who’s come to visit me via their link. Unfortunately I don’t read Japanese, but I asked my Facebook friends for help, and Weeks (who seems to have an almost unending supply of hidden talents) assured me that this most probably meant that the people at the shop liked my work. They do run a lovely account on Instagram, which you do not have to be fluent in Japanese to enjoy, so I highly recommend taking a moment to have a look. Those Tokyo trade markets look very interesting.

Athena Angla Big Scroll Walters

In continuing news, the website is still under development. It turns out that trying to build a site with someone in a different time zone is incredibly challenging, and that I’m much more technically challenged than I realized. I’m really hoping I’ll be able to get it running properly in short order, but I still have a lot of content to create for it.

I’m linking up again with Finish it Up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts, Whoop Whoop Friday at Confessions of a Fabric Addict, and TGIFF at From Bolt to Beauty, because everyone should be excited when they finish a quilt, even a very simply pieced one.

Until next time, happy quilting!

– Jane

Shoreline for Hopes and Dreams – Finish it up Friday

Here’s one UFO coming off that giant pile!  I think it’s been a little over two years from start to finish.Shoreline New Pastel Kona Tula Pink

This was one of the first quilt tops I made.  I was so excited when I opened up the package of batting that Monique and Lynne from Cambridge Quilt Shop recommended to me and saw that Quilter’s Dream was collecting quilts to give to people with ALS/MND.  A few days ago, I wrote a very long post about why this is such a great cause to donate to. It will probably be the first thing I publish when I get my domain back.  I’ll sum it up very quickly for you here:

We don’t know what causes ALS, and while there are some hereditary cases, over 90% of cases currently have unknown causes.  There is currently nothing one can do to avoid developing this disease, it is incurable and untreatable.  The average patient with ALS will live between two to five years, although of course, there are some who pass away within months, and others who live with the disease for many years.  During this time, a person suffering this disease will retain full cognitive facilities, and watch helplessly as their body becomes less and less responsive, eventually becoming completely paralyzed.  As you can gather, it’s an extremely grim diagnosis.  Last year’s Ice Bucket Challenge did a lot to raise the profile of ALS within the wider community, but I think a quilt is lovely way of acknowledging that individuals with this disease often feel ignored by the scientific community, misunderstood by the general community, and become increasingly isolated as they lose the ability to communicate, they are not completely forgotten.

Tula Pink Shoreline New Pastel Kona

I wanted to make something for them right away, then of course, I ran in to all sorts of problems, and it went in the “naughty box” for a very long time.  I owe Weeks a debt of gratitude on this one.  She posted a few months back about quilts for Hopes and Dreams, which reminded me that this one had been boxed up for far too long.

Jolly Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 6

Being that this is a really easy quilt to put together, you might be wondering why it was in the “naughty box” for so long.  Well, when is a five inch square, not a five inch square?  Much more often that fabric manufacturers would like you to realize.  This charm pack ranged at everything from four and a half to five inches, and at that point, I really didn’t have the experience to know how to deal with it.  Eventually I settled on wonky seams, and honestly, I thought it didn’t look particularly good.Jolly Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 6

Over time, I learned a lot about what happens when tops get quilted, and I thought it was worthwhile seeing if that might help this quilt a little.  It actually helped a whole lot, and honestly, I think it came out really well.

It was very interesting working with a quilt with a lot of problems.  One of the seams split while it was on my frame, so I fixed it with a quick whip stitch – it’s not exactly ideal, but a finished quilt is useful and but a top sitting in the naughty corner is no good to anyone.  Also, not surprisingly, it came out very far from square.  I thought a lot about how I was going to trim it, and decided that a square quilt was preferable to an oddly shaped one, so all the lines look a little bit slanted now.  It’s one of those things that I’m counting as not being a big deal.

I quilted this one myself, with an edge-to-edge swirl vine, accented with leaves – a design I learned from Dusty Farrell. He’s gotten very creative with the semi-custom E2E designs, and I really love that idea.  It’s so much more interesting than a pantograph, and allows for a little bit of customization.

Getting this photographed was a pain.  I’ve seen so many lovely photos where quilts just happen to drape themselves beautifully over an accent chair.  This didn’t happen for me.  Maybe the chair is just too small and I might have to look for a larger one.  It took a long time to get this one to cooperate.

Then, Jolly decided to stage a protest about my blog being partially named after him, and him not appearing on it anywhere, so here he is in all his scruff-muffin glory.  Yes, we should get him clipped, but the car sickness is a major barrier to this, as there’s no groomer within walking distance here.  I really don’t think he cares much how his hair looks, and he seems pretty happy either way.

Here are all the photos Jolly insisted we include:

Jolly Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 5 Jolly Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 4 Jolly Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 3 Jolly Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 2 Jolly Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel i

I’m curious about whether other quilters donate their work.  If you do, do you have an organization of choice, or do you work for many?

I’m also linking up with Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts.  I think this is the first time I’ve joined this particular link party.

And all the usual info:

Pattern: Shoreline by Tula Pink (it’s a free download from her website).

Fabric: Kona New Pastel, by Robert Kaufman.

Pieced by me with Aurifil 50wt.

Quilted by me with So Fine 50wt. by Superior Threads.

Batting: Dream Wool.

Until next time, happy quilting!

– Jane

Kiss Kiss: Queen of Diamonds – The final pre-quilting installment

I finally worked out how to take pictures of quilt tops in here! It’s not perfect, but it’s definitely preferable to battling the weather and worrying about getting my tops all mucky, because as I’ve learned, one is not supposed to wash an un-quilted top. I’ve had these tops sitting around for about three weeks, and I say tops, rather than top, because I changed all but one of them up a little.

Tula Pink Parisville Kiss Kiss

I got a little inspired by Tula’s recent release of a pack of playing cards, even though I missed out on a set because they sold in about five minutes flat. So, I have my Sky ladies facing one way, and my Mist ladies facing the other.

Unfortunately, the top still reads better with the Mist girls facing upwards, but essentially, there isn’t either a top or a bottom.

Tula Pink Parisville Kiss Kiss 1

I’d actually put it all together with different Mist cameos, but when I stepped back to look at it, it looked unbalanced, as the ship hair is so much larger than the other designs. By this point, I’d used all my cameos, and had to remove some from my mini-quilts and swap them out for the ladies on my larger top.

I thought about unpicking everything I needed to in order to get at the cameos I needed to replace, but for some reason decided it would be faster to just remove the cameos themselves. Getting them back in to the tops was really fiddly, but I’m really pleased that I managed to do it. I still don’t know whether it would have been faster to unpick everything and replace the pieces in the same order that I’d sewn them, but it only took me a couple of hours to swap all four of them out.

And here’s my finished collection of mini-quilts:

Tula Pink Parisville Kiss Kiss Mini 1 Tula Pink Parisville Kiss Kiss Mini 2 tula pink parisville kiss kiss

Nick just asked, “Why the Queen of Diamonds?”  Apparently hearts is the obvious choice when you’re going for a playing card reference.  I agree, it is the more obvious choice, but diamonds is a much more fitting suit in this case.  Those of you who are familiar with the history of Marie Antoinette will know the Affair of Diamond Necklace.  For those of you who haven’t heard of it, I’ll point you in the direction of Wikipedia, the undisputed, above reproach, font of all knowledge.  You can find the article here.  It’s actually not too bad, as far as my knowledge of this incident goes.  For those of you who prefer the summary, suffice to say that there was a ridiculously expensive and ornate diamond necklace, a con-woman agreed to buy it, claiming she had the authority of Marie Antoinette.  Of course, the whole story was made up, and the queen denied any involvement in the purchase of the necklace.  The case was taken to court, and despite some obvious errors in the documents relating to the purchase, it was decided that Marie Antoinette had indeed sought to buy the necklace secretly, so as to hide her extravagance from the French at a time when there was greater than usual hardship amongst the populace.  At a time when the French people were becoming increasingly disillusioned by the idea of the monarchy, this did irreparable damage the queen’s reputation.  And I think we all know how that story ends… But I digress.

You can see what the wall quilts looked like originally here and here.

Now to spend a few months thinking about how to quilt these…

Until next time, happy stitching!

– Jane

Shoreline Finish

A relatively timely finish post as far as my updating goes. This one’s only been sitting around, completely bound, for a couple of weeks.Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 4

If you’ve been reading my blog for several months, you’ll know that as excited as I was to set out on this project, it just became a major pain to put together (it did take me almost five months to piece it), but as I said before, it was so (or maybe sew) worth it!  I can’t wait until we move and I have an adequately sized sewing room; it will be so much easier topiece large quilts on a table that’s larger than a high school desk.  I couldn’t be happier with how this turned out, and Mandy did the most amazing job with the quilting.

Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 7We discussed going along a similar track that Angela did in the original, where she used a different fill for each strip, but decided to go with an overall fill that drew attention the colors. It has all my favorite bits and pieces in it – feathers (I’m oh so in to feathers!), swirls, concentric circles, pebbles, paisley, flowers… there’s a bit of everything in here. Aren’t these borders and the micro-work amazing? I’d expected a micro stipple, but was astounded to see micro flowers. I hope this didn’t result in Mandy developing RSI!

Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 2It’s just gorgeous and has great texture. When I bump in to Mandy at MQX next year I’m going to have to give her the hugest thank you hug ever.

I love this quilt so much that I’m going to subject you to a bazillion photos of it.

Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 5

Best of all, I finally have a quilt large enough to fit the bed, so after two years of quilting, I get to sleep underneath something I’ve made – because somehow napping on the couch doesn’t quite cut it. And that extra layer of insulation is going to come in handy as winter progresses.Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 10

Nick and I took my Shoreline out with my Chatterbox, so they both got the nighttime shots (which Nick didn’t particularly like), followed by the daytime treatment. The wind was unkind to us on both occasions, but slightly more tolerable during the day.

Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 3As you can see, I just couldn’t wait to snuggle up underneath my new quilt. Is it painfully obvious that the bench was incredibly uncomfortable?  And clearly I’m still continuing my pushback against people hiding behind their quilts when they take their photos.Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 9

Contrary to my previous experience, the back of the quilt actually didn’t show the quilting as well as the front, but here it is anyway. Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel Mandalei QuiltsThis is the first quilt I’ve had the chance to use one of my labels on. I love the idea of labeling quilts (although I understand that not everyone does) because the historian in me thinks it’s a great little touch for prosperity. I’m not assuming that all my quilts are going to make it to my great grandchildren (assuming that we have them) but I hope that at least some of them do. I’m going to have to try and take really good care of the ones I like the most.Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 1

Thus, my final finish of 2014 is up and I can go back to making gifts for the trip home in February.

Only one outtake from these shoots:Tula Pink Shoreline Kona New Pastel 8

Happy stitching to you all!

– Jane

Pieced with: Aurifil Cotton Mako 50 wt.

Quilted with: So Fine by Superior Threads.

Quilted by: Mandalei.

Batting: Dream Wool.

Chatterbox Finish – Otherwise known as the saga that was my first quilt top

Another very overdue finish to share with you, but I promised that I would eventually get around it. It’s the first quilt top I ever made: Boo Davis’ Chatter Box quilt from her book, Dare to be Square.

Chatter Box Quilt Boo Davis Dare to Be Square Kona Fields of Iris 1Boo has a very scrappy approach to quilting, which is great for people who have stashes, but not so much for people lacking a stash. I decided to start with a fat quarter bundle (Kona Fields of Iris, by Robert Kaufman), and see how many blocks I could make out each piece (and this is the point at which I wish I’d taken notes, as there are smaller blocks on the edges). I then counted my blocks, and played around with layouts until I had a rectangle, and best of all, I didn’t have to waste any. This resulted in a larger quilt than the pattern suggests – 83” x 87” as opposed to 60” x 72” – which makes it almost a perfect size for our spare bed, which is a full.

I feel like it took me forever to make this. I began this in January 2013, and finished piecing the top in April.  Now, it wouldn’t take nearly as long to get it done, but it does take a while to get used to quilting, when you come from a garment construction background, and haven’t made anything more challenging than a four piece stuffed toy in three years.  I then let it sit around for seven months while I searched for quilter, and thus, I found Mandy.

Chatter Box Quilt Boo Davis Dare to Be Square Kona Fields of Iris 5

This was such a great exercise in “things you should never do while quilting”; actually, that first six months of quilting was. I was worried about the amount of cat and dog that might be on the quilt top, so I put in the wash as soon as I finished it, before putting it out of the way, where tiny paws couldn’t get to it. The washing wasn’t a complete disaster, but ironing it out was a bigger pain than I can possibly describe. It sat for seven months in what my English relatives call the “airing cupboard,” and I believe most other people refer to as “the cupboard that contains the water heater.” Somehow, when I pulled it out to post it, it had developed a few brown spots. I asked Mandy whether I should I wash it, and was strongly advised against washing unquilted tops for any reason. Oops! At least my first wash didn’t warp the fabric too badly.

I got this in the mail, and then realized that I’d forgotten to send any batting along, so I decided to buy some from Mandy.  She uses Dream Blend, which is not something I’d ever considered buying, as I have a preference for natural fibers.  I was worried that I’d end up regretting going down this path, but it’s so wonderfully warm that I really can’t complain.

Chatter Box Quilt Boo Davis Dare to Be Square Kona Fields of Iris 2Mandy returned the quilt to me in March, because I sent her my Kite Flight top shortly after and told her to send them back together if that suited her better than posting them individually.

I’m so delighted with what she’s done.  I really wanted to break up the blockiness of this a little, and the combination of straight lines in the white spaces, and very flowing fill in the purples, helps to create create interest and adds another dimension to the quilt.

As per usual, it sat around for a while before I got around to trimming and binding, but I’ve had it finished since June, but there were a few challenges that came up that made photographing it something of a problem. First, we had to deal with the staining. I don’t know why I let myself get talked in to this, but someone, (thanks Nick!) thought that carpet cleaner was the best thing to get rid of these. Why? We had so many other options, but I seem to remember him saying he’d used it on clothing previously, and it wasn’t a problem.

Well, I think that’s the last time I let Nick talk me in to anything quilt related.  I joke.  He’s very good at all the non-quilt related aspects of quilting. It might work fine on some clothes, but it will strip the color from your quilting cottons, even when they’re washed.   The worst bit was that the color from the backing, which is a lot stronger than much of what’s on the top, leaked through almost immediately, staining everything. I forget how we got rid of the excess dye. I think we used chlorine free bleach on the white, and did a bit of praying over some of the lighter purples. We did a decent job of saving this, but the color in some areas is a little patchy thanks to the carpet cleaner episode.

Chatter Box Quilt Boo Davis Dare to Be Square Kona Fields of Iris 6After that, it seemed to get washed, and I would iron it out, ready to be photographed, and Nick would find some excuse why it needed to come out of its box, be used, which would restart the cycle of washing and ironing.  It happened three or four times, which in retrospect doesn’t sound like much, but it’s enough. Well, this is it; I’m never ironing this quilt again – and I don’t believe for a second that Nick is as incapable of doing this as he claims.jolly&dellilah4

As you can see, it came out for photos a few times, starting in October when Nick and I had some pictures taken. I’ll save you the ones of us being all couple-y, but there’s one that seems fit for public consumption.  This photo comes courtesy of Wildlee Photography.

We were hoping to do the rest of the pictures that afternoon, but it was just one of those days where everything went wrong, and by the time we were done with the photographer, we’d lost the light.

We did try night photos on another occasion, but Nick wasn’t too impressed with how they were coming out (the relentless wind didn’t do anything to help either), but we managed to get a couple of useable pictures. We dragged it out again yesterday, and managed to get enough photos to make this post interesting.

You know I like to show you back of the quilt where you can see Mandy’s wonderful work much more clearly, so here it is in all its splotchy glory:

Chatter Box Quilt Boo Davis Dare to Be Square Kona Fields of Iris Mandalei Quilts

Now, my Chatterbox, which is actually Nick’s Chatterbox now, as I thought it fitting to gift it to him as he gave me both the sewing machine and the book, can live on the spare bed, go through the washer and dryer as needed, but did I mention that I’m not ironing this thing again?

And I had to throw in a couple of outtakes, because for some reason I like other people’s quilt shoot throwaways, and therefore you might enjoy mine, right?

Chatter Box Quilt Boo Davis Dare to Be Square Kona Fields of Iris 3Chatter Box Quilt Boo Davis Dare to Be Square Kona Fields of Iris 4Happy stitching!

– Jane

Pieced with: Aurifil 50wt.

Quilted by: Mandy Leins.

Quilted with: So Fine, by Superior Threads.

Batting: Dream Blend.

A Star for a Star

I’m sharing an old finish with you: my re-shuffled Lone Star. I’ve been holding on to these photos since September, partly because this was a gift and I didn’t want to post about it until I had the postage sorted, at least, and also because I wasn’t quite sure how to write this post.

In July, my third cousin James was killed in a hit and run accident while on holiday in Greece. He and his friends were celebrating the end of high school, and looking forward to the next chapter of their lives.   The man who killed James was driving with a blood alcohol content several times higher than the legal limit, and is now facing criminal charges, although that it little comfort to my family.lone star quilt1

I knew when I was making this that it would be a gift quilt, but I didn’t know whom it was for, and I don’t know why I felt that. It wasn’t because I didn’t love it; I do. Maybe it was the suggestion from Lynne at the shop that one should always keep a quilt or two on hand for emergencies.lone star quilt3

I quilted this one myself at Laurena’s. Considering my very small amount of experience using the longarm, I’m really pleased with how this turned out. Hindsight is 20/20, and of course there are things I’d do differently now, after having spent the last three months thinking about it, but it is what it is.

Unfortunately the quilting didn’t particularly stand out in the photos, because there wasn’t enough contrast in quilting density in certain areas. Thus, I learned that mixing up the density of the quilting makes for a much more interesting look. The other thing that you probably can’t see is the quilting on the star itself. There are a lot of long, straight, lines in there. These lines are not my friends. I’m sure it’s a matter of practice, but I’m told that a lot of machine quilters have issues with them. The lines follow the shape of the star to the middle. I think there’s probably not enough quilting in there. The batting says it can be quilted every seven inches and still stay together. It wasn’t until I was doing the finish on the binding that I realized that the arms of the star are far longer than seven inches, so I’m really hoping that the batting holds.

This was made and quilted with love for James’ mother, stepfather, and sister, and I hope it will be accepted in the same spirit when it arrives (even if it’s very late to the party), which I expect it to do within the next few days, if it hasn’t already.

lone star quilt9

Pieced with: Aurifil Cotton Mako 50wt.

Quilted with: Aurifil Cotton Mako 40wt.

Batting: Dream Wool.

Until next time: happy stitching. May you and your families stay safe over the holidays.

– Jane

lone star quilt4

Kite Flight Finish!

Kite Flight Quilt

It may have taken me three months, but I’ve gotten around to binding, cleaning up, and photographing my Kite Flight quilt! I mentioned in a previous post that I had attempted to machine finish the binding, but hated the result so much that I ended up taking it all off. By that point, the original binding was terribly warped, so I had to cut and attach a new piece. I’m so glad I did though! I’ve used the machine finish on cushions, smaller quilts, and a larger one I didn’t care so much about, but I just couldn’t stand it on this one. I wish I’d taken a photo: it just looked wrong. There was also a huge amount of both cat hair and batting lint that took some time and some help from Nick to remove.

Kite Flight Quilt

I’m so pleased with what Mandy did with the quilting. I wasn’t sure whether or not to be a bit nervous about giving her free reign with this, but it turned out beautifully. I’m going through a bit of a feather phase at the moment, and I love how she managed to make them work with this pattern. I’m grateful that she agreed to use two layers of batting on this one. I sent it with one layer of Dream Orient, then later worried about the puffiness of some of the seams, and sent another. In retrospect I probably should have sent a second piece with a higher loft, but we live and learn, right? It looks wonderful as is, and Mandy did a really great job of making those problematic seams lie flatter. She talks a little about it here.  Mandy quilts with So Fine, by Superior Threads.

Here’s a photo of the backside, where the quilting is a little more obvious:

Kite Flight Mandalei Quilts Back

After our incredibly drawn out winter, I’m a little sad that I didn’t get around to this in time to use it. It started out at 56”x56”, and is useful as either a lap quilt, or a wall hanging. Unfortunately we recently discovered that there are no studs in the walls here, so this will be going in storage either until we move, or until the cool weather starts setting in. However, seeing as it just became warm, I’m in no hurry for that!

This is my little stand against people hiding behind their quilts when they photograph them.  I know that this is sometimes necessary due to size considerations, but I think it’s such a shame.

Jolly and Delilah

Hopefully I can get my Chatterbox quilt cleaned up and photographed soon. It’s a little bit of a mess at the moment, but that’s a long story that belongs in a separate post.

Happy quilting!