Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Designing Shoji

I've shown these blocks before, I've been calling them "Asian Circles" and really, when I started making them, I really didn't know what I was going to do with them.  I loved the fabric, and really enjoyed the way the technique works, and creates such different and varied blocks from one fabric.  But even with all that, I had NO idea what I was going to do with them.
I was at work the other week when I was struck with a sudden flash of inspiration, so I whipped up this rough sketch (it's on the back of a piece of non-essential paperwork!!!)
It doesn't look like much, but it was enough for me to get it down on a piece of paper.  Essentially what I want is a pieced background with the circles moving across the surface.  I came home and did some quick googling to look at traditional japanese rice paper screens or shoji and based the design on that idea.
With graph paper and some proper tools I got a much better idea of the design.  This is the first of the things that I'm not settled on.  I had planned to make the quilt in "portrait" mode, because it would be more "useful" that way.  But the more I looked at it, the more I realised that it really does need to be "landscape".  I guess we'll have to hang it on a wall or something!
I've already got the colours for the background too.  I went to Hobbysew, who are carrying a great range of Kona solids, and picked out two beautiful creams, Cream on the left and Bone on the right.
Originally I had planned to use a light green, a light pink and the two cream colours, but as soon as I saw the bolts I knew that even the lightest colours were going to be too much.  When I've got the thin strips of Cream between the Bone sections, it should look a little like this
Very similiar to an actual Shoji screen.   I'm also really happy now that this quilt has a name: "Shoji"  Then the circles will be scattered across the surface like wind swept petals.  The other thing that I haven't decided yet is whether I want to make them three dimensional, and more like actual flower blossoms.... what do you think?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I *heart* Spoonflower!

I am very familiar with the red, grey-blue and white colour of the USPS International Priority Packages.  I wouldn't say that they arrive for me ALL the time, but certainly frequently enough that when the first mail delivery of the day arrives on my floor that I can pick one out from about 50 paces :)

Yesterday, this mysterious package arrived on my desk.  Plain white. Interesting.
 Hmm... 1 yd cotton fabric printed.... Oh, wait, could this be what I've been waiting for?!?!
So, with a tiny bit of care (and no hesitation at all) I cut off the top of the package and out came this (I may or may not have reenacted this part for the camera at home!)
Yes!  It's my Spoonflower order - all beautifully wrapped in tissue paper, with the cute little Spoonflower logo on a sticker on top.
and my two pieces!  oh, and this super cute piece of fabric with the Spoonflower logo on it (I know you don't need to see this, but I just thought it was really cute and I wanted to share it with you)
I've always LOVED the labels that Julie over at Jaybird Quilts has for her quilts.  They really nice, and it's a great idea for a permanent label for your quilts (especially for someone like me who is a bit anti-label).  Just a couple of weeks ago Julie posted a second part in her tutorial about how she had labels printed by Spoonflower The second part of the tutorial includes templates for various different label layouts, so when I saw templates and then Spoonflower had a free shipping offer, I just couldn't resist!  My Mum just so happens to be a fantastic web designer, who is more than a little bit handy with Photoshop and so I enlisted her help.
After much "negotiation" with Mum, we came up with a design that I really love - and decided on colours.  There's an emerald green
A beautiful bright yellow
and a gorgeous pink/magenta colour.
When I looked at the colours that I often use I thought they would be colours that would easily match most quilt tops that I'm currently working on.

I also ordered this gorgeous and useful colour chart that shows 965 colours all in one yard of fabric.  It also has the proper hex colour codes for each colour underneath it, so that you can order more accurately from Spoonflower.
The fabric for both the colour chart and the labels is quilting weight, and is quite nice.  I would definitely use Spoonflower again, and I can't recommend enough Julie's tutorials on how to use Spoonflower to create the labels. 

Monday, July 11, 2011

Winter Wonders

Well Winter is certainly in full swing here in the Southern Hemisphere.  We've been pretty lucky in that the last week or so has been brilliant blue skies.  Unfortunately the beautiful skies have been accompanied by some of the coldest weather we've had all year!  There has been gale force winds throughout most of our state and the wind chill really does make a difference to the temperatures.  I do love the blue days (a cold, bright blue day is one of my favourite kinds of days) but everyone can do with some cheering up - so here are the things putting a smile on my face at the moment.
We had some friends over for dinner on Friday night - it was a lovely night of food, wine and company - and they gifted us some beautiful Sunflowers.  We've positioned them so that as you walk down the hallway, I smile each time I see them :) 
Despite the cold weather we've had my plants are continuing to grow.  I've got mint, parsley, rosemary and thyme.
They are all still growing really well, the parsley in particular.  The last two months I've taken bundles of parsley to quilting to share around because we can't possibly eat it all!
I don't do a lot of knitting, but at the moment I'm working on a gift for a friend.  For a number of years I've given her a hand knitted scarf for her birthday, and she seems to love them, so I'm working on one for this year.  I just finished a ball of wool and I think I'm just past half the length I'll need - so I'll be done soon!
I thought I'd leave you this shot of Sir Pinkying and I.  You know that winter is here when you have to snuggle under quilts even with the heater on!!

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

W.I.P Wednesday

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Lee over at Freshly Pieced does "W.I.P. Wednesday" which is going to give me a chance to list my current WIPs. Some of them you are already familiar with - but this is a more comprehensive list - all in one post - this could be a long one!

1) Hand sewing
Up first - Candied Hexagons - English Paper Pieced - 15 or so blocks to go, then insets and borders.  Feeling not at all guilty about this one!
 Celtic Applique - all scroll work basted down, but in need of being appliqued into place.  This is something that I tend to go back to when I'm looking for some hand work that is a little different to the hexagons!
 2) Piecework
Odd Fellows March blocks - all fabric cut for this quilt, including borders.  I haven't worked on them for a long time though and should probably get back to them!
 Asian Circles - I've done all the cutting for these and have a vague tickling of an idea of how I want to lay them out but need to find time to sit and sketch it out.  Sewed a few more of these blocks over the weekend and will hopefully get the the blocks finished this weekend.
 3) Completed tops
Urban Couture - this top actually doesn't have a name yet.  I've been calling it "Urban Couture" just because that is what the fabric is called... I would like to use this for free motion practice - but just not sure how to quilt it.
The "Sultry" quilt - another top with no name - other than it's fabric name!  I want to free motion this too, and I have a kind of swirly flower design in mind - but just can't figure out how to get from one flower to another. 
Placemats - these are going quite well - all the binding is made for them, and I've machined it on to 3 of 8 placemats.  I'm hoping to get the machining of the binding finished off this weekend.
I also have two other tops that are in need of quilting - both have actually been basted but I haven't been game to get started! 

Now that I look at the list, it really does seem that perhaps it is the lack of maching quilting experience that is holding me back.  I'm hoping to go to a free motion class later this year, so hopefully that will help!!

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Work(s) in progress

I thought I would give you all a quick update on some of the many projects that are in progress here.

First up - what does 89 English Paper pieced blocks look like?? A little something like this!
 I've been really enjoying watching this pile grow, especially as I've never hand sewn a whole quilt before, so there is a real sense of accomplishment with this one.  I'm also quite happy that this project hasn't gotten sidelined by other projects!!

So here is a little look at all the blocks laid out.  I needed to lay them all out so that I could figure out what I need to do for the remainng blocks.  I'm quite happy with how this is coming together, the colours are working quite well, and I only have about 15 blocks to go before I can start stitching them all together!  I'm really glad that I did lay them out, I've actually made one change to the positionings since this photo was taken, there are two blocks that are nearly identical quite close to each other... so I moved one!  Can you spot it??
My second update is on the placemats that have been in progress for a while.  They're all quilted, and late the other night I made 480 inches of binding (yes, that's right 480!!) and started sewing the bindings on.  I've done about half of them and then I'll have to stitch them to the back.  It's going to take me time but I'm getting there!

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