Tuesday, 29 September 2009

Baby quilts

Kevin's family is going through a baby boom (welcome to the family, Kailen!) so it is time I get some baby quilts made.

I have been really, really enjoying Leah Day's 365 Days of Free Motion Quilting Filler Designs - every day she adds a new filler free motion quilting design.  Check it out - it's really cool!

I have never learned how to hand quilt (although I finally know how to make a quilter's knot!  hurray!) and I often feel like my FMQ lets me down - I can do a couple of patterns, but it is definitely is my weakest area in quilting (as well as maybe general laziness when it comes to doing enough squaring).

I decided to start a "quilt as you go" project, to try out a bunch of these FQM patterns and to improve my skills.  I have cut out 32 blocks:

I have sewn around the orange center to stabilize, and I have started quilting!  It is lots of fun (although I have already run out of my selected thread... I'll have to pop into town tonight after work...)

Please keep in mind that I am not nearly, nearly as good as Leah at FQM...

I have tried Sea Oats:

The orange centres are just some old sheets that I got Kevin to dye, and the edges are some fantastic batiques that I bought while Kevin's parents were in town - it is my first time working with batiques, and I now understand why everyone raves about them!  The backing is some old, old fabric that Kevin's parents found in his grandparent's cabin in the mountains - so it really is a family quilt!

** Update: the name has been revised to Khilen, pronounced Kyle-en.  The pictures have proven that he is a very, very cute little boy!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

Deoxyribonucleic acid

Yeah, I know I should be finishing the binding on the wedding quilt, or working on a baby quilt, or generally doing something more productive than making a new pattern to ignore...  But it's pretty cool, isn't it?

The wedding was fantastic, and they really liked the "starter quilt" - perfect in case it rains on their honeymoon!  I managed to negotiate another week's grace to finish binding the quilt, so I guess I have something to do while I watch "the X-Factor" tonight.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

A return to being me

I took Wednesday, Thursday and Friday off to help my friend with her wedding, but the commitments for Wednesday and Thursday have been pretty light.  Instead, I have ended up taking the time to recover from the last couple of weeks of insanity.  

I got their "quilt pack" started - the central squares are cut and the triangles for the corners are printed.  I am giving them enough for 16 8" blocks - enough to get them started and playing, but not as intimidating as a full bed sized quilt!

I still want to write up some instructions, but I will need Kevin to take some pictures for the complete effect.

I also cleaned.  I cleaned a lot.  I think a lot of my frustration was because my home was so chaotic.  I can now use the bathroom without feeling guilty about how badly it needs cleaning!  Hurray!

With all the dirt, I managed to clean away my frustration about our guest (who is now gone).  His bedsheets are cleaned and the room is back to being my sewing space.

Of course, I baked an apple pie.  And I let the neighbour's kitten attack my feet repeatedly.  Slippers are important protection.

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Quiet Spaces

I am one of those people who really needs my own space. I hated living in a dorm during my undergrad. I really need time where I don't need to worry that someone wants anything from me - even if it is just friendly conversation.

Maybe the truth is, no matter how "customer facing" I am at work, I am still just a quiet nerd at heart, who just wants to get on with my life in a dark basement.

This is part of the reason I don't mind the insane travel I have to do for work - when I'm travelling on my own, I get the flight, the hotel rooms and the drives that are completely mine!

I didn't have my quiet space this weekend (or in the last couple of weeks, for that matter) and it is starting to drive me crazy. It's sad that I'm so desperate to lock myself in my sewing room for a couple of hours... or take over the kitchen table and do some cutting... or turn on a bad movie and do some stitching...

Obviously, I haven't gotten much sewing done this week. Our guest did leave, but it has gotten to the point in the year where it is too dark in my sewing room to do anything when I get home from work (a new lamp is in the mail!). I did get about 20% of the sphere pattern printed and cut out.

I managed a bit of time in my sewing room to bind the wedding quilt on Saturday morning, but then we went to another wedding, I had a bunch of friends over in the evening, and the following morning I ran in a charity race. By the afternoon I was too tired to think straight (yay naps!) and then it was evening again... and our guest was back (I hadn't realized he was coming back for 2 days), so I couldn't slip away like I wanted to. I hope I wasn't too passive-aggressive with him... but that's what happens when I don't get my quiet spaces...


Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Inspiring Pictures - Buildings with unusual angles

Going through my folder of photos, I have found a lot of pictures with buildings that don't use 90º angles.

I spend a lot of time thinking about perspective. When you look at a cube close-up, it no longer looks like a cube - the sides elongate and the angles distort:

Every time I set up a quilt pattern with my computer program, I try to chose the right perspective to twist the angles away from the usual pattern, but maintain the correct size to the viewer.

We usually look at buildings in perspective, since we are so much smaller than them! I find it really interesting when architects alter the angles on their buildings to change the perspective, rather than changing the perspective itself.

Take this building in Amsterdam, for example. The door is a proper 90º from the ground. But the entire building is tilted over, even though it looks like I am taking the picture from below it (which, admittedly, I am, but not as much as it looks).

The Dutch are fantastic for this sort of game. Here is another building (I can't remember the city!) with some fun angles.

Tokyo, Japan. I love how this one "spins". Another pattern that I would love to make some day. It also gets smaller at the top (as well as the perspective), so it looks much taller than it actually is.

Seoul, S. Korea. I have a lot of pictures of the curves on roofs of traditional Oriental buildings - it is such a satisfying "flare". I wonder if there is a geometry to it like the "golden ratio".

Finally, of course, a pod hotel (Tokyo again). It seems so dated and 60's now... But it is also a lot like the "inner city" patterns some people make.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Coming Along...

My last week has been crazy, but a quiet weekend has helped me recover my sanity.

The quilt show went really well. It was the first time I had really shown other quilters my work, and I got some really great feedback (phew!). We got a lot of people through the door, and raised a lot of money for the group and for charities.

We also had Norah McMeeking come and do a talk on landscape quilts on Wednesday night. Her Bella Bella quilts look so amazing, and yet the geometry is so simple. Really fantastic! I want to try out some of the techniques she mentioned one of these days...

Project updates:
- wedding quilt - I did a bit more quilting, and have tied off the loose ends. Just squaring and binding to go (the project for next weekend!)
- wedding project - I have decided to give them enough blocks to make pillow covers. Then, if they like it, they can go on to make a quilt top. I hope that is less intimidating than a huge pile of fabric!
- bulging blocks - I have done some machine sewing, but now I have lost my sewing room, so not much further movement.

As for the next project... As Kevin had the strongest opinion (and, well, I do have to live with him!) I went with the sphere. I have added a background (stolen from the compass idea) and put in some stars around the edges to use up some of the empty space in the print-outs.

I couldn't make the sphere as large as I had hoped, since I only have so much fabric I could use up. The sphere and edge will be 52". The stars are 8", so the complete quilt will be around 72-76".

I got some beautiful, shiny pima cotton sheets from a second hand store a couple of months ago and dyed them:

(so all of the blue in the plan is a great big lie). I am sticking with the "sun" theme, and painted some yellow and red into the fabric, although it isn't very bright. I have no idea what I will do about the background yet - I will think about it when I get there.

I have also put together most of the pattern. All that leaves is the printing, cutting, sewing and quilting!


Saturday, 5 September 2009

My Next Project

- I am almost done the quilt for my friend's wedding
- I am about to lose my sewing room for a week

- all my other project is at the point where there is only machine sewing left to be done
- I have an insane amount of travel coming up in October

I think that I should start on my next project.

I am leaving the compass for now, since it will require a lot of thinking/shopping/dying the right fabrics.
I really want to do something geometric after working with bulges for so long.

Up for consideration are:
Another sphere. Note that I did sit down and figure out the pattern from the ceiling in Dali's museum - thank goodness for insomnia! I have tried to make spheres like this a couple of times, slowly iterating towards the right technique. I want to make the sphere itself about 60" wide (which makes most of the pieces about 6" x 9", I am happy to say!

Kevin really likes this option. He wants me to map on "land" colours according to Earth (or a similar planet). I am also considering making it in yellow/orange/red, and quilting it in corona and swirls for a sun. It could be a really fun one!

Second option:
A systematic study of rotating cubes. Each rotated cube would be scaled to the same size as a 2" tumbling block cube, and would be in a larger hexagon with a 4" side length, so that everything would map onto a classic tumbling blocks pattern (like I did for my "truly tumbling" quilt).

I would make it with Japanese folding, so that it would be pretty modular and easy. I have big ideas for how to dye the fabrics.

This one makes more sense if I want to post patterns on my website (when will I ever get back to that?). Also, if any of the dyeing etc. goes wrong, I can throw a bunch of bits into a baby quilt for the upcoming niece or nephew.

Any thoughts?

(Off to the last day of the quilt exhibit!)


Thursday, 3 September 2009

Cambridge Quilters Exhibition!

A quick post after an exhausting day - Kevin and I just spent 8 hours putting up quilts for my local quilt group's show. For such a small group there is some really amazing work - I'm so lucky that I can learn so much from the people around me. I'm also really, really lucky for Kevin - at 6'4", he was a hero for putting up all the really high quilts and helping out!

My Inverted Horizon:

And a detail to see just how stressed I was to sit around quilting such tiny spirals for hours and hours and hours... Thank goodness that project is over at work!

And my Exploding Blocks:

Everyone in the Cambridge area should come along! Friday & Saturday 10-5, Sunday 10-4!

Tuesday, 1 September 2009

Excessive Squiggles

Last weekend was a Bank Holiday, which was really, really nice. The hen party for my friend (Anna's) went really well , although I was incredibly stressed out about it! Sunday I cleaned and did some shopping, and then Monday I sat down at my sewing machine and worked on Dan and Anna's wedding present.

The wedding is on the 25th, but I have another friend coming to stay with us from the 10th to the 22nd, so I will lose my sewing room :-( That means I really need to get to finishing this guy!

Have you ever sat down and just needed to do squiggles? I couldn't help it... It feels like the last couple of weeks were very linear. Maybe I'm just strange.

Anyway, this has been the fate of my bulging blocks. They are now a throw for the bottom of a bed. It's 18" wide, and probably about 100" long. The squiggles overpowered the bulging blocks, so I tried to enhance the bulges with some shading... which didn't work very well.

Then again, I always dislike my quilts for about 5 years, after which I can look and them and no longer see just the mistakes!

A little bit more quilting (I have to finish the shading now that I have started it!), tying the knots, and then squaring and binding. I am not sure how I am going to get it done in time, but that's life.

I am trying to decide if this should just be part 1 of the gift. When we were talking to them a couple of weeks ago, they said that they were considering making a quilt together as a project for the first year of their marriage. They know nothing about quilting, and Anna has only ever hand sewn! Would it be cheeky of me to use up some matching fabric, and print a pattern on it for them? I'm thinking of something really simple like a snowball pattern (she's an excellent painter, and could paint pictures in the centres).

Or is it lazy to make them make their own quilt?

Anyway, tomorrow I help out setting up the Cambridge Quilters' Exhibition. Hurray! The first time I have put my quilts into a show!