Monday 31 December 2018

2018 - a round up

The first thing I do before I write my round up of the year is to go to my 'quilty goals' post and see if I have accomplished what I have set out for myself.

Well, I didn't have much of a productive year I have to admit. One reason was our move in March this year, which took a long time and parts of my sewing space are still not completely finished. I still need a proper design wall, and I'm also trying to find a solution of how to hang my large quilts to a wall.

But I did finish two quilts that are very dear to my heart.
One of them is 'Purple Haze' (proper photos and blog post to follow). With the quilt top I've won my first ever prize: 1st in the international entries of 'quilt top only' of the 2018 Pantone Quilt Challenge. Everything about this quilt is so outside my comfort zone: the colour scheme, the curvy piecing and having to block the quilt due to heavy distortion after quilting. You can read more about it here.
Purple Haze is on its way to QuiltCon in Nashville already, I'm so happy that it got accepted to be in the show.

The second quilt is 'Four' with which I was part of the 'What shade are you' blog hop hosted by RJR Fabrics.
Four was a very challenging project with the use of 13 solids and an improvisationally pieced method. I love the soft colours and the play with different values. It looks so much better in real life and I think this might be the reason why it got rejected from being accepted into QuiltCon because the photos just don't do it justice. Anyhow, I'll try again next year, it still is a beautiful quilt whether it's at QuiltCon or not.

Talking about QuiltCon - obviously my second visit to QuiltCon in Pasadena was even more excitign than the first one, because I had my quilt 'Splinter' in the show!

I love this photo so much because that expression is like: OMG, is this really happening??? Pasadena was special because my husband was with me and experienced what this community is all about along hundreds of beautiful quilts and many quilty friends.

I also made two mini quilts this year:
One was 'Three', a mini quilt that I gave to Anne Sullivan at QuiltCon in Pasadena, and that eventually led to the design of 'Four'.

And 'Connected' which was a 15" small mini quilt made in line with the prompt by the Curated Quilts Magazine.

This year was all about exploring lines and finding an improv style I suppose.

I also made super fun table runner as part of a spring blog hop, I really love these fresh colours!

There was this zipper pouch as well as a gift for my colleague:

And there were two projects I made from the left overs and scraps from 'Purple Haze': One was this boxy pouch, which is so big and so handy:

And another project is this pillow:

I've just realised that I didn't write a blog post about it yet...

Another reason that I wasn't that productive was the extremely hot summer we had here and that I rather went on walks with my husband and our dog Biene than sewing.
But I started an adventure quilt that documents the adventure we have with Biene. These blocks are so much fun, it's a slow process but it continues to grow.

Here she is with a selection of the different blocks. I have no idea how to put that quilt together but I'm sure it will be a fun quilt once it's finished!

And of course my bee blocks I made for my 'Quilty Circle of Bees'. We are very reduced in numbers and I've realised I don't have photos of the blocks I made for Magda but here's a small overview of the other ones:

And I have finally started my Christmas quilt:

I made most of the blocks at my first ever Quilt retreat in November, which was so much fun and a great experience being with quilty friends not doing anything else than sewing for an entire extended weekend!

I'm very pleased with my projects and also excited what 2019 brings!

Linking to Cheryl at Meadow Mist Designs and the Best of 2018 Link - Up!

Friday 14 December 2018

What shade are you? Blog Hop 2018 - Four

I am so excited to be part in the RJR Fabrics 'What shade are you?' blog hop today. I have admired these beautiful cotton supreme solids and quilts made from them for a long time.
And I was always wondering how can I be considered to take part? Well, in my case I was not approached by RJR Fabrics themselves, I just wrote them an email. So, if you would like to be considered, just ask.

I had a hard time selecting colours. Because when I think of what shade I am then I don't really have an answer. I like a lot of colours and shades, there is no particular colour I use in all my quilts or I have a favour for. 
What I noticed recently is that I am drawn to soft tones rather than very bright colours. So I selected three main colours: blue, red and green and picked soft tones and different values of the same colour.

I have finally settled on these beauties:
Nile Green
Optical White
Rose Colored Glasses
Fairy Princess
Notting Hill
Proud as a Peacock

I knew I wanted to make an improvisationally pieced project. Following the principle from a mini quilt I made earlier this year I grouped the different values of the three main colours together and started to piece strips. 

 I was aiming for a light centre to the quilt and wanted the darker values radiate from there.

There was a lot of editing and rearranging on the design wall until I've settled on a final design.

I really like the contrast of subtle colour and value change horizontally and rather drastic vertically. I think it lets the eyes moving and it creates a lot of interest. I also turned direction of strips or have them in a smaller scale. I like to make rules and then intentionally break them.

I quilted more or less horizontal straight lines that vary in direction and density.

The more I quilted the better I liked it, the space between quilting lines vary from 0" to 1.5" and I also used eight different coloured thread.

I used faced binding and I really like the way it looks. I had the feeling that a normal binding would distract from the actual look of the quilt.

I like the crisp edges and the way the quilting seams just run to the very end of the quilt.

I used all remaining fabrics for the back and applied the same design principle here: light centre and radiating values towards the edges. The faced binding at the back though is a little too big for my taste. I followed a tutorial but I might reapply the binding and make it smaller since the back of the quilt is also really nice.

The dense quilting is very visible at the large solids areas and despite the density of the quilting lines the quilt is still very soft.

This is such a nice texture, it almost is too cuddly to hang the quilt up but that's what I'm planning to do.

I am very happy how this quilt turned out. Using only solids, and 13 of them, was a challenge for me but the improv method I started with the mini quilt turned out beautifully in a bigger scale. The mini quilt was called 'Three' so the continuation of it is 'Four' and so the name was a logical decision.
'Four' finishes at 55 x 62".

Thank you so much RJR Fabrics, for the opportunity and the generous fabric supply!

Here's the link to the RJR Blog 'Quilt with Love' where you can see all of the beautiful quilts made from their cotton supreme solids. 

Saturday 29 September 2018

Biene's Adventure Quilt block #7

After this super hot summer we're having an amazing autumn. Sunny, not too warm but with beautiful blue skies and sunshine. We decided to spend a few days at the Dutch coast again, time for long walks and relaxing evenings.

I made another adventure beach block and got Biene to sit beside it in the sand. Not an easy task when the dog has nothing else in mind but running after that ball.

It was still warm enough for Biene to dip her feet into the water and trying to be faster than the seagulls.

Here's the block I made. Pretty simple beige scraps for the sand, wavy print for the water and a blue solids for a clear blue sky. With the recent adventure blocks I'm tending to keep the block design horizontal to achieve a cohesive overall look. I hope that'll work out.

Oh I love this coastline so much. The minute I reach the beach I have a feeling of deep relaxation. Walking along the shore is almost therapeutic, there's nothing better than listening to the crashing waves, the wind and being in great company. 

Another rare selfie of the three of us in the dunes. The only way Biene would sit still is waving the ball in front of her face. 

Even when we had a break from chasing ball she could hardly sit still. If we wouldn't play with her she would play by herself, hiding the ball in the sand, only to dig it up again a few moments later. Even though Biene is already seven years old, at the beach she behaves like a puppy. 

Biene seemed to enjoy herself most wen she was absolutely covered in sand. That's what I really adored about her playful behaviour. Have fun, no matter what. With her at the beach it's a bit like: play like there's no tomorrow. Doesn't matter if you're getting dirty, if you have sand all over your face, it's the moment that counts.

In these few months since we have her Biene has taught me so much. A dog doesn't want much of you. Whether it's going for a walk, belly rubs or playing ball: A dog wants you to be present. It actually is that simple.

Sunday 23 September 2018

Is it worth it to block a quilt?

And will it actually work?
That question was in my head for about three months. I was debating with myself whether to leave the quilt as distorted as it was and just live with it or try to go the extra mile and block it. 

After my 'Purple Haze' quilt won 1st place in the international entries of the 'quilt top only category' in this year's Pantone Quilt Challenge I was very eager to start quilting it. I noticed some fabric shifting during the process but did not expect the outcome of it to be that bad!

In the space of 15.5" the quilt was out of shape for almost 1". That continued to be about 4.5" by the end of the quilt (see first photo above, quilt folded in half). I'd never have such a distorted quilt. I asked the quilting community for some advice as to why this happened.

Curved blocks apparently are a bit tricky and are prone for fabric shifting during the quilting process. I didn't know that, that's the first curved quilt I've made. And on top of it I opted for diagonal straight quilting lines... bad combination.

Deadlines are always a good motivator. As I've seen that the Bloggers Quilt Festival is due I just decided to give blocking a go. I've watched a good few tutorials and people used their carpet for blocking quilts. Since we only have timber floors I used my recently purchased insulation boards as base to pin the quilt into. By coincident the boards have a lovely lilac colour that suited the quilt very well. The boards are actually to become my new design wall, I still need some flannel to cover them.

But first the question: do I bind before or after the blocking process? And what will happen with my quilt when I wash it without the binding? I have heard that people blocked their quilts with and without the binding and had equally good results. Since my quilt was so badly distorted I decided to wash the quilt without the binding but sewed along all edges to secure the quilting stitches beforehand.

I washed the quilt in the washing machine for a bout 10 minutes at a very gentle cycle and only put the spin on for about 30sec. I was so afraid that the quilting would rip apart but it was all good. Some people put the quilt in the bathtub, I guess that works as well.

It actually wasn't that difficult to pull the quilt into shape. I used the perfect 90degree angle of the boards as a guide and started pinning the quilt in place. I marked the boards with tape to indicate the shape the quilt should have and left the quilt in place for 1.5 days to dry out.

I'm so happy now with this quilt! I just applied the binding today and will make this a last minute entry into the Bloggers Quilt Festival.

Unfortunately we have terrible rainy weather here today so I could only take indoor photos. I'm planning  to take better photos outside and will do another blog post soon. But here it is, nice and square! 

The result is better than expected. The quilt still is not perfectly square but I am totally happy with the way it turned out.

Before I blocked the quilt I had asked some quilty friends: so what happens with that blocked quilt when I wash it again? Will it loose it's shape again? Do I need to pull it into shape every time I wash it? Most people only block their quilts when it's a wall hanging quilt or to be issued for a show and basically never to be washed again, so no one really could answer that. If you have some experience with that please leave a comment!

I think I'll hang 'Purple Haze' up for a bit and enjoy these happy colours and I guess time will tell how the shape behaves after washing again.

So was it worth it to block the quilt? Definitely yes! Did it work? Surprisingly yes! Will I do it again? Well, I hope this doesn't happen that often but yes, I would definitely block a quilt again and next time I'm not waiting three months to do it!

I'm linking to the Bloggers Quilt Festival hosted by Amy Ellis. Go and see some amazing quilts!
Also linking to Finish up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts

Sunday 9 September 2018

Open wide zipper pouch

I just made another open wide zipper pouch. I just love these little projects! It's the middle size of the free pattern by Noodlehead.

A quilt sometimes can feel overwhelming, little projects like this are very satisfying.

Especially if they are a gift to a person, who loves it. That green print by the way is one of my all-time favourites!

This pouch I made for a dear colleague who is off to an adventure in South America, with a backpack and a one way ticket. Since I know how messy a backpack can get I made her that pouch to hopefully avoid any mess!

Friday 7 September 2018

Biene's Adventure Quilt - block #6

We enjoyed the last bit of the hot summer days in August with Biene and went for a swim. Well, Biene did, we just had fun watching her.
As with previous water blocks I opted again for a nice wavy print to represent the water.

Biene loved the water and the welcoming coolness of it, no wonder she kept hopping in an out.

Give that dog a ball and she's happy!

The excitement was big and it was hard to have her sit still. She would lay down for just a few seconds, not leaving the ball out of sight.

And that's Biene in what used to be green grass. This heat wave has burned all the grass that Biene now is pretty much camouflaged.

Thursday 6 September 2018

Bee blocks for Allison

I just realised that I never showed you the bee blocks I made for Allison in July!

Allison is making a two colour quilt in mainly yellow and white but also with some chartreuse.When you're making a big quilt it's always good to get some help of your quilty bees!

Allison's quilt design includes these beautiful star blocks that accompany applique blocks, that Allison is doing herself.

I used a variety of yellow prints and made one block in chartreuse. The blocks are 8.5" square.

Here and here you can see the progress Allison is making with her quilt. This is going to be a beautiful one!

Tuesday 4 September 2018

Boxy Pouch made from scraps

I had a lot of oddly shaped scraps left from my Pantone quilt 'Purple Haze' so I decided to use them straight away. I love that colour combination so much anyway.

I have been admiring these boxy pouches by Katie of SewKatieDid and I thought I have enough scraps to make one pouch. Because you can never have enough pouches!

That were the two panels I made. Mostly all strips were individually pieced with tiny scraps. Not the quickest way to do it but what can you do when you have small but lovely scraps?

And this one is really large! I first made it more squat but didn't like it so I adjusted it to make the shape of the pouch more square and I like it better that way.

While adjusting I also added a second strap, there's one at each end now which makes it easier to handle when zipping and un-zipping the pouch.

This lovely pouch is a great way to use up scraps or, what Katie suggest, using orphan blocks.  I'll definitely make another one!

Linking to Finish it up Friday at Crazy Mom Quilts