Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Work on Wed 22nd March

Hi Everyone,

Didn't blog last week, nothing much to show as had been making hearts for Luv Shack and only had a pile of hearts and an idea of what I wanted to do as had found a free pattern online for a small wallhanging designed by Jane Spolar and I really liked the heart shape and the simple design.

Discovered that by cutting carefully and reusing the cutout shapes on a second base I could make the hearts in both positive and negative making for less waste though both hearts had to face the same direction. With my red fabric selection made plus a few others it was time to play on my background.

Playing with placement of my red hearts.
Idea is that the hearts will colourwash out from the center to golds and then yellows, 
Decided to leave out the swirly bits and just use the "stems" and flowers as my accent .Although I had laid out more hearts I needed to fuse and stitch what I was happy with.

Happy so far, the gaps will continue placing hearts of this size and then look at filling the gaps with smaller hearts of varying sizes and shades.

Work stopped last Tuesday afternoon when Esther released block 3 of Diamond Hill. had been looking forward to the one with the big leaves and hooray it was that one. In the pattern it sits diagonally opposite block one so I knew what fabrics I wanted to use but my block 2 was bolder so needed to get the balance right with this one.

Leaves and first flower
Made my big leaves first and made the mistake of not putting it on my wall and standing back and taking a good look before diving in and stitching my bright green. There was no problem with the bright green but my darker green was too dark and was hard to see against the background. Changed the top of the leaf to the mid green which helped but didn't fix it completely so searched through my threads to find a brighter green thread that was still in the right colour family. It helped although still wish I had used the mid green.
Another issue at this point  was running out of my lime green Batik, enough for D Hill but had also used it on my Luv Shack and not enough for both. LQS had one that looked identical so decided to keep what was left for LS and use the new one for the rest of D Hill. Look closely and you can see that the smaller leaves are a different shade and so is the thread as was running out of that as well.
The changes look fine though so got away with it.
Used double blanket stitch for the leaves and single for the stems which has given more prominence to the leaves. First flower is the same orange fabric as block 1 but with double blanket stitch.
With all my double blanket stitch I am using a heavy tearaway under my stitching and removing afterwards to prevent any puckering.

Next two flowers
Pink flower is again same fabric as block 1 but used a variegated pink for my stitching and love the effect it has given. But the lavender flower was a disappointment at this stage.
Thread matches fabric too closely and the stitches created a whirling look around the flower, felt dizzy looking at it. Searched through all my threads and tucked away in a sample box  found a 12wt egyptian cotton in very soft variegated lavender so stitched my other flower with that and it was so much better. Being thicker I only used single blanket stitch. Happy with the result I restitched my first flower.

Amazing what a difference the thread can make.

Finished apart from the vase and non of the issues making it matter any more.

Today its back to making some more hearts for my friends quilt so am linking now with Esther's WOW and heading back to my sewing room.
Enjoy your stitching everyone.
Cheers Jenny

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Secret Garden Two

Hi Everyone,
Has been a week where I haven't wanted to leave my sewing room. Esther's second block of Secret Garden is so pretty I couldn't wait to start. Knew straight away I wanted a soft yellow vase as again it reminded me of the old fashioned ceramic vases of my mother's. Had struggled to find the right yellows in my stash for the flowers in Block 1 so had purchased a fairy frost last week that I wished I had had at the time it was going to be perfect but first for the iside of the vase.

A toning batik with fairy frost edge.

Front of vase  lightly padded and placed on stabiliser to stitch the lower inner line before adding to my block as I don't want to flatten this edge.

Stitched in place with edge part unstitched for stems and leaves'

Stems and leaves stitched.
the fine Bleubell leaves were too narrow for applique so drew in with an air vanishing pen and stitched with two rows of triple stitch in a variegated thread for softness.
Used a heavy stabiliser behind my fabric to keep the stitches from pulling. 
Ink is meant to disappear in 3 to 5 days but with the temp and humidity at the moment could only draw one branch at a time as it fades so quickly.

Then 54 bluebells!!!, traced and cut them all out at the sit and sew group on thursday, Yay, no machine to lug in, Had a multi coloured batik which was perfect as could just trace  a group close together and pick a patch of fabric to fuse them to.

Thought stitching them all would be tedious but I found it really relaxing maybe it was the soft colour I was working with.

With my flowers I wanted to create a trumpet effect so decided to stitch my inner lines before ading to my block. Left ends at start and finish and after removing the stabiliser folded the ends to the back and secured them to my fusing with the tip of the iron.

No knots at the edges and no chance of them coming undone.
Added light padding and stitched to my block.

For my trumpet effect I stitched lines fanning out from the base .
With the padding behind there is slight vertical puff rather than the horizontal puff I would have got from stitching the inner applique edges at this stage.

Didn't plan to thread paint my bird so no progress photo's. 
 Worked from my image of a Javan Green magpie

Printed the photo then reversed it on my light box and traced the very well defined markings then enlarged my tracing to the size of my pattern, Amazingly the shape was very similar to Esther's bird so used a bit of both, ended up with a slightly plumper bird but he eats well in the secret Garden.

After making him I wanted stitch his eye and enhance just the wing and crest, so cut out his eye and put white behind to reverse applique it and add the burgundy ring around it.
Here's how I stitched him.
Put him onto heavy tearaway stabiliser,  no fusing or basting necessary,started to stitch and it was going so well I didn't stop. Had my photo alongside for reference.
It really is just follow the flow, I didn't do the normal free motion as I wasn't going to get carried away but I loosened my pressure foot so that the fabric could move easily for stitching curves and with the size it was easy to stop and turn the work for the next line of stitching.
Stayed just inside the outer edge of my fabric while stitching so that had no stitches were hanging loose or had to be cut when the stabiliser was removed.
To put him on my background I added some fusing to the back to help secure him then stitched the raw edges with matching threads blending in to the other stitches with shor tcurved lines of straight stitches a bit like darning along the edges, some parts I did with little blanket stitch but then stitching over it with straight stitches. 

Cheated and used a variegated thread for the body and it worked really well.
It's not as fully stitched as it should be as didn't want to push my luck with how well it was turning out.
Only thing left was the chain which was always going to be machine stitched. Tried to find embroidery stitches similar to what Esther had drawn and use my machines memory to link them together. it worked in practice and I thought I was all good to go so I stitched them onto my block.

Doesn't look bad in the photo but the bottom elements stitched out of proportion and
 it needed more length plus my thread was too light. It is my favourite soft gold metallic thread but it didn't show up. Was scared to unpick in case I damaged the fabric but it wasn't staying there.
With stitching safely removed I added a narrow strip of fusible behind where I had stitched and pressed it to my stabiliser to reinforce it for my next attempt.
Checked into the group before I started and Bunny had just posted some samples she had been playing with, one I loved so back to my machine and I found one very similar.
It had to be easier not mixing stitches and it was.

So much better.
Used a deeper shade of gold thread, made it longer and added a ring with eyelet stitch to the bottom  and am very happy with my chain.

Thrilled with how it looks and it's even better when the two blocks are together.

Am so happy to be making Esther's Secret garden Pattern

So how am I filling my days till the 15th, My friend in Auckland that I made Frog Song for last year would like a quilt for their Bach or "Luv Shack" as they have named it. She's thinking of hearts/ bright / fun so thats my brief and the name taken care of.

While at Sit and Sew last Thursday found this pack of 8 half metre lengths of bright Fusions fabrics plus the little all over hearts fabric so have all my fabrics. have ideas for the style but still playing.

Today though I have to take care of this.

Have been looking for this for months.
When we added our ensuite I had to pack away what was stored in my then sewing room cupboards and a lot went into storage bags including all these old embroderies, linens and doilies done by my late Aunt and Mum plus some of my early quilting. All the bags came out when the hall cupboards were finished a few months ago, but this one was missing. Yesterday Steve finally found it buried in the garage, inside a spa bath we haven't installed and covered with lengths of timber.
Nothing has suffered any damage so today I'll go through everything, find it all a new home and enjoy the memories along the way.

Enjoy your week everyone,
Cheers Jenny.
PS heres a photo of Frog Song for those who haven't seen it.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

WOW 1st March Diamond Hill part 2

Hi everyone,

Ran out of time to post last week as had been having such a ball with the second of the  Diamond Hill blocks that completely forgot which day was which until it was too late. Think have finally got my head around DHill being bright and Secret Garden being soft and delicate so let myself go with my brights and my second block is even brighter than my first.

Decided this is the perfect quilt to let my machine applique stand out so tried out my double blanket stitch for the flowers which has a much larger stitch than I normally use. Also chose to use thrads that were slightly brighter than my fabrics to make the stitching stand out even more. After stitching the orange flower it was off to town as was not going to have enough thread to finish the block and although I had the aqua thread had no bright blue either.

Have padded my flowers slightly and with the bold stitching they really do pop off the background.

Had to really watch my points and curves with the bigger stitch, default setting is 3 length by 2.9 width so about 4 stitches from the points reduced my width for each stitch to  2.7  then 2.4 to 2.2 finally 2.0 for the stitch at the point then back out again on the other side, this meant I don't have overlapping stitches at the points.

Have taken a different approach to the vase with this block and have redone my first vase. Had appliqued my vase to the background fabric but this was making it too stiff as had fused the complete vase. For this vase I cut my strips then just fused a quarter inch at the top of each strip to hold them together then fused the top edge into place on my block and cut away the background from underneath. Won't stitch until the borders are in place so that I can stitch the triangles at the same time.
Unpicked top edge of my first vase and redid it the same way.

With block 2 finished I decided to play with the emboidery stitches on my Bernina, have not really used them and Diamond Hill has encourage me to play a little.
Had seen a heart quilt designed by Sarah Vedeler where the applique was embellished by embroidery machine, don't have that but wondered if I could do something similar with just my stitches so made a big heart and followed the design of one of her blocks.

My version of a Sarah Vedeler Heart Block
Not any where near as detailed as the original but yes my machine can create some interesting stitches.
Mind you I was exhausted afterwards with the concentration of stitching accurately.

Well now it's Wed 1st march and I was awake super early knowing that Esther is realeasing part 2 of Secret Garden today. Last month it arrived in my mailbox at about 1am so was sure it would be there at 4am. It wasn't and I still haven't received a new email link but when I went back to the payment receipt link from a week ago block 2 was attached to that.
Thankyou Esther, block 2 is even more lovely than the first block, the bird sent me to the internet as my first thought was a magpie but we only have black and white ones in NZ and that didn't seem to fit. Gosh, they come in all sorts of colours and think I may have found the one for me.

A Javan  Green Magpie
he looks so cute.
Think he will go well with Lilies and Bluebells so am off to make a start on my vase.

Linking now to Esther's WOW

Enjoy your week everyone,
Cheers Jenny

Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Secret Garden Block One redone

Hi Everyone,
Intended to spend the last week working on my oriental quilt but after finishing the first block of Esther's mystery BOM Secret Garden I started have serious second thoughts about it.
My colouring in before I started was soft and delicate but for some reason my flowers ended up bright and bold. The more I thought the more I realised I liked my block but I didn't love it.
This really threw me as my idea of a secret garden is somewhere you can go and just spend time dreaming lovely dreams and recalling wonderful memories, my block did none of that for me.

First thoughts of colours 
Esther had said the finished size of SG was 80" by 80" but I was surprised how big the applique pieces are, guess I was thinking Love Entwined and the hundreds of tiny bits to stitch, I pinned my block up on a diagonal like Esther's sketch page that showed a corner and my block looked so bold. Couldn't get my head around it, maybe because I was also thinking of SG as a wall hanging.
What would be the largest I would like my wall hanging, in our house probably 60" by 60"
Didn't even need the calculator for this one it's 75%  of the original so straight to the printer'
First thing was to remake my flowers and basket

New flowers and basket
This time had my contrast fabric on the wall and used whatever fabric fitted my softer look, Used lots of the same fabrics but chnaged what went with them. the little dark pink floral is still in but it has a Fusions fabric with gold  overlay as it's partner and pink fairy frosts joined in for others

New padded basket
Same Fairy Frost for the basket weave but changed background to a white FF with gold, and used a slightly deeper thread. making my basket changed as hadn't been happy with how the yellow had looked once the basket was stitched. this time I lightly padded the reverse with iron on Vilene 630 and did my stitching before adding my basket to the background, now have a slight puff to all the little squares.
Before LE I used to pad lots of my applique especially flowers so weent back to this method.

Once flower is fused and assembled on baking paper put Vilene with the sticky side down and place flower on top and draw around it.

Cut out roughly just outside the line and then trim a quarter inch inside the line. Position back on the flower and check the fit, in this case it needs a little more trimming  around the top curves so that the edges will stick to the background.

Position on the fabric and carefully press just around the edges then turn over and press from the reverse to fuse the background to the sticky side of the padding, then it's ready to stitch.
A couple of things if you are new to raw edge applique.
Your machine is set from the factory to be ideal for dressmaking with perfectly even tension, you do not want this for applique or you risk your bottom thread popping or your edges puckering because you are not sewing with a straight stitch.
Ideally use Bobbinful, Seralene or any other very fine thread in your bobbin, with my Bernina I feed it through the eye on the bobbin case which tightens the tension slightly.
Prepare a sample, fuse a fabric scrap to a scrap of your background fabric and stitch with your preferred stitch blanket or zig zag. Gradually loosen your top tension until your stitch is sitting perfectly flat with no pulling. My bernina's default toptension is 3.5 but for applique it is just under 2 and even less for some stitches or different threads.
When you look at the back you will think my tension is wrong but you are not dress making and the back won't be seen when you have finished your quilt

Used a beige Serelene for my bobbin and you can see how the top stitch has been pulled to the back showing the different colours used. Can see the burgundy is just a little tight but it is not noticeable from the front. Also tie off all my ends as I don't trust my machines tie off function for applique, last thing you need is stitching that starts to come undone when you have finished your quilt.

Stitched and looking pretty.

Stitched all my flowers first as was undecided what fabric to use for my leaves, lightened my stems and used a zigzag for stitching as they are quite narrow now.

The floral still works really well

Apricot now not Orange

Decided to only use my lighter fabric for the leaves as it has lots of variation and now my leaves are smaller I didn't need to fiddle with two fabics 

Lots of playing for key and bow fabrics. Stitched my circles and satin stiched the little hole before I attached the key, used heavy tearaway behind for these stitches to stabilise the fabric.
tried several different bow fabrics before decided on my contrast fabric. Fussy cut each part of the bow seperately to get the flowers but should have cut the piece over the basket to get more colourat the bottom. Couldn't resist having a butterfy for my center.

Soft and Delicate
This is what I imagined  my block would look like.

Amazing what changinfg just a few shades will do

Very happy to have finished it last night as today is the 15th and Esther will be giving us part 2 of Diamond Hill and I can have fun playing with my brights, on the right quilt this time.

Linking now to Esther's WOW.

Cheers Jenny

Friday, 10 February 2017

Secret Garden First Block

Hi Everyone,

Having lots of hot sticky summer weather at the moment, days continually around 30C but can add on a few extra where we are situated. Sewing room is lovely first thing but by midday starts to feel like a sauna but have still had a fabulous week working on Esther Aliu's new Mystery BOM Secret Garden
Printed out it was much biger than I expected ( had been making LE for so long had start to believe all applique pieces were tiny) so was happily thinking goody this is simple and sailed straight in.
To me the flowers were roses from the start, only the rosebud had thorns so I added some to another stem and was thinking through me favourite  roses from when we had a garden in Christchurch full of David Austin Roses for the colours I would use while making my stems and starting to stitch. About halfway up the first stem - that doesn't look right, what's wrong with my stitches!!
Had set my blanket stitch in reverse size so had  longer stitches very close together, hadn't checked my upper tension and my pressure foot was still at zero from doing free motion, I had raised the feed dogs at least. Was time to get my mind focused and start again.

For the basket I found a fairy frost in a very soft green as Mum used to have sage green and pale yellow vases when I was growing up, or were they jugs and the vases were white, not sure but do remember that the long vases had a metal pad in the bottom similar to a nailbrush but with metal spikes to push the stems into and there was a piece of chicken wire shaped to fit in the top to keep the stems upright. Amazing what comes back to you from a photo.
Cut my strips for the basket and placed them like the pattern but my Virgo mind didn't  like the irregular size of the spaces so cut more strips and did a complete weave using a second strip to set my spacing, ended up needing one slightly narrower strip at the left end, realise now if I had started placing from the left it would have been hidden under the bow,

Added leaves and flower before stitching my vase

Stitching my vase has been like stitching a jigsaw because of the overlaps, kept stitching myself into corners, even though I was travel stitching where ever possible from one space to another. Am about 3/4's done but need to place my bow before finishing. Decided flower needed extra definition so added a petal line and shaded the outer one a little, then decided to change it as felt the orange was too strong.

Like the softer look of it now.

Very happy with my dark rose, haven't changed a thing since I made it. Found a fat quarter of the center fabric at guild day on Sat and just had to have it also an orange version which I used in my bud.

The center flower is like the three bears, at least the middle two petals are.
First they were too light then they were too dark, now hopefully they are just right

Some of my inspiration roses

 David Austin Rose, Buff Beauty gave me the colours for the center flower.

Graham Thomas inspired my yellow flower

My orignal plan was for soft pinks and apricots
Guess this is fairly close.

Tried soft yellow and medium pink before deciding on this fabric for my bow.
Key is two shades of  Fusions fabric.

The circles I stitched before fusing my key to the block, placed a piece of heavy tear away under the key and used stitch 157 on my bernina 440, had practised first to check the number of needle movements to each stitch so I knew when the stitch was going to finish and I could make tiny movements to get an accurate circle. Really pleased with how it came out.

Now to finish my basket and have afew days on other projects before Esther releases month 2 of Diamond Hill,
Have a great week everyone, whatever you are doing.

Cheers Jenny