July 22, 2014

Applique respite

I am probably the only person crazy enough to stop mid-packing for our upcoming move to another house, lock herself in the quilt room and, to the relaxing tunes of instrumental music, start machine appliqueing flowers with many curves...

I left enough stuff in my quilt room, not knowing if I would have time to do anything. I am glad I did. Machine appliqueing slowly due to the curves has allowed me to breathe, pace myself, re-energize.

Yesterday, I searched high and low for matching threads for this project. I did not want to order them via the Internet as there was no time (in my mind only) to wait for shipping. I finally found the threads I wanted albeit of a different brand (Sulky, when I was looking for Aurifil). Again, I am glad I went on that wild goose chase, even as I know I won't be able to finish all the applique today.

It is all right. It has already worked its magic and I am ready to continue packing. Thus it is with crafts in general: they provide respite from tribulations. People like to say they are cheaper than therapy. Well, check out all my supplies and you will immediately know it isn't true. However, it is a much more pleasant alternative...

What craft or project do you work on when you need relaxation? Drop me a line...

July 21, 2014

Animal Parade

Martingale - Animal ParadeAt the end of a frustrating day, I opened my mail box and found just what a needed to lift my mood: a book with baby quilts sent for review. Not any book, mind you: the quilts in this book are gorgeous, with simple blocks as background to beautiful applique'.

Animal Parade, Adorable Applique Quilt Patterns for Babies by Cheri Leffler features 10 quilt projects, each with a different animal: giraffes, owls, ducks, foxes, frogs, sheep, turtles and other sea creatures, koala bears, penguins, and monkeys. The quilt designs are stunning in their simplicity, accented by the appliqued animals which were almost all drawn by one of Cheri's daughters, Michelle.

You could choose to use Cheri's needle-turn applique' method, explained in the first pages of the book, or use machine applique, which is what I will do. The book includes full-size patterns and large applique' shapes, as well as clear instructions and diagrams.

Take a look at a few of the projects and you will understand why I am so excited about it:

Martingale - Animal ParadeMartingale - Animal Parade
(Photographs by Brent Kane for Martingale)

Martingale - Animal Parade Martingale - Animal Parade

Cheri has been quilting, teaching, and working with fabrics as a shop owner or staff for many years. I am glad she translated her amazing artistic talents into a book!

I am moving to another town this week, so I will need to wait until my quilt room is organized before I can tackle another project. As soon as I am settled in, I will start the quilt with penguins, not shown here. I cannot wait!

Have a wonderful week,

July 14, 2014

Fabric sale!

Displaying ModaSale-NL.jpg

I am back from Brazil! It is quite possible that my return so upset the Brazilians that we lost the World Cup... This is all I will say about that disaster.

Now, for the good news: Fat Quarter Shop is having a sale on all Moda fabrics: 25% until July 18. Sewing has been but a dream the past few weeks. The next best thing is to buy fabrics for my stash! So, I am heading over there to get some goodies.

Just thought you would like to know! Have a great day,

June 26, 2014

English Paper Piecing

Martingale - English Paper Piecing II (Print version + eBook bundle)When I travel I like to bring with me two or three projects to work on during downtime. For this trip (I am in Brazil visiting family) I am knitting socks, a scarf, and doing English paper piecing. When I don't feel like knitting, I can hand sew. English paper piecing is ideal for using scraps of fabric, which can be conveniently packed in small bags for traveling.

As usual with English Paper Piecing for me, I have no idea what I will do when I have all the pieces prepared. I spent some time this morning thumbing through Vicki Bellino's English Paper Piecing II for inspiration and was totally blown away by her cool projects. Wall hangings, cover ups, bed runners, totes... each project showcasing hexagons, diamonds, scallops and other interesting shapes used very creatively.

I particularly like the ones where Vicki appliqued the pieces onto blocks, with great template shapes used in unexpected ways. Here a few for my quilting 'bucket list':

Martingale - English Paper Piecing II (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - English Paper Piecing II (Print version + eBook bundle)
               (All photographs by Brent Kane for Martingale)
Martingale - English Paper Piecing II (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - English Paper Piecing II (Print version + eBook bundle)

Aren't these gorgeous? Vicki loves paper piecing and it shows... Whether you already love EPP or always wanted to try it, this book is a great choice. The general instructions at the beginning of the book are very detailed with clear diagrams, a useful resource for beginners and experienced paper piecers alike.

Well, time to go for a walk and be inspired by nature. Enjoy your day!

June 17, 2014

Tea pots wall hanging

I have been wanting to make a quilt with teapots for a long time, and finally got around to making it. Although smaller than the one on the pattern (which I cannot mention because it is PACKED for the move! Dang it!!! I promise to update this post as soon as we settle in), I think it turned out nice.

This quilt reminds me of my grandmother, and I will call it "Grandma's Cupboard".

I raided my stash of blue fabrics, choosing fabrics with small prints to emphasize the shape of each tea pot (except for the butterfly fabric, which I purposedly used on a large tea pot). The tea pots were fused with Heat'nBond Lite and were machine appliqued with blanket stitch and matching threads. I love machine applique...

I doodle-quilted it with Signature white thread on the background, and made flowers on the border. Fun and relaxing quilting, no marking.

Wall hangings are really all I have had time for lately. While I am traveling I will post more book reviews, which I hope will help you as you decide which ones to acquire for your quilting library this Summer.

Have a fun week!

June 13, 2014

Stack, Shuffle, and Slide

Martingale - Stack, Shuffle, and Slide (Print version + eBook bundle)

This quilt is so beautiful! The colors, the mosaic look... It is called "Shattered" by Karla Alexander, published in her newest book Stack, Shuffle, and Slide. You must have seen this before: stack your fabric layers, cut them in a particular way, then shuffle the pieces so no block looks the same...

Karla sewed thin strips to each piece to give it the 'shattered' look once blocks are put together. Each block measures 21 inches. The instructions and diagrams are very detailed and easy to follow, so I will have not problem making this quilt. I am thinking batiks.

 I am totally smitten...

This book has 15 projects, all featuring Karla's stack-cut-shuffle method which is explained in four pages. Take a look of other candidates to my cutting table:

      (Photograph by Brent Kane for Martingale)
Martingale - Stack, Shuffle, and Slide (Print version + eBook bundle)Martingale - Stack, Shuffle, and Slide (Print version + eBook bundle)
(Photographs by Brent Kane for Martingale)

Martingale - Stack, Shuffle, and Slide (Print version + eBook bundle)

If you are looking to learn a new technique, this may be the book for you. The possibilities are endless for modern as well as more traditional blocks with a new twist. This is Karla Alexander's eighth book, and it is definitely a keeper...

June 11, 2014

Knitted afghan finished! Great way to join the blocks...

I finished my first knitted afghan! Happy day! I omitted one knitted block because there was no room for it. The blue rectangle sort of complicated the layout but I was determined to make it a part of the afghan. Luckily, I had two blocks (crochet) that fit after some fudging.
Many years ago I bought yarn to crochet these blocks and make an afghan. However, the blocks were soooo time consuming! First you crochet a strip from each color, than you weave the strips, pin them and crochet the border. I only made three blocks before I gave up... When it was time to learn to knit afghan blocks I pulled out all the old yarn.
Instead of knitting blocks and rows together, I wanted to crochet them. I found a tutorial on YouTube on how to join the blocks so they lay flat and do not have a ridge around them as most granny square afghans do. If you notice on the picture above, the stitches form a zigzag - I love it!!!
Once I joined the blocks, then the rows as we do in quilting, I did a row of single crochet around the project, then one row of double crochet. I used a large crochet hook (US size 11, 8 mm), my regular yarn plus Cello Sensations for its fuzzyness. Blankets usually have a satin binding, so I wanted this one to have a soft edge, too.
The afghan we were learning had 24 blocks. Mine will be turned into at least two. This one will be a gift to my niece Amanda who just got into college. The weather is cooling down for Winter in Brazil, so the afghan will come at a perfect time as there is no heating in residences or anywhere over there.

The next one will be for her sister, Soraia, and I will start it as soon as I have a chance to return to knitting class, probably sometime in August.

In the meantime, what have you been up to?


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