Saturday, 18 April 2015

RSC 15 week 16: Who broke the sugar bowl?

April's colour in the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is purple.

My guess is that the person who wasn't content with breaking plates had to break the sugar bowl too. Personally I don't get it, but Angela at Soscrappy, who hosts the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, says this block is Broken Sugar Bowl, and I'm sure she's right.

Sawtooth Star surrounding Broken Sugar Bowl
This really is purple, including the star points, with French Navy background fabric; not the best photographic colour balance adjustment!

On Saturday I shall be linking up to
RSC 15

Hop over there and see the other purple passions.

Happy Sewing


Saturday, 11 April 2015

RSC 15 week 15 : Purple star

Each month sees a different colour for the Rainbow Scrap Challenge, hosted by Angela at Soscrppy. This month's colour is purple, and here's my one purple star so far: Carrie Nation block in a Sawtooth star..

Carrie Nation in Sawtooth Star

I showed the centre unit of this block last Saturday, but now I've added the star points and made the purple parts of an alternate block. I saw yesterday that Angela had posted the instructions for a second purple block, but I won't be working on that until later next week. I also did some preparation towards purple nine patches, but no sewing yet.

This week I received a mystery give-away package from Dasha in Australia, containing some lovely fabric showing Australian birds:

birds I've only ever seen in cages, and so different from our native European birds, most of which are brown or black. These are a rainbow in themselves! Now I'm considering how to use this fabric: fussy-cut squares framed by a different fabric, appliqué, broderie perse or what? Do you have any suggestions, because cutting it into 2½" squares would be a waste!

Also my RSC14 quilt is finally now one piece. No pictures yet, but hopefully it'll have quilted borders, a binding and a label by this time next week.

I shall be linking later to the linky party at

RSC 15

so hop over there to see more purple splendour.

Happy sewing


Monday, 6 April 2015

Finish Along 2015 Second Quarter

This year the finish along is being hosted by Adrianne at The Windy Side

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side
Last quarter I only finished one project from my list. So now the other four head the new list. Click on the photo caption by each picture to read a post about the project.

1. Toadstool House
heads the list. This is it's fourth appearance on my list, but I have worked on it each quarter.

Toadstool House
Originally it was going to be a wall hanging. Changed my mind. Then my daughter wanted a cushion. Changed my mind. Now It's going to be a book cover, but I need to make it bigger.

2 Optical illusion
was a project for a course running from November to January at QuiltersPalet in The Hague. 

Optical Illusion
I started quilting this in January, then hit a problem. 

3 Rainbow Scrap quilt
From the Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2014,

Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2014
is nearly finished as I write. It just needs to have the joins and borders quilted, labelled and bound. Doesn't sound like much work does it?

4 Sew Together bag

Sewing: Sew Together Bag
Sew Together bag (photo from Craftsy site)

This is a pattern (by Sew Demented and available through Craftsy) that I bought on New Years Eve. 

Essential supplies for the Sew Essential bag.
This is as far as I've got, but the fabric will be from stash.

5. Batik table runner

Batik table runner
I optimistically started in February, using a roll of 2½" batik strips but hit a problem after about 4 days when the local shop didn't have any white/off-white batik with a green or brown or even purple vein. I should have some next weekend.

6. Secret sewing
The deadline for this is in April, so I  should must get this done!

I hope that's realistic and even though it's longer than my last list I'll be doing my best to get them ALL finished by the end of June!

I'm linking up to

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Happy Sewing


Saturday, 4 April 2015

RSC15: The first of the Purple

April's colour at the Rainbow Scrap Challenge is purple and the first sampler block went up early this morning.

This morning's work:

Carrie Nation

The sawtooth star surround will be added later.

Linking up to:

RSC 15

So pop over there to see what other scrappy delights have been made this week.

Happy Sewing


Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Work in Progress: Quilt as you go

This is my Rainbow Scrap Challenge 2014 quilt.

It's now in two pieces, so the end is in sight. Last time I quilted a full size bed quilt on my domestic machine I had the devil of a job steering the fabric under the needle. The result was curves, meanders and circles with hooks and spikes! Every now and again the quilt would slip over the edge of the table and pull the whole thing sideways, or bump into the wall behind the machine and push everything back towards me.

Since then I've quilted a few smaller pieces and the result was much better. The weight was more manageable.

Result: quilt the RSC14 quilt in four quarters and join them afterwards. Quilt As You Go. Brilliant!

I have a magazine article on the subject where you are advised not to quilt right up to the edge of the pieces to be joined, peel the wadding and the backing aside and join the two edges of the top with the standard quarter inch seam. That done, cut off the excess wadding so that the wadding butts together, hand slip-stitch that together, and then slip-stitch the pieces of backing together. Hmm! That's what I planned to do, but towards the end of the quilting I was having serious doubts.

The idea of CUTTING into an almost finished quilt filled me with horror! What if...? Don't go there! I remembered that in a quilting workshop a few years ago, I had made a sample of a QAYG join. Fished out the sample and the instructions and hey presto!

So this is what I have been doing since the middle of last week:

1.  With 0.25" seam allowance sew a seam through both quilt sandwiches, right sides together, ie through four layers of fabric and two layers of wadding. Iron the seam open.

First attach the walking foot and put the needle as far to the right as possible.

At this stage I discovered it's difficult to hold four layers of cotton and two layers of cotton wadding in position, even when clipped together, with this as the result:
Only one thing for it:

(this happened in several places)

2.   Hand stitch the seam allowance to the backing: be careful not to stitch through into the top. 

This is where I discovered that a quarter inch seam is not enough when you have to fold two layers of fabric and a layer of wadding back over itself. There is not much seam allowance left to stitch down. It doesn't matter too much because this is only tacking to hold the layers in place.

3.   Cut a strip of fabric 1.5" wide, fold it lengthwise edge-to-centre and press.

4.   Slip stitch to the backing on each side of the seam. I think perhaps the flaps on the strip are meant to fold under the seam allowance, but that's too fiddly for my arthritic fingers.

5.   Repeat stages 1 to 4 until everything is joined. 

Conclusion: The hand stitching went perfectly, if slowly. The problem was keeping a consistent 1/4" (or 3/8") seam on the machine. On the whole quilting in parts of 42" square and joining afterwards is a more comfortable option than joining first and quilting in one go.

Since starting this I've read a tutorial on a much quicker method at Little Island Quilting, but I was too far into this method to make a switch.

I'm linking this up to
Wednesday link up Sew Fresh Quilts Needle and Thread Thursday

So pop over there and see what else has been going on this week.

Happy sewing


Friday, 27 March 2015

RSC 15 week13: The final yellow

Each month Angela at Soscrappy gives a colour and some sampler patterns and lots of people round the world use that colour: some to make the sampler blocks, others to work on other projects. This month the colour has been yellow. On Saturdays we link up to show one another what we've been making in the last week

I sewed some 1.5 inch squares into nine patches; I don't know what for, but just because they were there. I was going to use nine patches in the border of the 2014 RSC quilt, changed my mind, but kept on making nine patches.

Last week I posted about this:

and asked you what the smallest size is you think worth saving. The answers ranged from:

  • 0.5" square to 2" square, or
  • 0.75"wide by 2.75" long, or "anything with a seam allowance"!
I'm amazed! I hadn't expected anything less than 1" wide.

I also asked what you do with really tiny scraps. Here is a summary of the answers I received:

  • spread out on the garden as mulch
  • donate to junior school / child care institution for craft projects
  • save for appliqué
  • use the tiniest pieces under tulle in appliqué
I don't have a garden any more, and I'm not sure if (excess) dye in fabric is good for plants, nor how quickly it rots away. If I still had some land I would try mulching the neighbour's hedge! Just testing, of course!

The other three ideas I found very encouraging. 
I've just put a bag of scraps (mostly from dressmaking) together for my granddaughter who, according to my daughter, is always cutting and gluing. 

The other small pieces I'm saving for appliqué.

Last week a no-reply blogger asked how I sewed the crumbs together. Now I don't know about everyone else, but I start with an irregular pentagon and just keep adding pieces round it. Just like a log cabin, a wonky log cabin that is. When I need a longer piece than I have in the bin, I just sew two or three together until I have a long enough piece. I don't use any foundation fabric or paper. I try to straighten up the sides by cutting off as little as possible, but if I need to cut off a large piece I make it really large and it can be the start of the next crumby block. So far it seems a lot like crazy quilting, except the pieces are much smaller, and there are no embellishments.

The other sewing this week was quilting my 2014 Rainbow quilt which came to a stop on Monday. Can you see what's missing?

A trip to the LQS on Wednesday remedied the situation and the last quarter is quilted and the quilt is being assembled. I'm putting it together by QAYG, I don't know yet how successful that will be, but quilting the smaller pieces (approximately 42" square) was much easier than holding a full-sized quilt under the needle of my machine,

I saw this afternoon that Angela has changed the background colour on her blog, so it looks like April's colour is purple. While I was pulling fabric for my granddaughter I kept all purple crumbs for myself and even found some purple blocks in there already made.

On Saturday I shall be linking to
RSC 15

so hop over there to look at more scrappy sunshine.

Happy sewing


PS What's missing? I ran out of wadding! But you all saw that!!!

Monday, 23 March 2015

Camera Challenge 2

Littlest Thistle Camera Challenge 2015

Katy, at the Littlest Thistle, is holding a Camera Challenge.

The second assignment was about understanding aperture.

This was an assignment and a half!

I took hundreds of photos of  objects all lined up:

But rejected them all!

Until this morning, when I hit on the idea of lining them up with the focus points on the camera, and then manually changing the focus point from one to the other as I moved through the series. That way I didn't have to move the camera, just the settings.

The only setting I changed in each photo was the aperture priority.
I labelled each photo with its colour (for identification) and f number. Violet is on the left and purple on the right. I won't bore you with red and green; they don't add anything.

Here are nine photos, plus a bonus!

What are those mysterious light spots on the purple spool?
Reflections from my watch, necklace, wedding ring ...?
The other settings, constant in all photos:
Camera: Canon EOS 450D
Lens: EFS 18-55mm
ISO: 200
Exposure adjustment: +1 (a mistake, but I'm not doing them all again!)
Light balance: auto
focal length: 18mm 

Interesting is that the exposure times increase as the aperture value increases. (Good job I have a tripod!)

There are the mystery spots again.

To be honest, I know there's a difference, but find it hard to see in this format. Probably because  of the lens but maybe because the purple spool is only 14 cm/ 4.5" further from the camera than the violet. Maybe it's .jpg format that's the problem.

And finally, by way of contrast, this photo I took after a heavy shower last September with my zoom lens:

Canon EOS 450D
Lens: EF 75- 300mm
ISO: 800 (set on auto)
Evaluative metering
Aperture value: f 5.6
Focal length 210mm
The leaves are close together but the lens is different and the camera was much further away.

I'm linking up to 
Littlest Thistle Camera Challenge 2015
so go and visit Katy and see what others have done this month.

Happy snapping everyone