Wednesday, 29 June 2016

LE and Hearts Desire

Hi everyone, happy you have stopped by.
Wed morn and I haven't written a thing yet, normally I write my blog like a diary adding photo's and comments throughout the week but this week although I did take some photo's never found the time to sit down and write.
I have had company in my sewing room this week, not the cat which we haven't got, or the dog which we do have, she would literally eat every fabric she could get her paws on but my DH who has decided it is time for some sewing of his own.

While I am at my machine Steve is set up on the cutting bench under the window with his trusty old machine and not so trustworthy overlocker. It has been fun to have company.

Not a lot to show with my LE, I have been quilting some of each day working my way through the borders, and from the right side there is little to see as I am only edge stitching the main elements.
Yesterday I put LE on our bed to see how it looked and was amazed that it was the perfect size.

Have to say it looked good

Even looks good this side up.
A few ripples in the backing fabric but no tucks or pleats which I am so happy about.
My method of just pinning each border at a time has worked for me.
Still have more to do as I am stitching whichever border takes my fancy at the time just making sure I do all four sides before moving on.

While stitching my mind kept straying to Hearts Desire, the first BOM I made after joining Esther's at that time yahoo group. This year is the fifth anniversary of the devasting Christchurch earthquake which killed 185 people and I have decided it is time for my remembrance quilt to be finished.
Five years ago I had fundraising plans for this quilt but for several reasons they did not eventuate and it has been sitting waiting to be finished.

Christchurch - My Hearts Desire in 2011
I love this pattern and although I changed a couple of the center elements it is still very much Esther's pattern and is still available on her website.
Looking at it now I decided it needs the "candles" in my outer border to be lit and that it did need another border but not the one in the pattern. How lucky it is that I tidied my sewing room a few weeks ago, I went straight to my neatly sorted bags of scraps and found what I needed.

The yellow for my flames and enough of the patterned red from my center for four corner hearts in the next border. Doesn't pay to throw any scraps out.

Esther has little circles either side of the bud by the leaves but for me my oval tops work as everlasting flames and I think of this border as "Candles in the Park"
I had also found the length of black fabric put aside for the binding. It was wide enough to cut four 
3 1/4 inch border strips from. This was a blessing as my background is such a black black that I had looked for ages to get a match when I had needed more fabric .

Start of my final border.
I played with Esther's border pattern for ages and it just wouldn't gel for me in the context of my quilt then looking at my ties that bind border I put around the center it all fell into place. Drafted a new curved stem and will replicate my inner border. Have counted up and only need to stitch 72 hearts, after the zigzags on LE that should be a breeze.

So that is where my week has taken me, now linking with Esther's Work on Wednesday and back to my sewing room, it is pouring down outside afterall.
Cheers Jenny

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Work on Wednesday 22nd June

Hi everyone, hope you have all had a great week. I have and it's all been working on LE. I was a bit sad to think all the applique was finished but I am finding quilting her myself is just as rewarding.
First though I have been asked how I dyed my background fabric with coffee. There are plenty of sites on google easily found by searching dying with tea or coffee but all of them referred to small quantities of fabric using the stove top and with 3 metres of wide backing that wasn't going to work for me so I followed the basic guidelines using my washing machine.
First a quick warm wash with no detergent to throughly wet my fabric and remove any sizing if there was any, there may have been because my fabric was fairly stiff.
Next took fabric out and refilled machine with warm water, while filling I dissolved 1 cup of instant coffee powder in boiling water and added it to the machine. put fabric back in and set a soak and quick wash cycle. the soak cycle agitated the fabric every few minutes for half and hour, of couse I kept checking to see what was happening- as you do, my fabric was turning a lovely soft brown so I let it go straight on to the quick wash again with no detergent. Quick wash had only one cold rinse cycle, water was perfectly clear at the end so knew all the coffee had rinsed out. put in the dryer for about half an hour and then ironed it  and put over a clothes horse to finish dryng completely.

The perfect colour for my backing fabric.

I knew which shades I wanted for my outer borders but I did have a debate with myself over the middle one as I discovered Spotlight had the range of Arabian Delight in stock and on sale. Considering I bought my fabric in 2013 it really surprised me and I was very tempted to buy a metre of my inspiration fabric until I thought will I ever use it again!! However there was a floral and a border print that I wondered about using.
Put my mauve border on and laid the other two in place and any doubt was gone, my center border needed to be light and what I had planned initially was perfect.

Not sure what my border fabric is as it came from my late Aunt and would be about 1950's 60's but in a magazine the other week I saw an article about the styles of Damask Linen and there was a photo not unlike this so to me that is what it is.
Borders in place it was time to get my batting, another thing I had tossed up on as the original was a coverlet so no batting and I thought maybe it would be easier for me to just do something similar as LE is so big and I have never attempted quilting anything this size. Shows how far I have come as a few years ago I wouldn't have considered it at all.  Went to Country Dawn and we were soon all sitting on the floor with LE spread out between us and being joined by customers all enjoying the details and the story of LE, it was a great feeling I have to admit. After a call to John ( a well known quilter ) about my not wanting to do close quilting I came home with a light weight 100% cotton batting. His comment, cotton on cotton on cotton would be his choice.
Taking my machine off my sewing table gave me a bit more room to work but LE is soo big I wondered if I was going to be able to get a good result from my pinning as don't have a big enough floor space without moving furniture, then would have to contend with the inevitable dog hair and sore knees Lol

After a couple of hours of flattening, pinning and repinning I was able to stitch around my center and the compass. at this stage I had only roughly pinned the outer edges to hold them together

Border 1 ditchstitched on both edges and compass stitched.

Love how my compass looks.
I had padded it before stitching to my top and now with edge stitching and it's center stitched it has just popped off the background.
After this I pinned and ditch stitched each border in turn working my way out and have ended up very happy with how this worked for me.
Before doing more work on my center I decided to add my binding, get rid of the excess fabric and protect my edges while I continue quilting was my reasoning. but what colour to use?
Tried all sorts until finally I had two choices, find a really dark purple or use my existing purple and add a peeper, either way I had to buy fabric. Thought Country Dawn had a dark purple with the gold overlay but it wasn't right so a pepper it was.

I like it, what do you think?
Unfortunately I do have some unpicking to do as my stitching down of the binding is not as good as I hoped it would be and I have a few wiggles in my binding width, they are marked with a pin so I can go back to them as I work through my quilting.
Yesterday I edge stitched all the main elements in the center and also the inside edge of the zigzag.

Standing on a stool to get this photo.
It's sitting pretty well so will work on my borders and then come back for another look.
Raining this morning so ideal for another days stitching.

Linking now to Esther's WOW.
Cheer's Jenny

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Tidying up and LE

Hi Everyone,

Didn't post last week as was too busy and both Wed and Thurs just came and went in a flash.
Not that I was busy stitching my LE although I did sew my zigzags down on the Wednesday then I kept looking at my new storage unit and suddenly I was in tidy up my sewing room mode.
Well - it has been a while, or maybe a couple of years since it was all in order. Actually I think we moved everything in when the room was built and I have just worked with it ever since.
I really enjoyed my week, first it was my fat quarters sorting into colours or types, my Ginny Beyer all staying together and the same with my overlays and Batiks. now my unit looks like this.

Not all my fatquarters made it here, only the ones I know I will use on a regular basis the rest are neatly arranged on the shelves under my work table where everything was crammed before.
My favourite quilting books found a new home in the bottom of the unit, yes I have been through all my books and magazines as well. I don't have a proper home for magazines so now they are all sorted and on the floor under my ironing bench where I can at least reach them.
The large pile at the front are the ones that will be donated to my quilting group..

Then I started on my scraps, I didn't realise how many I had and in so many different places, drawers and bags from different projects and some that had been given to me by friends. I found a treasure in one bag from a friend that I had never really looked through, mainly because they were all country fabrics which is not really me.

Twelve completed blocks and as I looked through the bag I realised that all the rest of the scraps were the cut strips and squares for about twenty more blocks.

I spent a very pleasant couple of hours pressing everything then found myself starting to mix and match for the blocks, that had not been my plan so finally it was all packed away in it's own bag and I carried on with my clean up.

 From this

To this
The bins on the right now hold all my fabric scraps, sorted into colours and types and all pressed,  bagged and labeled, wonder how long they will stay this way?
I also found a few forgotten quilting "treasures" from years gone by, now pinned to my spare pinboards - the ones Steve hasn't fixed to the walls yet!!

A floral bouquet from when I was mastering machine applique
Esther's Easter Bunny mini Quilt
I practiced thread painting on the pohutakawa flowers behind the fantail.
Carol Doak foundation pieced christmas star, was going to be a runner center.
 and then this block.

The central block of Esther's Heart's Desire BOM from 2011
Heart's Desire was the first pattern of Esther's that I made after joining her Yahoo group.

Still a quilt top only this became a memorial quilt for me as I started it the day of the devastating Christchurch Earthquake. Center block changed to replicate the cathedral windows, surrounded by hearts for those killed and the brave who rescued many and a vine of hearts that bind the city together.

I also found the  photoframe Mum had given us as a wedding present 16 years ago. Silver plate I think not solid silver and our years in the islands with salt air had not been kind to it. Sentimentally I couldn't throw it out even though DH said he thought it was past resurrection. Suddenly thought of a link Esther had shared of using Aluminium foil and baking Soda to clean silver, Would it work? it couldn't make it any worse so was worth a try. Didn't take a before photo but this is the after.

It still has blemishes on the central bars but compared to what it was, it is beautiful
It's now back on the bookcase and just gleams, Thanks so much Esther for sharing that link.
Last Friday it was time for LE again and the border just flew together. Friday the top swags Sat the second swags, Sun the first half of the bows and lower elements then Monday morn it was finished.
Esther's measurements are so accurate, it went together perfectly.

Not the best photo but the only place I could find was in the lounge.
Where we  extended the lounge there is a stepdown in the ceiling height which gave me something to pin to about a metre in from the ranchslider. I am so happy with how it looks, I had had concerns aboutusing the gold for the swags but seeing it now they look great and the fact I had to find a different fabric for the middle border works as well.
Tuesday I added  the first of  the plain borders, my thought was how good are my zigzags.

Zig zags are pretty good and my first mitres are also.
Have decided to use my mauve and purple fabrics for the inner and out border
A tip for those about to add borders is to use your walking foot as there is applique is under your foot on nearly all the borders. Another thing I find works well is to only trim the edge of the border I am adding to the quarter inch seam allowance, the other/bottom layer I draw a pencil line where you would normally cut. Means that instead of having to keep both raw edges perfectly aligned while stitching you only have to align the borders raw edge to the pencil line which I find much easier, once stitched and happy with it trim off the excess fabric.
For my mitres I always use the method Esther has in her tutorials as they come out perfectly.

Last week I bought my borders and backing fabric. Speciically wanted a cream wide backing but the only one I liked, not enough fabric. They did have the most gorgeous white with a white floral spray overprint which I thought would be a good second choice. Got it home and it was Soooo white it glistened and oh so wrong for LE. I am not the sort of person who takes fabric back, after all I had chosen it and Iwould have only had to wait a few days for more cream to arrive. What to do.
LE is from long ago and the old fashioned way of dying fabric was tea or coffee. a bit of googling and I chose coffee. Crossed my fingers and prayed. No before photo but this is the result.

I wasn't sure what would happen to the floral design, love that it has stayed white and the coffee has turned the background a beautiful warm beige which is perfect for LE
This is now nicer than the other fabric.

Finally a huge thankyou to everyone for the wonderful comments on the FB page about my LE.
I feel privledged to have had the opportunity to make her and to reach this stage is something I wondered if  would ever happen. Thank you so much Esther for the incredible journey you are taking everyone on. 
For those interested in my journey with LE my blog posts between July 2013 and late 2014 are my diary style record of LE.

Enjoy your Wednesday everyone.
Cheers Jenny

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

WOW on 1st June, LE and Fatso

Hi Everyone,
Help it's June already, May has just flown by and I'm not sure where the days went but my DH tells me thats because I have spent nearly all of it in my sewing room, oh dear, I think he might be right.
Good news for me is that Steve had to go to Auckland on Sunday so took Frog Song to my girlfriend and she is in love with it which makes me feel great.
While there was asked if we would have a use for a very tall solid Oak bookcase designed to hold DVD's. that was taking up room in their garage. He wasn't sure but it did fit in the car so he brought it home thinking maybe he could use it sideways on the wall in the garage for storage. One look and it went straight to my sewing room!!

What size is a DVD,  the same size as a fat quarter and as my fat quarters need a major tidy up I now have the incentive to do it. the shelves are all adjustable so I have left room for a few of my favourite quilting books at the bottom. Now to stop sewing and start sorting, Lol.
My LE is talking to me again, the third border came together so quickly that by last Friday it was finished, WOW less than a week, when I think how long to make each of the first two we were definately on different wave lengths. Of course being me I couldn't wait to make number four to see how they would look on my quilt so with the first two corner blocks made I added them so with fingers crossed as to size I added them to my top.

Corner A

Corner B
My borders fitted perfectly.
LE is now so large that the only way I can take photo's is to fold her in half.
You might notice that I haven't added the  swirly stems to the swags, with the style of my fabrics I like the airieness and finality of the open swags.
Three borders on I decided to make the final two corner blocks before starting the last border.

Again they came together so quickly that yesterday morning they were finished and I have my zigzags in place on the final border ready to sew this morning.
In amongst working on LE I found time to bring out my Gecko that got put aside to start Frog Song.
I had stitched him to my background fabric back in January but the first thing he got was surgery as I hadn't added enough padding to the body and it looked in need of a good meal once on my background, in other words it had body wrinkles Now I am calling him "Fatso"

My background is a drape fabric which has wonderful texture to it, using it sideways the wavy lines make it seem like he is climbing a wall, The only stitching I did was to edge stitch around him apart from his feet, and to stitch along the wavy lines. Staying close to stitch around his body was a real pain because of his now robust size. His toes were the last thing I added and with not stitching his "fingers" when I did the body they have a lift now that the toes are stitched.

This gives more idea of the anount and effect of the extra padding.
Love how his eyes look in this photo.
I tried a different technique with my binding cutting it at 4 1/2 inches wide pressing in half and then stitching it to the back and folding to the front stitching it down with small blanket stitch, 
With 2 rows of stitching added I have a 1 1/2 inch border and binding in one.

The eye hoods worked out well but I had to go with larger eyes than my first choice.
Not sure where he is going to hang now that he is finished but it was such fun to design him from my metal outdoor one.

My LE is calling me back to the sewing room so time to link with Esther's blog.
Enjoy your week everyone.
Cheers Jenny