Monday, 2 January 2017

Winter Sun

Now, this may seem a bit out of season, but I think it only makes it more welcome:

machine pieced flower quilt

A bit of history first. Last year I made a storm-at-sea bed quilt for my brother- and sister-in-law, and used the scraps from it to make a small wallhanging to match:

winter landscape quilt

This winter "landscape" has been on their living-room wall since, and every time time I saw it in person or in Skype I thought they need something more summerly for a change. What with one thing and another, I only got round to making it in December, in time to make it a New Year's Day gift. My sister-in-law loves sunflowers, and what could be more summerly than that?

It's machine curve piecing, one of my favorite techniques that works so brilliantly with oversized flowers (if you haven't tried curve piecing yet, check out my butterfly block tutorial and pattern - it's really easy!). Here is the finished top:

pieced flower quilt

In case anybody still needs proof that quilting texture is responsible for about half of a quilt's appeal ;)) I used very simple quilting on the flower - pebbles for the middle and "vein" curves for the petals.

pieced flower quilt

pieced flower quilt

At the last moment I decided to play with my beautiful variegated YLI threads on the black background, where they would be more prominent, and added a kind of "halo" around the petals. The rest of the background is quilted with the same pattern in black, which is almost completely invisible.

pieced flower quilt

I really enjoyed working on this bright project, it really seemed to add sunshine to the room when it was on the design wall. I hope it will add some light and warmth to its new home, too.

pieced flower quilt

Linking up to Main Crush Monday at Cooking up Quilts
Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Friday, 23 December 2016

Wrapping Up Christmas Sewing - the Mug Rugs

Now that some of these have already been given and some have just a couple of days to wait, I'd like to give an account of (part of) my Christmas gift making - mug rugs.

These are 8'' and feature beautiful animal-themed fabric I have left over from a Christmas quilt made two years ago.
Christmas patchwork decor

The next ones are 6'' squared and are a part of my poinsettia craze. If you haven't seen my tutorial for them yet, check it out.

Christmas applique

Christmas applique

Finally, the 7'' Nordic mug rug which featured in another tutorial, has a family now! Family shots:

Christmas patchwork decor

Christmas patchwork decor

Christmas patchwork decor

Merry Christmas to all!

Linking up to Can I Get a Whoop Whoop? at Confessions of a Fabric Addict
Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts


Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Winter Forest Friends

I have a very special (and somewhat unexpected) winter quilt to share with you today, boys and girls. It just came to be, almost of its own accord, as a chain of chance events and spontaneous decisions, between big projects completed and Christmas gifts made.

animal quilt block

I have written before about the great prize I won in the Handmade Halloween link-up - a pattern by Lorna McMahon of Sew Fresh Quilts. Although I was busy with a couple of projects, I couldn't resist trying it out and was really hooked. Lorna's technique is very clever, so the sewing was much easier than I had anticipated, and between this and that I made three of Lorna's forest friends - the fox, the deer and the bear.

It was the deer that prompted the direction where it was all going - of all the browns I have I thought the most suitable shade was the one with snowflakes on it (it's a strange kind of pattern really - snowflakes in brown -, but it was on sale when I was looking for various browns for a project...) So the poor dear deer ended up looking like he had a snowflake on his nose and wasn't happy about that. And then the background, which was supposed to be just neutral, suddenly appeared to look like heavy snowfall.

fox quilt block, deer quilt block

That's how I decided to make it a winter quilt, and winter forest in my understanding isn't complete without a red squirrel and a hare turned white for the season. So I set myself a challenge to try and design a couple of blocks using Lorna's techinique.  I must say it took a lot of juggling the shapes to achieve a compromise between image likeness and ease of sewing, I can now really appreciate the effort Lorna puts into her beautiful creations.

bear quilt block, hare quilt block

I think I managed to create a reasonable hare and squirrel, and also an owl to finish the layout. I was also lucky to find this snowflake batik that completed the winter look - I saw a fat quarter of this fabric held by a lady in front of me in the queue to the till and, thankfully, there was another left.

owl quilt block, squirrel quilt block

I had a nice (leftover) piece of pine print green, which supported the forest theme, and I looked for some tree print to use in the border, but could only find this holly one - so we also have a hint of Christmas in the air. I had so little of the green left, that I had to make the binding of two fabrics, and barely had enough.

And with this tale of winter magic, farewell, boys and girls, have a most wonderful Christmas, don't forget to believe in miracles, and make sure to check out Lorna's site Sew Fresh Quilts and her weekly link-up Let's Bee Social for even more wonderful quilting inspiration.

Tuesday, 6 December 2016

Poinsettia Mug Rug Tutorial - Raw Edge Applique

Anybody who has read this blog during the last couple of weeks will notice that I am obsessed with poinsettias this Christmas season. During the Christmas demonstration at the Eastern branch of the Irish Patchwork Society I showed some ladies how to make these poinsettia mug rugs and the participants seemed to enjoy them, so I thought I might share the process here as well. It's not a pattern as such, rather an idea for an easy last-minute gift or decorative element.

For the mug rugs in the tutorial photos I used raw edge appliqué to use up some of the scraps from my large poinsettia quilt, you may notice that some fraying develops around the edges, but I don't mind that. In my demonstration and in the Christmas wreath mini quilt I used fabrics prepared with the crafted appliqué technique, which yields a clean edge with no fraying - you can choose what suits you.

You'll need:

  • quilt sandwich (backing fabric + batting + background fabric) about 6.5'' squared (or any other size to your liking, but make sure to leave some margin for trimming)
  • green and red scraps
  • glue stick or pins if you're making it raw edge
  • matching thread
  • a piece of binding about 32'' long
I prefer to make this kind of appliqué freehand, without templates, and poinsettias are great for that, because they are not particularly symmetrical and their leaves have very simple shapes. When you are eyeballing a leaf shape, you give it unique character and are free to play with size, shape and positioning, however you can download this cheatsheet to use as your guide.

Tuesday, 29 November 2016

Christmas Wreath - Crafted Appliqué Style

Just wanted to share my entry to this year's Christmas challenge at the Eastern branch of Irish Patchwork Society.

I made it in express mode, in the last couple of days before the meeting, so no process pics. The background is a kind of ombre-effect log cabin, the image itself - free-hand, little-planned appliqué made using the Crafted appliqué method. I also used some beads for holly and mistletoe berries and poinsettia buds. The size is about 20''.

Here are some other beautiful entries from the challenge:

I was thrilled that my piece took the second place and brought me a beautiful fabric prize!

During the afternoon after the meeting there were some Christmas demonstrations, and I showed some ladies how to make poinsettia appliqué, and I think I'll also make a small tutorial for that here on the blog, too.

Linking up to Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
Crafted Applique Linky Party at Buzzing Bumble

Friday, 25 November 2016

It's Beginning to Look a Lot Like ...

Dear Santa, I've been really good this year - I finished my Christmas quilt a month (a whole month!!!) ahead of Christmas. I think I deserve a present.

This is my Poinsettia wall hanging, 85 by 107 cm, all machine-pieced and machine-quilted. I used one of my favourite techniques, curve piecing, which I showed in this butterfly tutorial. Again, I designed the pattern with gentle, easy-to-sew curves, so the assembly was quite fast and smooth. The most complicated part was choosing the fabrics for each piece, I think there are 17 different red fabrics and 8 green ones here (not to mention three black ones :))).

I quilted the poinsettia with very simple curves that parallel the edges of various pieces and resemble the leaf veins, and the background with simple spirals.

The low winter sun means it's getting difficult to take pictures of a quilt without it being overshadowed by a tall tree or the neighboring house. Besides, the wind doesn't let it hang straight. However, I think I managed to get one beauty picture of it:

I got fascinated with poinsettias this year, and I have a couple of small projects with them in progress as well, which I hope to be able to share next week.

linking up to Off the Wall Friday at Creations by Nina-Marie
Finished or not Friday at Busy Hands Quilts

Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Natural History

It could have been a Friday (or even Thursday) Finish, but I couldn't catch the light to take pictures. Even today is mostly overcast, but still - here it is, the Natural History quilt.

If you're new here and like looking at WIP photos, you can see its beginnings here and here, and even here for the humble beginnings.

The quilt is made with quilt-as-you-go technique and it was fun to play with the different sashings and the scrappy binding. I love how all of the fabrics I used, have some texture of their own, which makes them blend with some backgrounds and stand in contrast to others. It makes it ever so natural ))). Here are some close ups:

Here is a prove of how the colors blend in with the world outside)))

I hope I'll be able to take some better photos of it in the not-too-distant future.

UPD: We did manage to catch some glimpses of sun on our walk in Howth (again, see how colors in the quilt are the same ones as around it):

Linking up to Linky Tuesday at Freemotion by the River
Fab Tuesday at Quilt Story
Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts
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