Thursday, April 28, 2011

Just do it...

I know, I was going to 'snatch' time to stitch triangles over the next few days, and daydream about layouts...

... but there's no time like the present right? (particularly when the Kinderboy declares that he'd rather have a quiet day at home than go to playgroup).  So, I laid out my triangles as I'd pictured:

... hmm.  Not so much.  If this is going to be a tablecloth, it needs to look good (and Christmasy) from all angles.

... how about stars?

More stars?  I've settled on 13 of them, but I ran out of room on the bed.

And I found a use for those smaller triangles!

I'm off to colour in a layout diagram by hand (Excel doesn't really cope so well with all these triangles).  I need to trim down my squares too, as in my haste my sewing wasn't exactly straight.  Perfect excuse to sit and watch the Royal wedding tomorrow night perhaps?

An abundance of triangles

I think I'm about half way through the half-square triangles for my Christmas quilt/tablecloth.  There's 168 in all, and it feels like they go on forever because I really just want to get to the layout stage!

I have to say that I wish I'd planned things a little more carefully before I started though - I had a bit of this red and gold print, and rather than use it for only 6 triangles I thought I'd piece it with some other bits and make it stretch out.  Good theory, except that after I'd cut it I realised that I needed to piece it so that the seams ran parallel with the diagonal, not the right angled sides of the triangles, and now its too short to do that.  Have spent a fair amount of time kicking myself (hmmm I keep telling the Kinderboy that he's not allowed to kick people...), but haven't come up with the solution yet.

So, my creative space this week will be snatching time to stitch and press more triangles, and pondering the piecing of fabric whilst sitting at red lights.  What will you be up to?  Drop by Kootoyoo and let us see!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Easter and more

Don't you love my 'Easter' presents (given to me this morning)!  Designed by the Schoolboy, and manufactured by him and his dad.  Way more impressive than chocolate in my book.   Easter for me this year has been about contemplating not only the sacrifice that Jesus made in coming to earth, living and dying and the miracle of his resurrection, but also of the importance of family relationships, so the care and joy in the creation of my rings is doubly important.

At the other end of the Christian calendar, I also thought I'd show you the squares that I've cut to take part in the Chasing Cottons Quilting 101 class.  I figured that I needed to make a quilt for underneath the Christmas tree (we put it on a coffee table, and I need something festive to stop it from scratching the table and to replace the old sheet I usually use), so why not take part?  Well not so much an 'I figured' as a readymade excuse if I get questioned about why I'm starting yet another craft project!

I haven't cut a dozen squares of seven fabrics as instructed, because I had more of some fabrics than others and I didn't want to buy new stuff as using all my Christmas fabric scraps was also part of the point.  I do have the requisite 84 squares though, plus a few extras and some smaller half square triangles that were left over from a previous project.  Can't wait until tomorrow's tutorial to take the next step, then start fiddling with their layout (I've peaked at Rebecca's layout in her 'Design' tutorial, and I think I'm going to change it to cater for my uneven fabric choice).

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Quilt design using Excel

Welcome if you're here as part of Chasing Cotton's Quilt 101 series!

I have to say that I'm thrilled to be a part of the series, both as a contributor to this week, but also to be able to learn along the way.  I'm self-taught as a quilter, and I'm not always sure that I do things the best/most efficient way, or if there are tools out there which would make life easier.

I love the design process though (I actually think that's the real reason I like to quilt), and I've designed a lot more quilts than I've actually gotten around to cutting fabric for.  I've always been fascinated by pattern, and trying to break down prints into their pattern repeats.  When I'm looking at ideas for quilts I'm also interested in how a quilt might go together - can it be pieced in squares/rectangles/strips?  A lot of the quilts I've designed have been based on square and rectangular patches, and I've found that Microsoft Excel is a quick and easy tool for trialling different colour combinations, layouts, etc.  I use it in much the same way a lot of people use graph paper, and started using it because its quicker and easier to build a design, copy and change things in Excel than having to draw a quilt out from scratch every time.  I've used it to design quilts from scratch and to audition different colour combinations for traditional quilts or quilts I've found patterns for in magazines.

I've divided my design techniques into three separate tutorials:
I've been using this process for a number of years now, so I'm hoping that the tutorials are clear and that I haven't assumed too much in the way of knowledge of Excel.  If you have any queries at all feel free to leave a comment on this post, and I'll try and help out.



We have around about 7m of windows in our bedroom - wrap around windows along the whole front facade, plus a separate window.  In a flush of optimism I bought fabric on sale last year to make curtains for the lot (50% off - how could I resist).  Well, I made the curtains for the small window, but had 6 to make for the big one (its so wide they don't actually make track long enough to do it in a single span!), but got distracted with other things in the leadup to Christmas.

I've now actually hung the first curtain on the front wall!  The pleats need hand stitching at the front, but I put it up anyway for now, and am amazed at how much light it blocks out that the venetians let through - here's to a sounder sleep and a more energy efficient home when I'm done.

I have my second wind now I think, and am planning to do some more tomorrow night.  Think I need to write myself a tutorial though, as I'd forgotten what order I did things in, how much hem to turn up etc, over the course of the last 4 months and had to keep checking my previous work.

On a different note, I hope the school holidays are treating you well.  Here's my grab-bag of ideas for dragging the boys away from the TV just in case you're stuck:

Inside stuff:
  • Visit the museum
  • Visit the Centre of the Moving Image at Fed Square (apparently they can draw their own cartoon still - fantastic!)
  • Make a Lego city - is it ever actually possible to use up every block you have?  Yesterday we took this idea to a friend's house also
  • Go see the Mirka Mora exhibition at Heide (wouldn't dare think of an art gallery as age appropriate for two generally wrestling boys, but the Schoolboy's been studying her in art, and other kids have been and really enjoyed it)
  • Make Mothers' Day presents for Gran & Nanna
  • Cook - we made Anzac Biscuits yesterday, but the bicarb soda / water / butter / golden syrup combo wasn't as explosive as I remembered, so the boys decided that the 'science experiment' biscuits were a failure!!
  • Have our own movie afternoon with popcorn
Outside stuff:
  • Picnic in the back yard (you could try our garden stake and sheet tee-pee if you're really keen - the boys thought it was fantastic)
  • Check out the Comedy Festival maze at Fed Square
  • Call in on the Children's Garden at the Botanical Gardens
  • Visit the Zoo / Sanctuary
  • Go to our favourite playground, and take a picnic / bubbles

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Holiday plans

No time for 'creative space' yet again today, but I have grand plans for the school holidays:

  • A tutorial for Week 2 of the Chasing Cottons Quilting 101 class (should I tell you there's a giveaway this week, or keep that to myself???)
  • More work on the first of the 'Scrappy Roses' quilts
  • A repair job or three (boosted by Tuesday night's quilt disaster)
  • Restarting the curtains for our room

I think that's enough for now!  Hope that the holidays bring you fun and laughter, as well as some time to craft if school terms are a part of your life!


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Succumbing to E.I.T.T.T.S

Last year I got sick of the 'naked bed' syndrome, and made the Man and I a really simple navy quilt from a subtle paisley navy sheet set and some pre-cut dacron filling I'd bought ages previously (nice and cosy, probably warmer than cotton, etc.).  Was quite proud of my first proper go at hand quilting - a neatly stitched grid to reinforce the simplicity of the quilt.  Looked fabulous on the bed too.
Then a 'boy who shall remain nameless' decided that our quilt was the perfect place to wipe his snotty nose.  Yesterday I thought I'd deal with it, and shoved the lot in the washing machine.  Probably Mistake #1.  Turned it on, and then looked at the cycle.  'Cotton' wash.  Mistake #2.  Turned the knob thinking "the machine'll know that I really want a delicate cycle and switch/stop".  Mistake #3.

Now I have an interestingly concertinaed mess, with batting inside that seems to have simultaneously shrunk and felted itself into a hard mat in places, whilst being fine elsewhere.  AAARG!

The only consolation is that the quilting will be pretty easy to undo, so I guess I can re-make it using a more appropriate batting.

For more E.I.T.T.T.S., including an explanation see Jodie at Vintage Ric Rac.


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