Friday 29 January 2016

la passacaglia has borders now

In the never ending story of my la passacaglia, it now has all four borders on it and is ready to be turned into a quilt sandwich for hand quilting.

My good friends Connie and Rick at The Kings Fancy rushed me two more yards of the border fabric because I had miscalculated.  That certainly won't ever happen again!!

I used Effervescence by Amelia Caruso for Robert Kaufman for my borders and it works perfectly for my quilt.

It's Friday here today, and tomorrow is my Kaffe Fasset class in Wellington, NZ.  I'm taking this quilt to show Kaffe and Brandon because it contains many Kaffe Fasset fabrics.  Yesterday I counted 19 different fabrics from their range, and I've used many of them more than once.

You can read all my other posts about la passacaglia on the tab at the top of the page.

Saturday 23 January 2016

My Small World - the second attempt

This week I've been working on something completely different.

After that huge push to finish my la passacaglia top, I really needed a change of scenery.  The la passacaglia is not totally finished yet, but I'm waiting for more border fabric to arrive from USA.  So I packed it all up and pulled the long neglected My Small World.

I was really excited to make this quilt when I started it back in May 2015. I made Part 1 and some of Part 2 and wrote a blog post them here.  Then I got a bit disillusioned with it, and put it away.  I had two major issues with it.  I wasn't 100% convinced about the fabrics I was using, and I was having a lot of difficulties with the accuracy of my piecing. 

A lot has changed in the last six months, and I'm trying again, because I do still love the design and really want one hanging on my wall.

I've sorted out the fabric dilemma by collecting more scraps, buying a bundle of small pieces from Amitie, and increasing my colour confidence by working on my la passacaglia.  I've also learnt to restrict my fabric selections for a project, and not dig out every bit of fabric I've ever owned.  I put out a reasonable selection and make myself choose from those fabrics only.  It sort of looks like this:

I've sorted out the accuracy of the piecing by:
1.  getting the FREE paper piecing templates from Sarah Bailey of Sew What Sherlock here
2.  buying some BlocLoc rulers for Half Square Triangles
3.  doing the bulk of the piecing in the daylight, and getting a new Bernina with much better lighting than my 25 year old machine had.

Foundation paper piecing has never really been my thing, but I couldn't have made this quilt with out it.  I'm even getting quite good at it now, and hardly have to unpick at all.

I'm now really happy with how my quilt is coming along.  I've made great progress over the past 4 days, and now we have a 3 day long weekend.  I hope to get all of the bottom half done over the weekend.  The sky should be easier because it's just all low volume white, cream and light blue.

If you're working on this quilt and want some additional inspiration and advice, I'd recommend two Australian bloggers I follow:

Susan Snooks of PatchworknPlay
Di from Snippets 'n' Scraps

They've both made beautiful versions of this quilt and inspired me to give it another go.

I need to pack it all up on Monday night and think about my fabrics for my Kaffe Fassett class on Saturday - exciting!!

Monday 18 January 2016

la Passacaglia - how I attached my borders

I always knew that I wanted to attach straight borders to my la passacaglia. My thinking was that it frames the design, and makes you feel that you are getting a sneak peek at a bigger overall pattern.   Fortunately I stumbled across the perfect border fabric back in September. My quilt was already 50% complete by then, but the fabric worked with it so well.

The border fabric is Effervescence by Amelia Caruso for Robert Kaufman.  I chose the Caribbean colour way, and I purchased it from The King's Fancy on etsy USA. They stock all the colour ways.

As I was assembling my rosettes I drew a cutoff line on my pattern.  I wanted my quilt to be slightly larger than the one in the pattern to show more complete rosettes.  Mine ended up at 54" x 64" before I added the borders.

I was careful not to sew beyond that line because I didn't waste time attaching stars which were then going to be cut off. As a result my quilt had fairly straight edges.  The sides are harder to align than the top and bottom, but I kept to my plan.

Checking the straight edge with a tape measure

You can see how my sides are reasonably straight

A number of people have asked me to document how I attached my borders, so here is a step by step guide.  Please bear in mind that this is just what worked for me.

1. I wanted a skinny blue strip before my fancy border, so I joined the blue strips together first, and then sewed them to the fancy border. That meant I only had to attach one big border to the quilt. I cut my first border, leaving quite a bit over overhang because I wanted to miter the corners.  There are a variety of methods for mitering corners, but my quilt was quite stretchy so I didn't want to cut the 45 degree angle until I had the borders on.  It would be terrible if the border was too short.

2. I left the very edge row of paper pieces in the quilt while I attached the borders. I pinned the border along the straight edge I had drawn on my pattern. I used a walking foot and sewed right through the paper pieces.  The seam line is 1/4" inside the line on the pattern, but that's fine.

the paper pieces are still in the edge row of pieces

3. I then checked the border, and once I was happy I trimmed back to a 1/4" seam allowance - right through the paper pieces and all.

trimming off the excess with an old rotary cutter

4. I then mitered the corner, which I'm not going to explain here sorry.  I suggest you google it until you find a method you are comfortable with.  I'm not great at explaining and don't want to put anyone wrong.

ready to miter the corners

5. I then removed the paper pieces very carefully.  The edge paper pieces had been sewn through, so they had to come out in two parts, and could not be used again. Tweezers helped to get the tiny bits out.

And here's the final result.

I thought about pattern matching the fabric at the corners, but I've since had it pointed out to me that I couldn't because the pattern is not symmetrical.  That makes me feel relieved, because I don't usually like to take the easy way out. Instead I've just tried to make the corner patterns relatively similar so they look good together.

You've probably noticed that I haven't really ironed my quilt. It would be impossible to iron all those seam allowances beautifully, and a number of people quote Jinny Beyer as once saying "just iron it flat, don't worry about the seam allowances on English paper pieced quilts".  I don't really know whether Jinny said that or not, but it works for me.  Some of those pieces have been wrapped around paper pieces for a year, so they hardly even need ironing, though I will give a quick press before I baste it for quilting.

The stats:
1. my quilt was 54" x 64" before I added the borders.  I made mine slightly larger than the pattern in the book.

2.  I purchased 10 yards of the border fabric to get enough of the fancy border to go around my quilt.  However, please do not rely on my measurements - you must do your own calculations.

3.  I expect it to be approx 72" x 82" once the borders are on.

I hope this helps.  It's hard to explain all this in writing - it would be much easier face to face. I'm off to tackle three more mitered corners now, and then the hand quilting in the months to come.

There's more information about how I made this quilt on the la passacaglia - Millefiori Quilts tab at the top of the page (including links to all my previous posts).

Thursday 14 January 2016

My la passacaglia top is finished

Today was a very special day.  I finished the hand piecing on my la passacaglia quilt.  I'm so pleased with how it's turned out.  I can honestly say that I wouldn't change anything about it.  I love the colours and the fabrics, and I'm excited to quilt it in the weeks ahead.

January 2016

I first became aware of la passacaglia back in October 2014.  I was immediately drawn to the pattern because I love intricate, clever quilt designs.  As soon as I realised it was all hand stitched, I knew it would be a big undertaking, and I wondered if I'd be able to do it.  I had done some English Paper Piecing before, but I knew that I wouldn't be able to hand baste all those tiny pieces and then sew them together.  I've got a mild form of Rheumatoid Arthritis and my hands get very stiff and sore in the winter.  Fortunately I discovered glue basting during my research, and I love it.  Glue basting has saved my hands and enabled me to complete my quilt.

I started my quilt on 1 January 2015, and finished the hand piecing on 14 January 2016.  That's one year and two weeks that I've been working on it.  Of course, there have been periods where I've put it aside and worked on other things.  For the first six months I just made rosettes in all my favourite colours without adding any stars to them.

May 2015

I wanted to plan my layout before I added stars to the rosettes. Each rosette has a different number of stars, depending on where you place it in the design.

In August 2015 Shirley Mooney and I agreed to speak about this quilt to our quilt guild.  That commitment gave me the push I needed to start joining up the rosettes. I thought it would be nicer to show them a section of the quilt, rather than just 25 loose rosettes.

September 2015

Then we were asked to speak at another guild in November 2015, so I made another big effort to add a few more rosettes.

October 2015

Now Kaffe Fassett is coming to teach in Wellington in January 2016 and I would love to show Kaffe and Brandon my finished quilt top.  It has at least 20 of their fabrics in it and I think they would like it.

January 2016

I guess my advice to people making this quilt would be:
1.  accept that it's a long term project and allow about one year
2.  spend as much time as you need planning, because then there's less unpicking required
3.  set a few milestone dates to work towards - they provide good motivation
4.  join the Millefiore/la passacaglia facebook group.  We have nearly 5,000 members and there's so much support available from people all over the world.

I've already sorted my border fabric and I'll add the borders at the weekend.  Then it's straight into the hand quilting.  I don't really have a plan yet, I'll just see what works.

border fabric is Effervescence by Amelia Caruso for Robert Kaufman

There's more information about how I made this quilt on the la passacaglia - Millefiori Quilts tab at the top of the page (including links to all my previous posts).

I've been working almost exclusively on this quilt for about 6 weeks now.  I feel strangely free tonight - like that feeling you have when your exams are finally over.  I can work on whatever I like now.  When I look back at all the hours I spent pondering fabric choices in 2015, I think I'm going to be so much more productive in 2016.  The decisions for this quilt really did take longer than for any other quilt I've ever made, but I'm very happy with the outcome.  It was all time well spent.

Tuesday 12 January 2016

My embroidery priorities for 2016

Back in December I did a stock take of what I achieved with my embroidery in 2015.  It's now time to think about what I'd like to achieve in 2016.

My top priority is to catch up with Gingerbread Village. I want to stitch the Quilt Shop and the Needlework Shop so I'm ready to make the Stitchers' Hideaway when it gets released later in the year.

So my priorities are:

1.  Gingerbread Quilt Shop by Victoria Sampler which I just received for Christmas 2015, and have already made a small start on.

2.  Gingerbread Needlework Shop by Victoria Sampler which I've had for more than a year now. I put off stitching this one because it has to be lined and I know the finishing will take longer than the others.

3. Gingerbread Stitchers' Hideaway - the pattern hasn't been released yet, but the photos look gorgeous.

4.  Peacock tapestry cushion by Erhman.  I received this cushion for Christmas in 2014, but I haven't even started it yet.  I will do it in winter when it's nicer to work with wool.

5. Needle rolls by Victoria Sampler  I've had this pattern for some time, and plan to stitch some of these for gifts.  I'll use coloured linen for variety.

6. Christmas panels by Victoria Sampler.  I've had these for some time too.  I've been distracted by the Gingerbread Village, but I really want to stitch these too.

7. Heirloom Christmas Tree.  It was on my 2015 list, and here it is again, still on the to do list.

8. Canvas work Christmas wreath by Laura J Perin.  My mum has finished her version and it's lovely.  I have the canvas and the threads, I just need to start it! This is mum's one framed:

9.  Something new.  I'd quite like to stitch something more traditional this year, so when Nancy's Embroidery issues their class list for 2016 I'll be scanning it to see what takes my fancy.

10.  Needlelace - 1, 2 and 3.  Yes I have 3 needlelace WIPs and should really get on with finishing them.

the stitch a long I was doing with some Russian ladies who have taken a break

So that's my embroidery list.  I don't promise to finish everything on it in 2016, but I am going to try to avoid starting anything else until I've made progress on quite a few of these projects.  Well, that's the plan at this stage.

Thursday 7 January 2016

My quilting priorities for 2016

After reviewing my progress against my 2015 goals here, it's time to make a new list for 2016.

Here's some ideas that have been running around in my head for a while.

1.  Mediterranean Hexagons. I'm attending a Kaffe Fassett class at the end of January 2016 and we're making the Mediterranean Hexagons quilt from his Quilts in Morocco book.  The quilt in the book is in blues, but I'm breaking out and using hot colours like pinks, reds and oranges.  I've only just realised that it will no longer fit the Mediterranean name in those colours.  Maybe I'll call mine "Mediterranean Sunset Hexagons".

2.  la passacaglia I've got 90% of the top together, so need to finish the top, add the borders, and then hand quilt it.  I can see that this might take quite a few more months yet, but I do want it finished in 2016.

3.  My Small World.  I started this quilt back in May, but I wasn't happy with how it was turning out, so I stopped.  I may continue with this one, or I might start again in a different style.  Now I have the foundation paper piecing templates it might be easier.

The pattern

My effort to date.

4.  Possum Magic quilt.  I'm looking forward to hand quilting this in 2016.

5.  Women of the Bible quilt. This was a quilt along where 2 patterns were released every second week for 40 weeks. The blocks are all joined now, and I just need to piece a back from the scraps.  Then I'll get it professionally quilted.

6.  Spinning Stripes v2.  I cut out the pieces for a second Spinning Stripes mini quilt when I went to the class with Shirley Mooney last year, but I still haven't sewn the second one together.  Getting all the stripes matching takes time, and machine quilting the last one took weeks due to all the ends that need tie-ing off and burying. It will be something like this - I can't find a photo of my original plan, but fortunately the pieces are all pinned to an old sheet in the correct layout.

7. Oh! Christmas Tree.  I made a small start on this in 2015, but I would really like to have it all finished for Christmas 2016.  It's wool felt applique, stitched by hand. It's another great design by Wendy Williams.

8.  Smitten.  I've had the paper pieces and pattern for a while now.  I've also got a bundle of Tula Pink Elizabeth that I'd like to use for this quilt.  It's made using English Paper Piecing, so I'm avoiding starting until I've finished la passacaglia, and had a little break to do some embroidery.

9.  Trip around the World from Kaffe Fassett Heritage Quilts book.  This block has appealed since we made them for our Capital Quilters block of the month. I've got some fabrics put aside for this quilt.

10.  Glitter.  This is a pattern by Jen Kingwell.  I've seen a number of these quilts on Instagram and would like to try one myself.  I don't know how big I'll make it, I'll just see how I enjoy it.

11.  Ballet avec Kaffe Fassett.  This is from Willyne Hammerstein's second book.  Again, it's more English Paper Piecing, so it will be later in 2016, or possibly even 2017.

Photo from Millefiori Quilts 2 by Willyne Hammerstein

12.  Stacks of Colour  I've finished hand quilting this, and now I just need to put on the binding. I plan to finish it in January.

13.  Felt quilt. I saw photos of some beautiful and unique quilts by Gillian Travis at the UK Festival of Quilts.  Since then I have bought her book, and have plans to do something along these lines in 2016.

So that's 13 possible quilts for 2016.  Quite an ambitious list, but if I leave myself too much free time I will just come up with even more ideas.  I'm looking forward to making these quilts. What's on your list for 2016?