With the New Year, it's been a time for starting new projects. You may recall from my last post that I had taken delivery of a large order of yummy yarn (Drops Karisma). I have dived headfirst into that and opted for an African Flower motif, one I have been wanting to try for a while. I looked at a few tutorials and finally wrote out my own and drew myself a little diagram, I find these far easier to work from as I go along. You can find good tutorials at Yvestown and Heidi Bears should you fancy hooking up a few of your own. I am joining as you go, slip stitching into the corners and around every third stitch along the edges. One thing I loathed about my first granny blanket was all the joining at the end, so this method avoids that entirely.
I've continued with it here and there, including at Crafty Wednesday at Stag and Bow.It's going to take me a good while as there are so many other projects vying for my attention.
Talking of which, you may recall that last New Year, a craze swept through the quilting community known as the "Scrappy Trip Along". I made two quilts in that design, one back in January and another just recently with my Christmas version, and this year, the chosen project has been the "economy block along" based on a tutorial at Rita's blog Red Pepper Quilts. I resisted for a while but finally decided to hop on with this quilt along, too. If you are on Instagram, you can search for "economyblockalong" and keep up with everyone's progress. So I have attacked the stash and been cutting like a crazy lady for although you can use any fabric to make this quilt, I decided to follow Rita's example and make an "I-Spy" style quilt. This has a cute novelty fabric for the centre of each block, surrounded by various colourful prints. I don't really buy a lot of novelty prints so I was concerned I wouldn't have enough but it was amazing how many I found in my stash once I started looking.
Rita's tutorial is based on a 5 1/2" block. Kind folk on IG and on their blogs have come up with some different block sizes, going as big as 12" in some cases. I decided to go for the middle ground and opted for an 8" finished block. Here is a suggested cutting diagram below, but I like to make my blocks oversized and trim them so I opted for a 4.5" central square, two 4" squares for the first round and two 5.25" squares for the second round (the 4" and 5.25" squares cut diagonally in half).
It has been fun pulling out all the fabrics from my stash and coming up with interesting combinations.
I decided to have a little clean out inside my sewing machine when it seemed a little unhappy one day. I do this regularly but am always surprised to see how much lint collects in there! The machine always runs better afterwards.
Not content with having the economy blockalong on the go, I decided to start on another simple quilt. For ages, I had been looking for a charm pack I had bought including fabrics from the range "Dream On". I had mislaid it in my Den but I came across it a few weeks ago, tucked behind some teetering piles of fabric. Surely not! It' a gorgeous fabric range based on vintage sheeting of the 1960's and '70s. I supplemented the charm pack with some gaily coloured basics and some actual vintage sheets from my stash.
As if that wasn't enough, once I'd completed that one, I started on another top, this time using my favourite shades of pink, green and a gorgeous lavender-blue. Even the trimmings seemed pretty enough to snap for Instagram!
I cut 2.5" strips across the width of the fabric, joined them in groups of five, then cross cut them to give me some traditional rail fence blocks. A simple and effective design that packs a punch in these delightful colours. Here it is on the design wall before the blocks were joined together.
In the background, the "Dream On" top had come together beautifully and was ready for sandwiching. Orange is a difficult colour to get right, I find, but is spot on in this range.
Well, that was a busy few days! The reason I made those two quilt tops was because I wanted to road test some new machines. It seems January is the month when I get itchy feet and start pondering whether the perfect sewing machine is out there. I did my research on the net and set aside a whole day to go into the shop and thoroughly try out the three machines I was interested in. I took the quilt tops and some other smaller projects. I have learnt from experience that you really do need to try the machines with projects you would actually make at home. It's no good trying out little test squares, because the performance of the machine is entirely different when you make full size quilts on them.
Excitingly, I found a machine whose quilting performance blew me away. Home came Jenny Janome and I am completely and utterly thrilled with her. I've never had a machine produce such perfect results. Everyone looks for different things in their perfect machine. I can't tell you how great it feels to have found mine! This is one machine I know I'm not going to grow out of for a good while. Love!
Jenny Janome had no trouble finishing off the two quilt tops and they've now been hand bound and are awaiting their moment of "ta dah" glory. Then they'll be offered for sale.
It's difficult to tear myself away from that fabulous machine though! I've still the economy blockalong to finish, after all. Here it is on my makeshift design wall yesterday. I think I have fiddled a bit with the layout since then and I've joined half the blocks.
Now I have to tackle the ironing so I feel I have earned a little more time with Jenny Janome!