A knitted top!

After feeling comfortable working with stockinette stitch (see my first ever knitted project here), I decided to move on onto something a little more complicated. A friend of mine recommended me this free pattern from Purl Soho, so there I went. First gauge ever, first ribbing ever, first yarn-over ever. I must say, this pattern turned out to be perfect for beginners!

There were several ripping moments along the way, and lots of time invested in re-doing parts already knitted. Specially tricky was the neck part, I re-did it three times until I got it right! But this is how one can learn, and I surely learned a lot with this project.

I changed the suggested yarn for cotton (a matter of personal preference). That’s the only change I made to the pattern, although now I regret that the top is a little too short for my taste. For the next one (my big project to come) I will check my own measurements every once in a while and adapt the pattern accordingly.

Finishing this top before Spring was one of my goals for this year, and I’m over the moon I managed to do so and that I’ll be able to wear it in the following months.

Project: Knitted top
Date: August, 2016 – March 2017
Pattern: Cap Sleeve Lattice Top, Purl Soho
Yarn: Catania Denim Originals, colour 0190
Catania Originals, colour 0263 (peach)
Needles: 3.50 mm, 4 mm

Pack your bag n. 3 (March): Luggage Label

These days there are lots of things going on behind the scenes (aka basting and quilting, which seem to take forever!), but I did manage to sew March’ pattern for Cotton and Color‘s Project of the Month. This is a fun and quick project to make, but a little tricky one due to the vinyl for the inside tag. I guess having a Teflon foot would have helped.

I think it can also be used as a tag for Christmas gifts, doesn’t it?

Exterior fabrics: Detour by BoBunny, Riley Blake Designs
Lining fabric: provided with the pattern
Batting: Thermolam TP971 (100% polyester), Legacy

Star Sampler Quilt (9): “Missouri Star”

Another cute addition to the Star-Sampler quilt-along (organised and hosted by Amanda Rolfe at 3and3quarters). I can’t recall sewing a Missouri Star before, and I had lots of fun playing with the fabrics for this one. I wasn’t really sure about that combination until the star was all put together!!

The only thing I deviated from Amanda’s tutorial is that I pressed seams open. It looks like it’s helping me in accuracy, much to my seam ripper’s dismay.

(And this week it has been impossible to get good light for photo shooting… sigh).

Pack your bag n.1 (January)

This year Cotton and Color is running a mystery Project of the Month program, named “Pack your bag”. The first one was this small, cute bag. I decided to keep the exterior simple (I just love that fabric) and do some hand-quilting (it’s been long since I hand-quilted anything…), and just play with contrasting colours to give it some interest.

Exterior fabric: Close to Home, P.S. Elliot, P&B Textiles
Accent fabric: Painter’s Canvas (orange), Michael Miller Fabrics
Lining fabric:
provided with the pattern
Batting: Cotton, unknown producer (scrap)
Quilting: hand-quilted, Anchor Perlé Cotton n.12 colour 316.

Flower Festival block 1 (part 2 – quilting)

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So, here there is, my first block of the Flower Festival QAL by Leah Day, and my first block ever being free-motion quilted. With all the imperfections that come when trying a new, completely different technique (and fortunately I already had some experience on FMQ from an introductory class, so I can’t think about what would have happened without that!).

But first things first, before I actually quilted this one there were lots of previous steps that were absolutely worth it. I can’t stress enough how helpful they are.

Firstly, I tested, on spare fabric (but already sized!) the markers I would use: the water-soluble pen and a coloured chalk (the one used by seamstresses) for the darker fabrics. Despite I followed all the instructions, it turned out that after washing the chalk wouldn’t completely go away. So I needed to look for something else to mark on the darker colours, and I came up with what looks like a ceramic pencil. It didn’t give problems, but the drawback is that is goes away with the friction produced whilst moving the quilt around.

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Secondly, I created mock sandwiches to test several things. These two blocks were absolutely improvised with leftovers from the main block, and I absolutely love the results (I might make a whole quilt with this technique some day…). On them I tested:

– Basting with water soluble thread. Left without visible residue. And it does help a lot not having those safety-pins when you’re in the middle of a curve! It takes an extra time, but for me, absolutely worth it.

– Thread colour. It may seem an obvious choice to make, but my first thread choice didn’t actually work when I stitched it on the block. So a second test was required.

– Thread tension, and needles. It took some adjustment for the tension, and I discovered it’s not the same when quilting with the walking foot than when using FMQ (does it make any sense?).

– Actual FMQ with the stippling design. Good to warm up before attempting the actual block.

– Having the design already marked on the block. It is priceless.

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All of this will help for all the sampler’s future blocks, so I think that it was a good investment to spend all that time working on those. For the actual block, however, I discovered the not so wonderful side of FMQ:

– Frustration happens. Specially when you are working with a 5.5″ space from needle to machine’s body, and no extension table (magazines, books and boxes make quite the trick, but not as comfortable as it should be…).

– Stitching in the ditch while FMQ is not easy. It got eventually better.

– Tension issues can happen all the time, regardless of the testing done before. I found that it was worth it to retest the tension at the beginning of every quilting session.

– As the marking on the darker fabrics didn’t stand out really well, and I don’t have freezer paper, I used interfacing, which I already had, to mark from the surface. It worked quite well, although it left fibres when it was tore out. It seems that with the final wash most of them went away, but it’s something to taken into account.

– Ugly, giant stitches happen. And there’s no point on ripping them out. Here goes my perfectionism. I really had to struggle and repeat myself that those were supposed to happen to not throw everything away a couple of times.

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At the end, however, despite all the mistakes, stitches outside the ditch, wonky circles and puckers on the back (why!!??) it doesn’t look so bad for a first attempt, does it? I’m really amazed how much does the quilting show on the back!

On-going projects: February update

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(Each month I write a monthly summary about what’s going on behind the finishedblocks and projects shared on the everyday posts of the blog. That helps me in keeping track of the on-going projects and acts as a motivation guide).

February was marked by two unexpected trips that keep me away of the sewing room. On the other hand, they helped in advancing hand-sewn, portable projects.

All 100 blocks for The Splendid Sampler™ are finished! I can’t believe I’ve actually made it! Now I’m going to take a couple of weeks break to catch on other things and I’ll start revisiting those blocks that require so and start putting the sampler together. I already have decided on the setting, I just need to audit the fabric for it.

The 2016 BoM by Cotton&Color was planned to start being quilted on January. However, I couldn’t spend time on it. I don’t foresee any advance for it on March, even though I would like to have it, at least, basted.

I finished the blocks for the “Buttons” pattern by Me and My Sister Designs. I want to have the top finished by the end of March!

The Star-Sampler quilt along by Amanda of 3and3quarters is up-to-date.

– The Stars-quilt was the major beneficiary of my trips this month:

Stars basted: 84/84 (504/504 templates)
Stars sewn: 84 /84
Background pieces basted: 504/504
Stars completed: 24/84 (+6 from the last stats)

I finished the first block for the Flower Festival quilt-along by Leah Day. I already posted about the piecing of this one, and I plan to post about the quilting part later this week. However, I couldn’t start the second one, so I’m thinking to skip directly to the March’s block and catch up with February’s as soon as possible.

I also couldn’t work on the Cotton&Color‘s Project of the Month pattern for February. I did however end January’s pouch. Post to come.

The Quilt Block Cookbook sew-along by Amy Gibson of Stitchery Dickory Dock is the neglected project this month. I couldn’t keep up with the weekly block, so I have like 6 weeks to catch up. But I did prioritize the Splendid Sampler blocks, so now I’ll try to find some time to sew along. I was having lots of fun playing with my fabric stash and I already have several ideas for the blocks.

And I wanted to finish the quilt from the course I did on Laura Heine‘s collage quilts, but it just didn’t happen. It’s taking priority this month, hope I can have it finished also before the end of it.

On a brighter side, I did finish two projects! My knitted top is finished and waiting to be blocked! And I was able to finish a long-running embroidery project. As always, each of them will get its on post on the blog.

Although I couldn’t stick to my original plan for February, looking back I realise I did some great progress on the Stars-quilt, and I was able to finish two projects! Not to mention, having 100 blocks finished…That’s how all of them look like together!

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The Splendid Sampler™: Block 90

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Last but not least, block n.90 of The Splendid Sampler ! With this one, I have sewn all 100 blocks, following the patterns and trying not to deviate much from them.

This particular one is called “Juggling”, by Lorena Uriarte. I left this one to be sewn at the end because it requires lots of fabric, and I wasn’t sure about the prints I was going to use. Also, because it was really a tricky one, with those angled lines in the balls and the loops made of bias, and all of the pieces needle-turned appliquéd on place. For the balls, I went back and forward basting only the intersection of the stripes until they matched, then I moved forward to sew the whole seam. The tips on Lorena Uriarte’s blog on how to sew this one were really helpful.

The link party and other info are here.

Star Sampler Quilt (8): “Crystal Star”

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This simple star is block n.8 for the Star-Sampler quilt-along (organised and hosted by Amanda Rolfe at 3and3quarters). I had to sew a second version of the pattern as the first fabric choice didn’t work quite well when put together. I’m still having trouble getting the flying-geese units to the correct size (and I can’t understand why I can get them to work in tiny piecing and not in the bigger versions!).

After auditing all the stars so far, I’m starting to change the colour combinations: the first ones were green-orange and blue-pink combos (with the violet exceptions), so I need to step out of that colour scheme and start using orange-blue and pink-green pairings. Perhaps, even throw in some green-blue ones, if there’s a pattern that allows for that.

The Splendid Sampler™: Block 100

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“Centered”, by Kate Spain, is block n. 100 and the last one of The Splendid Sampler. I still have block n.90 to be finished, but it seems incredible that I’m writing this blog post. Block n. 100!

And this one was a tricky one, with lots of pieces and tiny piecing. I double checked each unit to confirm they had the right dimensions, trimming or unstitching seams when needed. Patience paid off and the final block has the right dimensions!

I also didn’t have much fabric to choose from; however, I just love the contrast within the hand-written and the printed print. The difference between the two grey fabrics is very subtle – but enough to add interest.

Link party and block information are here.

The Splendid Sampler™: Block 99

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Block 99 for The Splendid Sampler is called “Four Corner Spinwheel”, by Kimberly Einmo. For the flip-and-trim corners I used two different methods: I trimmed the underneath fabric for the pinwheel flying geese units, and I left it on the corners (it can be seen sticking out in some places…). In both cases, however, I checked so the units had the right dimensions,  an even so, the block ended up a little bit wonky… (sigh).

The link party and block information are here.