Sunday, November 22, 2015

finished quilt: "Swarm"

It's a long way to the finished quilt if you want to design your own...

Swarm #swarmbysel

Say hello to "Swarm"!

I started it around May 2014, with a design idea but not very much of a clue on how to execute it. I knew I wanted to use the new line of quilting fabrics, Cotton + Steel, though, so I bought a great deal of the Basics range, and then set about cutting it up.

I swear @cottonandsteel have something in their dyes. I'm starting to like colours I wouldn't usually touch with a ten foot pole..

There was a lot of sewing and cutting and ironing and trimming. It has 20 rows, and nearly 30 triangle blocks in each row. That's 600 pieces - not counting that the large triangles are made up of 2 pieces, and the small triangle blocks are made up of 4 pieces that need to be sewn together.

Piecing, piecing, piecing. #secretproject #ofDOOM and in the background my hard-driven Brother NS50 which I bought before I realised there were machines specially designed for quilting. And which is in for its first service long as I've had i

That's at the old house - the one that we had to clear out before buying a new house, redoing it, and moving into it last year. So it kind of went on hold in the middle of all that, and then there was the settling in and the starting of the garden and the summer... I didn't get back on the job until Autumn 2015 - around March.

It took me a year (April 2015) to get to the point where I had enough pieces to start putting it all together:

Many things

There were times when I despaired of how many pieces were needed, and how complicated the whole quilt was. However, my quilt groups kept telling me to keep going, keep going, it looks great, it's going to be gorgeous

And when it did start coming together, it was beautiful!


I don't know what it is about this quilt, but it just hits people in the feels. I've had a lot of people admiring it! Maybe it's the colours, the brightness, the...well, playfulness of the pattern... At any rate, it's definitely a show-stopper!

WIP Wednesday: swarm by Sel

Maladicta even gave it the butt-stamp of approval. Which, okay, in this house, isn't difficult. But she was quite happy with it...

WIP Wednesday: sprint for the show

I had a backing, I had a plan for quilting it, tt was going to be submitted in the Sydney Quilt Show...

And then I pulled a muscle in my calf. Ow.

And I couldn't do the quilting and couldn't find someone to do the quilting for me in the time left before the quilt had to be submitted. So, no show. *sighs* While at the show, I looked at the two spaces allotted to the quilts that I couldn't finish due to my injury, and sighed.

I sent it off to my quilter before I went overseas, I think, and have been waiting for her to get back to me. It took a while, but when it was definitely worth it!

#swarmbysel is back from the quilters and has been promptly colonised by Smokey. #advenchuresofsmokeyandmal #cats #catsofinstagram

Smokey agreed. No sooner had it taken it out of the mailing bag, then she settled on it. She's since pretty much taken every opportunity to head-butt it, muzzle-rub against it, or roll in it.

There's a part of me that still can't believe I thought up this pattern, let alone executed it!

"Swarm" - photographed square! Such a labour of love and inspiration. And yes, @2bees, I'm filling out the competition forms now! #swarmbysel
Name: Swarm
Size: 75" x 88"
Design: original by Sel

I'm trying to write a pattern for it, but it's a bit exhausting, and everything's pretty busy right now.

I've submitted it to the Modern Quilt Guild's competition for Quiltcon 2016 in...San Diego, I think? However, I doubt it will make it in - I don't think it's quite 'modern' enough as the MQG defines modern quilts.

It looks stunning, though. And I'm definitely keeping this one. :)

If you want to go back and see the progress of this quilt, the hashtag on Instagram is #swarmbysel. (Some of the earlier pics won't be tagged because I only came up with the name this year.)

I'm linking this up to Sew Modern Monday over at Canoe Ridge Creations!

Friday, November 20, 2015

WIP Wednesday: The One With Reasons

So I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks. There are a few reasons for that.

One of those reasons is because at first I didn’t have very much to report. This is mostly because it’s SPRING here in the southern hemisphere, and my around-the-house efforts have largely been focused on whipping the garden into shape.

Garden November 2015

The other is because my cousin – two weeks older – died ten days ago after a long battle with breast cancer and the aftermath, and her funeral was last Wednesday. It was an emotionally charged day and by the end of it, I didn't feel much like posting a WIP Wednesday.

Anyway, we hope to pick up a little in the coming weeks. CHRISTMAS IS COMING! *wibbles*



Although I did get sibquilt top #1 completed:

#quiltuberfest top #1 done

I just haven’t had the chance to get sibquilt top #2 together yet. Maybe in the next couple of nights?

My aim is still to give these quilts to refugee sisters – compassion is all the more needful, I think, in the wake of Paris and Beirut. And yes, there will be closed hearts in the community, but I’m choosing not to be one of them.

Swarm by Sel

It’s back from the quilter! And the quilter left a note on the invoice to say that she thought it was gorgeous. I don’t know what it is about this quilt that hits people (incl. cats) in the feels, but it sure does! It’s just an absolute pain to make.

#swarmbysel is back from the quilters and has been promptly colonised by Smokey. #advenchuresofsmokeyandmal #cats #catsofinstagram

Anyway, I’m going to bind it on Friday night, right before the Sydney Mod SQuad Sit-and-Sew on Saturday. Debating whether I should do the binding by hand or machine. I’m tending towards machine right now.

Better pics next week.


I was going to enter the Modern Quilt Guild's challenge for Quiltcon 2016, but the time of year and circumstances have conspired against me. I even got a template (albeit a teeny-tiny one - I wanted a larger size). And now I feel guilty that I never got to use it.

Christmas presents

1. parents: cushion covers for their seating space
2. stepbro and SIL: pillow covers to match their bed
3. stepbro: haven't the foggiest idea, tbh - J's always impossible to work out what to do. Last year I made him a quilt. Maybe he gets a pillowcase to match, too?
4. B1 & B2: B2 is getting the quilt that's been sitting around for forever...B1...I don't know. Maybe if I finally finish our lounge room curtains? :D

I'll have to think about family presents, though.

Linking to WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Bloggers Quilt Festival: the Interweave Mini

I made Interwoven for the #igrainbowmini swap, off a pattern from a Susan Schneider book. The HSTs were made out of the off-cuts of the Kona charm swap organised by Pile O'Fabric back in 2013, and only measured 1.75" square...before I trimmed them down to 1.5".

And this is why I'm not a fan of HSTs. Even when they look really really spectacular, there's a bajillion trimmings.

Sunday late march

And then I had to arrange the teeny-tiny HSTs into the pattern, which is really just a 4x4 block in a specific layout, which then gets rotated through 90 degrees to form the pattern.

Sunday late march

It's pretty clever, right?

Sunday late march

Of course, then I have to go and add borders.

I hate quilting on my domestic machine.

Straight line quilting, following the pattern was all I could manage. Alas, I took the HandiQuilter Blessington Academy course the weekend after I quilted this, otherwise it would have been freemotion quilting and much more impressive.

Still I suppose the design holds up pretty well!

Title: Interweave (Mini)
Size: ~18" square
Now that @megnevett has received her gift, I can put this photo up! #rainbowminiswap #rainbowteamblue

Submitted in the ROYGBIV category of the Bloggers Quilt Festival over at Amy's Creative Side.

WIP Wednesday: the one riding the rails

Not really that much to show ‘in progress’ this week.

Two finishes:

3:10 to Mendocino

I did a full post on the making of The 3:10 to Mendocino earlier today.

And done! Wondering if it needs a border...  #310tomendocino #yumaqal #yumaquilt #mendocinomermaids

1-Hour Halloween Basket

A gift for a Halloween swap which I need to get out ASAP!

...and to top it all off an #hourbasket (pattern by @kelbysews) for a Halloween swap! ��

Spring Garden (Kate Spain Honey Honey)

Finished the quilting – need to do the binding!


Mini Swarm By Sel

Did the standard fiery curls FMQ on this, need to do some hand-quilting in the middle (when I get the right floss) and bind it.

No Progress
-100 Days Project
-Quilt Uberfest: one of the cats peed on some of the squares I had sitting around waiting to be turned into nine-patches, so it’s back to the cutting board…


Lots of bits and pieces projects to get done in the next week – things that have been lingering for far too long.

- Birthday block swap from 2012
- Supernova Friendship Block Swap

a weekend of Yuma: the 3:10 to Mendocino

I've had a lot of Mendocino Mermaids in my collection since I went on a buying spree back in 2012 - 2013. Actually, since I found a couple of bolts of it on the cheap (as in $10/metre, which is cheap in Australia - most fabrics are $20/metre) and bought the lot.

I made one quilt out of my supplies already (The Seaweed Is Always Greener) and had enough for a second.

Let the cutting begin! #yumaQAL #mendocinomermaids #310tomendocino #eep

Looking at the leftover scraps, I have enough for a third...but that's for another post.

I had vague ideas about what to make with my collection, but until Gotham Quilts' pattern for the Yuma Quilt came out, nothing seemed quite right.

What initially caught my eye about Yuma? Those little white triangles on the bigger triangles. Before I realised that was the fabric print and not the piecing. D'oh! I thought it was really cool and fiddly piecing. Yeah, nope. But the pattern is still very cool and I thought it would look good in Mendocino - the big pink and gold prints for the large triangles and a melange of other prints for the small(er) triangles.

When putting a quilt together, there's always that little niggle of doubt. "Maybe this isn't such a good idea." "I don't know about this." "Should I add more fabrics? Take away more? "What if I perpetrate a horror of colour and style upon the quilting world and can never show my face around the intarwebs again?"

I had a couple of those; firstly when I realised that in order to have prints properly directional, I would have to cut them on the diagonal...

@pinkyingblog better angle for Steel vs Slate? #yumaQAL #mendocinomermaids #310tomendocino

Progress! #310tomendocino #mendocinomermaids #yumaqal

Luckily I had enough fabric, and what I didn't have enough of, I could group together. (And now have a lot of scraps that would probably make pretty decent HSTs... Something to consider.)

That moment when you think "wow, this could really really work!" #310tomendocino #mendocinomermaids #yumaqal

So far, so good. That was the easy part.

Then there was the layout check and the panic that ensued when I realised that laying out the blocks as the instructions indicated would mean that I had pink and gold HSTs blending with the pink and gold large triangles.

..and then that moment when you're not so sure...  �� #310tomendocino

There was the question of what to do about the centre blocks - I was initially intending to use the pink, blue, and brown memaid medallions as centres surrounded by the pink and gold mermaids, but that was making the quilt too busy-and-bright for my liking.
Top, bottom or neither? #310tomendocino

Putting some pink and blue mermaid medallions helped calm things down, and I could keep the brown mermaid medallion as the centre of the quilt (black hair, olive skin mermaids; yesyesyes) and use some pale blue scraps to border it.

It got a bit patchy, especially when I mis-cut 8.5" to be 7.5". D'OH. Luckily I had just enough to cover that missing inch.

Bright and early Sunday...  #310tomendocino

I could tell you about the drama of 12.5" squares vs 12" squares which comes down to Sel Does Not Read Instructions Well. It's long and involved and you don't want to hear about it. Instead, I will tell you (or rather, show you) of What Happens When Maladicta Wakes Up From Her Snooze:

*sigh* #cats #310tomendocino #catsofinstagram #advenchuresofsmokeyandmal

Luckily I'd taken a photo before she rolled around in my layout.

And then there was The Problem Of Seams.

Specifically, seams on the diagonal.

Seams. On the diagonal.

It's like a convocation of All The Things I Hate But Which Quilting Loves To Land In My Lap WHYYYYY? (see: The Eternity Quilt and Swarm - each a bajillion triangles, cut on the bias, sewn together and UGH...and the ridiculous part is that I keep doing it.) My seams are...well, a more precise quilter would say "complete shit"...but I like the subtle misdirection of "flexible".

I will never win a prize for perfect seams in any universe.

But that's okay. I make it work. And (mostly) nobody notices. (Until I point it out. Which I have to stop doing.)

I'm presently trying to decide on whether To Border Or Not To Border. I like my quilts big, and this one is still in the Not Quite Big Enough category right now.

But it looks really good - especially in front of my house, with the rosebush in the background!

And done! Wondering if it needs a border...  #310tomendocino #yumaqal #yumaquilt #mendocinomermaids

Also in the background of my pic with Smokey:

Me in @cottonandsteel frock with happy, purry furry (Smokey), and the #310tomendocino in my workroom on a warm spring Sunday afternoon. #mendocinofabric #mendocinomermaids #yumaquilt #cats #catsofinstagram #advenchuresofsmokeyandmal

I'm debating whether to quilt this one myself or to send it away. I'm inclining towards sending it away, because I rather like the machine-quilted quilts that I have - they're loosely quilted, so still soft, but it's strong and a nice all-over pattern. And not much effort from me. (Always a bonus.)

I was hoping to finish it in time for the Bloggers' Quilt Festival, but alas, no time. Everything is crazy right now, and while November should calm down a little, I don't think it will be by much! Sprinting to the end of the year now!

Friday, October 23, 2015

3:10 to Mendocino [YumaQAL]

So it's not really a quilt-along when you're the only one doing it, right?

Anyway, the Yuma Quilt is on the table - the top to hopefully be done this weekend!

I laid out my fabric choices last night, and started sorting them. The range is (for anyone who's been living under a rock these last few years) Heather Ross' Mendocino Mermaids - OOP, very rare, and now in reprint! I found - literally, randomly came across - significant yardage of it on my LQS webpage at a fraction of the price being asked for it online. (Like $40/m, and this was $10/m.)

I'd bought two bolts outright - everything they had of it - and yardage of another two bolts, within ten minutes. And from there, it kind of became an obsession to collect as much of the line as possible. *sigh* I hadn't been invested until I found the bolts!

But now it's going to reprint, and I want to make a quilt before everyone else gets their hands on it! :D

So, here's my Mendocino collection:

Let the cutting begin! #yumaQAL #mendocinomermaids #310tomendocino #eep

And here it is all cut up:

Background choices, Kona Steel (near) or Kona Slate (far)? I'm leaning toward Slate myself.  Your thoughts? #310tomendocino #yumaQAL #mendocinomermaids

I'm auditioning backgrounds - Kona Steel (foreground) or Kona Slate (background). Right now, my instinct and instagram are saying Slate. It's kind of reminiscent of the murky deeps of the ocean, isn't it? The sea on a stormy day. Steel is more like mountains and rocks - it would probably do really well with earthier, warmer colours. (Yes, I know Mendocino is pinks and golds and oranges and browns, but when you look at them, you realise they're very cool tints of warm colours. More blue in them than red.)

Either way, I'll start cutting the background tonight. I'm debating making the setting triangles out of another Mendocino yardage I have, though...

This weekend is for putting it all together - the diagonals are going to be interesting. Although, maybe not so much since, because the Yuma blocks are on point, I had to cut the fabric diagonally to keep the prints directional. Yes, I did cut the prints directionally. Yes, I have a lot of scraps as a result. They'll probably go on the back, or into a new quilt. We'll see.

So much sewing to do, so little time!

The quilt gets its name from the movie 3:10 to Yuma, of course. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

WIP: the one with patches

A little work, but not much new.


Quilt Uberfest

I've done ten 9-patch blocks to fill in the gaps of the eight blocks from the Quilt Uberfest.

Slowly making my way through the nine-patches for #quiltuberfest

Looking at it now, though, I'm thinking I'm going to have to sash-and-post these, possibly
with a contrasting colour as the posts, to give some extra dimension to the quilt, and to allow the blocks to be better seen, instead of just melding into each other.

WIP Wednesday October

100 Days Project

I've been more focused in making up the 4-patches which I'm using to practise on, so I'm quite a few days behind. Also, it's a bit of a pain to put the quilting foot on every night
and switch it out for the quarter-inch foot when I want to do regular sewing.

WIP Wednesday October

So I'll do some of the FMQing this weekend - Friday and Saturday night, when I have a bit of time free.

A little movement, but no pictures

Plain Jane Passacaglia: working my way through another rosette

No movement

3:10 to Mendocino: Nothing

Honey Honey (Spring Garden?): Going back to finish the quilting on Sunday

Meadow: Nope

Swarm By Sel (mini): Nope

Other things

Carpet that made me think of quilting:

WIP Wednesday October

I don't even remember where I saw it anymore!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

WIP: the one with UFOs galore

Lots of WIPs this week!


Quilt UberFest

A billion projects on the go, and I pick up an old UFO.

Full post is here where I talk about the blocks, where they’ve come from, and where they’re going.

TBD: 16x 12” nine-patch blocks

So far: 2 down

3:10 to Mendocino

Also known as the Yuma quilt by Gotham Quilts.

My Mendocino collection:

I think this is nearly every #mendocinomermaids print from the original release... I may be missing one or two...

The problem is that the Yuma pattern either requires the fabric to be cut on the bias to follow the print, or else to have the print at an angle. At this point, it’s looking like I might have to cut the fabric on the bias, which will make piecing it interesting, especially given the softness of the original Mendocino fabric.

Choices choices.

Honey Honey (Spring Garden?)

A WIP from long ago, but right now literally ‘in progress’ re: quilting.

And today is the longarm work at @sydmodsquad! #freemotionquilting #handiquilter #hq18

I was working on this on Sunday at the Sydney ModSQuad sew-in, and ran out of Aurifil for the top after using two 50yd spools. My attempt at using a comparable Gutermann failed the surface match test miserably, and had major threadnesting happening besides. So I had to take it off the frame and will have to go back and finish it later.

The story so far... #freemotionquilting I had to stop because I ran out of Aurifil! Fabric line is Honey Honey by Kate Spain. Doesn't have a name yet. Suggestions?

I’ve never done a partial quilt before – it’s always been done in a single sitting – or else left on the frame overnight (once).

The idea was to have relatively light quilting at the edges, and dense in the middle.

Detail of corners. #freemotionquilting

That’s a detail of the outer edges. I went with themes of ‘fields’, ‘forests’ and ‘sea’ from outer edge to centre of the quilt. If I had the courage and the skill, I’d love to quilt some crops in there – flowers, fruit, wheat/crops… Ambitious, much?

100 Days Projects

Trying this again with 4-patches made out of 5” scrap squares. I have plenty of scraps and they need doing. Plus, sewing 4-patches is nice and easy and something I can do a few of every night or couple of nights.

Do I suck at #freemotionquilting feathers, or do I REALLY suck at #freemotionquilting feathers? #saturdaynightcraftalong #100dayproject #day1

I think I may need to start with simpler designs, though – get the feel of the machine before trying the fancy stuff. Haven’t sewn together the yellow scrap square blocks; also need to cut more batting pieces out.

Plain Jane Passacaglia

Putting rosettes together and sewing them to the main quilt. It’s getting unwieldy…

The unpretty side of the #plainjanepassacaglia at SCQuilters... #passacagliaquilt

I feel like this is taking so much longer than I wanted it to. Then again, I only manage to do this while I commute; I don’t have all day or even time in front of the TV – I’m just too busy.


In the process of making eyes – five at a time. I’m going for a yellow-centre, white petals flower – kind of a daisy.

[pic to come]

Swarm By Sel

Finished the top.

Mini #swarmbysel! A rather belated 1st birthday gift!

Have a backing. Now I just need to decide how to quilt it. Straight line or FMQ or both? I have an idea for ‘both’, actually. Might go with that.

Other things

I'm not sure what else there is to say after that, other than WHEW, am I busy right now!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

UFO alert: QuiltUberFest blocks

About three years ago, a bunch of quilters put together original designs for quilt blocks, and called it the UberQuiltFest. The quilt-along was, quite frankly, a flop. The fabrics weren't well-chosen, it didn't catch the enthusiasm of the zeitgeist modern quilters of the time, and I'm maybe a handful of people finished it.

I made about four blocks, printed out another three, and eventually finished those. But then I had seven blocks (a really unwieldy number for a quilt) and nothing to do with them.

quilt uberfest: blocks 2

Fast forward three years. I found the blocks, had a bunch of fabrics out, and decided I'd go for one more block (eight is a good number; there are many things that can be done with eight blocks) and then see if it spoke to me.

I actually rather liked this block - it came together well, the seams set beautifully, and I fussy-cut some Mendocino for the centre.

A billion projects on the go, and I pick up an old UFO.

Once it was done, I laid them out.

I have eight blocks; I could divide the eight blocks up into two, and make two single quilts for kids. Sisters, perhaps, from a DV situation, or refugees. That would be my goal. I don't know how I'll get it quilted - that's something I may need to work out with someone local: perhaps one of the women at SCQuilters might agree to do it gratis? At any rate, it's a donation, intended for siblings, and I'd like to make more of them for other children and families seeking shelter from untenable situations.

I was hungry and you fed me,
I was thirsty and you gave me water,
I was homeless and you gave me shelter.

I don't talk about my faith much, which perhaps is a problem. Western Christianity focuses on comfort and blessing and being happy and contented, as though that's what we were made for. And we weren't. Christians are called to serve God, not just in the church but outside of it, to be the hands and heart of God among those who don't care for Him and maybe don't want to. That's a hard calling to follow and I've been challenged a lot to think about what it means in the last year.

For a pair of sisters I think. (Not my sisters though.)

This is one of the things that I'm going to start doing - and not just thinking about doing. It'll be slow - I have a lot of things on my plate - but it's something I can do and which I hope will make a difference in the lives of the families these quilts go to.

The plan for these two quilts is to fill the other blocks with nine-patches in various fabrics - mostly purples, with a few other colours to give it pop. Make two 3x4-block quilts (I've laid them out as 4x4 in the photo, I know), which means making another 16 blocks from 4.5" squares.

If I do one a night, that's done in three weeks. And that will be one more UFO out of my hair, which is an all-around YAY.

It occurs to me that I could do much the same thing with another set of blocks I have which are no longer speaking to me. I think I've had those ones since 2012, too.