Sunday, 26 June 2016

#365 Quilt [an update]

When Jess was born I was pretty much up to date with this project. Inevitably I fell behind once she arrived. We're currently working on light 6" blocks and I have made pretty good progress so far: I've been picking out fabrics for a lot of blocks, then cutting for a lot of blocks, and then piecing. It means it feels like I'm making no progress for quite a while, then all of a sudden I can make ten blocks on a weekend; here are eight of the ones I made in the last two days.

It's time to take a bit of a step back and see what I have and what I still need. So here are all my 6" light blocks so far in colour groupings.

I definitely need more red blocks! I have a few more blocks cut ready for piecing, then it's back to the stash as I continue to catch up!

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Sweet Serenade Pincushions

This week has been about preparation, rather than sewing. I'm still hoping to meet my deadline of a full sized quilt by mid July - it's for friends that we don't see often - by which I mean, once a year, and that once a year is coming up quickly.

I'm using Sweet Serenade by Basic Grey for Moda, which was released a few years ago now. I confess when I first bought it, I didn't have a plan for it, I just knew I liked it. But I also knew that it wasn't really my normal fabric choice. It was fabric I would enjoy sewing with, but perhaps not the end result so much. Then I realised it's colour scheme was perfect for these friends.

I've spent this week cutting out all the pieces for the remaining 20 blocks. And by Thursday night when I finished I was feeling like I hadn't achieved much. Obviously I had and when I started piecing the blocks, they went together beautifully quickly. But I needed a quick finish on Friday

Earlier this month, Fat Quarter Shop released a pretty little pincushion design. Perfect. Knowing I had cut all the blocks, I could use the scraps to cut for the pincushions.

The lace I've used has also been in my stash for a few years: I bought it for a particular project and then the person it was for bought one from a shop.... but it went beautifully with the look of these fabrics.

For the first time ever I used wire wool as well as stuffing to fill out the pincushion. It seems to be working so far. I made four pincushions: one for me, one for my mother-in-law, one for another family member and one for the organizer of our local patchwork group whose birthday it is.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

The Summer Sampler [the first four]

The Summer Sampler: I am addicted to both quilt-alongs and sampler quilts, so this project ticked all the boxes for me. Twenty blocks over twenty weeks. Requirements: 20 fat quarters. In honour of #sewmystash2016 I pulled out a hoarded fat quarter bundle of Dreamin' Vintage by Jeni Baker for Art Gallery Fabrics made up of 20 fat quarters. A beautifully summery range of fabric for a summery quilt. Perfect for the girls of the house! And yes - at the back there in the photo is enough fabric to back the quilt too!

I was very excited on the day the first block was released, and made up my first block. And I didn't love it. I was really disappointed about it.

The second block was released a week later. I'd thought about it a bit and decided that the off-white Art Gallery Pure Element I had was going to make an appearance: perhaps a bit of  solid in there would help the prints in the range shine. I liked it better. But still didn't love it.

Final roll of the dice. I did some research online and found the list of coordinating solids from Jeni's website. I found a UK shop with seven in stock and ordered them. When they arrived, I made the third block. This was more like it! But didn't I make a hash of those curves. I'm perfectly capable, but really....

So I went back and remade block 1 and I am so much happier with it. Instead of a scrappy centre, I fussy cut one of the larger motifs from the range and calmed it down with two of the solids.

And then I proceeded to block 4.

I'm going to leave block 2 until the end and then see if that needs to be remade too. But for now I'm so pleased I finally like where this quilt is going. I've hoarded this fabric for two years waiting for just the right project. I'm looking forward to getting the next block instructions tomorrow!

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Quasar Quilt [a finish]

This was a thoroughly unexpected quilt from start to finish.

Last weekend my parents came to visit and Mum happened to mention she needed a gift for a colleague who is having a baby. I suggested a quilt - cause it's what I always give. We spent a few hours browsing Pinterest and eventually decided on a variation of the yellow and grey quilt I finished a few months back. We selected navy, blue and splash of orange. But after raiding my stash, lime green was included too.

Mum and Dad headed off for a few days in the Lakes, and I headed for the fabric shop, to pick up the navy fabric, batting and a backing fabric. That was Tuesday morning. I did all the cutting Tuesday evening, pieced it on Wednesday and Thursday, quilted it on Friday and bound it on Saturday.

I like it so much, that I'll be making another similar one in the coming weeks for me to gift!

The Navy fabric is from Timeless Treasures, and I bound it in the same. The rest are all from my stash: Art Gallery, Pearl Bracelets, Carolyn Friedlander, Moda... unidentified... The quilting echoed the navy and was done in 50w Aurifil. The backing is a navy arrow print by Natalie Lymer for Cinderberrie Stitches. It measures 40" x 50" before washing.

Sunday, 5 June 2016

May [review]

May was a bit of a slow sewing month. Instead I've been enjoying time with this these two fruitcakes!

Jess is now 6 weeks old, desperate to see whats going on and be involved, giving out great big smiles, and starting to chat away! I forget how quickly they start to interact.

And speaking of chatting away, Mia doesn't stop! She's taken a liking to map-reading in the photo above!

Having completed 43 blocks in April, I had a feeling May would be a drier month - just 27. But my running total for the year is still a healthy 283, so my 365 blocks in a year goal is well on track! But this month's blocks were more varied: I finally made a second Zodiac block.

This project has been held up because I do freezer paper piecing and I had to replace my iron, and it just didn't get hot enough to melt the wax, making freezer paper foundation piecing a thoroughly unenjoyable experience. I've now replaced my iron so hopefully I'll get caught up on the BOM over the next few weeks.

I started a new project: I couldn't resist the Summer Sampler. I had the perfect fabric already in my stash: Dreamin' Vintage by Jeni Baker. But I'm not loving the blocks as much as I loved the fabric before I cut it. I think I'm finding it all too busy, so I've splashed out on the coordinating Art Gallery Pure Elements Solids, and once they arrive I'll get going on the next block. I may remake the first block if I have enough fabric left at the end.

I made nine Splendid Sampler blocks and prepared a load more: here they all are to date.

I also made nine #365 blocks.

I'm behind on both these projects, but not too upset by it. I have a few blocks prepared ready to sew in grabbed moments, and I have all the patterns, so I'm happily plodding on.

I did a single Farmer's Wife block

Four blocks for Mia's big girl quilt...

And just one Jane Austen block... which turned out the wrong size. Bugger. I want this quilt finished in just 7 weeks time... need to get a move on! One correct block, many more to go!

My other May sewing was an embroidery hoop for a birthday present and another scrappy pouch, christened the Baby-Brain pouch because of the stupid mistakes I made on it!

I quilted two quilts for my mother-in-law: a blue and red one and a low volume one.

I finished piecing a quilt top which I hate... suggestions on a post card

I also worked on a couple of other projects meaning some finishes in June! Watch this space! Non sewing, we've had some great days out as a family, to Plessey Woods, Alnwick Gardens (where we became "friends" so we get free entry for the rest of the year!), and the beach. I baked my first ever loaf of bread...

And we sadly had to say goodbye to Archie.

It was quite the emotional rollercoaster of a month. Here's hoping June is a bit calmer!

Friday, 13 May 2016

Scraptastic Tuesday [May]

I know it's Friday but it's Scraptastic Tuesday week! Does that make any sense?

I've got some scraps to share with you! Last month I shared my Preggosaurus pouch, and my sister-in-law's partner commented on Instagram that it was "fab". It was her birthday this week so I made a sister to the Preggosaurus Pouch.

This is the Baby-Brain Pouch.

There's a good reason for that name: I made a right bloody hash of it and I'm blaming baby brain. I had to put it together in short, stolen moments, when both girls were otherwise occupied. It took a couple of attempts to get the panels big enough. I packed away my scraps before I measured - duh! Then I cut the first zip to the wrong length. Yep. Then I forgot to topstitch one side of the zip, so once I'd finished the lining kept getting caught in the zip, and I had to do a fudge job. Then I forgot to open the zip before stitching it all up, which meant turing the finished pouch through was a time consuming and foul-mouthed experience. And then once I'd turned it through, I realised I'd forgotten to box the corners, so had to turn it back. Baby brain.

This hasn't been the only time the scrap basket has been up-ended in the last month. I was due to be induced at 11 days overdue on 19th April. Baby was showing no signs of making an entrance. The induction is booked on the basis that there is room for you in the delivery suite. We called at 1pm as instructed and were told that they were very busy and we couldn't go in. Call back at 5pm. That was 4 very, very long hours and I needed something mindless. So I got out the scraps and started cutting pieces 1"x 2.5" and stitching them together in sets of three. I got a fair few done before the 5pm deadline when thankfully, they said come in at 6.30pm. The first time I sat at my sewing machine after we came back home, I sewed the individual "blocks" together to get this.

If I'm honest, I'm not sure where this is going, and I'm still working on a witty name for this project. It may just be this. It may get bigger.

And one last scrap suggestion. You know those really tiny scraps that you simply cannot use, because once you've taken some seam allowances off (even teensy tiny ones), there is no fabric left? The reception class at a local primary school will take them and the kids get their glue out and make collages from them! There is literally no waste. Turns out Mia also likes playing with prit stick! Here's her offering from this morning. It currently has pride of place on the fridge.

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday!
Scraptastic Tuesday

Monday, 9 May 2016

Embroidery [parental advisory]

I've been doing quite a lot of embroidery since Jessica arrived. It started with one of those dangerous hours where I was cuddling the baby with one hand and browsing Pinterest with the other. I don't know how I found it now, as is the way with Pinterest, but I came across an embroidery designer I'd never heard of before: Kelly Fletcher. I followed the links through to her pattern store and was blown away. There were so, so many patterns I could have started right away. I pinned quite a lot, and then picked my favourite, an alphabet sampler, paid my money and printed it off.

This is my progress so far: A-D but no wheels! I've now received the threads I was missing, so there's no excuse for the wheels to still be missing. I'm loving the challenge of this piece. Because Kelly's designs are rooted in Jacobean crewel-work, she uses a lot of raised stitches in her designs - no backstitch here! I'm getting happier with my stem stitch and I think I've mastered corners, but this evening I tried bullion knots for the first time. Nope. Not a hope in a hell! They got cut out and satin stitch was used to replace them!

I haven't made as much progress on this piece as I could have because I've been distracted with two other, smaller embroideries. First up is the parental advisory embroidery I stitched up for a friend celebrating her thirtieth birthday. It's not necessarily something I would put on my own wall, but is so perfectly her that I couldn't resist!

And then another quick stitch was this J for Jessica. I stitched up the A from the same alphabet a couple of months ago for Mia and had picked out the thread at the time. This is Jessica's first hoop for her nursery. The thread is from the new DMC Coloris range.

And we'll finish up with a snuggle time selfie!