Wednesday, 17 September 2014

WIP Wednesday [Little bits and pieces]

I've been working on lots of things these last few days that I haven't blogged about individually so I guess it's time to share!

Everyone is having babies at the moment! Friends in Moldova welcomed their little baby boy this week (a little earlier than expected). Daddy is from the north east of England whereas Moldova is land-locked so I decided to make a quilt with a sea/boat theme and set about looking for boat patterns. I don't like doing raw-edge applique on baby quilts, and my needle-turn applique isn't always the strongest or neatest, so I was looking for a foundation pieced block. And I couldn't find any that I liked. So I designed my own. I haven't ever designed foundation patterns before, so this was a bit of a learning experience. I've so far designed a sailboat, a fishing boat and a lighthouse block. Each boat block will be made twice in different colours and I'll then add in four regular (easy) patchwork blocks to make up a nine patch. So far I've made the fishing boats and I'm so pleased that they worked.

The sailboat and the lighthouse need a bit more work before I start piecing. Hopefully they will turn out just as well.

I spent Saturday evening quilting my Mini Medallion Quilt - spiral quilting! And skipped stitches... grrrr

I've decided that for Christmas this year I want to make advent calendar for my nephew, niece and daughter. I have a plan, and I'm halfway through designing the pockets. It may be a bit too ambitious, and if Mia doesn't get hers this year, I don't think she'll notice.

Back to babies - I want to make a Preppy the Whale quilt for one of the other babies due in the next few months. So I had a practice run and a mad a mini for Mia. Mia had a two-and-a-half hour nap earlier this week and I pieced the whole thing in one sitting, The pattern is really clear and the blocks are easy to put together.

I finished piecing my mini Swoon quilt. I got bored piecing the Swoon blocks so threw the pieces I'd cut for the remaining four together and then attempted to create a quilt. This type of piecing hurt my head....but I like it.

And an update on my Mix-tape blocks - I've now made 15 and put them all together, I'm going to add a few borders, then make a giant mix tape for the back and this will be given by my sister-in-law to a 13-year-old who has just been told she needs a heart transplant.

And finally I added border and corrected the piecing on my Modern Alphabet Mini.

I've got loads of projects on the go, and loads more waiting to be started - my head is spinning! Linking up with WIP Wednesday!

Monday, 15 September 2014

Aspen Glow QAL [week 2]

We've just had a week of really lovely weather. This morning, however, Autumn has arrived with a vengeance: misty, grey, chilly. So a quilt pattern called Aspen Glow is starting to feel appropriate.

Aspen Glow Quilt Along @ Cora's Quilts

It's week 2 and we've now caught up to where I was last year. I'm making this for a relative and picked out five of the fabrics from last year's Downton Abbey range from Andover, paired with Art Gallery Pure Elements in a cream colour. These aren't my style of fabrics, but they are beautiful and I was quite pleased to have an excuse to use them!

The cutting for this quilt is extensive. I spent all day cutting. But the idea is you cut everything, bag it up, then chain piece the 10 different blocks. 

I made my A blocks - these are quite straightforward. There's just lots of them.

I made my B blocks - more to do, but still straightforward. It felt like there were hundreds of them.

Now I need to make my C blocks - there seems to be quite a lot of fabric in this bag and there seem to be a few more steps. I'm looking forward to block F - that bag seems very light!

Hopefully I can keep up with the fairly leisurely schedule and have a finished quilt by Christmas!

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Sleepsuit Dinosaur

I absolutely loved Mia in this sleep suit when she was little. Shehas long since outgrown it, and all of the other clothes the same size are packed away for the future. But I couldn't just pack this one away. I kept it and another one out and planned to make a toy for her.

An today I finally got round to doing it! My favourite sleep suit on one side,

And a matching one on the other, plus a few ribbons from my stash!

And Mia seems to love it - it's the perfect size for little hands.

You can find the pattern here.

Saturday, 13 September 2014

Loved [Essential Sampler Quilt]

Last week I [re]introduced you to an old WIP / UFO. The idea was to tell you all about it and then challenge myself to spend some time on the project for the week, then report back. And I have good things to report.

Though I very nearly didn't - the sampler quilt is 25 blocks and when I pulled them all out I only found 24. Some frantic hunting yesterday and I can put your minds at rest - I have found the awol block.

In the past week I have reduced the amount of hand quilting required to just 2 and a half blocks. Some of this was accepting that the quilting already done was enough - it was my view of what the block needed at the time I did it. But I've also done quite a lot of quilting. Worryingly, some of my hand quilting from two years ago is neater than my hand quilting today....

And the biggest achievement was adding some of the quilted blocks to the centre of the quilt. At the start of the week I had nine blocks pieced together, and needed to put another row of blocks all the way round.

 I will never ever put together my QAYG blocks like this again. The theory is that you trim the front layer to size (not helped by the fact my blocks are all different sizes so have different amounts of border), but leave wadding and backing over-sized. Then using a quarter-inch seam you sew the two front layers together, keeping the batting and backing out of the way. Finger press the seam, then trim the wadding so it butts up against each other. I cannot do this step. Mine looks horrific. I'm using an iron on tape to hold this seam together once it's trimmed and it's just as well as it also holds in place the pieces I've had to patch back in so there isn't a massive hole in the batting once I'm done...

Finally, you trim the backing,  fold over one piece and slip stitch it down. The quality of my slip stitching two years ago is quite poor, so I'm seriously considering reinforcing all of this construction with some simple machine quilting in the borders. I'm not sure how as it may just emphasize the fact that the blocks are different sizes!

Here is the quilt top as it is right now! I just need to add a row of five to each side. I'm so pleased with the progress I've made and I'm loving the simple colour scheme!

So what's my plan going forward? In March next year I'm delivering a talk about quilting to my Mother-in-Law's "Tuesday Group" - it's a group at church that use to be called "Young Wives" but they changed the name when they all turned 70 years old - it's a bit like the WI. I'm not quite sure what I'm going to talk about yet, but this quilt was my first start (definitely not my first finish...) and it would be lovely to share it. And for the first time I can see the end of this project. When I thought I was missing a block I pulled out the remaining fabric to see if I could remake it (the answer was no way). I found loads of the bright pink Tilda fabric left, so I'm going to bind it in that. Originally I had planned to add a border. But no. Not with this QAYG technique. And to spur me on, it's going to make an appearance in my Q4 Finish Along List (if you thought my Q3 list was stupid, wait till you see Q4). Maybe, by the end of the year, I can have this quilt on my bed. That's the dream.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Another weekend, another wedding

It's been a busy summer and it ended last weekend with the wedding of my brother, Robin, and his fiancee, Michaela.

Michaela had worked so hard to plan the wedding and had made a lot of the decorations herself, including over 60 origami cranes (which I kept calling geese), which were hung in a curtain behind the top table...

...the favours - small viles of champagne flavoured tea which she filled and labelled herself, and home made biscuits...

...her sister had made bunting...

...the bridesmaids spend the day before the wedding fluffing the tissue paper pom poms you can see...

...there were jars in all different shapes and sizes with lace for flowers and candles... and polaroid photos

My parents on their wedding day and my Granny as a young girl

And we spent all of Sunday morning laying this out in the venue, before the wedding at 12noon. I was rushing around like a mad thing!

But it was worth it - the venue looked spectacular.

As did the bride and groom.
My Mum and Dad with the newlyweds
Growing up, I was the family member that loved languages, and my brother hated them. The down side of marrying a girl from Sweden was a groom's speech in both English and Swedish. He did an admirable job!

Some Swedish traditions were included in the reception: for example every time you dinged your cutlery against a glass the bride and groom had to kiss. Every time Robin left Michaela at the top table alone, any men were allowed to go and give her a kiss - turned out it worked when Rob was left alone too - he got kissed by the men as well! And another Swedish tradition was that any one could give a speech. So I did. In which I introduced the assembled company to his childhood cuddly toy, Otis - well someone had to embarrass him.
I am holding Otis hostage until Mummy has done her speech!
It was a wonderful weekend for everyone, finished by a family picnic in Mum and Dad's garden on the Monday before driving home exhausted!

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

WIP Wednesday [Mix Tape]

I am loving nap time. Mia had a morning nap and an afternoon nap totalling 3 hours yesterday and today. So with chores done and washing on, I sat at my sewing machine and sewed. And sewed. I pieced six more Mix Tape blocks from Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine. This started off as a spur of the moment decision to make a single block and turn it into a mug rug. Then I made another one. Then I made a mini one. Then I made a few more, and now I have fifteen and a definite plan - so watch this space.

I really enjoyed picking the fabrics for these blocks. I picked the four coloured fabrics within the blocks quite carefully but with no reference whatsoever to the existing blocks. Until this morning, when I needed to make one more and asked for help on Instagram - red was missing!

Some of my favourite fabrics are included: Comma, Botanics, Art Gallery (oval Elements, Floral Elements, Indian Summer, Dreamin Vintage, Textures, and Legacy), Happy Mochi Yum Yum, Kona Solids, Pearl Bracelets, Color Me Happy, Tula Pink, Architextures, and a couple that I don't know what they are, but love them - especially the purple "reels" top left and the same fabric in green second down on the right - any ideas what these fabrics are and where I can get more? The text fabrics are harder to name as most of my fat quarters have the selvage without the name, but I know there's some Noteworthy from Sweetwater, and that fabric with instructions for making a pillowcase.... I was amazed that I had enough texty fabrics of the right scale. In the end I was struggling to find circular prints for the reels.

One of my favourite blocks with my accidental fussy cutting!
At the start of this project I made a mini version of the block.

This won't make it into my final quilt, but I am seriously considering a mini with nine of these little blocks for the IG Mini Quilt swap. So I'm not quite done with this block yet!
A little more accidental fussy cutting!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday!

Saturday, 6 September 2014

His and Hers [mug rugs]

My brother and his fiancee get married tomorrow. I decided last weekend to make them a present. Nothing like the last minute to get things done! Inspired by some of the mosaics I saw coming out of the Big Stitch Swap earlier this summer, I had a play with the periodic table to see what I could spell. There's a great website which lists a LOT of words which can be made from the elements...

With some help from hubby we decided on His and Hers. I picked fabric and thread to match the colour scheme of their living room and started the embroidery. I got most of the way through "HErS" when I realised the bobbin of thread I was using was not going to be enough. That was fine - from my cross stitching days I have plenty of bobbins of most colours. I pulled out the other bobbins labelled 318. Out of four bobbins only one was the same colour. I don't know whether the dye lots were different or the people from whom I had inherited some of the threads had incorrectly labelled, but whatever the reason I had a problem.

I tried two different shops for more thread. Both sold the "other" brand. In the end I bought the theoretical equivalent. I got it home and it was definitely not the same colour. I kept stitching and with absolutely no thread to spare, I finished the first mug rug. With very little choice I used the other brand to sew "HIS".

They are different colours. But I think you have to look hard in natural daylight to tell. Next the quilting. Because it was fairly last minute I decided to try Frixion pens for the first time. They really work! I had some second thoughts about the quilting half way through but I like how it turned out.

Due to a power cut at in inopportune moment yesterday, I only got these finished this morning, but they are all ready for the Bride and Groom. Each mug rug is 10" x 7". The front and binding is all Kona Solids, and the back is Saltwater from Tula Pink.