Wednesday, 15 February 2017

Michelin Man to Stick Man [A Plan]

It's time to take some action. Since I had my gall bladder removed last September and I've been able to eat normally again, I've been putting weight back on. Not good. I generally feel tired (I know - it probably has something to do with small children and working full time too) and I think my diet probably exacerbates that.

So I've bought myself one of those fit band things and (re)joined weightwatchers. I've followed Weight Watchers a few times over the years, and whilst I stick with it, it really does work for me. I was also quite pleased to see that I'm not the heaviest I've ever been!

Three things about this time are different: firstly, I feel mentally different - like I can do it. Hopefully that feeling lasts - I don't remember feeling quite so confident and determined last time. But who knows. I've suffered a sever case of baby brain since then! Secondly, I've started bullet journalling and I'm planning on using that to help: so far it just involves colouring in squares when I lose a pound, as I'm using the WW app to actually track my food. Thirdly....

Quilting! I quilted last time I tried, but this time I am linking a specific project to my weight loss. For every pound I lose, I will make up a hexagon block from Katja Marek's The New Hexagon Perpetual Calendar in fabrics from a lovely bundle of Blueberry Park fabrics in the warm colour way. If I hit my goal I will have a lovely lap quilt!

My first week I lost 3lb. And I'm seeing an issue... I'm nearly through week 2 and I have only stitched up one hexagon block! I really feel I deserve to lose weight again this week, so I'm going to have to get busy with the blocks to avoid a back log!

I'm hoping that by sharing here, and more regularly on Instagram, that the support of the quilting community will help me stick with it. So far, the support has been brilliant! You guys all need to keep me on the straight and narrow!

#jennieneedstolosethepadding #michelinmantostickman

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Snail Day

Time for a bit of a snaily update. Here are the snails we've made since I last shared:

 Literally the only photo of this snail where it isn't covered by a small hand. So it's a little fuzzy....

Two blocks this week as my neice was here and both her and Mia made a block: Mia picked the lime green and EJ picked the pink.

 The ponies wanted in on the action! The flower print is from Art Gallery.


This shell fabric is one of the first fabrics I ever bought and whilst I love it, I've always struggled to use it. Perfect for a shell!

Some weeks Mia helps and presses buttons on the sewing machine. Other weeks she just picks the fabric.

Monday, 13 February 2017

#1yearofstitches [Week 6}

Another week, more stitches, still in love with this project, though increasingly crippled by indecision at the moment!

Monday 6th February: yellow stem stitch to create the swirl bottom right

Tuesday 7th February:orange palestrina stitch to improve the swirl bottom right.

Wednesday 8th February: pink chain stitch - still trying to improve the swirl.

Thursday 9th February: round blanket stitch on the far left in aqua.

Friday 10th February: Laced Persian Star Stitch - the square-ish aqua/blue thing in the middle. I quite like it, but I need some practice.

Saturday 11th February: Gold stem stitch to surround the Persian star - with a little loop!

Sunday 12th February: Yellow chain stitch on the far left to start developing that area, as I can't decide how to continue in the centre.

Wednesday, 8 February 2017

#365 Quilt Top

I have to admit that there were points in the last year when I never thought I would be writing this post. But here I am. Today I can share with you my finished #365 quilt top.

This is big: 98" x 98" (I guess - I forgot to measure it but I know each of the 96" strips I cut for that final border had to be extended by a couple of inches....). To get the photograph I lay it on our front lawn and hung out of the bedroom window! And that's really why it got finished last Sunday - I noted that not only was it sunny, but there was no wind at all, and therefore and outdoor shoot was possible. This is unheard of on the north-east coast.

There's so much I want to say about this quilt top, so bear with me... I had come across the project in November 2015 and dismissed it. I looked at it again in December and dismissed it again. The reason was the fabric requirements. I was totally put off by the requirement of a dark-dark, dark-medium, dark, medium-dark etc. I couldn't wrap my head round it. I don't know when I had the lightbulb moment, that actually all I needed were light blocks and dark blocks and the rest was up to me. And that rainbows are always good. And with that revelation, I started piecing it on 3rd January 2016. I stayed on track until the end of March. Before Jessica arrived I had a completed centre and first dark border. The dark block in this border are all 3".

And then, inevitably, I fell behind. That's what happens when you have a new-born. But Jessica was pretty good - she napped and slept in the evenings. Mia was still going to the child-minder so I actually had some sewing time after the first few months. When I got back to the project I was 84 blocks behind. I gradually chipped away at it. Unfortunately the blocks from mid April to early July were 6" blocks instead of the 3" we had been working on. And wow, were they a challenge. No churn dashes here. I would prepare a few blocks at once, then sew a few blocks and by September I was back up to date with the sew-along.

One of the things that kept me going during that time was the amazing ladies (and gent) on the UK based Facebook group that was set up for this. The encouragement and support I found there was amazing. Every success was cheered, every failure shared and halved. And on the days when the block was truly monstrous, we all consoled each other, then tackled it and shared tips. In short, we sewed together, we moaned together and we achieved together!

If you're thinking of joining in, I would definitely encourage it. If you start now, you're about 40 blocks behind. But those first few blocks are very straightforward. Kathy, who has put this project together, has done so really well, to introduce you to basic piecing step at a time - a new technique and then a week to really get your head around it before introducing the next new piecing technique. It's done entirely with rotary cutting - no foundation piecing, no templates and no hand-sewing (unless you really want to). Even if you are an experienced quilter, it's a great learning experience - and you appreciate those easier blocks in hindsight! Do it. Jump in and create a beautiful quilt.

Obviously this isn't a finished quilt yet. I have ordered some Tula Pink Free Fall in navy for the backing. I've been itching for a reason to use this. I had to order it from the States as I couldn't find it in stock anywhere in the UK, and I'm trying not to check the tracking number every half an hour! Once that arrives, I'll be able to pack up the quilt and it's backing in a (large) package and pay an extortionate amount of money to Royal Mail to deliver it to a lady in Cumbria who will be quilting it for me.

This will be the first time I've ever had one of my quilts professionally quilted. Normally I would never dream of it, as I really do enjoy the process of quilting, and I like owning the process from beginning to end. But this quilt is a bit different. I have already spent hours and hours on it and I love it. It's been a project that has been all about the piecing and it's important that the piecing shines in the finished quilt. When I was thinking about quilting it myself, I contemplated a large spiral or and all-over stipple. But the reality is that there are a lot seams, and a lot of seam allowance - some blocks are more seam allowance than block. And with my machines I think I would experience so many thread breakages and needles snapping, that I would quickly fall out of love with the quilt. And I don't want that. So this quilt will be quilted by someone else, so that I don't ever stop loving it!

We're hatching a plan to display a number of the finished 365 quilts created in the Facebook group at Festival of Quilts in Birmingham in the summer. I won't be able to be there, but I hope my finished quilt will be!

Watch this space for a finish in the next few months!

Tuesday, 7 February 2017

#1yearofstitches [Week 5]

Still in love with this project... a big change this week was my hoop size. I started with a 6" hoop and realised I was filling it too fast, so I moved up to an 8" hoop this week. I can't go any bigger as that's the limit of the fabric I cut, but it's given me loads more room to play with

Monday, 30th January: Some moer Palestrina Stitch. This time I used a slightly paler green thread to further divide the space around the bullion knot wheel. It's hard to see the difference in green in the photo from the big Palestrina swirl I did last week.

Tuesday, 31st January: Dark purple backstitch, just to highlight the space near the centre. I had originally planned to fill the entire space with dark purple back stitch, but after going round once, I think that would be too heavy, so I need to rethink my plan for that area.

Wednesday, 1st February: Pale green backstitch infill. I used my new thread (see below) to infil a section around the bullion knot wheel. It looks a bit scruffy if I'm honest.

Thursday, 2nd February: A new swirl of lime green chain stitch!

Friday, 3rd February: I added blue blanket stitch to yesterday's chain stitch. I know "blue and green should not be seen" and all that, but I love them together.

Saturday, 4th February: I branched out with a new stitch: interlaced cable chain stitch. It's that rectangular area in green bottom left. I like how it turned out, though if I did it again, I would make the cable chain stitches smalled. But cable chain is something I'm going to try again.

Sunday, 5th February: a pink arc of palestrina stitch across the top of my hoop.

And the exciting news this week was some new reels of thread! This is half...

The two reels on the left were ordered as purples, but in real life they are very pinky which was a little disappointing. I may have to order some more...

Saturday, 4 February 2017

The Splendid Sampler [recent additions]

It's time to show you some more Splendid Sampler blocks! These are the fourteen I've completed since the start of December.

Block #86: Unity Star

 Block #87 Shining Star
 Block 83: Minnesota Maze
Block 82: Under the Apple Tree
 Block #52: Coneflower
 Block 73: +Love
 Block #81: With Love From
 Block #77: Prism
Block #49: Summer's Gift

 Block #59: Circle of Friendship - this one might be my favourite!
Block #89: From Colorado to the Midwest

 Block #78: Jersey

 Block # 46: Twirl Time
Block #79: Spool of Inspirational Threads

Friday, 3 February 2017

The Farmer's Wife 1930s [recent progress]

As it turns out, I haven't shared any progress on my 1930s Farmer's Wife quilt since March last year. There are two reasons for this: firstly, for a while, I didn't touch it at all. And secondly, when I did gradually start making the blocks again, it was so occassional that I never had enought to put together a post. Also, I have been quite lazy... so it's time for a bit of an update.

I was inspired to pick this project up again with some of the blocks that inclined themselves towards EPP. Back in November this was what I fancied doing. Prudence was my first challenge:

Any other technique and she would have been a bit of a bitch, but with EPP she played quite nicely. A couple of weeks later I pieced Peony - Y-seams, partial seams and so, so many pieces.
Fast forward to mid-January and I made Carolina. Some pretty little angles just right for EPP.

Then I decided to try and keep up with the blocks from the start of the year, gradually going back and making the many I had missed. So Mary was foundation pieced.

And so was Mary Grey.

And then came the beautiful simplicity of Sarah.

Followed by Martha.

This quilt along is winding up now. The book includes 99 blocks and I've made 51, which, to be honest, is more than I thought I had. I'm hoping to make all 99 but it depends entirely on if I have enough fabric. Only time will tell!

I confess that I am less lazy about posting these things to Instagram, so if you want to see my block finishes in something close to real time, I'm @jenniesthreads and Id love to see you there.