Wednesday, 30 July 2014

City Sampler Cushion [a finish]

I finished of my City Sampler cushion earlier this week, but I don't have a cushion pad big enough. Today I gave up thinking I would get that sorted this side of my holiday, stuffed it with other cushions and took the last few [bad] photos.

I loved making this project - every last step of it! I picked 10 of my favourite blocks from Tula's City Sampler block (nine for the front and one for the back), then picked out my current favourite fabrics in mint green and peach which just a hint of silvery grey. Piecing the blocks was so quick - I love the instant gratification of these blocks!

I added the grey sashing as my first act with my new machine. I then let the top sit for a couple of weeks until I built up the courage to free motion quilt on my new machine. I'd had a go in the shop when I'd first got the machine, and had issues with the tension. I felt I needed some time at home to play, and I quickly found the right speed and, most importantly, tension for me. Since then there has been no stopping me! I did bits of this cushion cover in between nappies and feeds, slowly. When I was feeding, or holding Mia whilst she slept, I had the piece hanging where I could see it so I could think out how I was going to quilt the next section. It was the success of this cushion that meant I could quilt my Nested Churn dash as I did.

This is the final bad photo!
It was the first project where I've free motion stitched in the ditch to define the pattern pieces. I'm not great at it, but I'm definitely getting better and it definitely makes a difference to the finished project. It's also the first project where I've quilted feathers in anger - I've only ever practiced them before - the block with the feathers is my favourite of them all!

I had a bit of an accident with the back of the cushion. I had enough of the grey dot fabric left to cut a 22" piece by the width of the fabric. I could then cut this in half, fold each piece in half and use them to make an envelope back. That was until I cut a chunk out of it to make the Big Stitch Swap basket. I totally forgot my plans for the cushion. I remembers just after I'd finished cutting. Ooops. I looked online, but it turns out there are quite a few different Essential dots in grey and I couldn't work out which grey. So I added in the green strip with the spare block (which was on course to become just another orphan block because I was lazy). And then instead of having the feature fabric on the inside, I used a good quality sheet to make the piece up to size.

The buttons were a stroke of genius - even if I do say so myself! After my success with Mia's dress there was no stopping me, and I found three buttons in my button box that matched the colours in the cushion! Miraculous!

The cushion cover finishes at 21.5" x 21.5". The fabrics are all from my stash: Botanics, Architextures, Fossil Ferns, Art Gallery Pure and Kona solids, Art Gallery Reminisce, Tula Pink, Art Gallery Floral Elements, Pearl Bracelets and Urban Chics from Moda. The sashing is Essential Dots by Moda. All of the quilting was done in an Aurifil light grey.

This is another Finish Along Finish!
Finish Along 2014

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

Nested Churn Dash [a finish]

When I first saw the nested churn dash blocks pop up in Blogland I wasn't sure about them. It took me a while to realise that the reason I didn't like it is because the outside rings were too skinny - I'm more of a chunky girl myself! What I mean is that a traditional churn dash block is based on an even nine-patch where the length of the bars is the same as the shorter sides of the triangles in the corners. These churn dashes have long skinny bars and chunky corners.

So I ignored these blocks for a while. And then I saw this. And I was totally inspired to make my own. No single block for me - oh no! Two 24" blocks, two 16" blocks, seven 8" blocks and fourteen 4" blocks. This was a great way of using the ten minute slots I get during the day - the ten minutes between feeds, nappies and naps when my daughter is happy - cutting all the pieces, then gradually piecing all the blocks.

I pulled a huge range of fabrics from my stash for this project, starting with a half-yard bundle of hoarded Happy Mochi Yum Yum in oranges, yellows and pinks.
Some [plastic] cows helped with the photo shoot!
 I also added a splash of green and an even smaller splash of bright blue. There were at least 56 different fabrics - each of the fourteen 4" blocks has four fabrics and I didn't repeat any: Kona solids, Comma, Noteworthy, Pearl Bracelets, Architextures, Tula Pink, a smattering of Art Gallery, Benartex and Riley Blake... The larger areas of negative space are Kona Maize, which is a lovely pale, but golden yellow.

The backing is possibly a polycotton, but good quality and with a pretty little flower pattern, and from a discount fabric warehouse nearby - at £6/meter I'm not complaining. Unfortunately I bought it a touch too small, so there are two pieces of leftover Happy Mochi Yum Yum pieced in.

I thought a long time over how to quilt it. Initially it was going to be an all over pattern, but because of the thousand different fabrics used, in some of the blocks the churn dash is a tad hard to spot, so to help the eye I decided to do different fmq pattern in all of the "background" areas.
Bugger - I missed a bit....can you spot it?

 I had a ball quilting this one.

 I really feel as though my free motion quilting has improved hugely over the last few months, and with it my confidence to try something different. Like my Neon Stained quilt, there are a few bits that I'm not in love with, but more bits that I am in love with. And the texture is gorgeous. I'm definitely a "quilt-it-densely" kind of girl! To contrast with the dense blocks, the negative area is a 3" cross hatch. I'm going to need to spend some time building my stash of threads, as I struggled to match some of the fabrics!

Given the million different fabrics in the quilt I decided a scrappy binding was appropriate.

The finished quilt measures 60" x 60" (before washing).
The pattern is from Quilt Jane.

And this is a Finish Along Finish!
Finish Along 2014

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Zips, Zips, Zips, Zips [sew together bag]

Buoyed by my success earlier this week with a zip I decided to jump in at the deep end and make myself a Sew Together Bag. Four zips!

My first zip attempt
Except I ended up needing 6 zips, because I didn't secure the ends of zips and the pulls came off. Apparently that is terminal, so there was swearing and unpicking involved. And a trip to Hobbycraft to buy more! I have learned my lesson!

Apart from this epic self-inflicted stupid fail, and despite being somewhat inexperienced with zips, I was amazed at how easy this was to put together. There were a few steps where I referred to the fantastic tutorials and photos from the Quilt Barn sew-along and there was one step where I totally didn't understand the fold instructions for the zipper ends, so fudged it. This is definitely the hardest thing I've ever sewn!

I can't wait to fill this with some hand sewing for my holiday next week!

The fabrics on the outside are Pam Kitty Picnic, Dreamin' Vintage and Pearl Bracelets. I also used Dreamin' Vintage for an inside pocket, the exterior side panels and the pincushion - this used most of my fat quarter. The interior side panels are Pearl Bracelets. The remaining interior pockets are a Kona solid pink, Art Gallery Oval Elements in orange and a yellow from Lily Ashbury's new line. I lined the internal zippy pockets with an Architextures print. All of the binding is Pam Kitty Picnic. And most amazingly of all, no needles were broken despite sewing through about twenty layers of fabric in some places.

Because I'm so chuffed with this I'm linking up with Sew-Jo Saturday.

Thursday, 24 July 2014

Zip It!

At the weekend I mastered button holes. Today I had a go at zips! And whilst my first ever attempt isn't perfect, I am dead pleased with it!

I made the key pouch from a tutorial by Fabric Mutt. he tutorial was so straightforward and the photos were perfect for a zipper virgin!

I made one little addition - a strap and button - with another button hole - to keep my cards a bit more secure.

The fabrics are Dreamin' Vintage from Art Gallery and Kona Solids. The lining is Moda Essential Dots in light grey. I did a touch of hand stitching on the back in perle cotton.

Wednesday, 23 July 2014

A swappy finish

Yep - another finish! I have finished my item for the Big Stitch Swap. The brief was hand sewing and I think I've kept to that brief - hand embroidery, hand pieced EPP and a touch of hand quilting.

All put together in a fabric basket.

I used the tutorial from Pink Penguin, but made it a bit bigger.

The lining is a sewing-themed fabric from Mama Said Sew by Sweetwater. I hope my partner likes it!

This finish is my goal for July for ALYoF and was on my Finish Along list for Q3! A Lovely Year of Finishes
Finish Along 2014

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Dress and knickers [a finish]

My first finish of the quarter is one that I wasn't sure would even happen! I don't do dress-making. I had no desire to make clothes for my daughter. Until I saw a girl at my LQS make one! This has to be the easiest that dressmaking ever gets! Seriously - I can recommend this pattern to absolutely anyone!

The trickiest part was the button holes. But it turns out that these are incredibly straightforward on my new machine. I did a practice one to work out what the hell I was doing, then two more practice ones to get the size right and then ta-dah. Buttons were nearly an issue - I couldn't find two that matched! Luckily these were hidden at the bottom of the tin.

Embarrassingly I have to confess that I have never sewn on a button that needs to be used as a button. I got out my big how to sew book that I've never opened before!

Because this dress is a little wrap-around number it really needed knickers to go with it! Unfortunately there was no tutorial on the same site as the dress, and the search term "frilly knickers" got some interesting results. Turns out that against my British judgement, the search term I needed was "diaper cover"! This was the tutorial I settled on! Mostly because when I read through it, it made sense. Though the elastic still sounded scary. I've never played with elastic before.

I struggled turning over the casings for the leg elastic and because I don't have an overlocker it could be neater. I'm going to make some knickers to match outfits for weddings later in the summer and I will be doing a few things differently!

This is officially my first Finish Along finish of Quarter 3 - fingers crossed for a few more over the next couple of months!
Finish Along 2014

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Free motion quilting....

...on my new machine...

It took a while to get sorted...

...turns out I just needed to change the tension!