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!

Friday, 6 May 2016

Tumblers [a joint finish]

I have a finish along finish to share today!

Two years ago my mother-in-law, Linda, asked me to quilt a quilt top she'd made. It's not my style of fabric, but it is a lovely quilt top! I then ignored it. We moved house with it. I ignored it a bit more. I did make sure that it was downstairs and in view, rather than hidden in a cupboard. By keeping it in sight, it's even made it onto quite a few finish along lists. Though that's as far as it got.

The day before I was induced, Linda, came round. She spotted the quilt. Mentioned the quilt. And I took my opportunity: Linda entertained Mia and rather than spend the next two and half hours sat on the sofa, I spent them at my sewing machine.

And that was all the time it took - two and a half hours and it was done. Tell me again why I've put this off for two years? I did an all over stipple, which is well in my comfort zone. Much as I like challenging myself with more complex free motion quilting, I do actually really like the effect of a stipple, especially after it's been washed. I used a cream 40w Aurifil thread for the stipple - 40w isn't my poison of choice, but when you accidentally order 4 reels of it over the years, and don't use it, you build up quite the stock pile!

And the binding was something of a miracle. I knew I had the fabric. We moved house with the fabric. I walked straight into the room where I store my sewing supplies and picked it up straight away - and that, my friends, is a true miracle! It wasn't until this week that I finally got to making and attaching the binding. That red frame really sets it off. This quilt will be on its way to its new owners soon.

At the end of the quarter I'll link up with the Finish Along ladies! You can find my original list here.

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Summer is just around the corner

It's May. My favourite month. Suddenly the trees have leaves and blossoms on and it feels like summer is near. But first, how was April? The first half of April was spent waiting for Baby to arrive: I managed to get more sewing done than I had thought I would: I am especially pleased with the progress I made on the #365quilt: I ploughed through blocks having fallen behind, and found that I had enough to piece the quilt up to the first dark border. Of course, the nature of a block-a-day project means I am now ridiculously behind again!

I even had a couple of finishes! I finally finished a cushion cover that had been waiting to be quilted for months and months. This was finished the day I was induced!

I made a pouch for Mia's many hair clips.

I used up some scraps on a Preggosaurus Pouch (it was just how I was feeling that day).

And I finished the yellow and grey quilt - another project that had been sitting round for ever.

Michael went back to work today after his paternity leave, and I feel like it's time to become a human being again.

Whilst I was pregnant, due to lack of energy all round, the house became a bit of a state. With the help of my parents over the weekend and starting with a weekly chore plan, I intend to reclaim the house. I've started with the living room, where I spend most of my time, and I already feel much better about it. And we have new sofas arriving tomorrow! I was told off last week for overdoing it, but in the last few days I've started feeling much, much better!

I have sewing plans too: all of a sudden everyone seems to be pregnant: Between now and Christmas I have at least five baby quilts to make as gifts, and another few, including this one, that I want to make for Mia and Jessica, in addition to everything I've already started and shared here!

And yesterday information was released for the Summer Sampler 2016. I have signed up. Of course. And I even know what fabric I'm going to use: I've been hoarding a fat quarter bundle of Dreamin' Vintage from Art Gallery. I even picked up a backing from the same line when it went on sale, and I have a chunk of Pure Elements in white! #sewmystash2016 The first pattern will be released on 16th May so I have a couple of weeks before I can start.

Here's looking forward to summer!

Monday, 25 April 2016

Jessica Violet

After all that waiting she's here. Jessica Violet arrived at 16.55 on 20th April weighing 8lb 11oz.

We stayed in hospital overnight and had a handmade homecoming courtesy of Gran.

Mia is totally in love with her little sister!

And Jessica hasn't yet thrown up on her new quilt!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Rainbow Slivers II

Just a week into Q2 of the 2016 Finish Aling and I have a finish! And it's not the baby... not yet. I've made this quilt twice now: Firstly as a mini quilt to swap in the UK Mini Swap on Instagram - that quilt now lives in Sweden with @Birchandbirdsong. But as I was cutting it, I knew I would struggle to give it away if I didn't make myself one too.

I raided my scraps for the slivers, but couldn't quite squeeze the low volumes from what I had in my scrap boxes, so they came from stash!

The layout of the two quilts is slightly different as I didn't reference the first when piecing the second and there was the odd fabric I only had enough of for one sliver.

The quilting is dense matchstick quilting, echoing the direction of the sliver. I quilted a lap quilt yesterday in an all over stipple (just add binding and it's another finish....) and used nearly as much thread to quilt the lap quilt as this cushion. At the moment the cushion cover definitely has the feel of cardboard. I'm pretty sure it will need to washed fairly soon so will soften up. I hope.

The backing for the cushion is the same as the backing for the mini quilt - I think this print makes a perfect backing! And I used this tutorial to add a concealed zip - it is so easy I don't know why I haven't always done this!

Despite what my husband thinks, you can never have too many cushions!

This was one of the many goals on my Q2 FAL list and in a few months time I'll link up with our lovely hosts!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

365 Quilt Challenge [Progress]

Yesterday, as Baby has not yet put in an appearance, I spent the day sewing. To start with I stitched up the four 6" corner blocks that go around the very centre of this medallion quilt. These were pretty monstrous if I'm honest. Lots of pieces and fiddly piecing. The purple one is very different from the original which I really didn't like, but the other three are as designed. Yes - there were sneaky Y-seams too. I used my seam ripper way more than usual and considered calling it a day on all sewing until baby brain wears off. If that ever happens!

And then I had eight 3" blocks to catch up with for the dark border. These were blissfully straightforward compared to the 6" blocks.

Although I probably overdid it, I had a great sense of achievement getting back up to date. This morning I sat down to check my colour spread. I have a plan, and I've been trying to keep track of how many blocks of each colour I've completed, but I'd lost track somewhere along the line, so I counted up all my blocks. It turned out I had made one green block too many, and I was short two orange blocks. I pulled out a green - I confess a nice easy one - and remade it in orange, and then opened up the email I received at 3pm yesterday and hadn't made, and did that in orange too.

When I had first started this project I had hoped that the centre of the quilt and the dark border would be completed before Baby arrived, however as we've progressed - the quilt and the pregnancy - it was looking unlikely. Helped by a very late Baby and a few bonus blocks here and there, this morning I realised I could be there. So I've spent three hours today putting it all together!

I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am with this! From a vague image in my head, and three and a half months of piecing a block a day (or rather nine blocks one day and then a week or so off), this quilt is now coming together better than I could have hoped.

I've learned loads on this journey so far: I already had a pretty good grasp of most of the techniques and accuracy, but the so-called "hidden square" technique was new to me, and although I'm not sure it's one of my favourites, it will certainly by useful. I've also done more Y-seams than I can ever remember doing in the past and they will never scare me again!

It was a bit windy and my quilt-holder-upper was a bit grumpy
There are a LOT of seams in this quilt. Some of the pieces finish as half inch units. Quilting it will be an interesting, and likely needle-breaking, experience. I've been in and out of the living room with this quilt today as I add a border, and then go through to press it. Every time I've walked back in, Mia has reminded me that this is her "blanket". She is wrong. There's still a long way to go, but I'm so pleased to have reached this milestone before Baby arrives (though admittedly I would have taken Baby arriving earlier in preference). It means that I can't lose individual blocks, and I have the option, should I wish, of stopping here and still having a good size baby quilt.

The instructions for the next block have already arrived... behind again!