Wednesday, 27 May 2020

Blueberry Park Hexies [A Finish]

Well this finish has been a while in the making. Two years in fact. I started it on a whim and made a couple of blocks and then put it away. Over Christmas I got a sudden urge to work on it again, and I very quickly made enough blocks for a small lap quilt and put it together while away for work in January - hence the poor hotel lighting!

Then I had to decide - keep it small or keep going. I started with a fat quarter bundle and still had some left so I just got on with cutting, cutting, cutting. I cut as many more blocks as I could from the fabric I had left, but it was soon apparent that there were a couple of fabrics I loved most which I had used quite heavily in the section of quilt I had already made. In the interest of balance (and because they were my favourite prints) I put out a call for help on Instagram - and some fabulous people helped me out - thank you @jenthepiecemaker and @the_orriginal!

The final quilt top is 10 x 10 blocks (the blocks are 6" finished). I backed it in some orange Kona which I picked up on sale a few years ago, and bound it in Kona cerise. The quilting is just straight lines a quarter inch either side of the main seam lines. We took some photos of it on our daily allowed exercise with some beautiful blossom.

I actually have no idea what I'm going to use this quilt for, but it is finished and was a Finish for Q1 of the Finish Along this year!

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

Meadowland [A Finish]

Another finish for you tonight! Back in March 2020, whilst Josh was napping and I was enjoying maternity leave, I was stroking a new parcel of Tula Pink Pinkerville fabric, wondering what to make with it. I'd just missed the Meadowland quilt along on Instagram and finished quilts were popping up everywhere. I took a deep breath, told myself it was only fabric, and cut up the entire bundle! Eek! It was a 20-piece fat quarter bundle and I needed 20 fat quarters. It was meant to be! In the space of an afternoon it was cut out.

I was all enthusiastic. For four blocks. I needed twenty, but I lost steam and once I'd gone back to work last June, I didn't pick it up again all year. Then just after Christmas a new Meadowland quilt along was announced - the perfect shove in the right direction. The plan was five blocks a week - there were a couple of weeks where it was close to the wire when I posted my blocks, but I kept up and by early March I had a finished quilt top.

The afternoon I sewed the final seam, my niece was visiting and she seemed to like. I made her an offer. If she liked it, and promised to stop stealing her Mum's quilt, I would finish it for her for her birthday. She promised!

So I had a week to get it layered and quilted. I very nearly ran out of thread, but I made it. And I had enough of the Purple fabric to bind the quilt too.

There were times where I was unsure about this quilt. Some of the individual blocks were lovely, but others jarred a bit. In the end, when it all came together, of course it worked beautifully! And the birthday girl seemed to like it. This was the last time we saw her before the crazy of coronavirus kicked in, so I hope she thinks of it as a hug from Aunty Jennie!

This is a finish from Q1 Finish Along list!

Sunday, 29 March 2020

Yarned and Dangerous [A finish]

Cue a flurry of blog posts as we approach the end of the Quarter! One of the projects I wanted to make this quarter was a gift for Linda. I had the idea just before Christmas - too close to Christmas to do anything about. I found something online with the phrase "Yarned and Dangerous" and I had to use it on something. I also had a panel from Ruby Star Society which had an owl on it - and she loves owls - so I put the two ideas together as a tote bag.

I used the My First Alphabet pattern by From Blank Pages for the letter and went quite scrappy with the blues and a selection of warm low volume fabrics - and just a splash of pink, because everything is better with pink!

The owl panel was bordered to bring it up to size. I made this just after the All The Single Ladies bag and I experimented a big with some foam interfacing on this tote bag. This bag also required less quilting - the result is a very structured bag - probably a bit too structured if I'm honest - I definitely prefer the weight of the All The Single Ladies bag, but I think I can still do better.

The "binding" around the top of the bag was a happy accident. The foam was too chunky to turn the lining all the way to the inside, so I embraced it and top-stitched with the edge of the lining showing on the outside and I love the look of this.

And I'm pretty sure Linda likes it - I know she is using it!  This is a quarter 1 finish from my Finish Along List.

Sunday, 1 March 2020

All the Single Ladies [A Finish]

Last October I went away on retreat with my guild mates We hired a cottage in the wilds of Northumberland and spent the weekend sewing. You can read more about that weekend here. As part of that weekend, we swapped Sisterhood blocks - each of us made eight girls in a single colourway and then we swapped so we each came home with a rainbow of girls. I made aqua girls.

One retreater, who shall remain nameless... was making her girls on retreat. Ad she kept on singing "All the Single Ladies"... so when it came to turning my girls into a tote bag, I knew exactly what I wanted to put on the reverse... I purchased a foundation pieced alphabet pattern from From Blank Pages and started piecing. In a rainbow of course! With a scrappy low volume background. It's becoming my go to fabric pull!

I honestly don't know which is my favourite side of this tote! This time, I used the heavy weight interfacing  attached to the back of the outside panels between the panel and the wadding. I don't think it's quite as successful as when added to the lining, but it gives the bit of structure I wanted.

I originally planned to use the red spot fabric for the lining which I used on the laptop case. I had ordered a rainbow striped woven webbing for the handles, but it turned out to be out of stock, so I had to make a quick decision about replacing it. I went for my go to pink. And then when it arrived, I realised just how badly it clashed with the red spot (which is quite a corally red). Back to the drawing board. I found I had enough of the succulent print from Elizabeth Hartman to line it (and leave enough for the backing of a future quilt which one day I'll actually start), which made my day because I love this fabric.

The panels were about 21" x 21", and then I boxed the corners at 2.5". It's a very straightforward construction but it does exactly what I need it to. The only thing that I might have done differently, is that the handles are maybe a bit too long... but that's infinitely better than being a bit too short! They are definietly too long for Jess, so at least it's safe from being stolen... for the moment!

This is another Finish Along finish too! 

Laptop Case

This year I spent my birthday money on a new lap top. And a new lap top obviously needs a new case! Doesn't it! Back in January our local quilt shop had a sale and I picked up a fabulous cactus and succulent fabric - with absolutely no plan in mind. And last year in an online fabric sale I picked up a larger cut of red spot fabric... well the two went together really well, so it was definitely meant to be.

I made up the pattern as I went along. I knew I needed a small outside pocket for the power cable, and I wanted longish handles. I carefully measured the laptop so it would be a snug fit and I was all set. I used some heavy weight interfacing on the lining and it gives it a little more structure than just the wadding. I've experimented a bit recently with where in the structure to put the interfacing and attached to the lining seems to be quite successful!

It came together very quickly and the laptop fits - just! Pretty pleased with this unplanned make!

Tuesday, 18 February 2020

Fancy Forest [A Finish]

This is the quilt I was going to finish when I finished my Tula Nova. Luckily I had a day off a week later and this was top of the pile! Two years after I started it, my Fancy Forest quilt is now a finish!

I started this quilt as part of the Elizabeth Hartman All The Animals Sew Along hosted by @gnomeangel in 2018, but I only got as far as the foxes and the rabbits. In Autumn last year, I picked it up again and pushed it over the finish line - a finished quilt top. I love the rainbow effect - which I wasn't sure was working at the half way point.

I love the owls - I've made loads of these blocks now, yet I still managed to sew one together wrong. I was away at the Sewing Shindig Retreat that weekend, so I couldn't just recut the pieces I messed up. We had such a laugh about my little mistake, which I didn't realise until I'd finished piecing my owl, that I decided to leave him and not redo. So I have 7 mean owls and one slightly sheepish one! I think he's cute and he reminds me of a fabulous weekend! And the final blocks were made two weeks later at our Local Modern Quilt Guild retreat. So this quilt is full of memories.

It took me a while to get round to basting the quilt. I'd bought some Elizabeth Hartman extra wide backing for it when I first started making it, but when I came to layer it up, it wasn't big enough. I swore! Then I went online and managed to pick a bit more up in a sale, which was something of a miracle given how old this fabric is.

I thought I knew exactly how I wanted to quilt it, but then I saw some quilted that way on Instagram and decided that actually, I wasn't keen on the finished appearance. So I thought vertical organic staraight (i.e. wobbly) lines. I did four lines and then unpicked them. Back to the drawing board. The eventual quilting pattern was a sudden brainwave as I was feeding Josh in the middle of the night. Vertical "straight" lines but over shorter distances! It's a zigzag with soft curves and random heights. There was an initial learning curve, about which way I needed to have the quilt - I found it was important that the previously quilted section was between me and the machine, rather than behind the needle, so I could see it and not cross over the previous quilting lines, and whilst that meant I had to force quite a large chunk of quilt through my machine, it was definitely worth it - but I do appreciate the larger throat space on my machine now! The quilting also turned out denser than I had originally visualized, but I love it.

And my final touch of genius was the binding. I'd originally planned to use the same navy fabric I'd used the background. But I couldn't find it. So I'd ordered some rainbow and white striped fabric. And then I found a rainbow. And the minute I saw it I knew I had to have it! It's Buzzin Around Stripe in rainbow from Andover and it was perfect! I don't recall ever getting so many compliments on a binding before!

The finished quilt is a whopping 67" x 91" and is a Finish Along finish!

Monday, 17 February 2020

Lion Heart EPP

I recently did a bit of pattern testing for Laurel at Porcupine Stew Threads. Laurel designs EPP patches, which are just a bit more challenging than your average EPP pattern! I'd been looking at her patterns for a while, but postage from the States made it very expensive, so when she announced she was looking for pattern testers for her new PDF patterns I volunteered straight away! And this is the result:

Isn't he lovely? I used some Ruby Star Society, Lizzy House and Giucy Giuce for the tans in his mane, then a Moda spot and a random cream for the lighter sections. He's appliqued to a Libs Elliot background.

The design is fantastic and I love the result, but this isn't a pattern for the beginner. I adored making it because it was more challenging than a regular EPP design, and I would definitely make more of Laurel's pattern for exactly that reason. The biggest struggle I had was making those fine EPP points crisp and accurate - there may have been a small amount of fudging.

This finished lion was wrapped round an A4 pre-stretched canvas purchased from The Work for just a few pounds, using my brand new staple gun - bought especially for this project - the power! It's going to hang in Joshua's room.