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.

Sunday, 16 February 2020

Tula Nova [A Finish]

I can't believe it's been nearly two years since an epic day out in Huddersfield with the amazing Tula Pink. That day at Simply Solids was pretty close to the best day ever: a morning lecture by Tula where we got to see some of her quilts - and the amazing quilting by Angela Walters - and then an afternoon workshop with her starting work on the Tula Nova pattern.

The centre that I made that day became a cushion, but I redid my centre and kept going with a rainbow or stars around it to create my final Tula Nova. All of the print fabrics are Tula All Stars with Pompoms and Stripes. The solids are all Kona. This was my first real time working with Tula Pink fabrics. I'd long been a fan of her patterns, but not her fabric. After this day I was a convert. We won't discuss how much Tula fabric I now have, nor how many of my current WIPs are Tula WIPs! But this was the start.

The medallion is all hand pieced using English Paper Piecing. I learned about fussy cutting to get those animals central and the spots where I wanted them, and pattern matching to get those strips where I wanted them. The pieces in this quilt are quite a bit bigger than some of the other EPP projects I was working on and I really enjoyed the changes of scale - plus it went together really quickly.

I knew early on exactly which colourway of the Pompoms I wanted to use as my background but I have to confess, pattern matching the seam was a challenge. But the hardest part of the whole quilt was hand-appliquing the centre to the background. It was so big heavy and so easy to baste it so it didn't lie flat. I did it in two halves and machine basted it in place. And even though it was flat at that point, as I was hand-appliquing it, there were still a few points where I had to ease it a little so it stayed flat.

Adding the borders was a grovelling-around-the-floor job and then I basted it and then I left it. I wanted to hand quilt it, but it just wasn't calling to me. I did a small amount in the middle, but just didn't fancy it. Last week I had a day off work and I was planning to quilt a different quilt. I had a sudden thought that if I added a few machine-quilted lines to the Tula Nova I might feel more comfortable adding the hand-quilting. Once I'd started I just kept going and by the end of the day I had quilted in the ditch across the whole quilt top, and I had decided that it didn't need any hand-quilting. I did the ditch quilting with my machine set up to free motion because I didn't want to be forever manoeuvring the entire quilt through my machine.. Most of the time I'm pretty pleased with how well I stayed in the ditch - there are a few wobbles, but I'll take them! Why are the wobbles always where the thread will be most visible?

In the background I eyeballed a cross-hatch, using the spots as guidance and then I went all round the border seam as well. And all of a sudden it was quilted. The backing I've used was a bit of a treat. This quilt is a special one so I splashed out on some Tula Pink wide-back - Pinkerville in the purpley colour way to match the Pompom of the background. I love this fabric (I love the non-wideback version more - it has unicorns and Loch Ness Monsters!). It feels lovely and smooth!

To finish it off a used the Stripes in the same colourway as the Pompoms, because you can't beat a striped binding! And because this quilt was special, I even hand-sewed the binding. Over the last few years I've finished something each year on my birthday. This year, this was the quilt. Finished just a week short of two years after starting.

The finished quilt is approximately 70"x70". It's hand pieced and hand appliqued using Mettler 60w silk finish cotton thread. It's machine quilted using Aurifil 50w thread (and a smidge of Coats). It is also a Finish Along Finish!

Monday, 27 January 2020

Finish Along Quarter 1 2020

It's another year of the Finish Along. And whilst the format has changed slightly to make it more Instagram focused, I've decided to still post a list on my blog as a way of keeping myself accountable and recording my finishes!

So firstly I have a few carryover items:

Joshua's advent calendar: I got this started but not finished and it wasn't missed this year but I think it will be next year when his Lordship is nearly 2. So I'm posting it here in Q1 in an effort to finish it early and not at the last minute I'm not going to promise that it won't appear on Q2, Q3 and Q4 as well though!

And the same thoughts about Joshua's Santa Sack - though I did pick up a great fabric in the post-Christmas sales for this, so his will be different (and a little less pink) than the girls. Again, expect to see this on Q2, Q3 and Q4 - I'll probably not start it until December 2020.... but you never know!

Item three is the Sisterhood Quilt block I made on retreat last October - I have tote-based plans for this and I've bought an alphabet pattern to hep with the reverse. I've also got plans for a second tote bag in mostly blues, using the same alphabet pattern.

My Fancy Forest quilt is getting closer and closer to the finish line. It's now basted and ready for quilting.

I finished a Preppy the Whale quilt last year and now I need to make two matching cushions. I really just need to get these done as it's been hanging around too long.

A baby quilt - 2020 is going to be heavy on baby quilts! This one is an Awesome Ocean one as I enjoyed making the full size one so much! And the recipient's big sister needs a matching cushion I think!

I made some tubs at Christmas out of batiks... and not-so-subtle hints were dropped. So I need to make another set.

And while I'm at it, some tubs for hair bobbles would be a good idea too... they end up all over the house!

I started a Unicorn embroidery for Mia last year. It needs finishing.

I also started a Tall Tales quilt for Mia last year. That too needs finishing...

I have a Meadowland quilt all cut out - I thought it would be a quick make, That was a year ago. There's a new quilt-along kicking off in February so I'm planning on joining in and finishing this. It's in all Pinkerville by Tula Pink and I love it!

I would also like to finish the Sharks Dinner block of the month I followed last year, but there's a lot of work still to do on this one, so maybe I'll settle for some progress.

The blueberry park hexies, started two years ago, were a project I was surprised to pick up again just after Christmas. But I've run with it and now I'm pretty close to a fairly sizeable quilt top.

Mandolin: an EPP quilt top. There's also quite a lot of work to go on this before it's finished, but already this year I've prepped the remaining five blocks, so that's progress.

Tula Nova: this needs quilting and for some reason it's just not calling me. February will be two years since I started this quilt and it holds so many memories...

City Sampler... that quillt I started nearly 7 years ago....

Skirt Pouch... from a skirt...for a friend. The fabrics scares me a bit!

Placemats - pink and linen I think. For a wedding present.

Kinship rainbow, which is a quilt top, but not yet basted, and I don't know what to put on the back yet.

Crumb quilt: another quilt top, but I do know what I'm backing this one with.

Neon City: pulling out the oldies here - this was my quilt from #100days100blocks the first time round.... it's a pile of blocks and a pile of sashing - I got stuck at my favourite part...

"Love" hot water bottle cover. I need a new hot water bottle cover... obviously. I also need to do something with the Love block I made recently.

Not a bad list! Twenty-four items, and a good mix of the maybe and the unrealistic!

Wednesday, 8 January 2020

Finish Along Q4 Review

Well I'm pretty pleased with how productive Q4 was - while I in no way finished everything on my list, I did finish quite a lot, and I've started the year really motivated to finish more. So far I've got to 8th January with no new starts! That's an absolute miracle!

So my final finish to report here is the reindeer Christmas tree decoration I made for Joshua. It's made from felt and was self-drafted based on a lot of Pinterest images.

This was my 11th finish of the quarter. Here is a round-up of the others: Preppy the Whale

A Woppet Bucket

I finally finished off the Kittens Around blocks into 2 cushions

The Kinship batik quilt was finished - this surprised even me to be honest

Shark cushion - some epic foundation paper piecing

A Christmas decoration for Mia

And another for Jessica

The special pouch using the special fabric I cryptically mentioned on my original post: a marmalade pouch

And a pouch with the travel journal print and a Cathedral Window panel

And finally the Summer Sampler.

I also made some really good progress on a couple of other projects, especially Fancy Forest and the Tall Tales Quilt. I was a bit disappointed that I didn't get Joshua's advent calendar or Santa Sack finished for this Christmas, but it didn't matter in the end - the girls shared theirs with him when it was needed, and he's still a bit too little to notice. And in the post-Christmas sales I picked up a brilliant fabric to make Joshua's Santa Sack just a bit different from the girls. And even though these are Christmassy makes, I'm going to pop them on my Q1 Finish Along list for 2020 so there's no last minute rush next Christmas - don't laugh - it might happen!

You can find my original list here, and I'm linking up with the Finish Along

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