Monday, 3 May 2021

Tablecloth [A Finish]

 Several years ago, right at the start of my quilting adventure, I made my Mum and Dad a tablecloth. Their dining room is quite dark and the table cloth was yellows and creams and golds to brighten it up. A few years later, Mum picked out some fabrics she liked for a quilt. The problem was that there wasn't much contrast in the fabrics she picked and I never found just the right pattern, so the fabrics sat in my cupboard. 

Last year, just as the world was shutting down, they had their living room and dining room redecorated. When it eventually got finished, it was clear that whilst the yellow tablecloth still looked good, their decoration has changed from a slight yellow to a slight greeny-blue. A new tablecloth was clearly required! And would you believe, the fabrics she picked out many years ago were perfect!

Some hours wasted on Pinterest and I had a pattern picked out. Sadly the source of the pattern seemed to result in a dead end so I drafted it myself. I started cutting out on 16th November - my friends thought I was mad starting a quilt with a Christmas deadline in mid-November, and a curved one at that, especially when I said I was planning to hand quilt it!

But I did it. I even cut it out, pieced it and then decided to make it bigger. I looked at it for a long time, trying to work out if there was a way I could quilt it on the machine, but I really had pictured it with hand quilting. So I went for it.

And the quilt was finished and posted so they could open it on Christmas Day. It was just a shame we couldn't be with them to see it. This photo of it on the table in their dining room was taken by Dad.

Friday, 26 February 2021

Joshua's Santa Sack [A Finish]

Four years ago I made Santa Sacks for Mia and Jessica (I can't believe it was that long ago!). I had planned to do stockings for them, but I couldn't find a pattern I liked that was big enough to take presents without having to be too careful to buy small ones, but not so big that it would cost a fortune to fill... my husband's family always had pillowcases rather than stockings growing up, so a drawstring bag seemed like a great compromise.

When I made those original Santa Sacks, I only had Mia and Jess. We knew that we wanted to have a third child, but obviously we didn't know whether it would be a boy or a girl. So I made sure I had enough matching fabric in case we had another girl. Well, it's just as well we didn't cause I have no idea where that safe place is that I put that fabric! And it was just a bit too girly for Josh anyway. 

Last Christmas I picked up some green snow-globe fabric. I ran out of time (and inclination) to make the Santa Sack last year (Josh had a pillowcase on Christmas day, but at 11 month's old I got away with it. He's a bit more savvy at 23 months, so I had to find time and inclination this year!) I paired the fabric up with some plain red, and added in black and white, and then did the same design as I did for the girls - a raw edge applique stocking, and raw edge applique names, though Josh's is in a different font.

The drawstring is made using this tutorial from Jeni Baker, but I adjusted the sizes to what I thought looked right. These photos were taken without the drawstring, because even though I ordered it in plenty of time, it didn't actually arrive until Christmas Eve.

Pleased to have this one ticked off my list: it was filled with lots of lovelies on Christmas morning and I'm sure it will be loved for many years to come.

p.s. if you read the blog post I've linked to about the girls' santa sacks you'll see that the cord I bought wasn't quite long enough and I was going to swap it out for next year.... four years later and I still haven't done that!

Wednesday, 24 February 2021

Joshua's Advent Calendar [A Finish]

 Last Christmas, Joshua was just 11 months old. I got away with a few things... like he didn't have his own santa sack or his own advent calendar. Fast forward 12 months and there is no way I'd get away with it again - he's very aware of what the girls have and is determined not to be treated different (makes for some interesting tantrums to be honest). 

I did start an advent calendar for him last year, but I didn't make any real progress. I put it on my Finish Along list in Q1 and Q2 last year thinking how good it would be to get it finished nice and early in the year and not be in a rush come November. But that's just not how we roll... and once Christmas is over, I really don't want to be doing Christmas sewing anymore, so inevitably it was a November rush! No the rushiest rush... I think I had three or four days to spare, but certainly not leisurely,

The starting point for the advent calendar was a picture I pinned on Pinterest when I first used Pinterest, well and truly pre-children. It was a triptych of reindeers. The link is now well and truly dead, so I don't actually know the original source (I have a vague memory that it was a set of rubber stamps...). I looked at it as a design when I was planning Mia's advent calendar, but I wanted something I could make a bit girlier. I looked at it again when I made Jess's advent calendar, but again, it wasn't quite right. But as soon as I knew I was expecting a boy, I knew this would be his advent calendar!

The three pictures are hand embroidered over a background which has been colour tinted. It's a technique I learned when I made this sampler and I really love the way it gives some extra colour without having to do solid embroidery.

The pockets are assorted prints and then I use rubber stamps to add the numbers. I also added a small amount of hand quilting. Rather than binding the quilt, I've bagged it out and top-stitched the edge. This is how I did Mia's as well, but Jessica's is bound, You can see all three advent calendars together here.

I think Josh liked it!

Tuesday, 23 February 2021

Christmas Cheer [A Finish]

 I've fallen in love hook, line and sinker with all of Corinne Sovey's patterns! I started piecing Christmas Cheer alongside Hocus Pocus - some of the techniques are the same, but there are also different ways of creating a similar look - whilst this quilt looks straightforward it makes use of multiple techniques - applique, foundation piecing, inset circles and regular piecing. 

I pieced these blocks during our weekly guild zoom sewing sessions on a Monday night - whilst the last year hasn't been the easiest, this is one of the besy things to come out of it. I spend more time chatting with this lovely bunch of sewers now than I ever did when we could see each other in real life, and I really hope we continue with these sessions once the world rights itself! Three of us were busy piecing this quilt and it was lovely to progress together.

I adore the backing of this quilt. It was a duvet cover I picked up at Asda last Christmas (or maybe even the Christmas before) and it is absolutely perfect for our family - little snowglobes containing all of our favourite things: unicorns, flamingos, zebras, cacti, robots, cats, dinosaurs. I have to confess I was a little worried my kids would prefer the back to the front. The girls were thrilled to get the two pillow cases for their beds during December. And there's enough of the backing left to make some Christmas bunting for next year too - if I get time!

I had a ball quilting this: Because it's for us there was no pressure to get it perfect, and even thought I like the organic straight lines of hocus pocus, I knew there was scope for so much more. So for Christmas Cheer I went to town and custom quilted every block. Some were more successful than others, but here are some of my favourites!

Finished and ready for snuggles well in time for Christmas 2020 - I must add a label to it! Our lockdown Christmas quilt!

Monday, 21 December 2020

Hocus Pocus

Sometimes you see a quilt and you just know that it's one you're going to make! That's what happened when I first saw the Hocus Pocus quilt by Corinne Sovey. There was something about the simple images and fun colours that I just loved.

Having bought the pattern, I then realised that those "simple" bold designs were actually created using a number of different, and at times challenging, techniques. The witches boots are foundation pieced. Not a problem. The eyeball is made of concentric inset circles. I've perhaps done this technique once before... but I tried it, and overall I'm pretty pleased with it! But those stars. Templates and Y-seams. Two of my least favourite quilting terms. I thought about making foundation patterns. I thought about doing them using English Paper Piecing. I thought about applique.... in the end I put on my big-girl pants and did them. Templates and Y-seams. Success.  They took some time, but they are mostly flat and they mostly meet in the middle and I'm pretty chuffed.

And whilst all those different techniques might scare some people, I loved it. It was just the right level of challenging! 

This is, I think, only the second quilt I've ever made in all solids! I've used mostly Spectrum Solids from Makower - I'd never used them before, but it's currently tricky to get hold of Kona, and one of the online shops I buy from fairly regularly had just got the Spectrum solids in, so I risked it. They are very similar to Kona and lovely to work with. I've mixed in some Kona (one of the purples and one of the oranges) and I've used a Tula Pink designed solid for the pink. All makes sit well together (though the pink is perhaps marginally better quality and softness), though once washed I don't think you'll be able  to tell the difference!

It's backed in a black sheet, and I've quited "organic straight lines" vertically. On the front I've used an orange thread and on the back I've used a variegated thread - orange, yellow and purple! The binding was happy accident - I cut 6 width of fabric strips and was sure that would be fine (I didn't do the maths) and I cam up about 10" short. Rather than unfold the large piece of black again, I grabbed a scrappy bit of orange I had left, and now I have an orange corner to my quilt and I love it!

We hung it in the window for Halloween!

I'm also working on Corinne's Christmas Cheer quilt, and seeing some sneakpeaks of other future quilt patterns she's working on, there will definitely be more!

Wednesday, 4 November 2020

Zip-around Pouches

 The same weekend that I made the cushions for the kids, I also joined a workshop to make the Zip-Around pouch. It's a pattern I've made before by Bad Banana Patterns, but I didn't need much of an excuse to make it again and I picked up some excellent tips from Tori, who was leading the workshop (@Cloudtori). Basically, if Tori says hand-baste in place, hand-baste it, because it makes life easier and the results better!

I decided two pouches is better than one! So I made a new pouch for my headphones. I make my ziparound pouches deeper than the pattern - for this one I cut each of my side strips 1.5" wide. In hindsight this is perhaps too deep as without any interfacing, they don't hold their shape - perhaps next time I'll add some interfacing?

I love that 90s walkman print - perfect for a pouch for my headphones - it's from Lovely Jubbly fabrics, but I can't remember what it's called (It comes in two colourways too!). The pink is a Kona and the blue inside is from Alison Glass.

And a pouch for Michael (I didn't want him to feel left out when the kids got their cushions!). All the fabrics are by Carolyn Friedlander except the orange binding on the inside which is Kona

And since this weekend, I've also made another pouch in the same fabrics as Michael's for a friend - this time I cut the strips at 1.25" each and I'm pretty sure this is the perfect width for me - It just fits a charger nicely!

I will definitely be making more of these! Here are the two I made at the start of the year and the two I made on the weekend! The black one is the perfect depth!

Monday, 2 November 2020

Cushions for the kids

 The dinosaur quilt I finished back in early September was quite popular in our house. Josh squealed in delight every time he saw it. So he was not best pleased when we gifted it to the newest addition to the family - a baby cousin. I am planning on making him his own dino quilt (I have a May 2021 deadline in mind....) but in the meantime, I decided a cushion would soften the blow. 

Michael and I watched his reactions to the quilt a few times and worked out that he definitely liked the orange dinosaurs but couldn't pick between the Stegosaurus and the Triceratops. I made an executive decision that the Triceratops made a better shaped cushion!

But of course when you have three children, one cushion just won't cut it! I was lucky that I had a weekend set aside for the Virtual Sewing Shindig. We couldn't meet up in person this year, but a weekend was organized full of zoom chatting and sewing with some workshops as well! I cleared out our junk room, set myself up and closed the door! Heaven! As well as making Josh a dinosaur cushion that weekend, Jessica had requested a "pink dinosaur with flowers and a crown". Obviously. She also made it clear that she liked the brachiosaur. I present, a pink dinosaur with flowers and crown! (it's pinker in real life

The flowers are broderie perse - I had a lovely flower print I picked up in a destash and I simply cut out the floral element and raw edge appliqued it in place. And the crawn is some slightly less technical applique!

And the final cushion was for Mia. One of the workshops I attended over the weekend was a foundation piecing class with Jeliquilts. Mia picked out her Stupid Cupid pattern and I kept it simple with red (her favourite colour) and white. The massive advantage of sewing at home rather than being away for the weekend, meant that even though I hadn't planned very well in advance, all the extra fabrics, wadding and zips I needed to get all three cushions finished were just upstairs! It doesn't make up for not seeing everyone in person - I can't wait for next year - fingers crossed!

I gave the cushions at the end of retreat and I think they were appreciated! Each one had a little label sewn on the back!