Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Starting to plan for 2012

There are just two hours of November left and I am throughly enjoying the challene of all the things I want to get made for Christmas, but I've started to look ahead to next year, prompted by some of the quilt-a-longs I've signed up for.
Firstly there's the Chasing Chevrons Quilt from That Girl... that Quilt. I've signed up but not moved much further forward, due to the manic Christmas stitching. I thought I had picked my fabrics, using some fat quarters from my stash and a light brown fabric that was on sale at my LQS. But then I thought about it some more. Because so little of the contrast fabric is used against a lot of background fabric, this is the perfect design for some very special fat eights/fat sixteenths/fat quarters that I bought on my last summer holiday to Sidmouth. The fabrics are all Pat Bravo fabrics and I hadn't seen them before, but of course, you can get them in a fair few places (just not my LQS). They are special because I bought them in Sidmouth - I've been going to Sidmouth since I was six-months old for an annual music festival. I had no idea what I was going to do with the fabrics when I bought them, but I knew I wanted a Sidmouth quilt. But of course, the fabrics don't all come from the same line - the new shop that had opened this year is smaller than our bathroom, so she only had space for small amounts of fabric. This means a background fabric could be a challenge. But in the new year, I will find the illusive background fabric and I will complete a Sidmouth lap quilt.
Secondly, the Oh My Star Quit-a-long. No guilt here, because the quilt-a-long hasn't started yet. But I'm thinking about it already, and I've decided I'd like to use Dogwood Trail fabrics from Moda. My mother-in-law, Linda, as offered to buy them for me as my Christmas present. This is fantastic, because I've been looking for an excuse to buy them all (I already succumbed and bought a charm pack!).
And then there's another project that I signed up for just today: when I got my new sewing machine two weeks ago, one thing I was certain about, was that I wanted to learn to free-motion quilt. Over as SewCalQuilt, a freemotion quilting "block of the month" has been launched for 2012 and this is just the thing I need to improve my non-existent skills.
There are other skills and other projects I also want to work on next year. Come new years eve, I hope to have a nice list of all of these! I like lists.
Check out these projects and be inspired.
PS. My best friend from uni has just announced she is expecting her first child next summer, so I'm also on the lookout for a really nice baby quilt! I already have some fabrics in mind....

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Farmer's Wife meets Vignette

I've been really excited to show you this finish! Two thirds of it were finished at the weekend but I wanted to finish the final third before I photographed it. I've even set up a photo shoot - partly so when I give it as a Christmas present the recipient knows what to do with it! I'm not sure my husbands Great Aunts are au fait with mug rugs!

The set is made up of two mug rugs and, in very British fashion, a "teapot rug" - if it were a mug rug, I would need one hell of a large treat to go with my mug! The teapot rug 14 x 9.5" and is made up of a central panel with a stitchery design from Issue 4 of Vignette from Leanne Beasley, which I've adapted slightly so it can be used in a landscape orientation, rather than the original portrait. It's surrounded by a contrasting border with a third fabric in the corners. The teapot rug is then hand quilted with Anchor perle cotton number 12 in white - unfortunately you can't see it well in the photos, but I quilted my own design (by eye) in one corner, then all round the edge of the central panel and then around the word "Blossom" as well. To go with the larger "teapot rug" I've made two smaller mug rugs, each 6"square and taken from the blocks in the Farmer's Wife Sampler Quillt book: #21 Contrary Wife and #16 Calico Puzzle. I chose two fairly simple blocks because I didn't want too much piecing to detract from the embroidery, plus the fabrics I've picked don't offer the best contrast for blocks with itty-bitty pieces. To tie these mug rugs into the teapot rug, I picked out the heart motif from the stitchery and embroidered it in the central square. When it came to quilting, I used the same design I used on the corner of the teapot rug on two opposite corners of each mug rug, then quilted round the central block too.

I'm doing my Farmer's Wife quilt blocks in batiks and black - it's amazing how different they look in pinks and greens. The fabrics are leftovers from a mystery BOM I've been doing all year and they remind me of spring. This set is for one Great Aunt and I still have to make a second set for the other Great Aunt - I also need to finish off their 2010 Christmas present - the final December Calendar Girls need to go in the post tomorrow!

Sunday, 27 November 2011

So close and yet so far....

I've been working on loads of projects this weekend and so many are really nearly finished. I have had a thread issue - I ran out of the cream that I've been using to quilt, so my Countdown to Christmas Quilt is mostly quilted - just four more wavy lines to do; my Merry Cushion is nearly finished - just some top stitching on the back; and my animal quilt is nearly finished - just the binding to finish. Some of the Christmas presents I've been working on are also NEARLY finished - some I won't be able to share until after Christmas, but others I'll share as soon as I finish them.

As such, it has been quite a frustrating weekend, but I have moved a lot of projects further forward, if not finished them.

So my only finish to report is the first of my December Calendar Girlies: designed by Debbie from Letters Tied with Blue, this is the final design in the set of 12. I've stitched 6 of each design each month for 2011 as the Christmas presents for 6 special people. Miss December marks the end of the journey. 1 is totally finished, 3 more are embroidered and the binding attached, but not finished, and the final 2 still need to be embroidered. I've really enjoyed making up these miniature quilts all year and I hope the recipients have enjoyed receiving them every month. Next time I visit my Granny, I'll get a picture of them all together. Here is Miss December decorating her Christmas Tree

Saturday, 26 November 2011

More Farmer's Wife Finishes

I've completed two more Farmer's Wife blocks today. I looked at photos of all the blocks I've completed so far and realised that I was lacking in blue, but had loads of orange (which isn't normal for me), so both of today's blocks are blue-y.

#90 Storm Signal: I like this one and I like the finished result, but the contrast could have been better.

#17 Cats and Mice: the light bright blue hasn't photographed well!
I have been working on other projects this week, and I finished quilting the animal quilt. Hopefully I'll get the binding finished tonight and be able to share it tomorrow. My Countdown to Christmas Quilt would also have been finished if I hadn't run out of thread. More is on order! I hope to post again tomorrow to share some more finishes!

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Penguin Mug Rug

I have finished my first ever mug rug! It's not very big - approximately 4.5x7". The fabrics came from a shop in Sidmouth and are Art Gallery Fabrics from the Bazaar Range. I only bought fat sixteenths, so I shall use them sparingly - it was the first time I had seen these fabrics and I fell in love! The embroidery is based on a Picasso sketch, and stitched in DMC threads in back stitch.

The dark coloured binding is actually purple.The quilting on this mug rug was the first quilting I did on my new machine. I quite like the wobbly lines. My free motion quilting isn't going particularly well (I know - practice practice practice) so I might use the same wavy line technique on my Countdown to Christmas quilt - I want to get it finished before Christmas, but I'm not sure my free motion quilting will be up to scratch by then.... Any comments would be welcome!

Sunday, 20 November 2011

When the Farmer met Peggy

I don't normally name things, and my Janome sewing machine never had a name. But yesterday I picked up my new Husqvarna Viking. And she is so pretty that she deserves a name. So my new sewing machine is called Peggy. Here she is quilting my Merry Cushion.

I'm teaching myself to free motion quilt on her: I found some fantastic video here. My first and second attempts were disastrous, then I found the videos above. My third attempt was far far far better. My fourth and fifth attempts were quite good, all things considered. I have now layered up my Animal quilt top and my Countdown to Christmas Sampler quilt and I am ready to practice practice practice.

This afternoon I introduced Peggy to the Farmer's Wife Sampler quilt, with two more blocks: #14 Butterfly at the Cross Roads: I love this batik, but it looks much better in larger areas where you can see the variation between pink, green and blue.

# 26 Country Farm: I love this one. It's so straightforward but really pretty - and I will always love the combination of green and blue.
Today's blocks also mark another milestone: this photo marks the half way point in the blocks:

Saturday, 19 November 2011

FNSI and another finished quilt top and....

So, yesterday was Friday Night Sew In. I spent the evening working on my Countdown to Christmas quilt - it's a Jelly Roll sampler quilt and I had finished all the blocks and did most of the piecing last weekend. Last night I finished it off by adding the borders and made a start on piecing the back. This morning I worked solidly on the back and finally finished that too. I like it so much it's almost sad to call it the back!

Here's the front
And here's the back (I've had to find a new "glamourous Assistant" as Michael is away for the weekend - thanks Nicola).And now for the most exciting part of my day: I have just been and picked up my brand new Husqvarna Viking sewing machine:

New machine
Sad machine Now I'm off to unpack it and play with it.

Sunday, 13 November 2011

A finished quilt top!

I have a finished quilt top!!!!! Ok - so the blocks are panels.... but it's still pretty cool. The panel (I think it's Robert Kaufmann) was going cheap in my local shop: it must have been the end of the bolt and two of the eight panels were incomplete, so I got it for only £2. Then I spent far more getting the sashing and borders, and the turquoise was from my stash. Hopefully this quilt top will be one of the first that I quilt on my new machine that I will be picking up next weekend. I'll trim down the two panels that were incomplete and use them in the backing somehow. This quilt is a Christmas present for a little boy called Aidan. (My glamorous assistant refused to take his Xbox headset off while holding my quilt so I've cropped him out).

Another piece that will be quilted on my new machine is this cushion front that I made yesterday at a class. It's from the Nancy Halvorsen book Jingle all the Way and the fabric is Moda Countdown to Christmas - so it matches my jelly roll quilt. It's not quite like the pattern... but it was my first attempt at machine applique. On the subject of my jelly roll quilt - the front is nearly fully pieced - I just need to add the final border.
And of course, I have done the next two blocks from the Farmer's Wife: # 86 Squash Blosson (no idea why it has this name). It's turned out ok.And #89 Steps to the Altar: This is one of the ones I'm not keen on - there's a few so I need to start getting them out of the way. I've picked colour scheme I really like to help.I've also made a start on my Christmas presents this weekend - this year is all about Mug Rugs. Some of the recipients check this blog, so I'll have to be careful what I post before Christmas. Check back on 26th December for a monster post of everything I've had to keep secret!

Saturday, 12 November 2011

Children in Need 2011

Check out this Children in Need mug rug kit from The Fat Quarters:

This is my brand new Pudsey mug rug (for the non-Brits out there,click on the link above to find out more about Children in Need - Pudsey is the bear who helps raise money for disadvantaged children).

Kits are available from the Fat Quarters here. The kit includes all fabric and the pattern and a button for his eye. I've added some DMC threads and ta-da! It's £3.50 and £1.75 goes to Children in Need.

Children in Need 2011 is 18th November 2011 - next Friday! Good luck to anyone fundraising.

Sunday, 6 November 2011

Count Down to Christmas

I have been very busy this weekend, and unusually, I have stuck to one project all weekend: my Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt in the Moda Countdown to Christmas fabrics. I started this last month as a class at our local shop and we concentrated on blocks with flying geese units. I had completed the first four and was ready for the half square triangles. Yesterday in the class we did block#1 Tulip to introduce us to half square triangles while still doing some flying geese units. I am loving this quilt - it's so straight forward after the Farmer's Wife Blocks and the Nikki Tinkler blocks.

I got mine finished just after lunch so made a start on block #3 Star Choice. The challenge of a Jelly Roll Quilt is when a bock requires two light coloured strips for the background and you don't have two strips of the same fabric. It makes me think out of the box a bit, and how I can place different fabrics to get the effect I want. In this block I used the cream fabrics with stripes: black stripes round the outside and green stripes in the cenre. If I'm honest, this isn't my favourite block. The other challenge/problem with a Jelly Roll is with directional fabrics - it isn't possible to have them all going the same way.

Then I did block # 5 Rolling Pinwheel: again challenged by different light prints this block is very busy (and poorly photographed) but I like this one. If you were using fat quarters of this fabric you could do some great fussy cutting to get the words "love" and "joy" right in the middle or a block. I was back at home by the time I finished this one.That was yesterday. Today I started again. First block was #6 Union Square. I think this is my favourite. It's the only block in this quilt to use quarter square triangles - I love how easy it all is with the 90/45degree multi rule from creative grids.
Block #7 Spiral was next - I knew this would be a tough one if I left it to last. I slightly rearranged the placing of the pieces (this is the only block where I've made this kind of change, though I was tempted in a few of the others). I like how this one turned out too. Again I was challenged by the light fabrics - I've used three different ones. Block #9 Card Trick: this block could have done with some more green in it. It seems almost plain against some of the other blocks.Block # 4 Rolling Stone: I like how this one turned out, though I wasn't sure. Once again, I used two reds instead of one.And finally # 2 Rocky Road. I left this one till last on purpose as it seemed to be the block most suited to adding in lots of different fabrics i.e what I had left. In the instructions, 4 different fabrics are used: I used four different creams and three different reds plus a green and a black! And the result is wonderful - I love it.I bought the sashing and border fabric yesterday, so I may have a finished quilt top by the end of the week. I'll use some of the left over Jelly Roll to make cornerposts, and there's still loads of small pieces from strips left over, so I might do a pieced backing. It would also be an excuse to buy some more of some of the fabrics in the range and use bigger pieces so you can see the full print.

I'm now feeling very Christmassy.

Wednesday, 2 November 2011


So yesterday was a Y-Seams day. Totally unintentionally. I hate Y-Seams - I first did them a year ago as a beginner - I didn't enjoy it and it wasn't particularly successful. So for a year I have ignored their existence and avoided them.Then yesterday it all caught up with me. I got home from work, and instead of doing some hand embroidery as I had planned, the Famer's Wife book was calling to me. And I could not resist temptation...

I opened up my progress chart, closed my eyes and pointed at a block: #100 Weathervane. Lovely. Fabric chosen and cut, patterns traced. Bugger. Y-Seams. Do I abandon the block in favour of something more straightfoward (i.e. any other block) or do I persevere and overcome my demons. In a rare moment of fortitude I went for it. Half way through piecing the first section I saw how I could have avoided Y-Seams entirely with a small tweak to the pattern. Double bugger. Here is my finished block. Despite my dislike of and inability to do Y-Seams I am pretty happy with the results. Of the four seams only one is really bad (and the black farbic hides a multitude of sins), the others aren't perfect but will do just fine. Luckily I love the colour combination I picked. Flicking through the book later I came across block #57 Morning. It's the same block but the centre piece is a different colour. I have made a note that when I do this block, to tweak the pattern and avoid Y-Seams!

After the calamity of the Y-Seams, when the Farmer beckoned me in again tonight, I treated myself to a simpler block. Here is #20 Churn Dash. No prizes for guessing my favourite colour this week.I've also completed another block for my Jelly Roll Sampler Quilt: Amelia Snowball Quilt: Flying Dutchman from the Jelly Roll Sampler Book - so straightforwad after Y-Seams.

I love the hidden star in the middle: I didn't see it to start with, I just saw the flying geese blocks.