Saturday, 31 December 2011

2011 - the year the quilting bug bit!

2011 was the year that my quiting habit really took on a life of it's own! For years I had done Cross Stitch. This year I have barely touched it. Back in January I started an Essential Sampler Quilt - this taught me so much and got me hooked.

It seems customary to create a collage of the year's successes, so here are mine:

2. Ambrosia Quilt (a WIP for 2012)

3. Medallion Log Cabin block - the centre of my Essential Sampler Quilt (another WIP for 2012)

4. Vignette block 1 (a third WIP for 2012)

6. Farmer's Wife Mug Rugs for Mum's Christmas present

7. Farmer's Wife block (the Farmer's Wife Quilt is another WIP)

8. Wilding Angels Quilt: my first ever quilt - completed

10. Michael's Kindle Case made from his favourite, but awful, hoodie.

12. Calendar Girlie: Miss October

18. Bag made from Jennie Rayment blocks

19. Charlie and Archie

I've learnt loads this year, have loads planned for next year and can't wait to start lots of new projects and maybe finish off some of my WIPs (there are more than I am admitting to above!)

Thank you to everyone who reads my blogs and who writes blogs - you are all a source of inspiration! Have a wonderful new year and I'll be back tomorrow with some plans for 2012. And maybe, just maybe, a new look for my blog....

Friday, 30 December 2011

Chasing Chevrons - finally a decision

It feels like months ago that I signed up for the Chasing Chevrons quilt along with That Girl That Quilt. Now that Christmas has come and gone, and all presents (except one) are completed and given, I have time to think about it again. I knew I wouldn't be able to start it till after Christmas, but I had been thinking about possible fabric choices. On Wednesday I made my decision:

I had originally picked up some very masculine fabrics - I ended up using these for my Dad's Christmas present mug rug. I needed a couple more fabrics to go with them, but I did buy all the background fabric I needed. Then I couldn't find any fabrics to go with the three I had.

Back to the drawing board. I pulled out the fabrics I bought in Sidmouth - they are all Pat Bravo (I think) but from different lines. I'm not 100% certain they all go together, but even if the colours and patterns don't quite pull together, my memories of the fabrics and where I bought them will. So I'll give it a go and see what happens! I'm hoping to start cutting and stitching on Sunday.

I've also pulled out my blocks for the essential sampler quilt. The central nine are quilted and stitched together. The remaining 16 blocks are in various states of finished-ness. Some are quilted, most aren't. But all now have sashing! I was hoping to finish it by 21st January, which would be one year after I started it, but that seems a little overly optomistic from where I am sitting at the moment.

On Wednesday Mum and I looked at all the Famer's Wife blocks I've completed so far. I haven't had them all out since I completed this many and it was interesting to see how they played together. Three blocks stuck out (and not in a good way), so I will be redoing them in the next few weeks - we picked out the colours already. And I've picked out the colours for a few more too, including Country Lane, which I started way back in July and really hated, because it was complicated and I'd chosen fabrics I didn't like. Hopefully attempt 2 will prove more successful!

A late Christmas present arrived yesterday - the fabrics I ordered from the US - Happy Mochi Yum Yum and some others. I have no idea what I will use them for. At the moment I just like looking at them!

Monday, 26 December 2011

Only 365 days till Christmas

So the big day has come and gone. We had 14 sit down for a roast turkey Christmas dinner and then about 30 people for tea. All in a three bed semi! Not forgetting the two dogs. Everything went very smoothly and we are now eating our way through the left overs. We are now sitting, watching match of the day and Newcastle's win against Bolton.

It all got a bit too much for the doggies at the end of the day - here we are sitting on Daddy's lap surrounded by Christmas presents on the kitchen floor!
I was very lucky with my presents: I got lots of quilty books, two jelly rolls, three black work kits, four of the Quilt Aid kits and lovely personalised calendar. And all the home made gifts that I have spent the last few months making were very well received. As everyone has opened their presents, so I can now share a few more of my finishes with you.
First up is a mug rug I made for my Dad. My Dad is a morris dancer and I am a quilter and I wanted to combine the two. A google search combining morris dancing and quilting doesn't return a great deal so I was left with no choice but to design something myself.

The stitchery designs are entirely mine - my first attempt at something entirely from my own little head. The one on the left is playing amelodeon (the instrument my Dad plays) and the one on the right is dancing with the typical hankies. They both have flowers in the hats and bells on their ankles. I also put together the piecing myself - stupidly including partial seaming, which althought I regretted once I realised, actually worked quite well! I bought the fabrics at Harrogate and the green and brown ones are Moda by Sandy Gervais. I have no idea what the orange stripe is!

I also made two mug rugs for Linda. I started with a set of four mugs and designed two mug rugs to match. I drew the owl design myself but it is very much based on the designs on the mug. The fabrics were the ones I bought when we visited Guernsey.

And then I made four more mug rugs for my Mum. These are all from the Farmer's Wife book: Calico Puzzle (orange), Waste Knot (blue), Noon and Night (yellow and green), and Country Farm (pink, purple and yellow). She has a bit of a thing at the moment for batiks, so these were an easy choice, and she really liked them.I also finally finished (at 3pm on Christmas Eve) the Night Before Christmas mini quilt for Aunty Barbara. This is a fantastic design from Cinderberry Stitches, and I will be making it again (possibly twice).
I also managed to finish off the second set of Blossom placemat and two mug rugs: the Blossom "teapot rug" is from the Vignette Magazine from Leanne Beasley and the two mug rugs are Farmer's Wife again: Calico Puzzle and Churn Dash.(The lighting in the photo isn't great)Two projects that I had hoped to get finished for Christmas did not get finished: My Mum has asked for a stained-glass-window-effect wall hanging. The colours will all be batiks, and the "leading" will be black bias binding. I have started drafting it, but I realised very early on, that I wouldn't be able to hand sew on all of the binding before Christmas. This will be a project for the new year.

The other project that didn't get finished was a lap quilt for Linda. I have bought all the fabric - Melrose by Red Rooster Fabrics. Linda has also bought some of the fabrics to make some sham curtains for her living room, so when I saw the kit, I had to buy it! This will be another project for the new year.

Of course, I have many many projects for the new year...
I hope everyone else had a fantastic day!

PS. Mum absolutely loved loved loved her bag!

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas

The house is tidy, my parents and brother have arrived, the presents are wrapped (except one mini quilt that I still have to finish binding - ooops) and we have just watched the Muppet Christmas Carol - it is definitely Christmas time!
Merry Christmas to everybody and by boxing day everyone will have received their gifts, so I will have some more photos of finishes to share.
Have a wonderful day tomorrow!

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

Dresden Roses

Another mug rug - this one went in the post yesterday complete with mug and some choccies and will hopefully arrive before Christmas!

I love the fabrics more and more each time I get them out. The flowery ones are Durham fabrics and Icould be tempted to buy some more and make a quilt.... because I really need more projects....

I drafted the Dresden petals myself then appliqued them on very carefully with the machine. I did the hand embroidery then quilted it on the machine and added the binding.

Most of my Christmas presents are finished (but not wrapped) - I just have a pile of mug rugs and mini-quits, all of which need the binding stitching down by hand!

And today I have to put my sewing machine away for Christmas....

A final photo: Archie loves my Christmas quilt!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Yay - I won something

I won a giveaway on the Sew Mama Sew giveaway day/week!

I won a fat quarter bundle of Candid Paparazzi - I'd never seen it before but I love the combination of red, white and black.

Check out The Twilight Quilter's blog here.

Thanks Shannon

Sunday, 18 December 2011

FNSI: No more tears

I have dragged my project back from the precipice of disaster, and I am now ready to share it with you all. It's a Christmas present for my Mum - I've already told her not to look at my blog for the next week.

@Mum: If you have ignored my warnings, this is the post you need to skip!

[gap to give her chance to change her mind]

Here it is: a bag. She is a parish councillor and needs to take big folders to meetings. On our summer holidays she was looking for a bag that would do the job, but nothing seemed to be both big enough and strong enough. With that in mind, I decided to use two of the blocks I made at the Jennie Rayment class back in May (which I know she loves - she has a thing for black and batiks at the moment) and finish them off and craft them into a bag.

This was a bit of a challenge for me, No tutorial. Just me and my little brain. And some help from Kim and Margaret at the Fat Quarters. I made the bag as a box without a top. Each of the five sides was assembled separately and quilted separately, then I stitched them together (nice chunky seams with two layers of wadding) and bound the seams inside the bag at the same time.

The blocks themselves are made from cotton fabrics, but the rest of the bag is made from Duck Cloth. It's heavier weight than cotton and moving towards canvas, but still soft and supple and quiltable. I'm glad I had my new machine though. My old one would have gone on strike.

I am a convert to duck cloth - but be careful - it frays a lot!

The handles were the biggest challenge. I'd originally intended to stitch them down tht outside of the bag on each side and into the seams at the bottom of the bag, but if I'd put one down each side of the block, the bag would have had to have been enormous. So Kim suggested eyelets/grommets.

Back to Friday night sew in: I completed the front and back of the bag. I had finished piecing the blocks back in May, but the techniques are similar to Catherdral Window patchwork, whereby there are a lot of pieces with a folded bias edge that can be rolled back to create a curve. So I had done a lot of rolling, folding and appliquing them to get them ready. I then put setting squares on all four sides and used up some scraps of wadding for the batting and more duck cloth to complete the sandwich. I then simply quilted round the edge of the block a few times.

I spent all day Saturday quilting the remaining three panels and assembling the "box". I finished it off by binding the top in the red fabric used in the blocks. So far so good.

Then I had to do the eyelets. I cut a hole in the bag. Very scary. The eyelets refused to take the thinckness of fabric and snapped when I tried to close them together. So now I had a five sides fabric box with a hole in it.

That was the point at which I wrote yesterday's blog post.

This morning I miraculously managed to park in the centre of Newcastle less than week before Christmas and bough some Curtain eyelets from John Lewis. Came home and "click"! Perfect. Phew. Christmas is back on. The bad handles are made from four width-of-fabric lengths of the duck cloth with wadding in between then top stitched.

I am so so pleased with the result and so pleased to have it finished - I was well out of my comfort zone with this one, but so desperate to get it right for my Mum. I hope she likes it!

Final measurements: the front and back are 17.5" x 19.5" and it is 6" deep. The handles are long enough that you can carry it on your shoulder.

I have to show the bag to a friend at work who has heard all about it. And it is a perfect size to fit the big project boxes I use when quilting... I see more bags in my future! I have 8 more eyelets already.

Now to finish off the other Christmas presents....

Saturday, 17 December 2011

Last Friday Night Sew in 2011

I'm not sharing anything with you yet. I worked really hard on my project all last night and again all today. And then everything went wrong at the final step. Hopefully I can salvage it tomorrow, but I need to go to Newcastle City Centre, successfully park, and hope John Lewis can help.... if everything goes well, I'll share a finished project with you tomorrow. If it doesn't, I think I might cry. But please come back, because I may be desperately asking for help :(

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Another mug rug, another Christmas present

Last week I blogged some photos of a mug rug for my manager. It didn't turn quite as expected - not really right for my manager, but perfect for Sheila. So back to the drawing board and the Farmer's Wife provided the answer:This is block 19 Chequerboard with some chintzy fabrics. I'm really pleased with the result. I foundation pieced the block, hand quilted it with embroidery thread (I didn't have the right colour perle cotton) and then bound.

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Christmas Trees

I had great plans about how much I would achieve this weekend. A beautful new (large) mug rug inspired by some wonderful blogs was not part of this plan....

Here is my new mug rug.
I made trees (triangles) using a tutorial on Leanne's blog and the leftovers from my Countdown to Christmas quilt. I was fully intending to make them into tree ornaments as she had done, but then noticed that my newly cleared glass table in our living room looked very empty without the normal junk on it and wouldn't it look nice if I had a table topper/large mug rug for Christmas. So, inspired by this table runner, I found some black fabric in my stash and did a little more raw edge applique and some fussy cutting for the little circles and I now have my mug rug!

I did finish one of the mug rugs I started on Friday. Here is the apple mug rug for my secret santa with its matching mug.

I have made progress on the other mug rugs. The one for my manager didn't turn out quite as expected so another mug rug in the same fabrics has been started. I just need to quilt and bind these then I can share them too. I have a few other finishes, but I can't show till after Santa has been!

A busy stitchy week is ahead...

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Mug Rugs and Applique'

Last night was Friay Night Sew In.

My Friday night sew in was shared with Linda, Buster (11 month old puppy), James (4 year old nephew), Steph and Jonny. I got some done before everyone arrived and I carried on once they'd gone home and stayed up quite late to make some progress on Christmas presents:

I started by finishing of a project I began last weekend at a class. It's a die-cut applique design of reindeers, bells and snowflakes and this was the first time that I have tried the blanket stitch on my new sewing machine - my old one didn't do blanket stitch! I was really slow, cause I was determined to be accurate, but I sped up as I went along. I wasn't planning on finishing the applique last night but the machine was threaded up and the applique foot was on so I went for it. I now need to layer it up and quilt it - I have bought some fine perle cotton and I'm going to hand quilt. Then I can make it up into a cushion. And I have the negative pieces from the die-cut so I can make a matching cushion! Maybe in time for next year!
Needless to say - the antlers and snowflakes were a little fiddly!

Then I moved onto mug rugs. I'm excited about these because I designed them all myself:

This one is for my Secret Santa at work. I have a mug to go with it that also has apples on it. The red fabrics are from the countdown to Christmas range - I have loads of leftovers from my quilt, and the blue and green were bought in Guernsey (I think they are Dunelm fabrics) I have no idea where the white came from. The apples are appliqued on (now I've learnt how to do it there's no stopping me) and the leaves and stems are embroidery. Just need to quilt and bind it! My deadline is Friday.
The second is for my manager - she loves Cath Kidston chintzy fabrics - this isn't Cath Kidston, but it is chintzy. I drafted my dresden plate petals after a lot of thought and assistance from Linda, then appliqued those on to the background fabric (I love applique). I've picked out the embroidery threads and still need to finish the embroidery. This one will be handquilted. Deadline is also Friday.If this one turns out ok, I'll make another one for Sheila to go with a lovely mug I have bought her and some beautiful chocolates. Another tight deadline as I'll need to send it in the post!
And then there's this one. I can't tell you who it's for and I can't show you too much of it before Christmas in case the recipient pops by: I'll share more about this one after Christmas because I'm quite excited about it. If it doesn't turn out how I imagine it, this may be all you ever see of it.
This weekend is my last empty weekend before Christmas so I need to make some progress on Christmas presents and start finishing some of them. Pop back tomorrow, when hopefully I'll have some finishes that I can share with you this side of Christmas!

I hope everyone else had a productive Friday Night Sew In! Follow the link at the top to see what everyone else has been up to.

Monday, 5 December 2011

Quilting Milestone! I am so excited....

This weekend I finished two quilts. These are very special quilts. I have made lots of very small quilts, mostly made to frame embroidery or cross stitch. I've finished two larger quilts both to hang on the wall. But this weekend I finished two quilts, both of which are for snuggling under on the sofa and neither of which have any embroidery . And both are machine quilted by me! It's really important for me to learn how to quilt my own quilts. I'm never going to be able to afford to send my quilts out to be long-arm quilted, so if I can't do it myself, I might as well stop buying fabric right now - this is why I am so excited! (And this is how I justified my new sewing machine)!

First off is the animal quilt. This is a small quilt for a little boy called Aidan. It's six pre-printed panels with complementary fabric. Not rocket science. But it is the first quilt I have machine quilted on my new machine. To keep it simple I quilted round the printed lines on the panels.
Then the real achievement: 12 pieced sampler blocks from a Countdown to Christmas Jelly Roll. Sashing. Corner posts. Border. Pieced back that I love as much as the front. MACHINE QUILTED!!! Bound. I am snuggling up on the sofa with this quilt as I write. I cannot tell you how excited I am.

Here's the front and the back:
I wanted to do free motion quilting, but this needs a lot more practice (I've signed up for lots of practice next year with the 2012 Free Motion Quilting Challenge), so the quilting on this was wavy lines, randomly stitched acorss the width of the quilt. This was enough or me for my first attempt. Hopefully you can see the quilting from this photo. The biggest challenge was managing this amount and weight of fabric. I've learnt a lot of lessons just from this one piece. Unfortunately the photos are taken indoors - I can't wait till next weekend to photograph them outside, and I leave for work in the dark and come back from work in the dark...

And I have a cushion to match and loads of leftover fabric to make Christmas tree ornaments: check out Leanne's tutorial here.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

What did you get from your local quilt shop this weekend?

I got some lovely fabric.... all fat quarters for a number of Christmas projects, including some of the pinks in this foundation pieces cushion quarter.Aunty Barbara got some fabric for sashing her mystery BOM blocks.

We did a class, and I learnt how to do blanket stitch applique on my new machine.

Linda got a dog. This is Buster. The owner of our local quilt shop, Kim, wanted to keep him, but her dog had other ideas, so Buster was looking for a new home and Linda has provided it. Isn't he gorgeous?
And just in case Archie and Charlie get jealous: here is CharlieAnd here is Archie playing Fireman Sam on the Nintendo DS with Michael and James!

There'll be some more stitchy posts later this week!

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Quilt Aid 2012

Another project! Quilt aid was developed by Australian quilters a few years ago. 12 designers (including Lynette Anderson, Natalie Lymer....) each designed a block, and money raised goes to charity. This spread to the USA and this year Europe is allowed to join the fun. My local quilt shop, the Fat Quarters is the only shop in the UK to host blocks: they have two of the blocks and shops in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany have the other 10. Each shop then designs their own finishing pattern, and you can pick from any of them. (Separate shops in the US and Australia are also hosting blocks. ) The blocks come as complete kits (threads to buy separately) and the fabrics are all Ruby from Moda.
I'm in. Check out the website to find out more! And even better - when your husband comes in and says "how much fabric do you need?" you can reply that this project is for charity!!!!