Tuesday, 31 January 2012

A Bumper January

I am so sad to see the end of January - I have had a fantastic month with my sewing and I really hope this continues into February. Here are some of the things I've been working on:

Although we are on a break from the Farmer's Wife, I've made five blocks - two I had cut out before Christmas, one replacement (two still to do), one monster block that I had totally abandoned in July and I still don't like) and a 6" version of Swoon.

As mentioned, I gave in to the communal swooning by joining the Swoon Along - it's up to 765 members. I've made 3 in the original 24" size, three in the 12" size, which I love, and my mini 6" Swoon.

I signed up for the Chasing Chevrons quilt along before Christmas and finally made a start in January. I finished this quilt top last week and I have decided to back it with flannel and no wadding.

I also signed up for the Oh My Stars Quilt-along before Christmas. I got the fabric for this project as a Christmas present, and although I am behind, I'm loving the designs and the fabrics really make me think of sring (it's Dogwood Trail from Moda).

I finished a quilt top as a special present using the Melrose range of fabric from Red Rooster.

And I completed one of the first quilts I ever started - the yellow tablecloth - Picasa is refusing to let me include this in my collage, so it gets a photo all of it's own! Thanks to the Friday Night Sew In I fell back in love with this project.
Just don't mention the free motion quilting challenge....

Do you see a theme? I seem to be a sucker for Quilt-Alongs! I'm having a ball and I've already learnt so much this year. Thank you to all the wonderful quilt-along organizers. For more photos on any of the projects, just take a browse through some of my recent blog posts - thanks for stopping by.

I'm linking this post up to Small Blog Meet on Lily's Quilts - check out some of the blogs there too if you have time

Free motion quilting..... not such a success

So - I signed up for the Free Motion Quilting challenge from Sew Cal Girl.... The January challenge was leaves. The video tutorial was exxcellent. My skills, not so much.

This is my first attempt at Free Motion Quilting. It's not tooooooo bad. But I am definitely not going to be risking it on a quilt anytime soon.
Lots more practice is needed.... I'm happy with the shape of some of the leaves, but not others, and trying to go back over stitches seems to be a bit of an area for improvement.
This is the view from the back

Hopefully one of these tutorials each month will help me improve.

Sunday, 29 January 2012


The yellow tablecloth that I rescued from relegation last week is finished!!!

I hope you like it, Mum.Last week as my project for the Friday Night Sew In I pulled out this beauty that I had been ignoring because I had to do some unpicking. The unpicking took ten minutes and I quilted over half the quilt top last weekend. This weekend I pulled it out again, cleared my sewing table and quilted the rest of it. It only took a few more hours. Then it took that time again to sort out all the thread ends.

This morning I could see the finish line. While Nadal and Djokovich slugged it out in the tennis, I made my binding, attached the binding with my machine and then stitched it all down by hand. This is the fabric for the binding before I cut it up - isn't it gorgeous? Unfortunately I bought it before I appreciated the importance of knowing what the fabric was, so I have no idea - all I can tell you is that it is a batik, it's very pretty and I had the last piece from the bolt from a shop that has since closed down. But I do have some left over...

We were very concerned that the quilt wouldn't hang well when used as a tablecloth, so I added curtain weights to each corner, which made a huge difference. I also washed the batting before I quilted which means it won't be as puffy.

Not a bad use of a Sunday morning. For the first time ever I'm linking up to Sew Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations, because, for the first time ever I have a modern finish! (At least, I think it's modern!)
On Friday night I couldn't resist a bit more swooning - here are two more 12" Swoon blocks. For the first time ever I have pieced with stripey fabric - I was so careful and I'm so pleased tht it worked out. I used some of the tips from the Flickr group when cutting, so instead of two rectanlges, I cut one big square for the side pieces so I didn't have unmatching stripes.Here are all three togther. One more of this set to go.

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Finished: Chasing Chevrons Quilt Top

Today I finished the Chasing Chevrons Quilt Top from That Girl That Quilt.

I struggled to get a good photo of it as it is dark and my quilt-holder-upper is not home from work yet. I'll try again at the weekend, but I'm too excited to wait till then to share it!

I have been working on this since last weekend when all of a sudden, the end came into sight! On Tuesday night I finished the last of the Chevrons, cut the plain squares and decided on a layout. The final piecing went together very quickly and I'm so pleased with how accurate my seams are.

Although quite a straightforward pattern, I learnt a lot from this design:

1. It was the first project I started on my new machine where seams and seam allowances mattered, so I've learnt the spot on my machine for a perfect quarter of an inch (doesn't mean I hit it every time - sometimes I miss it)

2. A new way of making four HSTs at once. Although the technique results in bias edges, I was careful with them and they didn't distort at all, so this is definitely a technique I will be using in the future. Also, the idea of cutting the starting squares bigger and then trimming down the HST blocks. Although this can get a tad tedious when you're making lots, the accuracy is 100% better and I will definitely be doing this for every quilt from now on - I'm already putting this into practice on my Swoon blocks and the difference is amazing.

3. Pressing: Up till now the distinction between ironing and pressing has been a bit blurry. But with the bias edges I was really careful on this one. And it really makes a difference....

4. Spray starch. I've tried it. I made my own from this recipe. I'm not a convert. It did make the fabric less likely to distort, but it also gunked up my iron and ironing board cover too much for it to be practical. I have to iron my work clothes on the same ironing board with the same iron the next morning. If I have fiddly projects in the future then maybe I'll come back to it. But at least I can say I've tried it.

5. Pressing seams open. I'm normally a to the side kind of girl, but I tried the open seams on this one. I still managed to make my seams match, which is why I've avoided it in the past. All of the chevron blocks have the seams pressed open and it gives really sharp points and reduces bulk. WHen I came to putting all the blocks together I returned to my "to the side" approach - it is quicker. But I have started pressing all of my HST blocks with an open seam and that is working really well - I think I'll combine the two!

The best thing about this project was that it was perfect for using some fabrics I bought in Sidmouth in the Summer. Although they come from different lines I think they have worked well together. I only hat fat eights and fat sixteenths except in one fabric, so it wouldn't have been enough for most projects - now I have a quilt made from all of them and some background full of memories.

Thank you That Girl That Quilt for helping me improve my piecing skills and designing such a great quilt!

Now I need some advice. I have enough of the fabric left to make a border - I was thinking 5"x2.5" rectangles of the coloured fabrics stitched all round the edges (the seams would match up with the seams in the quilt), and then bind with the background fabric (I think I have enough left). But does it need a border? Should I just make a scrappy binding (another thing I've never done before)?

How should I quilt it? I'm going to get the bamboo blend wadding because it's just so beautifully soft and snuggly.... Do I.... Learn some free motion quilting and have this as my first attempt? Wavy line quilting like I did on my Christmas quilt? Straight line quilting echoing the seams? All suggestions very gratefully received.

Sunday, 22 January 2012

A Swoony Weekend

After the success of Friday Night Sew In I have had a good weekend. Yesterday I helped out Linda and Aunty Barbara with their jelly roll sampler quits and made a block for each of them using their fabrics: Here are the scraps from Aunty Barbara that I stitched together - sunglasses please! The finished "block" is 4" and I have no idea what I'll do with it, but it's better than throwing the scraps away!

Yesterday evening I completed another 15 Chevron blocks for my Chasing Chevrons quilt. I think I have about 15 more blocks to make - here is last nights results.
Today was all about Swoon. I was lying in bed thinking through a comment I made on the Flickr group - how about a six inch block for my Farmer's Wife Quilt.... I did the maths and here it is. I broke the block down to be 8x8 smaller blocks - each of these is only 3/4" square. The pieces were fiddly, but my seams are pretty good and the end result is fantastic. I'm not sure I will be making many more blocks this size. But I have been thinking that a 6" finished block would be perfect to fit in the centre of a 24" finished block - I could swoon in my swoon. That's for another weekend!Do you remember the fabric I couldn't resist on yesterday's post - the duck egg blue and brown. Well I cut it up today. The plan is four 12" Swoon blocks to make a wall hanging for our bedroom, which is blue and brown. In this version, each of the blocks is 1 1/2" square. I think this is my favourite swoon size, or maybe it was just that every single one of my seams was spot on! Miracle. I also wanted to show you that I can use subtle classy colours as well as my normal bright high contrast selections. The brown is Primitive Muslin by Moda, the blue if Fruitcake from Basic Grey for Moda and the background is Basic Dots by Moda. One of the other fabrics I've bought for this project has stripes.... that's a story for another day too! And then I made a full size 24" block in my Happy Mochi Yum Yum fabrics. I've now done three of the full size blocks. My seams weren't quite so good on this one.
I mainly did the big one so I could take the photo below - Russian doll swoons!In other news my computer is broken. I'm writing this on Michael's desktop and it sounds like it's about to take off! Hopefully we can save all of my photos.... *sad face*

P.S. have you seen the new patterns from Camille Roskelly, designer of Swoon - I love the triangles one!

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Yellow Table Cloth rescued from relegation zone

Yesterday was Friday Night Sew In. I could have chosen any of the current WIPs (of which there are many) but....

...I have a few projects sitting in the relegation zone at the moment - they are currently on my WIP list but if I ignore them for much longer they may have to be relegated to the UFO list. The Yellow Tablecloth was one such project. It's not that I don't like it - I love working with these colours and it's for a very special person - my Mum.

I have mentioned the Yellow Table Cloth on my blog before, but I don't think I told you the background: In August 2010 we went on our normal summer holiday to Sidmouth in Devon for the folk music festival. You can't have a summer holiday in Britain without at least one rainy day (if you only have one then you are very lucky). At Sidmouth 2010 the Wednesday was the rainy day. Mum and I were half way down the high street when the heavens opened, so we dashed into the nearest shop, a news agents. I have never seen such a fantastic range of patchwork magazines. I was flicking through an issue of Quilt Mania (I think it's a French magazine) and Mum was looking over my shoulder and saw this design. A few minutes later I had agreed to make it for her.

The dining room at Mum and Dad's house is very dark, so a nice bright tablecloth (to replace the one they've used as long as I have been alive) would really lift the room. We set about buying the fabrics. Mum first wanted lemons, but we ended up moving towards reds and browns, with cream "slivers".

It took me a while to get started, but I finished piecing the top last spring, and we bought the wadding and backing. I even had a go at quilting it. But my old machine was having none of it. I had quilted two squares very badly, it went into the cupboard and was abandoned.

Now I have my new machine I couldn't open the cupboard door without it waving at me. So I used the excuse of yesterday's Friday Night Sew In to get it out and attack it head on. It only took me half an hour to remove the first quilting attempt and the basting and the safety pins - I thought this would take much longer. I relayered it with some assistance and quilted half of it last night. I had planned to quilt it in the ditch, but there are the odd seams that don't match quite so perfectly, and I realised that quilting in the ditch could result in accentuating these inaccuracies. Instead I am quilting approx 3/8" in from each seam round the inside of the colours. There is no quilting on the slivers. Now I wonder why I ignored it for so long.
Although not a great photo, this was the best I could get to show the quilting.

I need to finish the quilting (probably only another evening, but not this evening), then we are putting curtain weights on each corner so that it hangs nicely, and then the binding with the beautiful red/yellow batik stripey fabric that you can perhaps pick out in the photos.

Mum has a significant birthday in February and the party to go with at the end of March. This quilt will be ready to go down with me by then!

I hope everyone else had a productive Friday Night Sew In. I'll be popping in to see what everyone else got up to later this evening.

P.S. Look at these fabrics I bought today - I have a (-nother) project in mind for these - not sure I'll be able to resist for long

Thursday, 19 January 2012

I swooned again....

I couldn't resist another block in the Swoon quilt along. The fabric just kept looking at me and the yellow and green..... this is heaven.

Again the fabric is Happy Mochi Yum Yum with a beautiful red background.

I've also been working on stars and chevrons and hexies this week.

Tomorrow is Friday Night Sew In, so I shall have to think about which project I want to focus on. I'll be back on Saturday to show you what I did!

Sunday, 15 January 2012

Spring is coming

.... it must be nearly spring - there are daffodils in the shops!

I've had a busy weekend! All of those things I wanted to do, I've done. Yesterday I posted about my first swoon block. It took me a while to complete, but hopefully the next blocks will get quicker.

I then felt an urge to play with my Farmer's Wife quilt. I picked block #24 Country Path. I first tried this block back in July and it nearly ended my Farmer's Wife journey before it had really started. I picked dodgy colours and didn't like it. Mum helped me pick a new colour scheme at Christmas but....
I can tell you three things for certain about this block. 1. It's better than the first attempt: 2. I still don't like it and 3. I am definitely NOT redoing it.

I then did some more Chevron blocks. I don't seem to be moving forward with this very well. I think I need to set myself a deadline... I now have 20 of the required 60 and they are really pretty individually - it will be interesting to see how they all go together.
And finally I came back to the Oh My Stars quilt-along. Although these blocks are really quite straightforward =, working on them is really improving my piecing accuracy (the green diamond block was as close to perfect as any block I've ever pieced). A new tutorial for a diamond hearted star block came out on Friday and I had a go at that. It's fantastic - I was doing the 8" blocks: you sew corners onto a square, which results in waste half square triangles. But if you stitch one extra seam you are making the blocks that will create a pinwheel that is the perfect size to be the centre of a 4" block. How cool is that! So I made three diamond heart 8" blocks, three 4" pinwheel blocks, 4 4" basic star blocks, and a 12" Frosted tips block from the fourth tutorial. I love them all. I think I swapped some colour placement on the frosted tip block, but I still like it - I may have a play with the next blocks I make. I now have 5 five 12" blocks, nine 8" blocks and eleven 4" blocks making a total 25 blocks. We're up to tutorial five in the quilt-along so I should have 40. The next tutorial comes out on Tuesday!

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Swoon: 1st Block completed!

Fat Quarters picked, background fabric bought. I planned to piece my first block in the Swoon-along last night. Then I realised just how red the background fabric was, and put it in the wash instead. I did get most of the cutting done last night, and this morning/afternoon I have pieced my first block (the seam ripper was used a few time....). Here it is:

I know that this will go down as a pretty stupid comment, but 24 inches is big! I mean, I didn't realise how big until the completed block was covering a large amount of my cutting board. I love it. I'm now off to make some blocks at the other end of the scale: 4inch Oh My Stars Blocks.

PS. How cute were Archie and Charlie snuggled up together in the sun!

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Fabric, fabric and a bit more fabric

Lots of yummy fabric to report on today. As I seem to have developed a little bit of a thing for quilt-alongs.... I need some fabric to go with them:

Earlier this week I signed up for the Swoon quilt-along. I haven't signed up to anything since. I decided to make this quilt for me using the Happy Mochi Yum Yum fabric that I got for Christmas - this fabric is just so summery, I love it. By chance I had bought exactly 18 fat quarters - it was meant to be. So today I needed to get background fabric. I didn't want white or cream, so I was thinking navy. This is what I've ended up with. Not quite navy.
The red is less orangy in real life. I am now ready to start this project at the weekend. I've been reading all of the posts on the Flickr group and I'm now quite nervous about the cutting - I can't replace this fabric if I mess up. Here are the fabrics paired up as they will be in the blocks:

What else have I signed up for? The Oh My Stars Quilt Along. I started this earlier in the week (see my first bunch of stars here) and here is my second batch -all pinwheel stars. I think that chain piecing all five at once was maybe a bit too much....

I'm still well behind, but I have no plans for the weekend (other than sitting in front of my sewing machine and a couple of family birthdays) so maybe I'll make some progress on this too. The latest tutorial is for a frosted tips star.

The Tango Challenge to make a quilt with orange, one neutral colour and one other colour is another group I may have joined! Here is my fabric selection (warning - sunglasses required) - isn't it horrifically, garishly beautiful! Orange, pink and black... maybe I'll start this project at the weekend too.

The Melrose quilt (also here) is taking a back seat until I have had some free motion quilting tutition later this month.

And amongst all of this activity, my Chasing Chevrons quilt is still on my sewing table, though I haven't moved beyond the 15 blocks I made at the beginning of the month. Maybe this weekend.....

And the final new project of 2012 was the Quilt Aid block: I am continuing to make flowers from 1/2" hexagons....

Then of course I have all of the projects that I started last year...... heaven

The weekend will last for more than two days, won't it?

Monday, 9 January 2012

Stars, stars and more stars

Yesterday I finally made a start on my latest new project for 2011 - the Oh My Stars Quilt. I'm using Moda's Dogwood Trail fabric and I'm making mostly the basic star block. I've made one pinwheel block and I really like it, so I think there'll be some more of them. Of the 111 blocks I need for the quilt I have made four 12inch blocks, four 4" blocks and one 8" block. 101 to go!

As I said in my last post, when justifying my joining another quilt-along, I have finished a quilt top this year. Linda - if you're reading this, please stop now! This is the Melrose fabric from Red Rooster.

The quilt went together really quickly but I had a lot of bother getting the grey points on the individual blocks to line up - no matter how many pins I put in they kepyt slipping - any tips? I was getting fed up of attaching borders after the third one, but I think it was well worth it in the end. I'll get the batting and backing later this week, and I think I'll go for wavy line quilting - I haven't mastered anything else yet! I have loads of fabric left so I may make a couple of matching cushions too. Maybe a pieced back as well....

There are so many wonderful quilt alongs and projects being started at the moment. It's so tempting to join them all. But I really must stop. So the Swoon quilt is my last one. Honest. I am swinging towards cutting into my Happy Mochi Yum Yum fabric that I ordered from the US and making a quilt for me. I shall have a look for some background fabric later this week and once I've decided I'll post some photos here.

Sunday, 8 January 2012

I am weak.... so weak I may "swoon"

I am weak. And I am bad. And I cannot resist temptation.
On the plus side, I haven't yet joined up to any new quilt-alongs in 2012 (the ones that I have started in the last week were all committed to in 2011 so don't count) and today I even finished a quilt top (I'll take some photos and blog about it in the next few days).
So today I joined the Swoon-Along. Take a look at all the beeee-yootiful blocks on the Flickr Group or on Katy's blog
I have two options: For Christmas I got a fat quarter bundle of Happy Mochi Yum Yum which could be used to make a quilt for me. Or I want to make a quilt for my (kind-of) Granny. But I have no idea what colours I would do it in.
It is definitely time for bed, so I shall think on it for a few hours!

A busy week

My first week of 2012 has been very busy (despite work)! I'll split it into two posts (partly because I haven't yet photographed some of my finishes.

I did some of the embroidery on the Quilt Aid block I am doing, but I now need some more threads. The rest of the block involves tiny half-inch hexagons. I've never seen the attraction of hexagons before, so I've never done any. I have been missing out. I bought myself a basting glue pen from Sewline and had a go. I love them. I've made four and have another 8 to go, but I see far more hexagons in the future. They still need to be appliqued round the edge.

I returned to the Farmer's Wife Quilt Along last night. We're on a holiday break at the moment, but I had prepared two blocks before Christmas and wanted to make them up before I lost any of the pieces. Here is #101 Wedding Ring - a nice citrussy number (more of that orange!).
And #76 Saw Tooth. I was worried about the amount of black in this block, but the piece of fabric I cut for it has a really good mottled effect to it, so it doesn't look flat at all. I love the green fabric. Mum doesn't :)
Over Christmas I had time to get all of the blocks out I had completed so far and a few blocks stuck out in a sore thumb kinda way. #1 Attic Windows was one of them: The block with the orange, pink and green is the original and the one with green, cream and purple is the new one. It works better because the ratio of black is more in tune with all of the other blocks.
I have another two blocks to redo, hopefully before the end of January, and I've picked out the colours for another couple. Check out everyone else's blocks in the Flickr Group.

Back before Christmas I signed up for the Oh My Stars Quilt-along. I got the fat quarters (Dogwood Trail) for Christmas and the background fabric last weekend. Now to start!

Wednesday, 4 January 2012


Tangerine orange is the colour of the 2012. And it has been noted by Erin at Two More Seconds that it isn't a common quilty colour.

I am growing to love orange. this time last year, if you had asked me, I didn't like orange. Then I started the Farmers Wife Quilt and accidentally found myself first buying a lot of orange fabrics and then wanting to use them: looking back over the 58 blocks I have made so far, some of my absolute favourites are orange:

So, if you ask me today, I love orange - it's so fresh and bright. And it looks gorgeous against black. So I am taking the challenge to make a tangerine quilt. I'm going to make a mini (limited to 30" on the longest side) and the rules are orange + a neutral + one other colour. I have some ideas.... horribly garish ideas! Isn't it wonderful!

Check out the Flickr group for the rules, some orange inspiration and, as we move towards the deadline (beginning of March), the entries.

Monday, 2 January 2012

Two new projects

I have been very enthusiastic today. Not only is this my second post of the day, but it is only the 2nd January and I have already started three new projects in 2012. I know, I know - you're supposed to finish a project before you start new ones - I wish I had the self control to only have a few projects on the go at once. But I don't. And it is not one of this year's resolutions.

So my first new project is one that I first blogged about in December, here. It is Quilt Aid. This is 12 blocks, each designed by an Australian designer and sold as kits (the fabric is Ruby from Moda). I got involved because my local quilt shop, the Fat Quarters, is the only UK shop stocking the kits and because they are really pretty. I got four of the twelve blocks as Christmas presents, and it's my birthday soon, so I'm hoping for a few more!

Although I need to buy them all fairly soon, I'm going to work on them as a block of the month. For January I have picked the block by Natalie Bird:
(picture from the Quilt Aid website)

The elephant is raw-edge applique, which I can do already. I'm also comfortable with embroidery. Half inch paper pieced hexagons, which go round the edge, are, however, a little out of my comfort zone.... I've traced the stitchery, prepared the raw edge applique and pieced the block - I love the green "peeped seam".

I don't yet have all the embroidery threads I need, but I do have the grey, so I can get on with the blanket stitch on the elephant.

A lot of the remaining blocks involved needle-turn applique. Hmmm. Definitely out of my comfort zone. I may not have resolved to finish a project before I start another, but I have resolved to learn new techniques! I have also run out of WIP boxes - I found this biscuit tin instead.
The second project of the day was the one I mentioned earlier. I'm not good at keeping secrets, so here it is. This is the Melrose quilt I am working on. Melrose is the range of fabrics from Red Rooster. I have made six of this block, and need to make six of a second block, then they are alternated and a border is added. This (and the chevrons) was the first time I have really pieced on my new machine (pieced in the sense that my quarter inch needs to be a quarter inch) and it's all going really well so far.
I have to go back to work tomorrow. Sad face. So my quilty output will slow over the next few days, but I do have some hand stitching to collapse with at the end of the day. I'm still hand quilting the blocks for my essential sampler quilt and I am about a year behind on the Vignette Mystery Quilt. Plenty to be getting on with.

I have Chevrons!

I have spent this morning playing with the Chasing Chevron's Quilt-along from That Girl... That Quilt.I signed up for it when it was first announced, but I knew I couldn't start it till the new year. It is now the new year, and yesterday I cut all of my fabric and started stitching: I've decided to use fat eighths and fat sixteenths that I bought on my summer holiday in Sidmouth. Most of the fabrics are Pat Bravo for Art Gallery Fabrics but are from different ranges.... I think they go together. I was really worried I wouldn't have enough fabric. I have enough for two quilts...
I cut all the patterned fabric and the background fabric I needed to make the 240 (yes 240) half square triangles. Using the fantastic tutorial that is part of the quilt-along I'm making four HST at once and using starch for the first time! The background fabric is Cat's Meow from Benartex.

I have completed 15 blocks and I am so pleased with how they look (the stripey fabric had been worrying me a bit). 45 more chevrons to make, but this afternoon I need to work on a secret quilt with a deadline.... it's called Melrose.