Friday, 30 March 2012

Farmer's Wife in Your Life

Well, I am finally ready for you to see the finished article. It is a blind runner (when I first said this to some friends they thought I was making an ode to the paralympics), but like a bed runner, it's a narrow quilt that runs along the bottom of a blind.

Farmer's Wife in Your Life

At the top of our stairs we have a window that looks directly into the same window in the neighbour's house. When we moved in three years ago, we put up a basic blind from Ikea, and I've regularly thought I could make something to tart it up a bit. Well the Farmer's Wife in Your Life linky party from Love Affair with My Brother was the push I needed.
From left to right: Prairie Queen, Flock, Windmill, Churn Dash, Windblown Square and Linoleum.
I measured and did some maths, then pulled out the book and picked six of my favourites which I felt I could work out the rotary cutting measurements for. Most of the blocks I've already made I've done using foundation piecing, and I wanted to try accurate piecing, as I've been getting better!
Then onto colour. Our stairs and landing is a mixture of white, cream and magnolia (it was the one room we didn't redecorate when we moved in) so I could have picked absolutely anything. And for some reason I had blue and white stuck in my head. I briefly thought about a rainbow, but kept coming back to blue and white. I think it's because our LQS has had a beautitful striped blue fabric in for ages that I've been desperately trying to find a use for. This was only the second "quilt" where I've used a white background. When I first started my main quilt I spent over an hour trying to decide if I would put the batiks I'm using with black or white. I'm really glad I went with black, but it was nice to try white. The white I used is a calico, and quite a loose weave, so I chose to bind it before I quilted it. This was the project where I decided to attack one of my new year's resolutions and learn to put on binding totally by machine. It worked! And I love the effect of the top stitches - I think this may become my standard finish to a quilt! I didn't use wadding as I didn't want it to be too heavy on the blind.
I hand quilted in a bright blue perle cotton - I rocked the needle and everything - it's so much easier without wadding.

I think this is my favourite of the six blocks. I love Churn Dash and I got to use some scraps of Happy Mochi Yum Yum left over from my Swoon Quilt and a gorgeous Tilda fabric I picked up because I loved it. You can also see the binding here. When I got it home I realised that the stripes on the binding fabric go the other way to most stripes, so rather than cutting across the width of the fabric, I had to cut along the length to get the effect I wanted. I'd only bought 30cm so the binding is made from ten pieces..... luckily because of the pattern you can't see the joins!
At the moment the finished piece is just pinned to the bottom of the blind, but when I have some time next week and fancy a good fight, I've got some velcro. That way, when I want a change, I can just make another one!

Just to finish up, on a non-stitchy note, tomorrow is my Mum's "significant" birthday party, and we had a cake made for her:

Isn't it stunning! It's also enough to feed an army!

Happy Stitching

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Not quite ready to share

On Monday I suggested that my entry in the Farmer's Wife in Your Life linky would be ready for the reveal this evening. It isn't. I haven't quite finished the quilting.

Instead I have the start of a new project to share. Back in September Mum said she would love a stained glass effect quilt with the leading made from bias strips. In November she decided what size she wanted (about 28" x 20") and I started designing it and confirmed there was no way it would be ready for Christmas :)

Last weekend I finally started cutting the fabrics. All of the fabrics are batiks, and I'm sticking them to a calico backing using the glue designed for attaching fabric to pre-cut hexies. Tonight I ironed on the bias strips (these have been ready for a couple of weeks). I'm doing it in sections, so that they are easier to manage.
And this is an idea of what they'll like put together (obviously with another strip of black between them).This month's free motion quilting challenge will not be completed on time. As per tradition, I complete it on the last day of the month. This month I will be at my Mum's birthday party and my sewing maching has been packed away for a few days :(

I'll be back soon to show you some photos of Mum's birthday cake!

Monday, 26 March 2012

Three quilt tops in a week and other things...

On Saturday afternoon I completed my thrid quilt top in a week. Obviously all three have been in progress for a few months, they just all came together at the same time! After my Swoon (which you can see here) and my Oh My Stars Quilt (here) I finished a Jelly Roll quilt that I've been working on at a class at my LQS.

A dreadful photo....

I picked a Northcott Range Jelly Roll and then regretted picking the background fabric I did. On Friday evening I really wasn't keen on this quilt. On Saturday I added the sashing and it came to life. I like it a lot more now. These aren't my normal colours, but this is a Christmas present for a very dear family friend (unlike the cushion in my last post, this is a Christmas present for Christmas 2012 rather than a late present for Christmas 2011!).
Here are some close ups so try and show the prints.
The pattern is from More Layer Cake, Jelly Roll and Charm Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott.
Onto the other things....
I've joined my first ever swap hosted by Heidi (from Friday Night Sew In). It's an "anything you like" swap and I got the info about my partner today. I think there will be a couple of weeks thinking before I put needle to fabric - a deadline of 1st May for posting is plenty.
Today the linky party for the scrap attack Festival of Scrappiness opened. I linked up to the incubator quilt I made on Friday Night Sew In. As a relatively new quilter, my scrap stash is minimal, so there was plenty of "negative space" - I just hope it qualifies.... If you have some time check out some of the beautiful quilts that are on display.
Announced today was a Festival of Half Square Triangles over at Canoe Ridge Creations.

I love my HSTs (mother-in-law is developing a hatred of them rivalled only by my hatred of templates), so I will be following the blog hop and and having a think about something to make.
And finally, over at Love Affair with My Brother, Sunni has been having a Farmer's Wife in Your Life blog hop.

Farmer's Wife in Your Life

There have been some great ideas for using my favourite six-inch blocks in everyday things that aren't quilts. I've had an idea for something for a while and this was just the push I needed. It's not quite finished, but pop back on Wednesday (hopefully) for the full reveal.
I love all of these challenges - not only are there fantastic prizes on offer, but it makes me think outside of the box a bit, try new ideas and pushes me to finally do things I've been thinking about for ages...

Saturday, 24 March 2012

Indian Summer

Although we hit 18degrees here in the North East today, I am not referring to the weather! I finally finished my Granny's Christmas present (I am such a bad Granddaughter). I didn't get to see her last Christmas but we're going to visit next weekend so I pushed through and finished this cushion cover.

The pattern is from Quilt Magazine and can be downloaded as a PDF. It's foundation pieced in four bits and I struggled to get the four bits lined up and together neatly (it's a bit lumpy round some of the seams). I finished piecing it early in January, but fell out of love with it for a while.

Last week I added the border and fell back in love with it. I hand quilted it with perle thread and then made a cushion cover with an envelope back.

The photos are very accurate with regard to colour - the plain fabric that looks like orange is actually a lovely pink, and the centre diamond isn't black - it's dark red. The cream also has a very delicate dotty-ness to it.

Thursday, 22 March 2012


Here is my finished Swoon Quilt top. I finished it yesterday but Michael's arms aren't long enough to hold it up for me to photograph and it's taken me a day to come up with the idea of pinning it up on the wooden surround around the arch from our dining room to kitchen! Even then I can't get far enough back to photograph it well - unfortunately this will have to do!

And then I did the same with my Oh My Stars Quilt top. This is mostly finished but still needs two borders to be added.: a very narrow one in blue (about 1" finished) and then a 6" finished border in a white fabric from the range with large blossoms on it. If I'm honest, I'm currently fed up of pinning long seams, especially those where I have to be careful not to lop of points from stars.... so it may be a while before the borders get added.

I think I'm going to quilt both in a similar way - stipple/swirls in the background fabric, then something in the centre of the big stars on the Oh My Stars quilt (maybe echoing the seams) and then a stencil design in the middle of the swoons (except the central one which I've fussy cut). I'm hoping it will really make the stars themselves pop. But I think those will be projects for after Easter, when I have some days off.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Aunty Jennie's Little Helper

Mother's day today in the UK, so Michael cooked roast chicken dinner for Linda, Phil, Jane, Steph and James. Michael, Phil and Jane then dashed off to Newcastle to watch the match (which Newcastle won) and then Steph headed off, leaving Linda and James. James is now four-years-old and into everything. Uncle Michael plays Warhammer (war games with little models) and James desperately wants to play with Warhammer. We all watched the football and he's chanting "Black and White Toon Army"and cheering when the black and white players have the ball and booing when the green players (Norwich) have the ball. I was busy on my sewing machine continuing to piece the Oh My Stars quilt top, and James came to watch, then he asked what the buttons on my machine were for, then he asked if her could press the buttons, then he wanted to know how it ran, then he used the foot pedal.... (no fingers went near needles, pins, scissors or the iron) and now James knows how to quilt. When he goes home and tells his mother he wants to play with Warhammer and do patchwork his mother will never forgive us! And with the assistance of my little helper I completed the Oh My Stars quilt top (it still needs a couple of borders adding so not finished finished).
Although I'm really pleased with the finished piece, it was a bit of a pig to do the final piecing - so many seams to match and points that I had to be careful not to chop off. It's not perfect, but it is pretty close on most points/seams. And I accidentally made a few extra blocks so I can have a matching cushion! This is by far the biggest quilt I have made - Once I've added borders I will measure it.

Michael came home this evening and it turned into a bit of a family event this sewing malarky - Michael needed to sew a button onto his trousers and Archie helped.
Some of you will now be concerned that my husband had to sew on his own button. He is perfectly capable. A friend of my mother-in-law's was asked early in married life, to sew a button on a suit by her husband who had been in the navy. She picked a big red button and stitched it on the black suit. He never asked her to sew on another button. This is my philosophy too!

Saturday, 17 March 2012


I don't normally blog twice in one day, but I have to share my latest creation with you! The "Swooning on a Hop Along" Flickr group is moving on and I am doing Hopscotch. Triangles. Not the kind where you cut a square in half.... I don't remember ever doing a practice test block before, but today I did. Here are six Hopscotch blocks! The thing is the pattern uses templates..... I HATE templates - there is just so much opportunity for inaccuracy: you make the template - 1/16" out, you draw round the template onto fabric - another 1/16", you cut out the fabric - another 1/16" and then there is the normal opportunity to mess up your seam allowance. Just no. So I was determined to work this out with my ruler and rotary cutter. It is possible!!! And so straightforward. Except for the number of times I had to turn the ruler round to find the right angle.... These blocks come together so quickly and I'm really excited to work on the "real" one. And not a single Y-seam.

This block of six is about 25" across at the widest part and I'm going to make it into a table topper for the coffee table in my sewing room/our living room.

I spent the rest of the day piecing my Oh My Stars quilt top. Two thirds are done! Hopefully photos of the finished piece tomorrow...

Friday Night Sew In: March

The best laid plans.... my Friday Night Sew In didn't actually start until almost 9 o'clock last night. Michael's Grandad is in hospital, so we went to visit.
When I did get started, I decided to finish off this mini quilt: It is just 20" x 16" and is an incubator quilt. It will be donated to a local charity called Tiny Lives who will give it either to the parents of premature babies, or the parents of babies born asleep. Two of the regulars at our LQS have lost grandchildren recently within days of their due date, so the shop is coordinating this. If anyone would like to contribute a quilt, they must be 20x16", no embelishments or lose threads - see the blog for more info. Any quilts recieved by the end of March will be entered in to a draw with some Moda goodies as a prize.
I've backed my quilt with some flannel to keep it soft - wadding would have made a quilt of this size quite stiff. Can you believe that this is the very first quilt where I have used white as my background/neutral - I've often used cream and I love love love black - but I could very easily be converted to white - it's so fresh!
I've taken my inspiration for this quilt from some of the Scrap Attack posts on Stitched in Colour and I'll be entering this quilt into the Festival of Scrappiness at the end of the month. I hope to make another quilt by then as well.

Scrap Attack Quilt-Along

And before bed I made a Farmer's Wife block. In honour of St. Patricks day I went with green. This is block #28 Duck and Ducklings. I modified the design slightly so I could rotary cut it, and as five doesn't go into 6 in any way that I could rotary cut and I didn't fancy foundation piecing and there was no way I was resorting to template.... I made the block 5x5" so each individual unti was 1" finished, then added half inch finished borders round the edge. I think I'll be doing this on a couple of other blocks too!

Hope you had a productive Friday night!

Thursday, 15 March 2012

In progress: Stars

Tonight I finished the final block in the Oh My Stars quilt. 111 blocks: some 12", some 8" and loads at 4"! Here is a satisfying stack of finished blocks:

And here is the state of my dining room as I try to work out my layout:
And here is the first section of six.(The odd orange thing at the top of the photo is the bottom of the wind chimes - I didn't realise it was there till I came to upload it).

The fabric is all from the Moda line Dogwood Trail and although it is far more pretty and pink than I would normally go for I really like it in this design.

If you haven't come across this QAL already, check out the excellent tutorials for all the different star blocks (including a fab court house steps block that I haven't been able to work in with my colour choices).
Tomorrow is Friday Night Sew In, so I think I will be working to get this quilt top fully pieced. Any ideas on quilting?

Monday, 12 March 2012

Corn and (Baked) beans

Just one Famer's Wife Block this week: I may have avoided Corn and Beans (block 22) after there were a few comments posted on the Flickr Group about it being a bit of nasty one. Also, the foundation piecing pattern looked horrific. With my new-found piecing skills and ability to calculate HSTs I decided to have a go at a rotary cut version, and I broke it down into small blocks. It turned out pretty well.

I had originally picked out yellow and green, and then Linda said that it should be orange for baked beans. I still haven't got orange out of my system, so it didn't take much to convince me!

I've spent loads of time this weekend making Oh My Stars blocks: I had 36 left to do when the post went up with the final contruction instructions. I cut all of the fabric (I'm quite tight on blue and green but have loads of pink left) and then pieced. And pieced. And pieced. Just six left to go! But I've had to clear the table so the guys can see the football on TV, so the last few will have to wait till later this week. Then I need to find an area of floor big enough to lay them all out, clear of helpful doggies and decide which goes where.
A satisfiying little stack of this weekend's 4" blocks!

I didn't manage to get any Granny blocks made this weekend, but I've cut loads of 2.5" squares and laid two out.

Today is the first day of the next quilt-along after Swoon on the newly named "Swooning on a Hop Along" Flickr group. I'm going for Hopscotch first, but triangles and bias edges and templates.... I'm going to make a practice block and see if I can use the lines on a ruler and rotary cut rather than use the templates. I really really don't like templates.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Nine Swoon Blocks

Wohoo - I have nine completed Swoon blocks!

Here is block number 8 (more fussy cutting)

Here is block number 9 (quite a busy one)

And here are all 9 together.
I hope to sash them tomorrow, but quilting may have to wait, as my machine is not happy when FMQing... I have already bought my binding - it's a red and white stripe that makes my eyes hurt in large quantities, but will look fab as binding. Backing may be an Ikea sheet.

And all of this means I can start Hopscotch on Monday (well maybe next weekend)!

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Parish Notices

No sewing to report tonight..... but a couple of notices!
First up there is still 21 hours to cast your vote in the Modern Mini Quilt Challenge over at Ellison Lane Quilts!
Modern Mini Challenge
All of the 245 entries are wonderful, so if you have time, take a look round. All of the finalists are stunning. I've voted for my favourites already!

The second parish notice is another mini quilt plea. At our local quilt shop, two regulars recently lost their grandchildren. They were alive until days before their due dates, but were born asleep. A local charity here in Newcastle, Tiny Lives, and our local quilt shop have joined forces to make small incubator quilts, that the charity will distribute to the parents of babies born asleep, or premature babies at the RVI hospital in Newcastle. The quilts have to be just 20"x16" and have no embelishments, loose threads or invisible thread. Anyone who can send their quilt to our local quilt shop by 31st March will be entered into a prize draw for some Moda goodies. Check out the details on the shop's blog. I've pieced a top and just been over to pick up some flannel for the backing - I think I'll skip the wadding. Hopefully I'll post a photo tomorrow. It's nearly the weekend!!!

Tuesday, 6 March 2012

Seventh Swoony Heaven

Block number 7 is complete! Two left. I love the combination of yellow and green and I even fussy cut the centre! This is my first attempt at fussy cutting and it seems to have worked!

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Seventy Little Blocks

This morning I hit seventy Farmer's Wife Blocks! I confess I picked a couple of straightfroward ones...

#74 Ribbons: I rotary cut this one and pieced it as if they were flying geese units. Again I was seduced by orange!

#109 Windows: Again, I rotary cut this. There's quite a lot of black in this one so I hope it fits in ok with the other blocks.

So I now have seventy blocks and just fourty-one still to go (though some of the difficult ones are left).
I also Swooned again today. I bought my fabric for Hopscotch yesterday and I'm really excited to start, but I must finish piecing my Swoon first, so I pieced block six today, and I have cut the pieces for blocks seven and eight (and block nine may get cut before bedtime....maybe). Because it's soooo big, I'm thinking of backing it with a good quality bed sheet and free motion quilting it on my home machine as my first big project. Maybe I'm mad. Maybe there will be a delay in finishing this quilt!

Hope everyone had a good weekend!

Saturday, 3 March 2012

A Modern Mini Quilt

Last Monday feels like ages ago. But that was the day I succumbed to the Modern Mini Challenge at Ellison Lane Quilts.
Modern Mini Challenge
Today is Saturday and I have a finished modern mini quilt designed by me (14x14"):

I started be going through my stash and getting really disappointed by the lack of modern bright fabrics. I did, however, find this purple and green combo that just about hit the spot.
As with my entry for the Tango Challenge, the design process was a little chaotic and I changed my mind more times than I care to admit.
I hadn't planned on adding in the cream, but without it all the colours just merged and lacked definition, plus I'd seen a lone starburst block on a blog recently and I like the way white was used to break up a scrappy look, so did something similar (but on circles rather than stars). I will definitely be making some of the star blocks in the future.
There was a point where it looked distinctly like a block of lego, but the blanket stitch, quilting and cream binding have reduced the lego-ness of it.

I recently acquired some lovely feather cushions when a friend moved back to Germany from the UK and din't want to take them with her, so I made this up into a cushion cover with an envelop back made of a beautiful striped fabric. Quite a few of the fabrics, including the stripe, are Basic Grey from Moda. (please excuse the grubby marks on the chair - it's the dogs' favourite, but also the one the cushion looks best on!)

I can't think of a good name for this mini-quilt that doesn't relate to lego, and my husband's suggestions are not really suitable for publication!
Be sure to check out the other entries and vote for you favourite next week when voting opens.
Ps. I mentioned the Tango Challenge above: it's now closed for entries, but a few more entries were submitted as the deadline neared and they are definitely worth checking out: have a look at the Flickr group if you have a few minutes spare.

My chevrons have been chased

I have my first March finish: Last night, way after bed time, I finished the binding on my Chasing Chevrons quilt from That Girl That Quilt.

I tried to photo it outside on the washing line, but it was a bit windy:

Here it is on our single bed (it's nearly big enough):

And here some smaller shots of binding and backing.
The busy print on the flannel (Robert Kaufmann) hides a few rucks in the backing when I was quilting.

I couldn't decide over the quilting, but eventually decided to straight line echo quilt some of the seams, a (large) quarter inch on either side. As the chevrons are laid out in a random manner, I decided to quilt random seams as well.

I picked a flannel for the backing and didn't use wadding, which gives a lovely light quilt for the summer, to go with the summery fabrics. Then I bound it in the background fabric - I nearly had a problem here as I was a little short. I went back to my LQS where I had originally bought it and got the last fat quarter they had!

One quilt finished, another one ready to start. The Swoon-Along will start its next quilt on 12th March with a choice of On A Whim or Hopscotch. I'd like to do both, and I think On A Whim will make some good Christmas presents, but I'm going to start with Hopscotch, a jellyroll quilt. I was going to use one I already had, and then at my LQS they had jelly rolls of Half Moon Modern - this ticks the box for modern and bright. Sold. I've picked a white calico and a black with grey spot as the accompanying fabric. I just need to finish piecing my Swoon...