Monday, 30 April 2012

Hovering Birds

Just a little farming to end the month: #51 Hovering Birds.

I rotary cut this one and now have 81 blocks.

I haven't forgotten about the FMQ challenge, though I have now missed March and April. My machine is fixed so hopefully I'll be catching up in May. I'll be back tomorrow for an April round up.

Sunday, 29 April 2012

Snowballs and Jelly Rolls

Back in October I started a Jelly Roll Sampler quilt with a Jelly Roll of Amelia from Me and My Sister for Moda and the book Jelly Roll Sampler Quilts by Pam and Nicky Lintott. I did 7 of the 18 blocks, then came Christmas stsitching. When I got the box out again after Christmas I didn't like it as much so didn't touch it.

At the beginning of April, two things happened. Lynne at Lily's Quilt introduced the quilty world to a UK charity called Siblings Together, and started a drive to collect quilts that could be donated to siblings separated by the UK foster system. If you want some more info, you can check out the Flickr groups here.

Quilts for Siblings Together
And Rhonda at Quilter in the Gap opened the sign ups for Finish Along quarter 2.
So I signed up for both. I've done some individual blocks to donate to some lovely ladies making up quilts for siblings together, and today I finally got the Amelia box back out.

Today I made nine blocks. They are dead easy and very relaxing. These are the sixteen completed blocks. There are two more sampler blocks then seventeen snowball blocks. The fabrics are very busy and bright, but the it's going to be a very happy quilt, and I'm sure a girl somewhere will get great comfort from it. If I can finish it :)

Saturday, 28 April 2012

Twit Twoo

My sewing machine is fixed (I hope) and today I got her back. But why go all the way to a patchwork shop just to pick up a machine and come home again? Why not do a class whilst you're there? I made an owl cushion!

The owl is raw edge applique, the fabric is Buttons and Blooms by Whimsicals for Red Rooster and the pattern is from the book to go with the fabric. The colours aren't my normal selecton, but I love the background fabric with the buttons on and the owl is so cute! It's good to try other fabrics sometimes - you might surprise yourself!
Although I really pleased with the finished cushion, I've learnt a few more things today:

  • In my opinion, no cushion really needs wadding in the backing - it's cosy enough without it and it just means that attaching the binding is hard work.
  • A "stretch stitch" - number 3 on my stitch menu - is a really nice stitch if you want the stitches to stand out more than just using the regular straight stitch.
  • Programming my machine to do text isn't very difficult, and I should do it more often, but the second font option on my machine has an odd i. But this first attempt was not quite good enough to show off, so I've tucked it on the inside!

  • No matter what the pattern says, I want a bigger overlap of the two backing pieces, so that my finished cushion doesn't gape. At the moment it is held together with a safety pin - I need to pick up some press studs next time I'm out.
And today I found out that I had won one of the random prizes in Megan's Festival of Half Square Triangles for my Chevrons Cushion! $25 to spend on fabric... heaven.... Thank you Megan!

Hope you're having a good weekend

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Love in a Mist in the 1980s

Yesterday my Husqvarna went back to the shop to be mended - if mended, I won't have any excuses for my poor free motion quilting any more.

Some of you may know that I am teaching some of my mother-in-law's colleagues patchwork in the evenings in my dining room. We meet up every two or three weeks, but because of Easter there has been a longer break. Plenty of time for me to forget all about it.

Yesterday evening I got back from the shop without my machine and had a quick phone call with Linda, which she finished with ""see you on Thursday". Bugger. Not only had I not written a tutorial, or made a sample, I hadn't even decided on a block. Whoops.

Luckily, as I was reading some of my favourite blogs, I linked through to this page. And came across one of the prettiest patchwork blocks I've seen in ages. And it has a really pretty name:  Love in a Mist. And there's a tutorial which I can just direct the girls to, rather than writing my own. Two of my three birds killed with one stone.

That only left the sample. In the bottom of my sewing cupboard are three sewing machines: my £100 Janome that I replaced with my beautiful Husqvarna. But she is stuffed full of fluff and in desperate need of a service; a 1950s electric Singer that I inherited from my maternal Granny, which I first learnt to machine sew on, but she is also in serious need of a service. I can't justify a service at the moment because I don't use her at all, but I can't part with her; and a 1980s Pfaff Creative 1471, which has been recently serviced, but I can't remember why.... so out came the Pfaff and it's manual. I have NEVER used this machine before. My paternal Granny bought it, and I don't believe she used it much, and then gave it to me 15 years ago. And she has sat in a cupboard ever since (the machine, not my Granny).

She is a monster of the 1980s. None of the sleak clean white lines of the Husqvarna. instead square and boxy with lots of brown and beige. She couldn't be more 1980s if she tried. I don't know exactly how old she is, but some comments on line said mid-1980s. And she was made in West Germany (if you can read it in the below photo)!

Task number 1: fill a bobbin. Took a while/
Task number 2: thread it up
Task number 3: can I do a quarter inch seam?
After a long day at work, this hadn't been my idea of an evening on the sofa with a bit of hand sewing. But, with a little gentle coaxing (in German sometimes) and lots of swearing (also in German) Hildegard (as I have named her - Hilli for short) is behaving.

And wow - for being 25(ish) years old she is impressive. The embroidery designs she can do (I would have to programme her....), so quiet and smooth, a needle up/down button, warnings when your bobbin is about to run out, the fancy thing built in at the back that feeds your fabric from the top as well as the bottom (I can't remember the proper name), movable needle position.... I am so impressed.

I have just completed the Love in A Mist block - I chose brown and beige to go with Hilli -  and I have visions for a whole quilt made using this block, either alternating with another block, or alternating the colour placement.

Hilli will never replace Peggy, but some of the embroidery patterns could have their uses and she is fab little back up machine!

Monday, 23 April 2012

Cushions and quilting

News: my sewing machine is going back to the shop tomorrow to be fixed so I can get back to free motion quilting. Hopefully. I take her in tomorrow and will hopefully be picking her up on Saturday.

I preparation for this absence, today I finished the rainbow Swoon cushion for the Quilters Day swap hosted by Heidi. I did the same quilting on this as yesterday's chevron cushion - dense straight lines (which I'm still in love with).

The backing is a black polka dot that makes my eyes hurt. I hope my secret partner likes it!

Here are my two cushions together.

Sunday, 22 April 2012

Festival of Half Square Triangles: Cushion

There will be lots of photos in this post because I think this is one of my favourite finishes ever!

When Megan announced her Festival of Half Square Triangles I knew it would be a push to get the HST leftovers from Swoon made up into something, so they didn't just sit in a bag in the cupboard for ever. I completed a mug rug from the mini Swoon leftovers on Friday - you can see the post here.

And then I started pressing and trimming the 144 HST units from the main Swoon quilt. I really regretted not doing it as I went along. I nearly gave up.

This morning I finished trimming and went for it. And three hours later I have a beautiful cushion cover.

The fabric is Happy Mochi Yum Yum and the red is Aunt Grace. On the back, the white is Kona bleached white (which it turns out isn't actually white) - I am so pleased with the red top-stitching!

There's nothing ground breaking about the chevrons, and the quilting is simple straight lines. But it's the first time I've quilted anything this densly and I LOVE it. Maybe I should quilt my whole Swoon quilt like this....

I was slightly concerned once I had finished the quilting because the front shrunk by over half an inch. I was working to a cushion insert I already had, and I had already reduced the size of the cover by quite a lot, so it was touch and go whether the finished cover would be a touch too tight. It wasn't - it fits perfectly!!! So lovely and plump, but not too solid.
And I have some more triangles left for another project - I'm eeking as much as possible out of the Happy Mochi Yum Yum that I have!
Hope everyone's enjoying their Sunday. I certainly am!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

Friday Night Sew In: April

Aaaah - blogger's changed - help
It's ok - I'm getting there - I've found the buttons!
Last night was Friday Night Sew In. I don't have a great deal to show for it!
I finished off the binding on my HST Mug Rug (you can see the post about that here), and then I stood at my ironing board for over an hour, wishing I had pressed these HST units as I went along. They are the leftovers from my full size swoon - the bits you trim off when making flying geese units. I stitched the seam as I went, but didn't press or trim. They are pressed now. But I need to work up a bit more energy to trim there all - there are far more than I remember and probably enough for two cushion covers, not just the one I had been planning!
Bobbi and Heidi had asked that we use this Friday Night Sew In to make a pillow case for an American charity. I wouldn't be able to get mine there on time, so instead I used the time to make another incubator quilt, which will be donated to the Tiny Lives Charity based at the Royal Victoria Infirmery in Newcastle, who will pass them on to the parents of still born or premature babies. If you'd like to get involved, then you can find more information here. The quilt is just 20x16". I backed it with some Robert Kaufmann flannel, but didn't use any wadding to keep it light, then stitched diagonal lines across it. Don't you just love the sheep?
I then did a little more embroidery on the Vignette Quilt. I'm still on block 2.... miles behind the magazine! But I stil really enjoy it and it's nice to be sat on the sofa and not at the machine sometimes. I'm using Lily and Will by Bunny Hill for Moda - one of favourite fabric ranges ever.
I also worked on a design for the Quilting Mumma mug rug swap, but my partner, Lizzie, and I have both agreed that we want it to be a surprise, so no photos yet!
Hopefully the rest omy weekend will be more fruitful - we have a busy few weekends ahead of us, so sewing time will be limited!

Friday, 20 April 2012

Festival Of Half Square Triangles: Mug Rug

The linky party is open in the Festival of Half Square Triangles at Canoe Ridge Creations!

And I have used this as a good excuse to use up the half square triangle units I created when I was making my Swoon quilts. I started off with the very tiny HSTs from the brown and blue Swoon. I played around with the layout and settled on this one. A bit of sashing and a bit of embroidery and I had a mug rug top. Each of the finished HST units is just half an inch square The quilting was a bit interesting. I had to turn my tension right down to get the stitches right as the thickness with all the seam allowances underneath was fantastic. I then bound it using my new favourite method or machining it to the back and then topstitching it to the front.
The embroidery wasn't quite central, so a tiny button completed the mug rug. Now I just need to decide if I'm going to use this myself or give it away.

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

I've been busy

Not busy sewing - busy signing up for things! And I have totally forgotten to tell you all about them!
I signed up for the Modern She Made Swap pn Flickr. It's a secret swap and we can make anything. My partner asked for a sewing machine cover, and I've sketched what I want to achieve and posted two colour schemes - rainbow batiks or the same citrus fabrics I've used for my neon stained quilt. I'm not quite decided which way to got yet. And there will be some embroidery involved too, so watch this space.

Modern She Made Swap

I also signed up for the Quilting Mumma Mug Rug Swap. My partner is Liz in Sweden and I have some ideas, I just need to hope I can pull them off!

And have you seen the new challenge from Sew Happy Geek - to make a mini quilt based on a playing card? I'm seriously tempted!

SewHappyGeek Play Button

I love these challenges and swaps as I always want to try to make something original, which pushes me out of my comfort zone and makes me try new things.
Along with the Quilters Day Swap with my rainbow swoon(ish) block, the bee blocks and some blocks for the Siblings Together quilts I'm quite busy. It's nice to put a little note in with these packages and I struggle to find nice notecards - so I was thrilled when I was mooching about blogland yesterday and found this tutorial from Canoe Ridge Creations. What a great idea!
Back to the day-to-day, I have completed another two Farmer's Wife Blocks: Ozark Maple Leaf which I foundation pieced (and forgot to mirror) And Hexiecomb. In the book this is Honeycomb, but I changed it slightly to change the shapes and used four different colours! These two blocks brings my total to 80!

Sunday, 15 April 2012

Neon Stained

By 6pm yesterday I hade made up all of the individual blocks for the stained quilt.

And by 12.30 today I had a completed quilt top. It is very very bright, and it makes me smile every time I look at it.

The plan is to add a black border (maybe 4-5"), then quilt it and bind it, possibly in the pink stripe fabric. I'm not sure about the quilting - maybe wavy lines - what do you think? That would create a nice lap quilt, but it does look fabulous up on the wall above the sofa in our living room, so do you think my husband would let me hand it there when it's finished? No, me neither. I also need to stop sticking things to this wall with masking tape, as I've started taking the paint off...ooops.... luckily it's a pale yellow wall going down to a white undercoat, so it's not blindingly obvious :)

Last week I signed up for the Finish A Long. Since then I've started more than I've finished.... but one of the projects I listed to get done this quarter was my Ambrosia quilt. It's called that because it's the name of the line of fabric I'm using. When I dashed out to get more thread on Friday, the shop I went to had this range of fabric. But they had more of it! I got half a meter of this green, which is better than the green I have been using (the only fabric not from the range in my original 12 blocks), and this huge scale print, which I'm going to use with some leftovers for the backing.
And best of all it was on clearance, reduced from £12.99/meter to £7.99/meter. It was meant to be :)

I'm back at work next week after a week off which has been heaven, but it does mean that my productivity will fall!

Saturday, 14 April 2012

Rainbow Swoon

A few weeks ago I signed up for the Quilters Day Swap hosted by Heidi from Homemade by Heidi (co-host of the Friday Night Sew In). We can swap anything we like and my partner likes rainbow colours and is making a Swoon quilt. I decided on a 12" Swoon in rainbow colours and yesterday evening I finally got round to making the block. It's not an exact Swoon, but it is inspired by....

I now need to decide if I finish it as a mini, or as a cushion cover. Any thoughts? Also, I need to decide exactly how I want to quilt it.

Friday, 13 April 2012

Sunglasses, please, for the Stained QAL

It's a bit bright - I hope you have your sunglasses ready.These are the first 8 blocks in the Stained QAL. I picked lime green, lemon yellow and bright orange. I then spent a lot of time thinking about the pink. In the end I went for it and I'm really glad I did. It took me three hours to do the cutting and I've had to order a new rotary cutting blade :)
I'm hoping to do a few more blocks this weekend, but I have just run out of black thread... grrrr. I bought some two weeks ago, but I cannot find the bag ANYWHERE. It definitely made it into the house, because I pulled my new batiks out of it. Do you know where I've put it?

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Hello Granny

It's not that I'm late to the party on these fantastic little blocks. I just didn't get round to making any. Until today. I want to make a couple of baby quilts using this block and I've been collecting 2.5" squares since I first saw the tutorial. Then I joined the Stash Bee and the first block for my hive was a Granny Squares I've made two blocks to send off to this month's Queen Bee. And then Lynne from Lily's quilts announced the Siblings Together quilt drive and one of the lovely ladies asked for donations of Granny Squares blocks that she can put together to make a quilt or five. If I was going to make one, I might as well make a few! Here are my six for today. Two for the Bee, two for Siblings Together and two for baby quilts.
There are a couple of other group quilts for Siblings Together: I've made four log cabins and four nine-patches for an older boy's quilt.

They will all be in the post early next week :)

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Lilies and Lightning

I've done two more Farmer's Wife blocks today (I have the rest of the week off work) - I really am on a roll. I started off with one that I may have been avoiding! #110 Wood Lily. There were just so many pieces, and the foundation template was nasty - had I followed it there would have been Y-Seams and or partial So I put some brain power into it yesterday and prepared a slightly altered foundation pattern. And today I tackled it head on. And I wasn't wrong to avoid it.
The finished block is really pretty and up there with my favourites, but it was an absolute bugger to make. So many little pieces, lots of bias edges.... and a pucker - luckily the busy fabric means it's not too obvious :)

After that I decided on an easier one for my second block: #92 Streak of Lightning - heaven - no bias edges, no seams to match. Made even better with my gorgeous new turquoise batik.
In other news, I have a bag of fabric somwehere, that I need. I have no idea where I put it when I tidied up for Mum and Dad coming. It is very annoying..... and I have taken a chunk out of my index finger on my right hand (I'm right-handed) in a freak accident with a chair. It hurts, I can't hand sew, typing is interesting and rotary cutting.... Luckily I have another four FW blocks all ready prepped!

A Farming Update

I have 76 Farmer's Wife blocks in black and batik. Two weeks ago I bought a few more batiks and I have just 35 blocks left to stitch. I have been through the book looking at the blocks that are left. I've been very careful and not left all of the difficult ones to last, though there are a few scary ones left. There are also some dead simple ones, thank goodness.

But I have left some of the blocks I really don't like. Why make blocks I don't like? Very early on I decided not to do blocks #3 Basket and #35 Flower Basket because the appliqued handles were the only curved lines on the quilt and I don't think they're in keeping. I've now found another 6 blocks that I won't be doing: #33 Farmer's Puzzle (I think it looks a bit like a Swastika); #42 Fruit Basket; #45 Grape Basket; #67 Pine Tree; #91 Strawberry Basket; and #95 Temperance Tree. Can you spot the pattern - I don't like basket blocks..... I'm also not sure about #88 Star of Hope, because there is an awful lot of "background"...I'll make it and see if I'm happy with it...

But to keep up to 111 finished blocks, I found some alternatives and started drafting them. I've already made a mini Swoon block as one replacement. I managed to fit in some sewing over the weekend and this is my replacement for block #42 Fruit Basket. It's called Woven Four Patch and comes from a book called 100 Traditional and Contemporary Quilt Blocks.
Yesterday I prepared another 6 blocks - cutting the fabric and drawing out the foundation patterns for a few of the awkward blocks all ready to stitch.

I am really enjoying these little blocks. Last summer Mum found some fabrics she liked for a quilt for their spare bed. We've looked at a lot of patterns but we've settled on another Farmer's Wife quilt. It won't need the full 111 blocks because Mum would like a piano keys border. Here are the fabrics. I will have to be careful to get the right contrast, but I think it will be beautifully subtle after my batik version.We're using the yellowy creams as background and then I'll fussy cut the other fabrics as there is a lot of variety of colour within the fabrics. I won't be starting this quilt just yet though.

Monday, 9 April 2012

Finish Along

Back at the start of January I saw Rhonda from Quilter in Gap announce her finish-along.

2012 Finish-A-Long
I wasn't in the mood for finishing, I was in the mood for starting. And I did start: Chasing Chevrons, Oh My Stars, Swoon....
But I've done well, and completed one quilt and finished the piecing on the other two. Finishing these quilts will have to wait for a bit, as my machine is playing up when I try to FMQ, and that is the plan for these two giants.
Three months on, and I have some projects I need to be finishing.... so this time I am signing up for quarter two of the 2012 Finish Along. Here are the projects I need to be working on....
....Ambrosia: I started this quilt last summer when I saw the fabric and fell in love. I had also just borrowed a book called Fast Quilts from Fat Quarters, where you stack your fat quarters, cut them all exactly the same to give a mixture of squares, triangles and rectangles, then piece them back together to create 8" blocks. In just 12 hours I had this: Then the next question: what to do with it? I went back and bought half a metre more of each fabric. I want to make another twelve blocks, then add a piano keys border. I have all the fabric (including a beautiful bright pink for binding). Just need to get on with it. Hopefully it will be big enough to go on our single bed when it's finished.
...Amelia Jelly Roll Sampler: I started this in November and made a few blocks before I needed to start on my Christmas stitching. I have kind of fallen out of love with this project, so I'm planning on finishing it and donating it to the Siblings Together Charity quilt drive started by Lynne at Lily's Quilts. Again, I have all of the fabric....
...Mini Swoon: Again, I fell in love with some fabric and had to use it straight away, so I experimented with 12" Swoon blocks with extra wide sashing and star corner stones. It's about 34" square and just needs to be layered up and quilted. Due to FMQ issues, all of these quilts will be straight line quilted, unless the machine is fixed.
I haven't done much stitching over the Easter weekend, but I have done some thinking on the Farmer's Wife, so pop back tomorrow for a bit of a status update and two new blocks :)