Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Tugging and Tweaking

Thank God for bias edges - quilt police look away now!

I have finished my Sew Intertwined Quilt top (regular readers will know that I make this annoucement before adding borders).

I love the blocks used to make up this quilt, and I learnt some new techniques along the way.

But. Something went wrong when I trimmed the woven blocks. Some of the seams were up to half an inch out. Thankfully they had bias edges :) so I tugged and tweaked and pressed. Visually all of my seams match. And so long as you don't look too close, you can't see the odd pleat in the seams - I'll hide them with some quilting!

Despite that, I love this quilt. I love the colours - soft and warm! And I love the Dresden in the middle - I learnt a new technique for creating the blades and I can definitely see more Dresdens in my future, whereas a month ago I didn't like them! I still need to add the borders, and quilt it, and bind it. But right now it feels like a finish :)

Thank you so much to Jenna and Melissa for hosting such a great quilt along! 

Monday, 27 August 2012

Still Sashing

After working on the green Farmer's Wife mini quilt for Sebastian I felt a twang of guilt for ignoring my full size Farmer. So yesterday I pulled it out an did some more sashing. And again this morning. I got bored of sashing the long rows so I chnaged tack and did the short rows from the opposite corner. Here's how far I've got

Thanks to my glamourous assistant, Teddy Thomas, for holding up the furthest corner.

The next row ready to sash (the bottle of whisky propping up my notebook is not mine!)

And a much smaller pile left to go (that's the back of the block if you struggling to recognise it from the book!)
Of course, my next problem will be picking a backing fabric - If I get it wrong my Mum will never forgive me! Maybe a trip to the show at Harrogate next weekend is in order....

Sunday, 26 August 2012

QALs: Mario and Mod Pop

Back when it was first announced, I decided to take part in the Super Mario Bros QAL over at Cut to Pieces. Then gradually I changed my mind.... there were a couple of reasons: Michael had originally said he would like it as a "hangover quilt". He changed he mind - possibly because he hasn't had a hangover in a while (watch this space tomorrow morning!); the technique for getting perfect seams used a wash-away interfacing which was hard to get in the UK and expensive; and my stash of solids is non-existent, which meant the cost of the fabric would have been high, even if I had gone with Kona equivalents over the suggested fabrics. Then I inherited the fabric from Granny, and there were solids. I needed to add in only the flesh colour and the brown.

And I had a brainwave that I could make a couple of cushions for some cousins - one of Mario and one of Luigi - as Christmas presents. But you now me - I like small. And as if 1 1/2" cut squares wasn't small enough, I decided to cut 1" squares. Just as well, as I'm cutting it very close on the light blue fabric! I pieced it traditionally without the interfacing and although not every square is actually square, most of my seams match just fine.
So here is Mario

He measures in at 9" x 9" and contains 324 individual squares cut at 1" and finished at 1/2". You can only tell that I stitched him together wrong if you compare him directly to the other Marios in the Flickr group - my Mario has a slightly thicker neck and less of an ear.... I'll try harder with Luigi! (I can't face unpicking about a million seams to put him right)

One thing I know for certain - I would not be making a whole quilt of these! Mario alone took me over 5 hours!

Mod Pop is a new fat-quarter-friendly QAL organised by Leanne at She Can Quilt - she pattern tested a design from Distant Pickles and is now doing it again and inviting anyone who will along for the ride! Check out her version here - isn't the quilting fantastic, and the original here. Yes - you may have noticed - curved piecing! I've been looking for a reason to practice this technique for a while - I've done enough that I'm not scared any more, but I definitely need more practice. I'm making a lap quilt as a Christmas present and I'm using some fabrics I collected a couple of years ago for another quilt that I've since decided I won't be making: browns and blues.

I have more fabric than I need, but that means I'll have some of each of these beautiful prints left to hoard in my stash!

Saturday, 25 August 2012

Oh Farmer, I've missed you

one hundred and eleven blocks completed, plus a few extra as mug rugs, minis and presents. But I still can't get enough. I think I'm addicted....

Today I made eleven more Farmer's Wife blocks. Yesterday Sebastian was born, so he needs a quilt. Mum and Dad chose a green colour scheme for him, so I'm making a baby quilt of about 35 blocks from the Farmer's Wife book in all different green fabrics with bleached white kona as the background fabric - it's a bit softer than white white, but not as creamy as Kona snow. Unfortunately the beautiful British summer weather means that outdoor photographs are impossible (it is a bank holiday weekend so inevitably it is lashing it down with rain), so some of the colours aren't as beautiful as in reality, but here are the blocks so far:
#2 Autumn Tints

#10 Bowtie

#31 Evening Star

#34 Flock

Fox and Geese (replacing a Basket block)

#41 Friendship Star

#48 Homeward Bound - with fussy cutting

#51 Hovering Birds (I think I should have swapped the green and white placement)

#57 Morning (my favourite of this bunch)

#102 Whirlpool (in some of my treasured Lily and Will)

#107 Windblown Square

That means twelve blocks completed (I made the Prairie Queen block back in June) which is a third of the way.

At the moment, though plans change, I want to sash it in the same bleached white, put a narrow border of various greens, then another border of the white. Free motion stipple quilt all over, to give it some body and hold it all together, then some hand quilting in a contrastin (green) thread to outlone the blocks, and then white binding. Let's see how it progresses over the nexxt few weeks.

In the interest of full disclosure, my full batik Farmer's Wife is sitting on the back of the armchair and in boxes while I get over the fact that I really don't enjoy sashing. Though this has spurred me on. Maybe.

Friday, 24 August 2012

Partial Seams - not as hard as I feared

When Jenna and Melissa announced the Sew Intertwined QAL back in July, they failed to mention that the woven block had partial seams..... but if you don't try new techniques, you'll never learn new techniques. I decided not to tackle these blocks in the evenings this last week, and waited till I had plenty of time today.

I don't know why I was making such a fuss. Thanks to great tutorials and a bit of common sense, they went very very smoothly.

I have completed four of the twelve blocks I need - these are the corner blocks.

The first block I made has a tiny tiny crinkle - not even a pleat - in one corner. Because I press my seams open, I realised for the next blocks that when I sew the first part of the seam, I need to sew along more of the seam line than suggested in the tutorial so that I am well outside the seam allowances when I come to complete the seam, so I sewed along half of the central block rather than just 25% of it.

This would be another great block for a whole quilt.

I've also appliqued my dresden for the centre of the quilt to the background fabric - in the end I went for machine blanket stitch in a thread to match the background, which means you can see the stitches - I like it. Just need to do the centre now.

You may remember that I mentioned a few months back that it was the year of baby boys? Well, the baby boy due in October decided that today was the day he wanted to see the world. Sebastian was born this afternoon by C-Section weighing 3lb 12oz (the other end of the scale to Joshua at 12lb 2oz!). Mum and baby are both doing well, but the quilt isn't quite finished! In fact, it's barely started - just one of thirty-five/six blocks completed.... better get a move on! I've started cutting fabric so I can sit and piece tomorrow.

Stash Bee August

Here is August's churn dash block for Amber in Stash Bee

Nice and quick and a good start to the weekend's stitching.

Thursday, 23 August 2012

Jelly Roll hexagons

Today I can share with you a finished quilt top. Ok. Not finished finished... I still need to trim it square and add the borders. But the main part of it is finished.

This is a jelly roll quilt from one of Pam and Nicky Linton's most recent books. It is entirely machine pieced with no y-seams and it went together like a breeze.

The fabric is a custom "jelly roll " cut by my lqs using just the blues and the creams from the range  Papillon by 3Sisters for Moda. I have more of the cream prints to add a border and then blue for the binding, though I am tempted to go and get some of the coral print instead!

I have tomorrow off work and Monday is a bank holiday here in the UK so I'm planning on getting a fair bit of sewing done, including quilting this one; at least starting the woven blocks for the sew intertwined quilt; finishing the pack mania quilt top; and starting a quilt top that a friend has asked me to make using a Count Down to Christmas jelly roll I got last year. And I really should do this month's bee block.

I'm hoping to post each evening as that way I'll be more productive because I'll want to have something to share with you.

Also, heading into new technological territory, this is my first real post using my not-so-new-anymore blackberry PlayBook!  So far so good!

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Sew Intertwined: 20 Blocks

Having established that no-one in the UK had Kona Snow in stock in the yardage I needed, I went to my LQS yesterday and picked a slightly pricier alternative. It's a cream on cream print with a small floral-like print that you can only just see if the light hits it at the right angle.

And this afternoon I finished the twenty outside blocks for the Sew Intertwined QAL.

These are really pretty and when you lay them out they create a lovely pattern on their own - I will bear that in mind for the future, as they were really straightforward to put together too.

The fabrics are Cats Amore from Benartex, except the background and the pink, which is Basic Grey Eva for Moda. Although purple and green are generally cool colours, these ones are actually very warm.

I haven't appliqued on the central Dresden yet - I'm trying to decide whether to do it by hand so you can't see the stitching, or use a blanket stitch on my sewing machine, and if I do that, what colour thread to use. Any suggestions?

The next toturial for the woven blocks is already up - Jen and Melissa kept quiet about the Y-Seams/partial seams! I think I'll do some work on another project before I tackle these - we have a long weekend here in the UK next weekend - the perfect opportunity to continue! My holiday now seems like it was ages ago - helped by the fact the weather is far from summery today - but it's nice to be back behind the machine and doing some piecing after all of the quilting in July.

Hope you're all having a good weekend!

Saturday, 18 August 2012

Friday Night Sew In: August

The months just keep flying by, but very little changes. Again my Friday Night Sew In started with me not leaving work till 7pm ... I hadn't planned what I was going to do for the evening and I was exhausted. I need another holiday!

So my husband chose the project I would be working on last night. It's a quilt for his sister's 21st birthday. Which was last October. I really want to get this finished beore she turns 22, and this is one of the projects I've included in the 3rd quarter finish-along, so it was a good choice on his part.

The problem is, that although the batik fabrics are gorgeous, I find it quite boring to sew. I think I prefer things that are more intricate or at least have the challenge of matching seams. So it kind of gets pushed to the bottom of the pile. But last night it was perfect. I got another 12 of the 64 blocks complete.

All the blocks so far
We'd been talking about chick flicks at work yesterday and we'd mentioned Save the Last Dance, so I put on the DVD and sewed away (does it bug anyone else that she is taller than he is?).

Linking up to Friday Night Sew In
Handmade by Heidi

Snapshots of stash

As I mentioned at the beginning of the week, I have recently inherited my Grandmother's stash. And with a few days left before I had to send off my Polaroid blocks for the swap, I had a rummage and found some more fabric begging to be used for these blocks.

Batch 2 from this week
To tell you the truth, some of the fabrics couldn't really be used for anything else!

The seagull is in a league of his own.....
I also had a browse in Linda's stash and "borrowed" a few select fabrics.

With only one evening to make up the blocks and limited Kona white on hand I only made up the blocks to swap. I've also cut a 2 1/2" square of the same fabrics to make up later and keep to go with those I get back.

75 blocks to send off
I wish Debbie lots of luck in sorting out something like 2500 little blocks!

Tonight is Friday Night Sew In - pop back tomorrow to see what I got done!

Sunday, 12 August 2012


I am totally hooked on hexagons! In this post I picked a colour scheme and my fabrics, and then I cut the fabric and took it on holiday. I spent a week sewing together hexagons in concerts. Heaven. And here is how far I've got

Since I posted my plan, my ideas have changed on a nearly daily basis. The current plan is some kind of small quilt with a band of hexagons - the photo above would be half of the band, with the black in the centre then mirrored on the other side. Then lots of negative space and hexagon inspired hand quilting.

The eagle-eyed amongst you may notice that not all of the fabrics in the above hexie photo were in the original photo of fabrics I pulled! I added in a load more neutrals from my "Texting while Sewing" fat quarter bundle and a couple of text fabrics I got from my LQS. There are also more greens, purples and pinks, picked up on my holiday.
The quilt shop I found in Sidmouth last year has blossomed and Pauline and Maisy Daisy have moved into new spacious, light and airy premises. I did my bit to help the local Sidmouth economy! Pauline stocks a lot of Art Gallery Fabrics, which I don't come across much in my local haunts. I got some Bohemian Soul, and a bit of Bazaar Style and Paradise (some of favourites are from this range) to add to what I bought last year. Then mid-week, Pauline took delivery of some Modernology. Here's my haul:

This morning I visited my Grandmother. She has always brandished a needle, and was really the inspiration for me to do the same. As she has got older, she has become less able to do the fine work, such as embroidery, and recently manhandling large amounts of fabric has also become too much. She stills knits and crochets, but decided she wasn't able to do patchwork any more. This morning, she gave me her entire stash. Such an incredible gift! At the moment, it's sat in a large M&S bag - I'm looking forward to going through it piece at a time!

Saturday, 11 August 2012

Sidmouth 2012

After a week of fantastic music and company we are back at my parents house. Lots of photos in this post.

The weather started of quite breezy - good for the Olympic sailors round the headland at Weymouth and good for waves

but calmed down towards the end of week when we had no waves at all

Looking west from the Esplanade

Looking east from the Esplanade

it was so lovely that my brother went for a plodge - apparently it was colder than it looks!

We spent a lot of time in this marquee at The Ham

The Ham from Port Royal
And saw bands like Dervish (traditional Irish music)

and Show of Hands, Martin Simpson, Eliza Carthy and Norma Waterson, Jackie Oates, Oysterband, June Tabor, Brass Monkey, Pete Coe, John McCusker, John Doyle and Michael McGoldrick, John Spiers and Jon Boden and Fay Hield - lots and lots of traditional and contemporary English, Irish and Scottish folk music - heaven!

We went to some (English) ceilidhs in the Anchor

And played some music ourselves on the Esplanade!

From the left: Roy, Robin (my brother), Alison, Kate, me (in orange), Janet, Jeff, Dad
Oh - and I found a patchwork shop....

357 days till Sidmouth 2013!