Wednesday, 31 December 2014

2014: Quilts and zips!

Whilst a lot happened away from the sewing machine (I've written a separate post all about it full of pictures of Mia), in sewing terms, 2014 has been a very different year for me: At the start of the year I posted about my 2014 plans and wrote "I expect finishes will be fewer and further between". Not so much! It turns out that Mia is pretty cooperative when it comes to Mummy's sewing, and that I needed sewing to get me through some days. And being on maternity leave I actually had more time to sew, even with baby. Our first couple of months together was slower, but once we hit a routine... there was no stopping me. So here's what I got up to:

Big quilt finishes
Baby Quilts

Mini Quilts and cushions
Zippy Pouches: I tackled zips for the first time this year - why was I so scared? The small purple pouch was attempt number 1. The yellow Sew Together Bag was attempt number 2 - this is the most used thing I made this year - I use it for all my hand sewing supplies!

Circe of geese pouch; Hexy Sew Together Bag; Purple bag for Michelle; Owl Sew Together Bag; sewing machine pouch; original Sew Together bag; Autumn zippy pouch; Two-in-one pouch; Batik Sew Together Bag; mini pouch.

Embroidery and smaller projects: I made my first ever piece of clothing - a dress for Mia!

Hydrangea Wedding Sampler; Mia's summer dress (and matching knickers); If You Can't Stand the Heat mini; Kindle cover; Camera case; Sleepsuit Dino; Swappy Basket; I Love You; Lists.

And the things I forgot to add to the mosaics above

Mini Mix Tape; A Flower for Thee; Scrappy pincushion; Fireplace cushion; Batik Dragon; Ellie-Jo's Advent calendar (I made one for James as well) and the Camper Van cushion.

I love reviewing the year like this - taking a step back and seeing just how much I accomplished! I hope your year was just as good. Thanks for following me and popping by in 2014 and I hope to see you again in 2015!
Fresh Sewing Day

Batik Dragon [a finish]

Ok - I think this will be my final finish for 2014: This was the second quilt I pulled out to stipple whilst Michael was out the other night. It's a very old WIP and for many years, UFO. I started it in May 2011 at a class led by Jennie Rayment. Going to another Jennie Rayment class this past November, I dug out this quilt again, thinking that I really should finish it before starting some more. I didn't quite meet that deadline, but it is now finished. Not sure what I'm going to do with it now as it's bigger than I expected at 22" x 45"

This was on my Q4 Finish Along list too

Finish Along 2014

A Flower for Thee [a finish]

Loads of projects are suddenly coming together after a few months of a couple of stitches every now and then. This is a project that has been three years in the making. It started as a kit of a block that was one of twelve. Quilt Aid was a project raising money for women injured in childbirth and for each block bought a donation would be made. As I understand it, the scheme ran for a few years and in 2011 was introduced to Europe for the first time - 6 shops each had two blocks. But there was no way of paying over a period, or having the blocks saved. So unless you bought all 12 blocks within about 4 months of the launch, you weren't guaranteed a kit. At about 20eur / £18 a block, I simply couldn't commit to that. I ended up with four kits of the full twelve.

I'd started the first block really excited, but once I realised I would never be able to finish the quilt (and that the four blocks I had bought were not among my real favourites) I put the block I had started in a drawer and forgot about it. Until this summer, when we rearranged the world (it was only the lounge, but it felt like the world). I found it and was going to throw it away to be honest, when my Mum suggested finishing it as a cushion for Mia. Maybe because I had a reason to finish it, I added it to my Finish Along List and I'm really pleased to see it finished at last. It's come out much better than I had expected.

The fabric is all Ruby by Bonnie and Camille - I luckily had a few pieces in my stash to supplement the kits and add a border, binding and backing. The centre is raw edge appliqued and hand stitched using Finca perle cotton. Around the edge is a peeped seam, then a ring of hand English Paper Pieced hexie flowers. This was my first experience of hexies and this block has a fair bit to answer for in that respect. However, I'd glue basted them, and removing glue basting after three years was not a pleasant experience! I finished the block with some hand quilting. The corner stones in the border were not planned, but neither was my cutting mistake!

I was so inspired that I pulled out the other 3 blocks I have kits for yesterday morning. I've decided to keep one and make that into a cushion as well, so Mia has a pair (I also have enough extra fabric about to back and bind the cushions in matching fabric). The remaining two I posted on Instagram earlier #destash. One I've sold, the other not yet. If you're interested, the one on the right below is still available for £10 (inc. postage, UK only - if you would like it posted elsewhere, I'll have to work out postage), just send me a message.

For now, the Elephant cushion is a Finish from my Finish Along list and the remaining cushion may appear sometime in 2015.
Finish Along 2014

2014: Babies and weddings!

Of course 2014 was definitely not all about sewing!

***warning - lots of baby photos****

On 24th February, baby Amelia Lily arrived, weighing 9lb 1oz and it's been a whirlwind ever since: I've tried to narrow down the photos to just my favourites....

4 days old with Granny

1 month old
Christening: 25 May

One of my absolute favourites: 3 months old

4 months old
4 months old (taken by Aunty Michaela)
With Grandad at Sidmouth: August - matching hats!!!

9 months old
There have also been two family weddings: Michael's cousin Vicky married Karl in August

Vicky and Karl

Hubby's family in all their finery!

And my brother Robin married Michaela in September

Rob and Michaela

Mia and Daddy

And we've just celebrated Mia's first Christmas

Mia did not like her pudding outfit from Aunty Steph!

Thanks for sticking with the baby photos! I'll follow up with a quilty review of the year shortly (and possibly a couple of final finishes for 2014!)

Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Baby Butterflies [a finish]

I love this time between Christmas and New Year: once Christmas day is over, with all the family visiting and food to eat, we have very few commitments - boxing day leftovers with Michael's Aunt and Uncle, then the pantomime (Snow White and the Seven Dwarves this year!). Mum and Dad went home yesterday and Michael spent a few hours visiting friends, so I sat down at my sewing machine and did the most anti-social part of making a quilt - free motion quilting. Especially when you're doing an all-over stipple.

I pulled out two ready-basted quilt tops, and first up was the butterfly baby quilt, which I've been piecing for the last few months. Baby Evie was born on 23rd December, so this needs to get finished now. I decided to go with a stipple: all over large-ish scale in the highly patterned fabric, then much smaller scale in the background of the butterfly blocks. I also outlined the butterflies (much more neatly than the boat blocks from the other day).

I made a critical mistake with the choice of stipple on a busy print with pale pink thread - I couldn't see where I had already quilted, so there's a few overlaps...

So the finished quilt is 36" x 40". The butterfly block is a foundation pieced pattern by Tartan Kiwi, and the large busy print is Theodore and Izzy Mountain Meadow by Andrea Turk for Camelot fabrics. I started with this fabric, matched a turquoise for the sashing and binding, and then pulled other fabrics from my stash that tied in with it and which weren't too busy for the butterflies. The backing is plain white and the quilting is all done with a pale pink 50w Aurifil.

This is another tick on my Finish Along list for this quarter

Finish Along 2014

Monday, 29 December 2014

2015: Best laid plans!

There are so many things I want to sew along with next year, and so many quilts I've seen in 2014 that I want to make in 2015... I need to manage these projects so I'm using as much stash fabric as possible #sewmystash2015 and keep the cost down... these projects need to budget friendly... just as well I got s fabulous bundle of fat quarters for Christmas!

Technicolour Galaxy  - the new BOM from Pile O Fabric - I am so excited about this quilt - lots of more advanced techniques, quilt as you go and rainbows. What more could I want?! Of course I followed along with her 2013 Skill Builder BOM. Well - I started following along. Another dream for this year is to finish the 2013 quilt. I have some blocks pieced and quilted, some blocks pieced and not quilted and some blocks not started. I'm going to need to buy some solids (quite carefully) but I'm hoping to use a lot of stash fabric.

Skill Builder BOM 2015

Moccassin BOM - this is the new BOM from Gen X Quilters and her third. I started her first in 2013, but only made a couple of the blocks. I stupidly decided to use white as the large negative space... not sensible in my household. A few months ago I had a brainwave of changing to red, so this one can now move ahead again. I also followed along with her second BOM and actually finished it within the year - the Vice Versa quilt. The third, for 2015, was revealed at Quilt Market and I knew straight away I'd be sewing along! I really like the pallette of the original quilt, and this may be a fairly large purchase of Kona solids - but I may have to delay starting this quilt for budget reasons!

Moccasin BOM by Gen X Quilters

Gravity - the 2015 pattern from Jaybird Quilts. My parents are buying me the kit for this quilt for my 30th (!) birthday. This was another quilt I knew I wanted to make straight away!

Toes in the Sand was Jaybird Quilts pattern from a few years ago. I bought the pattern a while back and then bought Safari Moon fabrics to make it. I've just been waiting for a chance to start it. This really excites me with the specialty rulers and the triangular blocks.

Power of Nine BOM: I found this accidentally. The blocks all seem straightforward but I love the setting. The plan is to pick a colour scheme, buy some Kona solids to match and then use fabrics from my stash.

Block of the Month Quilt~a~long

Orange Peel Quilt: I saw so many orange peel quilts pop up last year. My dream is low volume and rainbows, but I haven't got any further.

Patchwork City (2 different quilts): I got Elizabeth Hartman's new book just before Christmas. I love the quilt which uses all the blocks and which I'd seen online, but I also another of the settings using just the largest blocks, and as I can't chose, I'm thinking both might 'have' to be made. I think this also has to be stash.

A quilt using the same techniques as the cushions I made:

QAYG scrappy panels in portholes. Again, this is still very much in my head only, but the idea of using some of my huge mountain of scraps is really appealing at the moment. And to get those scraps sorted I'd love to make some scrap baskets using my scraps.

Months and months ago I signed up to the Amish With A Twist Quilt BOM from my Local Quilt shop. It comes complete with all fabric, and I now have all installments. I made a start - I cut th fabric in the first pack - it took me a day. I haven't done anything else. I need to reassess and decide if I actually like it, and if so, I can get going with it. If not, maybe someone else would like it.

The Jane Austen Family Album Quilt using Sweet Serenade by Basic Grey - fabrics I've collected over the last year and now I have enough to complete the quilt top. I'm also looking forward to reading the blog posts as I go and learning some more about Jane Austen, as I love her books (and the films more often).

As well as the 2013 BOMs mentioned above, there are some other quilts I've started and would love to see finished. First up is my Double Wedding Ring Quilt. This was another 2013 start. I've made good progress, but those Y-Seams! I do have all the fabric I need for this including a gorgeous backing, so this is a budget friendly quilt

I also really want to finish my City Sampler quilt as well - I'm hoping to enter it into the Harrogate Quilt Show at the end of summer, but there's a lot of quilting to get through first.

Not to mention the Lucky Stars quilt from Don't Call Me Betsy

And there are a few long-term sampler quilts I'm working on too - I don't necessarily plan to finish them in 2015, but some progress would be nice: Dear Jane, Architextures and Botanics, and Sylvia's Bridal Sampler.

And of course every time I go on Instagram or read blogs or dare to venture onto Pinterest I see something else I want to make....It's just as well I got a beautiful package of fabric for Christmas! This was yesterday's new project....
What are your plans?

Baby Boats [a {lovely} finish]

My blog looks like I do nothing by finish projects at the moment - but really I'm just sharing a lot of finishes from before Christmas. But this one is a post-Christmas finish.

A friend of my husband's moved to Moldova to teach English, met a girl and fell in love, got married and back in September they had a baby boy. Moldova is landlocked, but our friend comes from the North-East of England just a couple of miles from the sea, so I decided to make a seaside quilt. I hunted about for foundation pieced boat blocks. And couldn't find anything I liked. So I decided to design my own foundation pieced patterns - my first attempt. It was all done by hand with pencil and paper (and an eraser). It took ages and there was always the chance it wouldn't work, right up until I started sewing the sections together. First a fishing boat.

And then a sailing boat.

I also tried designing a lighthouse block...but there's a limit. To make the quilt up to size I decided to alternate the boat blocks with a traditional patchwork block. I chose the Maltese Cross block for two reasons: it was foundation pieced (quite simply) so, in my mind at least, linked to the other blocks; and we have wind turbines off the coast where we live, and these blocks, with white in the middle, look a little bit like wind turbines.

But this was a quilt that I didn't plan very well. I had loads of light blue, what I thought was loads of white, and what I thought was loads of red, plus fat quarters of the other fabrics. I forgot how much fabric foundation piecing uses...white was tight (and I didn't have enough for the other projects I was making using the white, hence a splash of green in the binding on the advent calendars....). Red was a problem. The Maltese Cross block with red actually uses a different red fabric so I still had enough for the sashing!

Whilst I was over the moon with the piecing and how the quilt top looked, I almost ruined it with the quilting. I struggled with what to do. I started with using the walking foot to quilt a grid outside each block. The Brother walking foot is pretty awful, so next time I'll use the Husqvarna which gives much better results with the walking foot (but which is currently desparately in need of a service). I stippled in the blue background of the Maltese cross blocks - it looks a bit like water. I then outlined the boats and added waves and clouds - but it isn't very neat close up....

On the back I use a white sheet, and because I changed the bobbin thread to match the top thread, you can see the shapes of the boats and waves and clouds on the back too.

The finished quilt is 44"x 44". The fabrics are Kona (I think) for the two blues and grey, the red is from Kate Spain's Joy collection, the orange is Botanics from Carolyn Friedlander, the yellow and green are random fabrics from my stash! The white is a white on white spot with nothing on the selvage. I used red 40w and variegated blue 50w Aurifil. In hindsight a non-variegated blue thread would have been better as my quilting mistakes would have been less obvious. It's always the way that you make the mistakes using the bit of thread that contrasts most with the fabric!

Our friends are visiting from Moldova for Christmas, so we're looking forward to meeting baby and handing the quilt over in person!

This is another tick on my Finish Along list - finish number 19!

Finish Along 2014
This was also my goal for December in A Lovely Year of Finishes
p.s. It still needs a label, but I think I'm going to buy a fabric pen rather than embroider one