Wednesday, 29 January 2014

Starry Quilting [WIP Wednesday]

Yesterday I finally showed you a finished quilt top - Cosmos Dust for Baby was ready for the next stage!

So last night I started the quilting. I'm using a peach no.16 perle thread to go round each of the 24 stars and then around the narrow border.

I've done some work on some other projects today too - the ones I'm trying to get done before Baby arrives: having finished this EPP project I've been cutting the pieces for my next EPP project on the basis that if it's prepared I may be able to pick it up every so often between nappies and feeds, but I won't have time for mammoth cutting sessions - so that was this afternoon!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Ready for Quilting

My Cosmos Dust Quilt top is now fully pieced and ready to be layered up.

I'm still planning on hand quilting with a lovely peach perle cotton. I'm looking forward to snuggling up with this over the next few evenings.

And an update to yesterday's post - the sashing for the City Sampler quilt is now cut!

Monday, 27 January 2014

Rainbow Heaven ... Sashing Hell

I have felt energetic today! I've been shopping for the last few things I need for Baby, and a few bits for me too - I found a great background cream-ish fabric on sale at Hobby Craft for £3/meter. Good quality, usable colour. Hobby Craft is a hellish place but every so often you can find a bargain (my background fabric for Cosmos Dust was bought in the same way) - I bought all 3 metres that were left.

I decided to spend some time this afternoon laying out and sashing my City Sampler. So the blocks were sorted as per the layout in the book....

And then I laid them all out looking for the sore thumbs. This is the layout exactly as it is in the book.

There were only a couple of blocks that really needed moving, and one was because I had used the same fabric in two adjoining blocks. Given that I didn't once glance at which block would be next to which block, I'm really pleased that nearly all of them worked - some even worked better than if I had been thinking... but I can't get far enough away from my bed to take a single photo of all the blocks, so you'll have to mentally cut and paste these images together.

I love the rainbow look and there are so many of my favourite fabrics in this quilt - I can't wait to get it finished.

Layout sorted, sashing next (my favourite). But the energetic feeling has waned.... and the idea of all that cutting.... maybe tomorrow! Nap time!

Saturday, 25 January 2014

More scraps and my next project

In my last post you may have noticed that the pile of scraps I was playing with did not just contain green and orange, which I used for my Kindle case, but also purple, pink, grey and turquoise.... these had a different purpose.

More improv piecing, but more controlled - I did this before I did the green and orange as a gentle introduction for non-improv brain. I made two panels. and trimmed to 4.5" x 6" and using the instructions for the prettified pincushion (am I the only one who thinks it says petrified ever time I look at it?) from the Patchwork Please book I made myself a new pincushion.

The top and bottom are all scraps and the sides are a text  print from Architextures. My corners aren't perfect but I'm pretty pleased with the finished item. It's ticked a lot of boxes - scraps, new pincushion, pretty, text print....
This is my favourite side!

This evening is about finishing piecing the baby quilt - all of the blocks are pieced and I now just need to put the blocks together. I picked up some light peach perle thread for the hand quilting yesterday.

And I've already started planning my next EPP project because I've enjoyed this one so much!

Friday, 24 January 2014

Using up scraps

I used to read a lot when I was younger - nothing could beat Enid Blyton! Now I'm older I find I read less, though Enid Blyton still crops up occasionally! But I figured with Baby on the way, reading would be something I could do perhaps whilst breast feeding, or when I'm too tired to sew. So for my birthday I got a Kindle (one handed reading!).

Every Kindle needs a case so I started hunting the internet and found this tutorial, which seemed to hit the spot. I decided to combine it with another plan for the year. Sarah from Fairy Face Designs is leading a year of using up scraps.

FairyFace Designs

Over Christmas when I sorted out my sewing stuff, it turned out I have far more scraps than I thought - I tend to keep anything that can make a 1/4" hexagon upwards! Sarah's goal is also to make practical things for the house. All of this seems like a good idea, and a Kindle case using some scraps felt like the perfect thing to start with.

This was yesterday lunchtime.

My comfort zone and improv piecing are about as far apart as the Moon and the Earth. It's not something that comes naturally, but that was the plan. I totally forgot to take a photo of the resulting improv square which was about 6" x 6". From that square I cut two strips for the front of my case, and then, as I had a fair bit left over, I cut out a heart shape to applique. I added in some Architextures cross hatch in grey (one of my favourite fabrics) for the outside of the case et voila!

The inside of the case is a fabric from Reminisce by Art Gallery (another favourite). I finished the case off with the perfect orange button!

The tutorial was excellent, but I would add a few points - if you are planning on quilting the case (which I did, but the original tutorial didn't) it would work better made slightly bigger to start with to allow for shrinkage - I think I would add an extra half inch. Also, my machine did not like the hairbands. I only broke one needle, but I was going slow and because they are so think the foot wasn't pressing on the fabric enough for the feed-dogs to work so I had to manually feed it through. Although I'm pleased with the result, there are a few lumps and bumps round the hair bands which I would have preferred not to have but that's life.

Although I don't generally enjoy the process of improv piecing, I do love the look of it, so this is going down as a definite success. Well, until Baby throws up on it! And whilst I was rummaging in the scraps I pulled out some for another project, so watch this space!

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

WIP Wednesday [Cosmos Dust]

My current WIP is the Baby quilt I'm making for my Baby. I'd better get a move on really - because that WIP could come to an end any day now...(the sooner the better to be honest).

The plan is for 12 blocks (pieced by hand) and three borders (not pieced by hand). And I'm still planning on hand quilting... The top half of the quilt pictured above is all joined together - the bottom four blocks are still individual blocks ready to be put together once the final two blocks are pieced.

10 blocks done, and an evening in front of the TV tonight. Watch this space!

Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

Sunday, 19 January 2014

False Alarm

It's just been one of those weeks. I felt great on Tuesday! The first day in over a week when I hadn't had morning sickness. I whipped up four blocks for a baby quilt, working from nothing more than a photo. Wednesday was pretty good too. And Thursday started pretty well. I managed to add sashing to the blocks I'd made and then we visited a new-to-us patchwork shop. Of course it would have been rude not to buy anything! We had lunch out. I got home and had a nap. Then we had parenting class... by this point I was feeling very uncomfortable... I didn't eat much tea.

At 1.30am, still very uncomfortable and getting pains, I threw up. Apparently one of the early signs of labour. Hmmm.... was I? Wasn't I? A question easily answered when my husband started throwing up too - he certainly wasn't in labour. I guess it was just a sickness bug!

Despite still being pregnant, it got me thinking - there are a number of things I/we really need to get done before Madam decides to make an appearance. The nursery, for example! It is at least now painted and this week we will be building the furniture and getting it all set up. My bag to take into hospital with me. I think I have everything I need to put into the bag. I'm just lacking a bag. I'm not sure carrier bags are quite what they have in mind when they say "pack a bag".

And there are some sewing things too. I'm making a quilt for Baby. Back in November an EPP quilt seemed like a good idea. It is no less a good idea now, and I'm really enjoying the pattern and I love the idea that love is going into every stitch (more so than with machine piecing). But I'm still five blocks to go (two are basted and ready to piece - maybe this evening) then borders (with a tiny but of applique), then quilting......

I really want to finish sharing my Thread Along quilt before Baby arrives, and I made real headway yesterday with the November block, and I embroidered the December block too, so the end is in sight!

But for today the priority has been the Siblings Together Bee. I still haven't tackled the January block, but I am Queen Bee for February - great timing - I committed to February a month before I found out I was pregnant (but I already was). So today I put together my example blocks.

I've picked a traditional block design called Love in the Mist - the tutorial is here. I love this block - I used for the Christmas table-runners I made. This time it's the full 12" size as shown in the instructions and there is no "background" colour! So girls - please could you all make me two blocks in different colours - so long as there is a contrast between the colours, the block should work! I cut each of my squares from a different fabric from my stash or scraps and I'm hoping this will make the quilt a riot of colour - it may hurt my eyes!

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Penultimate Block [November]

We are getting there! Today I can share the November block with you.

By this time the colour wheel and I were struggling to pick out the next colour for a month, so I went for brown. This isn't always the most popular colour but I really like it - it can be a really warm neutral and can bring out the other colours in a quilt beautifully - I used it in my Rhubarb and Custard quilt and loved how it brought out the warmth in the pinks and yellows. And because of that it gets a whole month to itself - and appropriately, November, when nature is losing it's spring and summer colours and becoming increasingly brown (and on bad days, grey).

This month's block also includes one of my favourite motifs from the year. I have a bad habit of sticking to backstitch and then adding some more backstitch, and then a bit more backstitch.... I am capable of other stitches, but backstitch requires less thought. The thistle, representing Scotland for St Andrew's Day is another ode to backstitch, but I've added variety with some long stitch couched in place with tiny French knots - I'm dead chuffed with how this turned out!

You can find the embroidery pattern here and the instructions here. The instructions for piecing the other elements of the block can be found here.

If you have any questions, just drop me a note! And don't forget to add any photos to the Flickr group!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

Three birds with one stone

I started another quilt today. I have three reasons for making this quilt: back in September we went to the quilt show at Harrogate with some friends. Liz was looking for inspiration for her next project and as we were walking around the fantastic quilts on display she saw this one....

I didn't take a photo of the label, but I'm pretty sure it didn't say the source of the quilt pattern. So I know nothing about this quilt - if anyone reading this knows the maker of the quilt, or the pattern the quilt came from I would be fascinated to hear about it. Liz really fell for it and as there was no information about the source of the pattern, I said I'd have a go at drafting it for her. I promptly forgot, and so did she. Until just after Christmas when she came with us to buy some more fabric for it. We set a date for some sewing for Thursday this week. I pulled out the photos and started making some notes. Then we changed the sewing date to tomorrow....

If this had been a regular 12" block made up of squares and half square triangles I would have been pretty confident to write up the cutting instructions and some brief piecing tips without actually trying it out. But this pattern has octagons.... I haven't played with Octagons before.... so I decided to do a four block Baby quilt of the same pattern, to make sure what I tell Liz tomorrow is accurate. And it just so happens that one of my husband's colleagues has just become a daddy to a little girl. And it just so happens that the Pantone colour of the year is Radiant Orchid which looks great with bright pink. And it just so happens that there's a bit of a challenge for a Radiant Orchid quilt.... three birds with one stone. If you fancy joining in pop over to Anne's blog and have a read.
2014 Pantone Quilt Challenge: Radiant Orchid

The fabrics I picked are my take on Radiant Orchid and include some Tula Pink, Architextures, Kona, Art Gallery and some totally random fabrics. During the minimal planning stage I had thought of purple, bright pink and chartreuse, but aqua just worked so much better. I've then added Kona Snow which I hope will make the quilt lighter.

My first block was quite good. 

My second, third and fourth blocks were not quite so accurate. I really struggled to keep these blocks square and flat, despite careful trimming and checking the seam allowance. I think it's something to do with all the bias edges... there may be some fairly definite quilting on the finished piece and crossing of fingers that it looks flat and unpuckered.

The plan from here is to sash the blocks and add an appliqued border and then possibly a piano keys border too. And I think I will put a little bit of embroidery in the centre of each block. But that's for another day. 

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Some Sampler Quilt Love

A new year means new projects and yesterday I started two! Both are sampler quilts. Let me explain...

About 18 months ago I decided to make a quilt for my Uncle. He had seen my Farmer's Wife quilt top and spent ages looking at it in great detail. When someone shows that much interest in a quilt it's not a hard decision to want to make one for them. Add in the fact that he has a habit of falling asleep on the sofa and it's easy. While he was there we worked out what size quilt he would need, and for Christmas I asked for the book of Sylvia's Bridal Sampler - I wanted to stick to 6" blocks and he really liked the jewel colours you get from using batiks but I was bored of the Farmer's Wife by this point. In February 2013 I bought the black batik background. And then I ignored it. Other projects took priority.

Meanwhile I fell in love with a range of fabrics this time last year - Architextures by Caroline Friedlander. So much so that after ordering and playing with a fat quarter bundle, I ordered, and hoarded, a half-yard bundle - just waiting for the perfect quilt design. What actually happened is Caroline Friedlander brought out Botanics, and I bought another half-yard bundle. Meanwhile, I was missing the Farmer. Over Christmas it hit me - these fabrics, with fairly small scale prints and a rainbow of colours, would be perfect as a sampler quilt - just add in some coordinating Kona solids...

I'm going to work on these two quilts in tandem. I need 76 blocks for my Uncle's Quilt and all of these will come from the Bridal Sampler (which contains a choice from about 140 blocks). For my Architextures and Botanics quilt I will make blocks until one of three things happens: I get bored, I run out of fabric, or the quilt becomes unmanageable! So for every block I make from the Bridal Sampler for my Uncle, I will make the same block in Architextures/Botanics, but I'm also going to be making quite a lot of blocks from the Farmer's Wife quilt with these fabrics - along with any other block I like the look of and will work as a 6" block.

Does that make sense?

And what's more there is a Flickr Group for Farmer's Wife in 2014 and yesterday was a communal sewing day. Like I needed the excuse. I made 9 Architextures and Botanics blocks, 4 Bridal Sampler blocks, and just so she didn't feel left out, 2 Dear Jane blocks. These are so addictive!

So, from the Farmer's Wife book I made block 2: Autumn Tints

Block 7: Birds in the Air (rotary cut)

Block 31: Evening Star (rotary cut)

Block 71: Puss in the Corner (rotary cut)

Block 98: Waterwheel (rotary cut)

Block 111: Wrench (rotary cut)

Wrench is the same as Churn Dash in the Bridal Sampler book

And Block 21 Contrary Wife is in both books (rotary cut)

I also made 54-40 (really odd name) in both fabric-ways from the Bridal Sampler book (rotary cut and foundation pieced)

And Amethyst (foundation pieced).

And so Jane didn't feel left out, I flipped to the end of the book and picked two relatively straight forward rotary cut blocks: M-5: Mother's Point in Reminisce by Art Gallery.

And M-12: Hopscotch in Botanics from Caroline Friedlander.
It feels like a productive weekend and I love working on these blocks!