Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Purple [WIP Wednesday]

I'm still here... and still sewing. I've been doing a lot of hand sewing this last week and caught up on hexie bee blocks ad started some cross stitch. I haven't photographed it and I've sat down now so you'll just have to believe me.

But today I've spent some time in front of my sewing machine for the first time in a few days and I've been working on the octagon quilt - the three birds with one stone quilt. And just 10 minutes ago I finished the quilt top.

I had a real problem with the border. In the original quilt which inspired this one, the outer border was piano keys, but I just don't have enough of the fabrics in my stash to do the same without totally decimating my stash of purple and (nice) pink. In the end I went out and bought a half metre of the one fabric I knew I could still get. It also happens to be a very nice fabric - it's Beatrice Chain by Michael Miller - perfect for a little girl.

So today I finished appliquing the petals, tried to decide if I needed the circles, decided I did, fought to take the backing paper off the iron on stuff, and appliqued those too. Then added the borders.

Next up (dependent on my daughter and when she chooses to make an appearance) I want to add the batting and do some small embroidery in the centre of the four octagons - hearts in three and the baby's name in the fourth. Then add the backing and quilt it. I'm not quite on how to quilt it yet - any suggestions?

I shall head over to WIP Wednesday and peruse what other people have been playing with this week!

Friday, 14 February 2014

Dear Jane Friday

It's really been a Dear Jane Week. I have another two blocks to share today.

Block G2 - Rotary cut using a Robert Kaufmann fabric I picked up recently. I wasn't sure about this block to start with - I just couldn't see the pattern or the symmetry, but once I'd made it I like it a lot more.

Block M4 - rotary cut (all 49 pieces). The fabric is Cambridge by Ro Gregg for Paintbrush Studios - I've never heard of this make of fabric before but I really like it (and the blue and pink versions which I've also picked up). Some of the lines are a bit wonky, but with that many pieces that small, I'm pretty pleased.

I've also prepared a couple of blocks for hand piecing. I think this brings me to a total of 38 completed blocks of a total 225! You can see them all on my Dear Jane page. I'm starting to worry I might forget which fabrics I've already used - I don't want any repeats, so I'm thinking up ways of keeping a record that will double as something useful.

I'm linking up with Fabric Frenzy Friday

Fort Worth Fabric Studio Blog

Thursday, 13 February 2014

Cosmos Dust [finished]

You have seen this quilt quite regularly on my WIP Wednesday posts but I finally get to share it as a finish. When I found out I was pregnant back in June, I always knew that Baby had to have a quilt of her own - a special one, made by Mummy, with love in every stitch. My initial plan did not meet with approval from her Grandmother so I went back to the drawing board. Lots of pinning ensued and eventually, in November, I came across this pin, and followed the link through to the free pattern, which you can find here.

The pattern was not an EPP pattern, but had some funny odd angles (not quite Y-Seams). EPP was, for me, the logical plan. By then we also knew we were expecting a girl. If she surprises us when she arrives and is a boy (highly unlikely - fairly obvious body parts are not visible on any of my five scans) then a girly quilt will be the least of his problems! Though Daddy may not appreciate pink sleep-suits, baby-grows and cardigans! I used a palette I'd fallen in love with from Design Seeds:

color air
The fabrics all came from my stash - I made the pink more peachy and the blue more blue (!) - a fabric for each of the 24 stars including: Cuzco by Kate Spain, Paradies from Art Gallery, Painters Canvas from Laura Gunn, Pearl Bracelets, Kona Solids, Pure Elements from Art Gallery, Floral Elements from Art Gallery, Summersville Spring by Lu Summers, Luxe in Bloom from Art Gallery, and Lily and Will (1). The background was a stroke of luck. You may know about my dislike for Hobby Craft but occasional discovery of amazing deals - this was one of them. And it was meant to be - I had exactly the right amount! With a bit of help I picked up border fabrics: Pure Elements and Luxe in Bloom creating a double border which I love. The backing is Moda Basic Dots in a lovely green and the binding is more Pure Elements.

It took a while for me to get my head round the block layouts, but I quickly found a rhythm and the hand sewing really means that every stitch has been made with love - that's what's so special about this quilt - it's also the first quilt I've made with this level of hand stitching. The only machine stitching was to add on the borders and attach the binding to the front of the quilt. The star points which fell outside of the blocks (7 points) are all hand appliqued onto the cream border.

The quilting had to be hand quilting, though I did wonder if I would regret that decision: if she had arrived early, it may never have got finished. But it seemed wrong to machine quilt it. I picked up a no 16 Fica Perle thread in peach (another risk). It was a bit slow to start with and although my stitches are quite even on the front, I had an issue in picking up all layers all of the time, so the back is not perfect. I will continue to persevere with my hand quilting though - it can only get better!

I'm incredibly pleased with this quilt and very relieved that it is finished before Baby arrives. So, Baby, if you were waiting for Mummy to finish your quilt before you made an appearance, waiting is up - feel free to come any time! Like now.

Come the end of the quarter, I'll be linking up this finish with Katie as my first (and possibly only) finish in this year's Finish Along
Finish Along 2014

If the weather ever improves I'll even try and get some decent photos of the quilt in daylight...

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

WIP Wednesday [Dear Jane and Baby]

I'm still here. Baby is quite comfy, thank you very much.

So I've been using the time to sew: mostly I've been working on two projects the last couple of days.

Baby's quilt may still get finished before she arrives. I decided to bind it yesterday, even though I hadn't finished the quilting. I attached the binding with machine to the front of the quilt and then by hand to the back - normally I attach binding entirely by machine, but with all the piecing and quilting already done by hand it didn't feel quite right. I still have some stars and the borders to quilt so this isn't finished yet...

And my Dear Jane quilt - something you will note that wasn't on my list of things to do before Baby. Instead it is on the list of things I'm enjoying. I pieced four blocks over the weekend...

...and then spent over 3 hours yesterday working out how to piece, and piecing, this little monster.

My mother-in-law did tell me to get a life when she came in and saw it! But in my defence, look how much fabric I used to entertain myself for 3.5 hours (if you're not familiar with Dear Jane, this block is just 4.5" square and has 43 pieces in it). Think how much fabric I could have used in 3.5 hours on a difference project - this sampler quilt is good for my bank balance! If nothing happens again tomorrow then I may prepare some DJ blocks for hand-stitching.

I'm linking up with WIP Wednesday and heading over to see what everyone else has been up to.

Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Head On!

When I'm worried about something, or something is nagging at me, I find that tackling it head on is the best solution - be it big or small! At the moment, motherhood is nagging at me.  I guess I'm like every other expectant mum - when will labour start (that's the big question at the moment), will I be able to stop Baby crying, will I be able to dress the Baby (previous practices on my niece and nephew have not ended well), will Baby look like her father....? And very unhelpfully, I can't tackle this head on because Baby is refusing to arrive. This is despite my Husband's determination that today is the day... here's the email I got from him earlier....

In order to make my prophecy come true I think you should have pineapple and raspberry leaf vindaloo, washed down with champagne. If we don’t have any champagne there’s some white wine on one of the racks and some lemonade in the garage.

Isn't he such a romantic?!

So I've chosen to tackle something else head on - a little 4 1/2" block which has been laughing at me and which I have been avoiding. Block B-6 in the Dear Jane Sampler quilt is a little monster with 43 pieces. I don't do templates. The foundation piecing option did not appeal. English Paper Piecing and 1/4" wide finished strips do not go well together. That left rotary cutting. So that's what I did. And 3.5 hours later....

It's not perfect: the central diagonal white strips are too wide and the final blue triangles are too big. But I don't care and really you can only tell with the book open next to you. It always had an outer white border, so I've just tweaked it a little (the photo includes the outside seam allowance so it won't be quite as white when in the final quilt).

The fabric is Kona Snow and Legacy from Art Gallery.

I'm putting this down as a good days work!


Look what just popped up on my Blogger feed!

nature hues
From Design Seeds website (click on picture for link)

It is my palette of 2014! The one I just can't seem to get enough of. Does that dark look like navy? Yummy. Must buy navy fabric....

Baby Quilt and entry for Pantone challenge

Resisting temptation  to actually start this project but all the fabric is now cut
scrappy pincushion!

Monday, 10 February 2014

Sampler Quilt Love [the February edition]

One of the few good things about being on maternity leave and still no arrival is that my weekend lasts all week! Might as well enjoy it whilst I can! And that means that the weekend of sampler blocks started with a cut-a-thon on Friday and ended today with back ache (one of the not quite such good things about my current condition). Of the blocks I cut, there are four that I still haven't pieced, but I thought it was time to show you progress so far. If you follow me on Instagram (@Jenniesthreads) you will have seen me post these as I finished them - I'm gradually getting the hang of IG.

So first up my blocks made from Architextures and Botanics fabrics: 12 blocks in total:

Clay's choice is from Sylvia's Bridal Sampler

Bowtie is from the Farmer's Wife Sampler

Friendship is from the Farmer's Wife Sampler (I really like how this one turned out)

Cups and Saucers is from the Farmer's Wife Sampler - the colours in the photo don't really do the colours in reality justice and this is one of my favourite colour combinations from the weekend.

Linoleum is from the Farmer's Wife Sampler. When I made my original Farmer's Wife quilt this was one of my favourite blocks, but I'm not totally sold on the colours in the version...

Friendship Star is from the Farmer's Wife Sampler

Jackknife is one of my favourite blocks from the Farmer's Wife Sampler. I foundation pieced the corner units to get the accuracy.

Cut Glass Dish is also from the Farmer's Wife Sampler. When I made my original Farmer's Wife quilt I foundation pieced this block because I didn't know any quilt maths. I was so pleased with myself! This one is a tad more accurate!

The remaining four blocks all came from a little booklet which was free with issue 4 of Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine. The original dimensions are for 12" blocks so I've shrunk them down to 6" blocks.

Dutchmans's Puzzle

Sweet Wrappers

Cross Roads

Cross Check.

I also had a bit more a play with my Dear Jane quilt over the weekend.

I was so tempted to just keep on piecing these tiny blocks! They are so, so addictive. But I controlled myself with just 4. If baby doesn't make an appearance soon I might be making more of these (or certainly preparing some of the hand pieced ones for a bit of nap time sewing - a girl can hope).

Block L5 in Art Gallery Legacy fabric

Block L1 in Art Gallery Nature elements

Block L7 in a Robert Kaufmann fabric

And block K13 in Summersville Spring

I added some binding to my baby quilt today. I haven't finished quilting it yet, but I'm hoping by adding the binding I can trick Baby into thinking it's finished, just in case that's what she's waiting for!

I hope you all had as good a weekend as I did!

Wednesday, 5 February 2014

WIP Wednesday [running out of time]

So many things I want to get done, fewer and fewer days before our arrival....agh!

I mentally had a list of things I wanted to achieve before Baby arrives and this week I managed to tick one off of that list. I finally finished my Thread Along quilt.

You can find more information in Monday's blog post and if you'd like to make your own all of the information is on the Thread Along page.

But the other projects remain Works in Progress. I have three main ones: the City Sampler quilt - I've started sashing my blocks together and I'm half way done, but this is my least favourite part of the quilting process, so going is slow. I don't have any photos at the moment, because it's so big already!

My "three-birds-with-one-stone" quilt which will be my entry into the Pantone Radiant Orchid quilt challenge, but is also a baby quilt for friends of ours whose little girl arrived a few weeks ago. If it doesn't get done before Baby, it may never get finished, which would be a shame because I love the colours scheme (I'm not done with these colours yet) and the design (you can read more about the design in my earlier blog post about these blocks).
The two sets of petals in the bottom right are not as light
as they seem to appear in this photo...
Today I've finally added the applique. The purple is sewn down, the blue and pink just ironed on at the moment. It needs another border, but I'm not quite sure what yet. And I'm hoping for quilting inspiration to strike some point soon!

And of course, I need to finish our quilt for Baby. I've now quilted more than half of the stars....
My view this evening
Linking up with WIP Wednesday! And off to check out what everyone else has been working on.

Also linking up with Fabric Frenzy Friday

Fort Worth Fabric Studio Blog

Monday, 3 February 2014

Rainbows and Embroidery [a finished quilt top]

This one has been a long time in the making (in case you haven't noticed)!

After saying on Saturday that I had lost the impetus for this project, I haven't touched anything else since and it is now finished. It was a bit of a journey - there were times when it was a commitment I regretted taking on - though I couldn't have known for sure I would fall pregnant half way through! But there are times, especially today, when I am really proud of what I have achieved - a whole quilt designed entirely by me!

This quilt was born from my love of rainbow colours, my love of tiny blocks and my love of languages - that's why the border to each embroidery is the name of the month in different languages. I learned so much about monthly customs and events while researching these designs - if you follow the link to the Thread Along page, you can open up the documents for each month which explain the reasons behind the motifs I've picked. A lot of them are quite British (especially the weather ones!) but I tried to include some international ones too. Needless to say, some months are more interesting than others! I also tried very hard to use stitches other than back stitch - some months were more successful than others! But I think this thistle for St Andrew's day, on the November block, may be my favourite motif! For today at least...

I've been able to use some of my favourite fabrics in this quilt top, as I mostly just needed tiny scraps. It's a real mixture of Kona solids, Art Gallery, Architextures, and Pearl Bracelets just to mention a few. I also noticed, when I came to assemble this quilt top, that I managed to use Kona Snow for my January block and Kona White for the rest of the blocks... luckily it's not too noticeable - and there is no way I'm redoing it! I've also noticed that on the January block I embroidered some extra circles in the applique section, then subsequently totally forgot for the rest of the months, so there will be a little bit of embroidery before I baste this quilt top!
My favourite block. Possibly.
The Dresden in the centre had a few different incarnations. Right up until I pieced it, I had intended to applique numbers on the blades, like a clock face, but when I came to it I preferred to let the fabrics shine. I don't regret this decision at all - there is so much detail in the monthly blocks, that I feel more in the centre would have detracted from them. I may use the quilting to imply the passing of time as I had intended with the original applique idea.

You can find the instructions for the central Dresden block and the outer borders here and you'll need the Dresden template too. With these final two files you can create your completed quilt top. I finished these instructions with the dreaded words "quilt as desired"... I'm sorry. My personal plan is continue the journey a little bit longer and hand quilt my quilt top. I've bought some no. 16 perle cotton in white and there will be some outline quilting. Beyond that I haven't really decided.  I've even toyed with a mixture of hand and free motion quilting. For now, I'm going to let it sit and the ideas percolate. Although this is the final post with instructions, I do hope to pop back occasionally with more information on how the quilting is going and I look forward to seeing what you decide if you've been following along. And of course, once quilted I have rather a lot of buttons picked out ready to add to the embroideries (and hide the centre of my Dresden).

Or perhaps these beach huts make this my favourite block...
The links to all of the blog posts and all of the embroidery designs and information can be found on the Thread Along page and this will remain on the blog as long as the blog remains, so there is no rush to get finished, and if you would like to join in, the patterns will be available whenever you are ready to have a go.

I need to thank a few of the people who halfway through the year asked if I was planning on continuing with this quilt - you guys were just the kick in the bum I needed, so thank you for your patience! I really hope you like the finished quilt.

If you are making this quilt I would love to hear from you, and don't forget there is a Flickr group too.

Saturday, 1 February 2014

The Last Block [December]

Well here it is - finally I can share the December block with you!

I've gone for grey/low volume for this block and it's the first time I've used more than one thread in the embroidery - Christmas is sparkly so I introduced a flash of metallic thread and found a lovely variegated thread from Anchor as well!

The fabrics used are Painters Canvas, Pearl Bracelets, Mama said Sew, Architextures, Lucy's Crab Shack and Lillybelle, Nature Elements and Rock and Romance from Art Gallery.

You can find the embroidery pattern here along with the information on the motifs and the stitches here. The instructions for making the mini blocks is here and for the applique section is here. You can find more information on the rest of the blocks in this series on the Thread Along page and don't forget to share anything you complete in the Flickr Group.

Hopefully the centre of the quilt and the finishing instructions will be with you soon!