Monday, 29 September 2014

Round the World Blog Hop

Last week I got nominated by Lin at St Victor Quilts in the Round the World Blog Hop - she has followed my blog for ages and her blog shows off the fabulous arty quilting and embroidery that she creates - it's the kind of quilting I would love to do, but just don't have the imagination! Please go and say hi if you have time. Thanks for the nomination Lin!

If you don't know me, I'm Jennie and I've been sewing since forever - first cross stitch and more recently quilting. I'm a new Mum - my daughter Mia is now 7 months old and I love #naptimesewing. In live in Northumberland, UK with Mia, my husband, Michael, and our very naughty "puppies", Archie and Charlie!

So I have to answer some rather tricky questions... and to divert attention from the fact that I'm not answering them very well, I'm going to stick in lots of photos!

1. What am I working on?

Seriously - this could be a blog post in it's own right. I don't just work on one thing at a time - if you check out my Finish Along list for Q3 you'll find 17 projects on it, and there are plenty that didn't make the cut for that list! I'll pick out a few WIPs for you: My Tula Pink City Sampler: pieced and waiting to be quilted - I'm going to fmq it myself a la Angela Walters (like the book), but by a mere mortal not a quilting goddess!

We know loads of people who are having babies in the next few months and they will all get quilts: first up a nautical theme - I couldn't find patterns I liked so this was my first attempt at designing a foundation pieced pattern.

And butterflies - this was a pattern from Tartan Kiwi

The other baby quilts are still in the planning "I-can't-find-a-selection-of-fabrics-I-like" stage. So in the meantime we're too lazy to fill a hole made by a picture we don't hang any more so I'm covering it with a mini quilt - inspired by the periodic table, this will read "Slainte" - Gaelic for "cheers" or "health".

I love embroidery too, so I'm channeling my inner love of lazy daisy stitch and french knots and having a go at a hydrangea for my sister-in-law!

2. How does my work differ from others of its genre

I have no idea. It probably doesn't very much. I stitch what I like in colours that I like with fabrics that I like... I'm not afraid of colour - when lots of people were making Swoon quilts with beautiful feature fabrics and white backgrounds, I used red.

And I'm happy to include batiks... I didn't realise to start with that many "modern quilters" don't like batiks, but I do. One of my first long-term projects was a Farmer's Wife quilt made entirely with batiks and I love it.

On the other hand, I'm a sucker for a quilt along (obviously - I made a Swoon and a Farmer's Wife) - This summer I've finished a Mini Medallion from Sew Mama Sew...

And a nested churn dash quilt - I guess my setting differs from "others in its genre"?

Last year I designed a quilt myself including some embroidery and I shared the patterns here on my blog.

This year I'm working on writing up some patterns too - this will be the first.

I'd really like to do more designing, both pieced quilts and embroidery so I'm trying to learn how to use Inkscape (open version of Illustrator) - it could be a long process.

3. Why do I create what I do?

Because it's cheaper than therapy. Maybe. If I didn't sew I would go mad. There have been times when I've struggled a little as a new mother and if I didn't have this outlet, this "something to look forward to", something that means "me time", then I think I would have been in danger of post-natal depression. I say maybe, because we haven't picked the cheapest hobby, have we? In the seven months since Mia arrived I've learned to use my limited sewing time to it's best and I have finished so many projects. Some of my favourites are my Neon Stained Quilt.

Modern Alphabet (finished just last week)

City Sampler Cushion

This hobby also allows me to give to others - this summer I made quilts for two of my Great Aunts - a blue one
and a purple one
I finally stitched my bee blocks together
And I've just finished a quilt to donate to the Siblings Together Charity
Blocks made by the Siblings Together Bee 2

4. How does my creating process work?

Mostly I see something pretty and want to make it. As I said, I'm a sucker for a quilt along, so I do have a tendency to follow the crowd. I'm trying more to create my own designs, and swaps really push me outside of my comfort zone, because I want to make something really special for my partner. This is the first swap I took part in - a sewing machine cover - and the embroidery is still one of my favourites.

So with those questions poorly answered, it's my turn to nominate three other bloggers:

First up is Diane. She has followed me for ages and her blog is full of fabulous makes - you have to check out her knitted elephant tea cosy. She can't fit in a specific post for the next while, but I hope you'll pop over and visit her anyway.

Next up is Sarah from Fairy Face Designs. Sarah's was one of the first blogs I started following. I've always been inspired by how she juggles having three children and her sewing - when we first thought about children, it was blogs like this that made me believe I could juggle in the same way. Recently Sarah has co-hosted the Big Stitch Swap and has been stitching along with the Lilipopo Stitch Along.

And finally, Sharon at Lilabelle Lane in Australia. I've followed Sharon for ever too. She always has the most fabulous projects on the go and she juggles family life and sewing beautifully. You have to pop on over and check out the progress she is making on her Passacaglia Quilt - it's stunning, but this Tula Pink project hides her true love - anything Bonnie and Camille! I emailed Sharon and didn't get an answer, but I know she's rather busy this week - I'm going to send you in her direction anyway!

Thanks for stopping by and ploughing through all my pics!

Sunday, 28 September 2014


At the moment I'm really enjoying spending my evenings sat on the sofa with a bit of hand sewing, and my poison of choice is embroidery. I've got three projects on the go and I've been experimenting with some different techniques for transferring the embroidery.

Firstly, inspired by some of the mosaics and stitching in the Big Stitch Swap, and having made some mug rugs for my brother and his new wife, I'm still playing with the periodic table. We've recently moved the furniture round in our living room and hung the TV above the fire place. This meant we had to remove the pictures that were hanging above the fireplace, and we have a rawl plug now on view. And it's bugging my husband. But we're lazy. Rather than removing it, filling the hole with polyfilla and then touching up the paintwork, I'm making a small quilt. But the Periodic Table is limiting, and many of the words and phrases you can create are totally inappropriate....there are lists of them if you google! We've picked "Slainte" the Gaelic word for health and used like "cheers!".

The larger letters are raw edge appliqued using a blanket stitch on my machine, but the words and numbers are hand embroidery. I wrote the words free hand using a Frixion pen (after I'd fused the letters with the iron!) Two more letters to go then some peeped seams.

The second project is a Christmas present for my brother and his wife (I don't think they read this blog - if you do, act surprised). They got married earlier this month and had hydrangeas at the wedding. Inspired by this pin, I'm making a small reminder of the day. I'm hoping the colours work out, though there's still a chance I'll unpick the peach section.

They are based on this photo of her bouquet.

And finally: the Lilipopo stitch-along. I'd seen these whimsy designs pop up on my Instagram feed and then tripped over a little stitch along with a free pattern on her blog. I decided that I would follow her technique for transferring the design. Normally I use a lightweight, very soft, fusible interfacing on the back of all my embroideries to help stabilise it and prevent threads showing through. Before fusing this, I transfer the embroidery design by tracing it with a sew-line pencil. The advantages are that it doesn't iron off when I fuse the interfacing. The disadvantages are that it never comes off and is quite a thick line, so I have to be careful to follow the design exactly to hide the pencil marks. The stitch-along used Essex Linen, no stabiliser and a Frixion pen. As chance would have it I have a fat quarter of Essex Linen bought 18 months ago and never used. So I dug it out and followed the instructions. The Essex Linen has a bit more body to it than my normal cotton/calico so the stabiliser isn't necessary and I love how fine the line created by the Frixion pen is, and that I can change my mind half way through and go off the line, or leave something out, and at the end the lines will simply disappear.

I'm not sure I would work without stabiliser on cotton, so I'm planning on having a bit of a play with sew-in interfacing and spray basting, so I can still use the Frixion pen. So far we're half way through the stitch-along (so still time to join in if you'd like) and at the end I'll come back and talk more about some new stitches I'm joining in with! There are definitely  more of these design in my future - I'm thinking the pirates!

One last thing to share today - yesterday I made a zippy pouch - lots of purple, sew-in interfacing which I found in the bottom of the cupboard and some scraps of wadding and I have a lovely birthday present for a friend! I followed this tutorial for some lovely boxy corners and covered zip ends.

I did lots of fabric cutting yesterday - hopefully I'll have time to do some piecing today!

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Mini Medallion [a finish]

The Mini Medallion, which I pieced at the start of summer is now DONE! The pattern is by Corey Yoder and was shared on Sew Mama Sew during May.

I got totally hung up on the quilting. I wasn't keen on the straight line quilting of the original quilt but couldn't think of anything I liked better. After much deliberation I decided to quilt it with a spiral. Unlike previous spiral quilting attempts I've spray basted this quilt.... it wasn't all hunky dory - I had some serious issues with the machine skipping stitches, but I didn't have as much issue with the fabric moving and there are no puckers on the back of this quilt

The binding was sat for months, neatly made and wound up so it's nice to finally be attaching it - no more chances to lose it! I couldn't believe how much the yellow binding changed the look of the whole quilt!

The fabrics are Architextures and Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander, Minimalista, Modernology and Urban Mod Pointelle by Art Gallery, Waterfront Park by Violet Craft, Bike Path by Alison Glass, Pearl Bracelets, Kona Solid Lemon, Tula Pink Saltwater and the background is Kona White. It finishes at 25" x 25" and is backed in a turquoise spot. The binding is a mix of all the yellows I used in the quilt.

This is another finished for the Q3 Finish Along - you can find my original list here!

Finish Along 2014

Friday, 26 September 2014

Swooning in a Crowd [a finish]

Oh yes - another one! This is one project which went through a lot of changes.

The original plan was nine 6" swoon blocks in a traditional setting. I cut all the fabric. Made three blocks. Put it away. Had a baby. Pulled it out. Made another two blocks. Decided I was bored. But five blocks doesn't get me very far and I had loads of fabric ready cut. One Saturday evening I sat and randomly pieced together the remaining cut fabric.

I then spent several evenings trying to put these random pieces together, limited by having only a fat quarter of the grey background fabric left. This is a kind of piecing that I DO NOT enjoy. It makes my head hurt.

The resulting quilt is not entirely successful. I've called it Swooning in a Crowd because the Swoons don't stand out - which is a shame given how much work goes into them. The cross hatch quilting doesn't help - it hides them even more... I added a little hand quilting - just lines here and there. But again, the thread maybe just lacked a little contract with the background colour.

Although the finished quilt fell short in a quite a few places, I do like the finished piece. It's not huge - 26" x 24" - so I've added a few loops on the back and Mia can have it on her lap in the buggy during the winter.

The fabrics are Kona Silver for the background, Nana's Flower Garden from Red Rooster Fabrics, Pearl Bracelets, Kona solids, Architextures, Sketch, Grunge from Basic Grey and Oval Elements from Art Gallery. It's quilted in Aurifil 50w 2600 and Finca #16 perle threads. It's bound in Kona solids and backed in from Urban Zoologie for Robert Kaufmann.

This is another Finish Along finish from my epic third quarter list.

Finish Along 2014
And it's my September goal for a Lovely Year of Finishes!

Thursday, 25 September 2014

Modern Alphabet [a finish]

Back to finishing ways - I have three to share with you over the next few days!

First up is my favourite (at least for today). My Modern Alphabet Quilt. The pattern is by Tula Pink and is for a lap size quilt. Although I love the quilt, I didn't want this as a lap quilt - certainly not with that much white in our house! So the pattern sat and was forgotten for a long time.

Until I shrunk it to make a (fairly large) wall hanging. The fabrics sat on my sewing table for a while. First with blue, then without blue, then blue without green... it wasn't until I added in the orange and pink (originally I was just going to use one of them, but I couldn't decide) and decided to go with green that I was happy. It's also one of the few quilts I've made with only solids. I also had an inkling I wouldn't be quilting the background very early on - so instead of leaving large areas of background at the start and finish of the alphabet, like the pattern, I pieced in some colour. I have never had to use a seam ripper so much in my life. The bottom corner was ripped out three times - twice was my fault, and once was the iron's fault.

It was the quilting that really attracted me to this quilt. I love the way simple piecing is turned into letters by adding the quilting lines. Without quilting, the A is just a half-square triangle and the E is just three rectangles. I started quilting it last weekend. And hated it. I started again on Monday and tried something a little different: instead of using the walking foot, which I find hard to keep accurate, I used a regular foot with a longer stitch length. This meant I had greater accuracy. I also left gaps: originally I had planned to quilt all of the colour, but by leaving gaps, the letters are clearer. At least I think so.

The finished quilt is 33" x 28". The fabrics are Kona solids in Honey dew, pear, sour apple, kiwi, clover and kelly (greens) and School bus (orange) and cerise (pink). The background is Art Gallery Pure Elements Snow. I also bound it in the Art Gallery with a splash of pear. It's quilted in Aurifil 50w 1114 (a beautiful green!). It's backed with Ikea Britten (lots of my quilts will be over the next few months - I splashed out and bought 6m)

And this finish is another from my Finish Along List for quarter 3. You can find my original (lengthy) list here.

Finish Along 2014

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

WIP Wednesday [binding]

By the end of today I should have three, yes three, finished quilts. None of them are enormous, but all of them are ready for binding and the binding is ready for them.

My mini medallion... Modern Alphabet...

It looks like it needs a damn good press in this photo

...and Swooning in a crowd

The baby's asleep (I've just realised I still have children's TV on)  and I'm about to turn on the sewing machine. Speaking of the Baby - Mia is 7 months old today! She has also been sick since Saturday morning... so this is a photo from Saturday in between "episodes".

I would just like to clarify: that is Mummy's quilt!

Linking up to WIP Wednesday

Sunday, 21 September 2014

A severe case of startitis

Because I need new projects like I need a hole in the head! [warning: phone photos only because I'm feeling lazy]

But when Issue 3 of Quilt Now arrived yesterday and I had a quick flick through it, I knew I had to make myself a Teardrop Mini Quilt. I went to sleep last night dreaming of navy, green and a flash of pink. Tonight I need to go to bed dreaming about how to quilt it!

This isn't the only thing I've started this week... a friend is having a baby girl later this year and I decided to make a butterfly quilt for her. I picked Tartan Kiwi's foundation pattern - by far the best butterfly I could find. But it's good because it has a LOT of pieces! It took me ages to cut the fabric, create the templates (I use freezer paper for foundation piecing) and then piece it. So much so that I'm debating my plan to make three of these blocks, and maybe go with one. We'll see how that works out. For the time being I am really pleased with my one block!

I've also started a small embroidery. Inspired by this pin, I'm embroidering a hydrangea for my sister-in-law for Christmas. At their wedding a few weeks ago, there were hydrangeas everywhere, so I thought this was appropriate.

And I've started a mini quilt to go above our TV - it's sole purpose is to hide the hole in the wall from the picture that use to hang there. I'm sure polyfilla is cheaper, but not as much fun! The question is, what will it spell?

I started cutting the fabrics for a Baby size Preppy the Whale quilt: hubby's work colleagues are also expecting a baby this side of Christmas... I may struggle to give away this quilt with such a perfect rainbow of colours!

And I'm not done with starts yet: another friend gave birth to a baby girl on Friday. Babies mean quilts. I'm tempted with one of the patterns in  A Quilters Mixology so watch this space.

I really need to try and finish a few things this week - the end of the quarter is coming fast and I'd like to squeeze in a few more finishes!