Thursday, 30 July 2015

July [in review]

I've had a really good month which feels like it's whizzed by! Here's what I got up:

I finished a large La Passacaglia Rosette

And the first of the New Hexagon Millefiori Rosette

I've also worked a lot on swaps

Cotton and Steel Mini

Thimbleblossoms Mini

Hand pieced mini swap

Cotton and Steel Angel Mini

I finished part 1 of My Small World and I can't wait to start part 2 - please can there be more than 24 hours in the day?

 I quilted a quilt made by my mother-in-law

 I started quilting my enormous City Sampler Quilt

And made myself a quick bookmark

Angel Mini

A week ago I was scrolling through Instagram on my lunch break and came across as shout out for volunteer angels for the #cottonandsteelminiquiltswap for the UK.

I was so excited to finish it and get it in the post that I
forgot to take my own photos, so Robin kindly sent me a few!
My head said: you already have a swap quilt to finish by the start of August which you've barely started and have no drive to even get out; your Cotton & Steel stash isn't extensive; you have a 17 month old daughter and plenty of commitments; you are supposed to be decorating this weekend because new carpet is coming on Monday...

My heart said: that stinks for the recipient, and when you were on the non-receiving end of a swap it was horrible. You should just volunteer and get on with it.

And this time the heart won. My journey from work to home is 20 minutes and because my new partner had given such excellent information in her sign-up form, by the time I got home I had a plan. I also had half an hour before I needed to pick my daughter up, so cut the fabric. Thursday night was our North East Modern Quilt Guild virtual sew along night, and by bedtime I had a finished quilt top. It was so refreshing to just sit and sew something beginning to end like that.

I used foundation piecing to get nice accurate Economy Blocks
I also lucked out in terms of fabric. When the swap started my C&S stash was mostly limited to the basics with the odd designer FQ. I had intended to buy some fabrics which my partner liked, but she hadn't been very specific so I had just used what I had. The parcel I received was incredibly generous and included a fat quarter bundle of C&S fabric, and I had also been tempted with a couple of Instagram destashes... so out of my new partner's four favourite fabrics I actually had two of them in my stash - the black and white cats and the Japanese navy print. And she said "don't be scared of black and white" and I had some more of the black and white collection. It couldn't have been more perfect! I also found that I didn't have quite enough of the Black and white basics fabric, so had to include the solid black - I'm so glad I did, because this quilt would have truly hurt the eyes otherwise!

On the Friday I basted and quilted it. I also made a little patchwork basket to go with it using this pattern, and rummaged in my scrap boxes to put together a scrap bundle. On Saturday I bound the quilt and on Sunday I posted it. Robin received the parcel on Tuesday! Less than a week start to finish - a happy recipient and a reinvigorated sender. Because it was exactly the kick I needed to get on with my other swap commitment!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Hand Pieced Mini Quilt Swap

I love a bit of EPP (you may have noticed) so when Jo announced a hand-pieced mini swap I couldn't resist. Now that Paula @mudpiesand pins has received her package, I can share it here with you! This one proved to be hard. I couldn't decide on a pattern, I couldn't decide on fabric... in the end I took my inspiration from an Art Gallery print which I use sparingly on the front, and then for the backing.

Photo borrowed from Paula

For the pattern, I settled on an excerpt from the New Hexagon Millefiori quilt and took the pattern for rosette one, shrunk it to use 2" finished hexagons (the original uses 3" finished hexagons) and then did just two rounds, rather than the full three.

There were some definite learning curves in this project: to make my own templates I started with some 2" hexagon papers that came free with a magazine. They were much thinner than I'm use to and I struggled to get neat corners on some of the tight angles on the triangles. Then I decided to try glue basting using a Tesco glue-stick. Don't ask me why I thought a swap project was a good guinea pig. The glue was much softer than that which comes in the sewline refils, and as such went on much thicker and then set like concrete.

.After I'd fought the paper out I posted on Instagram and know for next time that ironing may melt the glue enough to make it easier to remove the papers.... next time I'll know. There won't be a next time.

And going back to those dodgy sharp points... there were a few areas where things didn't quite meet and one bit where I ended up with a raw edge peaking through on the front. I managed to save it (though I nearly started again at one point) and looking at it just before I sent it off, I can't see where this was anymore. Phew!.

I always like to hand quilt when I've hand-pieced - it just feels right somehow. I got out my perle thread and did a little echo quilting. In the background I wanted to do cross hatch quilting and had a brainwave at the last minute to match the angels in the piecing rather than the standard squares. I'm so glad I did and I love how it turned out. I want to try and remember this next time I work with hexagons and need background quilting.

The only time the quilt saw a sewing machine, was to attach the binding!

I included some extras of course! A zippy pouch complete with matching pincushion and needle-case.

And look what I received in this swap: all the way from @donna8b in New Zealand - the piecing is beautiful and the quilting is gorgeous.

And look at the goodies that came with it (yes - Mia has decided that the pen and notebook were sent especially for her, and the chocolate didn't last long either. I must remember to open these parcels when I'm on my own and not surrounded by family!

And I have to show an extra photos of this gorgeous zippy pouch! What amazing fussy-cutting!

The hand-pieced mini swap was on my Q3 Finish Along list

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

So was the zippy pouch I sent as an extra, but I'll link that up somewhere else....

Saturday, 25 July 2015

La Passacaglia [Rosette 2]

I know I showed this on Wednesday, but it was not quite finished, and now it is, I felt is deserved it's own post. And some photos taken in daylight! And on a personal note, I think it will be nice for me to look back over each Rosette in the future, as each will tell it's own story...

The fabric: the fabric combination in this rosette was a total accident! Aren't the best ones! I placed an order with The Village Haberdashery - there was a sale, I was using my mobile and I just picked random fabrics which I liked, and which I thought would fit well into my stash. And when I spread them out I realised that some of them went together perfectly!

So I started the recollection print - the white background floral in the centre of the aqua flowers. And it just so happened that the Geometric Bliss stripe (the first round of pentagons and the centre of the outer-most stars) matched. In the same package were the two aquas which I have alternated for the pentagon flowers, and the dark teal Alison Glass Mercury - the paler is also from Recollection and the darker is a text print from Ayumi Mills. I then raided my stash to fill out the warmer colours: s solid bright pink, Architextures in peach (I love this fabric and I've now run out - anyone n the UK/Europe have some they'd like to swap/sell?), Domino Dot in peach, Sketch in a beautiful pinky coral and Art Gallery Floral elements in peach.

I wish I had more of all of these fabrics - enough to make a whole quilt. But I don't. I do have 2m of the floral Recollection print, which may be included in the quilt back - in a million years time. And I have the same stripe print in a knit to make a dress for Mia. Come to think of it, does anyone in the UK/Europe have this fabric as a cotton to swap/sell?

The story: Whilst a machine pieced quilt often reminds you of sitting at your sewing table, and possibly the TV programmes you were watching at the time, maybe the recipient of the quilt, hand-piecing travels with you and collects far more memories. Going back to first putting that fabric pull together: it was the first fabric purchase to arrive in our new house! I was working on this whilst away in Tenby - my favourite place in the world. And I worked on it during our journey to see my parents last weekend - though perhaps less romatically it reminds of the A1 more than the weekend in general!

This block is a number 2 rosette and will sit in the bottom right of the finished quilt. I've pulled out more fabrics today for the next few rosettes and I'm looking forward to the journey they take me on too.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

WIP Wednesday [not much]

Last weekend we went to stay with my parents so we could take Mia to the zoo. We went to Whipsnade which is about half an hour from my parents, and met up with my brother and his wife.

Mia walked her little legs off, the rest of us got sunburn, and overall we had a fantastic day!

Whilst we were at my parents I did no stitching at all, but it's a five hours car journey each way, so plenty of sewing happened, but with it being hand sewing, there isn't much to show for it! Having finished Rosette 1 of the New Hexagon Millefiori quilt, I started rosette 3 (the paper pieces for 2 were out of stock). I've cut fabrics for the centre and first two rounds, and used the daylight we had on the journey down to start hand basting and then piecing - here's the progress so far.

On the way back I decided to work on my current La Passacaglia rosette. It's so nearly finished - just a few more stars to add round the edge.

I think my next steps with this quilt are to  make up 4 or 5 centres using the fabric combinations I've already pulled out. This way I can see which combinations I like enough to make into the biggest rosettes, and also remember which fabrics belong together before my daughter totally destroys my organized chaos! It's only 10 days until our next holiday, so I'll be preparing this over the next week.

Linking up with WIP Wednesday.

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Scraptastic July

The best scrap projects have two real purposes in my book: they reduce the huge volume of scraps I have created over the years and they create something beautiful and or useful from fabrics that have been abandoned.

This month's scrap project really only fulfils one of those characteristics... there's no way I can pretend that this project made any kind of a dent in my scrap boxes!  but it is both pretty and useful. I got my copy of "Go Set A Watchman" by Harper Lee and decided it needed a bookmark. "To Kill A Mockingbird" was the book we studied for our GCSEs and I really loved  it so I'm quite excited to read this book.

Pinterest is a dangerous place and I now have a board dedicated to bookmarks. I went for hexies and elastic for mine and just as soon as I fund time to start the book I'm sure it will be very useful!

Linking up with Scraptastic Tuesday with Leanne and Nicky

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

The New Hexagon Millefiori [Block 1]

Eleven weeks ago I got the book "The New Hexagon" and about a week later I discovered the New Hexagon Millefiori quilt. Eight weeks ago I completed the centre and first round of hexies in the  first blocks and last week I finally finished it.

This rosette is one of twelve designed by the author of The New Hexagon, Katja Marek. A new block is released on the  first of each month. It uses the blocks from the book, slightly altered in some cases and combined to create secondary patterns.

For this block I made my own templates from card stock and glue basted the fabrics. For the next block I've ordered the pre-cut paper pieces and I'm tempted to go back to thread basting. Whilst glue basting is quick, I've found that with so much handling, some of the pieces have come out...and others set like concrete.... I've now removed all but the outside papers, and thread basted those in place.

Here is my initial fabric for Rosette 3 (I'm skipping 2 because the paper pieces were out of stock!) - I've since been fabric shopping and switched out the fabric on the far right - it's from C&S's new halloween collection and I was going to fussy cut, but there are only 5 usable repeats and I need 6 - more fabric on order and hopefully I can use it in another rosette.

Linking up with Piece Yourself Together!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Finish Along Q3 [retrieving my get-up-and-go]

Knuckle down! Here are the goals! Ambitious as ever!

1. Thimble Blossoms Mini Quilt Swap: I don't have a choice - this must be finished this quarter! I still have a way to go!

2. Thimble Blossoms Mini Quilt Swap extras: this swap has a mandatory requirement of three extras! I've decided on two hand-made and one shop-bought. I'm going to start with a zippy pouch - here are the front and back panels - the lighter patch will contain some embroidery. This used all but two pieces from a mini charm, so I'm going to use those as the zipper tabs - no waste at all!

3. Hand-pieced Mini Quilt: Also, non-negotiable. I'm madly hand-sewing to get this finished as the shipping deadline is next week and it has rather crept up on me....

4. Hand-pieced Mini quilt swap extras: there's no mandatory requirements for this one, so I'm making a 2-in-1 pouch (pimped like the one I made for myself). It took me a while to pick the fabrics for this... but they are all now cut!

5. Harry Potter Mini Quilt Swap: can you see a theme developing? Sending deadline for this is September and I've decided to go with some raw edge, free motion applique. I hope I can pull this off... so far I have hills and a river - next I need some trees, and then the hard part starts.

6. Harry Potter Quilt Swap extra: you can't go wrong with zippy pouches. I hope. I've sketched out this embroidery for one side and I might piece a feather for the other side if I have enough time.

7. Yellow and grey quilt: moving away from swaps onto the baby quilt list... this is for my oldest friend, well, her baby anyway. Lots of half square triangles.... all are pieced, pressed and trimmed, so the hard [boring] part is out of the way.

8. My sister-in-law, Steph's, best friend has just had a baby girl and Steph's asked for a quilt to gift. The remit was pinks and lots of neutral. 146 squares cut and ready.

9. Babies galore round here: another old friend had a baby girl in April - I'm not great at getting these done for the birth of a baby, but they arrive eventually. I need to make more blocks yet.

10. Karen Lewis Mini quilt: I'm moving on to the mini quilts now. This was my "get-back-into-sewing" project after the move. It needs quilting. I know how I want to quilt it. Just get on with it, Jennie.

11. Happy Patchwork cushion cover: I love this - it makes me smile when I see it. When I cut the fabrics for Mia's cat quilt, I cut a 2.5" square of each one, without any real plan. I laid them out to have a look, and simply had to sew them together. I think simple quilting on this one - maybe a cross hatch across the squares.

12. Last summer I made a camper van cushion for friends, and they've asked if it could become a pair of cushions. I've made a start, cutting out all the fabric and tracing the pattern pieces onto the fusible. But this time I'm going to quilt before I applique!

13. And another cushion to gift, as a thank you. All girls love rainbows, right? I've pieced the first quarter and cut the fabrics for the rest. I hope to have enough time to hand quilt this too.

14. Getting bigger: this is a quilt I made with Katy Jones in a class. There's another third to add and then I have a border in mind to bring it up to double bed size.

15. Double Wedding Ring: Moving on to the unrealistic now! I can't have a list with no large quilts on it, though I'm already admitting that these finishes are unlikely. But this quilt would look so good on our bed. It's even more unrealistic given that I think I want to do some hand quilting on. I think I'll outline the arcs by machine, but hand quilt something in the middle of each. I'm hoping that by adding it to this list, I will at least get it out of the cupboard and move it forward.

16. Aspen Glow: it's going on the list again! I really, really, really should get this finished. It's just about sitting and doing lots of chain piecing!

17. And I am going to put the City Sampler on the list again. I started the quilting last weekend and I love how it's turning out: pebble quilting in the sashing and custom quilting in the blocks - so far there's a lot of straight lines to contrast the pebbles, and I love the texture!

18. I am going to make another dress for Mia: pattern - check; fabrics - check; needles - check. Just need the nerve now - I've never worked with knit fabrics before.

19. I also have a few joint projects that are now with me to finish. These are projects where my mother -in-law pieces the top and I quilt it. The first is a finished top that has been sitting round since before Christmas. This one will just get an all-over stipple I think. But I could leave the red blocks unquilted....?

20. The second of these quilts was finished just after Christmas. I still thinking on quilting ideas for this, but I think I want to leave the batik strips unquilted. Maybe I should quilt it in a less dense version of my Slivers cushion. I would love to share a picture here, but it's still packed in a box somewhere following the move. So the first challenge is finding it! I have found the fabric to bind it.

21. And the third such joint quilt is (hopefully) in the same box. It's also tumbler blocks, but with a music theme.

22. I also have those finishes which will take all of half an hour, but which I've been putting off and putting off: I made Mia two towels and bought a third and the flannel to finish this off too.

23. And Mia's french knot hoop is so close - I need to add felt to the back and maybe some green leaves embroidered on it too... we'll see. I should also probably hang these hoops... and I have loads of ideas for more

24. And I cut the fabrics for a flying geese quilt. Well some of them. I think I need more, or I need to change the goal to a cushion.

I think I'd better stop there, really....
2015 FAL at On the Windy Side