Monday, 25 April 2016

Jessica Violet

After all that waiting she's here. Jessica Violet arrived at 16.55 on 20th April weighing 8lb 11oz.

We stayed in hospital overnight and had a handmade homecoming courtesy of Gran.

Mia is totally in love with her little sister!

And Jessica hasn't yet thrown up on her new quilt!

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Rainbow Slivers II

Just a week into Q2 of the 2016 Finish Aling and I have a finish! And it's not the baby... not yet. I've made this quilt twice now: Firstly as a mini quilt to swap in the UK Mini Swap on Instagram - that quilt now lives in Sweden with @Birchandbirdsong. But as I was cutting it, I knew I would struggle to give it away if I didn't make myself one too.

I raided my scraps for the slivers, but couldn't quite squeeze the low volumes from what I had in my scrap boxes, so they came from stash!

The layout of the two quilts is slightly different as I didn't reference the first when piecing the second and there was the odd fabric I only had enough of for one sliver.

The quilting is dense matchstick quilting, echoing the direction of the sliver. I quilted a lap quilt yesterday in an all over stipple (just add binding and it's another finish....) and used nearly as much thread to quilt the lap quilt as this cushion. At the moment the cushion cover definitely has the feel of cardboard. I'm pretty sure it will need to washed fairly soon so will soften up. I hope.

The backing for the cushion is the same as the backing for the mini quilt - I think this print makes a perfect backing! And I used this tutorial to add a concealed zip - it is so easy I don't know why I haven't always done this!

Despite what my husband thinks, you can never have too many cushions!

This was one of the many goals on my Q2 FAL list and in a few months time I'll link up with our lovely hosts!

Sunday, 17 April 2016

365 Quilt Challenge [Progress]

Yesterday, as Baby has not yet put in an appearance, I spent the day sewing. To start with I stitched up the four 6" corner blocks that go around the very centre of this medallion quilt. These were pretty monstrous if I'm honest. Lots of pieces and fiddly piecing. The purple one is very different from the original which I really didn't like, but the other three are as designed. Yes - there were sneaky Y-seams too. I used my seam ripper way more than usual and considered calling it a day on all sewing until baby brain wears off. If that ever happens!

And then I had eight 3" blocks to catch up with for the dark border. These were blissfully straightforward compared to the 6" blocks.

Although I probably overdid it, I had a great sense of achievement getting back up to date. This morning I sat down to check my colour spread. I have a plan, and I've been trying to keep track of how many blocks of each colour I've completed, but I'd lost track somewhere along the line, so I counted up all my blocks. It turned out I had made one green block too many, and I was short two orange blocks. I pulled out a green - I confess a nice easy one - and remade it in orange, and then opened up the email I received at 3pm yesterday and hadn't made, and did that in orange too.

When I had first started this project I had hoped that the centre of the quilt and the dark border would be completed before Baby arrived, however as we've progressed - the quilt and the pregnancy - it was looking unlikely. Helped by a very late Baby and a few bonus blocks here and there, this morning I realised I could be there. So I've spent three hours today putting it all together!

I cannot begin to tell you how pleased I am with this! From a vague image in my head, and three and a half months of piecing a block a day (or rather nine blocks one day and then a week or so off), this quilt is now coming together better than I could have hoped.

I've learned loads on this journey so far: I already had a pretty good grasp of most of the techniques and accuracy, but the so-called "hidden square" technique was new to me, and although I'm not sure it's one of my favourites, it will certainly by useful. I've also done more Y-seams than I can ever remember doing in the past and they will never scare me again!

It was a bit windy and my quilt-holder-upper was a bit grumpy
There are a LOT of seams in this quilt. Some of the pieces finish as half inch units. Quilting it will be an interesting, and likely needle-breaking, experience. I've been in and out of the living room with this quilt today as I add a border, and then go through to press it. Every time I've walked back in, Mia has reminded me that this is her "blanket". She is wrong. There's still a long way to go, but I'm so pleased to have reached this milestone before Baby arrives (though admittedly I would have taken Baby arriving earlier in preference). It means that I can't lose individual blocks, and I have the option, should I wish, of stopping here and still having a good size baby quilt.

The instructions for the next block have already arrived... behind again!

Wednesday, 13 April 2016

WIP Wednesday [La Passacaglia returns]

Sometimes there is no logic involved in why I put a project down and ignore it for a few months and just as little logic as to why I pick it up again. It's been months since I really worked on my La Passacaglia quilt but this weekend I picked it up again.

My large rosette made entirely with fabric from Carolyn Friedlander's Architextures range (one of my all time favourite fabric ranges, now greatly diminished in my stash) was so close to being finished I have no idea why I didn't. On Saturday I got it finished and it only took a few hours!

I love it. And a huge thanks must go to the oodles of people over on Instagram who made my weekend by liking it!

On a roll, and I finally went back to one of the smaller rosettes. I had cut enough star pieces to make this with 8 stars, but after piecing 3 of those last summer I decided I didn't like the contrast and stopped at a much smaller rosette. In the intervening months it's grown on me, and yesterday I finally added those remaining stars. I love this one too.

I've also made some progress on the next rosette. Star points next.

And I have another rosette all planned out already!

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

The Preggosaurus Pouch

Yesterday I cut out fabric for three one-hour baskets. I also picked out fabric ready to cut for a new La Passacaglia rosette. That was my plan whilst Mia is at the child minders today. But all I wanted to do was play with scraps. So that is what I did. I have a scrap basket on my desk which is overflowing so I tipped it upside down.

I made two panels using any piece that I fancied in any order, piecing and trimming for a good few hours.

And I even had a purpose. I've been using this zippy to carry around my La Pas sewing since last summer.

It's a wash bag that cost me 50p from a charity shop. It's worked well, but I can do prettier! So I turned those two panels into a dumpy little zippy pouch which I'm calling my Preggosaurus Pouch.

I cut my exterior and interior panels at 11.5" x 8.5", added zipper tabs to both ends of that fabulous lime green zip and then boxed the corners at a generous 2.5" to create a rotund little number perfect for storing the little boxes I use to organise the small pieces.

And you know what - when I put the scraps away, it felt like there were more scraps, not fewer.

And the reason for the new pouch is a new found enthusiasm for my La Passacaglia quilt. If I'm not otherwise engaged tomorrow, I'll show you my latest progress. As a couple, we know quite a few people who were due around my own due date, and there were a couple of other quilty instagrammers too. I am now the only one who remains pregnant, and it's getting a little depressing. I'm generally fairly impatient and this baby seems stubbornly comfortable where she is. Finger's crossed I won't be in any position to share my La Pas progress tomorrow! In the meantime, thank goodness for sewing!

This sudden urge to make something with scraps has happily coincided with the Scraptastic Tuesday link up for April, so I shall do exactly that!

Scraptastic Tuesday

Monday, 11 April 2016

Finish Along Q2 [It's ok if you want to laugh at me]

You may consider me foolish to even attempt a finish this quarter...  I know I won't get much opportunity to sew in Baby's first few months, but I'm hopeful for the odd hour of Daddy time when I'm awake enough to safely operate a sewing machine. I have no idea what project I'll want to work on if I do get the chance, so I'll list everything. Again.

But the first project I'm listing is new to the FAL list: it's Mia's big girl quilt. For the first 5-6 months, Baby will sleep in our bedroom, but after that she will move into the nursery and Mia will move into her new bedroom and a full size single bed. Which means Mia needs a big-girl quilt for her big-girl bed in her big-girl bedroom. I have two blocks finished, and lots more to make.

Another new project is one that I cut out just this week: It's a while since I fell head over heels in love with a fabric line, but Paperie from Art Gallery really did get me. It's not at all my normal choice, but it's so pretty. I'm planning hand pieced and hand quilted clam shells. Given it's current status, as shown in the photo below, this is an unlikely candidate for a finish but it might just hit the spot for sofa sewing.

Moccasin Block of the Month: it irks that I didn't get this finished last quarter: I'm so close... This will be a quilt for me so it doesn't get prioritised.

Slivers II Cushion: this may be a good candidate for a quick finish. I've said that before!

My Small World: I made really good progress on this last quarter, finishing the piecing and starting the hand-quilting. There's lots of quilting still to go, but as a sofa project there's a chance this will at least see progress in the next few months.

Inside Addition quilt: it's pretty bad that this isn't finished yet. Straightforward piecing, and probably straightforward quilting too. There's just a little part of me that doesn't really like it anymore and that may be holding me back. Maybe if I just get on with it I'll find I do like it when it's finished!

Aspen Glow. Again. It would be nice if I could make just a little bit of progress so that at least I have a different, slightly more interesting, photo to share with you once a quarter!

Do you remember the mini quilt I created for the Schnitzel and Boo Mini quilt swap. I never ever found out if my partner received it.  She disappeared off the face of the earth. How rude! But I cut enough fabric so I could have one too. Maybe I'll finish this. Maybe as a cushion cover?

Let's shove the Gravity quilt on the list for good measure, shall we?

How about the Marcelle Medallion quilt? I've seen some beauties on Instagram recently that have inspired me to get this out again. I haven't. But you never know.

The red and blue quilt I need to finish for my mother-in-law. I can't believe this will take long....

And finally: I recently tidied my sewing desk and shelves and came across the fabrics I cut for a flying geese cushion over a year ago. I may need to cut more fabric, but this could be achievable.

I know. Totally unrealistic! One finish from the twelve would be a huge achievement for me

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Hair Clips

Anyone who has a little girl must be able to relate to my problem: hair clips. You start with matching pairs. In a pot. In the bedroom. And within just a few days you end up with no matching pairs and clips scattered throughout the house, in the car, in pockets. In fact, everywhere.

Mia loves her clips and bobbles. I'm not such a fan, so I started hunting on Pinterest (read, wasting time on Pinterest) looking for a tutorial to make some kind of pretty hair clip pouch thing. I found loads, but it was often from the same non-existent source. Or they were for sale rather than providing a tutorial. That was a couple of months ago. I even picked out some pretty fabrics.

Yesterday I got a sudden urge to get my arse in gear and actually make it. And after all of the procrastination it took just a couple of hours.

Briefly, this is what I did: Fabric and cutting:
  • Exterior fabric: 6" x 16.5"
  • Interior fabric: 6" x 16.5"
  • Wadding: approx 7" x 18"
  • Pocket interior: cut a rectangle 9.5" x 5.5". Lay with the longest edge closest to you and mark 1.75" in from each end. Cut an angle from this mark to the top corner to give a trapezoid shape. These triangle shaped ends will form the sides of the pocket.
  • Pocket exterior: cut as interior above
  • Light-weight iron on interfacing: cut as pocket exterior above.
  • Ribbon: two lengths 17" - I used a 1/2" width ribbon and would suggest not going narrower.
  • Hairband (grown up one, not child one)
  • Matching button.
  • Matching thread
And here's how - I hope this is clear... I used 1/4" seam allowance throughout.
  1. Fuse interfacing to exterior pocket piece.
  2. Place exterior pocket and interior pocket pieces right sides together (RST) and sew along the longest edge only. Turn right side out, press the seam back on itself and then top stitch the seam you've just sewn. Lengthen the stitch length and tack the remaining sides together to prevent movement in the next steps.
  3. Fold both the short edges over so that the top seams are lined up and the interior fabric is on the inside. Press in place. Put the pocket piece to one side.
  4. Take the interior fabric and lay it on the wadding. Lay the ribbon lengthways along the fabric, evenly spaced and tack or pin in place. Quilt through all the layers across the width, catching the ribbon each time. I quilted about 2.5" apart. Trim the wadding back to the size of the fabric.
  5. You now need to tack the pocket in place on the bottom of the interior piece. Lengthen the stitch length and position the pocket. I used wonderclips to hold it in place. Line up the raw edges of the pocket with the rraw edges of the interior fabric. Tack within the seam allowance.
  6. Using wonderclips again, flatten the pocket so that the gape is away from the edges. Place the interior and exterior fabrics right sides together, and pin/clip together. 
  7. Position the hairband so that half of it is between the interior and exterior fabrics and the other half hangs out beyond the fabrics. Pin or tack in place centrally on the top edge - this hair band has a tendency to move...
  8. Stitch around the edge using a 1/4" seam allowance, leaving a gap for turning. Do not leave the gap anywhere near the pocket. Ask me how I know.... reverse stitch at the beginning and end.
  9. Trim the corners, and the hairband excess and turn through, poking out the corners.
  10. Top stitch all the way around, closing the gap as you go.
  11. Press flat. Make sure that the ribbon will stand up to the iron before you go for it. Again - ask me how I know!
  12. Fold the fabric round the pocket (as shown below) and work out where to attach the button, so that the hairband can loop round it and hold it shut. Attach the button. If I were doing this again I would have a smaller hoop of hair band so the button doesn't sit quite so low to the bottom of the pouch. I'd also try and get the hairband more central...

Ta-dah! I have hung Mia's next to her changing table using a command hook. The pocket at the bottom is great for bobbles as well as her hairbrush.

If you have a go using this bare-bones tutorial and get stuck, just let me know and I'll try and help out.

Tuesday, 5 April 2016

Yellow and Grey [A Finish]

In my previous blog post I said that maybe I would piece more #365 blocks or maybe I would go into labour. To update that, neither happened.

People have asked me recently if I am nesting in anticipation of the baby.... the short answer is no. I'm no domestic goddess. Mum came last week - she nested on my behalf. I quilt. And so today I have a very unexpected finish to share with you.

This time last year I started a baby quilt. Grey and yellow half square triangles. I did all the hard work, piecing, pressing and trimming the HST units back in July, and then never put it together. It took me just three hours yesterday morning to complete the quilt top, I basted it at our local quilt group yesterday evening, quilted it this morning, bound it this afternoon and photographed it before Mia went to bed.

"Want to sleep, Mummy"

Why oh why do we leave things for so long that are so quick to finish? We've decided to keep this quilt, rather than gift it as originally planned, and Mia was playing with it within seconds of the end of the photo shoot!

So here are the details: the finished quilt is 40" x 50". All of the fabrics came from my stash and include 7 prints from the Comma range by Zen Chic (wish I had more of this fabric); Glee, Squared Elements, and Minimalista from Art Gallery; Michael Miller Tiles; two different Pearl Bracelet prints; Doe by Carolyn Friedlander; and Mercury by Alison Glass. The majority of the grey is a Pure Element from Art Gallery and the drape this gives the quilt is fabulous.

I had planned to quilt the grey sections more densely, but once I'd done the echo quilting, that drape came to the fore and I reigned it in. Not everything needs to be quilted to hell and back! The binding is the same grey solid and the backing was a bargain. I think it came from an Instagram destash a few months back - I just took a chance on it and bought 1.5m. It could have gone badly wrong (I have some browny-greys in my stash that go with nothing - It could have been one of those). But when I put the front and back together yesterday for the first time I was very impressed to find that the pale grey in the backing print is an exact match to the grey from the front. Exact. What are the chances. I can only remember that the selvage said Heritage.

This is finished just in time to link up to Q1 of the 2016 FAL and brings my total to a slightly more respectable three finishes. You can find my original list here.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

#365 Blocks [catching up]

Two days, two epic piecing sessions:

I'd fallen behind on the block-a-day #365 Quilt Challenge blocks this month. It was inevitable really...  I didn't make any blocks  the week of 14th March - the time I had set aside to catch up I spent in hospital... and I didn't make any from Easter till the end of March as we had guests. But I printed off all the instructions, picked out loads of fabric and spent a fair few hours cutting it up.

Then onto the piecing. I knew that the first missing week was about mitres. Or in other words Y-seams. Not my favourite but I am able to do them. I was very chuffed with this block on day one!

And then this block on day two.

But if I never see another mitred seam again it will be too soon. Here are my newly-pieced 6" blocks:

And my latest 3" blocks.

I apologise for the really bad indoor nighttime photos.... but this is as much energy as I have at the moment.... maybe at some point I'll take some better photos and replace them, but don't hold your breath!

This brings me up to date to the end of March and adds 16 blocks to my April block total already. Maybe tomorrow I'll pieced the April blocks so far. Or maybe I'll go into labour...