Monday, 30 January 2017

#1yearofstitches [Week 4]

I still love sitting with this hoop every evening and I love this week's additions. Here is the hoop at the end of Week 4.

23rd January: Purple long stitches. Time was tight on Monday night, so this was a great little section to cill in with some long stitch.

24th January: Pink chain stitch. I just went for it and added a huge long swirl of chain stitch to create some spaces round the area I had been working on, which I can go back and infill, and all the way up to the centre of the hoop - I'm looking for my next focus stitch to go in the hook of that swirl!

25th January: Lavendar chain stitch - I'm loving chain stitch at the moment. I used it to circle the raised Spider Web and divide up the space created last week.

26th January: French knots in very pale pink. I infilled one of the spaces created by yesterday's purple chain stitch. I love the texture you get from tightly stitched French knots.

27th January: Palestrina stitch in green to frame the swirls: I've tried this stitch once before - it was only a small area and I was dubious. This was a much longer stretch of the stitch and once I'd worked out the ideal stitch length I was pleased with how it looked. Expect more of this in the future!

28th January: Hungarian braided chain in pale blue. This is a lovely stitch but making it close to an already existing row of stitches makes it harder!

29th January: I was naughty and gave in to temptation to do two lots of stitches: I started with a long line of lavendar chain stitch on top of the braided chain. and then carried on with a vertical line of raised chain stitch in peach and coral. This was a new stitch for me - you start with a ladder of peach long stitches which I found nice and easy. And then you weave through them with a second thread - coral. I found this difficult. I kept forgetting when I was going over and under, so after a few unpicked attempts, I sat on the sofa saying "over and under, under and over...over and under, under and over" and so long as I kept up the rhythm I was fine. My husband thought I was mad. But it's a pretty stitch.

#1yearofstitches #jenniesthreads1yearofstitches #handembroidery

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

52 Weeks with the Quilters Planner [January]

As you may be aware, I'm a bit of a sucker for a quilt along. Don't say a word, Helen (@Archiewonderdog). Well Angie (@gnomeangel) has been rabble-rousing again and is leading us in #52weekswiththequiltersplanner quilt along. The quilters planner is a truly beautifully designed planner with space for everything - and quilting. It is a lovely, ring bound planner with some really nice quilt designs, a weekly block and free motion quilting design, inspirational quotes, and useful information. The dowside is that I don't need it as a planer as I have a very comfy bullet journal type system that I've used for a few years. And as such, I'm slightly uncomfortable that I spent a lot of money to get it from the States.

I'll get over it! And the pretty blocks I've made so far are definitely helping. We're four weeks into the year and thus four blocks in. This is "unnamed":

I confess I didn't really have a plan when I started. I had picked up a really pretty and very un-me orange floral print in a fabric sale - just a fat quarter. It was calling to me. SO I made my first block using it and some coordinates. But I definitely didn't have enough to make a quilt. I've since managed to get my hands on another half a metre and if I add in enough other fabrics, I might just squeeze a toddler quilt out of these fabrics. This is "Doves in the Daylight".

The blocks use a variety of techniques and this block, "Sand Dollar Star", was a bit of a challenge: foundation piecing, then doing an inset circle: the centre was made of five sections and the outer made of four.... and then the design called for a Suffolk puff in the middle - I don't like them so I've just appliqued a somewhat wonky circle.

Did I mention that the blocks in the planner are 12" finished. I don't like 12" blocks. I'm more of a 6" girl (make up your own jokes). 12" blocks seem chunky and use my precious orange floral fabric way too quickly! Here is the final blocks so far "Pacific Sunrise" (or sunset - I forget).

So I'm four blocks in, and have 48 left to go. The blocks are challenging and interesting and pretty and I'm interested with how this project will progress. I'll pop back here every so often and do a rounda-up of the recent blocks I've completed.

Monday, 23 January 2017

#1yearofstitches [Week 3]

I am still thoroughly enjoying this project, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to stop at just "one" stitch - I can see the next few steps and I'm desparate to keep going. So far, I have mostly controlled myself! Here is how my hoop looks at the end of week 3 - I'm not sure this is going to last 52 weeks!

16th January: French knots: I added small green French knots in the gaps left by the blanket stitch already completed.

17th January: A simple line of purple backstitch.

18th January: A peach bullion knot wheel. I've only atempted bullion knots once before and they were a total disaster, so I was very pleased with how these went!

19th January: I added pink button-hole stitch around the endge of the bullion-knot circle - mostly it looks quite neat... I also added a few pink French knots to the centre of the circle.

20th January: a yellow chain stitch swirl to link the bullion knot circle to the existing sweep of stitches.

21 January: More experimenting - this time I tried my first ridged spider web. I really enjoyed this stitch - the hardest part was getting the spokes evenly spaced. I also extended the green stem stitch I did a while ago to loop round this element. Not sure I like the look right now, but I have plans of where I want to take it - this is why I want to keep stitching - I don't like it now, but I know I will once I stitch the next few elements!

22 January: I added a line of deep pink chain stitch - I like chain stitch. This will help will that previous element, but hasn't achieved the desired result yet! I also added a single navy French knot to the centre of the spider web.

Monday, 16 January 2017

#1yearofstitches [Week 2]

9th January: A combination of chain stitch in peach and blanket stitch in blue (bottom right)
10th January: Satin stitch in yellow
11th January: Stem stitch in green, snuggled up against the chain and blanket stitch combination.
12th January: Danish knots in two shades of purple. This is a totally new stitch for me, so I used this tutorial. It makes little triangular knots, that would be perfect for animals noses in the right embroidery! I had a bit of play with scale with this stitch and I will definitely be using it again! (top left)
13th January: Hungarian Braid Stitch (left hand side). This turned out heavier than I expected and needs some softening...
14th I added some pale blue chain stitch along one side.
15th January: And them some pink blanket stitch whipped with pale pink.

You can follow daily progress on my Instagram account: @jenniesthreads

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Finish Along [Q1 Plans]

2017 will be my sixth year participating in the Finish Along. I find that absolutely incredible. And scrolling through my blog posts I count 112 finishes tagged with the Finish Along! I have no intention of counting how many items I put on the lists that weren't finished though, and I know for a fact that quite a number of those quilts appeared on my lists multiple times! Nevertheless, I find the support from the Finish Along absolutely vital to get me finishing all those projects I love to start!

New year, new list. Here are my plans for Q1:

My Small World is first up for the APQ Resolution project: I still have quite a lot of handquilting to go, but I bought some binding so I'm looking to bring this one to a conclusion.

Mia's Big Girl Quilt: I made really good progress on this last quarter, finishing all the blocks and deciding on the next step. But that next step is sashing - which I loathe. Originally I had planned for this to be a Christmas present for her, but she had so much stuff... so the new plan is a birthday present - due end of February.

Modern Building Blocks baby quilt: I made really good progress on this last quarter with the help of an Instagram quilt along. I just need to get it over the line. Baby was born last week so I best get cracking.

 EJ Plus Quilt: this is one of those projects with no real purpose... I just love the idea and the blocks are simple and quick. I need to list it here otherwise it won't ever get finished, but it may appear on a few more quarters before it finally gets ticked off.

The Marcelle Medallion quilt which I started a few years ago has bit the dust. I just want to do something with the centre block. Maybe a cushion?

City Sampler: the original one is still unfinished - I chose some pretty ambitious quilting and made some progress, but not enough. My newly serviced machine should happily make some more progrses and I really should get this finished before finishing the more recent City Sampler quilts...

#100days100blocks: Lap Quilt: I loved piecing these blocks. I know how I want to quilt it. Sadly I have to piece all the sashing first. I hate sashing.

#100days100blocks: Vicky and Karl's Quilt... more sashing. That is all.

#100days100blocks: Baby quilt. And more sashing.

Fireworks Quilt: I started this quilt so, so long ago with a friend in mind. It's never made it to the top of the priority lost. Her breast cancer diagnosis is sadly the shove it needed.

You've seen this next one before: on every list since forever. The aspen glow quilt. And I still don't have a better photo!

Cozy Little Quilt: I made this up last year, with no purpose - just cause it looked like fun. It was a great use of some of the Les Fleurs fabrics I had picked up. I decided to make it into a toddler quilt - I can picture Mia putting her dollies in the armchairs. I've ordered a large piece of the large-scale floral print - it's on back order and I'm hoping the order doesn't fall through. If it does, then back to the drawing board.

#365QuiltChallenge quilt: this is an unknown. It's now fully pieced (reveal soon), but I'm planning on having it long-arm quilted. So it will entirely depend on the long-armer I pick and how long their waiting list is. The block above was the final block of the year and a total stinker!

Moccasin Dresden: this was on the list last quarter - and this is the photo from last quarter too, and I made some progress - I started the applique and the quilting and I'm going to make this into ahoop for Jessica's bedroom wall. Decision made. The hoop is ordered.

Blue, pink and yellow: I made this block because I like it. That was it's only purpose. And as such it remains unfinished. I think I might use it as the centre of a medallion quilt for Mia's dolly's. With that decision made, and The Modern Medallion Workbook received for Christmas, this may see some progress.

Bath time embroidery and Balloons embroidery: these are no different to when you last saw them: prepped and ready for embroidery... Mia moved into her new room back in October, but the hoops I made for her are still hanging in what is now Jessica's room. I need to move the hoops over, and make some new ones for Jess.

Mini half-hexies: another project started on a whim with no real plan. But, having tripped over something on Facebook the other day, I now know where this is going. I can't wait to share it with you.

ABC embroidery: I couldn't decide whether to add this to the list or not, because I'm really, really enjoying the process - I haven't done any in a while, but you know... Just in case the urge takes me to finish it up, I shall list it here. I'm still not sure how I'll finish this one off.

I also have two quilt kits that I need to work on: a woodland quilt for a friend's baby

And a Little Red Riding Hood doll for Jessica.

Coral Queen of the Sea Fabric Panel

And a mermaid doll for Mia - I've borrowed the image from Threads and Patches because my Dad only picked it up for me today!

And some repeats from last quarter are my Water melon and strawberry mini quilt. I think if there is no progress on them this quarter then the chances are they won't ever get done. But the fabric is cut.

I have two half-started zippy pouches to finish too: the first uses some skull fabric my husband bought me for Christmas and the second has a bit of a Harry Potter theme! I've marked quilting lines on with a Hera marker but there was no way they are showing up in a photo!

That an ambitious 26 projects! Wish me luck!

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

#1yearofstitches [some background and week 1]

Last year I did quite a lot of embroidery. And I really enjoyed it. Embroidery is where it all started for me - I grew up with cross-stitch, but about 8 years ago I saw a quilt hanging at a show with free embroidery on it. I talked to the stall-holder but decided it would be too complex for me. Two years later I finally bought the pattern and the fabric for the quilt - it just stayed with me, and every time I saw it, I loved it. And that quilt led me into quilting... fast forward to the start of last year.

The quilt that started it all...
Embroidery was still a constant part of my sewing routine, but, despite trying out some new stitches on Mia's advent calendar, it had got a bit stuck. Backstitch, French knots, chain stitch, lazy daisy stitch. That was pretty much my repertoire. But I didn't realise how stick I was until I stumbled across a new-to-me embroidery designer called Kelly Fletcher. It was one of those moments. I browsed through her Craftsy shop and pinned nearly everything to my embroidery board - in a "I want to sttch that NOW" kind of way. I picked out a single pattern and that's when I discovered that she isn't a backstitch kind of girl! I mean, there's backstitch there, just not much. She's a stem stitch girl. Horror. My only experiences with stem stitch have not ended well. I had a decision to make: follow her instructions and give it a go or use her design as a basis and use the stitches I was comfortable with. I decided to give it a go. And whilst my first bit of stem stitch is in no way perfect, I could see improvement very quickly.

Stem stitch is now as natural to  me as backstitch was and I now use it more often than backstitch. The design I chose also included other new stitches. Some have been more successful than others. And having started this adventure I was keen to find more embroidery stitches and integrate them into my every-day embroidery.

So when I saw the idea of #1yearoftstitches I was sold immediately. The idea is you get an embroidery hoop and a piece of fabric and every day of 2017 you add something. My aim is to be totally free-form. Each day pick a stitch and a colour and just go for it. I've chosen a 6" hoop with the intention of it being solid by the end of the year. I hope I don't regret not going for a larger size! And here is my effort for the first week.

1st January: Jacobean couching stitch in peach and yellow
2nd January: raised herringbone stitch in mid green
3rd January: French knots in pink
4th January: chain stitch in blue
5th January: cloud filler stitch in mauve and pale pink
6th January: wheat-ear stitch in light green
7th January: lazy daisy flowers in orange with yellow French knots.
8th January: cross stitch in red.

I'm using Finca #16 perle threads for all my embroidery. My plan is to write a quick blog post each week to show progress here. Or you can see my daily photos on my instagram account @jenniesthreads.

Sunday, 8 January 2017


Whenever Angie @gnomeangel announces a quilt along over on Instagram, you know it's going to be a good one. She's responsible for The Farmers Wife 1930s quilt along, and the #100days100blocks. Of course she has a couple of things kicking off at the start of 2017 and one of them is #snailday #gardensnailsquilt.

I wasn't going to join in this one. But as I was browsing Instagram this morning, Mia saw the snails and declared undying love. As we scrolled through the pictures she named each snail she saw after family members. Life with a two-year-old is definitely entertaining. So I thought this could be a project for both of us. Mia loves pressing the buttons on my sewing machine, and helping, so this could be a project to work on together.

We started today with the fabric used on her new cushion, a bit of navy and a light background. In the future she can pick out the fabric for the snail's shell, and I'll choose the body and the background - we're going to alternate dark backgrounds and light backgrounds in a chequer-board as a way of bringing some cohesion to the chaos. Today Mia helped with the snail's shell - then she got bored and went to help Daddy on his X-Box.

A snail quilt is a particularly humourous addition to our quilt collection. In our old house, we had quite the rout (apparently that's the collective noun for snails, along with 'escargatoire' or 'walk') of snails. My husband decided to remove one particular offender by drop-kicking him over the fence into the field beyond. I would love to say it was a good idea. The reality was that my husband's supporting leg slipped as he swung for the snail. He ended up on his arse with a broken wrist and the snail escaped unharmed. I find it quite amusing. He doesn't!

The snail pattern is by Pen and Ink designs - you can find it on Craftsy. The quilt-along is a snail every Sunday, but if you want to join in, you can post your first snail any time this week.

Saturday, 7 January 2017

Finish Along [Q4 Review]

You may recall, that my original Finish Along list for Q4 was a tad... lengthy. Thirty-three items to be exact. I have a final finish today to bring the total finishes to 18! And the final finish was one that I had been putting off and putting off, but that took about half an hour. The embroidery was done ages ago, I just needed to mount them. Here they are!

Here are the finishes, in no particular order:

Aunty Carol's log cabin quilt, Orla's quilt and Hugo's quilt: three quilts for a neighbour who was moving away and two of her grandchildren

Joy Jelly Roll quilt!!! After goodness knows how many years of ignoring it and its "issues".

R2D2 cushion, Darth Vader cushion, Ellie-Jo's unicorn cushion, Mia's twinkle, twinkle cushion, the Jane Austen cushion, the citrus hexie cushion and a Joy cushion to match the quilt.

The Bee-utiful Mini quilt - my favourite finish of the quarter.

Inside Addition, Henry's quilt, and a quilt for my Mum

And a couple of other minis...


and Christmas

I'm off to plan my Q1 list - I expect it will be equally over ambitious! I think there'll be a few projects that roll over...

2016 FAL

Friday, 6 January 2017

Citrus Hexies [a Finish]

I'm cutting it fine, but here is another Finish Along finish. And this is one that's been hanging around for a while: three and half years ago I started piecing green, yellow, orange and pink hexagons together with no real plan in mind. Every so often, I pulled it out of it's zippy case and added  few more hexies. At the start of this quarter I had quite the blob.

Time to make a plan, and a cushion is always a good plan. So I added a few more hexies and got bored again. I pulled it out just after Christmas and squared it up, measured it, added a few more rows. Decided it would be a small cushion!

I quilted it up and added the backing this evening. I have to admit that the backing fabric was a major reason to get it finished - I saw this in a local quilt shop and would love to have bought enough to back a whole quilt. But I don't have a quilt in those colours. Just this cushion. Maybe I need to start a quilt to match the backing fabric?

And here it is. I struggled to get a true picture of the colours - this is a bit washed out - it's really very bright in reality.

Despite being a little over-exposed (I think that's the technical term) except for that centre hexy, this is probably the best picture for colour.

It's very bright. And it's already been claimed. She has a bit of a thing for cushions!

It finished at 13" x 13". The 3/4" hexies are pieced by hand, and the straight line quilting is done by machine using a rather vicious 40w bright yellow thread from Aurifil.

This is a Finish Along finish - you can find my original list here.

2016 FAL

I'm also going to link up to Scraptastic Tuesday next week with Nicky and Leanne as all of these hexies came from my scrap box over the years.
Scraptastic Tuesday