Thursday, 30 March 2017

Skulls Zippy [A Finish]

For Christmas, Michael bought me some fabric. It was really interesting to see his interpretation of my fabric taste. He didn't do badly! It was a mixture of fabrics I've looked at and liked but not bought, a couple of fabrics I had already bought, a few fabrics that I would never have bought, but I'm already using and loving, and a fabric he bought just because he liked it. It's that last fabric that is the feature of this finish.

It had to be a zippy pouch - a large piece of fabric so I didn't cut it up and lose the effect. All I added was some matchstick aqua quilting. The lining of the zippy is another fabric he bought - can't beat bright lime green! I use this zippy to hold my hand piecing threads, and as I tend to use them every day, this zippy is always nearby. It's bright and colourful, but I also love that it's a little bit of Michael in my sewing world!

I used Noodlehead's open wide zippered pouch tutorial to insert the zip, but my own dimensions for the fabric panels.

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

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Long Time Gone [Week 2]

So far, so good! Like I said last week, forward planning is going to be key to keeping up with this quilt along. I have a few weeks already cut, and I have cut all of the low volume background fabric I need for the blocks. Stealing a few minutes here and there is paying off. I need to work through the colours now!

This week's block was a single "Square in a Square Stars" block. It took longer than I expected but I'm pleased with it! My quilt will certainly be colourful!

Monday, 27 March 2017

#1yearofstitches [Week 12]

Another week gone. We spent a lovely weekend in The Lake District, last weekend and I stitched up some Chevron stitch and embellished it - vaguely reminiscent of the mountains....

Monday, 20th March: Blanket stitch in purple and pink to carry the line from the bottom over to the left of the hoop.

Tuesday, 21st March: Some bright green French knots filling in yesterday's blanket stitch.

Wednesday, 22nd March: A few more yellow French knots in the centre of the hoop to continue the line I had already started.

Thursday, 23rd March: A new stitch today: I added pink pistil stitch to the Basque stitch flower - I think we'll be seeing more of this stitch!

Friday, 24th March:Chevron stitch in blue in the bottom right corner. I've technically done two rows to create the diamond shapes. I also unpicked the narrow rope stitch and re-did it so it's now less wonky.

Saturday, 25th March: Aqua bullion knots in the centre of the diamonds created by the chevron stitch. Some of the knots are ok, others aren't so great. If they bug me over the coming weeks I may redo them.

Sunday, 26th March: Purple French knots to further embellish the chevron stitch.

It doesn't feel like I added a great deal this week, but I enjoyed it, especially the chevron stitch combination.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

Snail Day [2]

It's been a while since I shared mine and Mia's little escargatoire, so here are our recent additions.

Mia picks the fabrics: can you tell what her favourite colour is?

#snailday #gardensnailsquilt #jennieandmiasescargatoire

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Long Time Gone [Week 1]

It's now a well-known fact that I am a sucker for a quilt along. Here's the next one I've joined in with. The host is Angie @ Gnome Angel - who is just a dreadful influence on anyone trying not to start new projects; and the pattern is 'Long Time Gone' by Jen Kingwell. This was a block of the month originally, but this quilt-along steps up a gear as a block of the week - and some weeks, that's a lot of sewing. This is going to be intense.

But Angie's a good 'un and has given us advance warning of the running order and I've been doing some preparation! There's no other way I could make 16 foundation-pieced, 37-piece, pineapple log can blocks in a week!

I decided to join in this quilt-along as I was finishing up my My Small World quilt. And I wasn't allowed to join in if I hadn't finished that quilt. You may remember my journey with that quilt. I really, really enjoyed piecing it, but once pieced I didn't like the scrappiness of it. And then as I quilted it and bound it, I fell back in love with it. So I'm going to take the same approach with this quilt. My whole stash is up for grabs and I'm not over-thinking the fabric choices, and I'm not trying to be matchy-matchy. I'm looking forward to using some of the fabrics in my stash that I normally find difficult to use - too busy/too many colours/funny shade of blue (normally it is blue that I struggle with). I'm fully prepared to not like it at some points in the process, but I'm hoping that at the end I will have a quilt I love!

These are the first two blocks - nice and easy to start with!

Monday, 20 March 2017

#1yearofstitches [week11]

It's amazing to believe we're already 11 weeks in and I'm still happily stitching away a little bit each day! After last week's light-bulb moment, I've enjoyed myself this week, building on that idea and trying out some new stitches!

Monday. 13th March: Basque Stitch: the first of the new stitches. I used a blue thread to create a Basque stitch wheel (bottom left).

Tuesday, 14th March: Aqua twisted chain stitch: I extended the line across the top of the hoop, under the line of double blanket stitch and swirled it round. It took me a couple of goes to get the swirl right...

Wednesday 15th March: Guilloche Stitch: another new stitch. This one is quite involved. It starts with two rows of evenly spaced stem stitch (in coral). You then add columns of satin stitch at regular intervals between the two lines. I actually used running stitch to create the same effect - 5 stitches in each column. The final act is to weave a contrasting thread through the columns - I used green. (top right-ish).

Thursday, 16th March: Needle weaving in yellow. I think that's what it's called - it's certainly what I did. I used it to fill the centre of the Basque stitch wheel.

Friday, 17th March: Chain stitch in lavender to echo the swirl in the top right.

Saturday, 18th March: I returned to the woven spider web. This time I made it smaller in lime green. It's turned out a bit scruffy round the edges! (top right).

Sunday, 19th March: And my final new stitch for the week: Mountmellick stitch. This is a stitch found in traditional Irish whitework. I chose bright green and worked a row in the bottom right. It took some concentration but was quite straightforward once I found my rhythm.

One of my tasks for this week is to tot up how many different stitches I've used so far!

#1yearofstitches #jenniesthreads1yearofstitches

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ice Cream Soda [Month 1]

I know - another new project. And another EPP one at that! But I just get so tempted with things I see on Instagram... This is another block of the month programme, this time from Tales of Cloth, an Australian shop. Normally any kind of monthly club from overseas would be unjustifiable in terms of postage. But at just 10$AUS a month including postage, I just couldn't say no when I saw pretty blocks popping up all over the place.

Each month I'll receive papers for 8 blossoms (or equivalent) and in the final month, the setting shapes, to create a lap quilt. Easy. And they are. I love the Dear Jane blocks, which I shared yesterday, but they are very fiddly - lots of small pieces means lots of easing to make the pieces fit together. But these blocks go together like a dream. I also have to say that these are the nicest little parcels - such pretty labels and paper! Whilst I'm working on a couple of projects right outside of my comfort zone, it's nice to have this on the go as well - like an old friend,

I was a little worried when I first opened my little package, as the papers are cut from lighter weight card than I am use to, but I've noticed no difference when piecing. I'm moving out of my colour comfort zone with a totally scrappy any-fabric-anywhere look. The only rule is that the centre of each blossom will be a solid. And lots of contrast between the rows - there's no point doing all that hand piecing if you can't see the seams! At the moment, my own personal challenge is resisting the urge to include green in every blossom!

As you can see, I've made the first five blocks and all of the papers are prepared for the next three. I need to get a wriggle on as the next set of papers have already been dispatched!

The only downside to so many EPP projects is that I've had to stock up on glue. I think this should keep me going for a while!

#jenniesicecreamsodaquilt #icecreamsodaquilt #englishpaperpiecing

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Dear Jane [Row A]

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post with that in the title, hasn't it! I started my Dear Jane adventure back in 2013, made 39 blocks. And then I moved on to other things. I think part of the reason, was that I had decided to hand-quilt it using a quilt-as-you-go method, and I hadn't got on with the quilting. It has all sat in a project box in the cupboard ever since. I actually found it the other day!

At the end of last year I saw that Paper Pieces 2017 block of the month was going to be a paper-pieced Dear Jane. I got very excited. And even more excited when Simply Solids chose to offer it. I got my first delivery of paper pieces in January and decided that I didn't like it with a light background any more. I wanted a black background. So that's 39 orphan blocks, 9 of which have some fairly dreadful quilting on them!

Let me say at this point, that some of the pieces are TINY. And the first task is to take the bag marked A1-A6 and work out which piece is for which block. My husband thought I was mad!

And then I started sewing. I am glue basting again, and there are a lot of pieces where the seam allowance is far bigger than the piece itself! The basting is going very smoothly, except on the sashing strips, where things like to move and unglue!

It took me longer than a month to get all 13 blocks stitched up and sashed, so chances are I'll fall behind. But I don't want to skip the sashing step otherwise I'll never finish the quilt if I have to do all of this at the end! I'm also making a conscious effort to remove the papers once a block is fully sashed - another step that could be hell if I leave it to the end!

I'm planning on a rainbow Dear Jane with the print fabrics used only in one block. To keep me on the straight and narrow I'm creating a little chart with a 12 piece of each fabric in it's position. At the end of the project I'll add black satin stitch on all the joins and have a nice little mini Dear Jane!

Month two is sorted and the fabrics have been picked - you can have a sneak peak at my fabric choices in the photo above. I can't promise a monthly update here, but eventually I WILL have a finished Dear Jane eventually.

Monday, 13 March 2017

#1yearofstitches [Week 10]

Another week and I have to confess I was struggling with where to go next. Until yesterday evening, when my mother-in-law had a look at the hoop and made a suggestion. And now I can see so many possibilities!

Monday. 6th March: just a simple line of lime green backstitch heading out west.

Tuesday, 7th March: I totally stole this idea from @tumpeduck o check her out on Instagram) - half a button-hole wheel in orange. I think it looks a bit like the setting sun...

Wednesday, 8th March: A few dark red cross stitches right in the centre.

Thursday, 9th March: My own little constellation: a star and some French knots in yellow in the middle.

Friday, 10th March: I tried a new stitch - narrow rope stitch in coral. I don't think I'm a fan. It's a variation on chain stitch but it loses definition. It lies horizontally on the far right.

Saturday, 11th March: Twisted chain stitch in purple/pink running vertically down towards the bottom of the hoop.

Sunday, 12th March: so that line of purple that started on the left hand side a few weeks ago, now dips under the line of coral and peach and joins up with the dark blue. This idea of overlapping (and underlapping) was the light-bulb moment! This dark purple is Portuguese stem stitch.

Friday, 10 March 2017

My Small World [A Finish]

I LOVE this quilt.

But I didn't always. Regular readers will have heard the story before, but I'm going to tell it again anyway! This quilt first appeared in an issue of Quilt Mania back in spring 2015(!), and a friend managed to snag me a copy. There was a little bit of a quilt along going on Instagram and, well, you know me! I decided to replicate the original feeling of the quilt - totally scrappy. This was a new look for me: all the fabric all over the place!

First up was the sky. I forget just how many 1.5" squares I needed to cut, but I multi-tasked: I cut it out the same week as I cut the background for my pixelated heart quilt. So whilst it took a long time - a ridiculously long time - at least I was killing two birds with one stone. And despite the size of the pieces, the sky area came together quite easily.

I struggled more with the "city" - trying to get a good balance of colour. But I really enjoyed the freedom to use any fabric and the variety of piecing. The section surrounded by green was a tough section: whereas the rest of the quilt was regular piecing, the odd bit of foundation piecing and a few appliqued petals, this section was a whole other story. New York beauty arcs, appliqued arcs, tiny hexies. I used all the resources of the online community to do them in the easiest way, but there was still a lot of thinking required to get them sussed. And it turned into my favourite section.

I fell behind the quilt along, and put it away for a while. Then there was a second quilt along, and that was the push I needed to get it pieced. As I posted more and more pictures on Instagram I got loads of likes and positive messages, but once I'd finished the piecing, I just really didn't like it. I even contemplated giving it away to another quilter who would love it. But I know that quilting can change a project. Very early on in the process of making the quilt, I knew I wanted to hand quilt it. And every stitch  I added, I loved the quilt a little bit more.

The texture the hand quilting has given the sky is absolutely my favourite part of this quilt. I just love it! Love it!

The quilting of the city is much more varied: sometimes I've echoed seam lines, sometimes I've gone right across a piece; most of the quilting is in a thread that matches the fabric, sometimes a pop of colour was what it needed (mostly where I didn't have a matching thread!). But as with all my projects, this was put back on the shelf at the end of last year as Christmas stitching and other projects took over.

I joined the APQ resolution project at the start of this year and the first project from my list was this one. I spent a good deal of time on it during January and made a big leap forward when I decided to baste it before I finished the quilting. I got some questions on the Facebook group as to why: I would only ever do it on something that is already partly quilted, and I would only ever do it on projects I was hand quilting: the quilt gets a lot of handling and by finishing the edges it's more protected from that handling. I'm not sure whether I would have done it with a pale binding, but the black Architextures cross hatch I chose wasn't going to show any grubby marks! I've been plodding away at the quilting ever since.

This is also a Finish Along finish. You can find my original list here.

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Down the Rabbit Hole [Month 1]

Following on from yesterday's post where I talked about moving out of my comfort zone, here's the second project with that in mind. It's still a quilt with monthly instructions, but it's a medallion style. It started with a Dresden and plenty of applique and that theme is continuing into month 2, so this is a definite challenge for me.

I'm even moving out of my rainbow comfort zone and using a slightly more restrictive palette: I loved the Christmas tree skirt I made, and decided to use that as my colour scheme, as it isn't Christmassy at all: aqua, purple, pink, green, white and black. I took full advantage of the post-Christmas sales and bought three metres of black from Modern Background Lustre. I got a 1.5m of a black with gold crosses and 1.5m of a black with what I'm describing as gold paint splatter. I'm going to alternate these two background fabrics for the borders. I also placed a cheeky order with Fat Quarter Shop in the US. I needed to get the backing fabric for my #365 quilt (Tula Pink Free Fall - yummy), and a few extra fabrics accidentally fell into my cart. Most are Moda Grunge - I love the bright, saturated colours, with a touch of lightness to them. I also picked up some metallic arrows from Michael Miller. Other fabrics came from Simply Solids - some yummy Alison Glass mostly, and I got some fabric at Christmas that works perfectly too. I haven't even shopped my stash fully yet! I'm going to use those fabrics in a scrappy manner through the quilt, so if I had to add in more if I run out, it won't be too obvious.

For month one, released on 31st January, we're starting right in the centre. A circle made up of 40 wedges, cut using templates. Not my favourite place to start any project. I could have ordered perspex templates from Sarah, but I'm too tight. So I made my template from an old Cornflakes packet. It didn't go too well. In order to get my circle to lay flat I ended up adding in four extra wedges. I know my seams were pretty consistently a scant quarter inch, so I presume it was my cutting and template usage that caused the trouble. But you know what, no-one will ever know unless they hang my quilt right next to a perfect one. I also know I'm in fairly good company in the "Extra-wedge Club"!

The down side of four extra wedges is that my circle is 2" bigger than it should be. I don't want to trim it - I would only mess it up! So I've had to make two further changes to this section (so far):the centre circle, to cover that hole in the middle, will need to be bigger when we get to it; and the flowers that will go around the circle: in the pattern, they were all one size. I'm making mine in three different sizes - the original size and two smaller. This way I can still fit the same number in the same area.

Part 2 of the January instructions was bias applique. Sarah has a technique for making bias strips that uses nothing fancier than a ruler and a hera marker. I tried it. Twice. I really did. I just ended up with very narrow and uneven-width bias tape. Back when I first started quilting, I made a sampler quilt with a bias applique celtic knot block, and I loved it, so I bought a Clover mini iron and bias tape maker. And I haven't used them since. So I pulled them out and had a go. And my bias tapes were so much better. Sorry, Sarah - I really did try! Tacking down the bias tapes was a bit of a faff, and then I appliqued them, which seemed to take a long time!

This month was a challenge. Next month is more applique - and I've got to make circular circles! But I'm enjoying trying new things and having a go. Based on how long it took me to sew down the stems, I might finish the next part about Christmas!

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Delilah [Month 1]

For the last few years I have taken part in many, many online quilt-alongs and block-of-the-month programmes. I've even got as far as finishing some of them... I can honestly say that I have never regretted the decision to join in. I've done blocks of the day, blocks of the week and blocks of the month and I've loved it. The one thing that most of them have had in common, is machine piecing, be it rotary cutting or foundation piecing. Only the Splendid Sampler, which is mostly machine pieced, and the New Hexagon Millefiore quilt which is English Paper Piecing and the Collection quilt, which will be applique if I ever get going with it, have stood out. And whilst I love machine piecing blocks, and will still always be tempted by these projects, I decided that 2017 was the year to step out of  my comfort zone. Over the next few weeks I'm going to be sharing with you some of the new projects I've started this year. I wanted to wait until I had completed at least some of the project before introducing them here, so at least the posts will have pictures! The first of these projects is Delilah.

Delilah is a template of the month programme designed by Jen Kingwell. Having fallen back in love with my My Small World quilt, I spent a few weeks agonising over this one, before inevitably joining up. This project is still a block of the month (or two blocks a month...), but there are two things that set this apart from other quilts I've made. The first is the "template" part. I'm not wild on templates! But I've never worked with nice fancy (orange) acrylic ones before. And templates are important for this quilt because of the second reason it stands out: I'm going to hand piece this quilt. Not over papers, just regular hand piecing.

I've done hand piecing once before. The first quilt I ever started was a hand-pieced one. I made two blocks. The quality of my seams was appalling - they looked like they would fall apart as you looked at them. But that was seven years ago, and I would like to think that my skills have come along since then. You wouldn't have thought so that first night on the sofa. I nearly gave in. My seams were still dodgy. But the lovely ladies on Instagram came to the rescue: they gave me lots of tips, and Helen sent an example of her hand-piecing to me in the post! She has ridiculously neat and tiny hand-piecing...

It's taken me 10 days of little bursts of sofa sewing to finish this 12" block. By the time I sewed the final seam at the weekend I was happier that it was looking a lot more like Helen's seams, and would probably not fall apart instantly. I will also add, that when learning a new technique, curves probably isn't the best place to start! I still have to make another of these blocks for this month's homework but I was so flipping chuffed with this first blocks, I just couldn't wait to share!

Monday, 6 March 2017

#1yearofstitches [week 9]

Monday, 27th February: pink back-stitch framing the cross-stitch and French knot border. Simple but effective.

Tuesday, 28th February: I got fed up of the lines of chain stitch on the right hand side just finishing. So I picked out the same thread colour and extended two of the pink lines into loops. My new stitch for the evening was some pink blanket stitch in the loop below them.

Wednesday, 1st March: Boucle' Stitch: this one is totally new to me but was this weeks TAST stitch: this is weekly stitch challenge (Take a Stitch Tuesday) from the Pintangle website - which is a great stitch resource. The stitch is meant to be worked on counted-thread - so evenweave or aida or canvas... I worked it very carefully, keeping the stitches even and managed to do a small section in yellow towards the bottom of my hoop. Although it looks a right fine mess in my photos, I think that's because of the colour I used. On close inspection, it does look like the example. I'm not sure I'll use it again, but I'm glad I tried it.

Thursday, 2nd March: Peach satin stitch to infill one of the right hand loops. I am so pleased with how this looks. It takes me longer to stitch satin stitch as I have to be very careful with the finish, but the shean from the thread once it's finished makes it totally worth while!

Friday, 3rd March: Stem stitch in coral. I returned to the area in the top left that I wasn't happy with and subdivided the shape that was annoying me with the stem stitch.

Saturday. 4th March: I did some more satin stitch in lavender this time, to infill one of the sections created with yesterday's stem stitch.

Sunday, 5th March: Some blue twisted chain stitch across the top of the hoop.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

APQ Resolution [March Project]

I have a problem. I can't actually share this project with you. It's a secret. I didn't think this through properly, did I?

I can share a stack of fabric which I pulled many, many years ago.

And I can confirm that I have two finished blocks and I need a lot more.... it's a hand project with a lot of raw edge/blanket stitch applique and embroidery.

You never know, maybe by the end of the month I'll have a finish for you. If I don't it will remain a tantalising secret!

APQ Resolution [Silvia's Bridal Sampler]

It's confession time... I had really good intentions for this quilt this month. And they all fell flat on their face. I kept thinking I had loads of time to make some blocks. And then life happened - we had two big birthday weekends - and all of a sudden February is over.

And this is all I have to show for it. One, single 6" block. This is Anvil.

I do have a plan to prevent this from simply going back in the cupboard for another few years: another of the projects on my APQ resolution list is my Architextures and Botanics quilt. I started both quilts at the same time and there is quite an overlap of blocks already. I don't know which month this project will be appearing, but when it does, I should pair up the blocks and make one for each quilt. None of the blocks are particularly difficult!

Let's hope I make more progress with the March project!

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

February [review]

I know I say it most months but seriously! Where the hell did February go? How is it March already? Stop the world, I want to get off!

My sewing definitely slowed down this month, but in a really good way, I think. I've still made a total of 28 blocks, so one a day, but of those, 11 were hand pieced. They were all from projects which I haven't shared here yet, and I'm hoping to rectify that in the next couple of wees with a few posts introducing some of my latest projects! This includes restarting my Dear Jane quilt, picking up 2 new EPP projects, starting a medallion block of the month and learning to hand-piece a quilt.

Of the machine pieced blocks, 4 were snails - Mia doesn't necessarily do a lot of the sewing of these blocks, but she loves picking out fabrics and seeing the finished block. I'm also keeping up with the #52weekswiththequiltersplanner blocks and I even made a Farmer's Wife block.

I continued to add to my #1yearofstitches hoop - this is it this morning!

I've also had a few finishes this month including two very special quilts: this one for Baby Finn, made using the Modern Building Blocks pattern reduced by 50%.

And Mia's big-girl quilt. Sadly we're starting the month as we finished it, with a few bugs in the house, so Mia is snuggled up on the sofa with her quilt feeling rather sorry for herself. But she did have a fabulous birthday last weekend - how is she 3 years old already?

Watch this space over the coming weeks - I've nearly made enough progress on some of the new projects to have something to share with you! In the meantime, I share an awful lot on Instagram where I'm @jenniesthreads.