Thursday, 28 December 2017

Seven Owls Quilt [A finish]

I am definitely getting my money's worth out of Elizabeth Hartman's Fancy Forest Pattern. This year I think I've made 6 separate quilts using the pattern or parts of the pattern, and I haven't made the big full size one yet - that's for 2018! This is yet another quilt using the Allie Owl block. Back when I made an Allie Owl baby quilt using just 3 owl blocks, not-so-subtle hints were made by my mother-in-law that she would like one. And then I found the absolute perfect fabric. It's called Feathers and Letters and is by Indigo Fabrics. It's not a make of fabric I'd ever come across before or since, but it was just so perfect that I trusted the shop that was selling it and ordered 3 metres.

In our family, a feather symbolises my late father-in-law, and the colours in this fabric were just so.... Linda! I selected the fabrics for the owls based on the colours in this print. I was pleasantly surprised to find that a bundle of Shot Cottons seemed to match in perfectly. I;m not really a fan of shot cottons - they don't ever seem quite right for my projects, so to find them sitting beautifully in this project made me very happy.

I made up all of the blocks at our North East Modern Quilt Guild retreat in mid-October. I used the living room floor of the cottage we stayed in to wrangle and attempt to pattern match the feathers - isn't it annoying when you finally unfold the piece of fabric to discover that the directionality goes the opposite direction to what you expected. I small tweak of the design and I had a quilt top.

Basting this quilt was hard. I baste all my quilts at a Monday night quilt group, because they have the space. Unfortunately, my mother-in-law goes to the same group. So there was a delay while I waited for her to bugger off on holiday! Luckily she did and I spent an hour grovelling on the floor - she also normally helps me baste, so it was a one-man job this time round. The backing is a bright pink sheet!

I quilted it with an all over stipple: larger scale in the background, smaller scale around the owls.It's bound with a dark purple that wouldn't clash with the border of the owls or the backing! I finished the quilt early in December, but can only show you now that it has been gifted!

This is a finish from my Quarter 4 Finish Along list.

Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Christmas Tree Quilt [A Finish]

This is a quilt that was a year in the making. Last December, improv Christmas Trees were all over Instagram - a tutorial by @diaryofaquilter and I couldn't resist joining in. I made six blocks using the smaller sizes provided. I thought they'd make a nice cushion. Then I made a few more blocks, and then some more and then I had 76 small Christmas Tree blocks. And then it was Christmas. Those 76 blocks helped push me over my target of 1000 blocks in 2016. But once Christmas is over, the last thing I wanted to do was make them into something, so they have sat in my bedroom all year. I knew exactly what I wanted to do with them!

In the last few months, I finally got round to ordering the minky I wanted to put on the back - red, of course. I pieced the blocks into a usable panel. And I bought some red for some wide uneven borders. It only took me an hour to get a finished quilt top. Then the fun started.

This was my first time playing with minky and slippy! I chose not to add wadding to this quilt - I didn't want it to be so warm that we couldn't ever use it! So just two layer to baste. But the spray baste wouldn't hold it. Every time you breathed near it, it moved... I resorted to pins (helpfully borrowed from a friend) and together we pinned it so it couldn't move even if it had wanted to! I was expecting the quilting to be a bit of a mare, but I have to admit, it went easily and quickly - no swearing at all. I quilted in the ditch between the Christmas tree blocks, and carried those lines out into the negative space of the border. I also added a couple of extra lines in the widest border - all in bright red thread.

In fact the biggest challenge came with the binding - a green fabric from the same range as the red. I nearly always machine sew the binding to the back of the quilt, then bring it to the front and top stitch it in place. And that's what I did. But here the slippy caused issues - it moved more than regular quilts, and so my top stitching line is not as good as I would have liked. But this is a quilt just for us, for the sofa. And it's already being used and loved! It finishes at 68" x 41" - a bot of an odd size, but that's just how it worked out!

This is a finish from my Quarter 4 Finish Along List


Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Jessica's Advent Calendar [A Finish]

There is nothing quite like an impending deadline to get a project finished, and that was certainly the case with this finish. Advent starts on 1st December (in terms of advent calendars, anyway) and Jessica needed an advent calendar. It might have been better if I'd started it earlier... the first challenge was picking out a design. Like Mia's I wanted there to be a central embroidery, surrounded by the pockets, but I could not find an embroidery that fitted the bill. It wasn't until I changed my search to "Christmas Line Drawings" that an absolute gem popped up. It's a Christmas card design and it's perfect. Jessica loves standing on the sofa looking out of the window, and she loves dogs! I needed to make it bigger, so I added some words and then my mother-in-law had a brainwave - I could add the side of a Christmas tree and the final pocket could be a present under it! Perfect!

Challenge number 2 was picking a colour scheme. In the end I went with aquas, pinks, greens and greys, based on a focus fabric that didn't make it into the finished calendar! This colour scheme caused problem number three. I wanted to try a new-to-me technique where instead of solid embroidery, you use colouring pencils to add colour to background items - like the chair and the curtains. I couldn't believe how difficult it was to find a light aqua colouring pencil. My daughters have many packs of crayons...nothing. I ordered a single "aquamarine" pencil from Amazon... too dark. I ordered Stabilo pencils from Amazon that looked ever so promising in the picture... nothing. Time was pressing so in the end I used the dark colour I had and went over it with a lime green - I hadn't banked on colour blending on my first attempt. I'm quite pleased with the result, but I would have like to seat to have been more saturated - I'm very pleased with the curtains.

Not content with one new technique, I was up for a second. I wanted to completely fill the dog and the mouse with embroidery - not flat satin stitch, but long and short stitch that would shows the shape and replicate fur. I think I was holding my breath as I stitched up the dogs head, and when I was done, and held it up and had a good look, I was pretty pleased. The rest of the dog came together very quickly, followed by Mr. Mouse who was tricky because he was smaller. I loved the way the curtains changed as I added the stitching over the colour, and adding the window frames made the whole picture come to life. But the words... I seriously underestimated how long they would take to finish, and it was that section of the project that nearly sank it.

I finished the embroidery on the evening of 30th November, and was very, very glad I had already made the pockets at that point. It came together quite quickly as a quilt top, and I was left to just add the binding on 1st December before the girls came home for the day.

I can happily confirm that Jessica loves it. However, I think that may have more to do with the fact it contains chocolate that the fact that Mummy lovingly embroidered it.  I enjoy looking at the embroidery, and I'm sure she will in years to come as well!

I've added a photo of Mia's advent calendar below. I made a conscious decision not to refer back to Mia's as I was making Jessica's so that they would be different (as my girls are different). It's interesting to see how similar, yet slightly different they are. It wasn't until I hung them side by side that I realised Mia's has no binding! If you'd like to see more of Mia's advent calendar, you can find a blog post here from 2015 when I made it.

This is a finish from my Quarter 4 Finish Along List.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Tula Pink Butterfly Quilt

So looking back through my blog history, it would seem that I haven't mentioned this project here before, so let me explain. Ever since I saw this quilt, I've wanted to make it, but getting hold of the pattern in the UK seemed impossible. Earlier this year I won a $25 voucher to a Canadian fabric shop, and they had it in stock. They were able to do me a good deal on the postage and so it seemed like a very good use of my voucher. And then @Gnomeangel announced that it would be a quilt along starting in August and ending in December. I decided that this would be the perfect quilt for an Alison Glass rainbow so I started stock-piling fat quarters - such a pretty rainbow!

You can just about see the background print at the bottom there, too.

The quilt along started just before a number of other quilt alongs finished, and just a day before we went on our summer holiday. I worked really hard before the holidays getting a couple of quilts finished, and I came back with a lull in my enthusiasm, so inevitably I fell behind. But the quilt is made up of lots of smaller blocks, sampler style, and in the most part these are quite straightforward, like these dinky log cabins (these weren't even the smallest).

But with some curve blocks snuck in at the end...

I was determined to have a finished quilt by the deadline of 3rd December, and I finally got caught up in mid-November. I spent a couple of hours grovelling round the floor of the hall where we have our Monday sewing group, trying to work out the layout, get all the half square triangles in the right place, and add the right sized piece of background to the right section.

At this point I did doubt the blocks with the white/pale grey in them, but I was confidently reassured that they helped add to the look of fragility of the wing... Then came construction. None of the hated sashing, just lots and lots of sections, without either a design wall or a floor. I had two mammoth piecing sessions on a Saturday night and the following morning, and by lunchtime on 3rd December I had a finished quilt. I added additional 2.5" borders in the background fabric all the way around, so that I don't lose triangle points when I add the binding later. And then the two long borders top and bottom are from Alison's Diving Board range.

This quilt top is huge - here's the uncropped version with Mum and Dad doing the honours to give you an idea!

I've now packed it away until the new year. Whilst this was on my Q4 Finish Along list, there is not way that I will be able to get this quilted by the end of the year. I think I've just added the first thing to my Q1 list! I also still need to pick a backing fabric, though binding is already sorted!