Monday, 30 April 2018

Mandolin [Month 3]

I love this project. I love the fabric, I love the colours, I love the feel of the pieces and how easy it is to sew together. I'm also love that I am up to date. And I'm learning to love the fussy cutting - which I embraced this month! So here are my blocks

And all seven together. This is definitely going to be a quilt for me!

And my next blocks are prepped and ready to go!

Thursday, 26 April 2018

The Kittens [A Finish]

Jessica turned 2 last Friday - I swing between hardly believing that she's two already and not believing that she's only 2! She is stubborn and independent and clever and mischievous and sometimes a total minger. But she has the cutest smile and gives the best cuddles. She is definitely going to be comedian of our family! She recently moved into a big-girl bed (some nights she even sleeps through in it....), so needed a quilt and The Kittens quilt by Elizabeth Hartman was just what I needed - she loves "Meows"!

I started this on a bit of a whim, as part of the #elizabethhartmanalltheanimalssal on Instagram - I hadn't originally planned to do this part of the sew along. But I got tempted. Inevitably. On the plus side, everything except the wadding came from stash. The background I used was left over from some baby Fancy Forest quilts, all of the fabric in the faces came from my stash, and the backing is a duvet cover I picked up on sale last year. Kittens and Unicorns - Kittycorns. How perfect was that!

This was such an enjoyable quilt to put together - the faces came together very quickly, and because they finish at 10" x 8" you only need 30 for a good size quilt top!

I couldn't decide on quilting, and I was going to do organic horizontal lines, but I did the first one and it looked rubbish, so I unpicked it and did a stipple. But I changed my thread colours to reflect the colour of the cats faces, and did diagonal strips in each colour - it's hard to see in the photos, but these are the thread colours!

I finished the binding just half an hour before we picked her up from the child minders on her birthday - cutting it fine! And she loved it. It takes pride of place on her new bed!

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

Marci Girl Designs

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Finish Along Q2 [Plans]

You may have heard rumour that my WIP list has hit 100 (and beyond). So in order to avoid serious problems with "The Committee", I'd probably better get it down to the 90 mark again, hadn't I? Let's hope that at least some of this list is achievable this quarter:

The Kittens Quilt: I started this on a whim last quarter, but Jessica has just got a big girl's bed, which needs a big-girl's quilt, so it's quite fortuitous really. It's a finished quilt top and I'm hoping to get it  quilted and bound before Jess's birthday later this week.

Fancy Forest was on my finish along list last quarter, but I lot momentum. I still have quite a long way to go, but the designer, Elizabeth Hartman, recently released first peaks at her latest patterns, and inevitably a few have been added to the list, so I'd better get moving on this.

Awesome Ocean is another Elizabeth Hartman pattern. I made really good progress on this during March and thoroughly enjoyed piecing it, so I need to keep going. There are still a lot of blocks to make, but they are good fun and I'm really enjoying the colour scheme I've picked. This photo is from a couple of weeks ago, and more blocks have joined these since I took it.

And speaking of Elizabeth Hartman patterns, my sister-in-law saw the sloth pattern and made some not-so-subtle hints about her upcoming 30th birthday. I showed her the unicorn in case she preferred it, and now it's a sloths and unicorns quilt. Obviously. In pink and grey...

My Tula Butterfly quilt is languishing. It's another completed top, but I have to confess that the quilting is a bit daunting. I know there's no way I can replicate what Angela Walters did on Tula's original, but I have plans for something a bit more involved than just an all-over stipple. I picked up some Alison Glass Chroma on sale, and it needs some serious man-handling to be pieced into a back big enough, but I think it's do-able. I need to break this down into achievable steps, and then tackle them one at a time, rather than looking at the whole. To be honest, I'll be happy with progress, rather than a finish on this project!

At the start of Quarter 3, the #100days100blocks project will kick off again for the final time. I've had loads of fun with this project over the last couple of year: a block a day for 100 days using the Tula Pink City Sampler book. Last year's quilts are finished, but the year before I made 2 quilts and neither is more than a pile of blocks, so my Neon City quilt is going on the list, and so is the Cuty Sampler in purples for Michael's cousin as a wedding present. They will celebrate their fourth wedding anniversary this summer.... whoops.

And the original City Sampler I made when I was pregnant with Mia is still unfinished. This is being held up by over-ambitious quilting. I can't stop now, so I need to make some progress in the same vein in which I started! It'll never get finished if I never get it out of the cupboard. So last Friday I got it out of the cupboard and added some more quilting - I thoroughly enjoyed it but there's still a long way to go.

There are a couple of quilts I promised the girls last year that need to be finished, and which I don't think will take that long (famous last words): firstly a cat quilt for Mia using the Kitten Around pattern by Pen and Paper Patterns. I've made one block, and everything is cut for the remaining three blocks and border. I may need to make this quilt a bit bigger than the original pattern, so I need to put my thinking cap on.

And for Jessica, I started making her a dog quilt, using a foundation pieced pattern from one of the UK magazines. She has since transferred her loyalties from dogs to cats (see project number 1 above), so I'm going to make the one block I did piece into a cushion.

Two projects started last year and fell out of love with need to be finished: the #52weekswith thequiltersplanner blocks were all a bit different and I made 11 blocks at 6". I think a 9-block cushion is the best way forwards, with the two remaining blocks maybe on the back somehow. And I made 9 blocks at 12" which I plan to sash as they are, then piece into a large amount of low volume I already have to hand, and make a lap quilt. Rumour has it that a local quilting shop has a long arm to rent, so I'm thinking I might try and book some time and have a play on this quilt!

I'm adding a fair lot of embroidery to my list this quarter: first up are a couple of hoops for the girls: moon moth and mermaid - if I can find the mermaid printed panel.... if not it'll just be moon moth! And I'm half-way through an embroidery for my husband: "It's Just a Phase" - our constant cry when the kids are being mingers! And finally my Threadfolk embroidered garden, which I enjoy when I pick it up, but don't pick it up enough. I'm ready to enjoy this on my wall (and start the next Threadfolk design I have lined up - it's on the list!) And the final embroidery is a portrait of my wedding bouquet from ten years ago. I'm done some preliminary sketches and I think I know how I want to do it.

Another hoop I would like to make is the narwhal hoop for Mia - I've listed it before but never got to it. I had a fabric pull in the past, but I'm going to change it. I think. I had kind of hooped Mia would forget, but she saw one on Instagram the other day and that is not the case. And I've started a pineapple-themed hoop using curved EPP.

There's some more EPP on the list as well this quarter: The discarded Tula Nova centre shouldn't linger - although it isn't right for my Tula Nova it is very pretty in its own right, so will be a cushion. I'm also planning to hand quilt it, as a dry run for my Tula Nova proper.

Also up is  very very very old EPP project which I rediscovered in the recent tidy up (looking for the missing mermaid) - it's made from Mama Said Sew and I started it in 2013.

Another untouched project is the pieced hexagons I started this time last year as my #mitchelinmantostickman project. The diet didn't last, but there was too much work in these blocks to be a good project. This year the diet is going better - I'm three months in and I've lost over a stone now. And chosen a different way to mark my success. So these three hexies are going to be turned into seven hexies as another cushion. Have I mentioned how much my husband LOVES cushions!

Those three hexies are made from a warm colour-way bundle of Blueberry Park, and they feature in my next project too: my machine-pieced hexy project that I started on a whim in March, originally planning a pillow. I want to make this much bigger - it's just so bright and happy. Not sure how big I'll go, but it would be good if it didn't linger! I'm up to two blocks!

Everyone loves a good zippy pouch. My daughters are no exception. I'm thinking a rabbit for Mia (to match her newly acquired Sylvanian Families) and a cat for Jessica (to match her soon to be acquired Sylvanian Families)! And I want a new pouch too - the Inside Out Pouch by Aneela Hoey - I've picked up some Tula Pink All Stars specifically for this project.

And finally.... Mia started ballet lessons this month and needs a bag for her ballet and tap shoes. I'll leave it a couple of weeks just to make sure she still enjoys it. But she has loved her first two lessons and keeps talking about it.

That makes 26 projects in total - definitely not my longest list ever, but hopefully partially achievable! How many projects are on your list?
Marci Girl Designs

Thursday, 5 April 2018

Finish Along Q1 [Review]

It's been quite the quarter, hasn't it! I only have five Finish-Along finishes to celebrate this quarter. I think the first quarter is always slow because there's so many yummy things to start...But I do want to celebrate progress on a few long-term WIPS this quarter - although they aren't eligible as a finish, they are definitely closer than they were! Certain people will be horrified to hear that my WIP list currently stands a nice round 100 - with a couple of interesting items from Instagram threatening to push it higher still!

Here are my finishes: First up my Gypsy Wife quilt. I finished it on my birthday and I love it! Such rainbowy goodness!

The other large quilt finish was my Summer Sampler 2016. Obviously this one has been around for a while, but those colours and fabrics are just so summery, that given the snow we've had recently, I felt it was the perfect pick-me-up!

On the subject of Summer Samplers... my 2017 Summer Sampler is sitting unloved. I need to decide if I'm going to finish it as per the pattern. I doubt myself, and think I've fallen out of love with it, then when I see a finished one pop up on Instagram or see old photos of the blocks I did make, I fall back in love with it. And recently a 2018 Summer Sampler email landed in my inbox....

Two zippy pouches can be added to the finishes: the two-in-one pouch, a gift for my mother-in-law:

And the Boxy Clear Pouch - which appeared on my Finish Along list as a pouch for nail varnish etc, but  which is way too cute and way too big to be used for that, so it's the home of my Tula Nova project!

And finally, this cat embroidery.

I had planned to make a hoop for each of the girls each month this year. That aim has fallen by the wayside, in part because I have lost the embroidery I prepared and it seems I can't skip over it until it resurfaces. I've looked for it again today and it has disappeared. And I can't re-prepare it because it's a pre-printed panel I bought from the US. Needless to say, this is making me quite grumpy...

As for the other things on the list, some have not even been touched - I'm particularly sad that the City Samplers in particular haven't progressed. But the Gravity quilt has - I finished all the blocks, and I've cut the background. So it's closer.

I've bought backing fabric for the Tula Butterfly quilt, but the quilting for this is still quite daunting. And I made loads more blocks for the EJ+ Quilt, but decided I really want it to be bigger... And as for the teal and purple quilt and the orange and green quilts - I think I know what I want to do with them, but need to get on and do it! Isn't that always the case!

As for the Splendid Sampler, I think that needs to come off the FAL lists for a while. I saw yesterday, that a new Splendid Sampler is being released in the Autumn, so maybe I'll add more blocks that way. Then it can't be called a new start and I won't get into trouble!

I made progress with the cat quilt for Mia, and the Fancy Forest quilt, but they are still a long way from finished. The dog quilt for Jess has been superceded by a new cat quilt - the one dog I've made will become a cushion. All of these will appear on the next list, as will the embroidery projects that haven't been finished!

So that's my next list half written, but it needs to be much longer - I have a reputation to maintain! #ridiculouslylongfinishalonglist

Monday, 2 April 2018

All the Animals in March

This year I've been sewing along with Angie @gnomeangel in the #elizabethhartmanalltheanimalssewalong with varying degrees of success. The first project was Fancy Forest - a project from my list. I made the foxes, the bunnies and a few hedgehogs and then I fell behind. The next planned project was The Kittens, which I decided to pass on. Then up was Awesome Ocean, another project from the list, and one which I had already bought the background for. February rushed past in a blur and I didn't make any blocks. March started, and looked like heading in a similar direction!

And then @gnomeangel launched a challenge. The Kittens and Awesome Ocean during March. One of each block  to a tight schedule. Well, I love a challenge. So I bought the pattern for the Kittens Quilt, because Jessica will love (not sure why I discounted it in the first place...). I even had fabric already in my stash for the backing (and wait until you see the backing fabric!). There are five kitten patterns, and I needed 6 of each for the full quilt. They were such a joy to stitch up that I now have 30 kittens, half sashed (must not let the sashing hold this project up).

The Awesome Ocean quilt was more of a challenge: there are nine different blocks and you need eight of each! And they are not quite the easy sew that the Kittens are. I did make at least one of each block according to the schedule, and I've made more of some. The seahorse is a particular challenge - lots of pieces! The fish blocks are pretty quick to come together. Whilst it's a good start, I still have quite a way to go with it. A big challenge is finding enough different peach fabrics, as I've added peach to my not-quite-rainbow colour scheme. I did a little shopping... and @archiewonderdog also sent me some scraps that were just perfect. So I think I can make it. Of course, picking all the fabrics for all eight blocks and then only sewing one block of each type, has led to piles and piles of fabrics all over my sewing desk - I need to get on with this project just because of the space it's taking up!

So over the next few months I need to finish up Fancy Forest, Awesome Ocean and the The Kittens Quilt, and then coming up is Greenhouse, which is the third quilt I planned to make in this quilt along. And then... I do like the flamingos, and I do need to make a baby quilt, and I do like the two-flamingo version... and my sster-in-law saw the Sloths (which aren't part of this quilt-along) and the unicorn (which is) and so we're looking at a sloth-unicorn quilt for her birthday too! That's in June when she turns 30. I love a challenge!

All-in-one Box Pouch

You may have noticed from my blog over the past 6 months of so that I quite enjoy making pouches designed by Aneela Hoey... I took part in the #stitchedsewingorganizerssal and discovered I that her patterns were wonderfully easy to follow and the end results were brilliantly useful. So when she relaunched her All-in-one box pouch a few months ago it went straight on the to-do list. As far as I could tell, it was the like the boxy pocket pouch pattern in her book, and that was mega useful. But with a pocket with see through insides on the front. Perfect for threads... I decided to make it ready for my latest trip to Oxford so I could fill it full of EPP projects and sew on the train and in the hotel room.

For the body of the pouch I picked out a linen type fabric which was slightly heavier weight than regular quilting cotton. I added some Les Fleurs roses from Cotton and Steel and a couple of coordinates. I then decided to make life harder for myself and add a pocket to the back in addition to the pocket on the front. Queue trial and error and swearing and not exactly what I wanted, but it works!
My back pocket addition...
The front pocket nearly had me. The binding was too narrow first time round, and I had to start again with that step. Meanwhile I found it really difficult to get the zip and binding to curve round the corners tidily.

You see the hand top-stitching along the zip? I really like it and I'd love to say I'd planned it, but I totally forgot to add machine top-stitching until I'd finished it and found the lining catching in the zip, by which time it was definitely too late to fix it on the machine. But having done it once, I might do it again. Maybe.

It turns out that compared to the boxy-pocket pouch, the construction is very different and this pattern results in a bigger pouch. But it's fabulous. The front pockets hold all of my EPP threads, and there is plenty of space inside to hold all of my little packages of pieces ready to be sewn up. I also use a tiny plastic box with clip on lid to hold thimbles and scissors and a tiny pin cushion - that fits too. And the glue pen and spare glue go in the pocket on the back. In other words, it's perfect for all my EPP projects!

When I bought this pattern, I also bought the pattern for the inside-out pouch, so keep your eyes peeled for that too!

Summer Sampler 2016 [A Finish]

Two years after the Summer Sampler 2016 was announced, I finally have a finish! And it is so summery and colourful and I love it! I especially love the irony of finishing up the blocks and photographing them in the snow!

 The fabrics I picked are Dreamin' Vintage by Jeni Baker from Art Gallery. I bought a fat quarter bundle when it first came out - on 11th May 2014 - four years ago! Then six months later, I picked up four metres of the large floral print in the sale for the backing of the as yet unstarted, unplanned quilt. It was so summery, that it was perfect for the Summer Sampler when details were first announced.

I made the first block and didn't like it. I made the second block and I still didn't like it.

 I was gutted. Whilst the fabrics were beautiful, they are all quite busy and lots are large scale and or directional. And I was struggling to make them work. I decided to add in some solids. I found a list of the coordinates on-line, and a UK stockist of the Art Gallery Pure Elements I had picked. It was exactly what I needed. In the end I used the Dreamin' Vintage fabrics as "focal" pieces and pieced most of the blocks with the solids. And it totally worked. The solids gave the prints room to shine and stand out in a way they couldn't before.

When I came to remake those first blocks I messed up and remade one twice, and one not at all. As a result I have two blocks the same in the final quilt - I liked the remakes better than one of the other blocks in the quilt so swapped - I don't think it's too obvious! I finally added the sahing at the beginning of March and quilted it a week ago. I bought a little extra dark pink solid - my favourite fabric of the solids - to bind it.
The introduction of what Michael calls "1980s-caravan-orange"

And the best part of my change of direction to include more solids: I have loads of the fabric left, so I've added a new project to my WIP list - a hexagon table runner for the sideboard in our dining room.

As far as I'm concerned this is the ultimate happy fabric and the quilt just makes me smile - even when it's snowing outside! This is my first all Art Gallery quilt, and I'm looking forward to getting it washed and crinkly from the tumble drier!

This is a Finish Along finish - in honesty it's been on the list several times - but you can find it on my Q1 finish along list here.
Marci Girl Designs