Tuesday, 31 December 2019

Review of 2019

Another year is over and it has been a hell of a year. I gave birth to Josh on 18th January and it's been a crazy ride since then - we've had loads of great family times, exploring the local National Trust and English Heritage properties and venturing further afield too. I can't believe that Josh will be a year old in just a few weeks time. Jess started nursery and Mia continues to love school and really excel at everything. I went back to work in June, and whilst it's been hard work juggling everything, with more travel that I was expecting, I still love my job and I'm looking forward to the challenges of 2020.

I've also fitted in some sewing - people keep asking how I do it but the reality is that if I didn't do I would be incredibly unhappy - it's what keeps me balanced day to day and whilst on maternity leave it gave a me a focus that wasn't just feed, change nappies, sleep, change nappies, feed.... whilst I love being a mother and I love my kids, I have to have Jennie-time too.

Here are the quilts I've finished this year.

 Hidden Agenda (the quiet side)

I also made lots and lots of smaller projects: pouches, cushions, tubs....

And then I worked on lots of projects which are still Works in Progress: maybe they'll appear as a finish in 2020....

Clearly when I prepared those final mosaics, I didn't realise I'd picked the same picture twice for the Summer Sampler (2018 version), nor did I expect to finish the Summer Sampler, which crept in under the wire.

Happy New Year - may 2020 be excellent!

Summer Sampler [A finish]

This is my final finish of 2019, and I really didn't think I would make it! This is the Summer Sampler which was run a four-month-long block of the month by Sarah Edgar of Pretty Fabrics and Trims. Everything about this project was beautiful: the instructions were beautifully presented, the fabrics absolutely gorgeous, and the patterns are lovely: little blocks, mixing all my favourite techniques: applique, English Paper Piecing, hand embroidery and some machine piecing. And then there's the beautiful little extras - a touch  of lace here, and a button there... it's far and away the prettiest thing I have ever made!

It's also quite the departure from my normal style, but I have adored every minute I spent working on this project - so much so that I have signed up for two more blocks of the month from Sarah.

The quilt finishes at 18" x 24" and is entirely hand quilted - using the 12w Aurifil provided as part of the kit. I'm hoping to get this up on the wall of our living room soon - I actually remembered to dd hanging corners to this as I added the binding!

This was on my Q4 finish along list, which you can find here.
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Cathedral Window Pouch [A Finish]

And now for the other piece of fabric I had printed by Print Me Pretty. this was another piece of text - my paternal Grandmother's travel diary from 1957 - Devon and Cornwall. The scale of this print is slightly larger than the marmalade recipe from my last post, so the Lola Pouch (pattern by Sotak Handmade) I made for this was considerably bigger - my intention was that it could house the journals themselves as a gift for my Dad for Christmas.

I just love how matter-of-fact my Granny's writing is. The act of putting the car in the ditch is given equal waiting to what they had for tea! If I'd put the car in a ditch I'd never hear the end of it!

For the reverse of the pouch I decided to try my hand at a Cathedral Window panel. This is a technique I haven't done before, but it was something my Granny did a lot of, so it seemed fitting for this pouch. The fabrics are all Quantum by Guicy Guice fabrics, and a Kona cream for the base. It felt like an awful lot of preparation was required, and the technique eats fabric, but once it was all prepared and I just had to roll the edges to create the curves and applique them down, I found myself quite enjoying it! I'm not sure there's a whole quilt of this in my future, but I wouldn't say never ever again! Maybe a cushion?

Again I made the base with the copper pleather - a bit girlier than I had intended but it matches the colouring of the journal well. The pouch is so large and the base quite small in relation, so you can't see it in the pictures I took. Dad was thrilled with it on Christmas morning.

This was on my Q4 Finish Along list, which you can find here.
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Marmalade Pouch [A Finish]

Earlier in the year, I had some fabric custom-printed by a UK based company called Print Me Pretty. It was a bit of a risk as I had no idea what I was doing, but I ordered a metre each of two very special pages of text. First up was a page of the family marmalade recipe from my Mum's side. We're not sure if it's written by my Granny or my Great Granny, but it's the family recipe - I have plans to try it out this coming January! I love the page - you can see all the splatter from countless marmalades over the years!

I decided to use it to make a large Lola Pouch for my Mum for Christmas. On one side is this recipe fabric and on the other is a free motion embroidery of oranges and marmalade. I did a little free motion embroidery about 5 years ago, and then tried again at the Sewing Shindig retreat in September this year with the lovely Lesley (@mrs_moog). I had an image in my head and I really wasn't sure I could pull it off, but I have to say I'm pretty pleased with the result - it's pretty much exactly what I had imagined, and I have plans to use this technique more in the coming year.

The Lola Pouch pattern by Sotak Handmade is one of my most-used patterns this year - I love how the finish, with the binding round the zip, just gives the pouch a little something extra special. The base of the pouch if a copper coloured pleather - I'd had a couple of practices with this pleather and I've been really pleased with how it sews up. I even remembered to put on the tabs.... normally I forget and find the tab on my sewing desk once I've finished! The fabric for borders and binding is Lizzy House Constellations in Olive Green, and I added just a little bit of hand quilting to the embroidery side. And some machine quilting on the recipe.

I gave it to my Mum on Christmas day and she was over the moon with it. I'll tell you about the second fabric I had printed in my next post! This was on my Q4 Finish Along list, which you can find here.

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Monday, 30 December 2019

Jessica's Christmas Decoration [A Finish]

And here is Jessica's. Another pattern by Threadfolk, handembroidered in very Jessica colours.

This was on my original Finish Along list.
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Mia's Christmas Decoration [A Finish]

Every year I like to make a tree decoration for the girls, which I put in the Christmas Eve box for them to hang themselves. I chose some Christmassy patterns by Threadfolk. A tree for Mia.

It's hand embroidered in DMC Threads with a few beads for added glitz.

This was on my Finish Along list which you can see here.
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Some smaller makes - tubs and pouches

I've made a few bits and pieces in the last few months which didn't appear on my original list for this quarter, but each had a purpose! I have become particularly fond of the Lola Pouch by Sotak Handmade. As well as using it for the pouch I made as part of the Shindig swap, I've followed the small size in the pattern to make three more Lola Pouches:

The first was made so I could take my clover clips to Retreat in style!

The second is a pencil case, also for me. I used my favourite Pinkerville print with an old pair of jeans. I lined it in the denim as well, as a nice sturdy finish.

And the third was a practice run using some pleather, which I gifted as a Christmas present.

And then I made the larger size pouch, with butterfly fabric and more of the pleather as another gift.

I made a small key pouch in another favourite Pinkerville fabrics too - and used Kam Snaps for the first time!

The other pattern I enjoyed making was the Tub Family pattern by Rosie Taylor. I made one in the largest size on a whim and it now keeps our supply of sweeties safe.

And after getting a substantial number of subtle hints about it, I made a nesting set of three as a Christmas present for my mother-in-law.

There will definitely be more pouches and tubs in the coming months.... further subtle hints have been received!

Thursday, 26 December 2019

Shark Cushion [A finish]

I have a nephew who loves sharks. So what would any good Aunty do? They'd make him a shark cushion of course. No friendly cartoon sharks here. Oh no! I great big scary realistic great white of course! I bought the foundation piecing pattern from Quilt Art Design and I have to confess that when I printed it out in October, ready to make it for his birthday, I looked at it, swore, and put it away. Hell no! But I don't like to be beaten, and whilst it wasn't done for his birthday I decided to give it a go for Christmas. It was a spur of the moment decision really. I thought "I really should make that cushion" and before I had time to change my mind, I cut out the pattern pieces and found the fabric. And once I had it laid out on the table I took another look, and queried my sanity again....

But foundation piecing is all the same.... just sew the next seam... piece the next section, and gradually it grows and you wonder what all the fuss was about. Right? The first evening I decimated half a metre of the blue background but got all the edge sections pieced. The second evening I worked on the body. And the third day was the teeth. It's just another seam...just another seam. Until those seams are barely four stitches long and the resulting pieces nearly require a magnifying glass to be seen.

But you know what, the sections went together well, and before I knew it I had a 20" shark. Picking out the paper can be a bit of a chore, so I helped my friend Tina baste a quilt and she helped pick the papers out... she left me the teeth....

I did some basic wavy line quilting and used a fab shark print from @sewhot for the back. No zips in seams here - just a regular zip across the back. Upside-down, but he won't notice.

And I think he liked it - my sister-in-law sent me a picture of him watching TV the next week with the cushion, so I'll take that! This was a finish from my Q4 finish along list. You can find my original list here.
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