Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Quilting, quilting, quilting!

 I've spent most of my sewing time this week quilting this wall hanging - my Round Robin from my quilting group.

No 'proper' photos of the whole thing, as it's about 72" wide, so hard for me to get a full shot without involving two people to hold it for me!

What you can see here is one of the diamonds that is filled with quilting.
 There are three of them - I'm showing them from the back so that there is a better chance of the quilting showing up.

Each diamond is 15" square and each one took about 2 hours to quilt. 

I started off with a couple of circles in each square but it was pretty difficult to see the blue wash out pen on the blue fabric, so I only used a circle construct on the centre diamond, shown below.
   I used a 'Graffiti Quilting' approach, starting in the middle and working out from there, adding different motifs as I thought of them.  When I'd made a large medallion I filled the rest of the space with a small stipple stitch.
This is on the back too -  a strip of blue breaking up the white slubbed fabric.

It's just as well that my new spools of white cotton arrived, even at 50wt each diamond took at least a bobbin full of thread, showing just how dense it is!

As you can see, I just used 1" wide parallel lines aside from the FMQ panels.

Next I'll be adding the binding and the hanging sleeve before washing out the blue guide lines.

Tuesday, 23 June 2015

A Milestone, "Heart It" Finish and a WIP

 The milestone?  My youngest gaining her double figured birthday and turning 10!

Party cake was a replica (well, almost, my family pointed out all the errors like missing a crucial gap / obstacle) of the floating obstacle course that she and her friends had traversed for the first part of the party.

It seemed to go down well, and, of course, we have another set of Playmobil swimmers to add to our large stash of playthings!

 Then there was the actual birthday cake(s).  One lemon, one chocolate.

The birthday went well, with friends, family and fun all day long.

 Of course, Daddy had to play that he thought that she was '01' not '10' - a joke that she enjoyed, naturally!
My finish is one that I'm proud of.  I'm pleased to say that I've finished my version of 'Heart It' by Esther Aliu (pattern here if you feel inspired to make your own).

I'm delighted with how it looks!  60" square is as big as I want to deal with when I'm quilting something though!

 The binding is complete now, and I've even stitched a hanging sleeve on the back so that I can display it at our quilt group show later this year.

Its been such a lovely project and a good way to use some of my blue scraps!
 Taking a shot across the quilt shows you a little bit about how the grey 'bowties' are raised above the quilted surface. 

You might just be able to make out the different scale of the quilting in the scallops and hearts border - much smaller and tighter.  It makes the applique shapes stand out a little, which is what I want.

One project finished, another in progress!

This is my 'round robin' quilt - laid out, basted and ready for me to start quilting.  The ruler, plates and bowls were all to help me make some marks to guide my quilting.  I'm planning to start with a some walking foot squares and than add in some free motion quilting.

This plan might have to go on hold for the moment, though, as I've just discovered that I'm almost out of the white thread that I'm planning to use.  Perhaps I'll start and see how far I get!

Hope that you are having a good week with your chosen craft too!

Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Sweet scrappy projects

I finished sewing down the binding on the big sister of the 16 patch quilt that I showed last week.  This is 40" square, so not a bad size.  I made it to use up some bright jelly-roll type strips and a metallic-y spray pattern background fabric.

Another finish for my Project Linus pile and a little more out of the scrap drawers!  Almost completed in March.....but I'm happy to have finished it now!
This is a mini scrap project - more photos next week - where I wanted to use up the bits and bobs that I'd created from either trimming my Round Robin created strips or that I created with the left over bits that came back to me from the fabrics that I'd provided.

Once I'd hit on my size and shape (I've decided on a wall hanging for above where a new sofa bed will go once the building work is complete) it was straightforward to decide on a layout for the existing strips.  I just needed one more strip to complete it.  So, by next week I hope to have completed the top, basted it, and perhaps even to have started quilting it.  A girl can hope!
I have also been diligently quilting my Heart It quilt.  Soon I'll be binding it, but it might be a while to complete that, as I'm still only hand sewing for about 20 minutes every day.  Much better than nothing, but it's going to take me a while to get around a 60" square quilt!

My other sewing project this week has been to make these 'anti-ouch pouches' - underarm cushions with a strap to hold them in place.  If you know someone who undergoes breast cancer surgery please think about making one or two of these for them.  They are fast to make (about 30 minutes including stuffing and finishing, I should think) and can make people much more comfortable.

I'm sending lots of good wishes and hopes for a speedy recovery to my cousin Jilly.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Hurrah! Getting on with Projects!

 This is my current sewing space - a corner of our bedroom which also houses 'the study' - laptop, printer etc.

Its not as big as the space that I usually have, but I realise that I am lucky to be able to dedicate any space at all to it!

I've only sewn through a pile of paper once (so far!) whilst quilting.  Not to self to remove ALL loose items from the surfaces first!
 More exciting than anything else happening (and that says volumes when you see the exciting progress on the building work!) is that my hand and wrist have improved sufficiently for me to be able to hand stitch (just a little!) again.

I started with the back of the binding on this little ' Angelika' (small quilt from leftovers of a bigger quilt).  I couldn't quite remember when I'd made it - but searching back on the blog I mentioned it and it's big sister in early March, so it was due to be finished!
 Yet more excitement, as I finally accepted that even with a hand that could sew a little, I wasn't prepared to let it loose on actual quilting (which for me is still a more difficult skill).

So, this hand quilting (from before my hand problems) on my Love Entwined will stay, but not be joined by any more.
 So, free from 'wants and wishes' I embarked on simple machine quilting for my LE.

I carried on using the same King Tut variegated quilting thread. The texture is very different to hand quilting, but it won't be clogging my mind as an unfinished piece!

Here are the four quarters of my (now finished for me!) Love Entwined project.

Look carefully and you'll see a snake coming out of one of the flowers on the left of this bouquet.
 These little berried were so close together that the machine foot wanted to catch under their stitching when I was quilting around them - but I managed!
 You can see that I simplified the pattern slightly - no additional tiny circles on the grey pointed oval shapes that make up a flower.
 The final corner.  I tried to major on a different part of the colour wheel for each vase and display, whilst bringing in enough of the fabrics from the other corners to tie them together.
 So this is the back of my baby Love Entwined.
(Shown before I stitched the hanging sleeve down).
And this is the front of it.  I'm thrilled to have finished this section - and full of admiration for people who have taken on the whole thing, which is much, much larger than mine.

I've really enjoyed making this, but I'm also happy that its finished so that I'll be able to display it (once the builders are through with making dust!).

I've just started quilting my Heart It quilt now, so still plenty more fun to be had in my little quilting space!

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Where once there was sewing.....

 This is how my sewing room looks at the moment.

What you can't see is all the dust hanging in the air from when they took the ceiling down.  We live next to a railway, and it looked as though there were a lot of steam train smuts from the pre-electric era that had gathered under that slate roof and above the ceiling.  Black dust everywhere, despite the best efforts of the builders to contain it!
 This is looking up through the joists to where the chimney breast has been taken down.

So far, just the cosmetic work has been started, and scaffolding put up outside.

Soon they will be taking down the left hand wall and building a 'floating' extension.

I've retreated to my 'cave' - our bedroom which is now home to my sewing machine, PC and our 'important' paperwork!
For light relief DD2 and I went out for a trip as she had a day off school.

We both like coming across labyrinths in the underground stations.  Just the sort of thing to help calm the mind, either from the concern about the builders starting or the excitement of a first trip to Oxford Street shops!

I did manage to get the Heart It quilt basted last week, before the dust descended.  As it's 60" square I'm working up to the idea of quilting it in my temporarily reduced space by quilting another project instead - I hope to have a photo or two to show you next week!

Hope that you are enjoying some early summer crafting!

Wednesday, 27 May 2015

More progress

 Not quite as much progress as I'd hoped (half term will do that to anyone!) but I have managed to put my final 'bow tie' border on.

Keeping on with the 'randuko' (that's Avril's newly coined word for random / Suduko scattering of items - in this case the grey centres of my bow ties and the background creams and whites*)  I'm quite pleased with how it's coming along.

I'd be even more pleased if I hadn't made a mistake putting the borders on, resulting in an interruption to the alternate white and cream background squares - doh!  I did consider correcting it, but the prospect of so much stitch ripping didn't really appeal to me, so I'm just going to consider it 'one of those things' and learn to ignore it!

At 56" square it's hard to take a flat photo of it in my craft room as it currently is.

Still, what the photo does confirm is that I'd like to frame the quilt with a scrappy blue border.

Time to get cutting the rest of those scrap fabrics into little strips!

* I've also been randukoing couscous (scattered cucumber and cheese cubes in packed lunches) and rice salads.  I'll be using the art of randuko on my border strips too, I'm sure!

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Serried Ranks

 More progress on my 'Heart It' quilt top - all the hearts and scallops added for me now.

I'm really pleased with how it looks so far.

On the opposite side of the room are the serried ranks of bowtie blocks ready to be chain pieced, now that I've put them into 'random' (we quilters really need a word to describe something that is closer to Suduko than random, where we organise so not too many 'sames' appear in the layout where we want 'scatters'!).

 Wish I hadn't spent so much time on other admin, though, as I wanted to have made more progress!

 I forgot to mention my purchase last week.

I've bought one of these cute shopping totes from Benta.

She is making them with a variety of fabrics on the birds - very pretty!  Let her know if you'd like to buy one too!

Sorry that the photos don't really do it justice, but it is lovely!

Wednesday, 13 May 2015

Scalloping Along

 This week I've been working on the longer scallop borders, and I thought that I'd share how I set them out.

I measured the 2 1/2" strips - this border is 36 1/2" long.

Using a water erasable pen (choose your favourite disappearing marker here!) I drew a line 1/2" from one of the long sides.
 Then I measured in 1/4" from the end, and marked every 2" on the long line that was drawn first.

Finally I lay out my scallops so that the top of the curve just touched my 2" apart marks and pinned them in place.  You will have a lovely line of scallops to applique round, properly spaced.  You may want to catch the flat edges of the scallops down with a line of machine stitching - I like to make sure that I'm within the 1/4" seam allowance when I do that.

The next thing for me to do is to make my corner blocks.  Again, a slight departure from Esther's pattern (sorry Esther, no disrespect intended, just fiddling because I can!).

I've made a tear drop shape in Word, and I'm planning to applique this shape into the four corners of the scallop border.  I'm expecting to finish these borders and the next ring of bowties this week.  Exciting times!

My other excitement this week was going to a talk by Ruth Singer, a textile artist based in Leicester, at the Richmond and Kew Quilters.

Lovely thought provoking work.  I bought a card and several post cards of her work to add to my pinboard.

Happy sewing everyone!

Wednesday, 6 May 2015

The Middle of the Middle

 I've started putting things together!

In truth, I haven't quite finished the bow tie blocks (nearly though!) - but I decided to start the layout on my 'design wall' (otherwise known as a bit of fleece hung on the wall!).

Of course, once I'd put the blocks up I wanted to start joining them together - so I did!

It's very exciting when you get to that stage, isn't it?
 Wobbly photos - but you can see a little more of the fabrics that I've been using here.

You can also see that I've made a slight variation to Esther's pattern and put a quarter circle in the corner instead of a straight triangle.  I think that a tear drop with the smallest part of the drop into the inner corner might work even better, but I didn't think of that early enough in the process!
I took this photo slantwise to try and show the dimension of the grey squares in my 3D bow tie blocks.

It's all very exciting, isn't it?  I'm looking forward to working on it again this week and perhaps getting the top (or at least, the part of the top that I'm planning on making - I'm not going to make the outer hearts and scallops) completed.

Hope that you have some happy stitching planned this week too!

Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Scallops Galore!

There is something very satisfying about seried ranks of prepared pieces!

These were the scallops as I was counting them into sets (groups of 30 scallops - 12 for the shorter borders, 18 for the longer ones).

I've used my cool colour scraps - and it's lovely to see part of an old dress, fabric I used on the girls pushchair, a little from the very first set of FQs that I bought.....all sorts of delights from my quilting life!
Here are the short borders laid out.
The top row are machine appliqued, the missing row is on the sewing machine, and the two bottom rows are waiting for their turn for the zig zag process.

This week hasn't been a week with much time for sewing -but I have cleared out / boxed up a lot of my sewing space (which is also library and study as well as general dumping ground, it turns out!) and been looking after my DH who is rather immobile following an op on his foot.  More of the same for the next week, I think, although we'll have a better routine in place, so I'm hoping I'll carve out a bit more sewing time again.

Hope that you are finding time to enjoythe things that you love too!

Wednesday, 22 April 2015


 So lasagne and scallops may not be an ideal meal, but it entertained me that the photos I have to show you this week both have food names!

This 'lasagne' quilt was made by me a few weeks ago, as part of my scrap busting burst of energy.

I suppose that I should call it a coverlet rather than a quilt, as it is quilted straight onto fleece rather than having three layers.

It was fun and fast to sew, but I had hoped that the light and dark fabrics would distribute themselves more evenly across the whole piece.  I know that I could have ripped some stitches out and changed it, but I felt that that would be cheating, so left it more imperfect than perhaps I really like.
The scallops (not the edible kind at all!) are the ones from Esther's 'Heart It' quilt.  I've finally got around to starting the ironing / cutting / gluing process with the shapes that I'd got others to cut out for me.  I can only cut a few each day, though, as I'm still being careful with my wrist.

In the shoe box are the bowtie blocks from the quilt.  Not quite finished them yet, but nearly!  It's nice to be making progress on this quilt again.

Happy stitching, everyone!

Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Machine Pleasure

 I've really enjoyed being able to do a little machine sewing this week - time and my (slightly less rubbish than it was) wrist have allowed it!

These 'wiggly bags' (bags for looking after the 'central lines' put in for people receiving chemo therapy) were made for a friend.  Slightly different sizes until I hear which is the best size for him.
 I've also made some progress on Esther Aliu's 'heart it' pattern.  Here are the 'bow tie' blocks - some just as 2 1/2" squares, some partially constructed. 
 I'm hoping to complete all of these blocks this week.  I'm making good progress on the bow ties, but still have only sewn around one of the applique hearts..

Then it will be time to start working on the scallops which were cut out before the Easter Hols.  Lots more still to do!
Difficult to pick out the white on whites and creams in the photo - it's a bit easier in real life!  I've gone as scrappy as I can without buying any more fabrics.  I'm quite pleased with the range that I had for the blues / greys / creams, although it turns out that I didn't have as much 'white on white' as I thought.

I've also been entertaining myself by drawing up a list of projects to make / finish over the next few months.  There is a chance that my sewing room will be out of commission for a while so I'm planning on projects which won't rely on full access to my stash and rarely used tools, just in case they are in storage.

Of course, it turns out that I've now got five projects with only minimal cutting required for them, so I should have plenty to go at!