Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Work in Progress!

I'm spending time 'rebuilding' my sewing room / study / spare room - so here's the tour of how its looking at the moment.

Starting off behind the door - this bookshelf is a work in progress - lots of juggling things about as items return to the room and I choose their new locations.

To the right you can just see my 'design wall' (a fleece on a pole) .
Another shot further around the room.  You can see some shelves on the back wall which are now starting to fill up with books.

One day there will be a sofa bed on the back wall, with a quilt hanging above it.

You can see the flattened boxes that I've emptied and you can see the bookshelf lying down that won't fit in, and drawer units that were on their way to under my sewing table.
 Further round the room, you can see the second of the two windows that look over the garden.  My laptop is set up nearest the window, the one that my DDs use is right next to it (part of the reason for having two chairs along this table.

When you are re-sorting it always looks like such a mess, doesn't it?
 Final shot, showing the layout right the way back round to the door where we started.

Difficult to tell from the photos, but the room is a stubby L shape.  The tables are a total of 2.8m.  The opposite wall is just over 2m.

So my WIP is unpacking, sorting, organising.  Its going to take a while!
This represents the total of my sewing output - a zippy purse and a warmer.  Its not much, but enough to keep me happy that I've at least started sewing in the 'new' room!

It feels good to be able to do even just a little back in here.

Hope that you are enjoying your summer too!

Friday, 7 August 2015

Disappearing Hour Glass

 There are some great tutorials for this block on the web already.
I'm not trying to compete - just to put this where I can always find it after I spent a few minutes wondering how to replicate a block that I'd made some time ago (and wrongly thinking that it started with a pinwheel block!).
 Take two 10" squares of fabric.  Lay them right sides together and sew all around them.

Cut them across both diagonals (and I'd recommend carefully pressing them open at this stage, although I rarely follow my own advice!).
 Lay them out in this pattern - which I think is called 'hour glass' although some people might use that name just for the centre four triangles in this arrangement.

Tricky business, getting block names right!

Sew together and press again.
 Your block will probably be 12 2/3" square.

Slice into thirds in each direction (so for this size, 4 1/4" per slice).
 Rotate the corner and centre blocks to get to this pattern (I like the little butterflies in it, which will remind me that this is the week when my DD2's butterflies hatched).
 Make enough that you can make a quilt!

I didn't have enough blue with me to make the nine blocks that I wanted to, so make the rest with a blue backed floral, which wasn't quite as close tonally as I'd hoped!
I decided that this was the better of the two layouts that I tried.  Still not perfect for showing off the  pattern that it made when the blocks come together, but enough to get the idea of it!

I might be putting this back on my list of things to make more / make again.  I think that it would work really well as a scrappy quilt and I'm pretty sure that I already have some 10" squares cut and in my scrap drawers.

This will make a reasonable baby quilt, though.  about 32" finished size.

Layering, basting and quilting next on my list of things to do!

Basted and Quilted

 I finally found enough clear and clean floor where I could (spray) baste the two parts of my Dear Jane.

It was then folded up, bundled into a bag and stuffed into a crate with my other sewing supplies so that it could come on holiday with me!
 I've been wondering for years quite how I was going to quilt this project.

I tried out several patterns on a sample sandwich and decided that I'd give the 'flame' pattern (difficult to see here, but it's on the right hand side) a go as an all over pattern.
 This was my sewing area for the week.  Some people might think that it was a dressing table, what with the mirror behind it and everything....but with the addition of the ironing board it made a great place to quilt!
 I started with the smaller of the two pieces.  Then got on and trimmed and bound it, ready to hand sew the back of the binding and the hanging sleeve over the rest of the week.
 Then it was time to tackle the larger piece.  It really is on the limits of what I can comfortably handle, and I'm afraid that some of the quilting reflects that!  I'm not sure that the sashing will be quite as straight and true as it was before I started quilting it!

Never mind, it's quilted, by me, and ready for trimming and binding when I get back to my largest cutting mat at home!
Of course, I stopped for frequent breaks to gaze at the view. Difficult to see here, but we have the most fabulous view over a village and some fields to the sand dunes, beach and sea.  Whatever the weather (and it's been changeable this week, to say the least!) its been a fascinating vista!

Tuesday, 28 July 2015

Bits and Bobs

I've had a good run of quilting over the last few weeks - concentrating on my UFO's has been a good way to make progress for me - until this week when life (and holidays!) got in the way of sewing time!

A couple of weeks ago I went to an entertaining talk by Jo Avery at my quilt group, Richmond and Kew Quilters.  Pretty much defining what makes a 'Modern Quilt' with lots of examples to show us.  Her work is always fun - you might have seen it in Love Patchwork and Quilting magazine - but you can also see some on her blog here.

I bought a book that she'd co-authored too: 50 Fat Quarter Makes.  Lots of small projects that look perfect for my DD's and I want to sew over the holidays!

Just as well, as I've only managed two small sewing tasks this week: patching a hole in DD2's leggings (!) and making a small zipper pouch so that I could walk DD2 and one of her friends through how to make them.  I managed it and the girls were very pleased with their pencil case sized pouches, even if I did forget to take a photo of them before they were whisked away!
This was my version - which has already found a purpose, housing my 'power block' (remote charger) and various leads when we went away for a few nights.

Not big, not clever, but a zipped and lined pouch is quite a good little sewing project to have under our belts, so to speak!

I hope that you are having happy summer sewing too!
Next week I hope to have made more progress on my Dear Jane again.

Wednesday, 22 July 2015

Small Stuff

Having put aside my Dear Jane for the moment, until I've got a clear enough floor to baste it (well, 'them' - see my last post!), I've been making small stuff.

Like this micro quilt - just 3 1/4" square, with an improv 12 patch middle, fully bound.  Fun to do to and inspired by Amanda jane at crazymomquilts.

I expect to make more over the summer - they are a good way to use a tiny bit of scrap stash with a fun result.
 More small things here - trying to see what I could make out of two tea towels from Poundland.  The answer was: a notebook cover, a tissue pouch, a zipper pouch and a tiny purse.  I had fun with these, but the tea towels I was using were quite loosely woven, which means that I'm not sure that these objects are going to last with much use.....

Thanks, Benta, for the original idea for the zipper purse and tea towel use, though!
I've also made four fabric postcards.

These two I took photos of, the other ones,  It turns out that I didn't!

I also failed to take photos of another couple of personalised covered notebooks and tissue holders - last minute end-of-term stuff!
Lastly, with hardly any sewing, a bunting card to celebrate another significant birthday for a friend.

In between these I've been sewing a few of my little storm at sea blocks.

Now that the school holidays have started in earnest it's more difficult to work on larger projects but at least I'm getting my sewing fix in other ways!

Saturday, 18 July 2015

Measure Twice......

Thank you everyone who weighed in with an opinion on my Dear Jane dilemma.

I decided that it would be nice to have a quilt on display that fitted the space, so after some deliberation, and knowing the width of the space, decided that I would change the layout.

I knew that if I had the blocks just 10 columns across that they would fit in the width of wall that I had available.  Great!  So I would remove the other three columns and use them to create four more rows, with just one more block needed in order to do that.

I created this block.  Totally unlike the Dear Jane blocks in execution, this is fusible applique with a little FMQ 'embroidery'.

I'm happy that it shows something that represents my family (I was pregnant with my first daughter when I started this quilt, now I have two wonderful girls of 12 and 10).  It records the time that it took to make the blocks on the front of the quilt not just on a label on the back.

I sashed around this block with new sashing fabric to denote that it was different to the others.  I re-jigged the other blocks to make my new rectangular quilt.

Just one error.  You are probably familiar with the phrase 'measure twice, cut once'?  Unfortunately, in my head I knew that the new wall under the window was HUGE, but the problem is that in real life it's not as huge as my quilt!!!  Doh!

I'm still laughing at myself!

I've carried the quilt top around the house, and I still haven't got anywhere else big enough to put it up!

I'm going to end up with a 'Jane in Two Parts' - there will be two rows above the new window, 15 rows below.  It is, I admit, an even more unconventional layout than I was thinking of earlier in the week (!) - but at least I get all the blocks on one wall.

Rods and brackets are ordered - I just need to get on with unpicking a seam and adding some more border strips so that I can get my (two for the price of one) quilts backed, basted, quilted, bound and finished!

I might just go and measure that wall again before I set to, though!

Wish me luck!

Wednesday, 15 July 2015

Dear Jane Dilemma

 I don't understand it.   Apparently the phrase 'standing on the edge of history' is rather too grand, in the opinion of my family, to describe coming to the end of making the last of my Dear Jane squares!

 I'm not sure that it was grand enough.  A twelve year journey condensed into a 13 x 13 square of blocks!
 These were the last ones to be made.
 And here it is, sashed.

Naturally I found that I hadn't got enough of the sashing fabric to add the last two narrow borders to frame it, so I went and bought something fairly similar, but still different.  All in the spirit of this scrappy creation.

However, I have a dilemma.  I have the (almost) perfect place in mind to hang the quilt when it's finished. It's the *almost* that's a problem.  The space (which is nearly finished - the window should go in later today) isn't *exactly* perfect.
It isn't as wide as the quilt.  So, before I baste and quilt this piece I have a decision to make.

Should I do the nearly unthinkable and shuffle the layout so that I have a rectangular quilt?  It would mean losing four blocks from it, turning the quilt into an 11 x 15 block quilt.  It feels wrong to be doing that in one way (the 'rule keeper' way) but right to make something that fits my space (the pragmatic, excited to display way).  What would you do?

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

A finish and a L O N G term WIP!

 I'm back working on my Dear Jane again!

I started it on 28th January 2003, just over 12 short (!) years ago. 

I've worked on it in fits and starts.  The last blocks I made were in August 2014, but I feel that the time has come to buck up my ideas and finish all the square blocks. I never intended to make the triangles, as I only have limited space for the quilt.
 It turns out that I stopped with only 10 blocks left to make!

These are the four that I've made this week, and I'm planning on making the final six next week.

I'm hoping to finish it completely before October.  Wish me luck!
This is my finish!  My 'Military Wives song' Round Robin quilt!
Difficult to photograph at 72" wide, but this was my best attempt.  The bulgy bit on the LHS is where it is hung over a wall light. 
 This is a clearer shot of the left half.
The top strip is the 'made up' one from bits and bobs and scraps by me to balance the top.
The second strip is by Nerida - the purple square represents a travelling soldier, always part of the family unit but not always in the same place.
The third strip was my 'starter strip'.
The fourth strip by Karen who knows one of the military wives choir members.  There is a Southern Belle block to represent her, chevrons to represent her recently promoted husband and the three purple accents representing their three children.

On the right hand side from the top down I have Jane's block which represents the blue airmail letters being a bridge of communication - squares for the letters, triangles for the questions and answers that they contain.
Then there is Benta's extra strip - some of the text of the song embroidered.
Third down I have Marjolyn's pieced strip, including a star of destiny, interlocked squares (representing families together) and delectable mountains for the ups and downs of life.
Finally I have some of Benta's hexie work - representing the heads of the choir from a high shot taken of them singing.

I'm so lucky to have such beautiful work from my quilting friends - it's been a pleasure to bring this quilt into a whole piece.

I should also remember to say 'thank you' to  Benta's friend 'Willit' for her inspired idea to add some orange flashes to the binding to help balance it.  They only just show up in the photos, but there are there and definitely add to the whole.  I let them fall at random around my binding (good for overcoming my control freak instincts!) and I'm pretty happy with how that worked out.

So, big thanks to Nerida, Karen, Jane, Marjolyn, Benta and Willit for their contributions to my completed quilt hanging.  I can't wait for the builders to complete their work (just three more weeks, I hope!) so that we can hang it in it's destination wall space!

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.