Wednesday, 16 April 2014

Book-ings now being taken!

 With the season of school leaving / teacher thank you gifts fast approaching (or at least, it certainly feels that way!) I am DELIGHTED to tell you that I have finally found a book cover finish that I am really pleased with.

Of course, a good blogger would have it all neatly detailed with splendid photos and a concise yet clear set of instructions.

Of course, a good blogger may not have her brain fried by the delights of the Easter Holidays (!).  The fact that I have anything to show at all is remarkable!

However, as I plan to make more of these covers, I will, at some point, try and make an illustrated tutorial.

I know, of course that this will just give you all a chance to say to yourselves "Didn't she know this before?" when you see how simple it is, but  I've been living life in the slow lane and this is my own personal revelation.

If I say 'turn through method, but remember to add the extra sleeve pieces before you sew around it' most of you will be able to work out exactly what I mean without any fancy tutorial.  That's the joy of like minded people congregating on the internet!

So I shall leave you with these (not brilliant) photos of the book cover that I have made (in real life I'd be making you admire the FMQ carefully stitched around each element of the logo.....) and go off to continue celebrating the tidy finish on it!

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Late Finish for March Quilt

I'm trying to keep up with my 'quilts from stash' one a month idea.

This is slightly late, I admit, but is now finished. The flimsy was made in March, but it's taken until now in April to get it finished.

It's a little less than 60" square - so quite big blocks - but all made without purchasing anything extra.

The quilting is a large stipple with occasional flowers dotted along the stipple lines.  I like how fast meandering is for quilting - it took less than an hour and a half to quilt this.  I tend to add small motifs when I want a bit more interest.  As I was quilting with white thread the flowers are mainly on the darker fabric.

I was pleased that I managed to remember to get the stripes in the darker fabric to march neatly across - I'm not great at using directional fabric, so it was great to actually think about the directions before I sewed everything together!  Perhaps my years of quilting are finally starting to pay off!

Thursday, 3 April 2014


Apologies to anyone who'd prefer not to have to use 'word verification' when leaving a comment, but spam levels have become frustratingly high, so I've decided to add the verification.

I do hope this doesn't dissuade anyone (real!) from leaving a comment in the future!

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Who's the prawn singing to?

I have to confess that 'Who's the prawn singing to?' wasn't what I was expecting to hear when I made a little exuberant quilted piece.  I was thinking that it was abstract swirls and curves and lovely bright colours to celebrate life whilst we still can!

However, stepping back from the glorious spring feeling, I can understand the question, although I don't have an answer to it!

Of course, I can't actually blame that question for not getting this project (destined to be a book cover, I've decided - it's roughly A4) finished.  Sigh.  Another UFO for the moment.
On a happier note I did manage to both start and finish this (18") cushion cover yesterday.  A teacher will be getting married during the Easter hols.  As she has managed to cope with both my girls during their progression through the school and still takes them at singing club, I thought that we should show some appreciation with a cushion that combined her initial, that of her fiancĂ©, and their shared love of music.  Hope that she likes it!

Both pieces use a very pale blue Madeira thread on Kona snow for the background - this could be a new love for me!

However, I'm very aware that I only have part of one reel of it, and I'm not entirely sure that it would be enough to quilt the disappearing nine patch which is next on my quilting list (it's backed and basted, but didn't get any further than that) so I will probably have to leave it for another quilt or two.

Hope that spring has sprung wherever you are!

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

More Cake!

 It was a cake week again!  This time the actual birthday was celebrated with an after school tea-party and jewellery making session (oh, and a bit of a play with the hens!).

Chocolate cake with chocolate butter icing, a palisade of chocolate finger biscuits, topped with chocolate buttons and lots of other chocolates across the top.....what can I say?  It was chocalicious!
I have to be honest, not a whole lot of sewing going on again.  Just these two little samples to check that this bird design and size would be suitable for a 'district craft day' - Brownies and Guides give so much to my girls that it would be hard to turn down an invitation to run a crafting activity as part of a full day of crafting early next month.

Now I need to start on cutting out the pairs of bird shapes - lots of them!  That way the girls will be able to concentrate on the sewing and decorating rather than the cutting, and I get to protect my favourite Gingher scissors!

Hope that you are enjoying some spring crafting too!

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

One hour and eleven minutes

 One hour and eleven minutes is all it took to turn this UFO into a quilt ready for the binding to be hand finished!

That's not long is it?  That was enough time to cut the backing / cut and sew a 'patchwork' wadding / baste the quilt layer (spray baste - love it!) / quilt it / cut the binding / sew the binding / sew the binding onto the front of the quilt.

It does make me wonder why it had stayed up on the area of fleece that I fondly call a design wall for nearly six months!  It did take me a little longer to actually finish the binding, but it's all completed (and labelled!) now.

I'm pleased that these left over blocks from a quilt made last year have made a nice little quilt - 24" x 36".  Thanks again to Anne Bebbington for the inspiration!

 Time to press on with other projects.  I've got another 11 on my 'to do' list at the moment, and this one was quite high up the list, and should give me an easy finish.

That long standing favourite, a disappearing nine patch. 

I was slightly perplexed that when I laid it out on the floor, I could see that I wasn't laying it out quite how I'd seen it in my mind.....
Of course!  Once I rotated the paler blocks it all made much more sense.  These blocks are now stacked by the sewing machine waiting for me to sew them together. 

The trick will be to not leave the flimsy hanging around after that, but to get straight on with the quilting.  At about 56" square it will be quite an easy size to handle.  I also have the perfect backing for it, which is 60" wide on the bolt, so won't need any seams.  I've been a bit reckless and 'splashed the cash' on 18m of it - an IKEA print on 100% cotton at a bargain price.  Too hard to resist, when I know that I'm planning to make at least 12 'giveaway' quilts this year.

The hand sewing might be still in abeyance, but I'm enjoying some simple machining at least!

Tuesday, 11 March 2014

Swim, Cake, Swim!

OK, I confess, there hasn't been a whole lot of crafting going on this week (and at the risk of sounding dull; ouch!  my wrists, ouch!  The bracelets (see last post!) were tough on them!).

Instead I present to you the cake that even my husband said, tactfully of, "it's one of your simpler designs, isn't it?".

He's right.  It is a simple design, but with the main oven out of action, my mind on other things, and only limited use of my hands, simple had to be the way to go!

At least I've got nearly two weeks until DD1's actual birthday, so if I can come up with some inspiration I might try something fancier than a big slab!

Made with love, and to represent the fact that she was having a swimming party - that must count for something, right?!

Hope that you are having a good week for crafting and sewing.

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Sweat shop?

 Not really a sweat shop, but deciding that I needed to make 18 personalised charm bracelets as party favours may not have been the wisest decision I've ever made.  Lets just say that I won't be doing much hand sewing this week whilst my hand and wrist joints recover!

Having said that, I am happy that the bracelets (with lots of water themed charms) are looking fab and will make a bunch of 11 year girls very happy!

The only sewing I've done is to make a few bags from Benta's excellent tutorial (thanks, Benta!). 

Just two shown here, as the rest have already been gifted!

Hope you all had a lovely St David's Day, and have a lovely crafty week ahead.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

Ta Da!

Last week was all about this quilt - my take on a shape that recurs in garnet work in the Staffordshire Hoard.

I finished my 'grand spiral' on it - the first time I'd tried it. 

I'm pretty pleased with how the quilting worked.
 Here is the whole thing - although I have to confess that I designed it with it rotated 90 degrees - but my DDs aren't tall enough to hold it up that way!

I'm quite pleased with how the different fabrics work - I actually got the values right on them for a change!
The back was going to be grey, but I decided that might be too dull, so used this bit of Ikea fabric (obviously purchased for a backing at some time!) with a fabulously bold print.  It really lets the quilting show up!

Binding finished, label on - I have finished it!

I also managed to finish my Mod 11 of my C&G too - with these photos and a few more.

Module 12 here I come, and if I can finish it before mid May I will complete it in time for the external moderators visit to the School of Stitched Textiles this year..... just one DDs birthday, a holiday, some school holidays and general family life stand in my way!  I shall do my best, but not worry if I don't make it - there are, after all, more important things to worry about than my hobby!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

Some precision required!

 The blocks for my 'Staffordshire hoard' were made - and this is them laid out ready to sew together.  Like so many 'scrap' quilts the layout needed to appear random, but really I wanted to make sure that fabrics were distributed across the quilt top rather than clumped together.  I think that I managed it OK, but it would have been easier if I'd had a bit more variety in the paler patches!
 The precision piecing continued in order to get all the right seams to match with each other.  Now it's time to get on with the quilting.  Apart from one hideous kink (near the machine - I'm going to have to re-sew that bit!) it's coming out slightly wonky, but more or less OK, I think.

How do you quilt?  I miss Radio 4 (can't have it loud enough without feeling that it would disturb other people) which is what I usually listen to.  Now I have the technology to stick an iPod down my bra (classy!) once I've downloaded some podcasts from iPlayer.  I sew away happily with my audio landscape 'comfort blanket'.
 Of course, all this requirement for precision must be balanced - the yin and yang of quilting!

I read about this idea in 'Cloth Paper Scissors' (I think).  Take a square of felt, add a square of fusible, jig saw some fabric scraps over it, then cut up to the size that you fancy before adding stitches or other embellishments.  Six little hand sewing projects, perfectly portable! 

These are cut into 4 1/2" x 3" pieces, ideal for card toppers.  I just hope that everyone I want to send cards to likes purple too!
 To finish with something finished, these cards are assembled now.  The card background printed and the little kantha pieces stuck on with double sided tape.

In fact I made another one (not shown here!) and kits for another half a dozen or so.  Some of my friends came round for some kitchen table crafting last week but some of those who couldn't come wanted kits.  Quick to make, fun to finish. 

Not long now and I'll have got back to my C&G sample piece and finished it.  Quicker now I've stopped echo quilting around the motifs and started the straight lines!

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Kantha Capers

 I broke off from my C&G kantha sample in order to make two little valentines pieces.

This one doesn't show up that well - sorry - I was photographing it to try and show the background stitching, but it was at the expense of clarity of the stitched motifs!

Anyway, it's a chain stitched bird with a little back stitched heart.  The background stitching echoes the shape of the motifs
 This one suffered in the photo slightly too.  A long stitched heart, this time the background stitching is straight up and down (which is much easier and quicker than stitching around the motifs in my opinion).

Both cards need more in the way of a border, but they are a good start ahead of Valentine's day next week.
This is the bigger C&G sample piece.  Just like the smaller pieces, it is four layers of butter muslin (so an open weave) and really soft to work on and through. 

This one is printed with the basic motifs that I wanted to use, and then stitched around with lively colours.  I might go back and stitch over some of the purple ink, particularly on the ladybirds.

I need to add all the background stitching now.  Plenty to keep my hands busy this week.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

More hand stitching

 At last!  The Banjara is finished - I think that it took me about 20 hours of stitching in total.  I added traditional details (cowrie shells - cheaper to buy a bracelet and snip it than to buy loose drilled shells for the number that I wanted), mirrors and plenty of herringbone stitch.  The needle threaders added around the edge were instead of coins.  Increasingly valuable to me, though, as my eyes get older!

Once it was finished it was time to start on my Kantha sample.  Pictures of that next week, perhaps, once its a bit more worked on.
 Whilst researching these 'geographical quilting' genres, I came across the phrase 'slow cloth'.  I guess that there are lots of ways of making these cloths, usually re-purposing old cloth into new items by layering them and reinforcing them with running stitch.

It made me go back to a couple of  mindless stitching items that were incomplete in my 'pick up and go' stitching pack.

Just like the sashiko, banjara and kantha stitching, layers of cloth with running stitch.
Unlike the other forms of stitching, much less precise, just playing with the form of the running stitch to make little patches of colour.

The stitches are all formed from ends of threads from other projects.  Some of the fabric left over from other projects too.  Real 'economy' but without having a utility at the end of the process - these pieces are only about 6" x 4".

I guess that I need to think about how best to use them now!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Around the World

 Not a patchwork 'trip around the world', but looking at different types of quilting from around the world.

This is my start (well, more like half way through) at my sample for Banjara quilting.
Lots of herringbone, cross and running stitches.

Still six more squares to go, then an edging that includes cowrie shells...... so plenty more hand stitching to go!

 This is my Sashiko sampler - using different patterns, two sections with variegated thread (which doesn't show up quite so well!) and two sections in black.

I found it quite hard to get the junctions  right where the lines of stitching met.  Fun to try!
This is going to be my machine sewing project, though.  I'm pleased to say that I've finished Module 10 on my C&G course, and now I need to make the quilt that I designed.

Fifty blocks, all using lovely purple fabrics in various tones.  I managed to pull a total of 49 different fabrics from my stash (actually, I'm slightly economical with the truth there, I bought four of them last week hoping to include them).  Of those, these 27 fabrics have made it through to the final audition.  A couple are still 'on probation'.  I can't decide whether or not I want flashes of green to appear in my 'darks' or not.  I may have to make a few blocks up and see how they all play together!

The only machine sewing I managed this week was making a couple of bags using Benta's fab tutorial.  Very quick, very cute, and ideal for a birthday present for a friend.

Hope that you are having a good crafting week!

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

First finish for the Year!

 Hurrah!  I DID finish this little quilt (34" square) last week!  Border 'flashes' from the left over bits of the 'trip' part of the quilt, simple quilting and a straightforward binding.
 I also managed to finish and submit my C&G Module 10.  This is a sample block (needs to be better finished in the real thing, if I get the go ahead.  It's based on a shape that seems to reoccur numerous times in the garnet work that I saw in the Staffordshire Hoard.

Now the anxious wait to see if I've passed this module and whether the quilt design will pass muster.
This is the final quilt design, although I've decided to reverse the light / dark purples (as shown in the sample block above) and plan to make it scrappier than I've shown it. 

I use QuiltPro to draft designs because I like to check measurements and because I like to know how much fabric I'm likely to use, but don't follow what I put down slavishly when it comes to fabric choices.

In the meantime I've got some handwork samples to complete, which means that my Love Entwined is on hold for the moment.

 I managed to finish the last flower on my Love Entwined Part 6 last week, but failed to make the eight tiny circles that it needed to complete it  I may leave them and add tiny sequins or buttons when I'm finishing the panel.
Just one more corner to make and then I'm going to think about a narrow border and binding, and how to / whether to quilt the panel.  I'm planning for it to be a wall hanging (which is why I'm stopping here, not continuing for the rest of the BOM - my remaining wall space isn't huge) and I think that quilting will help it stay stable, not saggy, but it's hard to know how best to do this.

I'm hoping to carry on the good progress with my sewing - although at some point real life and other 'stuff' will have to creep back in!

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

New Year, New Projects!

Kandy, our lovely list moderator on BQL (British Quilt List) has devised a 'scraptastic' challenge this year.

Januaries challenge was to create some scrappy 'trip around the world blocks' based on the Bonnie Hunter method.  I only made four blocks, which has given me this centre of 24" square.

In fact, just this afternoon I added borders to it and brought it up to 34" square - just the right size for a piece of fabric with teddy bears on that I have from my late MiL's stash.  It's basted and waiting to be quilted.  It will be my first finish for 2014 and I hope the first of a set of 12 charity quilts.  Having rather let my charity quilting fall by the wayside last year I'm hoping to make one each month this year - although they may be loaded towards the back of the year, as I'm hoping to get my C&G to the moderators in May, and I've still got three modules to complete!  

With the remaining bits and bobs of fabric and jelly roll strips I made up four 8 1/2" square blocks - they will get used in something later in the year, I'm sure, and will be more fun to add in as blocks (they aren't sewn together in this pic, just giving an idea for a layout if I want a medallion - but they might be used separately.

Of course, it was only when I was photographing these blocks that I realised that I hadn't left myself anything to make a binding for the 'trip around the world' quilt - doh!  I shall raid my stash for a bit more of something brown.

All the bits that were left from these (not very much!) were cut into 1 1/2" squares ready for this next little project.

I'm making these little (3" square finished) 9-patch blocks as leader and ender blocks.  I plan to sash these and make something fun later in the year.  I've been cutting 1 1/2" squares for ages now but I've finally got some of them into sets (aren't binder clips great?) and in a small tin by the front of my sewing machine.

The pale fabrics are all scraps of my husbands work shirts.  He almost always chooses pale blue which is fine by me!

Finally, I've made some cards.  I've used up a bit of sweet paper quilting and some amazing hand printed paper from Avril to make some fab cards.  Always good to have something on hand.  The space at the bottom of each card can house an appropriate sentiment. 

This all sounds sane enough, doesn't it?  It's only when I have to admit that I actually had to piece a 1 1/2" square in order to have four of them so that I could get a matched 9 patch kit out of one particular scrap it that things start to sound just a little obsessional!

I'm off to work on my Love Entwined top now.  I've almost finished the third corner - one flower and 8 tiny circles to go!

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Happy Christmas!

We had an afternoon of Christmas crafting at home yesterday.  The girls and some of their friends decorated felt reindeer, made wonderful fabric Christmas wreaths, made multicolour paper snowflakes, made snowball roses and finished with mini marshmallow snowmen.

My DDs helped to make and decorate the lovely big snowman cake (yummy pudding for us all!).  A really good job!

This was a mini snowman - marshmallows, large chocolate buttons etc etc.  Mine not as beautiful as the ones in the book, but the girls were all happy with theirs!

This was my trial wreath.  Paper plates with the centres removed, sleeve of fabric over it, small decorations (the girls all made yo-yos, I used these lovely roses made for me by Avril) and 'ta-da' - wonderful wreaths!  I wish that I'd taken some photos of them all!

I hope that your Christmas is merry and bright.  Good wishes to you and all the best for a splendid New Year!

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

One, Two, Tree!

 The three stages of tree making - or, currently, where DD1 is, where DD2 is, and my finished tree!  This is the follow on project from the Santas - another part of Jodi's (from Ric-Rac) project on FaveCrafts.

I'm not sure that we'll have three trees finished by Christmas Day, but it's nice that the girls wanted to join in with some sewing!
I seem to have spent a reasonable amount of time prepping applique pieces over freezer paper for my Love Entwined.  I am still working on the third vase / corner - but Esther published the fourth vase / corner earlier this week, so I'm not quite 'keeping up'.  Never mind, as I think that I'm going to stop at this point and not carry on to make a massive coverlet I'll have plenty to time to catch up again!
I've also managed a few small samples based on the Staffordshire Hoard. Very glitzy.  Lots of fun.  Not really moving me towards a quilt design for a 'proper' quilt rather than an art quilt / wall quilt. 
 I'm sure that it will all help at some point, and that my subconscious mind is working hard on the different aspects that I'd like to include!
I can always hope, anyway, can't I?

You can see that this one was made with the cut outs from the one above, can't you?  Not the same effect at all, but fun to play!

Of course, I have realised all over again (as if I was in any doubt) that although these are fun I'm not really keen on gold and red.  I rather think that I'll be moving back to silver and purple instead (or plain grey and Batik purple, perhaps?) when I make 'proper' samples for whatever quilt I design.

Wednesday, 11 December 2013

Runner Long (run along....?)

Hurrah!  I've run the quilting threads all over my runner, and I can now declare it FINISHED!

It did only take a total of 17 hours but as they were so spread out over the weeks it started to feel like it took much longer!
You can see that I did a mixture of 'wired' feathers and 'normal' feathers with a fairly tight stipple behind them so that the motifs stand out.  I think that it works fairly well to reduce the standout grey patches.

I did take Kandy's advice and use the same grey for the binding which has also helped.
Not easy to photograph it as it is, as the title suggests (see, not just put in for the pun!), long.
Here it is in situ.  Although not household which is overly religious, part of our Christmas tradition is having out the Nativity knitted by my late MiL.  Here you can see it in pride of place on my new cupboard runner.

If I remember, I'll take a shot of the knitted carol singers that she made too - one Christmas knitted set for each of my DDs.  They are much loved and cherished by the girls, partly for what they represent - a labour of love with them in mind - and partly because they are just so cute!

Hope that you are enjoying some pre-Christmas crafting time.