Harry’s Quilt

Quilt
Quilt

Here’s Harry’s quilt. I’m pleased with the finished effect. I’ve enjoyed every minute of making it, from choosing the fabric to the Free Motion Quilting, despite it still being such a huge challenge. I’ve certainly had plenty of time indoors with the rain and the storms hitting the Cambrian coast throughout January. I planned it and bought the fabric in November but had lots of things in the making and didn’t think that there was any hurry to get started since Harry wasn’t due to arrive until January.  But Harry was in a hurry and he arrived on November 22nd. Happily after a very short stay in hospital he has got off to a great start in life and he is all the more special for his early arrival.

'Locally Grown' by Marissa and Creative Thursday
‘Locally Grown’ by Marissa and Creative Thursday

The fabrics are a selection from Makower ‘Locally Grown’ by Marissa and Creative Thursday with a teal and white spot sashed with a yellow and white spot for the path.  For the first time I used a variegated thread for the quilting and I think it does add to the finish, but wouldn’t be suitable for all projects and would work out expensive on a large quilt.

I found the Jungle Path pattern on the Moda Bakeshop site and it’s by Jess at Sew Crafty Jess. Both are great places for tutorials and patterns. I took the plunge and added pics to Jess’ flickr feed as well. So another first.

The blocks were straight forward and could be quickly chain-pieced

Block Layout
Block Layout

and you can see the ‘path’ beginning to take shape.  Fairly soon there were 16 blocks ready to be placed into rows and columns of 4. As usual there was a lot of block-shuffling and groaning as I attempted to get the overall pattern of columns and rows. Then on to the sashing with the yellow and white to sew the rows into strips and then to join the rows to finish piecing the quilt top.

I didn’t have enough of the fabric to make the quilt back just as Jess had so I came up with an alternative, making a row of piano keys and bordering them with a handy piece of plain teal from my stash.

Machine FMQ writing
Machine FMQ writing

Time to implement the biggest challenge of all. I’d succeeded in some free writing on my sister’s quilt but was that beginners luck?  Quite a bit of sewing Harry, but it’s not too bad (I hope)!

After my last giant-sized quilt this one is very much more manageable. Maybe baby quilts are the way forward friends and family?  So the sandwich was soon put together, this time with a polyester wadding, which sort of goes against the grain (I do prefer to work with natural fabrics) but  it is much more breathable and less dense than cotton and so the right choice for a baby quilt.

Hearts and loops FMQ on the sashing
Hearts and loops FMQ on the sashing

Next on to the quilting,  a  heart and loop design for the pathway I thought; I’m comfortable with this one it flows easily and my natural sizing fitted the path.

 

I’ve begun sketching new design to try to get the movement into my mind and muscles and I plumped for this organic looking form to quilt around the blocks. I couldn’t quilt over the section where I had written Harry’s name and I could have planned the placing better. This is the main learning point from this project and I will remember next time!

Now at this point I had a very exciting new baby of my own. I’ve been thinking about a new sewing machine for a while and I eventually took the plunge. It arrived as I was doing battle with the quilting and I wondered about the wisdom of trying it out right away.

Well I did and WOW what a difference. Smoother, more controllable  and so many bells and whistles I can’t begin to write about. I put the finishing touches to the quilting with a ridiculous grin on my face. I love it!                                                                                                                                    My last job was to make the binding from more of the teal and white spotty fabric, enjoying the smaller size again as I hand finished it! You can see the binding and the four animal motifs of my ‘Locally Grown’ choices here.

Nain's Nik Naks
Nain’s Nik Naks

I bought these little labels last year but I just don’t seem to be able to add them to my finished projects. It might just remind me if I add a picture here.

 

I hope Harry, Nonnie and Tom enjoy the quilt as much as I enjoyed making it.

Meanwhile in Aberystwyth we were experience  a period of extreme storms and surge tides that devastated our lovely promenade.  Just in case Harry ever visits here he might be interested to see some pics of his early history.

 

 

Work in Progress

I’m usually quite disciplined about how much stuff I have on the go and getting things finished but right now projects seem to be running away with me and I’m starting to feel the need to get on and finish a couple of them.

First of all is Harry’s quilt. It’s nearly there and I must put the finishing touches to it before his mum brings him for his next visit. The quilt is not really late, despite the November birth date. Harry surprised us all by arriving in November instead of waiting until January.  He is doing brilliantly well and is extra special because of his eager debut. I hope I get to give him his quilt soon.

FMQ1
FMQ1

Next up are my learning blocks.  I’ve joined an online class with Leah Day to improve my Free Motion Quilting skills.

My attempts at FMQ have left me feeling less than satisfied. But the broken threads, bird’s nests backs and general lack of control have made me strangely more determined to succeed! I’ve been using Leah’s Free Motion Quilting Project and some excellent blogs – in particular Lori’s Inbox Jaunt to help me along and when I saw Leah’s course I decided that systematic, structured, step-by-step would be just the ticket. So this is ongoing for the rest of the year. The intention is that all the blocks will make up a quilt, hope so.

But ….I have a new Pfaff machine

and lo and behold after all those days of trying hard not to blame my tools I find that I could have blamed my machine a little bit at least. My LOVELY new Pfaff not only has a much longer space for work to fit through, it is infinitely more smooth and I can miraculously control the speed with the foot pedal or let the machine go it alone with the front button. What an absolute revelation! So onward to more projects …..

Number 3 project is the first of a new set of cushion covers. I bought some of Eloise Renouf’s ‘Bark and Branch’

range in the autumn for just this purpose but then I was sidetracked by the red and white Scandi style fabric in Aberdashery at Christmas and had to make the Christmas cushion covers. Now the first of the cushions is well underway

I have prepared the back and made buttonholes. The easiest buttonholes ever (much sewing machine love)!The first cover should be done tomorrow  then to decide just how many to make

IMG_0979Next up is this little ‘Snowball’ Block, which will have the little sailboat appliquéd into the centre sometime before February 7th ready for Dougie’s next visit.

it will be part of another cushion and the latest edition to the seaside themed bedroom.

Finally

Scrappy block centre
Scrappy block centre

When I was waiting to get my hands on some polyester wadding for the quilt I began thinking about the scrap strips I have begun to put together and made a scrappy block  with triangles of

Extra Wonky
Extra Wonky

anything  that came to hand and bordered it with white.  I love the irregular shapes and the bright crispness.

I have started adding the strips around the central block.

 

 

This is another project that will just run on until it’s done.

Circle of GeeseI’m not counting the three quilt tops waiting for the magic day when I think my FMQ is good enough or the ‘Circle of Geese’ block I made last week  now hanging in front of me as I sew and encouraging me to think of how to use it!

Then there are the projects going around in my head and of course the knitting in my knitting bag….

A friend phoned this week to talk about retiring from work, she is feeling a little nervous just as I did not so long ago. Now I wonder why!

The First Make of 2014

 Our first New Year in Rhydyfelin!

The very first make of our first New Year in our new home.

New Year’s Day was a quiet day after the night before (a fun evening with new friends at Aberystwyth Golf Club for our first New Year here). We got off to a late and slow start, the weather was foul and definitely not conducive to the planned walk to the beach.

Just before Christmas I had treated myself to a new cordless vacuum cleaner. I was going to buy it after Christmas but when do you need something like this I asked myself? The answer made my decision and I came back from Christmas shopping with my present to myself. I didn’t regret it whilst whooshing it round after mealtimes, during the prep and in the minutes before  visitors arrived.

I hadn’t realised until I got it home just how many fancy little tools it had and immediately decided a nice little drawstring bag would keep them together and mentally added it to my making list.

So by early afternoon on Wednesday I wanted to do something and sat down to plan the baby quilt that I’m about to start. Although I have fabric for the patchwork blocks I don’t have anything quite right for the sashing and borders, and I wanted some of this fabric actually in the blocks too. Here are the fabrics so far. I’m fancying picking up the yellow in some way in the sashing.

So having toyed with the idea of beginning cutting by mid-afternoon I had decided that a nice finishable project would be the order of the day. And so the vacuum tools bag was begun.

IMG_3507

 

 

I chose the fabric from my stash and although the first consideration was choosing the right size pieces and not being wasteful – it’s only a storage bag after all –  I seem to have managed to go for a favourite colour combo again. A short while later it was cut and soon it was sewn.

calon lan

 

It will hang next to the charging point in the garage.

It won’t be hanging on Jeff’s new ‘Calon Lan’ hooks though so I’ll have to find a hook before it’s in place.