Category Archives: Christmas

Dougie’s Quilt

Schoolboy!

In September Dougie started school, we did feel lucky to be involved in his first few days. With staggered starts to school there were days at the very beginning of term when we had him to ourselves and went off to visit gardens and farms and be given the  ‘Dougie’s guided tour of Bristol Zoo’. He was a very bossy guide!  We took him into his fabulous, ultra-modern, beautifully equipped ‘learning zone’ (previously known as a classroom) at the start of sessions and picked him up at the end.

Five birthdays, five photos.

 

At the beginning of December he turned five.

That’s FIVE years old. Five birthdays.

Five parties, five photographs!

Five years!

 

It was high time that I finished the quilt I had begun in January and that I should give it to him at Christmas.  The idea and materials for the quilt went back to a visit to the annual, autumn West of England Quilt Show with my daughter.  We spotted this pattern and as it was going to be my first big appliqué project I was more than happy for some help. This was going to be quite an undertaking.

I was keen to get started but there was Christmas sewing in the pipeline so it wasn’t until January that I tentatively began cutting the pieces for the vehicles. My plan was cut and prep in the evenings while watching TV. So I began to trace shapes on to the freezer paper and rough cut them and I could very quickly have been drowning in tiny pieces of paper. The easy solution was an envelope for each vehicle.  I have to admit that I still struggle with the orientation when I’m doing this job and it didn’t help that each row of vehicles changed direction.

Eventually I had chosen and cut the fabric pieces for the first two vehicles and a set of traffic lights and had wisely made the decision  

to raw edge appliqué the pieces. The fabric edges should rough up quite nicely with wear.

 I was immediately pleased that I had invested in this ‘Steam-A-Seam’ freezer paper. Pieces can be moved around, after the backing has been removed, which made life a lot easier and meant less likelihood of multiple annoying and time-consuming mistakes! I’d definitely use it again for a similar project. Bit more expensive but well worth it.

It was really enjoyable seeing each vehicle coming together and every bit of progress was very satisfying but there were things about my organisation that would make working easier.

There were a lot of fabrics lying around and I seemed to spend a lot of time sorting through them making sure I had a good variety of colours and patterns so eventually I made a washing line of fabrics to choose from. It did make that part easier and speedier.

Since this was my first big appliqué project I decided to match my thread to the fabric (less obvious wobbly sewing of tiny parts was called for) so this meant numerous reels and matching spools. There were a lot of them and they were messy and easily knocked off the table to roll around the floor and come undone.

Another of my pastimes came in handy here. Golf tees are now my way of keeping cotton reels and spools together, it works really well!

Dougie’s first visit during the early stages of making threw up a glaring omission to the range of vehicles. There was NO fire engine. Not a fire truck, nothing with a tower ladder, a turntable ladder, with a hydraulic platform or stabilisers, no airport crash tender. No fire fighting apparatus what-so-ever. This was a BIG omission and had to be rectified. A fire engine was quickly designed in the style of the other vehicles, simple it may be, but Dougie, a four year old expert in rescue vehicles was satisfied!

There were times when progress was painfully slow, there were other, smaller projects to fit in sometimes. We, as usual, went off on our travels on occasion, Spain, Turkey, New York and Anglesey were somehow fitted into the itinerary in 2017. The garden, my other passion, could not be put on hold. So there were times when it was not just slow.

On one of our visits to Bristol Dougie asked: ‘Nain, how’s my chillax  quilt getting on?’ Chillax quilt! He cracks me up, he loves to have a quilt when he has a relaxing time watching TV or just chilling on the couch, hence the ‘chillax’, he’s been using one that me and my daughter made together a few years ago but couldn’t wait to have one of his own.                                                             

On one of their visits here Dougie asked; ‘Nain, how’s my quilt coming on? Would you like me to help you?’ We did some cutting out together but he soon decided I could manage without him! Shame it wasn’t more straightforward really.

Inevitablely mistakes were made. Some were easily put right possible to adjust. But then there were others that had just gone too far and just had to be left as they were.

A car going in the wrong direction, for example, just has to become ‘Spot the silly driver!’.

At long last, some time in November the quilt top was finished, 72 vehicles, at least 6 pieces each, signage and an additional two rows of traffic light spots trimmed and ready to sandwich.

I have to say here that I am so pleased to have Aberdashery back, under new management and with quality stock growing back to capacity. I’ll always miss Jane for her good advice and easy manner but it is a consolation that the business survives. The town somehow didn’t seem complete to me, and many others, without that very special shop.

So I was able to just go into town and buy wadding and backing quickly and easily, no driving anywhere or waiting for delivery. Simples.

On to the quilting. Most of all it had to be quick and by definition, simple, I had just a couple of weeks for quilting and binding, while also continuing with all of the other million Christmas preparations that don’t seem to come to an end until the mince pie, carrot and Santa’s sherry are put ready on Christmas Eve.

So it was straight lines with squared looping that really didn’t take very long at all. My only worry now was the red and white striped fabric I had chosen for the backing. I had pre-washed it and the water was a bit pink. Would it run on to the white quilt top? I think I put about 5 colour catchers into the washing machine, just in case the colour ran. It didn’t, phew!

We had a lovely Christmas with our Aberystwyth family but it was the in-laws turn to have the Bristol family, so on the day after Boxing day we set off to have a toned-down second Christmas in Bristol. The present opening was as exciting as ever and I decided to leave the quilt until late in the day.

Every moment spent on that quilt was worth it when Dougie opened it up.  his face was a picture and he lay down and hugged it. He had known it was coming sometime but he loved the surprise of actually having it.

It was a little while before he got up and began to examine the quilt and look at the vehicles and comment. He loved it and he said ‘I didn’t know Nain, I didn’t know.’

He examined it carefully and got wrapped up in his old favourite blanket and his new quilt before going off to enjoy playing with all the new toys with his sister and cousin.

 

 

 

When bedtime came, with a full house and a necessary sleepover in his sister’s room Dougie hunkered down with his makeshift bed half in and half out of Heidi’s teepee (last year’s Christmas present), snug and comfy, and with his Furby, under his new quilt.

 

 

 

Over the next couple of days I tried unsuccessfully to get a picture of the cousins together and all looking at the camera at the same time! Unfortunately it turned out to be a bit like herding cats!

But we had a great time together. Oh and by the way, it was ‘year of the dolls house’ for the girls.

Christmas Sewing 2016 Two

Countdown to Christmas

Kits have never really been a choice for my sewing projects. I suppose somewhere deep in my psyche using a kit is ‘cheating’. I certainly have always gone through the agony and ecstasy that is the whole process of design, make, review.

Until November 2015 that is. The West of England Quilting and Textile Show was held in the University of the West of England; the University where my daughter studied and now lives a stones throw away from. It would have been rude to ignore it!

There were some fabulous quilts on show

and the stalls were just too tempting by far! Shows like this can make a serious dent in my bank account.

                                                     I bought some kits.

First up were the  Advent Calendars. We had been thinking about them. Thinking about them; looking at them on Pinterest; imagining how they would fit into our Christmas decor and just how we wanted them to be used. There certainly were plenty of kits on offer at the show and after walking around looking, eating lunch, discussing the pros and cons we decided that we would indeed go with the kit option. One for each of the three little ones in the family.

We chose two panel calendars with pockets, a decorated tree and a Christmas village scene. The third one would be a set of 24 Scandi style mini Christmas stockings. All of the kits we chose were from Makower, they have a huge choice.

We knew that the calendars would have to wait for Christmas 2016 to make their debut, there were other projects in the pipeline for 2015.

Christmas came and went 2016 just whizzed by and suddenly I had a very small window of time slotted in between returning from Spain at the beginning of November and the long-awaited and hugely anticipated trip to New York on November 22nd.

I’d made a promise so the pressure was on. The cutting began, the little pockets were soon made up and sewn on to the background, the sandwich was made up and backed with Christmas fabric from Aberdashery.  Oh, and there were loops to add along the top edge to hang the calendars on a length of dowel.

I decided a little bit of quilting was needed and just outlined some of the shapes on the panels. The final job was to add a little bit of Christmas sparkle.This came in the form of Pinflair Glitter Wands in gold, red and green. They are available in good craft shops or from numerous online outlets.

Once the panel advent calendars were complete it was on to the Christmas stockings. These were really simple. cut them out, sew them together, snip the curves, turn and press,  make a loop for hanging from red ribbon and sew that into a top seam. Done!

I chose a red satin cord to hang the Advent stockings.

All that remained was to pass on the two panel calendars to my daughter and the stockings to my son  … and just for this year I added the gifts to put inside. I like to think of them becoming part of the Christmas tradition and excitement in both houses as the children grow.

All in all I was fairly impressed by these kits they are quick and easy, there were printed instructions on the panels and I have since found there a You Tube videos if you should need them. And I still felt a creative buzz making them.

I was also taken by some of the small quilt kits at the show and I came away with two of those as well. I’ve just started on one of them so watch this space!

 

Unrealistically Optimistic Quilter

Christmas Sewing 2016

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I’m not going to call this a New Year resolution, for one thing it’s much too late for that. But I am determined that this year it will be back to keeping up with the blog. So I’m going to start with my Christmas 2016, or maybe that should be 2015, sewing.

I started these star placemats before Christmas 2015 and we did use the first six of them then. But when I first embarked on the project I was determined, ambitiously perhaps, that we would have enough to use if all the immediate family were here. I decided that twelve was the ideal number. Ten placemats and two extra, perfect.

I was going to complete the whole set in January but as always priorities changed. Christmas 2016 was a long way in the future!

Back to November 2015! Foundation piecing was, and still is, a challenge. It’s still very much a case of ‘feel the fear and do it anyway!’ I had seen a variety of the foundation pieced stars made up and loved the Christmas Makower Scandi fabric that year and my vision was for a perfectly Scandi set of table mats. Red and white Christmas star perfection!

Puzzling endlessly over piecing orientation  and overworking my seam ripper was by no means part of the perfect vision. My project planning is nothing if not aspirational! The header for my ‘Quilt Inspiration’ Pinterest board is after all ‘Unrealistically Optimistic Quilter’!  Having a good run at making up the stars would leave me feeling I was really getting to grips with the piecing – then a gap in working would have me back to staring blankly at the pattern, the orientation of the fabric and the scribblings I had made over the original copy.

There were a lot (really) of points to get right. To say some are better than others would be an understatement. Now I really do have a sense of achievement having finished. Okay I know they’re not perfect, I know that the number of mismatched seams far outnumbers those that line up just right but I am more than happy with the overall look of them on the table and they certainly shout ‘Christmas’ loud and clear.

I quilted along all the individual points of the stars, you can see that clearly on the reverse. That was a very calm and soothing conclusion to each star and very satisfying. Then I completed each one with binding in red and white Christmas fabric.

Not all of it in the same range unfortunately but I actually like the fact that they are the same but different! January 2017 has seen them finished and I hope that they will grace the Christmas kitchen table for many years to come.

 

Scandi Christmas Table Runner

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Enough doodling and gardening. I was itching to get back to some serious sewing. The perfect project for getting back in the groove was the promise of  a festive table runner that I’d made my sister back in the summer. With Christmas creeping up it was time to get going.

Christmas fabric spotting begins IMG_1623in the summer so my sister was wise to mention it back then.                        I spotted this on one of my regular drop-ins at Aberdashery well before our departure for our travels in September. Scandi is such a trend at the moment and the Makower Christmas collection really appealed to me, I love reindeer right now. I chose my reds and greens and liked the idea of adding in a couple of the neutrals from the range.

I had the seeds of a plan in mind, it involved irregular strips across the width of the runner. I was slightly undecided about having white sashing between each coloured stripe but of course I decided for. I love the crisp, clean, modern look that it gives.

Once decided all that was left to do was get on with sewing strips together, as they were to be random there was very little planning to do and I just chose whichever fabric I thought should come next.

I’d also chosen a red and a very dark green solid to make it a little less busy. Joining the random strips was quick and easy and then all that remained to be done to the front was to trim the sides.IMG_1642

The back was to be plain red. Briefly. I started to think it needed something more so I sewed together some two and a half inch wide strips and cut them into two and a half inch strips then cut the red backing to create a patterned reverse. IMG_1637IMG_1644

I decided on a horizontal strip l strip at each end. Once I had put it all together it made the runner pretty much reversible.

I used cotton domette as wadding. I find it a good weight for table runners, mats and such like. Not too bulky or puffy.

My quilting plan was to have strings of stars and after a bit of doodling decided on this design . The stars are irregular in six, shape and spacing. Simple.IMG_4862      Lastly I gave the runner a solid red binding and it was ready to join my sister’s Christmas scheme, she has some lovely decorations. I hope it comes to to scratch!

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Ellyll ar y sylf – Elf on the shelf

Ellyll The Elf has arrived. Late. He’s been a long time coming; a long time in the planning and a long time in the making. A long time in little pieces.

I do like him after all, I was a bit worried that his expression would reflect the one on my face for most of the time I was making him.

Not my favourite kind of knitting, all those bits, a disproportionate amount of stitching and fiddly stuffing with hidden pipe cleaners and a beany bum!

 

 

Just look at the muddle he once was!IMG_3566 The bit I did like was making his toes curl. His shoes reminded me of some I made for a friend back in college days. He made  a perfect larger than life-size elf.

He is the perfect size and proportion,  so many thanks to Phoenix Knits for the pattern (found on Ravelry).

IMG_3567I know he is very much appreciated so he was worth every minute but I don’t think I’ll be going into mass production any time soon. I know he’s been getting up to mischief already, last night he stole the chocolate!  I’m sure he’ll go on to give many years of Christmas fun.

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Who stole all the chocolate?

I wonder if he has an elf-name yet? Have fun my little elfin friend.

Dougie’s first Christmas

I saw this tree ornament on Pinterest and decided I’d make one for Dougie.

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It’s a quick and easy little project with the lights being a little fiddly!

http://www.etsy.com/listing/85574510/personalized-onesie-ornament-made-to?ref=sr_gallery_38&ga_search_submit=&ga_search_query=baby+christmas+ornament&ga_order=most_relevant&

 

 

Christmas 2012

Christmas this year is a quiet affair. Life has been busy since returning from our 2 month trip to Spain in November. Our lovely little grandson, Dougie, was born just two weeks before Christmas which meant we were travelling up and down the motorway between Bristol, Wales and London often.

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So for the actual holiday it was just me, Jeff and Mum in the London house and I was set to tone down the decorations and just have a tree but ….

Matt had given me the off-cuts from his tree and I’ve always wanted to try making a garland.

 I wanted my garland on the banister, if only I had a suitable fireplace.