Category Archives: Patchwork

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.

 

Retro Orchard Puff Quilt

IMG_0036The first ever Puff quilt I made was for my own first baby well over

How home photography has changed in the digital age!
How home photography has changed in the digital age!

30 years ago. We had a crib that had been in the family for many years and I wanted to update it. I have no idea now where the original idea came from but I obviously liked the look of it. I still do. The quilt was used for both of my children and for my nephew and niece when they took up the family crib.

Then when my daughter was expecting her first baby a puff quilt was the first thing she asked me to make and we chose fabrics to match the colours of his nursery. It was one of the first things I made on my return to sewing. Very fitting I think!

Dougie's Puff Quilt
Dougie’s Puff Quilt

Well now that my son and his partner are expecting their first baby, our third grandchild, I thought I would make this a bit of a tradition. I’m sure I can rely on my daughter to carry it on!                                      This time we know we’re waiting for a little girl and I chose a favourite fabric from my stash.  I’m often inspired designs from Dashwood Studios and like all ‘fabricologists’  I  just occasionally, sometimes buy fabric and wait for the right project. That was the case with Retro Orchard by Wendy Kendall, it was a 2014  collection so I’ve had it a while.IMG_5457IMG_5453

I added a hot pink pin spot for my backing fabric to the collection..

There are so many great tutorials on Pinterest, (here’s a link) I’m not going to add to them, but I’ll just share the general process.

I’m in the habit of keeping a (very scrappy) journal of my makes so it was easy to decide on the size. 8 x 12 puffs, with each puff being cut to 3.5 inches. IMG_5459I used an old white cotton sheet for the back of the puffs, making each backing square 0.5 inch smaller than the tops. I am still cutting my way through sheets inherited from my mum and mum-in-law, it will be the end of an era when I’ve used them all up, maybe some of mine will be ready for recycling by the time they are. Never throw away a cotton sheet.

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So I started my 96 puffs, sewing by day and stuffing and pinning watching TV in the evenings. Some was done in Mel’s sewing class and some at home.

The pile grew quickly and soon I had a bag-full waiting to have their fourth side sewn and be joined together. I had to keep reminding myself to make the seam less than a quarter-inch.

IMG_2239I decided the design should have the four prints running in diagonal lines and began sewing the puffs together in four squares using a quarter-inch seam. This should have meant that the original seams wouldn’t show but the puffiness makes it difficult and many a seam had to be re-done and I had a few broken fingernails – don’t ask!

IMG_2245Pretty soon there were 12 rows and 8 columns all sewn together and then there was a bit more tidying up of seams before cutting the backing and making the binding. For my last puff quilt I wrapped the backing round to self bind but this time I decided on a separate binding. I used the recently learned method of turning the corner. IMG_0038

Now this is worth a tutorial so next time I do it I’ll make one. It’s a method that makes a lovely neat mitre easily!

 

I wanted to secure the puffs to the backing but I’ve never found a IMG_0039way to keep the joined puffs perfectly square so stitching the ditch would be a hideous messy, lumpy, bumpy  business so I hand sewed them together by just catching through the layers in between alternating puffs and making little four -petaled daisy shapes.IMG_0037It’s a great size for a crib, pram or pushchair and is comfy enough for a newborn to lie on for floor time. Here’s a very new Dougie on his.IMG_0157

IMG_0042I could think of uses for it rolled too.IMG_0040

It’s an easy make, comfy and cosy, and could be any size.  I hope I get the opportunity to make more!

Heidi’s Quilt

IMG_5422I’ve been missing from here for such a long time. Nothing blogged since the spring and we’re almost into a new year! It isn’t that I haven’t been busy making, more that I’ve been even more busy with other things.

Since my last blog I spent two months in Spain and survived the annual walking holiday with my sister – this year in the wonderful north Lake District. I’ve added new beds to the garden and visited gardens up and down the land. But most of the ‘busy’ was being in Bristol in the first few weeks after our lovely new granddaughter  was born. We felt so blessed to be able to spend so much time with our family at such a special time and we were more than willing to make ourselves useful helping. And of course totally smitten by our latest little addition.

I have been making, but just not blogging. Most of the makes were little ones, squeezed in-between travels and the intention to record them just never became a reality.

Just as we arrived back in the country in November I lost my mum which stopped me in my tracks for a while and nothing much happened around here, I found myself spending a good deal of time with family, quite rightly. But I had promised Heidi a quilt and I had begun back in the summer and I found it a solace to return to finishing it.

Bethan had decided IMG_1950on a fab, subtle colour scheme and we set about finding fabrics in grey, coral and mint. Nothing could have filled the brief better than Bonnie Christine’s ‘Hello Bear’ for Art Gallery Fabrics.  The bears are gorgeous! I love the quality of AGF cottons, they are just lovely to work with and appear to go on looking like new for many years. The range is a large one and we narrowed it down to eight designs with the addition of a solid grey.

imagesNext was the search for a pattern. I’d bought Allison Harris’ ‘Growing Up Modern’ some time before and liked the look of a number of the quilts. We settled on ‘Sparkle’. We loved the design and the  classic hourglass blocks suited our fabric choices.                                                       Allison’s directions are spot on and the book starts with  some really good tips for novice and experienced quilters alike.

Cutting and peicing the top went along quite speedily, there were opportunities for chain piecing the half square triangles, which helped move things along nicely.

The clear instructions and accurate measurements meant that the top was soon done.IMG_1957

And then I added a border in the peachy coloured ‘follow me’.

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So, top done but no plan for the quilt back so there was an opportunity for a little diversion. We were having a little nursery chair reupholstered and it seemed to calling out for a cushion! Enter a template for a huge dresden plate borrowed from my sewing class.

Now, I have made a dresden plate block before but it was small and not brilliantly executed. However, as usual, once a plan has entered my head I have to make it come to fruition. So pleased I did. I love the cushion!

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Randomly ordered piecing for the dresden plate.

 

 

 

 


On both sides

 

 

Next to add the centre and a backing. my favourite for cushions is a lightweight cotton domette. Not too thick or heavy, just enough to give a little bit of substance to a cushion.

IMG_1990I used one of my favourite stitches, a running cross stitch, to quilt the fabrics.

A little bit of piping around the cushion top was all that was needed to finish it off.

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The colours  are perfect against the silver grey of the chair, just what we wanted.

 

Back to the quilt back. I decided I had enough of the fabric left to make square patches and enough of the ‘follow me’ for a border. Simple.  I just about got it done before we headed of on our travels so I had to leave putting the quilt together until our return.

I free motion quilted with a simple loopy line, or rather two simple loopy lines. One in mint and one in coral.IMG_5426

And made a labelIMG_5423

So Heidi’s quilt was finished before Christmas and very nearly coincided with her moving into her big cot in her own room.IMG_5420IMG_5428

Unfortunately I don’t think that the photographs of the finished quilt do the colours justice. It was grey and raining here what felt like every day throughout November and December and the photographs had to be take indoors in poor light. I didn’t do a great job. Maybe I can add a few more when the I’m in Bristol in the sunshine    –   In the meantime I’ve begun the planning for my next baby quilt.   A Nains’ life is a busy life – and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

 

Pedal Pushers Beach Bag

From Capel Bangor to Aguadulce

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We didn’t spend a lot of time on the beach on our most recent trip to Spain and we didn’t ride our bikes down to the sea as often as usual either, but I did carry everything I needed to the beach in Aguadulce in the bag that I made  in Mel’s class in Capel Bangor.

Back in Capel Bangor in pale and watery March it looked almost too shockingly bright but on a sunny Spanish beach it wasn’t a bit out of place.

Well, the connection is not about cycling at all but the lovely Moda ‘Pedal Pushers’ fabric designed  by the mother and daughters Jung that caught my eye in the days before we started making Mel’s brilliantly designed, multi-pocketed bag.

Here’s the whole 1950’s inspired ‘Pedal Pushers’ range:product-collageIt was, of course, the red and aqua end of the range that caught my attention. A combination that always draws my eye.

The mini-patch, quilted back pocket shows all of my selection with raspberry ‘Wicker’ and sky ‘Floral Crest’ as my main fabrics.

I had a real sense of satisfaction putting the bag together, putting a range of skills to use, getting the inner and outer pockets in place and finding that everything fitted perfectly – thanks to Mel’s clear instructions and direction of course. Left to my own devices it probably would have been assembled and reassembled numerous times!

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And as always our group worked happily and supportively; having lots of fun and, on occasion, really getting down to some serious work!

 

And when it came to going downIMG_1905 2 to the beach in sunny Almeria with all the necessary paraphernalia my bag was light and easy to carry and not just a brightly coloured beach bag but a practical, organised super-bag. Oh! And the soft padding meant it also served as a soft place to lay my head!

I think my beach dress just serves to prove a point about my current colour preferences!

And just look at all these pockets -perfect!

Thanks Mel!

Time for UfOs

UfO Number 1

Aboriginal Dots

IMG_1851It’s only just over a year since I began this sampler quilt. Quite a short time in the long line of UfOs waiting in line in my workroom really!

It was the first thing I made when I was over the moon at finding Mel’s class. It was the first thing I made after I discovered the joy and the temptation that is the wonderful Calico Kate shop in Lampeter.                              Lampeter or Llanbedr Pont Steffan, or  locally known as Llambed, this quiet Mid-Wales town is the smallest university town in the UK but more importantly for quilters it is the home of Jen Jones’  Welsh Quilt Centre (find them here on Facebook)

Unknownand the most amazing collection of fabrics ranged across twelve mouthwatering rooms at Calico Kate.

 

This little sampler quilt was also my introduction to the mysteries of foundation piecing. At the time I hadn’t a clue about this particular wonder of patchwork and as I began to find out I realised it may be quite a challenge. It is!  A challenge that I’ve loved and will continue to develop. Thanks Mel!

The Welsh Quilt Centre in Lampeter has hosted the talented and inspirational Kaffe Fassett as a speaker and tutor on more than one occasion. I was totally blown away by the colours of the Kaffe Fassett Comes to Wales Exhibition when I visited. He has been a knitting and weaving hero for me over the years and now here I was quilting only to discover his amazing quilts.IMG_0773

IMG_0774So it’s only fitting, of course, that Calico Kate stocks a good range of Kaffe Fassett fabrics and since then I have used a few. But for this project the focus was on the piecing so when I chose I went for a limited range from the Aboriginal Dots collection. Like all of his fabrics it comes in many hues but the ocean, teal and silver appealed to me on the day;  I added some of the shot cottons from his range and a fat quarter given to me by Mel.

We made a block each week and I think the only one that wasn’t new to me was the nine patch. I learnt a lot about points and pinwheels  and about half square triangles –  including that they are known as HSTs and are the basis of many more complex blocks.IMG_0807

 I made my first log cabin blocks; a large one and four minis that became the four quarters of a larger one.                                                             I can’t imagine ever tiring of making a new block for the first time, it can be frustrating, baffling, exasperating and totally troublesome but it makes me happy and if I’m not satisfied with the outcome I’m compelled to make another!1460154_10151992301369098_1348956163_nWhen all the blocks were pieced and the top complete I sandwiched the wadding and the back and even began quilting by ‘stitching the ditch’ and trying out some free motion on the sashing but then I was distracted by the quilt I was making for my sister’s 50th birthday (see the post here). More to the point I wasn’t happy with the stitches wandering  in and out of the ditch and so it slipped down the priorities until one day I began unpicking. Somehow over time I got better at staying in the ditch and eventually the next stage was complete.IMG_1853

 

Stitching in the ditch – a few wobbles but nearly there!

 

 

This week in a pre-holiday rush it suddenly became imperative that I finished at least one UfO before leaving and this was it.

I trimmed the edges, made a random binding strip from the scraps and hey presto, finished! IMG_1852IMG_1854Hooray!

Annali Inspiration

IMG_4956Among my Christmas presents this year was  a treasure chest from one of my lovely friends. Inside were lots of yummy foody things. All locally produced. There were speciality mustards and marmalade, a raspberry couli and a strawberry and  kirsch jam produced just at the top of our road and we’d  never tried it! There were holly leaf  Sarah Bunton Chocolates made just by the narrow gauge train station at Devil’s Bridge. We often take visitors up there so I’ll definitely be calling at the shop in future. There was a lovely little pot, and (how well my friend knows me) a fat quarter of Annali teal floral. 

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Now as it happens I have had  some of this lovely Dashwood Studio range by Stephanie  Thannhauser  in my stash for some time. This new FQ was just the inspiration I needed to get busy with it.

 

I also wanted to try a Lynne Goldsworthy design I’d spotted in ‘Love Patchwork and Quilting’ magazine (issue 16) and this fabric seemed just the thing.  I needed a bit more than I had for my plan to make a bed runner and cushion covers  and turning to my stash again I found some pieces of Eloise Renouf  ‘Bark and Branch’ left from a previous project and I chose one for the sashing and one to add to the piecing for the runner. I’d think about the cushions later.

Bark and Branch

So Honeycomb Hexies’ it was to be then (find the template here). Let the cutting begin.

The design for Honeycomb Hexies looks quite complex but Lynne’s instructions combined with the diagrams and illustrations were great and there wasn’t too much work for the seam ripper. I did get carried away on my first row and was merrily adding hexies as if I was making a full size quilt, but I think that shows that the design was simpler than it looks.

The half-hexagon, sashing and triangles were pieced in rows, then mirrored by a second row. Once the rows were pieced they were sewn together  in pairs and then the whole top put together. It was a really pleasing process and I loved seeing the pattern emerging.

Here is the runner pinned ready for quilting.IMG_1719

When it came to the cushion covers I decided on one central hexagon with a border in a grey multi and the sashing fabric. IMG_1733

Because this was more of  a feature block I tried matching the join in the two halves. It’s not a bad job but it was fiddly so two matches was enough thanks!

I found the multi-grey in the sale in Aberdashery, I used another for the cushion backs.

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IMG_4959The quilting needed to be simple, I’m still practicing but I think it’s getting a bit more even overall. Here’s the reverse, simply because it shows up better.

There are so many great designers and quilters out there. Suffolk-Garden--1024x717Dashwood  Studio have some great fabric designers on their books, I’ve recently bought FQs of another great range, ‘Suffolk Garden’ by Brie Harrison. So exciting. They’ll definitely bring the garden into the house.

I find myself following some terrific blogs from designers who generously share their work.  Lynne Goldsworthy is one of these. Find her at Lily’s Quilts  where she has posted lots of tutorials, among them another great hexie quilt, ‘Hexagon Park’. I’ll certainly be following her fabulous blog as well as looking forward to her contributions in LPQ. So much to look forward to!

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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Flurry Hurry

A Summery Table Runner

IMG_4487When the ‘Flurry’ collection arrived I knew it wouldn’t be long before  I put it to use and when I began making the table runner I wasn’t really in a hurry, it just turned out that way! The design was uncomplicated;  putting it together was effortless and I thought the clean lines need plain quilting, which took no time at all.IMG_4494

 

IMG_4408I began with one and a half inch strips of the whole range of flurry colours, sewed them in groups of five then cut them into blocks. It was so quick!

I wanted a grey to set off the colour range (always a favourite) and went to look for something in Aberdashery and as usual found just the thing. A simple grey and white mini-stripe and to complement it perfectly another of the multi-coloured threads that just lift the quilting beautifully.

The checkerboard design was swiftly pieced

and in no time I had a sandwich and was ready to quilt the snappy, wavy lines. So simple.IMG_1341I cut more strips and cut them into randomly sized lengths to make the binding and there it was, complete in only a couple of hours over a few early evening, pre-dinner sewing sessions. Never was anything (made by me) so speedily done!IMG_4492IMG_4493

And what’s more I have plenty of ‘Flurry’ left!

Irresistible

Utterly!

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I picked up a package from the Royal Mail depot in Llanbadarn today.     Early morning golf means missing the post and it couldn’t have been our usual postman. If it had been he would have left a message, schlepped up to the shed at the top of the garden, struggled with the fastening contraption on the door and popped the package in a plant pot!

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Not a very glamorous building  is it?    Not nearly as attractive as the 1901 (only just ER not VR) Post Office building in Great Darkgate Street in town.

I often study the mosaic signage sipping coffee in a window seat in Costa just opposite.cropped-postoffice4

Well whatever the building looks like as soon as I saw the blue plastic package excitement mounted because I knew exactly what was inside. I didn’t even get as far as the car (here’s a place where you can park right outside) before ripping it open to feast my eyes on the colours inside.

The whole range of playful spottiness  – fifteen of them altogether –  ‘Flurry’ from Dashwood studios and ordered from Simply Solids online fabric shop on Saturday. I think  this lovely simple range caught my attention in LPQ magazine this month and when I searched for them online …. well as I said, irresistible.IMG_4426

IMG_4405I particularly love the aqua/teal/green fat    quarters.    No surprises there then!

I don’t think these are going to sit in my stash for very long, in fact I’ve already started imagining a summer table topper for the kitchen.

I wonder if I’ll use all 15 colours? I wonder if I’ll try out the my new ‘Quiltology’ App to plan my design? I wonder how soon I can start?IMG_4425

Sweet Sunshine

IMG_4114Like I said, I need more practise at paper (or foundation) piecing. I do enjoy it and the method is so very versatile. I think it’s really exciting the way it comes together. BUT at the moment it’s very tricky! Placing the first couple of pieces has me laying them on the pattern every which way and I have unpicked more than once on a couple of occasions.                                                                                                                                  I will get there! It will get easier. I am determined and practise is what’s needed so when I subscribed to ‘Love Patchwork and Quilting‘ recently and saw that the ‘Block of the Month’ is paper pieced I decided to give the block and its reverse  a go. I also decided to continue to indulge my current passion Issue-4-peek-slideshow_3-300x189for orange.

Issue 4 Block of the Month is ‘Sweet Sunshine’ and is my first ever attempt at curved piecing so it was a double challenge. So not only were there were a couple of the customary paper piecing false starts (not quite as many) but also some very odd shapes an puckers in the curves.

Most of them I unpicked and did again but I fought the perfection gremlin and left  a couple of puckers in the hope of seeing progress in future blocks.                                                                                                                                     Well it can’t have been too traumatic because I went ahead and made ‘Sunshine Remix’, with the reverse placement of the patterned and plain fabrics.IMG_4119With my usual impatience I missed the step that said ‘remove the papers’ (you wouldn’t with straight seams but the curves are so different to deal with) but I found myself doing just that with the fiddly-ness of fitting the seams together. I felt relieved and just a little self-satisfied when I did read the instructions!                                       Here are the two blocks side by side.IMG_4121Seeing them like this there is one thing I’d do differently next time. I would make the four patterns more evenly dense, The leaf pattern fabric is too open compared to the other three.  So much to learn, so much from every project.                                                                                                     I’m pleased to say that I haven’t been put off, I’m ready for my next paper pieced block and I will be looking out for curved pieced blocks that catch my eye too.

 

Dydd Gwyl Dewi. St Davids Day

Happy St David’s Day. Dydd Gwyl Dewi Hapus

Last year it was all about the knitting and my St David’s Day make was knitted daffodils. This year it’s all about sewing and in particular my new (and needing much practice) skill of foundation piecing.               I found the daffodil pattern on Piece by Number in the free patterns section. Maybe one day I’ll be able to create my own but for now its enough of a challenge to actually follow one. False starts are a feature and the seam ripper is overworked. Making 4 the same did at least give me a fighting chance of getting it right in the end.                      IMG_4091I found the sashing fabric in the Aladdin’s cave that is Calico Kate in Lampeter (two new rooms since my last visit!)

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IMG_4097Well 4 struggles produced 4 blocks to make my square and the sashing was quickly done and the Ikea fleece throw – a bargain at £3 – used for batting added.

Time to let my lovely new toy come into its own to quilt the sashing.

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I chose a simple greek key and a loopy egg stitch and let it work its magic. Doesn’t it look perfect!

What joy to just let the Pfaff sew – unlike  bird’s nest back I got when I started sewing the vermicelli on the block backgrounds without help from the machine!

 

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A bit more unpicking then start again, this time with more success and much, much improved on my free motion quilting of  a year ago.

 

Perfect for St David’s Day and for making the kitchen feel a bit more like Spring! But here it is out on the garden table making the most of the light.IMG_4099

Loving My New Pfaff

IMG_1070I’m having so much fun

with my new sewing machine. And just look at this!

I’m obviously in very good company.  I’ve no idea when or where it was taken but apparently it was well known that John Lennon liked to sew.

Good choice of machine John!

Just One More Cushion!

While I’m on a roll! I might as well do the last planned cushion. This time for the rocking chair. The  one that  is about to get a makeover with from a pot of Annie Sloan chalk paint. When I manage to drag myself away from the Pfaff that is!  I’ve been going to do this for years, I bought the foam pad from Wheelers in Machynlleth a long time ago, IMG_1045and the inspiration came from an Aberdashery post on Facebook when I saw this fabric.  Great paisley and complementaries  from Camelot Cottons. Lovely. The block pattern  I chose was from ‘Love Patchwork and Quiltling’ magazine. I’ve just subscribed and promised myself I will use and not IMG_1058just gaze lovingly at fabrics!                           So I’ve made a started, the original pattern was for a table runner but I liked the look of it. It took a little working out and it took me a little while to work out the fabric orientations so it’s far from perfect so needless to say I learned a lot.

The ‘Flying Geese’ were tricky, I haven’t done much with triangles really. There seemed to be lots of cutting and much more working out where everything should go.

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BUT  what a lot of scraps – all of them triangles so out with the idea of both sides being the same and in with my own little scrap plan for the reverse.

I had lots of practice at quilting straight lines and zig-zags, could be better, could be worse. Must do more.

Love my heart pins but I think they’re getting blunt!

IMG_1074Anyway, we have one more cushion, it’s better than the scrappy ones that have been on there for years. Coming soon  soonish, a revamp for the chair itself. Watch this space.IMG_1073

Seaside Cushions

New House, New Cushion Covers.IMG_4073

I haven’t made new cushion covers for ALL the cushions in the house since moving, but it’s beginning to feel like it. When the $T2eC16hHJFsFFSCCK7H3BRWJewcOs!~~60_35 Laura Ashley Hydrangea cushions were new they were lovely, but they had been demoted to the least used bedroom even before we moved. The lovely ribbon work wasn’t bearing up to the wear-and tear of the Hughes household and was parting company from the cushion.  I wanted  a little bit more of the seaside theme in what has so quickly become know as ‘Dougie’s Room’ cushions are always a quick and easy way to add some colour.

Making this paper pieced block with Mel gave me the idea for the first cushion and the appliqué boat on the first cushion was the inspiration for the second.                                                              IMG_1030

I had plenty of scraps for the block and I felt very satisfied by another attempt at foundation piecing and look forward to a spring course to improve.

I took the block home and the next day I appliquéd the little boat and built up the block with the blue and white pinhead spot and some solid blue.

Buttons

I love buttons. I have a massive button box, many of them inherited from my mother and lots of vintage ones I’ve collected over the years but I’ve always wanted to have a go at the fabric covered ones.

I made the first ones ever on the Bento box cushions for the living room and I had some left so on they went. Nothing quite like them for a perfect match.

Number Two

The seaside fabric I originally thought would be curtains is certainly going a long way, and it hasn’t finished yet. I have  another idea up my sleeve but it may be a way off making.

The beach huts were going to feature on cushion two. There are four different ones and they just fitted along the cushion. So no patchwork, no borders, just the little beach huts appliquéd and some waves and clouds quilted on to the cushion front. This was a really quick make. IMG_4074

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Time to change cushions

Christmas cushionsI did love the Christmas cushions. They were bright and warm and very cheerful, but they did shout ‘Christmas’ and in the middle of January it was definitely time for a change. The trouble was that having them made the original sofa-matching ones look dull, stiff and over-stuffed. Time to make some new ones. I loved the pop of red, and it picks up on other little accents so keep that.

Bark and Branch

1181_bark_and_branch_fat_quarter_bundle_in_winterI’d bought ‘Bark and Branch’ by Eloise Renouf for Cloud 9 Organic Fabrics some time ago and really wanted to use that.  What to do with it?                Image 03-02-2014 at 22.22 (1)                                                   I added a couple more fabrics from my stash and started with a Disappearing  9 patch but that didn’t work for me at all.                               I searched in all the obvious places for a block I fancied and what came to mind was the Bento box I’d used for the Christmas table runner. It was fun to make and I thought the mix of dark and light in the collection would be good.

Two blocks, quartered and pieced ready for two cushion tops.

I added a red border – for the colour pop then once my quilt sandwich was made it was time to try out the new machine.  I free motioned the centre and the wider pieces but put the machine to work on the narrower pieces and on a little  asterisk  stitch to bring in a little more red. So easy!

Fabric covered buttons.
Fabric covered buttons.

I wanted to try out buttonholes too, so for the back two halves with two fabric-covered buttons. The buttonhole function is so simple; once the foot is on and the size set just sew and cut and there you have it!                                                                                                                                            I made a third cushion adding some red from the ‘Winter’s Lane’ collection I used for my Festive Table Runner to make a spiral block. The overall look of the cushions is a great mix of the blues and reds from the room, the cool winter blues and the hot red. Close up? Well I think I’m making some progress in piecing, design and quilting . Satisfying.

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.