The first Story Cushion I made was The Very Hungry Caterpillar cushion it’s in the blog for April 2014. You can see it here.
It had been in the making a lot, lot longer. It was actually the catalyst to my long path to free motion quilting and to my beginning patchwork. I had the idea for the cushion and realised it was something I would need to actually learn. I was lucky, I found a great teacher in Kate Higgins and the rest, as they say, is history.
Just before Olivia’s 2nd birthday she became obsessed with very same Very Hungry Caterpillar story so…… on to the net to order fabric and cushion number 2 was on the way.
The panel and the foods fabric were soon cut and the book pocket made.
The caterpillar and butterfly were outlined with this amazing multicoloured cotton thread. I love this and have it in several (rather expensive-but-worth-it) colour ways, this one is ‘primaries’, there must be around 50 colour ways.
Next it was on to the quilting and I have to sing the praises of another sewing thread here. I kept reading about this thread, it was everywhere; it was on just about every professional blog I read; it was in magazine articles; on pinterest; everywhere. You really can’t miss it and I decided to stop ignoring it and invest in this Aurifil. I bought mine from Barnyarns, simply because I’d had some freebees from them and they really seem to know about thread. I am converted, it is ultra smooth and it doesn’t break and I really have to say it’s made a huge difference to the flow of my free motion work. I’m totally sold and don’t think I’ll go back to quilting with anything else. I only regret not trying it sooner!
So it was caterpillar quilting for the caterpillar side
And butterfly quilting for the butterfly side.
Now there was one more thing. I’d made two story cushions and I have three grandchildren and although Heidi had the cushion that matched her quilt it’s not a story cushion with a pocket for a book!
So cushion number three. It could’t be the same as Dougie’s, I didn’t need a particularly good imagination for that bit of sibling interaction! So here is what my search led me to choose.
Once again I outlined the motives and then stippled in between on the outside of the pocket. But this time the top half was plain/plainish so I decided to write on that.
After sketching out a couple of font ideas this was my choice. Think I might use it again, simple but effective I think.
I can’t believe how quickly these two cushions came together. The first one took me so long. The quilting was so much easier, having a new machine since I first began has helped a lot. The Pfaff is so much more controllable and the Aurifil is a great find. Mostly of course its all down to experience and I must say that is pretty satisfying really. I think these two are destined to take up residence in the girls’ teepees where they both enjoy having stories read to them and where hopefully, in the future they will curl up to enjoy a book themselves.
It’s a great British tradition to complain about the weather and in January and February this year there was plenty to complain about. One of my favourite ways to keep reasonably fit is to walk in the glorious countryside around here. This January I regularly found myself paddling or sinking to my ankles in mud. In February it was the turn ‘The Beast from the East’ and storm Emma and general biting cold winds that upset us so much.
But – and it’s a very positive but – there was no golf, no gardening and so – there was a lot of sewing time.
Enough time to finish Olivia’s just-about-begun quilt, a story cushion for her birthday and a story cushion for Heidi just so that she didn’t feel left out.
And enough time for a few little projects along the way. The red scraps made their annual appearance just before Valentine’s day.
Olivia’s quilt had been an embarrassingly long time in the making. I was in the middle of making Dougie’s Quilt when we went on one of our long trips to Spain and I decided that while we were away I would hand appliqué the elephant patches. So far so good.
Well when we got back it was summer. Summer = golf + gardening = very little sewing. Then of course came the autumn and it was all stops out to finish Dougie’s quilt in time for Christmas. So the little elephant quilt was the no.1 priority for January. It was easy to piece together with yellow, grey and white patches to match her bedroom.
It needed a little bit of planning to get the balance right before piecing and once that was done
the next step was simple and speedy and I soon had the batting and the yellow and white pin-spot backing together and ready to quilt.
I wanted a quilting design to fit in the yellow, white and grey squares, the elephant squares would just have simple outlines. Here’s what I call ‘the pink claw of quilting’. My quilting gloves are actually cotton gardening gloves that have a fantastic bobbly surface perfect for ‘getting a grip’!
Now the next bit is worth posting, I’ll know where to find it rather than having to think really hard to remember it. I don’t have any idea why, but the sequence for binding around the corners just won’t lodge itself in my brain. So here it is – in pictures.
and in words:
having pressed a diagonal fold at the beginning of the binding (see last photo) sew the double thickness binding strip leaving a 5cm tail at the start, using a quarter-inch seam
stop a quarter-inch from the corner, secure and break thread
fold the binding strip 90º to the right
fold the binding strip back on itself level with the edge of the quilt.
sew across the folded edge stopping and turning the corner a quarter-inch from the edge. Do this on all corners
trim and tuck the end of the binding inside the folded tail before sewing the last 5 cms.
The corners turn back really nicely and it’s on to my favourite bit, sitting quietly folding the binding over and hand stitching to finish the quilt.
I hope Olivia enjoys her quilt, if she’s like Dougie and Heidi it will become her relaxing quilt probably becoming part of the soft furnishings of the teepee we gave her for Christmas – which leads nicely on to the next project … Story cushions’ But that’s for another day.
In SeptemberDougie 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.
At the beginning of December he turned five.
That’s FIVE years old. Five birthdays.
Five parties, five photographs!
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.
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.
The first ever Puff quilt I made was for my own first baby well over
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!
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 Studiosand 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.
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. I 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.
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.
I 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!
Pretty 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.
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 way 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.It’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.
I could think of uses for it rolled too.
It’s an easy make, comfy and cosy, and could be any size. I hope I get the opportunity to make more!
I’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.
Ihave 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 on 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.
Next 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.
And then I added a border in the peachy coloured ‘follow me’.
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!
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.
I 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.
Thecolours 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.
And made a label
So Heidi’s quilt was finished before Christmas and very nearly coincided with her moving into her big cot in her own room.
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!
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:It 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!
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 down 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!
It’sonly 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)
and 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.
So 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.
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!When 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.
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! Hooray!
Among 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.
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.
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.
When it came to the cushion covers I decided on one central hexagon with a border in a grey multi and the sashing fabric.
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.
The 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. Dashwood 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!
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 in 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.
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.
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. 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!
When 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.
I 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.I 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!
Whenever I set out to realise one of my ideas I find myself thinking back to Design Technology staff meetings at school! Our talented curriculum leader, Martha, put us through our paces thinking through the design, make, review process. Well, whenever I make my ‘prototype’ there is always plenty to think about in the review part of the proceedings! There certainly was for this little fabric container … or pot …. or box. I’m not really sure what to call it. Ideas on a postcard (or a comment here) please.
When I saw ‘Chicken and Egg’ in Aberdashery I knew what I wanted to make with it right away. I’d been planning some little round containers for a while. Initially the containers in my mind’s eye had turn down tops not lids but then the lid popped into my thoughts. I think I’ll still make a lidless round one, the rectangular ones I made are very versatile and I like them a lot.
Here are my choices from ‘Chicken and Egg’ in the Henley Studio Collection by Makower, lots more lovelies in the collection. Take a peek. These three were obvious choices for me, I’m besotted by the aqua and red combination and have to stop myself choosing it for everything I make. I love the fabric design and I thought the quilting should be kept simple and just let the design speak for itself. So my straight line practise came in useful.
I hope that I can get around to making the improved version soon but at this time of year, well gardening, golfing and galivanting around the countryside seem to be higher on the agenda. Among my improvements will be making the lid slightly larger. I did make the diameter slightly bigger but not quite enough for the lid to just drop on.
There are other modifications too and as I make the new improved model I’ll have another go at writing a tutorial. All I need is a horrible wet useful rainy sewingday. Shouldn’t be too long before one of those here in West Wales!
Eric Carle what did you do? Well apart from inspiring generations of children to read and thousands of art projects in infant and nursery classes everywhere that is. I particularly enjoyed entertaining and teaching my classes and my own children with what is probably the most popular of his books ‘The Very Hungry Caterpillar’ The deceptively simple illustrations are charming as well as educational and the book always contributed to mini-beast science projects.
Well this particular version of Eric Carle’s iconic illustration started me on a journey that is still in its very early stages. When the caterpillar and butterfly panels first caught my eye I knew exactly what I wanted to do. I saw a cushion with a pocket for a story book. The butterfly would be stitched with coloured thread that would raise areas and make it tactile as well as visual.
There was only one problem and it was quite a big one! I’d never done anything like it and I didn’t really know where to start. I really had no idea how over ambitious all this was! The next part is a bit of a blur really. I know I had visited Yarnia and I know that Trish had told me about their classes. I had a look at them on the web. I saw Kate’s ‘Free Motion Quilting’ workshop. I’d never heard of ‘free motion quilting’ so back onto the internet. WOW! This was just it!
It didn’t take me long to sign up for the course and although that first day was a total mystery (see here) to me I have persevered through many trials and tribulations; a new and rather splendid sewing machine; an online course (sadly I have moved too far away from Kate to continue under her tutelage) and lots of other sewing projects; classes with Mel since our move to Aberystwyth and finally I felt ready to have a go at my story cushion.
So I bought some extra small caterpillar fabric from Little Fabric Bazaar and this just-right multicoloured quilting thread from Aberdashery I quilted the butterfly and the caterpillar and used the original polyester wadding since I’m an expert quite a bit better now. It does give a bit more ‘oomph’ and should be used for baby items because it is more breathable.
I sliced the caterpillar side in half – eek – and added the fabric for the pocket.
Next I quilted the surrounding white fabric. I have to give some credit now to Lori Kennedy at the Inbox Jaunt whose amazingly generous blog has inspired me. Every single week she posts an FMQ tutorial. Her designs are fun, non-traditional in many ways and really appeal to me. I have watched and learned (and will continue to) and have finally felt confident enough to have a go at my own.
So quilted caterpillars for the caterpillar sideAnd in collaboration with my daughter, Bethan, butterflies for the butterfly sideThis has been a long time as a WIP (work in progress) in my cupboard but it has been so much more. It has driven my progress for the past year, nagging at me quietly to keep on. The first class I did with Kate took me back to work with her on my first attempts at patchwork which in its turn grew my fabric obsession and reignited the interest I had in sewing in my younger years.
Stemming from all that has been this blog and so a wealth of things to do with the time I gained from retirement.
So thank you Eric Carle and thank you Hungry Caterpillar and thank you all the people in-between. I’m enjoying every moment of it. I hope Dougie will enjoy many a story comfy with his cushion!
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. I found the sashing fabric in the Aladdin’s cave that is Calico Kate in Lampeter (two new rooms since my last visit!)
Well 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.
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!
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.
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 plannedcushion. 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, and 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 just 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.
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!
Anyway, 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.