Tag 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.

 

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!

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!

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!

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

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.

 

 

Birthday Quilt

This week is my little sister’s 50th birthday, she is  a very special ‘little sister’ to all of us, including my husband. I think we practised our parenting skills with her when we were  a very young couple. It was very much the on ‘up-side’ of parenting with holiday days out and visits but I hope she thinks we did a good job. However well we did I think that it made our relationship a very close one. When I set about choosing a birthday present it had to be very personal and (at the risk of getting a little soppy) a real expression of sisterly love. It made most sense for me to spend time planning and making my gift and so it had to be a quilt.

I wanted the quilt to have a really modern look and, of course, I wanted it to look spectacular. Just having moved and with a birthday close to Christmas time came fairly high in my thinking. So it was serendipitous that I fell upon a free pattern from McCalls. It was the  Urban Neighbourhood Quilt and you can find it here. It is designed by Konda Luckau of Moose on the Porch quilts whose blog I just happen to follow! I just loved the design and the colours immediately struck a chord as my sister loves grey.

I was going to choose two shades of grey for the main colours but when I went off to Lampeter shopping for fabrics and looked at the range of solids I loved the aqua and with one of the Kaffe Fasset fabrics I’d chosen I thought that the grey, white and aqua would just sing combined with the patterned centres of the blocks (a random selection but incorporating another favourite designer, Kate Spain). As it turns out I’m thrilled with the colours.

The McCall’s blog sub-title was ‘Quick Quilts’ and it did live up to that. urban neighbourhood, cut fabric

Cutting took a while but doing it all first and laying out the pieces made for very speedy piecing. Being able to leave everything just where I was the best. I love my new craft space.

Chain-piecing was easy and the blocks grew so quickly.

The blocks were bordered in white to finish them off. It gave them a crisp clean look.

Next laying out the blocks to get a balanced look. IMG_3473I still haven’t ever managed to sew my blocks together in my chosen layout though, no matter how careful I am there seems to be a quilt gremlin who comes along and moves something!

The landing at the new house is a great space for working on the floor. Spacious and with great light from the long window, its comfortable for crawling around on the floor too.

The next step was to piece together each strip then, of course add the sashing to create the whole quilt top.

Now, in the few projects I have done, this is usually where I stop; go on to other projects; deliberate about the backing and generally faff about avoiding backing the quilt. This time this was definitely not an option. Time was of the essence and I just had to get on with it. Urban Neighbourhood is not a small quilt and I was really pleased when I went down to Aberdashery to find that an extra wide roll of batting had just arrived. I had a piece of light teal sheeting I was going to use for the backing and I had incorporated a label block to the corner of this so I set about pinning the sandwich together.

The size also meant I needed a little assistance getting straight lines for the quilting. I used the tape method with numerous rolls of masking tape from Poundland. All that remained was the binding and I was very grateful for Melanie Hughes’ tip on the binding I did find it easier. I even managed the hand stitching in one sitting; one very long sitting!

Well I’m pleased to say I finished comfortably in time and we had a lovely weekend, beginning with going into town for the lantern parade and turning on the Christmas lights on Friday evening. Jeff made fabulous food for us all weekend and a few memories were shared over the wine.

1474498_10152111687764903_1550084848_nI’m sure Jane will enjoy the rest of her birthday celebrations but I know that the best event of all will be her son James arriving home from Australia for the holidays. She is so excited to be seeing him after two years away. We all are!

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   Happy Birthday Jane!