Tag Archives: quilting

Dougie’s Quilt

Schoolboy!

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

Five birthdays, five photos.

 

At the beginning of December he turned five.

That’s FIVE years old. Five birthdays.

Five parties, five photographs!

Five years!

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

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

 

 

 

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

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

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!

Chicken and Egg.

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.

What to call it? Any ideas?
What to call it? Any ideas?

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 sewing day. Shouldn’t be too long before one of those here in West Wales!