Saturday, 22 November 2014

November...

...is flying by! Despite my attempt to ban the C word, it is creeping up on us rapidly. This week I made my first attempt at an Artist Trading Card for the Winter Sparkle themed swap, organised by Ali.



My secret partner commented on the form that she would love something with a Christmas theme, which was easy enough! As this is my second time doing the ATC swap, I feel slightly more confident, but it is still incredibly fiddly creating an item which is 2.5 inches by 3.5. As before, I've given my details on the reverse:


This month I finally used the lovely charm squares which Carla sent me, all the way from British Columbia, when I won her giveaway. Funnily enough, she's just used her own set too, and I love what she's made with them! I'd picked up an oblong shaped cushion pad ages ago, and finally decided to use the squares and make a cover. 


I didn't have a pattern, but it was pretty straightforward to put this together. It's quite a tight fit, but that gives it a nice firm shape.


I'm thrilled with how it turned out, and the challenge of honing my skills ;-) Only problem is, it's set a trend, and now Rosie wants one too...


Meanwhile, Rosie has been invited to at least 3 birthday parties in November, so I've been busy making presents. 



Same sort of bag, but different handles... I do like using the metal clips, but it was quite fiddly! Back to the secret Christmas sewing projects now...

Friday, 31 October 2014

Bee-yond thrilled :-)

So happy to have quilted and bound my wonderful Bee quilt this week!


After a year of making patchwork strips and sending them round the group, we all met up in June and were each presented with a finished quilt top...


I'd started mine off with the row of stars, but hadn't seen it since, as it worked its way around the group. I couldn't be happier with the end result, the girls all did a fabulous job of creating rows with colours and styles that are so totally me :-)


The top sat in my cupboard for several months, while I pondered how to quilt it...



I felt under pressure to come up with something amazing...


However, me and fancy quilting aren't really the best combination!


I'm really better suited to simple quilting, and ultimately decided that, with all the lovely details in this piece, simple probably was best after all.



So, I went with a straightforward grid, 4 inches apart. It was great to notice all the sweet details as I worked on it, every time I look, there's something new to spot. How about that cute fox in one of Maria's windows?!? I'm so grateful to the girls for the fun we all had, and for a wonderful end result, destined now to cover the sofa in my sewing room. Can't wait to see the other finished items...


Just to prove I haven't been a total slacker this month, I also completed the quirky cat quilt top - 



It will need a huge piece of wadding, so quilting is on hold for now! 



Wishing you  a peaceful Halloween...

Sunday, 5 October 2014

New beginnings...

... of a quilty kind ;-)


Simple 3.5 inch squares, so easy, but the plus quilt is actually a very effective design with the right fabrics. To my mind, cat nap suits it perfectly, especially when mixed with a few eclectic others!


Even with the help of the ironing board, I can only lay out about a quarter of the intended quilt at a time, so will have to match the edges carefully...


So far, it has come together beautifully, and I'm really happy with my choices.


Just managed to photograph the first quarter in the October sunshine! It's such a glorious autumn in England, we have been incredibly fortunate so far, with lovely warm weather for long dog walks. With a bit of luck, this quilt may be done before the cold hits us... 


Left my sewing room for a minute, and Rosie commandeered the machine! She is working on a complete quilt set, given to her by the very generous Jennifer. Do so hope she can do it all be herself...

Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Therapeutic stitching...

One of the things I love about blogland, is we're not just about pretty fabrics and what we make of them ;-) There have been some excellent, insightful debates doing the rounds lately too, and I've really enjoyed reading people's views, and admiring their willingness to stick their neck out.


For the last year, my day job has been working in an addiction clinic. This certainly means I feel alarmed when people joke about their fabric addiction, and I've been so touched by the bloggers who have detailed the seriousness of this lately.



Other people have raised the (considerable) cost of fabric, and the price of each quilt. I don't know that we will ever win the battle on changing the mindset of the general public, and creating awareness of the financial cost and the workload that goes into handmade items... This quilt probably cost around £60 in materials but, again through working in a therapeutic clinic, I know that is the cost of just one session of therapy, while this has given me a whole week of gentle creative calm...


The debate around Aurifil and the setback to the feminist movement was extremely well covered, I felt, and informative. I didn't leave comments at the time, as I'd never used Aurifil before. If anything, I tend to react against the 'in thing' and so stuck with my usual thread of choice. However, I succumbed, to see what the hype was all about, and the quilting here is my first ever use of Aurifil, in a pale pink shade. 


Well, I do like it, and have no complaints over quality... but I don't get the hype! I did, however, enjoy a different moment of enlightenment over free motion quilting. My previous attempts have been mixed, and not that encouraging. Who knew that setting my stitch length to a precise 1.8 would lead to a complete transformation?!? I'd read before that you should have it on the shortest possible, but somehow 1.8 gave me precision stitching, with very little issues. Even creeping up or down by 0.2 of a stitch lead to problems on my rough piece.


Additionally, I experimented with speed. I'd heard people say set it on the fastest, others on the slowest... Turns out, my machine likes it bang in the middle. These discoveries lead to a whole new level of satisfaction :-)


The central Liberty fabrics came from a bonus ebay voucher I received, and from a seller there. The outer, edge pieces, were a purchase from Ali, and I so recommend her if you are shopping, not least for her great customer service! I was hugely fortunate to win her giveaway some months' ago, and have received a gorgeous package of Liberty charm squares every month, with one more to go. Exercising restraint, I have stored them away until the set is complete, but nearly there, so it was time to get some practice in!



Lastly, a few items for the never ending cycle of birthday gifts for the many parties Rosie goes to :-) I finally tackled the boxy pouch design, and love the end result.

Monday, 1 September 2014

Quilts for my daughter

Last week, Nesta nominated me for the Round the World Blog Hop... Thank you, Nesta! For my entry, rather than focus on the things I'm currently working on, I decided to show a couple of quilts which I haven't blogged about before...


My daughter was already about four when I started quilting, so I sadly missed out on making all those cute baby quilts! However, I'd just finished my very first, sampler quilt, when she announced that I had to make her an elephant quilt next :-) This made great use of some Laura Ashley precut squares, which two ladies passed on to me, no doubt relieving their guilt that they had bought them twenty years previously and never used them! It suited me fine, and this was my second quilt.


Next up, Rosie had the role of a rain cloud in her infant school assembly... She wore a blue t shirt, with wadded clouds on the front and back, along with some big blue rain drops. With her vivid imagination, as soon as it was over she requested a quilt with one rain cloud, and the other turned into a sheep! I had so much fun making this, it was before I knew about designer fabrics, or any of the fashionable quilt blocks, and just went with the flow...


Interestingly, therefore, this next one to me is far less creative, and more stilted. I felt constricted using these designer fabrics, and compelled to show off the cute pictures of the prints rather than unleash my own imagination... However, this one often makes an appearance on the guest bed when little friends come for a sleepover :-)


The triangles quilt is the most recent one, and I still love the fabrics I chose. Yes, it is a common design, but did involve some skill and precision stitching. I love the serenity of the fabrics, and it has the most gorgeous backing piece!


So, those are the four main quilts for my daughter...not including her various sofa throws! On to the trip around the world questions:

1) Where I live or have lived?
I grew up in Hertfordshire, then moved to the beautiful, historic city of Durham for University. I also spent a year living in Zaragoza, Spain, and a couple of months in Yverdon, Switzerland. Now I'm back in Hertfordshire, though more by default than by any strategic plan!

2) What am I working on?

Lately, I have worked hard at completing all those unfinished projects... So, I am only working on two: an Insanity quilt which involves handstitching 1333 hexagons, and which has been on the go for a mere six years, and my economy blocks. Then I have two pieces in line for quilting, my stunning Bee quilt, and a recent experiment in using blue.

3) How does my work differ from others in its genre?
Hmm, as above, my best tip if you want to be 'different' would be to stop reading blogs and go with your own instincts! However, blogs and their interaction and friendships are so much fun...
 
4) How does my creating process work?
Process?!? There really isn't one, I just launch in...
 
Now, technically I am supposed to pass the baton onto other people for this blog hop... However, it really feels that most bloggers have done this now, and the rest are so busy getting their kids back to school this week! Down my sidebar are just a few of the blogs I follow, so you may like to visit one of them for a change? There's so much wonderful inspiration out there :-)
 
 
 



Monday, 25 August 2014

Feeling blue...


Some time ago, I decided I really needed to branch out more with my colour palette, specifically aiming to use more blues, rather than my usual pink, purple and grey combination...



I ordered a FQ pack of the new Hadley range, in blues, by Denise Schmidt. Not for the first time, I like her fabrics better online than I do in my sewing room! I'd ordered the solid turquoise at the same time, as the shop's suggested coordinate, but really it is too strong for me, and I would have been better with a subtler solid.



I also blended in several low volume prints, which I'd been collecting lately. These certainly help to tone things down!



As simple, therapeutic sewing, this wasn't a bad project, but I can't say I love the result. My plan is to go ahead and quilt this, and add it to my shop or next craft fair stall. It is far more masculine that any of my other quilts, and may appeal to someone who favours different colours to myself!




Just as well I took the photos when I did - we are enduring the traditional Bank Holiday downpour today... Hope you are having a fun long weekend!


Saturday, 16 August 2014

Slowly...


Finally got there :-) A quilt and a cushion all made from the rainbow charm swap I did over a year ago... My daughter made the large cushion as a present for me, piecing and quilting it herself. Although I finished the quilt top some months' ago, I've only just quilted and bound it, so a very satisfying finish to link up with the slow bloggers.