Family Quilt

As the evenings drew colder and darker last autumn my family said ‘We need more quilts!’ I needed no further prompting.

I decided on a nice simple Plus quilt and used the tutorial by Jenni here.  My fabric choices revolved around a rich -wintry theme and also the desire just to use all the lovely fabric that is now overflowing from my cupboard.  I chose a lot of my favourites, resisting the urge to hang onto them.  How much nicer is it to see your favourite fabrics in use rather than stacked in the cupboard?

This quilt design is simple to cut and simple to sew. The hardest bit is getting the lay out right. It took ages! I started mid-morning and knew I had to get it right and all the rows stacked and organised by the time I had to pick the kids up from school.  I managed it JUST!

I was hoping to get it finished and wrapped in time for christmas but all the other Christmas frenzy took over. I did finish it before new year. Boxing day was a PJ day and I quilted all day.

The backing fabric is the infamous ikea number fabric with a strip of Amy Butler dots – forgot to get a picture, my quilt holders were complaining too much!

It was my speediest and most trouble free quilt yet and I really enjoyed the whole process.

Here’s the photo shoot – with fingers!

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Last Christmas…..

I made a pledge to sew a quilt with my daughter. We needed two jelly rolls, one for her and one for me.

She chose the lovely Bluebird park fabric line and I had a Little Apples jelly roll in my cupboard. We used this quick and easy tutorial on the fat quarter shop blog.

It’s taken all year but I’m very proud that Ellen has done most of the work herself. All I helped with was some of the rotary cutting, basting and binding.
She got frustrated at times and it spent quite a few months untouched when sewing all the blocks together was just too boring.

Here she is snuggled up in it and on location in the new forest when we went away a few weekends ago.

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She quilted along the seams with a wavy line stitch on my machine, set to its maximum width and length. This made things simple as there were no straight lines to keep straight!
My quilt – it is still waiting to be basted. It will definitely be finished by next christmas!

Across the Pond

I am just back from a wonderful week in Canada visiting two fabulous friends.  Naturally I took a few handmade gifts with me…

Firstly for Rachael and her daughter Amelie these Noodle head zip pouches – which I’ve made a few of in the past. They got filled with goodies from England (they moved to Canada 6 years ago). I couldn’t quite fit in the giant jar of Marmite I took for them.

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Next I went to stay with my Canadian friend Ellen. We’ve known each other for nearly 20 years. As its been 10 years since my last visit, I decided her 40th birthday was enough of an excuse for another trip.

For her birthday I made a paper pieced table runner. The inspiration for which came from a blog called Wombat Quilts. I love Cath’s quilts and she has tons of free patterns. I was quite glad I didn’t attempt a whole quilt – paper piecing is hard work.

Here are some photos I took before I left and one of it in situ on Ellen’s coffee table. Her husband Marc was very helpful and sent me photos of the living room and measurement of the coffee table. As you can see it fits and it looks great.

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Lastly I made some more zip pouches for  Ellen’s children Cohen and Ingrid, filled with some classic British sweets.

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It was a fabulous trip and I had so much fun with my lovely friends, I was spoilt rotten with lovely food, wine, coffee and trips out to do things and visit people – and it snowed!!!

It wouldn’t have been possible with out my husband at home holding the fort during half term, (whilst juggling work!) and my mum for helping out as well.

It’s good to get away and remember who you are and who you were before you became a wife and mother. Going away always gives me a fresh perspective on life and a new appreciation of home and family. I have remembered how boring it is to travel a long way on your own – give me some squabbling children any day!

Rachael and I. Ellen and I.

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A Very Special Quilt

I started this quilt in earnest back in March. In fact the idea and initial cutting spree (until I got bored) was at Christmas last year. So it’s been almost a year-long project, with a the goal of being my Mum’s 70th birthday present.

I wanted to make something with the vintage sheet fat quarters I got through a swap and I knew that some of these prints would be wonderfully nostalgic to my mum.

I settled on the hourglass block after seeing Rita’s hourglass quilt and tutorial.
This is a double quilt, so there were a lot to make – 200 and something! (I guess I could have made them bigger!) I found a very handy labour saving half square triangle ruler on Amazon, which did help a lot.

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and then to start sewing them all together. There were even some perfect points!

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Then I sewed them into blocks of 12 in a rainbow-ish colour sequence

 

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There was some basting agony (isn’t there always?!)

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After our holiday to France and my sewing machine had made a trip back to the mothership for some attention, it was time to quilt!
I chose to do my favourite orange peel quilting. The curvy lines really helped break up the geometric look of the blocks and create these lovely flowers.

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And then with the addition of some lovely vintage stripy binding (which you can buy here!) it was finished (yes the backing fabric is a very funky vintage sheet!)

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My husband and I had a lovely couple of days in a Shepherds Hut in Somerset while the kids were my mum’s. This was the perfect chance to hand stitch on the binding in the cosy hut with the woodburner and enjoying the last evenings of summer. It was also perfect for photographs.

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Today was her birthday and we presented her quilt, she was really thrilled  with it and says she can’t wait to put in on her bed!

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I feel a bit sad now it’s gone!

Tumbler

When I went a away on my sewing weekend, I decided to make a covering for our living room coffee table. It’s an ancient Ikea table that has seen a lot of action and to be honest needs covering up! Its quite big so it usually just ends up covered in junk.

During the Great UK Fabric De-stash, I bought bag of precut charms. I was delighted to find the bag contained about one third Kokka Japanese linen. They are absolutely divine.

I trimmed as little as I could to turn the charm squares into tumbler shapes.

I added a border of Essex linen The backing is some dusky pink linen I bought from my local fabric shop. Its the perfect match in its muted-ness (is that a word!?)

My husband suggested a dark blue binding to complement the Essex linen. He’s good with colour my husband!

So here it is in situ and out in the garden – also being photo bombed by the cat!

I totally love how it turned out. The colours are just up my street!

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Sewing, Sunshine and Friends.

I’m just back from a wonderful sewing weekend with my friends Susy, Emily and Mary. It was fantastic to be away from the demands of family life and just sew, drink tea (and wine) chat and laugh. The weather was glorious, so we had lunch outside on the patio and could sew with the sunshine streaming in through the open doors. Heavenly! Here are a few photos: The cottage : 20140310-140125.jpgThe sewing: 20140310-140202.jpgOther activities (?): 20140310-140338.jpgA few other random things! 20140310-140420.jpg look at all our handmade bags! We all took different projects to work on and it was amazing to see what we could achieve with all that uninterrupted time. I can’t wait to plan the next one!

A Little Make

After my quilt finish I needed a quick and easy one-evening make. I’d bought this lovely tea cup fabric in the online destash and it just screamed ‘make me into a tea cosy’!! So I did. I used a lovely simple pattern by Messy Jesse
It ended up a bit snug on my tea pot as my fabrics crept about a bit with quilting. I’d recommend cutting out your rectangles a bit bigger than you need then trimming down after quilting. I used Shards from Cut out and Keep for the binding and lining and I quilted it with a turquoise Aurifil thread.

I’ve been up to other sewing but also doing lots of prep for a sewing weekend away in a few days with my very favourite sewing buddies!

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Oh and my tea pot collection, I think I need some more tea cosies!

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Quilt Planning

Since my last post I’ve had my birthday and now I am the ripe old age of 40!! I had a lovely day and was thoroughly spoilt!
I seem to have started the new year with loads of quilt plans. One of them involving all these low volume charms which I got in a swap at the end of last year.

20140111-155934.jpg Over joyed at the prospect of minimal cutting (you know how I love cutting!) i set straight to work turning them into these blocks.

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I made two extra blocks from my own scraps so now I have 9. Not enough for a quit in its own right but the start of one.

I recently had the luck on winning a Kate Spain Sunnyside jelly roll in a giveaway. A lot of the strips will make perfect low volume sashing. So I’m plotting and planning what to do…pencil paper stylie. This is the first quilt I’ve planned with out proper instructions. I hope it all works!

Quilting and Me

I’ve been recently pondering why I am a slightly reluctant quilter. Every day I see beautiful things created by my friends of the online sewing community and I wonder how they manage to be so productive – many of them also busy working mums.

One my sticking points is the location of my sewing space – which I’m hoping to work out a solution to over Christmas (watch this space!). The other is that I really hate cutting – big pile of fabric, mat and rotary cutter type scenario agggh!

Far too much accuracy needed and if I switch off, I end up taking off an inch too much or slicing it wonky. Hate it! I’ve had a bit pile of vintage FQ’s sitting waiting to be cut for the last 3 months – I imagine there is probably a layer of dust on them by now!

I guess I’m starting to learn bout what kind of sewist I am. What I most enjoy is digging through my scraps and improvising, sewing together strips or doing a bit of a scrappy block. 20131220-120040.jpgVery nice but not very do-able for a big project.

The other day this popped up in my blog feed. Not only did I fall in love with its beauty but I had one of those light-bulb moments. This quilt is made using a technique called foundation piecing or paper piecing. It’s too complicated to explain here but Kerry has a fantastic blog post about it here.
My lovely local sewing friends showed me how to do this when we met up for a bit of festive making last month – and I made these

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So with my new found skill I thought I’d tackle a quilt block myself.

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And another…

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What I really like about it is you don’t have to spend hours at the cutting mat before you can get started, you cut as you go. Although you do have to be accurate in some ways – it’s not a precise fabric cutting exercise. Hallelujah!

I may have found my niche!

I’ve decided to go with a grey/pink grey/aqua theme using solids and print…I have an order of solids on the way, hopefully in time to do a bit of post-Christmas sewing.

Have a great Christmas!

Sewing for a Cause

Lately my sewing has involved lots of charity related projects. Dress a Girl Around the World back in June, where we made lots of dresses which went off to Malawi. A couple of weeks ago I attended the Sewing Directory meet up in Exeter, where we appliqued bags for charity. Here’s my decorated bag.

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Last week I met up with my sewing buddies Susy, Mary and Emily and we set about making some quit tops for Project Linus. We are meeting up again in a few weeks to baste and quit them.

The final little project I’ve been involved with is Siblings Together. At the Fat Quarterly Retreat in London back in July I saw loads of beautiful quilts being handed over to this project. While I didn’t feel able to commit to a whole quilt; Mary told me that Sarah was organising a quilt block drive. I said I ‘d make 4 blocks and here they are

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Now, you will notice there are 5, that’s because the first one was about half an inch too small. After a hissy fit and vowing never to sew again (dramatic I know), I pulled myself together sorted out my seam allowances and made the rest. I went a bit off piste with my cutting on 3 of them and forgot the middles were supposed to be solid. I hope Sarah won’t be cursing me too much. It’s been great to be able to contribute in a small way to some of these wonderful charities. Not forgetting its also a good excuse to meet up and eat cake too!