Friday, September 22, 2017

Batik is back!

20170921-P1470092 So I am finally back at the sewing machine. I have taken a week off work to settle Penelope into school so every morning I get three hours to myself. I admit, the first few days I just sat on the sofa worrying but by day three I had poked my nose into the cellar to bring up all the stuff I needed. My sewing world is so messy I have to keep it hidden away. I mean just look at the mess of my public shelf.

What a mess! Anyway, after a bit of a tidy up I got out all my batik blocks and laid them out. I was three blocks short so I got to use some of my new fabric as I was running low on mum's stash.

20170919-P1470075 Finally I trimmed each block, some of mine were way off. Should have measured as I went along. Luckily nothing much needs to line up. I used my great new ruler I bought ages ago for some project or other. It's really great. I love Le Summit rulers.

This is the perfect size and the markings are really useful. Then I laid them out and numbered them.

I sewed the blocks into strips and ironed them. They are a bit lumpy because of the seams and the steam iron warped them a bit. Out of practice...

It came together really quickly in the end and the central block is made! I do think it looks a bit odd laid out like this but it's when it scrunches up that it looks great. You need to have it on your lap to truly appreciate it. It's much brighter than mums which was not my intention at all. Plus mine has blue in it which I didn't realise hers did not. I think if I were to do it again I would choose less bright Batiks, but it's so weird trying to pick them out when I buy them. I just look at them and think 'ew, disgusting' but then, later on, I love them. So I found it very hard to choose them. I still think it will be great when it's done. Now I just need to sew on the borders today.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

What I bought

20170810-IMG_7725 No Festival post would be complete without showing all the stuff I bought. I often look back through these types of post to identify where I bought something from so they are pretty useful to me.

For once, I don't think I went overboard. In a way it was sad, because I haven't been actively quilting I had no projects in mind really, no burning desires or half-baked plans. The only things I wanted were:

  • Bottom Line Thread – It's perfect for hand piecing but it's expensive so I have decided to buy three rolls every year to build up a bit of a stash. At the moment I only have white and dark & light pink thinking that these would get me through, but if you want to be 100% invisible then it doesn't hurt to match thread to material colour as much as possible. So I am on a mission to amass a bit of a spectrum. They do an offer at Birmingham on three rolls so that's always good to take advantage of.
  • Batik Fabric – Although I have paused on projects, the last thing I was working on was a batik log cabin made by mum's quilting group. I don't really own any batik fabric. I am not even sure I like it sometimes, but I loved mum's quilt she made and she had lots of extra strips cut. I mean loads! So I had nearly everything I needed. But I wanted to buy a few fat quarters and possibly a backing.
  • Hiroshima Needles – So I bought some of these needles last year and they have grown on me. Of course my little glass test tube lost its cork whilst rattling around in my silly sewing kit which has gaps in the sides and half the needles were lost instantly. D'oh. SO I was on the look out for some more. 


Can you believe it?

Well of course, it's never quite that simple on the day...

So let's break it down

20170901-P1470002 So I got my batik fabric, even the backing. It has made me motivated to finish it off.

20170810-IMG_7732 Got my thread and needles. Amazingly I had forgotten the stalls I bought them from but they were in exactly the same position this year and I recognised the stalls instantly. And last but not least...

20170810-IMG_7734 Every year mum buys me my birthday present from the show as it's only a few weeks after the show. This time she bought me this Monkey Buttons Sunset pattern and 8 fat quarters to go with it. I have a real issue with this quilt. I think I love it because of the fabric colours. I saw it last year and decided that I would never be able to recreate them as they are just not my colours. My mind can't even bend itself to their will. But I remembered it and went to look at it again. It just feels like an autumn/haloween/bonfire quilt. Mum talked me into it by saying the best course of action was to use fabric from their shop and to buy it all right then whilst we had the real quilt in front of us. It was very extravagant as the last thing I need is more fabric, but nothing much I have is those tones. So in the end, mum bought 8 quarters and I bought 8 so I would have enough. And then of course I got a few extra bits from my favourite stalls

I love The Shuttle. It's so cheap! I love their solids. They feel as if they are made from sheeting and go really soft. I am always on the lookout for warm greys for my stash so these were perfect.

20170810-IMG_7729 I love Sunflower Fabrics. I always have to buy something from Maggie. Liberty fabric is so bloody expensive but this is one of my favourite patterns.

20170810-IMG_7723 I didn't buy anything from Worn and Washed this year, but not because I didn't want to. I held back because I haven't touched what I bought time from Kim. I loved these hexagon cushions though. And last but not least... I bought one single fat quarter from The Eternal Maker. I have never been so restrained. Without Rachel there to guide me, plus the fact that I still haven't made the purse I bought all the stuff for last year, made me hold myself. So 1 fat quarter goes towards my Monkey Buttons quilt. That, as they say, is all folks.

Festival of Quilts

20170811-IMG_7751 I'm really sorry it's been such a quiet year for me. Life has taken over and my sewing machine is making a grinding noise. Everything quilty has taken a back seat for a while. But it did not stop me going to Birmingham this year. I couldn't miss the opportunity to take mum away for the weekend. We decided to go Thursday/Friday this year and I don't think it made much difference to the numbers really. The above shot is taken at around 10.30. By 11 you could barely move! But you just have to take your time which we did. Because I have been so out of the loop with my sewing, I felt less driven; less crazy. I had a very small shopping list. Sometimes this is good because it means you can meander more. More about what I bought later... Due to my lackadaisical nature, I forgot to take my big camera and I didn't spend as long looking at the quilts as usual, but I did see some lovely things. See the full album here Otherwise, here are a few highlights. 20170811-IMG_7737 20170811-IMG_7748 20170811-IMG_7744 I really enjoyed looking through the 365 day challenge. I had seen this around the web and had been really tempted to join in, but after The Farmer's Wife, I just needed a rest. Do I really need a 90"x 90" quilt in my life? Not really. But I LOVE these sampler type quilts. I loved looking at the different colour combinations, choices of lights and darks and how they changed the pattern. It was great. Such a huge body of work. Check out the website for more info. 20170811-IMG_7762 I've got this Moda pattern, but I admit, seeing it up close made me realise how big some of those blocks are. 20170811-IMG_7778 Such beautiful fabric. I love this. 20170811-IMG_7780 Especially this bit with the big white circle. It makes me want to get my screenprinting kit out that Rachel bought me. 20170811-IMG_7808 I love the bright colours in this quilt. 20170811-IMG_7788 There were some really lovely modern quilts this year. I think that's more than enough. There were some epic quilts there. I am always blown away by just how many man hours they must take to make and how perfect the sewing is. Another great year at the show.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

Half Square Triangle Quilt Done

Last year I started this quilt. I based it on this quilt. It just shows you though, that no matter how hard you try to replicate something, you always end up with something quite different. I still prefer the more subtle palette of Megan's original, but I often think that I fall in love with the fabrics people choose rather than the pattern and that it's a real hostage to fortune as you can never quite match them unless they are current fabrics.

I knew that this quilt would be for Penelope so I decided to use brighter fabrics. I wanted to avoid making it overly pink or purple as these are Penelope's least favourite colours; seeing as they are GIRLS colours and she hates GIRLS. Urgh! Yucky! I liked the use of light and dark blues in the original so I tried to incorporate these and just use one slight green fabric.

I used Kona Ash for the solid. I found trying to find the exact warm grey/brown fabric impossible so the ash was a compromise. I am still annoyed about it. It lacks the slight warmth I would have liked. It's too grey. But I just couldn't wait any longer and to be fair, I looked for it at Birmingham and Duxford and couldn't find it so you can't say I didn't try.

I bought the backing at Duxford. It was cheap which was a great and it's Penelope's favourite colour; orange. I think it goes really well with her Ikea duvet cover.

I finished the top quite quickly. But since November it has sat around waiting for the next step. It was in danger of toppling my enormous pile of quilt tops which never get finished. So I decided to plough on through to the bitter end. I hate basting. I am just not set up for it. I hate machine quilting as I am just not set up for it, but it worked out fine in the end. I used my favourite Quilter's Dream Puff wadding because it is so light and bouncy. I didn't want it to be a heavy quilt as they annoy Penelope. I also want it to scrunch up nicely and be really soft.

It looks a bit flat at the moment. I toyed with the idea of doing the quilting 1/4 inch from the seams on either side but it was twice the work so I just did one line down the ditch. A wash will tell the true story. I am in no doubt this will need washing over and over so it will never look this flat again. I have not prewashed any of the fabric which I know could spell ruin but part of me wouldn't mind if the colours merge and blotch a bit.... well I say that now. I just want it to look scrunchy and well loved and the grey could benefit from being washed with a slight purple tint.

The other thing I wanted was for it to fit the top of her bed perfectly but have no bits draping. At present her quilts tend to drag off onto the floor because her bed is pressed up against the wall and they just tend to slide off. So this needed to just cover the top which it does perfectly. I can see this quilt being used a lot. All of her baby quilts are slightly annoying for her now as she is so tall that her feet poke out of the bottom. I never really thought she would be such a quilt person, but she loves them!

Right onto the next UFO! I am on a roll!

Saturday, January 07, 2017

Smitten Hexagon Three

Block three at last. I did these two just before Christmas. They were easier than the previous ones. I am not sure about my fabric choices but I knew that I wanted the stripe effect and I knew that I wanted to use the one fabric range I had bought for the quilt.

I keep forgetting that this range really needs a solid with it. It's a bit of a train crash.

I really like my stripes here.

So now onto block four!

Sunday, January 01, 2017

Happy New Year!

This is how I spent the first day of the year. I made Amy's Sugar Block Club. It's much bigger than I thought though. I have no idea what to do with it. Perhaps I will make three other blocks and make a mini quilt or something.

Saturday, December 31, 2016

Christmas Presents

This year I decided to ask mainly for crafting things and some kitchen stuff so I could do more baking with Penelope. There wasn't much else I wanted apart from he usual pyjamas and slippers.

Mumple is great at quilting supplies! She had come into some money so she was feeling all flush this year which I did very well out of! She got me a Postcards from Sweden kit from Plush Addict, which I asked for. A high ticket item indeed but it was all I really wanted from anyone. It is a bit rainbow which I know I said I was trying to avoid, but it is also solids which is my theme this year. I just think it looks like a very jolly quilt. I kept going back to it and thinking how nice it was. The pack is basically a huge pile of solid fat quarters, result! The great thing is that they are all named so I can record the offcuts as colour cards. I love the ease of a whole kit yet rarely have funds to buy them, so I'm really going to enjoy this.

I also got some neon yellow Wonder Clips which is always great. I do love neon plastic. I feel like I want to make my own green sewing bag to keep them in.

I also got a Bloc Loc ruler! This was quite pricey as I had to get it from The States. I am not sure about them. Do they really make life easier? Are they just a gimmick? It's hard to tell, but I have a lot of half square triangles to make and if this works like it says it does then it could make the whole process a breeze and become a must have item. We shall see. I will test it out before Birmingham. If it works out then I might be on the hunt for a set offer at Birmingham if there is a UK stockist by then.

I also got some Christmas money which doesn't happen to me very often. I often end up hoarding it when I get it or frittering it away on general shopping if I leave it in my bag. So I decided to spend it straight away on Amazon! Quick! click, click, click. Gosh it's so easy once you get going.

I decided to make the plunge and sign up for Amy's quilt a long, so I bought the book and the 12 1/2" square ruler it suggests you use. Do I need the ruler? Not really, I have a 14" one which mum gave me as she never uses it. I ummed and ahhed, but I did find having an exact 6 1/2" ruler during the Farmer's Wife quilt a long a real joy because you never have to think. You just cut to that size. With that in mind, I also bought an 8 1/2" ruler. Gosh I am going ruler crazy.

Then with the last bits I bought two green fat quarters from The Fabric Fox. Not plain, but ones I think will go well with plains if that makes sense and you always have to have at least one new fabric when you start a project otherwise it's depressing. I had this block in mind when I picked them.

That's it now though, I am spent. All my pennies have gone and Christmas is over. This is my very last post of 2016. I have a stinker of a cold and nothing good happens in January apart from abstinence from cakes and alcohol. Booo.

Thursday, December 29, 2016

The Year Review

mosaicef481063bf6d463f0213d3402732481945c7384a Here we are once again at the end of year review. This year seems to have gone quite quickly. I feel that I have achieved a lot but not in a visible way. I intensively worked on my Farmer's Wife quilt for a large part of the year and am amazed that I finished the whole top. By the end I can honestly say that I have a thorough understanding of foundation piecing so I learnt a new skill. I had to put it away for a while after completing the top as I was exhausted by it. It's so big, it's even hard to photograph. I need to take it back to mums and pin in on her wonky washing line or work out some tasteful wall I can hang it on like internet folk seem to do. So watch this space. I have the backing for it, even the wadding for it, I just, as always, need space to lay it out and a floor which doesn't look perpetually dirty. It's the basting, machine sewing and binding which I don't really have the space for. Usually I would only post finished projects but this year I am including some nearly finished things as I want to mentally file them under 2016 so next year is free.

Other things up there are:
1. Farmer's Wife – This took until August to complete
2. Project Bag – I love this pattern
3. Mug Rug – A free easy pattern
4. Mouse quilt – A scrap buster
5. EPP kit bag – I have used this loads
6. EPP pin cushion – I just love this
7. Janet Clare sewing kit – I have lost my photos of this!
8. Half Square Triangle quilt – This is finished, I just need to photograph it
9. Smitten – I need to post more progress
10. Batik log cabin – Only 6 more blocks to go!

This year is going to be a year of change though hopefully. After treading water for the past 4 years, I am finally hoping we might be in a better position to do some much needed work on the house which will in turn hopefully make it easier to baste my backlog of quilts. It's either that or I think seriously about having them professionally quilted. Currently I have my Donut, Jitterbug and Farmer's Wife to quilt. But let's look at last year...


Resolutions from 2016
To finish all the quilt tops in the queue – Errr.... Utter FAIL
To do more hand piecing – Success! The Smitten quilt has definitely answered that one.
To make a useful bag – Errr.... Utter FAIL
To keep projects manageable. i.e. small – Well I am trying
To start my Posie quilt finally! – Errr.... Utter FAIL

So 3 out of 6. Not so great. I think finishing the Farmer's Wife just took up all my time. Hopefully nothing quite so intensive this year. Time to relax and do small things.

Resolutions for 2017
To tidy up my piles of half finished projects and make sewing area clean
To baste some of the growing pile of quilt tops
To do another quilt a long of some sort
To do something in tasteful solids

Unfinished Projects for 2017
Donut quilt – Just need to baste it
Jitterbug – Just need to baste it
Farmer's wife – Just need to baste it
Liberty postage stamp – I neglected this entirely this last year. It just needs a border quilting
My sew together bag – Still waiting in a project bag somewhere in the pile.
Medallion quilt – All the fabric has been selected. It's in the pile somewhere
Posie improv quilt – Just need to sketch out a design and start cutting up my favourite fabrics

New Projects for 2017
I feel the major thing brewing inside me is the need to do some projects using solids. Above is my favourite FW block using solids. I think my colour sense improved slightly with The Farmer's Wife but on the whole, still needs a lot of work. I need to stop doing so many bright, rainbow things and think more about subtle colours. Working with solids might allow me just to think about colour. I love playing with all the swatches. I don't own a lot of solids though so there is some outlay involved.

I did however, buy these from Birmingham from The Shuttle. I think it was 5 for £6. I really like the greens. This might be my new colour way. I have been looking around and seeing what other people do. Here are some examples of things I have seen and liked on the web.

1. Amy's Sugar club block - I might make this first. I think the green and red/pinks are great.
2. Jayne's sampler quilt is amazing
3. 1981 by Nancy Purvis via Christine's blog
4. StitchedInColor's doodle doodle improv quilt backing
5. From Flickr
6. Heather Jones' quilt pattern available here. It reminds me of this
7. Jackie's great colours in her log cabin/geese quilt
8. Purl Soho's tasteful Modular Block quilt
9. Siobhan Rogers' quilt for Better Homes. Download it here
10. Rose + Twill's Botanical Print Quilt
11. I love Nydia's colour choices. I love the greens and blues with the pinks
12. I would love to make this exact quilt. I just like the greens. Maybe it would look better in this pattern
13. I love these colours and the white stitching
14. Ellen's Lopsided Squares are very tasteful from her book: 1, 2, 3 Quilt
15. I like Becca's warm colours
16. From Shannon's instagram
17. From Shannon's instagram
18. From Jenny's instagram. This one is also good
19. From Jenny's instagram
20. From Shannon's instagram

It's all very exciting. I love the greens and the pinks and purples. I love all green projects or flashes of green. So many combinations to try, so many projects. I thought it might call for another sampler type quilt where I treat each block as a different colour journey without thinking about the whole. I really enjoyed taking part in a group project though and would be interested in maybe a smaller one this year. I was thinking about what to spend my Christmas money on and thought this book might be nice.

The Quilt Block Cookbook: 50 Block Recipes, 7 Sample Quilts, Endless Possibilities

Amy, the author, is running a relaxed quilt a long on her blog starting in January which I am quite tempted by as you can do as little or as much as you like. I also might try my hand at making a January block or two as they are so pretty. Mary's one is ace. 

But my quilting area is a mess. It's piles of bits. Half started projects, fabric pulls... misc stuff. I can no longer find anything. I've been looking for my Kona colour card for ages but it must be at the bottom of the pile. I need to pare it down, find the card, finish bits and file the rest away in the cellar. That's job number one. I can't buy any new solids without the card. I am sure there are lots of forgotten treats in there.
Just one examples: I'd like to find my Moda Building Blocks quilt pattern somewhere in all my piles. I'd like to think about some solid combinations for this. Maybe I could buy fabric at Birmingham. It's a slow burner. I also have a new quilt to start which I got for Christmas but I'll post up my Christmas presents when we finally finish our Christmas road trip.

And all these need planning and making. There is a lot lying around in the pile. They might all go on the backburner until the pile has been cleaned up. So step one is tidy up and finish off things. Oh and get my machine serviced. Happy new year!