Procrastination rules – apparently ….

December 30, 2012 1 comment

I’m sure I never used to be this bad at getting things done! I was doing some fabric shopping online earlier – so many lovely fabrics, so many sales :) – but a quick look at all the fabric I already have that hasn’t been used yet made me feel guilty so I deleted my shopping basket. Am I the only one who dreams of winning the lottery just so that I can go on a fabric shopping spree??? Fancy cars, a big house, exotic holidays?? Well, yes, but only if the first two of those can be filled full-to-busting with bolts of delicious fabric!

I had a sort through my quilts folder earlier - I keep a ring binder of sketches and pages of graph paper with ideas for quilts and blocks – and took out all the ones I’d printed off sites like moda bakeshop etc so that I could look again at all the ones that I’d designed. Most of them go back to the start of 2011 and are still no more than bits of paper!

At least I managed to finish one of them recently- this is the bunnies quilt that I designed for my daughter, Charlotte, who is bunny-mad! I started this one back in Feb 2011 using some fabric that I won from the lovely Sewing Directory – it was a layer cake (I think) from Makower, of their Teatime range. Here it is, all finished:

 There are 16 blocks in this quilt, each one made up of 16 pieces. I came up with the block design while I was looking at some cross stitch designs and thought it looked easy to piece – squares, rectangles and triangles, easy peasy right? But nope. This is the second time I’ve made a quilt with this block – the first one was cot size (below) and that was tricky too. I can’t quite remember how I made this one, I think it must have been on the machine, but I’m not 100% sure. When I came to make Charlotte’s version, though, I had a complete nightmare with the piecing. I made a couple of blocks but they ended up totally different sizes, so I took them apart again IMG_1385Let’s face it – if the first 2 blocks are as different in size as these 2, it’s difficult to feel confident that they’re all going to slot together in the finished quilt, isn’t it?! I decided the only chance I had of producing something remotely quilt like was to bite the bullet and piece it over papers – so I did. Loads of them!

When I came to add papers, I found I’d managed to cut some of the pieces quite – how shall I put it? – economically :) – so some of the seam allowances were a bit minimal. Definitely not your regular quarter of an inch, anyway. I think because I had a limited amount of fabric I skimped a bit and of course some of the pieces ended up being cut on the bias – oh, it was a disaster waiting to happen! The papers certainly helped tackle some of that though – and because I sewed all the pieces together by hand, I felt I had a lot more control of the piecing – more than I think I would have had on the machine anyway – I haven’t had a sewing machine too long (3 years?) and I think it does still run away with me a bit – bit like a runaway horse (whoah, there Jenny Janome!)

IMG_1370So, this is the back of the paper-pieced block – I had a lot of fun actually, doing all the sewing by hand. (I’m still working on my little houses from scraps that I started back at the beginning of 2012 and love being able to sew them together by hand – I’ve fallen way behind, though – don’t expect a finish on that one til about 2015!!)

256 pieces and several - well, ok, many – months  later, I had 16 blocks – hurray! A bit of white sashing and we’re nearly there …. IMG_0069

Still not quite big enough, though. Luckily, I managed to track down some fabric in the same range so I could add a border – ideally, I really wanted the quilt to drape over the sides of Charlotte’s new bed. I don’t usually mind whether my quilts have borders or not, but I’m glad that I chose to add one here – it kind of finished the quilt off for me.

IMG_9623It’s been a long haul, but I’m really happy with the finished quilt – and Charlotte is too. There’s not much that beats the satisfaction of having an idea and then seeing it come to life like this, is there?

For 2013, I haven’t signed up for any challenges or quilt a longs – one thing I do want to do is challenge myself, though, and maybe you’d like to join me? I’d like to see more of those little design ideas in my folder come to life next year – and along the way, I’d really like to improve my piecing skills and learn some new techniques. I’ve been quilting a little while now, but my piecing is still not as good as I’d like – even joining 8 inch squares (as I was doing for some simple patchwork blankets this Christmas) I can’t guarantee to have the seams all matching. So, I’d really like to work on my technique this year and have some fun in the process. Wonder if I can manage a quilt a month? We’ll see.

I’m working on a design for my son at the moment – with monkeys. It’s still at the design stage, but won’t be anything too complicated as the fabric’s the thing. Hope to have some instructions up soon and maybe we can have a go at it together.

Happy New Year everyone – and Happy Quilting.

Suze xxx

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Catching up – April

July 29, 2012 Leave a comment

I became the proud owner of a new Janome sewing machine at the beginning of April (a Memory Craft 6600p) but looking back over the last few months there is a definite lack of quilts being made – or at least quilts finished!

The last quilt I made was back in April –  the one using a rail fence pattern –  for my friend Cath who has been having treatment for breast cancer over the last few months (you can read her blog here). I don’t get to see her very often, but I wanted to give her something to let her know I’m thinking of her – and that’s something a quilt does very well, I think!

I’d recently  bought a fat quarter bundle (from Quilt Me Happy) which had 3 solid fabrics (green, white and plum) and 3 patterned fabrics from Joel Dewberry’s Aviary 2 range (which I love!) so I decided to use that. Plus, I already had a couple of fabrics in my stash (from Khristian Howell) which blended with them really well. Once I’d chosen a rail fence block, I scanned the fabrics into EQ7 and had a play with designs.

You can see the main block in the pic below – by placing a dark fabric at the centre I found you can create some interesting effects.

Here’s the block actually in the quilt (with some swirly flower quilting).

As I mentioned before, EQ7 is fantastic for actually visualising what your quilt is going to look like when you make it. The design below is an early version, when I was just playing with the blocks.

In this quilt I reversed some of the blocks (so that they were a mirror image of each other) – by doing this you can line up the dark strips when you place the blocks next to each other and create a kind of basket weave effect.

I got the dark strips aligned, but wasn’t sure about the green and white fabrics that I’d included in the mirror image block (if you look carefully, you can see that the centre strips are slightly different in each of the 2 blocks – a solid in the first and third blocks of the top row and a matching pattern in the second .. basically, I didn’t have enough of the solid for all of the blocks!! – in the final quilt, I used a patterned fabric, but a different one to the one shown here)

Here’s another version – it’s amazing how different the quilt looks when you just change the centre strips - this gives a much softer contrast, so the basket weave effect isn’t quite so dominant.

In this version, I’m getting much closer to the design I finally went with – I do love that basket weave effect

And here is the final version – the quilt before basting and the EQ7 plan, below. As you can see, I took the green and white fabrics out of the blocks and used them in the border instead.

This quilt was lots of fun to work on and I think Cath was pleased with it too. I’d like to have a go at writing up the pattern soon, so let me know if you’re interested - I might need a bit of a spur to get started!

Categories: Uncategorized

Quilting origins ….

April 18, 2012 1 comment

So, remember all those months ago when I said I’d be here more often? I guess that resolution didn’t last too long! But, the computer did break down a little while ago and I have still been making stuff, so I don’t feel too guilty!

One of the ‘unfortunate’ consequences of the computer going pop was that I lost all the pages I’d been bookmarking over the last 3 years – you know, the ones I automatically clicked onto whenever I came online? And which I was still browsing 3 hours later, having done no sewing and no blog posting??

I’m building My Favourites up again slowly but I have to say (sssh, very quietly!) that it’s actually been quite liberating being without them! As much as I love looking at what other people have been creating, sometimes I have found it a bit daunting – even ( dare I say it?) creatively stifling on occasion. Although it can be inspirational to see other people’s work, we all compare to some extent  and it’s easy to feel disheartened if you think your own work isn’t as good, or as interesting as other people’s – I know I do!

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about ‘originality’ – how we develop our own style, rather than copying what someone else is doing. This seems to be very topical at the moment (Leah Day has some insightful posts on the subject of copyright and copying on her blog, here) but, like many quilters I suppose, it’s all a bit academic to me.  I ‘copy’ other people’s ideas and styles , in the sense that I follow patterns that other people have written, I use the same style of blocks or the same colour and fabric combinations, but I don’t plan to sell these as my own designs - it’s simply as part of the learning process (the importance of being able to do this is something that Leah is keen to emphasise). I try out techniques and enjoy finding what works for me, changing sizes, colours, placement etc along the way. Eventually (I hope) my own personal ‘style’ will emerge.

Here are some things I’ve done recently using other people’s designs

I made this cushion for a friend’s birthday last month – it’s a pattern that I’ve long admired and was in the first issue of Modern Quilting Magazine, courtesy of its’ creator, Lynne of Lily’s Quilts. I had fun choosing colours and practising raw edge applique (always a challenge).

I also added another layer to my sampler quilt (using the pattern book by Lynne Edwards) and feel much happier with the shape of this now. I might even get around to quilting this soon!

As you can see from the collage above, the number of houses for my houses quilt is also still growing – albeit slowly :)

Looking at the things I’ve made over the last couple of years I’m not sure I can detect a style yet (I do like bright colours though) – it made me think again about what got me started quilting

My first visit to a quilt show was back in November 2003, when I was 7 months pregnant – the sight of hundreds of ladies picking up fabrics and notions by the armful certainly made a strong impression! But so too did a stall full of colourful ‘crazy’ quilts, depicting animals, sea creatures, dragons – you name it, there seemed to be a pattern for it (Critter Pattern Works, who you can find here). I came away with one for a dragon quilt – all machine applique and machine piecing – even though I didn’t own a sewing machine at the time, convinced that this was something I wanted to do!

I still haven’t got around to making it yet, but there’s just something about dragons, wizards and castles that’s enormously appealing to me – I’m not sure what it is, but I like to think I may have lived in a castle in a former life !

Shortly after the show, I came across a book in my local library that sparked my interest even more – how fantastic it would be to make quilts like the ones in this book and the one I got from Critter Pattern Works.

So, how many quilts have I made so far that have got castles, dragons and princesses on them? Honestly? None yet.

I finished this quilt last week, for a friend – the first I’ve designed using EQ7 (btw I’m staggered by how accurate the design is to the finished quilt – truly amazing software!) Still got a way to go to get to where I want to be in terms of making quilts, but hopefully all the work I’m doing is moving me forward – and it’s still  a heck of a lot of fun!

Whatever you’re working on, I hope you are enjoying creating :)

Categories: Uncategorized

Pillowcase, pillowcase, where have you been?

February 4, 2012 Leave a comment

Well, certainly not up to London to visit the Queen! To be honest, it’s been in pieces in my workbox for a little while, as January hasn’t been the best month here at Pintucks HQ (family bereavement and associated sorting out) –  but it finally made it onto the sewing machine !

This was a custom make, to match a quilt I made at the beginning of last year (together with curtains, cot bumper and bunting – thanks Emma!) and it’s the first time I’ve made a pillowcase, but it seems to have turned out well and fits my pillow (yay!) so I reckon it should do the trick.

One of the things I love about making things for other people is that it pushes me out of my comfort zone and I make things I wouldn’t normally do - no doubt Charlotte has added it to the list of things she’d like for her room (poor girl is still waiting for me to finish her bunnies quilt but is making do with the small version for now).

If anyone is interested in a pattern, or measurements to make up a pillowcase, feel free to drop me a line. Now I need to go make cushions, cushions (a few more houses) and more cushions !

Categories: Uncategorized

Still sewing, still building…

January 26, 2012 Leave a comment

As you can see the flurry of posts at the start of the year didn’t last too long! I have carried on with the houses, although I have to admit I’m still a bit behind – I think I’m up to 12 as of last night. Here is the last picture I took, last week when I got up to 7

I love making them – they’re so cute! – and I’ve got a bit faster at construction. I’m not sure there will be 366 at the end of the year, though – something tells me this might end up as a lap quilt, rather than a full size one :)

It’s been great fun looking through my scrap box and picking out fabrics left over from other projects - I’m noticing a lot of pink and orange at the moment!  I could definitely do with some more blues and greens – speaking of which, I came across this fantastic giveaway at http://veryberryhandmade.co.uk/ a little while ago, under the heading “Resolved to Sew 2012″ . There are some beautiful fabrics from Amy Butler and Kate Spain, amongst others being offered as prizes  - I’ m already thinking of new projects - and what lovely houses those scraps would make …. sigh …. of course, if I happened to win some of this lovely fabric (hint hint) that would, ahem,  help me stay resolved to (keep) sew(ing in) 2012 – (see what I did there!)  

You’ve a few hours left to join in the fun, so rush over to Ali’s blog now - there are some great prizes up for grabs from some fabulous shops!

Categories: Uncategorized

First house :)

January 10, 2012 2 comments

Yay! It took me 2 episodes of ER to sew it together, but I finally built my first house

There are a lot of seams which makes it a bit tricky working on such a small piece, but for a first effort I’m quite pleased. I fussy cut a lot of little birds and tortoises (!) amongst other things for the windows so it will be fun seeing how they turn out. I’ve tried to keep the doors red, pink or orange too, so again I’m looking forward to seeing how that will work.

So, 1 down, 365 to go ….

Building blocks

January 10, 2012 Leave a comment

Blimey, the building ‘bricks’ for my scrap houses are really really tiny! I spent some time this weekend tracing and cutting the pattern onto freezer paper, and sorting scraps – here is the blue pile

At the left hand side you can see what I mean about the pieces, teeny teeny tiny! I’m telling myself that that means they won’t take long to sew together but so far the grand total of houses ‘built’ from scraps is: 0. Hmm, bit of work needed to catch up I think!

Still – I do have some more pieces cut out and ready to sew together now – my plan is to spend a day at the beginning of the month cutting out a month’s worth of ‘bricks’ and then sew them up over the month, so I don’t have to cut out every day. I was doing ok, til I realised that one of the roof pieces was the wrong way round, doh! How long have I been doing this quilting lark???? Not long enough, obviously!

So, this was about an hour into the cutting marathon:

 

A few sky pieces ready, but not much else!

And – erm – several hours later: 

 

 I need to spend some time later re-doing the roof pieces (still can’t believe I did those the wrong way round!) and then the sewing can begin – hurrah! In the meantime, I’ve been having fun learning how to ‘draw’ quilts in EQ7. This is one I rustled up yesterday:

 

 I love this program – it’s adding to my list of ‘must-make quilts’ but it’s great :)

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