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Project ‘New Baby’ …

June 24, 2011 Leave a comment

.. phase 1 is complete – yay! Finished the tumbling blocks quilt this week for a forthcoming arrival and I’m really happy with it. This is the quilt that uses some of Kate Spain’s Central Park fabric (how much do I love that range!) and also the pattern that Kate designed  (link here).

The fabrics were a real joy to work with (so soft and they held their shape beautifully!) and the pattern goes together really easily – 2 strips of fabric 6 1/2 ins high are joined, then cut using a 60 degree ruler (I have a 60/90 ruler that I bought from the quilt shop, when my last effort at ‘tumbling blocks’ went a bit astray and this was it’s first outing). Each pair of triangles is then joined to make a diamond, with alternating hexagons – so easy even I can do it!     

I quilted it with a swirly meander, using the darning foot on the sewing machine  – I think my free motion quilting is definitely improving! I wouldn’t say I feel relaxed exactly while I’m quilting, but I am remembering to breathe, which I guess is a bonus 🙂 – I just need to remember to move my hands otherwise I end up with my nose pressed to the quilt and my hands extended either side of the quilt!!!!

There was a minor crisis last Saturday night when my darning foot broke (cue lots of swearing and stamping of feet!) – there was a funny ‘clunk’ and then the resistance while I was moving the quilt under the needle seemed to disappear. I didn’t worry too much to start with as the stitching on the top was fine and it felt easier moving the quilt – but when I  looked back at the work I’d done, the top thread was looped up underneath – and bright orange thread on a white background does tend to show up a little!! Aaaaaaaaarrrrrgh! I discovered that the metal bar at the top of the darning foot (the one that sits on top of the needle clamp) had broken off (don’t ask me why – didn’t think I’d been that rough with it!!) – anyway, it had thrown all the tension out. So, lots of unpicking later ……..

Luckily, I remembered reading something about darning feet on Leah Day’s blog on free motion quilting  – Leah is amazing and posts some wonderful tutorials on her free motion designs. She also has lots of useful tips and I’d already followed her advice to break open my darning foot by cutting a section out of it, so that I could see the needle more easily. She also recommends bending that top metal bar of the darning foot up  and out of the way, anyway, and adding an elastic band underneath the bar (yes, really) to get the foot to sit higher above the quilt  – again, so that you can more easily see what you’re doing.

So – once I’d stopped panicking, that’s what I did – and the foot works just as well, if not better, than before! Thanks Leah 🙂

I did a swirly meander everywhere apart from on the giraffe, which I outlined with a double border – and then, to try and differentiate it from the rest of the quilt, I added some ‘patches’ to mimic the patterns on a real giraffe. I really liked the effect, but they’ve disappeared a bit, now that the quilt has been washed and gone all crinkly! I think you can just about see the outline of the giraffe still.

 

The quilt got a little baby brother (or sister!) in the form of a little fleecy blanket with matching giraffe

I used the giraffe template the same size as the quilt, and used the same fabric to tie everything together – the blanket has the same binding as the quilt too – ‘scrappy’ style, using all of the fabrics that were in the quilt. I love the act of  ‘quilting’ and seeing the 3 layers of fabric/batting join together and become something different – something more than the individual layers, but I still enjoy binding the most, I think. I’m always amazed at how it transforms a project before your eyes into something ‘complete’. Oh, and I do love sitting sewing peacefully with a quilt over my knees – I have to admit I usually fall asleep at this point, though, so it can be a long process!!

 The last part of this little bundle is ‘Gemma Giraffe’ – a cheeky little amigurumi in bright orange and aqua, to match (I use the word loosely!) the quilt and blanket

I was going to say I’ve got quite ‘hooked’ on amigurumi (ho ho ho) but maybe that pun is a step too far, even for me! I spotted a pattern for a giraffe in the little book that I bought, though and I thought I just had to make one to go with the other bits – these little crochet animals are really sweet and very easy to put together. Gemma’s ‘mane’ took quite a long time (do giraffes really have that much hair???) but she was good fun to make – I love how increasing and decreasing gets those little ‘foot’ (or should I say ‘hoof’?) shapes at the end of the legs – so, so sweet, even if crocheting rounds of 4 stitches is a bit of a challenge!

 

She’s a bit bright in that ‘jaffa’ orange but hey, babies like bright colours – don’t they ???

So, the baby bundle is now complete and has gone off to a staging post (grandma’s house) until the baby arrives  🙂

Time to move on now to baby’s big sister – something in yummy pinks and blues from the beautiful Delilah range of fabric by Tanya Whelan. I see more quilts, a cushion and possibly some bunting coming here soon!

Where does ….

June 10, 2011 1 comment

… the time go? It’s been a whole month (nearly) since my last post – I have been busy though, honest! Ok, so I may have read the odd book or 3 (I know, what was I thinking? So many quilts to make) but I still managed to do this

a test piece on shadow quilting that I started at a workshop and finished at home (do I like it? Not sure yet – interesting having a go though)

 this tumbling blocks quilt (with a twist – ok, a hexagon)

this rocket ship pram blanket (you can find the pattern for the applique here)

and this little amigurumi bunny

I’ve just bought a book an Amigurumi – not something I knew much about until recently. I think I first saw the word on Anna Maria Horner’s blog (love that new fabric she’d just launched, LouLouThi – scrummy!!) but I kind of skimmed it, made a mental note to ‘google’ it cos it sounded interesting and then never did. Then I was looking at a book catalogue in the shop a couple of weeks ago, saw one on Amigurumi Robots and fell in love !

This is Laura Bunny, as christened by Charlie who now has – ooh, maybe 7? bunnies? Did I mention she likes – no, loves – bunnies? Anyway, she was very easy to make and I was pleased at how she turned out for a first effort. I’m now busy making a ‘super-monkey’ (he even has a cape!) for Jamie who likes – ok, loves – monkeys. So far so good – may have to make myself the penguin next – although the zebra is very cute, oh and the frog … oh well, they’re a bit more portable than quilts to carry round and work with 🙂

Speaking of quilts, the Central Park tumbling blocks quilt got off to a good start this week – on Monday I had a pile of these

and by yesterday (Thursday) they had turned into the quilt top above – I wasn’t completely sure how to order the fabrics as I used different ones to the pattern (which you can find here)  but I think it looks ok – the blocks should have a bit of a 3d effect, so I hope I ticked that box 🙂 – just need to add the border, an applique giraffe (ooh, should be fun!) and then I can get on with some swirly quilting.

I bought some lovely orange variegated King Tut thread for the top, which I’m really looking forward to using  (sad case that I am – night out on the town, maybe? No, cup of tea and some shiny thread for me, please!) – the same time I ordered that, I got some ‘Superior Thread’ bobbinfill – think it’s called the bottom line, or something like that and, wow, is it gorgeous!! Finally decided to read up on threads (I had a look at some stuff on the Barnyarns website which was really helpful) and this looked like it could be good one to try. I’ve got loads of spools of thread that I’ve bought and tried over the years, without really understanding what I’ve got, so I’ve had a good sort out, by type and weight – cotton, polyester, metallic etc. Hopefully if I think a bit more about which needle and thread I’m using, it will make a difference when I get around to quilting this next quilt – Sugar Pop was a bit of a trial in the end, and although I the quilting is ok(-ish), I struggled getting it through the machine and I think  that shows – well, to me anyway.

I even cleaned and oiled the machine this week and it hasn’t been clunking quite so much – I must have cheered it up a bit, with a makeover and some lovely new thread to use. Lynette (aka The Stitch Witch) who ran the shadow quilting workshop I went to insists that all sewing machines should have names – mine hasn’t – yet! I was trying to think of something beginning with a T (well, it’s a Toyota) and I just thought of Topsy – from the Topsy and Tim books I read as a kid? (God, am I really that old??) – well, Topsy she is, I think – we’re on a sewing adventure together here,  me and old Topsy – she may not have all the bells and whistles of those expensive machines, but I reckon we’re doing ok (just need to remember to clean and oil her, change the needle, check the thread and we’ll be fine….. ho hum …. so off we go….)

Busy week

May 8, 2011 Leave a comment

.. well, it feels like it’s been busy, anyway! Only 4 days at work, but it’s flown by. I managed to finish a few things though – first a couple of little tote bags for a friend

The red one has a lovely spotty lining and a few yo-yos on the front. I love red, white and aqua together, and I had some material left over from the aqua and white striped lining of the leaflet bag I made last week  so I decided to use that along with some spare red and white spotty lining and some matching teal and white spotty fabric that I had laying around (my fabric stash is overflowing the storage space now, but it’s great that I can usually find some bits and pieces for whatever I’m working on – well, that’s what I tell myself anyway!)

Yo-yos (also known as Suffolk puffs (steady!) or Rosettes) are really easy to make – they’re just circles of fabric turned over at the edge with a running stitch and then you pull the stitches up, so that the material gathers up and sew them flat onto your project, gathered side up. Amy Butler Designs has a great free quilt pattern which uses them, as you can see here 

I saw a version of this quilt at the Sewing for Pleasure show at the NEC a few weeks ago , along with lots of lovely ladies who were busy making things from a range of Amy Butler fabrics and applying yo-yo’s to them (wonder what else I can stick them on???) You can see the ones I made a bit more clearly here – really pleased with how they turned out! The first ones I made were about the size of smarties, so if you plan on having a go cut your circles out quite large to begin with, so that you end up with decent size yo-yos. Some of the ones on the Amy Butler quilt are huge!

The other bag uses some of my favourite pink fabric – Charlie has a shoebag made out of it, and I’ve made a few other things from it too – it’s a great colour and it has a nice heavyweight feel to it. I think it’s a Kona cotton – the cloth store in town stocks a few of the Kona colours, but not all – luckily this is one of them. I’ve also used some of my favourite lining fabric, a purple and white large check gingham, which you will have seen cropping up on a few of the things I’ve made lately (ooh, let’s see – christening quilt, bunting, cot bumper, shoebags – I could go on…) -I think it always looks nice and crisp.

In fact, talking about versatile – here’s that gingham again on a blanket I made this week for Charlie’s teacher, who has just left school to go on maternity leave

I bought a piece of white fleece fabric and used the gingham to bind it – I just love it with white, so pretty! There was also plenty of it left over to cut some circles out of and applique them onto the fleece, along with some other lilac and green scraps,  some of which are bits from the first quilt I made, for Charlie – lilac and green work so well together.

The blanket turned out a bit more complicated than I expected  – I cut the circles out to start with, in various sizes and then pinned them to the fleece. I did intend to turn the edges under and then sew them on, but as I was a bit short of time (I always seem to be a bit last minute with these things!), I tried just sewing the circles on with a running stitch at the edge. This left the circles a bit floppy in the middle, though, so I unpicked them and ironed them flat again – then I decided to fuse them on with bondaweb, so I cut some circles of that out and stuck it to the fabric circles and then tried ironing them to the fleece – I was really worried I was going to burn the fleece though, and some the sticky stuff ended up on the iron – aaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrrrgh! I got there in the end, though and all the circles were stuck down with no burn marks (phew!).

I wasn’t sure what to do next, so I put some invisible thread on the sewing machine, with some white cotton in the bobbin and tried free motion embroidering a seam around the edges of a couple. That was ok – a bit wonky, but ok – but it still looked a bit boring, so on the next couple I tried doing spirals – and even though my sewing is still a bit wonky, I’m really pleased with how they turned out – they look a bit like lollipops 🙂

I got the blanket finished in time to give to Charlie’s teacher anyway – hope she likes it!

I had a go at some more free motion embroidery this week – on this cushion cover for another friend

I took this picture before snipping all the threads between the letters and, as you can see, I’ve just moved the needle from one letter to the next as I’ve gone around the picture. I’ve seen a lot of work done in this style (think Poppy Treffry amongst others) and have really admired it. It looks simple and rustic but I was expecting it to be quite hard to do – in the end, though, it wasn’t too bad and I was happy with how this turned out too. Most of the time, I think you just have to give things a go and you’ll probably surprise yourself.

Before I started I did a bit of browsing on the internet and found some useful posts on raw edge free motion applique (sounds thrilling, doesn’t it – sky diving or raw edge free motion applique – not much to choose between them, is there – edge of your seat stuff this!) As in anything else, people have their own ways of doing it – some use embroidery hoops, some use a stabiliser on the back, some alter the tension. I just dropped the feed dogs on the machine and put in a darning foot – I lef the tension where it normally is (a 3 on my machine, which is the middle setting) – I did turn the stitch length down to ‘0’ though, which I saw recommended and which I haven’t done before. I’m not sure what difference it makes, except that with the setting at 0, the stitch length is entirely down to how fast you move the material under the needle – I think I like it, so I’ll try that again 🙂

    Here’s a close up of the little house – so chuffed with this! Now, what can I try next?