Sunday, 21 October 2012

Tweaking time

The red and grey squares from my last post remained on the sewing table for a whole week... The cats were not impressed as, for the first time, I put my foot down and closed the sewing room door! One cat usually spends the day on the small sofa in there, and the other likes that particular windowsill as a look out point. Not this week though, I couldn't face this lot ending up on the floor...

After the dilemma caused by Miss PatchyRose, I finally decided to keep with her design of alternating red and grey, rather than a random mix. I couldn't face undoing all her work, and also found that, with some creative swapping, there was exactly the right number of each colour. Every day I have popped into the sewing room, had a good long look at it, and tweaked the position of a few squares. Finally today I found the time to chain stitch the columns, and then join the rows.

All in all, I reckon it was about two and a half hours of sewing to make this...

... which is still only one quarter of the finished quilt! I thought it would be easier to make the quilt in four parts, and then sew them together. As it happened, one quarter fits perfectly laid out on the sewing table. Mostly the fabrics were small patterns and polka dots, with just a few fussy cut pieces:

I'm enjoying the mix of fabrics from different collections, as well as the odd cheeky chicken!

 Had a quick check of how it looks on the guest bed, and am very happy with the effect so far :-)

Saturday, 13 October 2012

Seeing Red (and Grey!)

Lately I seem to have been picking up various fat quarters in reds and greys. It started as subliminal, and then grew more conscious. I added in a charm pack of vintage modern, picking out the suitable pieces, and another charm pack of Kona solids. One way and another, I ended up with a nice pile!

At the same time, I bought a new duvet cover and curtains  for the guest room, deliberately going for a neutral palate of soft greys - just so I can throw whatever quilt I like onto the bed! I needed one room in the house that didn't dictate the patchwork colours, a room which lets me do the chosing, and enables me to swap things around.

The cross stitch is one my grandmother did, and I love it.After she'd had it framed, she wrote on the back, her name and age at the time - 81 years old. It is of Grassington Square in Yorkshire.

Mainly owing to the size of charm pack squares, I decided to cut all my reds and greys into 2.5 inch squares, so they will end up as 2 inches squared after sewing. Pretty small, and I would have gone half an inch bigger if I'd been cutting from yardage. However, I very much had in mind from the start a quilt in just two colours, with small and random squares. My original plan was for a 60x60 finished quilt, which would need 900 squares. However, as I began to cut (so boring...) I changed tack and decided to make it slightly wider across the bed, but not as long, more of a foot runner. To make the quilt top, I will sew it as four quarters, and then stitch them together. To ensure an even spread of fabric, I separated each fabric into 4 piles as soon as I cut the squares, and stored them that way. The smaller, fifth pile in the middle, is the odds and ends. The smallest amount of any one fabric going into the quilt is one single square, from my scrap tub. On the whole, the largest amount is a fat eighth, which yields 32 squares. Any more of one fabric would be too dominant.

Just to check that things were working out along the right lines, I laid out the beginnings of one quarter of the quilt on the guest bed...

There are just a few fussy cut pieces from tiny leftovers ;-)

At that point, there wasn't enough Vintage Modern for it to show, so I went back to the rest of the charm pack and found a few more grey-ish pieces I'd originally overlooked.

I thought I was going to have to do a quick dash to the nearest fabric shop for one more fat quarter, then magically found a plain red buried in the middle of the scrap tub. Then I laid out a pile of squares, enough for one quarter of the quilt, and suggested to Miss PatchyRose that she might like to arrange them for me. She was so happy to be involved, and enjoyed it more than I would! I left her to it, until she called me back to look.

She had a complaint... i hadn't given her enough red squares and she was 3 short! But I knew I'd given her exactly the right number of squares to create a grid that was 17 squares wide by 10 tall. Problem was, while I'd anticipated a random design, she'd decided to alternate reds and greys!! What were the chances of there being an almost exact amount of each?!? So, what to I do? Shall I cut a few more reds and go with her alternating design, or just rough them up a bit into a random mix? Any thoughts?

Sunday, 7 October 2012

Sunday sewing

After spending this week popping in and out of the guest room, and swapping a few squares around, I took the plunge today and whipped them up into the quilt top...

On the whole, I'm happy with the way it turned out. There will always be something you don't spot until it's all stitched up, but that's fine.

The great thing about using a layer cake in this way, is that one layer cake makes a perfect single bed size quilt. I have just kept back a few pieces for my next project, which is already underway as I can't wait ;-)

 Lastly, it was harvest festival today, so a little picture of today's tomato harvest. Despite it being such an awful year for home grown crops, we have had some of our best tomatoes ever. I picked some green ones to ripen on the windowsill, as the cold weather is beginning to spoil them. I did feel a bit sad that all the food donated at church (for the local homeless shelter) was in tins and packets. Not one giant marrow...

Wishing you a happy week!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Pipping the Sherbet...

Well, either it was incredibly cathartic putting it out there about how hard I find sewing with picture fabrics...

 or else it was the cuteness of Red Riding Hood...

but somehow or other in the last 24 hours I have managed to complete my Sherbet Squares!!

It only took 18 months, but in the end, I decided that a finished quilt was better than nothing, and just whipped up the remaining pieces needed for a single bed...

Fortunately I had a piece of batting left from the Giant Star that is the exact size needed for this project! Currently it is all laid out on the guest bed, and I keep popping into the spare room and switching a couple of squares around... taking photos certainly helps with a quilt layout, somehow you spot things you didn't notice before.

As I said in my last post, the thing I find hard with these beautiful fabrics is they rob me of my creativity, all the work was done for me! It would be a shame to cut them really small and lose the design, but there was minimal skill involved in making squares ;-) However, I do love the overall effect, and will certainly make more bags with these pretty images.

Thanks once again to Lynne, who has set up another blog meet! A great way to find new inspiration and hook up with like minded people. Thank you to all the people who've popped by already and left nice messages!

Lily's Quilts
Lily's Quilts

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Walking in the woods...

Like most teachers, September has been all work and no play! However, after spending my day off yesterday marking essays and writing university references, I was determined to get some sewing time this morning to relax and unwind!
When I first saw Aneela Hooey's Walk in the Woods line of fabric, I thought it was adorable, but didn't plan to get any... When fabric has such a specific design, and particular images, I find it restricts my creativity and I feel too much pressure to make something amazing with it, to 'show off' the fabric. Kind of like the tail wagging the dog ;-)
An example of this is with the Sherbet Pips line of fabric. It's gorgeous! What's not to like? 

Except that all I could manage to do with it was this...

And that's pretty much where these pieces have stalled! I have about 20 pieces ready, but don't feel sufficiently inspired to get on and make them into a quilt top. There's just too much of the fabric design, and nothing of me in it.

However, when I was in a patchwork shop recently, I caved in, and bought a pack of 3 fat quarters of Walk in the Woods fastened together with a free cushion design. As random coincidences go, I did a big sort of the airing cupboard, and discovered Miss PatchyRose's very first cot pillow at the back, which turned out to be the exact dimensions of cushion pad needed for the pattern.

Normally I find I am lacking the gene necessary to follow any sort of pattern or recipe! However, I gave it my best shot with the cushion, and came up with this:

And with all my determination to follow the instructions, would you believe I found they didn't work! Grr. It was quite frustrating, the advice for cutting the back of the cushion is impossible to follow, in that you could never get the dimensions needed out of one fat quarter! However, with a bit of tweaking, and also finding their suggested overlap way too generous, I managed to do this...

Yes, the fabric changes direction, but fortunately Miss PR is still thrilled with it, and loves how it looks on her bed...

Best of all, the left over fabrics were enough to whip up another draw string bag! These are so quick and easy to do, and always look really cute. 

On other sewing news, I discovered a new online shop this week, Fluffy Sheep Quilting. I just had to look at it, because of the great name, and found some nice fabrics at very reasonable prices, which lead to this selection arriving in the post...

Hoping for more time to sew, as I have a few projects in mind... Have a great weekend!

Tuesday, 18 September 2012

Thank Downton it's finished...

The long-armer managed to quilt my giant star in just a couple of days, and I picked it up a week later. However, with us doing the kitchen refurbishment every evening and at weekends, there has been little time to sew the binding on... until Downton Abbey came back on the television this weekend :-) Great start to the new season, and a perfect way to sit glued to the sofa for ninety minutes and and stitch the binding!

So here it is... a giant 'made in cherry' star...

with snow white borders...

quilted in a design called raindrops...

using a thread called wind...

which blends perfectly into the patterned fabric...

but adds a lovely depth to the whole quilt, and gorgeous detail to the plainer fabrics...

and is thoroughly approved of by the two onlookers, who have already tested it for warmth and comfort ;-)

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Lily's get-together!

Lily's Quilts

I've joined in with Lily's small blog meet! A great way to get to know other bloggers.

Saturday, 8 September 2012

Starry wall...

This summer, other than a couple of very enjoyable, patchwork-related shopping trips, sewing has taken a back seat in favour of other events. 

A huge project has been completely re-doing our kitchen, ripping the whole lot out and starting again. It has absorbed all our physical and creative energies, but we're nearly there now, and it has been well worth it!

We have also been very focused on the Olympics, with a fantastic day last week at the Paralympics. In addition, late last night my phone went crazy with a flurry of texts, people messaging to say they had just seen Miss PatchyRose on the BBC 10 o'clock news!! Thanks to iplayer, we have been able to see it too... Miss PR had a fabulous school trip to the Paralympics yesterday. She was walking through the park, chatting away very animatedly to a couple of her close friends, and never even noticed that she was heading straight for a television camera ;-) It's very cute footage, and a lovely end to a brilliant summer!

The little bit of sewing that has happened, has been largely related to sorting school uniform out. However, I finally completed this star design wall hanging, using a combination of scraps and some beautiful linen. It wouldn't have been very durable as a quilt, but is perfect for the sewing room wall. I managed to add in a hanging sleeve before I finished the binding, and am happy with how that worked out.

It looks just right on the wall...

... above a multi-coloured 9 patch quilt. There is plenty of space left for a bookshelf in between, which Mr PR is working on.

I'm really happy to have that corner of the room looking nice!

Friday, 17 August 2012

Holiday sewing

...although it may be more accurate to call this post 'holiday shopping'...
We've been having a lovely time off school and work so far, with lots of pottering about and relaxation. Last week we had our family holiday, a wonderful few days in north Norfolk, staying at a B&B we have now been to three times and all enjoy. I realise that I only have three patchwork shops that I visit in the UK, and one of these is in the Georgian town of Holt, Norfolk. It was fun to browse around, and I picked out a few fat quarters ready for making Christmas gifts.
This week, however, I had my big sewing day out! My friend, Helen, and I met up at this fabulous patchwork location. It is a great half-way venue for us, with each of us driving around an hour and a quarter to get there. I'd dabbled in patchwork as a teenager, and tried to make a ridiculously complicated quilt with no experience (!), and then, years later, found a course to go on at the Bramble Patch. Helen and I realised that it will be five years' ago in November since we started the course.
This month the Bramble Patch is celebrating 25 years of being in business, so there was free coffee and cake all day to celebrate, as well as an impressive exhibition to look round. 

I loved these wall hangings, with original designs and ideas. This was one of my favourites, based on the Enigma machine at Bletchley Park:

The details in it were amazing, and inspiring!

I also liked this idea of incorporating embroidered fabric into a quilt, especially as I have some I could use in this way -

During the morning there, Helen and I shopped for different fabrics and inspiration. I purchased three patterns, as I need some new ideas for making gifts for other people. It was useful to be in such a large shop to get a bigger picture of things to do! I tend not to maintain a large stash of fabric, and prefer to keep to a cupboard full of materials that I am likely to use within the next year, but managed to add a few more fat quarters to my supplies.

We went out for lunch, then returned to chat to the lovely lady in the long arm quilting room. She quilted the first two quilts I made, but since then I have managed to do my own, with simple designs. However, my recent giant star, in Flea Market Fancy, was still hanging in my sewing cupboard...

As we were about to leave in the morning, I picked it up on impulse, and decided to take it with me. I was just too worried about messing up all that white with my own attempts! Fortunately the quilting lady was so kind, and spent ages with me choosing backing fabric, wadding, thread and the quilting design. Can't wait now to see it finished, though it will be a few weeks, as there is a queue!