Sunday, July 13, 2014

I WILL conquer this list: FAL Q3

Right. Q2 was a washout in every possible way - 2 finishes, minimal sewing and very little blog reading (I need my quilty inspiration more than ever right now.)

Finish Along 2014

Q3 WILL be different. I will finish this list so let's keep it nice and tight.

1. Finish Kieran's quilt. I haven't blogged this but I am 2/3 done with making a quilt for my friend at work's little 2year old who is very sick and will be spending a lot of time in hospital in the coming months. Need to get this finished and sent to him ASAP.

2. Cheerio Quilt for Miss E. The big girl needs a new bed quilt so I'm making this one for her.

3. Hexie heaven - turn the hexies into a bag panel (sidekick tote most likely. Although the super tote could sneak in there)

4. Tumbling blocks quilt. Finish it. (Yes it's been on the list for 3 years now. About time to kick it off this list.)

5. Spiderweb quilt - I need a couple more blocks to arrive for this quilt, and I need to make a few more myself to bring it up a little bit size wise.

6. Finish the Little Pearl dress for miss R. It just needs the buttonholes and the front ruffle. Easy, right?

7. Finish miss R's cardi.

That's it. Let's get finishing. Linking up to lovely Katy.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

FAL Q2... A sad little list of finishes

This quarter didn't really go to plan. I looked down my list earlier in the week and hung my head in shame. I only finished 2 measly projects from my (admittedly ambitious) list. In my defence it has been an insanely busy few months for me at work and with the kids activities finishing up in a whirlwind of end of year concerts etc, the time just flew by.

So it's a big fat fail on most of my projects.


But the two successes I had were great. First up, my Made to Measure quilt which I finished only in the last few days.


And the other item I had was another cushion with my blogger bundle fabrics, to coordinate with the original one I made. This turned out pretty well - but I just realised I only blogged the progress pictures and not the final result. Didn't it turn out pretty? It is now residing on my sofa along with 2 others I made and very cheery.


So they are my two little finishes. I'm linking up to Katy and hoping Q3 is a bit more productive!


Saturday, July 5, 2014

A Made to Measure Medallion Finish

It seems slightly surreal that this quilt is actually finished. I have been working on it for a long, long, long time - started last April, to be precise. So, 15 months...I know that's not a record for a quilt finish. I know this because I have a quilt top hanging in my sewing space awaiting quilting for coming up on 3 years now. (Sssshhhhhh. Don't tell.)

I also feel like I've been working on it forever because it has been such a challenging, intricate piece of work. I know there are plenty much more complex quilt patterns out there, with more difficult sewing required, but I find medallions pretty challenging and this had a LOT of tiny piecing. Those little star cornerstones were the worst bit - there was a lot of heavy sighing as I cut them and no small amount of swearing as I pieced them.


And all (ALL) the HSTs and the trimming.

That's why it took so long. I had to build myself up to each of the detailed borders. (Or I'm just lazy. I'm a sucker for a quick 'n' easy quilt pattern.)

Plus, the fabric choices weighed heavily in my mind the whole time I was making it. This was a  kind of "suck it and see" quilt. I made it up as I went along. I kind of had jewel tones in my head as the theme and I worked along those lines.

Part of me wishes I had chosen a low volume grey print for that big "quiet" border in the middle instead of the dotty cream print, to cool the tones a little. Also my pink and orange hst border merged into itself more than I intended, but I had gone too far with it before I realised. And no way could I face cutting all those HSTs again. But I still think it works ok. Possibly slightly differently than I originally intended, but lovely all the same.

I do absolutely adore that huge 2nd last border with the HST-turned-into-flying-geese. I think the fabrics work so perfectly right there and the mix of low volume prints as background was exactly what I wanted. When I saw that, that was what made me wish that I had used the low volume instead of the cream border. But hey ho, that's how it goes.

Some insane part of my brain insisted that this quilt should be hand quilted. I've done lots of hand quilting in my time, a lot of mini quilts and one lap quilt, but this is the first time I've entirely hand quilted a proper size quilt without doing some machine stitching in the ditch to secure it.

I was nervous about it, but it worked really well. Very honestly, I found the weight of the quilt and its size very hard to manoeuvre when working on it, particularly at the start when I was quilting the centre and I had a lot of trouble with my neck ending up with an irritated nerve which caused constant pins and needles down both arms into my little fingers for weeks on end. That also delayed the finish by weeks as the doctor insisted I put down all my crafty stuff for 2-3 weeks to let it heal enough to treat. So I'm not sure I would tackle a project this size again by hand - weeks of physio to resolve it was not on my list of anticipated outcomes. But having said that, I do absolutely adore the process of hand quilting and I think the issues I had were solely due to the size and weight of the quilt - possibly my technique is not the best from a health perspective. And there is no getting away from the fact that I really enjoyed sitting on the sofa hand quilting it in the evenings. It's much more sociable than sitting at my machine, away from my hubby in another room. So I won't be abandoning the hand quilting. Just maybe keeping it to slightly smaller projects :-)

Hand quilting looks so great too, and this pattern really lends itself to the hand quilted big stitch look. I used perle cotton #8 in a variety of colours and shades and quilted mostly 1/4" inside or outside the seam lines except in that big cream border where I quilted triangles to add to the interest.  I think my very favourite part of the hand quilting is the central star.

The hand quilting looks really great on the back too. The backing is the ever-used IKEA Nummer fabric. It was a particularly good choice for this quilt, as the black and white complements the front, and the quilting shows up so well on it.

I found a fab dotty grey and white print on a black background in The Crafty Fox in Drogheda the last time I visited my mum, and I knew as soon as I laid eyes on it that it was perfect for the binding for this. I don't know what the print name is, all I know is that its a Northcott fabric. I love how it frames the quilt. I took the lazy way out and machine stitched my binding. By the time I got to that stage, I was hand-stitched out and the pins and needles in my hands and arms were returning and I needed to get it done in time to wash and dry it before delivering it to my mum and dad on Sunday. So I speedily stitched the binding down and it was done. Must do more machine binding - it was so quick! Although I do love hand stitching down the binding normally.

I know I moaned about the cornerstones earlier. But truly, they were totally worth the effort. They look fab all done and lined up, don't they?

So, now this quilt is off to my mum and dad to celebrate 40 happy years of marriage, a milestone they hit a couple of weeks ago. (Yes, I am late. But I don't think they will mind!)

Some stats - this quilt measures 80" x 80" so perfect for a double bed, or would even work fine on a king size without draping down the sides. It's made from Sarah Fielke's Made to Measure pattern in her book Hand Quilted with Love. Fabrics are a wide and varied mix mostly from my stash. My Irish friends contributed lots of the oranges for the pink and orange HST border in an impromptu scrap swap when I asked for some help :-) Batting is Simply Cotton. It is machine pieced, and 100% hand quilted with perle cotton #8.

It is, without doubt, my favourite quilt I've ever made. And certainly, my biggest quilting achievement to date. If I have learned one thing in 15 months of making it, it is that it is most certainly worth taking the time and putting in the effort to make something detailed and lovely. Quick and easy (my go-to) is not the be-all and end-all. Hope my parents love it as much as I do. (Ok, well, I know my mum loves it as she has seen the quilt top at various stages of development and raved each time, so I'm pretty confident!) To paraphrase Mr Bennett in his conversation with Elizabeth at the end of Pride and Prejudice, I couldn't part with it to anyone less worthy. 

Linking up to Katy as one of my (sad, short little list of) Q2 finishes.

Finish Along 2014

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Announcing a new Swap for the summer!

The Big Stitch Swap

Cindy and I are hosting a swap and we would just love if you would join us! We decided that we would do something which encompassed our love of hand stitching and The Big Stitch Swap was born.  The theme of the swap is that hand stitching of some variety is a significant contribution to the swapped item.  It can be embroidery, hand quilting, cross stitch...what ever floats your boat!

What to make, what to make?  Well, our suggestions would be something along the scale of a iPad cover, Kindle cover, a zippy pouch, a fancy notebook cover or a tote bag.  You get the idea, something that allows enough space to incorporate a stitched motif, or handquilting design. But not too big.  The only guideline is that your hand stitching has to be a significant portion and focal point of the item's design.  

Want to join in?  The swap is open to 40 people.  The only catch is you need to have participated in two other swaps before joining into this one.  If you have, just click here and complete our entry form.  We will then secretly assign partners.  Know that your partner is not necessarily making an item for you.  While you are waiting for your partner assignment, join into our Flickr group and start thinking about an inspirational mosaic like the one I have below.  I used Big Huge Labs for mine, but you can use what ever works for you.

Inspiration Mosaic - The Big Stitch Swap

The swap timeline is as follows:
- Signups open today (19 June) and will close on 27 June or when we reach 40 participants.
- Partner assignments will be distributed on 4 July (before my celebratory BBQ!)
- Posting dates are from 4-8 August depending on your postal system and where your partner lives.  

Cherry on the Tree Swing complete

As usual, we ask that everyone actively participate in Flickr conversation threads, drop hints on photo comments for your partner, etc.   If you have any questions before you sign up, please do ask!  Better to ask before you sign up than only makes my life more difficult to find a substitute if you drop out. There is a thread with full info over on the Flickr Group. And an every present button below, if you want to spread the word ;-)

We do hope you join us!  This will be so very fun!

The Big Stitch Swap

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

A (Little) Dress in the Making

I've been wanting to try my hand at dressmaking for quite a while now (I blame The Great British Sewing Bee myself). It's something I learned a little about when I started learning to sew first, but I quickly got distracted by craft sewing and quilting and never really developed the basic skills I learned. Dressmaking scares me a bit - I think it can be hard to get a good enough finish so that what you're wearing doesn't scream "homemade" rather than "handmade". Garments are less forgiving than quilts, for sure.

When the lovely Courtney at Seamstar offered me the opportunity to try out her dressmaking lawn a little while back, I absolutely jumped at the chance. Not least because she stocks the cutest prints, including the one I chose.


When the lawn arrived, I was even more excited. This print is so gorgeous in real life, really beautiful colours. I was wondering what the lawn would be like from a quality perspective and I was so impressed with it. Its probably a tiny bit heavier in weight than Liberty lawn, which I liked, I found it slightly easier to work with than the Liberty. It is super soft and drapes beautifully. It feels absolutely gorgeous. I couldn't stop stroking it every time I passed it for the first few days after it arrived. I will certainly be going back and buying more of this - in fact, I plan to buy more of the same print to make a summer skirt for myself, I love it so much.  Courtney also sent me some cotton solids for the lining and the contrast ruffle at the neckline, and these were similarly lovely quality. 

I decided to start off easy, and picked the Little Pearl dress pattern from the Liberty Love book. This is an a-line tunic style dress and looked to be relatively straightforward in terms of construction.


I've been gradually working away on the construction of the dress, which has been relatively straightforward so far. It's now all hemmed and ready to do the buttonholes (which, honestly, I am dreading), and the ruffle embellishment at the front.


I have my supplies all ready - I had a momentary wobble about the colour of the ruffle fabric and wondered if a moss green would work better. But I think I'll stick to the mint green.


Apart from the buttonholes (obviously) I can't wait to get the work done on this to get it finished and put on the little lady who is, sadly, extremely sick and miserable this week with a bad throat infection and very high temps. I think sewing time will be hard to come by for the next few days but fingers crossed she will be better before the long weekend.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Starting a Cheerio Quilt...

I got the latest copy of Love Patchwork and Quilting primarily for the quilt pattern of the cover quilt. I had seen pictures of this issue floating around, and thought it looked great. I wasn't disappointed.

Over the weekend I realised that I hadn't pieced a quilt top in what seems like months - its been all small projects here. And I had a lovely stack of fabric waiting to be cut into. So I did.

After making 2 blocks, I was completely and utterly in love. These blocks are so easy and quick to piece, and look great. Addictive.

By the time this afternoon came, I had 4 more complete.

Anyone feel like joining in with me and we can cheerio-along together? I'm posting my progress on Instagram using the hastag #cheerioquiltalong

Friday, May 23, 2014

Sew Together Bag...finished.

 The thing I love most about blogging is the inspiration you get from friends. After I posted my stalled progress on my Sew Together bag last week I got lots of suggestions which got my mind ticking over, and soon, driving to work on Tuesday morning, I had the lightbulb moment. Funnily enough, in those weird coincidences that occur when you're on the same wavelength as your friends, when I got into work and put my phone on my desk, an email popped up on it from Cindy with almost exactly the same idea I had just decided on. That made me sure I was on the right track.

So I got stitching with some little hexies I had in my stash. I did a line across what was to be the front of my bag, and then I decided to do a hexie flower on the back. Some hand quilting with perle cotton and I was all ready to put together my bag.

I was anticipating that putting on the final zip would be the most difficult piece of this bag, but it turned out easier than I expected. My binding isn't perfect but it's not bad either. Actually putting the little tabs on the end of the zip was the fiddliest bit of the whole thing.

I really love how this bag turned out. It's a great concept and a lovely pattern. My only (small) gripe is that there are very few pictures or diagrams in the pattern and without the help of the sewalong run by Quilt Barn I would have struggled in parts as I'm not great on reading instructions that require good spatial sense. But I would definitely recommend the pattern

I love how this looks like a simple little bag from the outside, and then you open it and see all the detail on the inside.

I'm very happy with the choice fabrics I used on the interior of this and how they work together. One of my favourite little details is the exterior lining fabric which is a sewing notions navy print.

All ready now to fill it with my hand sewing stuff.

Linking up to Finish it Up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts.