Monday, August 11, 2014

The best part of swaps

I know I've written about this before, but there is something strange about taking part in swaps. You spend all of the swap window fretting about your partner, trying to second guess them, pushing yourself to impress them, working to someone else's taste. (It's fabulous, its why I love swaps. I just adore how it pushes you outside your comfort zone.) Then you send off your package and all of a sudden, it really hits you that you will be getting a package too. I know that you've been commenting on the photos all along, but its kind of abstract, in a way.

So when my hubbie rang me today at work to say there was a package for me, I spent the whole day in anticipation and of course, I ripped it open as soon as I got in the door. (yes, before picking up Miss R, or saying hello to my other kids or hubbie. Bad mammy moment). I was not disappointed.

I received this beautiful Big Stitch Swap package from Helen. She knew I just adore Lilipopo girls, and she made one just for me. I was so delighted when I opened it because you know how it is, you always make lovely things for everyone else and never keep the stuff you really love for yourself. This way, I get to have my own. I love how sweet she is! She is on the front of a lovely iPad mini sleeve, with Liberty lawn and linen. This is my idea of perfection. It is so beautifully stitched and finished. I stitched one myself for this swap, and I will certainly say that the patterns are straightforward, but deceptively so - it is very difficult to get the character of those girls right. I love how this girl finished up, she is gorgeous.

 On the back, there is some lovely piecing with more Liberty and linen, and some hand quilting. I just love it all.

Helen also send me a lovely package of scraps, you can see them in the top photo. Thank you Helen, I absolutely love it and its made my day.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Big Stitch Swap Package (gone in the post)

Today, I put my Big Stitch Swap package in the post. I hope my partner will like it.

I used a LiliPopo embroidery pattern on the front. I enlarged it a little so I could have a bigger finished pouch, suitable for hand sewing or knitting projects. This girl is very sweet, and though the pattern was straightforward, it took a little bit of work to get the look I wanted for her. I tried to make her sweet but a little quirky.

I was trying to figure out how to set her in a background, and I wanted something to give it a tiny bit of an edge, so as not to be too super sweet. From somewhere, I had the image of her standing on a rocky, pebbly beach. Happily, Trudi's class at the FQ Retreat covered pebble quilting, and despite my previous pre-FQR attempts at the technique leaving me ready to cry, after practising a little, I felt up to tackling it on this. It took quite a while, and a surprising amount of thread, but I was really pleased with how it turned out. The texture of the thread against the Essex linen is just so lovely, it feels great.

For the back, I spent quite a while thinking through various blocks before I landed on this one. I wanted something I could add handquilting detail to, something with clean lines and that would be striking against the linen. I was inspired by Camille Roskelley's Puddle Jumping pattern, but I drew this block out on Touchdraw so I could customise it to the size I wanted myself.

My colour palette was inspired by something I saw my partner say, and when I went digging around, I was delighted to find a scrap of Nordika that was perfect for fussy cutting for the centre.

I did dither about the hand quilting on this, initially when I finished it I thought it was a bit boxy looking where the corners of the blocks crossed over, it didn't look quite as I imagined. But when I came back to it the next day, I was happy, and I got a lot of positive feedback on IG and FB about it, so I relaxed a little :-)

I added a hot pink zipper for a pop of colour and I used a Vintage Happy print for the lining. I bought this print a good while ago, specifically for use as lining,and I love how it works. I did a divider pocket about half way down. The pouch measures just under 12" x 12", so it's a good size.

So my pouch was all done, and I just needed to pull out some scraps to include to finish off my package. It's gone in today's post and I really, really hope that my partner likes it.

If you like hand stitching, or embroidery, or just want to see what loveliness can be created with a simple needle and thread, pop over to the Flickr group and have a look as some of the gorgeous finished projects. Maybe we will see you in Round 2?

Friday, August 1, 2014

A quilt for a special boy

I posted off this special quilt during the week.

A friend of mine has a little boy, a toddler, who is very sick and will be spending a lot of time in hospital in the next few months. I don't really want to go into any details, for privacy reasons, but as with so many other quilters, I felt compelled to make a quilt when I heard the situation. If you're a quilter too, you'll understand why. Comfort. Wrapping the recipient up (literally) in all the good wishes and positive thoughts that you want to express but don't quite know how. I wanted to do something concrete that might help, if even just a tiny bit.

I mulled over what type of pattern to make but it didn't take me long to make a decision. Elizabeth's Sliced Coins pattern has been on my list of "must makes" for quite a few years now, its one of the first quiltalongs I observed when I started reading quilting blogs, and I loved the quilts made in the quiltalong. Plus, it's easy and straightforward to make, but has a big impact, and I wanted a pattern which allowed the fabrics to shine, because my plan was to gather every novelty boy's fabric I could get  my hands on for this quilt. I wanted it to be something that he could sit and look at and explore. Something interesting and fun.

I have a (pretty depleted compared to a few years ago) stash of boys fabric myself, but not enough for what I wanted, and I knew I needed small enough quantities for the coins. So I asked some of the lovely ladies in the Modern Irish quilters group if they would mind swapping or selling me small quantities of any nice boys fabrics they had. Of course, they all came up trumps and put oceans of fabric in the post to me and refused to take anything in return. This gave me an absolutely fabulous selection of fabrics to work with. I really love the variety, the colour and the prints. There are cars, trucks, buses, diggers, planes, animals, birds, insects - everything you could possibly imagine that little boys are fascinated by. Thank you so much ladies, you know who you are and I couldn't have made this without your help.

I quilted it in a stipple but with lots of loopy loops and was happy enough with how it worked. There is lots and lots of white sashing which  Nicky suggested was perfect for driving dinky cars up and down and across, and I agree, it would work great as a playmat too.

For the back, I used some leftover coins to make another strip for the centre, then I used a couple of bright and happy Ikea prints to make up the rest.  As you know, I don't often piece a quilt back but it was worth the effort and I like how bright and happy it turned out. There is plenty of interest on the back as well as the front.

The binding was some blue poplin with little hearts. Perfect. I machine bound this, as I had a lot of other hand stitching to complete and I tried a different method than I have previously used which I liked, but would like to refine my technique on a little more.

I forgot to measure the finished quilt but I followed the pattern pretty closely and I know the finished size there was 54" x 57" so I assume its similar. It's a lovely generous quilt size for a toddler, equally perfect for bed at night as for snuggling on the sofa by day.

I hope that this quilt might provide some entertainment or comfort for my friend's little boy over the next few months, and that he gets lots of use out of it. Please God his treatment will go well.

This is my first finish from my FAL Q3 list also. Hopefully not my last.

Finish Along 2014