Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quilt garden

This quilt has a long history. It started out at least 12 years ago. I had seen a quilt called “Leanne’s House” on an Australian site and thought it was lovely, with a combination of embroidery, appliqué and pieced blocks, but the colours weren’t quite “me”. Then I came across a booklet of garden themed embroidery patterns and decided to make my own. 

For years my take-along sewing to quilt meetings and such were these little patches backed with a thin layer of batting and embroidery floss in bright pastels. I was teased relentlessly about my never-ending work, but was determined to enjoy the process and not rush anything.

At the same time I was plotting and planning the layout of the quilt itself. I had originally planned on making 12 20” blocks, but after lots of revising and redrafting I ended up with a 9-block layout, making it a 60x60” square quilt. Once the embroidery blocks were finished I started on the appliqué and the same teasing ensued – what never ending quilt was I working on now? – nobody realized it was the same one! I plodded on and went along with the jokes on my behalf, but eventually I got to the point where all the appliqué was done and the piecing could begin. 

That part didn’t take that long, and using a drawing app on my iPad as a tool to keep track of what I had finished and what needed to be sewn next, I finished my nine blocks and put them together. I used fabric to match the floss I had used in the stitched blocks. 

The leftovers were pieced for the backing. I did a lot of freehand quilting in green rayon thread, making up patterns as I went along. After finishing it with a dark green binding I should have been done, but no, I wasn’t quite there yet.

Now on most of the quilts I have seen with stitchery on them, the stitchery-blocks have been left unquilted, but with my dense quilting on the rest of the quilt, this didn’t seem right, so I ended up adding some more stitches by hand. A scattering of seed stitches in cream floss on the cream coloured background gave just the effect I wanted, and I got there in the end. 

When I started this quilt I had my middle sister in mind. She’s a keen gardener and the theme seemed just right for her. However, her decorating style changed along the way, going into the gray and neutral spectrum and I began thinking that her tastes had changed so much that she wouldn’t like it. I needn’t have worried though: when she happened to see it while I was working on it this spring she jokingly said: “I hope that one’s for me!” Bingo! The surprise and joy when she opened her birthday present from me was really worth all the effort. It was hard to give away such a labour of love, but I know it has gone to the right home!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Some finishes

In between all the other stuff I have going I have grabbed some time here and there to make a few things, like these little mug rugs from my scrap bag. 

And for a 75th birthday I made a table runner. It is a very simple designs, but I got to show off this lovely leaf fabric which I knew would be perfect for the room it would be in. It was very well received.

One thing about being busy during the day is that it can be quite relaxing to sink down in front of the TV and grab a piece of embroidery or some knitting, and as evidence I have a new shawl and a tapestry cushion to show you. The shawl is Bitterroot from Knitty, made up in a really soft and lovely Malabrigo Yarn Lace – it’s so light and fluffy that you want to immerse yourself in it, but alas it’s just the small version to go round my neck. I’ll remember to look out for that yarn though – lovely! There should have been some glass beads knitted into it, but I didn't find any locally and was eager to finish it, so I managed without. Maybe next time.

The cushion is from a pattern by Emily Peacock and has been in the works for a while, but a bit of friendly pushing among other peacock-stitchers on IG spurred me on to actually finish it. Yay!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Backing up

I’m still working on getting back into the groove with sewing, but there always seem to be so many other things I need to do, like hanging pictures, sorting fabric, organizing bookshelves and what have you… I made this quilt top a while back, but was not at all happy with it. It was from a bundle I bought on a trip a while back and the fabric looked so lovely together. I chose some Kona Snow to go with it and didn’t realize until I’d finished the top that the lovely light blue and pink polka dot would blend so much into the background. 

Eventually I ripped out those four blocks and made new ones, substituting a shocking pink for the polka dot. Ah, much better!

While I was at it I took the time to prepare a backing for this and for the two other tops I have lying on the table, so now it’s just a matter of sorting some batting and the quilting can begin – or I could start something new…

Sunday, July 20, 2014


When I was packing to move house, I crammed a lot of extra fabric into the fabric crates willy-nilly and the crates were hurled into a closet in my new place. Once I had settled in it was time to take charge of the stash.

It took me a couple of days to fold and sort everything and place the crates neatly in the new shelves in my studio. Well, I have to admit this is not everything - I have a few larger crates for backing fabric and solids in the closet still, but at least I have things sorted so I know where to find what I want. And it looks kind of neat too, doesn’t it? 

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Little Daisy

I have been on a mission to finish some of my UFOs lately - there were far to many of them, although now I'm down to five! This quilt started with some 10" squares of Amy Butler's collection Daisy Chain I bought at the Festival of Quilts a few years back. I blogged about the finished top a year ago, and it has been lying around ever since (how do these things happen?) Well it's all quilted and bound now, and it's not too shabby, I think! :-)
I quilted straightish lines in the white vertical stripes, carrying them all the way to the edge. The narrow areas between got leafy borders while the wider areas, with the squares were quilted in floral chains (not quite Daisy Chains, but close enough).
The binding is a lovely bee fabric - I think the collection was called Flora and Fauna(?) - with so many flowers it's only natural that bees would be drawn to it, isn't it?
The backing is another Amy Butler design. From the Gypsy Caravan collection, I believe. So there you go: another UFO bites the dust, and I have a fresh new quilt to add to my collection. What could be better? I might deserve to start a new quilt now, I think...

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Spring vortex

Last spring I bought a charm pack of Novella by Valori Wells and just left in on the shelf to drool over. As you do. Once I managed to decide on some fabrics to go with it, the top came together quite easily.  But then there was the matter of The Big Move, and there was precious little sewing for some months, what with all the packing, unpacking and organizing.. Heard it all before? Sorry, I won't go on too much about it. What I was getting to is that around Easter I finally got back to sewing again, and quilting this was high on the list.
I had seen some examples of spiral quilting online and decided to have a go, using this tutorial. I did the first few rounds with a free motion foot and then switched to my walking foot and just went round and round and round for eeeever.
I did get into a bit of a spin at times, and looking at the above picture, you see why I ended up with the word "vortex" in the title. Looking back at the tutorial today I see that it wasn't a new idea. It must have been lurking in my brain all along.
I had fun going around in circles, although I could never keep mu lines straight - it's all wobbly, wavy lines, but let's just pretend that this was what I had intended all along. I definitely need more practice, so there will be more spiral quilts in my future. Since I learned a lot from my mistakes with this one, I need to put that practice to good use, right? One of the things I learned is that it is important to baste properly all the way out to all four corners. I learned this the hard way, having a bit of fabric shifting along the way. I actually had to unpick about 18 rounds (That's the equivalent of two episodes of Sherlock...) and smooth it out and do it again after getting some horrible tucks on the back. There are still some small ones, but I decided to put it down to experience, this being a practice quilt after all.
And here it is out on my new deck in the sunshine. A great new place to photograph quilts it seams. I love the spring feel of the colours so Spring Vortex is the name I came up with.
I used a piece of fabric I got from my sister for the backing. She had bought this online, thinking that the circles were tiny and when it arrived, didn't know what to do with it. It worked quite well with my quilt top, though, and the sweet little birdies kept me happy during all that unpicking.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Yes, I bought a few things...

 Oh, yes - I did manage to spend a bit of money at The Knitting and Stitching Show, but not too much I think... In a show devoted to knitting and stitching I had hoped for more of a selection of special wool for knitting and exciting threads for embroidery and machine quilting, but the selection was more of the garden variety. Having said that, there was plenty of fabric, wool and notions to choose from, though, so I'm not complaining! I found some lovely wool that I just couldn't leave behind. I have no plans for it yet, but I'll find something lovely on Ravelry, no doubt!
 I can't seem to leave good polka dot fabric behind, so a few dotties came home with me along with a special London fabric to remind me of the trip.
 At Fabrics Galore they had a lot of fabric with big patterns printed on home dec weight fabric. I have been searching for this stamp fabric online for a while, so when I came across it I couldn't leave it there, of course. A panel with a map of the world can always be useful...
 ... and a fabric with lots of windows is just perfect for a house-obsessed crafter, right? There are several different windows and they are quite large, so I imagine using these as the center of a design and "building" a house around them. That will be fun, I think!
I got a set of these interchangeable circular knitting needles at half price - there are four cables and eight different sizes of wooden needles, so you should always have the size you need at hand. I have been coveting these a while, but thought they were too expensive. Half price was still pricey, but I made a big saving on new blades for my rotary cutter so I'm pretending that makes up for it, ;-)!

All in all I came away with some nice things that I really can use, instead of hoarding all sort of stuff just because I could. The big stash waiting for me at home played a part, of course - I can't really claim that I NEED anything anymore - first word problems...

The most important thing I brought home with me, though, was lots of inspiration along with lovely memories of good times with old friends, and that's worth it's weight in gold!