Tuesday, 29 April 2014

Quilts for the boys; not one, but two!

I had such a busy weekend. We travelled from our home in Cardiff to Manchester for my friend Sue's 60th birthday bash and lunch with my parents on Sunday to celebrate their 61st wedding anniversary. Sue really loved her Miss Winkle scarf.

On the way up North we stopped off in Eccleshall, Staffordshire and visited The Corner Patch. It's a lovely compact shop with a well curated collection of quilting fabrics and notions downstairs with a light workroom upstairs for classes. The owner Jane was away at the British Quilt and Stitch Village at Uttoxeter Racecourse but Tracy helped me with a few fabric choices, a jellyroll of Moda Chance of Flowers, some Kona Ash and extra yardage of one of the Chance of Flowers prints. They have a great selection of classes and I signed up for a machine quilting course in June with Chris Franses. I've got to take the plunge and start quilting my own quilts soon!

I've got a couple of quilt tops to show. Firstly, Sam's quilt now has a border and is waiting to be quilted. I am so pleased with the fabric choice for this. It is just the thing for a growing boy with boats, birds and fish but not babyish in any way.

My second quilt top is for my 2 year old grandson Hugo who lives in the Lake District. Again I wanted to choose something that could be used for a few years. The jelly roll I chose is Road 15 by Moda. There are roads, houses and maps with toning low value prints in azure, acid green, black, red and beige. I chose a pattern called "Key to my Heart" which I downloaded from the Etsy shop called sweetjane. It's a simple pattern but shows off the fabrics well.

I decided to go with an Ikea fabric, Britten Nummer in black and white. It has a graphic print and what's more, it's really cheap at £3 per metre. The quality is OK, not the best but certainly good enough at this price for a quilt backing. It's also 150cm wide.
I've just got to choose a border fabric and binding. I think I'd like to go with a small black and white spot for the binding to tie in the back and front and possibly Kona Ash for the border.

My next project is for 3 year old Vivi(enne), Hugo's sister. I have been following the Triangle QAL run by The Sassy Quilter. It is too late to join the QAL but I thought it might be good to push myself and try a new piecing technique after doing the jellyroll quilts. Have a look at the finished quilts, they are inspirational!

The Sunnyside range by Kate Spain for Moda really appealed to me.  I've cut some of the 6" triangles from a layer cake after starching twice. I'm hoping to avoid stretching the fabrics so will handle them carefully too. The plain fabrics are Kona Azure, Bluebell and Cactus. I am shamelessly copying Paula's (The Sassy Quilter) own choice of fabrics as I loved them so much. There is a real 50's vibe to them.

The photo above was taken outside in bright sun so the colours look a bit washed out. Sorry about that.

I already have the backing fabric in my stash and I have been looking for a project to use it in. It is
 Annali Scribble lines in white on light grey. It is quite silvery and looks well with the top fabrics.

So that's it for my quilt projects for the moment. I'll be linking this in tomorrow with Lee of Freshly Pieced Modern Quilts

 I'm off to meet up with my quilting friends tomorrow for lunch. Should be fun!

Have a good week.


Sunday, 13 April 2014

Wonderful weekend

Flowers, sun and sewing. What's not to like? The garden was looking so pretty this morning that I took the time to take a few photos before a day of sewing. The Amelanchier is frothing with it's fleeting blossom but even when this has gone we can look forward to berries and stunning Autumn colour later in the year.

The rhododendron was flowering well and the air was full of buzzing from our honey bees in the pear tree.

This clematis is container grown. I just love it's simple, fragile shape.

It has been a sewing weekend too. I attended a "Jelly Rolls and Charm packs" class at Busy Bees in Newport yesterday. The guest teacher was Jackie Taylor of White Cottage Country Crafts
Jackie had brought a large selection of patterns and projects to cater for a variety of tastes.

I had chosen to make a quilt for my eldest grandson Sam. He is 9 now and so growing out of childish prints. I was looking for something to suit and thought that Hearty Good Wishes by Janet Clare for Moda fitted the bill perfectly.  Janet has designed seafaring prints with simple line drawing and a wonderful muted palette.

The pattern I chose to follow was Jelly Roll boxes; a simple but effective design. Once the introductions was over we were pouring over the patterns and organising fabrics. My pattern had the jelly roll strips paired in light/dark combinations and sewn along the length up to the fabric fold. The strips were then cut along the half strip into equilateral triangles. The strips were pulled apart, rematched to a different fabric and sewn again along the length. The half strip was cut into 4 triangles as before.

I think the photo below will illustrate the last paragraph better! These were the blocks I managed on Saturday

Jackie demonstrating.

 I spent all day today sewing from 10am until 5pm- madness! Still I managed to sew all the blocks so they are ready to make into the top during next week.

I plan to use the plain denim blue from the range as a border and the dark blue with sailing ships as a backing.

This week looks like being busy with the run up to Easter so I'll take a break from blogging until after the holiday.

I hope everyone takes the time to relax, enjoy being with family and friends, and eat lots of chocolate.


Thursday, 10 April 2014

Trumpet fanfare for my first ever quilt finish!

I'm feeling really pleased as I finally have a finished, bound and labelled quilt to show. I picked up my Hummingbird quilt yesterday from Sue Phillips of School House Quilting all ready to stitch down the binding and label. The quilting is edge to edge with a bit of a butterfly design. On the back it looks as if the butterflies are landing on the flowers.

I had asked for lots of advice about the label and tried all sorts of pens. None looked quite right. Maybe I'm just not neat enough. In the end I decided to use my machine to embroider the label on the background fabric (Spectrum plain latte) and the result is OK with me.

The binding is in the same fabric as the backing; Nel Whatmore's Secret Garden Hedgerow in the linen colour way. It's fantastically colourful and makes me happy so I think it will suit Lexie.

Now, the question is, to Wash or not to wash? What does everyone do at this stage? Leave well alone;  hand wash or gentle machine wash? Line dry or gentle machine dry?
I would really appreciate some views of this. I did not prewash the fabrics (I was banking on modern fabrics being stable) but I would put some colour catchers in the machine IF I decide to go ahead and wash.

I'm taking the quilt on Easter Sunday to Wiltshire along with lots of Easter eggs. I really hope she loves it on her new bed.

Enjoy the Spring sunshine,


I'm linking up with TGIFF over at Quilt Matters with my first finish.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Miss Winkle is done and dusted

This has been a busy weekend with my day class yesterday on hand quilting and a redrafting of the same project today. I was not too happy with the accuracy of the tracing and the heaviness of the lines. I recut the cushion front in cream cotton sateen this time and traced the design lightly with a soft lemon water-colour pencil. I can just about see it which means I can see the size and placing of the stitches much better.

The weather brightened slightly this morning so I was able to take a photo of the Miss Winkle shawlette which was finally dry after blocking.

The pattern is by Martina Behm and is available as a download from her website 
The website is in German and English and Martina has some really unusual designs
I love the explanation of the name of the shawl.

One of my favorite sitcoms is “The Big Bang Theory“. In one episode, nerdy physicist Leonard dates his colleague Leslie Winkle and they have a fierce argument about which version of Quantum Mechanics is correct – String Theory or Loop Quantum Gravity. When Leonard declares that he prefers his space “stringy, not loopy“, that’s a dealbreaker for Leslie (”How will we raise the children?“). This very loopy shawlette is here to celebrate Miss Winkle, women scientists and all women who know what they want and don’t let any man talk them out of it! 

The shawl is knitted in 4ply garter stitch and is really easy to knit once the loop has been mastered. It made a good project for sitting in front of the TV! I even learnt a new technique for binding off. I always thought there was only one way of casting off. Through the joys of the internet I can now do an Icelandic bind off which gives a lovely edge to the garter stitch.

I'm linking up with Sarah from Crafts from the Cwtch who has been running this fun KAL on Ravelry.

My next knitting project is a cardigan for my granddaughter, 3year old Vivi. I've chosen a pattern called Granny's Favourite by Georgie Hallam. I've got my knitting mojo back since I discovered independent pattern designers. Vivi has problems with wool on her skin so I tend to choose either a cotton yarn or a manmade fibre. This time I decided on a pale silvery grey DK yarn; Jenny Watson Babysoft DK. I'll be casting on tonight while I watch the first episode of the WW1 drama The Crimson Field on BBC1. 

I'm also linking up with Wool on Sundays.

Suffering the end of course blues

One of the joys of taking up this new hobby has been meeting so many lovely people. A group of us started last year on a course at Busy Bees in Newport to learn to hand piece. Then a number of us went on to a machine piecing course to make a medallion quilt. The course finished on Thursday and most had managed to finish our quilt tops.

I have pieced the back and cut the binding so mine is all ready to be taken to be quilted.

Yesterday I attended a workshop called "Glorious Welsh Quilts". The teacher was the inspirational Sandie Lush who has been making Welsh whole cloth quilts for many years. Many of her quilts are worked on charmeuse satin which shows her exquisite hand stitching to perfection. Sandie has exhibited both in the UK and the US.

The project for the day was to make a cushion top with a Welsh quilt design on a plain fabric. I chose to use a blue cotton sateen with Quilters Dream Orient for the wadding. The wadding contains silk and has a lovely fine and soft feel.

Our chosen patterns were traced on to the top. I taped my pattern and material to a window as it was fairly opaque and this worked quite well. Only problem was that I could not see that I was pressing quite heavily. I just hope the lines come out when it is washed!

Sandie with her wonderful quilt

The examples above are of Welsh quilting while the example below is of Durham quilting. Durham quilts feature a central medallion with larger infills to the corners.

Hand stitching gave us time to chat and have a laugh.

The second part of the class was devoted to learning the principles of drafting a Welsh Quilt. Concentration needed here!

 Sandie has been working on what she calls "sweater quilts" and these are now on exhibition at The Welsh Quilt Centre at Lampeter in Ceredigion. Images of these are on her website and also the Quilt Centre's website. They will be on exhibition until November 1st. Please take a look; they are so different.

I'm writing this in bed on Sunday morning and I can hear Mike putting the kettle on in the kitchen so I had better get up. It's a bit grey outside and not too promising but I think I'll go down to the Farmers Market for a stroll. I spent too much time sitting yesterday.

Whatever you are doing, enjoy your Sunday!