Thursday, 30 December 2010

Hiding from the babies

It's amazing what you can do if you set your mind to it (and ignore the fact that you have 2 essays to write!). In the last couple of days I've managed to finish off my bear paw quilt top and piece the back together.

It's all folded up over the banister upstairs while the kids rampage downstairs. Hopefully I'll be able to get it layered up and quilted this evening after they've gone home. The back is made form one of the French General woven fabrics, which is absolutely lovely to touch. It's soft and gloriously silky.

I've also managed to piece together these blocks:

They may look familiar. They're an exact mirror image of the blocks for this quilt. I made a bit of a boo boo while cutting so I ended up with twice as many pieces. The other quilt was sold so I hope I can sell this one on too.

Monday, 27 December 2010

Mad rush over, time to settle in to some sewing

It's been a mad couple of weeks. I've been ill this term so missed a lot of work at university, which I had to get extensions for. That meant that I was working right up until the 23rd December which left very little time to get the Christmas presents all sewn up!

Two straight days at the sewing machine and I managed:

Six coasters on a tea and coffee theme for my dad and step-mum. Dad's a big coffee drinker and Barbara's a big tea drinker so they can have three each.

Two sets of these lovely bright squishy cubes for my step-sister Jenny's new baby and Clare from Clarebears new baby. They are both adorable cuddly boys and I had a lot of fun playing with them.

and - last but not least - Owly the tea cosy made for my mum. Although, he's so adorable I think I'm going to have to make a matching one for myself! 

It just goes to show how much you can do if you put your mind to it and now all that's over with I can settle in for some proper quilting. I hope to get my bear paw quilt finished and layered up and start on my "It's a hoot" jelly roll quilt tomorrow.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Snow day! (or possibly week)

It's snowed heavily here for 4 days so far which means that I can't work on my research project. In hindsight doing a project on soil treatment over the winter in the North of England may not have been the best plan.

It's left me with a lot of time on my hands which has been spent on my laptop in the college bar. I check the Daily Deal on the Missouri Star Quilt Company's site regularly and the other day they had an offer I couldn't turn down:

It's a Jelly roll of It's a Hoot fabrics by MoMo for Moda. The colours are so fun, they really cheered up my grey miserable snow day so I had a play around with my coloured pencils...

...and ordered it, along with a solid white jelly roll. I think it will make a really great quilt! My coloured scribbles attracted a bit of attention in the bar (the American Football players were particularly nosy) and when I explained what I was doing they all wanted a go. This was Ryan's design

Apparently the red block at the bottom has to have pictures of all of us. Not sure he's quite got the hang of quilt design.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Rural Jardin coming together

I finally got a chance to squeeze in a bit of sewing between lectures and coursework and have managed to get all my bear paw blocks stitched together in rows. Here are 4 out of the 5 rows pinned up on my notice board (the fifth didn't fit)

I really like the neutral plain in the background, it goes a long way to offset the busyness of some of the prints. These strips will be sashed together with the same width sashing as the separate blocks and then bordered with a double width strip.

I think the "paws" themselves have come out quite well. They look a little disjointed with the large prints:

But I think they work really well with the smaller, more even prints:

I'm going to leave these up on the board so that I see them constantly, Hopefully that will encourage me to get them finished sooner!

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Cramped sewing

One of the problems of living in college accommodation has always been that you have very little space. You have to live, sleep, work and have fun in one tiny little room. It gets a whole lot worse when you try to sew in there as well!

Please excuse the picture quality - mum took the camera on holiday with her to ..... Houston quilt market! I am so incredibly jealous but I couldn't take the time out during term to make the trip with her. At least I'm starting to be able to squeeze some sewing in finally.

To make up for my lack of quilting output, I thought I would start to share some pictures of Durham. This is my view on the way to lectures this morning. I'm studying civil engineering and I think that it's a real shame that I won't ever get to work on a building as beautiful as this:

Durham Cathedral in the Autumn light

Friday, 15 October 2010

Finally... I can sew again!

The move to university is done and the first week of lectures is done. I haven't been able to do any sewing since the move because as I was packing I realised that all my equipment is actually my mothers. I have my own sewing machine but that's pretty much it. So I hit the internet and this pile was delivered to me recently:

A starter pack from creative grids which includes an industrial strength cutting mat, an Olfa rotary cutter and a Creative Grids non-slip ruler. I couldn't let it sit around so I ran to the market and picked up some supplies to decorate or flat for an Alice in Wonderland themed birthday party.

A pile of felt and bias binding was quickly chopped up with my new board into....

...neat pile of bunting triangles. A little more snipping and an hour at the sewing machine gave me 8 metres of "Queen of hearts" bunting. I had a whole load more little flags but didn't buy enough binding so I'll have to think of something to do with them.

A quick way to liven up a dull student corridor!

Friday, 1 October 2010

Decisions, decisions...

I think I may have been a little too optimistic in thinking that I could get this top finished in 2 days. The sashing is taking a lot longer than I expected.

I've been stitching away like a maniac but have completely neglected to do any laundry, organizing or packing for my move this weekend.  Now the question is do I carry on sewing and throw all my dirty washing into bin bags to move or do I do the sensible thing and pack up the machine?

But I love my little machine so much .....

Wednesday, 29 September 2010

The last leg of a sewing marathon

I'm determined to get this quilt layered up before I have to move back into the university accommodation on Saturday.  I won't have the space to do any layering there unless I sweet talk the staff into letting me use the dining room tables.

So, marathon sewing sessions it is.  I've been sewing non stop every night after work and I've turned my lovely pile of dog eared strips into 80 beautiful bear paws.  Here's a selection of them:

Whites and reds



Light blues

I'm not sure which group I like best but they've all exceeded my expectations. The background colour is Moda's Bella Solid in Stone and it seems to be doing a fantastic job of setting off the Rural Jardin fabrics.  Sashing tomorrow night and then I'm getting close to the finish line.

Saturday, 25 September 2010

The wounded return

Last Christmas I made some stuffed toys for my twin nieces.  They were as adorable as the girls and I was sad to let them go - you can see them here.

This week I was handed them back by my sister and they look like they've been through a war!

Here's "Quack Quack" returned to me minus both wings and with a footprint on his back.  Bunny faired a little better with only an exploding arm to show for his battles with the terrible two.

At least I know they've been well loved, the twins took them everywhere (which explains the variety of stains). Time for some emergency surgery!

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Jelly teddy bear paws

This week I've started work on my Rural Jardin quilt.  I thought I would share a bit of my process so you could see what's going on between posts. 

I knew I wanted to do a bear paw style block so first I figured out how to split it up into strips.

Then I drew up the pattern in Photoshop to see if it was going to work with this fabric.  This step can be a bit of a faff but I'm still a bit too new to this to jump right in.  The photoshop version can be seen in one of my previous posts.

I cut all my strips and started dog earing them all to get the points.

I'm almost done with my points, only the 2 1/2" squares left to do.  I just love how they look all stacked up together.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Mill House Inn finish

I enjoyed making this quilt tremendously.  There is something lovely about the balance of patterns, colours and values in the Mill House Inn line.  Quilt number one is quilted, bound and ready to go.

Due to a slip of the mind and a silly cutting error I now have the blocks for a twin for this baby which is why the progress bar still isn't full.  It will be a mirror image with the same backing and binding.

I think they would look adorable in a room with twin beds or draped over two sofas in a living room.  I just need to get some of the marks off that I used for the quilting and then I can find them a nice home.

Friday, 17 September 2010

Nine tenths preparation

For a lot of things in life it seems like the work is nine tenths preparation and a tenth actually getting done.  Since I managed to get home from work a couple of hours early today I thought I would put the time into getting some prep done.

To prepare for my return to university work I've given myself a much larger desk.  The great thing about the mix and match table tops and legs from Ikea is that I just needed to buy a new top and recycle my legs which works out a whole lot cheaper.

So here's my brand new desk with the old table top on top so you can see I've pretty much doubled my work space.  Very handy for textbooks.

In preparation for quilting at university (I'm determined to squeeze it in somehow!) I've bought some new feet for my sewing machine.  I've been using my mum's very swish quilting machine for the past year and when I got my basic machine out I realised that it wasn't that well equipped.

On the left is a quarter inch foot so that I don't have to stick a mark on my metric machine and on the right is a free motion foot.  As a bonus my machine is designed for dress making so has dual feed as standard which meant that I didn't need to buy a walking foot.

Time to break them in on my block swap stars!

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

Christmas block swap

The strip twist quilt is halfway through the binding process and I think I'll take it to work to finish off in my lunch break.  Next project is my second block swap from the Missouri Star Quilt forum.  I finished all my cutting out this evening and I am ready to piece:

As you can probably tell the swap is Christmas themed this time using white or cream fabrics and contrasting coloured fabrics. We're going to be making simple star blocks using Jenny's fantastic jelly roll tutorial:


If you want to join us you can sign up until September15th on the forum and then you have until November 1st to get your blocks done.  We have an international bunch of people joining in this time with large chunks of the US covered, Australia, Canada and me flying the flag for the UK.  I'm excited to see what I get!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Verna quilt plan

I haven't been at work for the last couple of days because I've been a little ill so I've been trying to get some things crossed off the to do list.  I didn't want to go near any actual quilts due to the unpredictable bouts of vomiting so I've been working at my computer.

Here's the plan for the Bella Snow and Verna layer cakes I've got stashed away.

 It should be quick and simple so hopefully another quilt I'll get done before I have to leave it all behind.

Harrogate Quilt Show

This weekend I took my mum to the quilt show at Harrogate.  We found some bargains, ogled and some gorgeous quilts and took a class in Trapunto and Italian quilting which was interesting but a little rushed.  Here's a pick of the quilts from the competition:

I love the 3D effect of the shelf in the quilt on the left and the quilt on the right got me into the Christmas mood  so I bought a pile of Christmas fabric. 

The quilt above shows that you don't need fancy patterns or bright colours to make an impact. 

The class we took was only an hour and a quarter long so we didn't get to finish our blocks but we were sent away with all of the bits and pieces to finish off our butterflies.

I'm kind of liking how it's turning out but I have no idea what I'm going to do with him.  Maybe a cushion cover?

Friday, 3 September 2010

USPS excitement

I came home from work to a big pile of USPS flat rate envelopes.  They're fairly hefty when they're stuffed to the gills - I could barely get through the door!

After some frantic ripping and excited bobbing around (I can't sit still when I'm excited) I discovered my lovely fabric purchases from Missouri Star Quilt Company and Fat Quarter Shop.

This is what happens when you're bored at work and have an active internet connection!  First up is the lovely yardage from Fat Quarter Shop.

The top two are from the Rural Jardin range by French General and the bottom is a Bella Solid in Stone (both from Moda).  I bought the jelly roll at my LQS a couple of weeks ago but I was too late to get enough yardage for backing and she doesn't stock any of the plains which is why I went on an internet spree.  

I came up with an idea and - with some fancy photoshop jiggery pokery - this is what my quilt will look like:

Well, at least this is what it SHOULD look like.  There's no way my points will line up that cleanly!  Next was the package from the Missouri Star girls.  I love their packages because they always have handwritten notes in them.

It's a layer cake of Bella solid in Snow which is going to be put with a Verna layer cake that I've had sitting around for ages.  I'll wave my photoshop wand and try and give you a preview of that quilt too.

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

Laying out the Strip Twist

I stitched all my jelly roll strips into sets of 4 ordering them dark-light-dark-light in each set.  These were then cut into 8.5" squares and then cut in half diagonally to make the half square triangles.

A couple of hours on the living room floor in front of the Great British Bake Off and a lot of rearranging got me this layout.  I think it's just about balanced but the dark red is very dominant so it a long time to get it evenly spread through the pattern.

What do you think?  Are there any dark or light patches that stand out for you?

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Baby quilt finished and handed over

I finished the baby quilt in plenty of time and mum-to-be Jenny loved it.  Apparently the blue in it is almost identical to the colour she's painted the nursery walls so I'd call that a win!

I love the way the pieced binding looks, I will definitely be using it again in the future.

I'm moving on to a quilt using a Mill House Inn jelly roll.  The pattern is Strip twist from the Quiltville website which is a wonderful resource for scrappy quilt patterns.  I'm not very good at scrappy but I thought this would work well with these fabrics.

Only 5 weeks til I go back to uni.  I have a lot of sewing to fit in before then...

Thursday, 26 August 2010

How to sew a pieced binding

While staring into space concentrating at work today I decided to go for the pieced binding because I wasn't sure how I would be able to accurately measure the sides so that the binding changed colour at the corners.  I know that's a little obsessive but it's my engineering side creeping back in.

I pieced the strips together staggering them each by 2" to minimise wastage when they are cut at 45 degrees.  The seams were pressed open to make less bulk when sewn to the quilt sandwich.

I used the 45 degree line on my ruler to trim off the staggered ends and then measured the width I wanted my binding.  I use a 2 1/4" doubled binding so I cut as many 2 1/4" strips as I could.  You should get 13 out of a width of fabric.

The short strips were sewn end to end and the seams pressed open.  The binding was then pressed in half and voila!  A gorgeous pile of pieced double binding ready to be sewn to my quilt tomorrow.

Be careful when you're pressing the binding in half because it is now cut on the bias so it's quite easy to distort the strips.  Make sure to press straight down rather than pushing the fabric along the ironing board.