Friday, 31 August 2007

Every Tuesday night I attend a small quilting group. There are only about 20 of us in all and basically it is just a chance to have a good chat, a cup of tea and the occasional piece of birthday cake :-) Some of the ladies don't really make big quilts - just cushions, bags etc. One of the ladies I sit next to is Joan. She has arthritis pretty bad in her hands and struggles a bit to do any stitching. Occasionally our group has workshops where we all meet up for an all day session where we make a quilt or something. Last year we all did a workshop where we were making a quilt very similar to one by M'Liss Rae Hawley. Anyway to cut a long story short Joan started her quilt and then didn't finish it. I think her arthritis was bad then she had visitors or something so all the bits got shoved away in a bag.

I'd asked her a couple of times if she was going to finish it and the answer was she didn't think so. Anyway she mentioned it a couple of weeks ago and she asked me did I want it. I said ok and she brought me the pieces last week. So that's what I've been doing the last few days.

It's a funny thing finishing something that some-one else has started. A bit like turning up in some-ones kitchen halfway through them cooking a meal and trying to finish cooking it - lol !

It took me quite a while to sort out the colours as Joan had used all Debbie Mumm fabrics and they were all quite similar in colour. Out of the 48 blocks needed I think about 5 were finished.

Also because they had all been put away in a hurry they badly needed pressing and were quite frayed. I had my work cut out.

Anyway I have almost finished the top and will post a picture soon.

The thing is I want to quilt this and return it to Joan as a surprise. She thinks she has give it to me to keep. I am going to try and finish it for Tuesday night. It is quite a childish quilt with teddy bears etc - typical Debbie Mumm and I know Joan has quite a few grandchildren so I'm sure it will find a good home somewhere.

I don't have a piece of wadding big enough so will probably go and get some tomorrow. Then I will get the quilting done - only something simple ( sounds good to me). Fingers crossed I will get it done for next week.

Monday, 27 August 2007

A little bit of this and that !

After the MAM quilt was done I wasn't sure what to work on next. The baby Sisters choice quilt doesn't need quilting for a few weeks so I'm leaving that to do when the kids go back to school. Less interruptions ! Every year when school returns and life gets back to normal I tend to have a bit of a general sort-out. Papers, outgrown clothes etc. Sometimes it feels like the house is going to come apart at the seams with all the STUFF.

Whilst I was mooching about cleaning and sorting and chucking I came upon a few started projects that I really want to finish. Before I had my own blog I was an avid reader and blatant copycat - lol ! When everyone in blogland started making socks - guess what ? I found this one with only about an inch left to knit and so finished it up. I made another pair before this but second sock syndrome bit with this one. I will start the other later tonight.

I also found a scrap of calico with a red border added left over from the little quilt I made a few weeks ago. This was the one where I did mitred borders. So waste not, want not ! I have been admiring the stitcheries of a lot of talented bloggers so found a little picture to have an experiment with. This is the result - a rather strange little cat who looks like he's been drinking wine instead of milk - lol ! Go on - have a laugh ! I did ! Think I'll stick to piecing - lol !

Anyway moving on, I thought I'd try and get my PIF gifts done too. I won't post pictures yet until they're on their way but here's a little peak ! You see the patterned fabric - well that's one of my favourites ! I thought long and hard about using it. I may never be able to get anymore.....pathetic I know. When I had actually cut all my pieces and found I only have a very small bit left I actually felt a bit down. I'm sure you all know the feeling !

And last of all I have long since had a plan to make some sort of medallion quilt. I found this block that had all the applique pieces prepared and had even been started. Now I am not brilliant at applique and the only way I can ever get the shapes to look like they are supposed to is to baste them onto freezer paper. I would absolutely love to be able to do needleturn and one day I will have a proper go at it but for now I will stick to freezer paper. Even though it is a bit awkward and more time-consuming at least you can tell what the things are. I once tried a needle-turned cat. Well it was anybodies guess what it should have been. Never seen anything that looked less like a cat. So this block will be the middle of my medallion quilt I think. I know I said I was not starting anything new but technically this was - IN Progress - so doesn't count -lol !

See you soon - sorting out all my quilt magazines. Keep getting distracted though - I WILL be ruthless....

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Now that's out of the way !!

This was the quilt that distracted me - lol ! Blogging can seriously affect your quilting plans. I had no intention of making any mile a minute blocks but the lure was too great ! I have no control whatsoever !

Still it's done and a lot brighter than anything I've done before. Never knew I had so many brights in my scrap box. And you know what - it's actually a FREE quilt. Obviously all the blocks were made out of scraps. And the wadding was all odd sized bits left over from other quilts ( another reason why I like Quilt-as-you-go ). I also used some fabrics I'd fell out of love with on the back. Would have probably never used them really. And the red I used for the sashings and bindings was given to me by a friend whose Mother-in-law had passed away. It's a nice size quilt - ideal for Patrick to snuggle under in the car.

I don't think I've ever made a quilt before without a border and I did think about doing one. But actually I like it without and besides I didn't have enough long pieces of wadding to use. I could have bought some but that's not in keeping with this quilt as it's a FREE quilt - lol !

Here is the back of the quilt. We have a fabric warehouse about 20 mins drive away and they have a small amount of quilt fabrics. Sometimes they are slight seconds but they are VERY cheap and that's where I buy most of my backing fabrics. I think all of these came from there. They sometimes have great bargains on good quality stuff too and when I need cheering up I go and have a rummage there. They also sell curtain, dressmaking fabrics, wool, cross stitch stuff and loads of other odds and ends. My whole family hate the place with a vengeance - lol ! In fact when the kids were younger and were being naughty I used to threaten to take them there for a nice trip. HA - that soon made them behave :-)

I also had a little spend the other day. I bought these yummy fabrics -

They are half yard pieces and cost me £20 ( approx $40 ) but I love them and am dying to see which other fabrics from my stash they play nicely with. I have fell in love with a quilt made by Mereth. It's the feathered crosses one she made a short while ago. I have had a go at drafting the pattern and can feel it calling my name. I will make a sample block in scraps first to see if my calculations are right before I cut into these beauties.

I have also ordered a couple of books from Amazon USA. Our Amazon did not carry them. I have a wait of about 3-4 weeks for them to arrive. I will now try and forget what I've ordered so I have a nice surprise when they get here - I know -sooo sad.

On a personal note my dd Jess got her GCSE results today and I'm very proud to say she passed every one ( 11 in all ) with excellent grades. Good on you Jess !!!

Monday, 20 August 2007

A quiet week !

I am generally a healthy person - no more than my fair share of coughs and colds etc. But one thing I am plaqued with is migraines. The proper ones with nausea, disturbed vision, endless vomiting and a head that feels like it's made of glass. They are getting easier as I get older - I haven't had one for ages ( touch wood ) but I am prone to less severe headaches and these come in batches. Last week was one of those weeks where my head did not feel like it belonged to me and was basically a wasted week as I did not feel up to anything. Things have improved and I am raring to get back to my quilts :-) Thats why I've been so quiet.
Anyway I did manage to get some more mile a minute blocks done and have decided that I will make a quilt that will live in my car ! If we go for long days out the kids always feel sleepy on the way back and I think this quilt will have a useful life as something to snuggle under when they're tired. And at least it will have a purpose - lol !
Instead of joining all the blocks together and struggling to quilt it with my domestic machine I have decided to make it quilt-as-you-go. I have done this several times and love the method. Here is a quick few photos to show how I do it.
Because the blocks I made are only 6 inches I decided to first make them bigger by sewing groups of 4 together seperating by sashing. The sashing strips are cut 1 inch. Repeat with other blocks.
Layer each block with wadding and backing fabric and quilt how you like. Then trim wadding and backing level with block.

Next I cut 2 strips in the same fabric as I used for the sashing. These measure 1 inch and 1.5 inch. Both by the length of the block. So these were 12 iches long. Fold the wider strip - wrong sides together and press.
Place the 1 inch strip - right side together with the block you want to join and place the folded strip on the back of the block so all raw edges are together. Sew along here.

Then line up the other raw edge of the 1 inch strip along the new block you want to join on and sew along here making sure you don't catch the folded strip on the back in your stitches.
The front will look like this

And the back will look like this
You just need to flip down the strip and slip stitch in place - just like doing binding.
I usually do all my rows first and then do the same again - joining the rows together obviously with longer strips. You just need to keep measuring.
I have made 2 really big quilts using this method and it works well for me as I hate wrestling a huge quilt through my machine. All this will of course be abandoned when I get a long arm machine in about 20 years time - lol!
You can also add borders - just keep using the same method. You can either use a contrasting fabric that will stand out or one that blends in. I have used red in this to seperate the blocks a bit and to add even more brightness - as if it needs it !!

Tuesday, 14 August 2007

Scrappy day !

It's a funny thing being a quilter ! You get up in the morning hoping you'll get a bit of time to feed your obsession - ie. do a bit of quilting :-) I had a good sortout of my stash yesterday - after buying a few more storage boxes. It was all looking much better. Still need to re-fold a few drawers that are a bit messy from rummaging in. You know - when you need a certain fabric and you know it's there somewhere- just can't quite put your finger on it.

Anyway one of my new big boxes now houses all my bigger scraps. Plenty of room for a few more ! All my smaller scraps and strips are in a lovely big hat box I treated myself to earlier in the year when I was looking for a present for my dad for Fathers Day - lol !
I was just squashing the little scraps in so I could get the lid on when I found myself turning on my sewing machine and getting my backside comfy on my chair. before I knew it I was off ! You see a few days ago I came across Pattis tutorial for mile-a-minute blocks ( July 7th post )
at and then I saw what Fiona had made and I wanted to have a go too.
These blocks are such fun to do ! I have never made anything like this before but found it very relaxing. I have had a bad week with one thing and another but doing these was like therapy - I could feel myself really getting into the rhythm. Once they started getting to about the right size I counted them up expecting about 14 or 15 blocks. I had actually made 32. You could have knocked me down with a feather ! I will be making more of these at the weekend I think. My scrap pile does not seem to have gone down an awful lot !!

Here are a few of them ! Cheered me up no end ! I also got some fabric through the post that I had ordered from here I heard about this website from Karol-Ann who takes her quilts there to be long-armed. Here are my goodies - notice the pattern has a vine applique sashing - I am getting ahead of myself after completing my scrappy quilt with the viney border - lol !

Also when I was putting my photos on the PC I noticed this one of a little quilt I have not shown yet. This is on the wall next to my sewing machine and my DD Jess thinks it is the saddest thing going to put a quilt on the wall !! Honestly that child has no idea - lol !

I made this last year and all the little log cabin blocks ( all 60 of them ) were hand sewn onto a very soft vilene printed with little squares. I bought this by the yard somewhere and I enjoyed doing it. I think each little log cabin measures just under 4 inches. I love the fabrics in this and when I'm sewing away on my machine I find myself looking at this thinking " how on earth did I have the patience to do this ? ".

Time to go - need to clear up the floor a bit - I make such a mess when I sew and although I have the bin right next to me it seems all the bits of fabric and thread go everywhere but in it !!

Sunday, 12 August 2007

I love Pastels !

We have had some lovely weather here in Wales just lately so the plan was to go to the coast today and have a day on the beach. Well we woke up to rain and dark skies and the plan was abandoned ! Typical - could have gone yesterday but Jess was working at her Saturday job. Never mind - I decided to cook Sunday lunch and use the time to work on my 9 patches.

As you see I went for my old favourite of turning these into Sisters choice blocks. I also cut loads of extra 2 inch squares so I could use them as the border. I've also done this loads of times as I think it ties in nicely with the scrappy theme.

This is a baby quilt for my mum to give to her hairdresser who has just had a baby girl ( called Chloe if I remember rightly ). Making this quilt has highlighted 2 quilting afflictions I have - lol ! 1. I can't seem to make small quilts. This was supposed to be just for use with the pushchair but came out much bigger than I planned. Half the size would have been plenty big enough really. Oh well - at least it all came out of my scrap drawer. Apart from the sashings and I have a ruck of this fabric. Even the white background is scrappy as I used up loads of odd pieces of white on white ! and 2. I seem to be unable to make a square quilt. Don't know what it is but I always like them longer in length than width. Eeh we do have some funny habits ! I expect all quilters are the same - each to their own !

Anyway this doesn't need quilting straightaway as I have 4 weeks before my mum gets her hair cut again. In the meantime I plan on getting all those bl***y trousers shortened. Then I can get to the fun stuff. I plan to work a little more on my Dear Jane quilt and finish the hand quilting on the scrappy Arbor window quilt I showed a while back. ( I am going to have to research how to link back to a certain post ).

Wednesday, 8 August 2007

Spick and span !

My sewing area is a tip again. I know the reason for this and it is because of two things. The first being I usually have a good tidy up between projects and I have not been doing this lately. I've just gone from one thing to another and the mess is getting messier. The other reason is that I think - in fact I know - I need a bit more storage ! I don't actually have a whole room for my quilting - it's only half a room as I share with my DH and his computers. So in the next few days I am going to have a think about how I can make the most of the space I have. I'll see if I can come up with anything. How I wish my DH was a handyman who could knock up some shelving units or something like that. Alas he is hopeless in that department. Give him a computer network or a pc that is playing up and he's your man !! I shall have to do some storage shopping instead.

Also I think I have mentioned before that I am a dressmaker and at the moment I have quite a bit of work to do for customers. It seems the world and his wife are going on holiday and are therefore buying new clothes - that don't fit ! So they are bringing them to me to alter for them. Now this is what I do and I shouldn't complain but I just can't seem to get excited about overlocking and hemming at the moment. Just now I have 2 jackets to tailor and 11 pairs of trousers to shorten as well as a few shirts to take in as well as a bit of mending for my DD. BUT I want to quilt instead -naughty me !

Anyway yesterday I decided to have a good tidy up as well as getting some of my alterations done. Off I went - here is what I did -
Hopeless I know. I just started going through my scraps drawer as it wasn't shutting properly and started fiddling about and before you know it I was away. Actually there is a plan for these. My mum has Rheumatoid Arthritis and is not able to leave her house very often so she has a hairdresser that comes to her to cut her hair. This hairdresser has just come back from maternity leave after having a baby girl and mum has asked me to make a quilt please. Certainly said I and so these scraps were begging to be put together. I love 9-patches and these were run up in no time leaving me loads of time to finish my tidying - yes !! Er actually - no ! Ran out of steam and couldn't be bothered then.... There's always tomorrow !
I think I will make these 9-patches into Sisters choice blocks or maybe I will add 4 triangles to each or turn them on point !! Decisions, decisions !

Sunday, 5 August 2007

Scrappy quilt done !

I love it ! Finished stitching down the binding last night and it is done !

I absolutely really enjoyed doing the applique border - I know the leaves were machine stitched using bondaweb but even so ! The vine itself was hand sewn and it was great to do. I'd never made bias tubing before but it was fine. I used those bars you insert in the tube and press and they really worked well ! I just sort of placed the tubing around the edge and pinned in down and although it's not perfect I'm pleased with how it turned out.

I quilted it yesterday - just a small meander in the border and ditch stitching in the centre bit. Imight hand quilt a few leaves in the flying geese blocks to pull it together a bit.

I don't think you can see in the picture but the binding is a lovely dark purple !

Now I'm looking at my unquilted tops thinking " now an applique border might work on that "- lol ! The 1930's Dear Jane I've posted about before springs to mind.

My border fabric for the Castle Walls pp quilt arrived from the States and is washed and ready to cut out. Nearly finished the main section of this now so will spend a bit of time tacking the border pieces over paper. We are actually having some hot weather for a change so this will be nice to pick up in quiet times. Pictures on that soon !

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Happy Scrappy houses !

Many of you will recognise the title above as being a pattern from Bonnies amazing quiltville site. I was searching for a pattern online to use up some strips I had and I remembered seeing this from an earlier visit to the site. I don't think there are many quilters using the internet who has not found this site or indeed has made a quilt using Bonnies excellent instructions.

This was one of the easiest, most enjoyable quilts I have ever made. It certainly did a job of using all my scrappy strips. This was claimed by Patrick before I had even finished the blocks. He chose the background fabrics - light and dark blue to represent day and night. He also chose the border fabric ( which is really groovy - lol ) and told me he wanted fleece on the back so it was nice and snuggly. I made this in record time and it was on Patricks bed in the blink of an eye !

BUT the reason why this quilt is special to me is because of it I discovered something I hadn't known about before....... Whilst clicking on all Bonnies wonderful patterns I noticed a small title in the sidebar saying these magic words - Visit my blog !!!! OMG I was enthralled ! I didn't know there was a whole load of similarly quilt obsessed ladies writing and sharing their quilt adventures with the world. It was a real eye-opener.

From that moment on I was an avid reader of as many blogs as I could find. Initially it was just the Quilt Mavericks and then Stash quilts and then a whole host of others. My family didn't get much sense out of me during this period as I read the archive postings of all my favourites !

I thought about starting a blog of my own but wondered if I would find the time or really if anyone would be interested in my stuff. I kept putting it off but would still check for new postings most days. Eventually after about a year I thought - I'll just give it a go and see how I get on.

You know what - I am SO glad I did ! I really and truly love blogging. I am meeting such lovely people who in turn encourage, praise and share their quilts and their lives. My DH jokes he is a Blog Widow as most evenings I'm either surfing the blogs or answering comments or something. I was never one for watching TV anyway but this is far more exciting. If anyone is like me and thinking of starting their own blog but holding back I would say - go for it ! It's brilliant fun !
By the way - the photo above is not great as there was no-one around to hold it up for me so I had to peg it to my washing line sideways - to avoid it dragging on the ground - lol !