Sunday, 29 January 2012

Not one, but two...

...quilt alongs that is. First up - Made in Cherry.

After signing up for the Made in Cherry quilt along last week, I wandered over to the flickr group to see what everyone was up to. I love seeing how different the same quilt can look because of fabric choices. There are people making this quilt with fabrics from a single range, others (like me) digging through their stashes. There are modern looking stars and more traditional looking ones. It's fascinating, and inspiring. Fired up by everyone's progress, I set about arranging my pieces. I started by trying to lay them out on the bed, but Mr George got involved.

So I moved to the living room, where I had to battle with a very distracting carpet (courtesy of the house's previous owners), but no cats.

Since taking this picture, I have transferred the pieces upstairs to my sewing machine and have started piecing them together. I am really happy with how this is looking so far.

pins & bobbins

As for the other quilt along.... Well, just after the new year, my friend Ruth told me that she was taking part in a quilt along hosted by Katy at I'm a Ginger Monkey to make the Swoon quilt designed by Camille Roskelley. I resisted joining in since I already had plenty on my plate, but then I made the mistake of having a sneaky peak in the flickr group. BIG mistake. In a long meeting at work the following day, I found myself drawing Swoon blocks.

Suddenly, I wanted to join 500 (now 700) others in making this quilt. I had a quick look through my stash and found several red and blue large-scale feedsack type prints. Enough for four and a half blocks. A little light shopping at Backstitch and I had rounded out my choices to these...

I'll be making a six block quilt which should end up large enough for a single bed. All the pieces are now cut out, and so far I have completed two 24" square blocks.

I am determined not to start anything else until I can report a few finishes. Internet - stop tempting me. Please.

{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations

Monday, 23 January 2012

Keeping Up

It's been quite a busy week on the sewing front, and although I haven't managed to finish anything (yet), I have made progress and decisions. Before Christmas, one of my friends at work told me that she is expecting her first baby in April. I've decided to make them a quilt and I think the My Happy Garden fabrics from Cloud9 fabrics that I've been saving for something special will be perfect. I've added Kona solids in snow, coffee, lemon, azure and cactus from Simply Solids and Prints to Polka Dots. I've yet to decide on a pattern but there's plenty of time.

Also this week, I signed up for the Made in Cherry quilt along hosted by Pins and Bobbins.

pins & bobbins

I decided to dig deep into my stash for this quilt, and have come up with a range of Japanese style prints in blues and greens, some of which I bought before I returned to the UK from Oregon in 2000! Luckily I still love most of them. I'm planning to use natural linen for the background. If it turns out well, we might send this quilt to Mr Q's cousin as a belated wedding gift.

My biggest obstacle to keeping up with this quilt along is Mr George. He really loves fabric. Mostly he just lies on it, but when he imagines it is fighting back, all hell breaks loose!

Look at those teeth and furry back legs!
Still, I have managed to cut all 180 squares and 40 triangles that I need. Next up is laying out the squares and deciding on a pleasing arrangement.

Other sewing this week has included a roman blind for my sewing room which I will photograph when it's up (hopefully at the weekend) and starting on some curtains for Mr Q's study.

Oh, and I replaced the wheels on my longarm machine this weekend. I have been planning to do this for a little while, but it turns out that the guys at Gammill are much stronger than me. I had to wait for Mr Q to lend some brawn and wield some mole grip pliers before we could get the old wheels off. The new wheels are EZ-Glide wheels from Love to Quilt. They are incredible and give much more control on diagonals and curves. Once they were installed I wandered off for a cup of tea and this is what I came back to...

Thank you, Mr Q. I love you too!

Monday, 16 January 2012

First past the post

My first quilt of 2012 is complete. That's not start-to-finish in 2012 - I'm not superwoman - but quilting and binding finished in the last few days.

I started this quilt a little while ago, having bought the fabric a while before that. The fabric is A Little Romance from Moda - one of the first jelly rolls I ever bought. The colours are well outside of my comfort zone; much girlier than I would usually choose, but I had my reasons. Firstly, everyone at my quilt group always recognised my quilts as those with bright saturated colours, and I wanted to show them that I could do something different. Secondly, I liked the idea of coming up with a jelly roll pattern that might appeal to people other than just me. Give me a few days, and I may even write it up as a tutorial.

I have found working with a single fabric line motivationally challenging. My two favourite parts of making a quilt are choosing fabrics and quilting. If you use a single range of fabrics, fabric choices are minimal to non-existent and I found that pretty tough. The only real choice I had was picking the backing - a bargain from Abakhan Fabrics.

The cats have been pretty involved in the making of this quilt. George helped with the block layout...

and the quilting...

Mmmm - a hammock
Bonnie has got to grips with the long arm quilting machine too...

It's like a tent under here - cool
The quilting has definitely been the most fun part. I spent a few dull meetings at work doodling on the agenda and minutes and deciding on a quilting design. I finally settled on free motion leafy swirls along all the sashing. A few too many starts and stops to be called efficient, but a whole lotta fun. A comment on twitter the other day made me realise that I don't have many close-up pictures of my quilting, so I'm determined to take more from now on.

Now that it is finished, I realise that this quilt has been growing on me. It's still a bit too pink for my taste, but who can argue with a single bed quilt from a single jelly roll and some sashing fabric? My cute, girly cat seems to like it too.

Surely it must be almost nap-time

{Sew} Modern Monday at Canoe Ridge Creations

Sew Happy Geek

Fresh Poppy Design

Thursday, 12 January 2012

New Wave

The quilt group that my mum and I belong to meet every month to sew. Sometimes these days offer the opportunity to work on something that is already in progress - a time away from the distractions of home to put your pedal to the metal and get on with some serious sewing. But often they are workshops led by a group member when everyone starts a new project at the same time. In the past I have led a number of sessions - mostly teaching free machine quilting, or small quilt projects that I have designed. But on Saturday, everyone will be starting New Wave quilts, using the pattern designed by Elizabeth Hartman at Oh, Fransson!

The group members had seen this quilt that I made last year, and wanted to have a go at making their own.

When I run classes, I like to have a finished object on hand plus samples at various stages of completion, but as I have already given this quilt away I decided that I'd better make another. I picked out fabrics, arranged them in a pleasing order and got ready to cut, only to be thwarted by Mr George.

At one point I was considering cutting cat shaped pieces, but I decided to bide my time and he eventually moved on to a comfy bed somewhere else.

I diverged from the original instructions a couple of times. First of all, I picked an odd number of fabrics because I liked the balance it brought to the design. Second, I attached the plastic template I created to my rotary cutting ruler with masking tape, so that I could use a solid edge to cut against but still benefit from having an accurate template.

And third, since I hate wasting fabric, I cut the end wedges from 9" by 6" rectangles doing away with the need to square up the quilt top later on.

And then I started to sew. Until the feline inspector stopped by again.

Finally, after the promise of some tuna had been fulfilled, I was able to finish sewing the quilt top together. As with my first New Wave quilt, this one came together quickly and easily. I'm looking forward to quilting this in the very near future - it'll make the perfect gift for my friend's new baby girl - but only after the workshop this Saturday.

Perhaps you're wondering why Bonnie wasn't involved in the making of this quilt. She'd found her own colour coordinated sleeping bag, and was all tucked up inside...

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Monday, 2 January 2012


It's five years ago today since Mr Q and I walked up this aisle at the Merewood Hotel on Lake Windermere,

said "I do!"

and signed the register.

That makes today our wooden wedding anniversary.

Our wedding day was wonderful, surrounded by our family and friends. I walked up the aisle with my mum, to Etta James' "At Last", and Mr Q and I exited the room to Willie Nelson's "Bring Me Sunshine".

Mr Q has the glasses, so I guess that makes him Eric, and me Ernie!
It was a handmade affair. I made my wedding dress and (with the help of my mother-in-law) the bridesmaids dresses.

My sister-in-law sorted out my hair, and one of my friends did my make-up because I was terrified that if I did my own I would look like a clown!

My auntie made the most delicious chocolate wedding cake that the world has ever known and we used some of my late father's paintings of the Lake District on the wedding breakfast menus.

And our friends took the photos. This is our favourite...

Thank you, Mr Q, for being you and for loving me. Here's to many more years together.