Saturday, 8 July 2017

Finish Along Q3: Plans

Another quarter means another overly-long and highly-ambitious Finish Along List...

I've left it to the last minute to write this list, so apologies for the lack of photos!

1. Long Time Gone: this quilt is the result of Gnome Angel's latest quilt along, and it's so nearly finished! I just need to add the binding.

2. Foxy Quilt - all of the blocks are pieced and next I need to cut the sashing.

3.Baby Stars quilt: we'll be meeting the little lady later this month, so need to get this finished.

4. Another owl quilt for another baby. I ordered the backing and I'm taking my colour scheme from that.

5. Mixed Up City is yet another version of the Tula Pink City Sampler and has to be finished before the end of July.

6. Snail day quilt. All of the snails Mia and I have been making will be a picnic blanket for out holiday - so that's an end of July deadline for this quilt too!

7. and 8. I'm going to use the Garland City blocks to make 2 quilts for the girls to use at Christmas.

9. Fussy Cut Sampler quilt

10. Disney quilt, made from fabrics I picked up in a recent Instagram destash - this is Mia's reward for potty training. She's not quite there yet, so I have a little time!

11. and 12: Fancy Forest baby quilts: two of them. I have 5m of a beautiful grey background fabric - one will be for a boy and the other.... we'll just have to wait and see. Below is the one I've already made...

13. Summer Sampler 2016: a few more blocks to go but I already have the backing fabric...

14: Summer Sampler 2017: unlikely.

15: Christmas Tree quilt: these were the blocks that pushed me over 1000 blocks last year. Now they need to become a quilt.

16. Mia's dress: I've bought unicorn jersey fabric and I have a pattern!

17: ABC embroidery, which I started over a year ago....

18. Mermaid doll - it's been on here before.

19. Little Red Riding Hood doll. Ditto.

20. Moccasin Dresden: it's silly that this is still on the list and I haven't just finished it already...

21. Watermelon quilt. Another repeat offender.

22. My original City Sampler. Still half quilted.

23. Neon city: the City Sampler I made last year. Half sashed.

24. Vicky and Karl's City Sampler. I'm not looking forward to piecing this... I hate sashing.

25. Grenfell quilt: I'm using the next set of blocks from the Quilters Planner to make a quilt for the victims of Grenfell and I really don't want to let this one fall off the bottom of the list. Sadly that I know that if I don't hit the deadline for Grenfell, there will be other disasters that need our quilty love...

26. EJ+ quilt. This has no deadline, so hasn't been touched in a while...

27. Fireworks. I'd love to get this done for the end of September....

28. Threadfolk embroidery which I started this week. I don't want it to become an untouched UFO like the ABC embroidery above...

29. Travel pouch for Steph. If it doesn't get done this quarter I'm in trouble.

30. #1yearofstitches  hoop. Because I'm nearly done with it.

31. Zippy Pouch using some Alison Glass for the NEMQG swap in October.

32. A foxy cushion which will be a wedding quilt. I'm hoping there will be enough background left from the Fancy Forest quilts for this foundation pieced geometric number.

33. Baby forest quilt, using some panels and complimentary fabric. It's a kit that's been knocking around for a while and now I have a reason to do it.

34. Pineapple cushion

I think I'll leave it at that. Question is, do I have the longest list, or has Helen @Archiewonderdog beaten me again!!!?

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Finish Along Q2 round-up

Hard to believe we're half way through the year already - time is flying. But that means it's time to see how I did with the Finish Along in the last quarter. My original list was its normal ambitious self, and I have a final finish tonight.

These hoops required very little effort and yet have sat on my desk for literally months, waiting for me to get to them. They took less than an hour on Thursday evening! I had planned to add more sewing - quilting or embroidery. But the reality is that the fabrics are so pretty, I didn't need to do much - on one of the horse hoops I've actually added nothing. These are for Jess and Mia for their bedroom walls.

As for the rest of the list, I do have one monster finish. The 365 Quilt Challenge 2016 quilt is finished!! And I couldn't be more chuffed of what I achieved - read all about it here.

And I finished three baby quilts, all using the Fancy Forest pattern by Elizabeth Hartman - you'll be seeing more like this in the near future.... a full baby quilt as per the pattern...

...just the fireflies....

...and just the owls...

All three of those baby quilts will be given away, much to the disgust of my girls, so I made them a quilt too - Get Cozy.

And that's it. That's all I got finished. All of the other projects, even the small silly ones that would take a matter of a hour or so, remain unfinished. I won't go through them all here - I'll leave that to next week's Q3 post! However, I'm pretty pleased with what I did get finished, and I progressed a lot of projects and I have some new projects to add to the list that are definitely achievable in Q3. So watch this space!

Friday, 30 June 2017

Get Cozy [A Finish]

This is a quilt that came out of my love of all things sew-along. I made the blocks - armchair, sofa, side table with lamp and pot plant last November along with a fair few others, and then wondered what on earth I was going to with them!

The pattern for the pieced strip is by Pen and Paper Patterns (who also created the snail pattern I've been sewing up each week) and is a dream to follow. There's nothing tricky - it's all rotary cut and it goes together like a dream. I had just received some of the Les Fleurs fabrics from Cotton and Steel, and I just knew I had to have a Les Fleurs sofa! The original pattern is completed with a quilt ladder, but that is something I will likely never ever have room for, so I replaced it with the just as unlikely, pot plant (I can't keep plants alive). The pot is pieced, but the leaves were free motioned on as I quilted.

I had a sudden brainwave that I could add some of the large floral print from Les Fleurs to complete is as a toddler quilt, so I ordered some. Unfortunately it was on back order and I didn't receive it until March, hence the delay in getting this quilt finished - for a change it wasn't just my procrastinating that caused it!

It took me a while to decide how to quilt it, especially the pieced panel. In the end I did a large stipple over the floral print fabric, then match-stick quilted on the "wall paper" of the pieced strip. Mia and Jessica were pleased to hear that this quilt is not leaving the house, but is for them.

This is a Finish Along finish. You can find my original list here.

Charm About You

Fancy Forest Baby Quilt [A Finish]

Time for the final rush of finishes for the quarter! This is just one of the many baby quilts I'll be making this year and it's for a friend who had her second child, a boy, back in March. I made Preppy the Whale for his older sister, so it felt right to return to an Elizabeth Hartman pattern for him.

As I said in my earlier posts about quilts, using this pattern - I'm getting my money out of it - I think this is just the first such baby quilt!

I used a grey with stars on for the background - it's from To the Moon and Back by Lewis and Irene and I need to buy more! All of the animals are made from solids, mostly Kona. I quilted a 3" cross hatch in pale grey.

I showed the girls this quilt yesterday morning. Mia loved it and gave it a hug, and Jess kept saying "Wow". It's just as well I've picked up some fabric to make us the full size quilt very soon!

This is a Finish Along finish. You can find my original list here.

Charm About You

Thursday, 29 June 2017

365 Quilt Challenge 2016 [A finish]

I can't believe I've just typed that heading! When I made the block for January 1st 2016 I could not have imagined the journey this quilt would have taken me on. So make yourselves comfortable and grab a cup of tea, because this blog post may get lengthy!

I'd seen the 365 Quilt Challenge on Facebook. I think every quilter on Facebook must have been aware of it. Loads of my friends had signed up and it kept popping up as a "Page you might like" thing. In the end, in November 2015, I joined the group, had a poke round. Decided it wasn't for me.

One of the things that really put me off were the fabric requirements: you needed x amount of dark dark fabric, x amount of medium dark fabric, x amount of dark medium, medium, light medium, light, background.... I just couldn't get my head round those requirements. I'd looked at the mock ups on the wesbite and couldn't bring myself to pick a colour. I put it to the back of my mind.

But I had obviously at some point subscribed to the emails, and when the first few popped up in my inbox, I though "these seem easy - I'll have a go". I think it was then, about 4th January 2016, with no real plan that I had the idea for my colour scheme. Once I had seen how the blocks were turning out, I knew that I could use a dark background and then any colour I wanted and still end up with "dark block", especially if, when it came to the light blocks I used a light background with the colours I liked. Out came my daughter's crayons and I had a plan.

I'd like to remind you, that at this point, I was five months pregnant. Doesn't everyone take on a mammoth project the year they're due to give birth to their second child? Up until the end of March, I kept up to date. And by 17th April, just three days before Jess was born, I had completed the centre of the medallion and the first dark border. I knew, as Jessica's birth approached, that even if I never made another block again, at I had completed something that would stand as a quilt in it's own right, albeit a small one.

It was around this time, that the best aspect of this quilt became apparent. I had joined a UK based Facebook group for the 365 quilt, and I have never experienced a group come together like we did: we got to know each other, we chatted, and as Jessica's due date came and went, everyone wanted to know.... And once she's arrived, and I'd posted to let everyone know, I got the loveliest congratulations for "Our 365 Baby".

Inevitably, I took a break, not from sewing entirely, but from this project, in the weeks after Jess was born. I was still sewing (it truly does keep me sane), but not this. I did the odd block through May and into June and by this time last year, I was 42 blocks behind. At the worst point I hit 84 blocks behind. And I'm not going to lie, it was a mammoth effort to pull myself back. I found that spending a day or so cutting the fabric for the next chunk of blocks and then piecing a bit here and there in spare minutes really worked - I had quite the system going!

The 6" blocks released in May and June last year were absolute stinkers. We were dragged into this project with the exceptionally easy 3"blocks in January, but by midsummer we were ploughing through 6" blocks with more pieces than I care to think about. The blocks were beautiful though - not your bog standard churn dashes and pinwheels, but complex and beautiful - some of the half square triangle units finish at less than half an inch in some of the blocks. What I found truly amazing is that some of the blocks I would have thought were impossible without foundation piecing or using templates, but through careful cutting, corner covering and angles, every single block was rotary cut without the need for templates!

These were the pieces for just one of the 6" blocks....

By mid-September I was back up to date and on the 21st September we moved from the sublime to the ridiculous with the instructions: "Trim the half square triangle units to 1 and 7/32". And so ensued a discussion: does one say "thirty-secondths" or "thirty-seconds" or my preferred option "thirty-tooths"? The girls (and guy) on the Facebook group cried with you on those days, and we heaved a collective sigh of relief on the days when the block was "easy". Easy is, however, a relative and changeable term, and what I classed as easy in September was definitely not what I would have classed as easy back in January!

Then came the 12" blocks for the corners. Kathy, who designed the quilt, outdid herself. These blocks were absolutely horrific little stinkers. So. Many. Pieces. So many covered corners to get the right way. Y-seams.Each 12" block was genuinely the equivalent of making 16 of the hardest 3" blocks. But there was another block released the next day already.

On 8th January 2017, I made the final block - just a week behind! And it was some block - Y seams all over the place. But I will never, ever be scared of a Y-seam again!

And then I hit a slump. the next step was to add the final borders. And if you've read this blog for some time, you'll know that sashing, and long seams are my least favourite part of the process. I did bits here and there. But it wasn't until 5th February, that I finally added the the last of the pieced borders and a final, plain black border to tie it all together. And the reason I did it on that particular day. It was a weekend. But it was also a beautiful day - there was no wind and lots of bright sunshine. Which meant once finished, I could lay the quilt in our front garden and hang out of the bedroom window to photograph it, without it being blown into the North Sea - which is normally the case! I knew we wouldn't get another day like that.

Next up was backing fabric. On such a special quilt, I splashed out and order Tula Pink Free Fall from the US. I then bundled up the quilt and the backing and entrusted it to Royal Mail to get it over to Cath in Cumbria. We'd hatched a plan.

I decided towards the end of 2016, that I wouldn't quilt this one myself. It's the first time I'd ever contemplated not quilting a quilt myself. But with so many seams, I knew that if I tried to quilt it myself, I would break needles, snap thread and generally get very cross with the quilt.So I asked for contributions towards the cost of long-arming for my birthday, and got in touch with Cath Brough who is Cumbrian Long Armer. Michael and I had a holiday to the Lakes planned for late March and she confirmed that she could get it quilted and was happy for us to pick it up in person.

So at the end of March, we went to see her and picked up this monster of a quilt. The work she had done on it was stunning, and the quilting made it come alive. I chose a bubbles pantograph as I felt an all-over design would not detract from the piecing, which really is the star of the show! I brought the quilt home, trimmed it. And then did nothing.

The prospect of binding it didn't really appeal. Inevitably I left it until midsummer to hand sew over nearly 400" of binding. And you know what - it took no time at all - two hours to make the matched binding and attach it to the front of the quilt and then four nights in front of the TV to hand sew it down.

And the quilt was finished. And I love it. And I cannot believe that I did it.
Here is the THE photo from our recent photo shoot at Seaton Delaval Hall.

I learned so much from this quilt: although I was already quite an experienced quilter, this improved my accuracy without a doubt. It taught me some organisational skills which have proved invaluable - such as cut out a load of blocks, hold them together with clips and pin them to a noticeboard - this is a great way of sewing for a busy mum who grabs moments here and there. Everything is where I need it and in manageable chunks!

I realised that I don't like having my quilts long-armed. That is absolutely nothing against Cath - she did a fabulous job, I love the effect, and she was such a helpful and friendly person. But I don't like the fact that I didn't complete this quilt from beginning to end. Of course, if I had decided to quilt it myself, you may not be reading this post now! Or ever!

I learned that a support group can be fantastic - the lovely ladies (and Bruce) over on the Facebook group have cheered me on when I fell behind, congratulated me when I achieved minor miracles and laughed over thirty-tooths with me. I think if it weren't for them, you wouldn't be reading this post either.

So here are some stats and facts for you: This quilt was a stash quilt. Although I did have to buy some of the "light" and "dark" fabrics I used as my backgrounds, all of the coloured fabrics came from my stash. I would love to say it was a scrap quilt, but while it does have a scrappy look, with hundreds of different fabrics, and no cohesive background fabric, it actually created more scraps than it used!

The family crazy was never far away - even during the final photo shoot!
The finished quilt is made up of 365 "blocks" either 3" (all of which are dark) or 6" (all of the lights are 6" and there are a few darks too). There are 4 12" blocks, one in each corner, and the centre medallion was (I think) 10 days worth of "blocks" including the four light 6" corner blocks. As a group we were daft enough to add up the total number of pieces in the quilt to 10909 (with some variation as some of us used slightly different blocks - but I'm not counting my own quilt to give you an exact figure!). It finishes at 94" x 94" and I completed it with a scrappy matched binding.

The next adventure for this quilt, if I get my act together and add a hanging sleeve, will be in Birmingham. Twenty of us from that Facebook group will be hanging our quilts at the Festival of Quilts in August in a special exhibit. I won't be able to go in person, but if you're planning on going, I'm sure my quilt would love to see you there!

This is a Finish Along finish! You can find my original list here.

Charm About You

Thursday, 22 June 2017

Long Time Gone [Week 15]

Well this week was the week. The Pineapple log cabin blocks. When I first got this pattern, and was contemplating joining in the sew along, this was the week that scared me. Sixteen, foundation-pieced, five-inch-finished pinapple log cabins.

These are the last real blocks - just some checquerboards next week and then constructing the complete top. I knew that if I wanted to have a finished quilt by the deadline of the end of the quilt along, some forward planning would be required. So as I was cutting the many many many pieces of fabric for the other blocks in the qquilt, I made sure to cut strips to use for these blocks too. I've then been piecing them here and there throughout the project so I didn't have 16 to do all at once. By last weekend I had 8 done - less than I had hoped. But I've ploughed through the final 8 and I'm pretty pleased with how they look!

I can see the end now!

Friday, 16 June 2017

Long Time Gone [Week 14]

This week is equilateral triangles. In the pattern, this unit (all 30 odd of them) is designed to be template pieced. I do not like templates. I find my accuracy, which is normally pretty hot, goes totally out of the window when I use templates. So I created my own foundation pattern, and these units went together remarkably quickly.

They create two "blocks" for the final quilt and I am starting to think about putting this beast together....