Sunday, 30 March 2014

Happy Mother's Day

While trying out that free motion quilting I made a little something for the front of a card for my mother.

There is something about a card you make even if it is not perfect, or perhaps because it is not perfect that makes is special.

Saturday, 29 March 2014

A little try (quilting)

My friend has a new sewing machine, one with some bells and whistles, well with some fancy things mine has not.

It has a needle down setting, so it always stops with the needle down, it has a stitch speed setting and a stop start button so you don't need a pedal to make it go.  Just push the button and guide things gently through.

After a suitable period learning her new machine and developing that special relationship of trust, she let me have a try, an opportunity to test my resolve in keeping the tenth commandment.

As previously mentioned I dislike waste so having a try needs to be on a project of some sort, in this instance it needed to be something that could be finished in one night.  Just a few hours of sharing the new machine.  So a doll house quilt it was to be.

The first thing I noticed was the twitch in my right foot as it tried to get involved but with no pedal action required it was feeling very left out.  I kept forgetting there was a button for stop. It took awhile to get a speed setting I could settle to.  Very eerily it was possible on the longer edges to just let it get on with it, I did some unpicking whilst sewing, strange. (unpicking a seam on a scrap, not on the project I was working on).

Mini Quilt and Cushion

Top made with the straight stitch it was time to try out a couple of the fancy stitches to both quilt and decorate.  Fun and on this mini quilt looks good, and with a different bottom thread to the top a rather pleasant effect on the back as well as the front. 
Fancy stitches on the reverse

Fancy stitches on the front

So little quilt finished how am I doing with that commandment, not too bad actually.  It is nice, it has some smart functions however, just now I don't need it in my life, I don't surprisingly even want it all that much,  Of course given it lives at Best Friend's house and should I "need" any of its snazzy functions a visitation rights have been offered best of both worlds.    

What it did do was make me have another try with one of the features on my own machine, the embroidery foot, with feed dogs down.  Another mini quilt from scraps as a tester.  A tentative step towards trying free motion quilting instead of hand quilting.  Tentative is a good description and I feel a few more mini quilts may be required before I feel comfortable moving up to something a bit larger.   
Mini quilt and pillow
Free motion quilting on mini quilt

Pyrography, napkin rings

On a visit to my friend took some pictures of the napkin rings I personalised for her family as Christmas gifts.

Pyrography decorated napkin rings

Doing round the curve was not as hard as I had expected it to be, I used one of the napkin rings as a rest for one I was decorating.  It worked out a good way to do it.

I kept the design fairly simple, the family members initial and a Celtic Knot. Add the napkins and it made a nice little gift.

Pyrography Celtic Knots

Sunday, 23 March 2014

My first IHSW (international hermit and stitch weekend)

So my first weekend to be officially dedicated to stitching and I almost forgot!  Not that there was no sewing at all, just I got all quilt focused again and worked on finishing a little quilt top rather than getting any cross stitching done.  However on the last day of the weekend and having at last remembered I was determined to get some cross stitch done and something for sharing here.

So at last I have started a project which has been waiting for a very long time. I had made a start years ago but after a couple of x's in place realised that linen was not going to work and even-weave was required.  Move on a few years and eventually I buy some even-weave and I have mislaid the pattern.

Time passes and I find the pattern again and I can't remember where I put the even-weave.  More time still no progress then I locate both at the same time, pattern and fabric, put them together and do nothing with it!

A bit more time and I get up the nerve to cut the fabric to size and get the masking tape on the edges (I rarely use a hoop for cross stitch, holding it in my hand and I prefer masking tape to hemming the edge) and ready to start.  But I didn't, start that is I put it off again.  You would think I did not want to do it, I do just having waited so long it has become a little ominous rather than welcoming.

So here it is my start, not a lot is there, but there is something and I have promised myself that I will at least work on it once a month during the IHSW to keep me going and hope it does not take as long to sew as it has to get started.
Close up

Making a start

If you are not visiting this page via Random Ramblings and want to know more about IHSW then you need to visit the home page Random Ramblings

I am still trying to get a button link added to  my page.

Thursday, 20 March 2014

Wonky quilt

 On the theme of learning to love, one Saturday I thought I might try a shoo-fly block using some bits of various shirt fabric.  My first go with triangles.  It kept my hands busy whilst I watched a version of the 39 steps, funny how things like that lodge in my mind.  I only did three patches, and some pieces for the next one put it away got involved in another project and forgot about it.

Some time later looking for material for another project I came across them again and decided to finish it as a small quilt.  So with six variations on the basic shoo fly a bit of sashing and I had a top.  None of the edges was the same length but I kept going. I quilted it with Celtic Knots I sized myself based on some basis knots, where the sashing met. 

Celtic Knot quilting

The corners of the binding went horribly wrong and getting completely frustrated and out of sorts the only solution I could think of was to make little corner caps out of two hemmed triangles.

All in all I was less than satisfied with the result. My friend said she liked it, I thought she was being nice and mentally labelled it that wonky quilt.

Wonky Shoo-Fly Quilt

 I entered it in the local show (this was chronologically before the hidden star quilt previously mentioned) because it had been finished and with a bit of persuasion from my friend .

If you have read my previous post with reference to the fair you no doubt suspect what is coming next..yeah Wonky quilt won a prize!

So OK, Wonky is growing on me but I still don't have the reaction to it that others have.  When doing a display of my various quilts at Church as a prequel to starting the quilt group, of all those of my quilts displayed this one generates the most favourable comments.

Perhaps it is friendly and not intimidating in its very uniqueness and lack of perfection.  One day it will have grown on me till I love it and call it Wonky with rueful affection and not my original dismay .

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Hidden Star, hidden beauty (quilt)

Have you ever looked at your stash and thought "I'm not too keen on that material" and decided it was worth trying out a new pattern with the less than appealing fabric.  So if it does not go well then it is little loss?

Well that is just what I did. Borrowed a book from the library for quilts made using jelly rolls, charm packs and layer cakes. Not that I had any of those pre sorted precut delights.

What I did have was a sample book from a curtain shop, they were having a tidy out into a skip!  A polite request later and I have pattern books of fabric.

So I worked out the measurements and figured that I had  enough in the not grabbing me fabric (plus a couple of bits from elsewhere for the stars and to add to the edge lozenges) and off I went.

Stars in hidden star quilt

I think the design was called hidden star.  An odd thing happened as I worked on it.  The material with its big patterns started to grow on me.  Even odder the shade I had disliked the most, a sort of cross between old gold and mustard became my favourite, it became beautiful to me.

Who is that one for I was asked, I kept saying depends on how it turns out however,by the time it had reached the quilting stage the answer had changed.  It is for me, it is mine I like the colours sooooo much!  

Hidden star quilt

I entered it in our local craft show in 2012.  The show is small and there is a best sewn item into which quilts, clothes, bags sewn stuff goes (cross stitch and embroidery goes into a different class). As I was heading off to hand in my entry I got my eye on a small log cabin cushion, I had not expected to still have it in September when the fair is held but it had not as yet reached its intended recipient.  I picked it up and entered it in the show as well.

Back the next day for the results and my friend met me at the craft tent, I had already seen the cards with the placements and was laughing.  When asked what was funny I pointed to the table and my wonderful quilt with a comment sheet but no prize and next to it my last moment entry cushion with its 1st place placard!  You never can tell what a judge is looking for at theses things, this was not the first time this sort of thing had given me a giggle.

This post has a double moral, never write off a material in your stash you may find just the patchwork design to bring it to life and if you want to enter something do, others may not have the same opinion as you but hey they might like it better than you do.

Cushion trumps quilt to take the prize

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Bridal bouquet or Wedding quilt number three

In my haul from Mr Wedding Dress Man was some raw silk material, I liked the colours but was not too sure what to do with it.  I mulled it over for some time but remained uninspired.

Then another quilting book prompted me into action. Maggi McCormick Gordon's The Quilting Soursebook has a logcabin block with wide strips on one side and thinner to the other giving the optical allusion of a curve.

To my mind that meant I could do flowers, logcabin flowers.

Raw silk logcabin

I did not get enough of a curve to the logcabin itself to fully get the effect I was after so I quilted flower shapes to try and get the feel across.  Next time I try a curved logcabin I need to make the difference between the thick and thin strips greater.

The backing is cream, and the binding is in cotton, I was quite please how close a match it was with the green raw silk.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Wedding quilt number two

I had always liked the look of wedding ring quilts, but looking was all I felt up to doing.  Then in Paulette Peters' book Basic Quiltmaking Techniques for Curved Piecing, I saw a half way step.  Page 40 had a double wedding ring table runner.

It consisted of three interlinked rings with the edges of rings linked to the sides.  However the curves were one piece not made up of blocks in the traditional way. I thought it worth a go.  This would be my first attempt at curves.

Not all of my curves were as flat as could be and getting some of the corners into place had less to do with precision than they did to fairly forceful persuasion.  It might have been easier with a lighter weight material, ah well!

My best friend had married earlier that year and of course what design could be more appropriate. However, as table runner, I decided not.  So I set the table runner into the middle of a large piece of material to extend it to double bed size.

I marked out circles on it to follow the lines of the wedding rings in the middle. Embroidered their initials and the date into the rings and was satisfied with the result.  The quilt was the couples Christmas gift that year.  I have not attempted this design again, nothing has inspired me to do so, but I still feel a sense of achievement for having done a double wedding ring quilt even if it was a cheat version..  

Simplified double wedding ring quilt

Saturday, 8 March 2014

Paper Dragon

Some years ago, more than a lady likes to admit, I bought some Chinese paper cuts, two butterflies for my mother, a pair of red dragons with flaming pearls for me and some coloured dragons destined for my brother and his girlfriend.

Now these were done on tissue paper and very delicate but they inspired me to have a try myself. I found a design I though would be compatible and with curved nail scissors and a craft knife set to.

It was fiddly and occasionally awkward, the edges of the paper (in my case a mid weight writing paper) did not always cut cleanly but still I got there in the end.

I mounted my new creation on black construction paper and popped it into a 4 by 6 inch snap frame. Although I occasionally contemplate having another try so far I have not found a design to inspire me to do so.  Not for me or for anyone I know.

So here it is my rather European style Chinese paper cut dragon.

Paper dragon

Friday, 7 March 2014

(cross stitch) Cock-a doodle-do

This came as a free kit on the front of a magazine and on 11 count is the biggest I have done since school and binka. (other than an Afghan I did with my friend and now that I think about it that most certainly merits a post all of its own once I get a good picture or two).

Sure I have that binka thing somewhere, well if I ever do come across it I am equaly sure it will make an appearance here also.

Anyway ramble over back to the kit, or perhaps back to rambling, well walking at least.  I bought the magazine for the kit you see as it reminded me of a walk taken on a camping trip with my BFF.  We passed a chicken coop on our walk and the cockerel carefully gathered his ladies on the side furthest from us and gave us a very hard stare till we walked away.

Here is a picture of my friend and the cockerel.

I made the kit for me and then repeated the design on a smaller count fabric for my friend. It does its job, I look at it and think warmly of a very enjoyable day.


Thursday, 6 March 2014

Wedding quilt number one

I have made three wedding quilts so far.  Well two quilts given to commemorate weddings and one that I think of as a wedding quilt that one is still in my possession. This post is about the first of these quilts.

The inspriation was knowing that the bride's mother would be making made her wedding dress and the bridesmaid dresses.  Knowing she was doing so I asked her before she began not to throw away any of the material left over from the process and could I have it to make a quilt.

She readily agreed and duly snuck me a bag of material so her daughter would know nothing about it.  I already had some white satin so I was confident I could make at least a small quilt.

I was fortunate that for a while my mother worked with a gentleman who as a side line made wedding dresses.  He hated to throw away scraps but had his workroom littered with them.  He was happy to get rid of the bits knowing they would be put to good use, he later expanded so his sideline became his full time occupation.  Sadly that reduced contact and ended my free satin and silk.

Anyway back to the quilt, the bits from cutting out a dress are not uniform and did not lend themselves to any formal block pattern.  Plus I liked the idea of it being obvious that the quilt was made of bits.  So I just stitched bit after bit together, I did not plan it, just if two bits had an edge of the same length they got sewn together. It did not matter if it was lilac to white, white to white or lilac to lilac  they got sewn.

Quilts out of bits is something I like to do, although it normally takes me a long time to collect sufficient bits.  I don't call then crazy quilts as typicaly in the UK that refers to quilts which have decorative stitches done over the seams and mine don'e have that.  So made of bits = Bits-a-quilts.

Bit by bit it grew, and so did the amount of satin fibre in my home!  It got everywhere, it floated about, hitched rides on clothes, it even turned up in the freezer.

Once the middle looked big enough I added a boarder in cotton, then a border in the satin (OK so I kept some of the bigger bits back for that) then cotton again. I quilted in the furrow, fairly randomly and it was done. My friend was very happy with the finished item.  Sadly circumstances mean she no longer has the quilt and this photograph is all that remains.

Lilac and white satin wedding bits-a-quilt 
As I was quite pleased with the result, when I heard my cousin's bride was having her wedding and bridesmaid dresses made I thought I would offer to make them a quilt. She had samples of the fabric one night when I was visiting my aunt.  Her dress was to be cream and the bridesmaid's in shades of apricot.  I could envisage a beautiful quilt and made my offer.  The offer was declined, I will admit that at the wedding I was still mentally turning the dresses into quilts.