#quilts for Grenfell

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I mentioned last time the call for quilts for those affected by the recent and very tragic Grenfell Tower disaster. Both Novenka Bex Priestly and the London Modern Quilt Guild are coordinating their own quilt drives. Both have very wisely avoided having one type of design so it’s had all of us quilters rummaging through our WIPs looking for those half finished projects to get dusted down and finished. The distribution date is in August so getting on with it is important. The response has been amazing one Quilters Guild on the small island of Jersey in the Channel Islands has produced over 40 quilts!!!!

Of course I should be finishing off the quilt for the Festival of Quilts which is on an equally tight time scale but I’ve done nearly all the blocks and have a vague sense of where I’m going with this improv quilt. And I needed a break.

This quilt WIP sprang to mind….

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Its using a lovely selection of Cotton and Steel fabrics of yesteryear. They always seem to blend together beautifully. Rather than using a solid white I’ve used a print which I think is quite effective.  I’m not really a solids girl I’m afraid. It also has the benefit of being on my FAL for this quarter. The original plan had been to gift it to the daughter of a friend of mine.  But that plan changed when Nikola made this beautiful quilt for her baby sister with a bit of help from me….

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…and so enthused was she that she wants to make her own for herself. So this quilt was a perfect choice for Grenfell. The blocks were all done as it had been my retreat project when I was at the Thread House retreat in January.  The drunkard blocks had gone  together well so I confess I didn’t even bother  to trim them. Personally this abandonment of normal practice was in rebellion for all the precision and tedium of the blocks for the show quilt… Mindyou, helped by the relatively loose weave of these Cotton and Steel fabrics they easily fitted together with a bit of a tug in places….

Our new kitten Felix is learning on the job and was so sweetly curled on the quilt while I was sewing on the binding. I had to harden my heart to shift him. Mind you his adventurous spirit means he rather unnervingly thinks the moving arm of the sewing machine is a play thing. I really don’t want a trip to the vet because I accidentally impaled his foot with a sewing needle.

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I was going for a random look to start with but as I was using a limited range of fabrics I thought the alternate look worked best.  By the way there’s a mistake in the quilt which I decided to leave.  If you like those sorts of puzzles as I do  then see if you can spot it.  Clue at the bottom of this post. The quilting is just my usual curvey swoops which I do free motion style. So quick and gives a nice all-over look.

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And the mistake? Here it is.

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I’ve plans for a couple more #quiltsforgrenfell firstly a bee quilt so that must get done and if there’s time another from stash.  These are some rather pretty pink child’s fabrics that could be made into something quite simple. Really hope I can stretch time but I have roped in another sewing helper now mum has gone back to London. So beware don’t express an interest or you will be kidnapped for sewing slavery!

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This is a FAL finish blogged here.

linking up with Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts

 

 

Perspectives

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Unless you’ve been deliberating avoiding the news (and I wouldn’t blame you) here in the U.K. we’ve had a tough time. Three terror attacks since March resulting in the deaths of many innocent lives and last week a truly dreadful fire in a tower block in London with 79 deaths reported so far. This post by Kate of Fabrikated talks very movingly of this latest horror.

The political uncertainty caused by a snap election that didn’t go quite the way it was expected to (which seems to be the norm today) is just a passing side show.

Sometimes the cosy and gentle hobby of quilting doesn’t quite hit the mood. At the time of the Grenfell Tower disaster I was somewhat painstakingly doing the blocks for a show quilt. I’ve never done a quilt that will be properly judged so I was grappling with the tedium of accurate seams, proper right angles, directional fabric that goes the right way etc etc.    It’s not my usual modus operandi which is to be pretty accurate but  not to lose sleepover it.  So as it’s an original quilt (using someone else’s pattern is allowed under the rules of The Festival of Quilts in the U.K. compared to Quiltcon where originality is required) there was much agonising over colour choices, measurements, seams ……

 

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But when I saw the images of the fire quite frankly it all seemed so irrelevant.

What was relevant and quite amazing was the response within 24 hours of  Novenka Bex Priestley (IG name @mxrubyrouge) who put out on IG that she wanted to coordinate an effort to collect and make quilts. Unlike other similar quilt drives, the one for Manchester bomb victims or Pulse for example, she wisely hasn’t specified a quilt design banking on quilters having to hand partially made quilts or quilt tops that were almost ready to go. Clever lady as that’s exactly what has been flushed out. The response has been amazing. All sorts of different style quilts as well as fabric and batting gifted. It’s a huge undertaking as there were 120 families who lived in that block. Now this did provide a sewing focus for me.

Sue (IG @suepatches12) approached me as the Siblings Together Bee 2 organiser whether we as a bee could make a couple of quilts over and above our commitment to the wonderful cause of ST. So to cut to the chase blocks are coming in to make 2 quilts. The timescale is tight as quilts are going to be gifted early August. But all being well they will be finished in time.

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I even inveigled my lovely mum who is staying with us at the moment and who will be hitting her 10th decade later this year to help with some blocks. She is an accomplished dressmaker and knitter but doesn’t do as much as she has in the past. She wasn’t very impressed with my Pfaff I’m afraid. She is an Elna devotee. But with mum sewing and me pinning and ironing we got 8 blocks made in an evening.

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Our current heatwave – it is quite unusual for the UK to get temperatures around 30 degrees day after day – is making sewing less desirable in my hot stuffy sewing room. With two house cats and the house encased with scaffolding to work on the upper levels opening windows wide is difficult. Someone left a small top window open and one of my sons was somewhat surprised when in the upstairs bathroom, doing what you do in such rooms, heard a scuffling noise and suddenly both cats jumped back in obviously having gone for a jaunt round the outside of the house. My admiration for the many quilters in hot countries who don’t have aircon in their sewing rooms is greatly increased.

In this heat I so envy our cats who can spend their days like this…… but cooler weather is predicted and I’ve got sewing to do….

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Linking up with Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts 

The next generation – a baby quilt

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Now let me get this in very quickly, this is not my own work…..the young girl holding the quilt is the very proud maker of this beautiful quilt. Nikola is the daughter of a friend who is expecting her second child.  Helping this charming 10 year old and extremely quick learner to make something so special for her new baby sister was a delight. As she was given pretty much free rein on choice of fabric and design it was interesting to see her design choices.

Nikola wanted it to be pink but not too pink. The start point was choosing the design.  I pulled together on Pinterest a bunch of simple quilts, some with hsts, but all right angles etc. She flicked through those and chose a simple chequer board design. Then onto fabrics. Nikola wanted it patterned and scrappy as opposed to just a couple of colours/prints.  As with any project I start we looked at my pink scraps first and she picked the ones she liked and the onto to my stash.

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I did the cutting of the 6.5″ squares for obvious reasons but the rest was down to her.  She decided the layout and really took her time and carefully played with placement.

I showed her how a digital picture would help our sanity when it came to piecing it together and the black and white version to check on values.  Which incidentally she’d done so intuitively nothing needed moving. Then onto sewing.

This time round I did the pinning and Nikola the sewing. She did one practice seam and I could see straight away (bit of a pun there?) she was a natural and off she went needing very little assistance. Slow and steady was the motto. By the end of our first 4 hour session the top was in two halves. And by the end of our second 4 hour marathon we had a finished quilt. Nikola did all the sewing with the exception of the corners on the binding and the final stitch down of the binding. I think that was a remarkable achievement.

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I’ve sewed before with children. When I took delivery of my Pfaff Quilt Expression the younger children were keen to have a go. They became quite proficient particularily my youngest son.   They never had the stamina for making a quilt but a zipped pouch was made, a mug rug,  a cushion ….

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… and the crowning glory, a fabric ‘place of worship’.  It was one of those school projects that cause parents to deeply sigh and wonder why schools inflict these sorts of things on time starved families. I accept theoretically they are the responsibility of the child but at 11 you are really not going to pull this off without some help.  Having twins meant there were two to do and because I couldn’t bear the idea of two cardboard creations I suggested to my son he make a fabric church and with a couple of Pinterest designs to inspire and some help with the more tricky sewing he came up with this….

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But I have to say in their early attempts they  needed a lot of input and lots of fabric and stitching mishaps to sort out. Sadly they’ve no interest now but it may come back.

Here are a few tips and reminders for me to help with sewing with children…

1) Nikola found sewing on my sewing machine a dream compared to her child’s sewing machine. I’ve heard this before that children’s sewing machines while cheap are temperamental.  Whilst for obvious reasons parents don’t want to splash out on an expensive bit of kit that never gets used but  a cheap machine maybe a false economy. Personally I was relaxed about letting my children use my machine. There were a few ground rules aside from the obvious health and safety points, like no pulling on jammed fabric, using a slow speed and any problems to call me.  But in reality I never feared for my machine.

2) A simple design is a must, perhaps  embellished if necessary by all those pretty decorative stitches. Nikola had a remarkable span of attention and concentrated effort,  not so my twins, so quick projects or broken down into manageable chunks helped.

3) Being as unprescriptive  as possible by giving them a pretty free rein on design and fabrics seemed to work for me. I’d have gone with a pink binding but Nikola wanted one to match the grey polka backing. On reflection she made the right call.

4) Accepting that there will probably be fabric waste involved. There certainly wasn’t with Nikola but the twins’ efforts led to quite a lot of fabric going into the scrap bag to make  cushions for the dogs home….

5) Suspending your perfectionist tendencies. Not difficult for me as I’m so not into perfection but if you are you are going to have to grin and bear it. Redoing seams time and time again is not likely to end happily!

5) and the most contentious tip. Teach and help someone else’s child. I have a good friend who firmly believes we should all swap children and bring up each other’s  – not quite sure that would work in reality. But I’m quite sure I’m more patient with someone else’s child than my own!

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Next up is Nikola’s own quilt. She’s very keen and chosen the pattern, a sort of hst star burst and the colours.   I  just need the time to get her started. I’ve warned her it’s marathon  compared to a short sprint that was the baby quilt. Watch this space!!

Linking up with Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts , Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean are Crazy Mom 

This is a finish for FAL Q2 blogged here.

Distractions….

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Apparently a golden rule of blogging is to never apologise, for example for poor photos, for incomplete projects , for reduced blogging.  I was brought up differently … and whilst I’m not exactly apologising for a certain creative void I thought I’d explain some of my distractions.

But first one creative venture is this tote bag. I seem to live at the small parade of shops up the road in a vain attempt to keep up with the voracious appetites of my teens, well my boys at least. So I’m always looking for bags, not massive one, just something to bung a few bits and bobs in to complement the vast tonnage of groceries  that get delivered weekly from Tesco.

This was from the absolute bargain linen/cotton mix I got from The Fabric Guild for £10.

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I wanted some thing that was practical but with a bit of style and zips…. I’m always nervous of bags without an enclosed and secured pocket, too much to lose, not necessarily lots of money just the hassle of lost keys, cards etc etc. So there are two zips here and a clip.  I’ve got one of these clips in my riding jacket and a haversack I use for walking, it’s so reassuring to know that keys aren’t going to fall out accidentally.

 

I used Jen’s tote bag tutorial again.  I used it last for this bag I made for a child.

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It’s a great tutorial.  It gives you the basic dimensions but you can play your own tunes with the design within it. In fact I increased the dimensions as this needs to hold more and Jen was designing it for young girl.  Mindyou at 5′ 4″ tall I’m shorter than most young girls today!!! So to the boring bit in case I want to reproduce it. The cut width is 13″ and the bag length 28″ when assembled into one strip. I also increased the handles to 28″. I used my favourite stiffish interfacing even though it was a linen/cotton mix so already had more substance than plain cotton.  It has a layer of batting which gives it a nice heft. This combination was a good call as being bigger it would have more tendency to flop.

So to the distractions… well this monkey to start with.

 

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Felix arrived a couple of weeks ago and I’d forgotten how playful kittens are and how much attention they demand. I have sedentary teens helping out with the cuddling during half term holiday and at weekends but he’s definitely a fun time waster!

Our other cat, Skye, was not a happy bunny, literally or figuratively. She’d always lived with other cats so I was a bit surprised. When you introduce a new cat you are supposed to leave them in a secure place for a few days so they both get used to the smells of the other. My bedroom and bathroom are perfect for this. However Skye would hiss and snarl each time she walked past the closed door! And she is such a sweet natured cat I was really taken aback.

Suffice it to say the introduction was not a success. The only good thing that was that Skye didn’t actually go for Felix and he seemed unfazed by her unwelcoming behaviour. But this story has a happy ending as you can see…..

 

The next distraction was finishing some curtains. Oh how tedious curtain making is.  Having spent a fortune on curtains for our kitchen/diner pre cats only to have them ruined as they were used as indoor climbing trees ….

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…I’d bought some cheapish curtains for a large bay window but they’d got metal eyelets. These are in one way very easily adapted for a conventional curtain heading but it’s so awkward humping round all that fabric. Anyway I’d been promising to finish them and whilst they are not actually hanging up the sewing part is done. Well not the hems but they’ve got to hang first….. that’s my excuse.

And the other distraction has been the garden.  I’m afraid it’s been somewhat neglected for the last two or three years. OK it’s been weeded and lawns cut etc but no tlc. The fact that I bought my sewing machine about that long ago is absolutely connected!! So furniture needed painting, moss and weeds from grass eliminating, patios power washed and grouted, much cutting back of excess shrub growth with a little help from my tree man….. So the pictures below are not so much product placement adverts but a reminder to me what I used so I can top up and patch with the same products in the future. The generally good weather here in the U.K. has mostly made these tasks enjoyable.

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All this has meant that my attempts at getting blocks done for my show quilt well hasn’t happened…. I’m waiting for the urge.  Perhaps a rainy June would help.

Linking up with Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts 

 

 

Sunday Stash – The Fabric Guild

 

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One of my favourite places for quilt backings, those huge hunks of 4m/5yds essential to finishing off a quilt, is The Fabric Guild based in Leicester here in the UK.  Now I know those of you who in live in the US this won’t be of immediate interest but let this make you very grateful for your own wonderfully stocked quilt shops across the length and breadth of your country at prices that make us weep….  So here good quality quilting cotton is around £12-£14 per metre which is equivalent to around $15 per yard. But with the Fabric Guild being around  £4 – £10 pm you can see the attraction. Ok you have to be selective, not all fabric is equal if you know what I mean, but I’ve got some great branded quilting cottons for a fraction of the price over the years.

They claim that they are the largest quilt shop this side of the Atlantic. Now whilst that may be true in terms of bolts of cloth in practice they are not the brands that I would normally seek out so in that sense the choice is not extensive.   But on the basis that the fabric will be a quilt backing and a simple all over design is fine then it’s unusual if I can’t find something to stash away.

I normally order online and if I have one niggle they are  never very speedy. But they do open for a few hours each week to the public and as it’s only an hour or so away I thought  I would shop in person. They brand themselves as similar to an American warehouse club.  You are charged a one off membership fee of £5 (not for online sales) and then the shop is yours to rummage. I’ve been a couple of times but this was the first time to their new premises. And what an improvement. The old one was dark and warehouse like but seemed bigger. The new premises are lighter and more attractive. The only downside is it’s hard to find which is not helped by only having a small sign, and I’m talking no bigger than a propped up A3 poster in the foyer  so if you go take note of what the outside looks like  –  you will need it to find it!!! I think it maybe to do with the requirements of the trading estate they are on to deter traffic?  Anyway parking was fine when I went.

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They stock mostly cotton or poly cottons. Brands include Rose and Hubble, Makower some Stof,  Birch Organics and a small stock of Cotton and Steel. There are other brands  I didn’t recognise like Adlico anyone? But for me there was enough choice for picking up some backings for some quilts I’ve got planned for Siblings Together.  I was after plainish and masculine. The striped one has already been used in fact in this quilt.

 

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I also chose a number of fat quarters, mainly pastels as I always struggle to find these amongst my stash and at £1.75 per quarter I wasn’t going to complain.

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But the best purchase were these wonderful canvas linens from the Maker Maker line by  Sarah Golden for Andover. They are only fat eighths so that’s around  11″ by 21″ but with 9 coordinating  fabrics they can easily be combined.  This was priced at £15 but I was sold it for £10 as by then it was proving a largish order.  That’s customer service for you. The fabrics just took my fancy and will be perfect for bags and pouches and are already coordinated.

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The Fabric Guild, I will be back….

 

Linking up to Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash this week over with Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts 

May’s surprise quilt and a bit about blogging….

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No not another reference to Theresa May and the UK’s snap general election but the fact that I’ve cracked on and got this  month’s bee quilt done for Siblings Together. Yes I do feel just a little smug!!

To some extent I  always feel I’ve cheated when I finish off a quilt made up of bee blocks. After all it isn’t all my own work so you get a very clear head start. And this one, when I kicked it off earlier this month, is made even easier by a great design by Trudi Wood from the magazine Quilt Now which has lots of negative space courtesy of a large chunk of plain fabric.  But what makes this quilt a bit special is the very speedy and prolific response from my lovely bee mates from the Siblings Together Bee 2.   I did hint that I’d try and get the quilt done for this year’s camps. That spurred them on. And there are a good few blocks left and more to come to make quilt two in due course.

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With great skill I managed to misplace the magazine so had to decide the measurements for the two large white sides on the fly. But it looks OK and I’m pretty sure the original quilt in the magazine was asymmetrical. I was going to check how Trudi had quilted it but decided to give it a simple design of echoing  the squares.   It has a nice jaunty but hopefully masculine backing fabric as this one is really being geared to older male siblings who go to the camps.  Certainly it got a very big thumbs up from no. 2 son who is 14 and hallelujah! I’ve persuaded him that this design is perfect for his new large size quilt.  He’d chosen another design but it was boringly dull and I’ve been putting it off for ages. So a win win all round even if after this quilt and the other made up with bee blocks there will be 3 of these in the end!!

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Whilst blogging about this quilt I remembered it’s my first anniversary of blogging around about now and having read a couple of posts on blogging which got my brain cells firing I thought I reflect back on why I blog, what blogs I like to read and what that means for this blog.

I am a joiner in. I’m not one that likes to sit on the sidelines nor particularly somebody who wants to take centre stage but being part of a group and participating and sharing is something I enjoy in the various aspects of my life. When I started out quilting in 2014 I found quilting blogs really helpful and inspirational. Did I like everything – absolutely not. But it gave me ideas, tutorials in abundance and lots of insight into how and why people create what they make. And being a joiner in I wanted to make a contribution but also for me blogging is a record of what I’ve made and learnt along the way. To that end my blogs are useful references for me and I go back to them from time to time to remember a measurement/technique etc.

Yvonne of Quilting Jet Girl did a very thoughtful piece on blogging recently. She is a prolific quilter , vastly talented and regularly blogs. She is what I would call a professional quilter/blogger in that she has sponsors and giveaways et cetera. Amongst the many excellent points she makes is that blogging in the area of quilting at least is gradually declining. Others have also noticed this and with the growth of Instagram and the very immediate connection with followers that that app gives, many are preferring to share that way. I had an IG account at the time I started my blog and still use it frequently but I do like reading blogs because Instagram can only go so far with information about the why’s and wherefores of what people make. I’m nosy I like to know the details.

I have noticed though over the last few months I’ve been a lot more discriminatory about what blogs I actually open up and read. If the picture is a work in progress with little text and not a design that appeals then I’m likely to pass on. There are bloggers where everything is awesome. Fantastic for them but that’s not my life. I like to read the ups and downs of crafting and how life’s highs and lows impact. I enjoy the personal elements, the realism and the working through of problems and acceptance that perfection is a bit of a myth. Learning for me is seeing mistakes first hand and then knowing with some confidence how to improve or correct it. If I can learn by others traveling that path first so much the better.

I’m also not likely to open up blogs that are particularily commercialised unless I’m looking for fabric or interested in that book or fabric range. And this is where I’m in the fortunate position of sewing for pleasure and not a job. I don’t need to make an income from it and if that were the case it would in fact hugely put me off creating. But there are bloggers for whom their blog is in effect a marketing tool and they are often very well written and interesting but when they tip over to being too commercialised then I’m not as interested. Getting that balance right must be really difficult but many do in addition to Yvonne above there are others like Jo Avery of My Bear paw and Rachel of A Stitch in Time.

There are blogs I definitely look out for. A couple are daily bloggers. Barbara of Cat Patches is one. I love cats and her take on her own cats just tickles me. I find her dry humour very funny and craft wise, although she has skills particularily hand sewing that I’m never going to have, she’s adventurous, inspirational and prolific. I’m currently enjoying a short virtual break with her and her husband as they travel in Nevada!

Another daily blogger is Bonnie Hunter. Now Bonnie as any US reader will know is very, very big in the quilting world she is a prolific and very talented designer and teacher of traditional scrappy quilts. OK you could never call me a traditional quilter with modern quilting being more me but her absolutely boundless energy is infectious.  She writes well and aspects of her life, like her new backwoods cabin are interesting (I quite fancy a log cabin bolt hole myself!!!). And although a supremely positive person keeps it real and shares the ups and downs of life.

Another blog I really enjoy but is totally different from the two above is Kate of Fabrikated. Kate is another prolific and talented sewist this time of beautifully styled and original but very wearable clothes (having an enviable figure helps!) and recently knitting. She writes very interesting discussion pieces usually centred on something she has made but not always.  As my fashion guru she is very engaging and informative  and her writing attracts some really interesting comments. In fact I often revisit her posts to read the many detailed and constructive comments which I don’t do with any other blog. The exception to that would be the occasional blog posts on more ‘out there’ bloggers such as Molli Sparkles. He is quite happy to rattle the cage and comments can get quite ansty. I love a bit of contentious passive aggressive commentary!! And the whole issue of gender, which is the subject of the post I’ve linked, in quilting is fascinating – one for another blog.

But what is interesting is some of my favourite bloggers make things that actually aren’t my thing. And yet their writing about the creative process, their lives and craft choices make me come back for more. I suppose this is like real life. I don’t expect my friends to like the same things I do or live their lives the way I live mine but our values and approach to life are the same which makes the connection.

There are of course some excellent bloggers out there who write and craft things that are more similar to what I make. Jayne of Twiggy and Opal and Debbie of A Quilters Table are two such examples out of many. Both are original and very talented quilters and are definite trend setters in modern quilting. I have shamelessly copied from them in both design and colours. They seem to have more hours in the day than me given what they produce alongside demanding family and work schedules. And of all the quilt newsletter type communications, in addition to their blogs, Debbie’s takes some beating.

So what does that mean for my blog? Well I won’t be aiming for encouraging passive aggressive comments you’ll be relieved to hear. And also for a start it’s never going to be a daily event. I enjoy writing but a daily journal has not been part of my habit. I tend to blog when there is something specific to show and try to weave in something more than just about that item. I will continue with that pattern. But my area expertise is still quite rudimentary and so aside from general comments I don’t have the expertise say of Kate who really does understand fashion and how to put colours and textures together. Mine are a bit more random I’m afraid. And sadly I don’t have the talent to be a trend setter!! That said I will aim to carry on blogging about what I’ve made and the lessons learnt along the way.

My blog I accept is not the most personal. There’s no picture of me for a start. Trust me that’s no loss but it’s a bit of a thing in this house that the children are banned from putting their picture on the Internet. Or at least that was the rule but now they are teenagers I’m pretty sure that rule has been ditched. But I know that they would be appalled if they saw pictures of themselves on my IG feed or blog and I wouldn’t do that without their permission. Okay I confess there maybe a picture of a sleeping child under a quilt but it’s not identifiable. I do put in the odd anecdote if it’s relevant because I think it connects with people and there is nothing new under the sun that we haven’t all had to face.

I’m also never going to seek sponsors or have sidebars with lots of buttons and links to other blogs and so forth. The fact that I have no idea how to link up a button has absolutely nothing to do with this design choice. My nose has just grown longer… but actually in truth I quite like the minimalist style of my blog even though it’s through ignorance not choice!

Thanks to everyone who has left a comment. Your encouragement, ideas and questions have been hugely enjoyable. I wish I were better at getting back to every one. But you know who you are.

So all in the plan is I shall carry on joining in and sharing what I’ve made and the ups and downs of life.  There will be the odd anecdote thrown in and more realism than perfection, in fact none of the latter, but hopefully it will hit the button and resonate with those who link up and read it.

 

linking up with Amanda Jean Crazy Mom Quilts and  Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation.

To Russia with love ….

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This bag is just so not me…. I don’t like pink and I’m not that fond of squares simply sewn together. But sometimes you have to make for the recipient and hang up your preferred quilting principles and design to one side. Normally I try to reconcile the two and come up with a design that works for me and the recipient but I had to admit defeat on this one.

This bag is for a child coming over to the UK from the region of Belarus and Russia hit by the Chernobyl disaster. Holidays are organised across the UK for children from this region.  As a nice touch Jennifer organises a bunch of sewers to make bags for each child and a table topper to take home. The children this year are predominantly girls around 10 years old. As good luck had it I had a 10 year girl in the house the other weekend and asked her advice about fabric choice.

I was all ready to go with recycled denim with pink/red accents rather like last year.

 

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I liked this bag. I would have used it and even my teen daughter said she liked it but declined the offer to make her one, so clearly she didn’t like it that much!!! But something Jennifer said about these children having very little hit me that whilst using recycled denim might be tick the box for us who have so much and therefore actively want to reuse and repurpose but it might look cheap from the recipient’s perspective where repurposing might be an absolute essential. So hence 10 year old Nicola’s input to choosing fabrics from my collection . Of course she went straight for the girly pinks, chequer board design. Who am I to argue!!

 

I used Jennifer’s tutorial (linked above). It’s relatively quick and easy. I made mine an inch longer but kept the width the same. The top pieced half is about 8″ deep. There’s a large pocket inside. I narrowed the straps using 2.25″ not 2.5″ width. Crucially I added not just batting but a fusible interfacing product called  Vilene S320. I think Vilene have changed their name to Visilene or something like that?   You iron it on  and what it does is give the fabric a stiffness and it feels more like canvas. It’s perfect for the outer part of a bag to give a nice bit of firmness and structure.  Cotton has little structure of its own and I like the effect of the fabric being stiffer and is my go-to for a more finished and professional look.

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This will shortly be winging it’s way to Jennifer along with the table mat I made a couple of months back. That is more me although that pink and lavender isn’t. You could ask why do I have so much of this fabric if I don’t like the colour. Well they are left overs from a couple of baby quilts and a quilt for a very ‘pinky’ girl’s quilt I was asked to make.  Is it any surprise then my Siblings Together quilts embrace blues…..

 

Linking up with Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts (sorry tried to link but it kept freezing my ipad….but you all know where she is!!)

This is a finish under FAL Q2 blogged here.

May’s Goal

Writing that title almost sounds like a political statement. Theresa May certainly has got her work cut out…..

Anyway unlike Theresa May’s goals of winning the general election and securing a successful Brexit  I am much more prosaically referring of course to the fact it’s time to set my One Monthly Goal for Patty of Elm Street Quilts.

The quilt I’ve just finished was a completely unnecessary quilt and was a diversionary tactic from the real task at hand of having a go at a show quilt, yes one that will be judged! So to spur me on it will be my goal to ‘make significant progress’ and to be more specific that I will have made at least two thirds of the blocks needed to make up the quilt top. Niow I’ve said it, time will tell whether it happens!

I have started and here is the first block and also the various fabrics I’ve ordered.

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I’m trying out Art Gallery’s Pure Elements solids.  They don’t have the colour range of Kona but they are beautifully silky to touch. But the first block was made a month ago. There really is no excuse for not making more progress with a Summer deadline. So what’s stopping me? I think it’s the lack of a clear design and knowing there will be a lot of experimentation and agonising over colour and design choices all set against the backdrop of someone judging my stitches, design and overall accuracy. I’m used to a freer hand. The theory is it’s going to be similar to this quilt but then different. Helpful eh? I have ideas but nothing definite. I think I just need to make lots of blocks and then play with the layout. So rather like Theresa I need to grit my teeth and get on with it….

Medallion Quilt

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I’m a great believer in the drip drip effect. Slowly  coming round to an idea and changing your stance as you see more images or hear more ideas that challenge your preconceptions. Medallion quilts are an example for me. These are quilts which are built round a central block. This is an example of Girt by Sea a current Sew Along promoted and designed by a group of very talented Australian quilters/designers. The pattern is available here. It’s very fitting for the UK of course and I was tempted but it would crowd out other things I want to do.

Girt By Sea is a modern medallion quilt pattern collaboration by 6 Australian quilt designers. Find out more at BlossomHeartQuilts.com

I was also influenced by the fantastic medallion quilts made by Nicky Eglinton. She is a prolific quilter and makes countless quilts for the charity Siblings Together.  She has this ability to take orphan blocks that someone else has fallen out of love with and then build a quilt  around them. Quite literally.  It’s a real gift and one of my  favourite quilts from last year was made this way along with many other medallion quilts she has made which are modern, fresh and beautiful.

As usual my quilts are a melding together of ideas from other quilts and designers. I  love this quilt made from scraps by Katie Pederson and whilst I thought I’d  do a straight copy it struck me I could just extend one of the squares and make it into a medallion. In fact Katie has done a whole load of variations with these blocks.

On one level it’s a very simple quilt in that it is made up of only these two blocks. These are very easily and quickly put together with chain piecing and absolutely perfect for scraps.  My scrap jars are positively  roomy as a result! These come out at unfinished 4″.

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The clever bit is Katie’s placement which if I’m honest I found very difficult and I had to keep constantly referring to her quilt. Being on point didn’t help.  Most quilts are made from smaller blocks which you then make into a bigger block and then piece together.  This became one organic whole. I couldn’t get my head around breaking into into bigger sized blocks. Presumably it’s circular medallion nature didn’t help.

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The problem then came with construction. It took an age to layout and with cat and children banned from entering (I had to relent in respect of the children as the television is in that room) I had to construct it as quickly as I could. There are some 300+ pieces in this quilt  and it took a couple of days but it was so worth it and I love the finished result. All down to that simple but tricksy layout and I think the medallion style works very well. One thing that surprised me was how much background fabric was needed – at least 3m. It’s all those seams!

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There’s an error in this quilt. A number of IG friends said to leave it but I just couldn’t….

But with the top finished I made a complete hash of the basting. Ridiculous really as it’s not that big and as a medallion quilt you know where the centre is. As this blog is my go to reference I’ve listed below what I should do next time to avoid such a waste of time. So feel free to skip if this degree of detail is not your thing or you are a world class baster!! Mind you one thing I learnt thank heavens for spray basting. My quilt teacher was very anti this way of basting partly  because it can leave a sticky residue (in my house that’s nothing unusual) and secondly the fumes can trouble those with chest/ asthmatic conditions. There’s not much wrong with my chest and using spray glue  it meant that for the numerous times I had to re-baste it I could just peel the top off and re- place it.    If I’d had used pins, Dear Reader, things would have got very fraught. So my to do list for next time.

1. Exactly halve the backing fabric by hanging it over the bannisters and do not just second guess where the middle is. (I use a 4m length of fabric which I then halve and resew to get the necessary width  – this is a good length for the 65-75″ edge quilt size I tend to make)

2 Trim the backing so it has a straight edge

3. Measure the top and make sure you have the right size batting. Such an obvious point but so tempting to wing it.

4. Always baste backing to batting first. Do not trim at that stage

5. Then place top on top of batting and backing  to complete the sandwich. Before trimming carefully check by going round every edge to make sure the backing and batting are extending beyond the top. Then trim.

I’m undecided where this quilt is destined.   I’ve promised a friend’s daughter a quilt but not sure it’s girly enough for a 6 year old. Alternatively  it may live here for the many teenagers that end up here for sleepovers.

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Linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation, Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts and  Leanne at the Devoted Quilter for TGIFF

 

Plan B -Siblings Together Bee 2 May Mama

This month should have been Charlotte’s as mama for the month of May with the prospect of making butterfly blocks of her own design which she has been tempting us with on her IG feed recently. Unfortunately a family bereavement has meant that Charlotte understandably needs to deal with all the issues and sadness following this loss. We all wish her well.

So to keep the ball rolling the bee will be going for  ‘plan b’, a design I spied relatively recently in Quilt Now. It’s designed by Trudi Wood and if that’s not recommendation enough it struck me as reasonably simple but very effective. I’m sure I’m breaking every copy right law going but here is the picture from the magazine – but it is for charity after all!!

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Now what I’m after bee members is simple quarter square triangle blocks like the ones below… 4 please.

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You must be thinking this is very straight forward where’s the catch!!! Well there are a couple of points to be careful of please.

  1.  I’m being very picky over colours as I’m thinking this would make a great older boy/teen quilt. I love the royal/deep blue colours of Trudi’s design. So please limit yourself to royal blue and all darker shades of blue up to darkest navy.  So no lighter blues, turquoise , aqua etc please. You can also use dark greys or black and white prints as I’ve used above. Absolutely no flowers or anything ‘pretty’. For example I considered this fabric but rejected it on the basis it was a bit too girly and fussy.

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But in recognition that I’m being difficult then please, please feel free to contact me if you’ve nothing suitable in your stash.   I’ve loads of these types of masculine fabrics and can easily send you some if that would  help.

2. The other thing to bear in mind is that the final block should have an hour glass look to it with the two darker fabrics facing each other rather than being adjacent to each other. You just need to check when you construct the quarter square triangle block that you’ve got the quarter segments the right way round to get the hour glass effect. As you can see below I failed to do with the second block.

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Right, demanding mama over!  Now to the blocks themselves.

You will need 2 darker royal or navy blue or dark grey 10″ squares and two lighter squares (not lighter blue but lighter because of white/light grey back ground).  Make half square triangles using your preferred method.  Do not trim them but make quarter square triangles.  Now trim to 8.5″.

This is the ‘grandmothers sucking eggs’  bit. I was wondering how to trim the blocks to ensure that cross over point was bang in the middle. I discovered my omnigrip square ruler has a clever scale on the diagonal line.  So I could line up the diagonal line on the diagonal line of the block and then position the cross over point on that line at 4.25 and then trim – see pic below. I’m sure everybody else knew this but just in case…..

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I’m going to make the quilt a bit bigger and have 9 rows and hence need 27 blocks. If everyone makes 4 then I  should end with quite a few more so and if I get enough then  I will happily make another quilt

And finally the sharp eyed may have seen the blocks in Trudi’s design with 2 small quarter square triangles and 2 plain squares. They are easier to see in the picture with Trudi. We don’t need many of these but if you fancy making one of your blocks in this design then please let me know and I will let you have the measurements.

It really is a privilege to make quilts for this worthwhile charity. For other readers who don’t know the charity it provides an opportunity for siblings separated in the care system in the U.K. to meet up and have a holiday together to create memories for hopefully lifelong relationships in the future even if they never actually live  together  again. To have a momento of that time each child  is given a quilt.

I was trying to explain to my teenage children about why I make these quilts (‘you are not sewing again?’ is a constant moan). Initially from their perspective  the prospect of not being able to live with their brother/sister and living in separate homes wasn’t seen as too much of a disadvantage! I then pointed out that for all the squabbles and arguments once any one of them is challenged by anyone outside the home they rush to their defence and the family bonds are strong.

I was reminded of this when I had a recent call from school about one of my sons’ behaviour. For those of you who have only had or have angelic children (like my daughter) you won’t know the ‘joy’ of having a call from school about yet another misdeameanor. It has happened all too often ….. although sometimes it’s been entertaining like the time my son was disciplined for being overheard in a private  conversation saying a female teacher ‘looked a bit like Donald Trump’. I gave the school short shrift on that one – a private conversation? This time however it was exactly what I was talking about, sibling protectiveness, as my son had ‘lamped’ another boy (the teacher’s word not mine) who’d called  his sister something rude and biologically impossible. My daughter was thrilled to bits he had come to her rescue  and of course he was utterly unrepentant!!

As very much a work in progress I’m linking up with a Lorna at Sew Fresh Quilts