Economies of Scale

I came across this great poster and slogan at the bottom of a blog post recently of Cindy of Live a Colorful Life.   I’ve taken the liberty of anglicising it…..

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I’m sure I’m not the only person who sews or crafts generally who acknowledges that penny for penny we are not usually saving money when we do our thing. OK the end result is unique, exactly to our taste (if it goes to plan) and usually satisfying and pleasurable to make although, those crucial matters aside, is it value for money?

I was reminded of this when I made some quilt blankets for our new kitten and a couple of quilts for the dogs of a friend. Altogether the cost of these quilts came to something like £95 for the fabric and batting. At our local  pet store these £8 blankets are for comparison.

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Do I begrudge the extra expenditure?  Not one bit of it. I love seeing hand made articles around the house and it gives me pleasure to create and gift items even if it is to a cat or dog who would probably be just as happy with an old jumper or manky  piece of fleece

Mindyou on this occasion it is for a very special cat, our new kitten Felix.

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We haven’t got him yet, just a few more weeks to wait but finishing his quilt was my One Monthly Goal with Patty at Elm Street Quilts.

I managed to get some lovely soft flannels although they are much harder to get than in the US. The rather purply pink colour was a bit of surprise compared to the online picture of the fabric but I hope Felix will be in touch with his feminine  side. I went for straight  forward half square triangles but flannel is quite stretchy and slippery – I should really have used more pins but I’m always impaling myself on them so try to avoid them as much as possible. But getting this in perspective it is a quilt for a cat who is hardly going to mind the misaligned seams and the odd point missing. After a bit of a break from sewing because of Easter travels and essential gardening which eats into spare time, it was good to make something that didn’t require a great deal of thought.

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Skye staking her claim 

Of course despite the c£30 cost per quilt I was left with a load of scraps both of the backing fleece, wadding and flannel. Perfect for a bonus quilt.

I rather indiscriminately sewed all the scraps together but it looked frankly rather inspiring so I decided to slash and resew to break up the large blocks of colour. I got the idea from Chrissie of Made by Chrissie D who had won the block lotto of her quilting guild which is where those who want to participate bring a quilt block of the theme for that month and somebody wins them all and has the makings of a quilt. That month the theme was low volume but boy did that confuse people because Chrissie got a very odd bunch of blocks. She was far too kind to say so not least I suspect because her quilt guild members are probably readers of her blog. But she had the brilliant idea of sewing them altogether and then continually cutting and resewing to get a better distribution. In the end the final quilt was beautiful albeit much smaller. So I’d thought I would have a go …

This is stage 1

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Stage 2…..

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And stage 3 the finished quilt. I think it is certainly more interesting that at stage 1.

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As you can see I tried to get some wonkiness in to add to its improv look but not too much as I didn’t want to make it too small. Overall I think it’s quite effective. And it of course reduced my cost per item to c £22!

So just waiting until there’s a sweet kitten sleeping on it…..

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Linking to Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation, Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts and Patty at Elm Street Quilts. Post Scropt

 

Post Script

I couldn’t help showing you a picture of Felix’s litter. Look at the one on the left sleeping on his back. He obviously had a good lunch.

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Sunday stash – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly….

What with one thing and another I’ve been doing some fabric purchasing. I never need much of an excuse. But I’ve been yet again caught out by colours on websites versus real life. But in the order of the title above….

The Good

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I’m bravely going where I’ve not trod before doing a quilt for a competitive show.  It needs to be in various shades of yellow to fit the decor of the space it’s due to hang,  a rather dark but largish space at the foot of the top floor stairs. So I ordered a bunch of yellows from Duck Egg Threads. They were the largest stockists I could find of Pure Elements in the U.K., the solids brand of AGF. I’d been recommended them by IG friends and they don’t disappoint. They have that lovely soft silky hand of AGF fabrics and while they don’t have the range of colours as Kona they have a nicer feel and if I can’t find a yellow from that collection well I need to think again.

 

The Bad

Another good thing is the excellent labelling. This is in contrast to a similar bunch of fabrics from Oakshott where I’d ordered a chunk of satsuma and it’s rather more orange than the online picture. I really should have realised from the name!! But ‘the bad’ is no labelling and I’ve no idea of the two paler colours which is which. I didn’t ask them to be labelled but I did rather assume they would be. I did order a colour swatch (which covers their autumn colours not these neutral ones ) so I can order some yellows with confidence. Although whether I need to now I’m not sure.

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The Ugly

Now for the ugly. We’ve all done it….. adding to orders to ‘make the postage worthwhile’. I needed some Makower cream linen fabric for a planned project so I threw in the basket a few extra FQs for good measure. I’m very low on purples and although not my go to colour it is often asked for in charity blocks. And for various reasons I have on occasions needed a brown. Anyway I bought these. The Jen Kingwell Gardenvale fabric  is OK but the rest……yep ugly.

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Linking up with Molli Sparkles Sunday Stash

Quilting for dogs

I have a dear friend who has recently added to her family by the addition of a new puppy, a black Labrador rejoicing in the name of Elvis.

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Elvis joins another dog they own, a golden Labrador called Lincoln.  (And yes Lincoln is named after one of the US’s finest presidents and they really wanted another President name but couldn’t find one that had the reputation they wanted and sounded good as a dog’s name so went for another US icon). My friend sweetly bought me matching baby quilts for my twins 14 years ago which are still tucked away somewhere so I’ve been meaning to return the favour with this new addition.

The plan had been to make a couple of flannel quilts similar to the ones I made our cats but  in golds/creams and the other blue/black to match their colouring. But I found it really hard to find flannel in the U.K. that wasn’t child oriented or pastels. I could find grey/blue flannel fabric but not yellow or cream that is until yesterday.

I went to the Quilt and Stitch show in Uttoxeter, Staffordshire. If I’m honest I didn’t find it very inspiring with the notable exception of a couple of modern quilts and a textile art display by Eclectica, a small group of textile artists in the West Midlands. Abigail of Cut and Alter had entered a quilt I’d been watching coming along on IG.  It was absolutely stunning and was attracting a lot of interest (and won a ribbon). As the quilt is hot off the press (or the long arm more accurately) I didn’t think it was right to include a picture ahead of Abigail doing that but here is a pic of her other quilt that has been shown and won ribbons elsewhere and picked up another well deserved first yesterday.

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But the rest of the quilts?  Well they didn’t do much for me, beautifully and very skillfully executed but too trad for my taste as were the trade stands. But I did find some flannel. This is the grey mixture. These are Moda Primitive Gatherings and were perfect for my purposes.

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I suspect that flannel is more popular in the US not just because of the size of the quilting market there, many multiples of ours, but simply the harsher climate in large swathes of that country. I accept visually it’s not as attractive but oh the comfort and softness. Perfect for pets and quite possible me!

I went for a very simple 9″ square patch work design backed by fabric cut from fleecy blankets. They  make a very practical, warm and cosy quilt. Ideal for covering furniture or lining baskets or carriers.

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These were simple quilts and quick to make even with the dreaded fleece backing which I hate using because of the mess but does make for a lovely cosy quilt. This is my attempt at styling these as if you would find quilts draped over trees but the blossom is pretty.

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Skye as ever cross that I’m not petting or feeding her makes her protest clear…

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The quilt show is a bit unusual as it’s spread across a number of buildings. Trying to work out where to go I spied  on the map a Men’s Crèche!! It reminded of this rather entertaining  blog post by Abby Glassenberg of While she naps  about a similar set up at a quilt show in the USA.  There  the issue was the gender stereotyping around the existence of  a Husbands’ Lounge – the inference being that quilters are women, heterosexual  and married.  Now I strongly suspect  that yesterday the vast majority were exactly that. There were a few men in tow. I am always impressed by this as I’m sure my late husband would have found any excuse not to join me. But if I were an accompanying spouse/partner  I’d rather have a ‘lounge’ to retreat to than a ‘creche’ with its demeaning baby connotation !! But it was  interesting when I went to check it out it was locked and empty. Somebody else perhaps had realised that it wasn’t quite the right tone.

 

Another quarter, another Finish-a-Long (Q2) and One Monthly Goal

Time to review progress on outstanding WIPS over the last quarter and set the next set of targets.

This is the photo montage for Q1.

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Four out of five, I will take that. The one unfinished project is a tricky one so I can understand why I’ve left it out and it isn’t making an appearance for Q2…. One day the muse will take me on that WIP but not soon I doubt…

They are blogged here – 1,  2, 3 and 4.

So to the next quarter. I’m being ambitious but also listing a few ‘must’ finishes. Here is the next montage …

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And in more detail…

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Now this where I’m being very brave.   This is my attempt, and I’m making no guarantees it will come off,  at a quilt to be entered in the modern quilt section of the Festival of Quilts, the quilt show in the UK.   I have made a couple of mini quilts to be shown in the display area the modern quilting group have been given but they won’t be judged officially at least but when entering a quilt into a show you are rather putting your hand up and saying look at me and give me your opinion.  It was only last year that the Festival of Quilts introduced a modern quilt section; the U.K. has taken time to catch up with its US, Canadian and Australian cousins.  But the entries were wonderful and absolutely made  the quilt show for me and I would say for a lot of other people as that section was very busy. So it is quite a brave step as I’m not technically the most proficient.  But I was much taken with Abigail’s approach of Cut and Alter who regularily enters quilts (and wins ribbons) which was along the lines of why not!!   So to that end I am doing a quilt with circles using a technique I’ve done a fair bit and based on this quilt but in a different colour way and bigger. It will be an original design but heavily influenced by quilts and quilters I admire. Wish me luck!!

 

2. And 4.

These will be a table runner and bag  for the forthcoming visit of children from the Chernobyl area of Belarus and Russia to Wales for the annual holiday event. Jennifer of Glinda Quilts does the organising and a lot of work behind-the-scenes. It will be the second year we’ve done this.

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These are 8 inch pink squares leftover from overzealous cutting of thquilt I did last year. They are perfect for a scrappy cot quilt for new baby girl due in July.

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This is another scrappy quilt to try and manage the scrap mountain that would otherwise exist in my sewing room. I have blatantly copied a great quilt design by Katie Pedersen of SewKatieDid. This will be a light relief quilt something to do when I just want mindless sewing.

6. img_5434 I made this quilt which now hangs in my room above one of my bedside tables. It struck me that it would be good to do a similar companion piece to sit above the other bed side table on the other side of the bed as a touch of symmetry would look quite effective.  I don’t want to do an exact quilt but I have plenty of fabric from the silk ties of my late husband and a enough of the same neutral to do something similar but different. I’m looking at this design.

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No rush on this one so it may not happen.

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The baby girl mentioned for the cot quilt above has a big sister. There will be a 10 year gap between them and I’ve been wanting to make a quilt for this child for some time. This seems a perfect opportunity and I think this cotton and steel fabric is a good fit for a pre teen girl. I hope she agrees!

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And finally a new quilt for the lounge where there’s often a  resident slumbering teenager in need of a comfort quilt and the existing quilt in there is in most people’s opinions too small and too thin. This will remind us of our wonderful holidays in South Africa in what I like to think as Downton Abbey in the bush minus formal clothes and British aristocracy.

Last but not least is my One Monthly Goal for Patty of Elm Street Quilts for the month of April. This is a very special but very simple WIP.  After the sad death of Minty our grey cat we wanted to get another cat quite quickly as Skye, our lilac cat,  is really missing having a feline companion. We wanted another grey cat and this is Felix who we will collect mid May.  And of course new kitten, new quilt…

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Improv string diamonds

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This is a very long-standing work in progress. It began at least a couple of years ago, inspired by a quilt linked up to Scraptastic Tuesday made of strips of fabric (strings). This monthly link up is a very good source of ideas for what to do with the ever mounting scraps that threaten to break out of the glass containers on a regular basis. These strips of blue and green scraps were sewn on to A4 paper. This was partly because I like the diamond formation they make when assembled  but frankly mainly because at any point in time I have an equally large mountain of A4 paper waiting to be shredded. Using them was a way of killing two birds with one stone.

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Every so often  I would add to these paper-based blocks as the right colour scrap strings got generated. It took up masses  of room in my WIP drawer because of the paper backing and I wanted a decent size quilt. To make room I did make a concerted effort to finish the blocks and assemble the top to at least eliminate all the bulk of the paper.  So the top got made back in the autumn.

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It’s been on my quarterly finish along for too many quarters but eventually it’s been completed.

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I have to say this is not my finest finish! I did, I suspect what most people would do, which is fingerpress  and not iron the strip seams.  What this means of course is that when you take the paper off sometimes the blocks aren’t as flat as they could be. Furthermore when you  join rectangles together and not square ones you are using a different seam allowance, not the standard quarter inch. I also very unwisely used some very loosely  woven fabric that I had leftover from making table mats.  Some of the seams needed redoing. On the basis that quilting can sometimes mask these deficiencies I choose a large loopy style and free motion quilting on my domestic sewing machine. This did help and disguise some of the puffiness. To make up I decided to handstitch the binding so it would be as neat as possible and then to my horror I found this ….

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Skye closely  inspected the problem but what to do?

 

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Patching the gap was my last resort because although this is patchwork of course I don’t think I could’ve repaired it in line with the strings –  it would’ve just looked like well patched!!  Closer inspection revealed that the problem had been that the top was not sufficiently well basted to the batting and when it was quilted it moved from the edge and caused the problem. Fortunately removing the binding and undoing the quilting then with a bit of a stretch it could be  repositioned and rebound. Leaving this …

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Its certainly proved a popular quilt in this house and with still chilly evenings I have found it draped over a child on the sofa as I’ve been taking my time to hand stitch the binding only to be quickly removed so it doesn’t get dirty.   It does remind me though that we need another quilt in the lounge and this time a large warm one so that’ll be on my quarterly finish target list for Q2.

Up against the wire this is a finish on my FAL Q1 2017. 

Also linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation

 

The Thread House Retreat

 

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Some of you may have heard of The Thread House retreat. The Thread House  is a joint initiative between three prolific and very talented quilters here in the UK – Lynne Goldsworthy, Jo Avery and Karen Lewis. All of them are individually hugely influential in the modern quilting world and have teamed up as The Thread House to undertake a number of initiatives one of which is a retreat.

There will be many a UK quilter who has looked at blogs of their US cousins with some jealousy. Retreats seem much more common there than they are here.  In the U.K.  they are few and far between. But I’ve always fancied going on one and when the Thread House  advertised their first ever and it was within an easy journey of where I live it was a bit of a no-brainer. However technically I wasn’t there! It’s complicated.  But I had a great time ‘not being there ‘.

It was held at a fairly basic but very charming conference centre in the foreground below, set in beautiful countryside which meant some great walking on the doorstep (I’m a Fitbit fanatic). The sessions were really excellent and run by the trio. They are all amazingly talented and genuinely warm people that really made the weekend go with a swing.

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IMG_5538But on top of that the thing that amazed me was the sheer talent of all my fellow quilters. We were doing things like screenprinting and lino printing as well as sewing and they were just such a very creative group – it was fantastic to see and of course put quilters together it’s a great mix.

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There was a pouch swap. I made a double sided  Lola pouch using the free butterfly paper-based templates by Lilly Ella. I had won a scrap bag of Karen Lewis’ fabric and it was the perfect opportunity to show them off. That combined with some sparkly Essex linen made a good looking bag though I say it myself!!

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In return  I had this wonderful travel pouch which Kerry had made. I had lusted after it when she blogged about it  and planned to make my own version but I was lucky enough to be the recipient. She made another zip bag and filled it with lots of goodies.  Did I say quilters are a generous bunch?

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We also did badge swapping. Here are mine for Rachel. I made two as I wasn’t really happy with the first, not that I was ecstatic about the second one either!!

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On the basis that I will go next time (although the tickets will go like hot cakes) and this time officially then I’m going to have to up my game when it comes to badge making. I think the problem was I was trying to make it small like a normal size conference badge but most were larger and more effective because of it.

I also made gifts for the three people I shared with and went to my trusty framed purses filled with Aurifil.

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So to next time…. a chance to escape and create.  Watch out for the Thread House newsletter….

The pouch was a FAL Q1 2017 finish.

 

 

 

Kind of weird

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One of the unexpected pleasures of me making  quilts is getting the reaction of my teenage children in particular my 14 year old daughter. The boys I’m afraid either give me platitudes and or in the case of the 14 year old say something outrageous just to wind up his poor mum. He’s a 14 year old boy, what do you expect!!! But Anna is more considered and not given to easy platitudes, she likes being honest but is sweet enough not to want to hurt my feelings… So when I brightly ask her opinion there’s a heavy pause while she weighs up her response.  These are always priceless and useful when I have to come up with a name for the quilt because it’s going to a quilt show so this quilt is called [It’s] Kind of Weird.

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This quilt is destined for the display area that the Modern Quilt Group of the UK Quilters’ Guild have been given at this year’s Festival of Quilts, the biggest and most prestigious festival of its type in the UK. This is quite a big deal and the pressure is on to fill it with hopefully inspiring quilts to  engage and enthuse the largely traditional quilters that go to this event. The tireless organisers led by Kate Percival have set the theme of Cottonopolis, which I have to say I’d not heard before, but is the nickname given to Manchester in connection with its cotton manufacturing  past. The sub theme within that is the music and musical groups of Manchester.

There are a growing number of challenges to members of this group with I guess the aim to fill this large area to the brim! Well I’ve done my bit. The main challenge relating to Mancunian music  requires you to make a 24″ square quilt based on a given  music group band and/or their song. Those up for the challenge, to give them plenty of potential for inspiration, were each given the name of two Manchester bands and two of their songs.

For my first quilt the band was Oasis, and yes I had heard of them, and the song title Cloudburst. I made this quilt blogged here

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I’ve chosen to make another quilt simply as a back up and if there is space in the display area. I wanted to reuse this particular pattern which is the January block by Liz  Harvantine and had a blank wall at home  that I want filling. So it is a very expedient quilt and certainly not just made  for this quilt display   To be frank that was the driver I then had to work out quite how this quilt designand fabric choice would fit in with my music band The Chemical Brothers, and no I hadn’t heard of them or their particular song.

Well looking at the earlier version I made a couple of years ago…

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…..it struck me that the middle motif looks a bit like a flask on its side of the type you would typically find in a chemistry lab. Yes I agree it’s a bit of a push! But with the use of fabric with chemistry symbols on it I thought it would do just about fit the name of the band. Okay, hands up, there is no reference to the brothers but give me some artistic license please!

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When I made this pattern before I was relatively early in my quilting journey and I did it in an open class with Joy Edgington of New Pastures  Quilting.  This proved a wise decision because you do need to both cut and then sew the curve quite accurately for all the elements to match up when you put the 4 x 12″ blocks together. Joy, as a quilting teacher of many years standing,  had the expertise of knowing what to do to make these pieces fit together.   But rather smugly I thought two years on with at least three or four curved quilts under my belt making this quilt should be a much easier task. So I was somewhat confounded to find that my beloved curvemaster foot, which normally helps me achieve curves without pins, proved useless. It eventually dawned on me, and it really should have been a much quicker thought process that it proved to be, that the problem was using batiks.

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Using batiks in quilting rather divides the quilting world. There are those that love their multi tones  and often brilliant colours and others that don’t. I’m probably more in the latter category and as a consequence do not possess any batiks. But of course these Alison Glass’  modern handcraft range  are batiks but their very modern and fresh style is in contrast to most batiks I’ve come across  so I’d forgotten. The thing with batiks, I have since discovered, is that they generally have a much firmer weave and are therefore quite stiff. They don’t take to being pulled and stretched when doing a curve in the same way as other cotton fabrics. But they do have one very major plus. They are marvellous to iron and make wonderfully crisp edges and folds so for precision piecing I’d imagine they would be very suitable

Once I had sussed this the obvious way forward for me was using glue. My new best friend is sewline glue sticks. It proved very easy to get accurate curves without pins. The only downside is that it does make that seam thicker because of the adhesive and the quilt when finished being pieced needed to be washed to get the glue out.

To justify the theme of The Chemical Brothers I used the chemistry equation fabric in both a mottled white and grey positioned so it looked like liquid in the ‘flask’ and another fabric with symbols on it that looked vaguely reminiscent of chemistry symbols from my ‘O’ level Chemistry which I passed by a whisker donkey years ago.

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I took the opportunity to include some fabrics I love for their subtle interest and quirkiness.  A piece of London map fabric which shows the route I take (well almost) to my parent’s home, some olde world map fabric and some map contours.  That latter fabric which whilst I love from a distance looks if the material is creased and folded in on itself. And my favourite ‘Maker ‘ fabric.

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To get the quilt to feel balanced I cut and placed the pieces up on my design wall. The outer pieces were cut over sized. Understandably the quilt display organisers want the quilts to be exactly the right size so I built in some wriggle room.

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In the end whilst there was some remedial work to do on a couple of the blocks to ensure the curves met reasonably smoothly it wasn’t too major.  Overall I was pleased with the accuracy.

IMG_5487But smugness aside when looking for quilting inspiration at other quilts made with this block  I came across quilters who have made full-size quilts including 56, yes 56, of these blocks all beautifully connecting. I am absolutely in awe of that as that would take me for ever – it would be a truly epic quilt.

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linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation and Amanda Jean at Crazy MomQuilts

TouchDraw and scraps

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My scrap jars were once again fit to burst and with the need to reduce some pressure before they shattered I decided that  as a high priority my next project must include scraps. The stars aligned as it is scraptastic Tuesday next week and I  wanted to make at least one if not two table toppers for Jennifer who last year started  a wonderful initiative of making bags and table toppers for the children that come over from the region of  Belarus and Russia impacted by the Chernobyl disaster. It’s  a long standing charity that provides month long holidays for children from this region. Jennifer thought it would be a great idea, together with the organiser, to give each child a handmade tote bag and a table topper to take home with them.

Last year I made these items. I’d like to do the same and I suspect the bag will also be made of denim as it proved quite a successful make. Even my daughter approved, not enough to have one of her own of course, but she said it was okay!

 

 

I know the deadline isn’t until June but I don’t like it being too tight and this gave me a perfect excuse to play with scraps and make something for Jennifer.  I dug out a selection of pink and lilac scraps, so much not my personal colour choice, but I was intrigued to see how they would work with this design.

It’s a design I copied using an ipad app called TouchDraw that allows you to do as it says which is draw by touch.  I have long wanted an ipad tool to play with shapes and designs with the ability to colour them in. For some reason I don’t enjoy drawing with felt tips on paper. There is of course the Grandaddy of all quilt design tools which is EQ 7.  This is incredibly powerful and I know it’s used a lot by serious professional quilters but by all accounts, as with any sophisticated software, mastering it is a very steep learning.  Abigail of Cut and Alter has  recently purchased a copy and is making great progress but she is an altogether more superior quilter than me and has a very creative and original design edge. I just wanted to play and didn’t want to invest the time in something as sophisticated as EQ7 or for that matter the c£150 it would cost!  I was therefore intrigued by Lynn Galsworthy of the Lilys Quilts who showed me at the recent Thread House retreat, along with others, how she uses TouchDraw, a real bargain at around £10, to do all her design work including submissions to magazines.

It’s so much easier to learn something like this when somebody can show you. Lynn patiently demonstrated the sorts of things that can be done with it so that even when you’re left to your own devices after the event, you know what the app can do, so it’s just a question of remembering how. Anyway after a play and I came up with these.

 

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It was then easy to prep a pattern and very quickly paper piece these blocks. All scraps so yes the pressure on those jars has diminished a little…. for quilting I went with my trusty masking tape which makes it easy to get straight lines. I have tried a hera marker and I know many people like this for straight line quilting but I had read recently that sometimes you can make too much of a mark such that it won’t come out but the problem for me is I can never quite see clearly enough the guide lines where of course yellow masking tape is hard to miss! I do love the texture on this one and of the design I think is quite effective and very quick.

 

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I do love the texture on this one and of the design I think it’s quite effective and very quick to do.

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Linking up with Kelly at My Quilt Infatuation, Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts and Nicky and Leanne at scraptastic  Tuesday. 

The wrong sex…

I have a young friend who is pregnant. It’s quite unusual for me now to have friends who are pregnant – simply a generation thing. Most of my peers have children on the verge of adulthood or grown up and flown away. But  with a few exceptions, they have so far resolutely refused to have children. Mind you I’m hardly an example of early parenthood as I was 39 when I had my eldest but not entirely through  choice.

 

So back to Monika this was a great excuse to make a quilt and I duly bought on sale some very reasonably  priced fabric for a blue quilt. I fancied doing a very simple hst quilt rather like the signature quilts of Rita of Red Pepper Quilts.    I’d always liked Elizabeth Hartman’s Pacific line and there was a special offer at new to me online fabric retailer Olive and Flo Handcraft.  I would have ordered two charm packs but I had the last one, but also had some lovely fabric from that range for the backing and a nice blue stripe.  It arrived beautifully wrapped, with a handwritten note from Saira, just lovely.

 

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In fact the stripe was such a nice width and I do make a lot of  blue quilts that I ordered more and added in some April Rhodes Observer fabric. Such lovely muted colours… and of course beautifully wrapped again….

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Why was I so certain it was a boy? It’s just that Monika was so sick with this pregnancy and wasn’t with her first child a girl so I was pretty confident. Even to the point that getting the top done was going to be One Monthly Goal for Patty of Elm Street Quilts.  But then the text…

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Of course it’s wonderful news whatever the sex, not all pregnancies, sadly, end happily so it was a happy text just it rather scuppered my sewing plans… Yes I do have some pink fabric  but  possibly not enough for a girl’s version. I will be going back to the planning board on that one. So my One Monthly Goal for March will instead be to quilt this top which has been hanging around too long (as you can see from the Autumnal foliage) and deserves to be finished off.

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Silk ties

 

 

img_5422Kim of Persimon Dreams has another Project Quilting theme this week which is well dressed men. This theme has to be interpreted in a quilt form. I always check out the theme to see whether it sparks anything and then if it does think ahead whether I have got the time to actually make something within the allotted week.  Well this week when I was mulling over the theme and thinking of well dressed men I was reminded that in the loft there was a box of my late husband’s ties. Not all of them by any means. He had a typical working wardrobe of dark charcoal suits and smart ties to meet UK corporate expectations and that combined with a bit of a tendency to hoard there were dozens and dozens of ties. But I kept the ones that I liked the most and were silk thinking that one day they might come in useful. It became very clear that as our two sons weren’t going to want to wear them (I have offered them up on the rare occasion they have to wear suits but they look appalled) so I felt it okay to dismember some of them and see what fabric I’d got.

To be frank I am a bit ambivalent about using clothes from family members that have died. On one hand I think it can be very touching, literally, as a momento of that individual but on the other hand is it mawkish? I have kept a lot of Nigel’s old shirts, not his work shirts that were uniformly white, he wouldn’t wear anything else, but his casual shirts and I have attempted to make a quilt with them but for a variety of reasons it hasn’t been completed. That ambivalence again. But with this challenge I thought it would be something small, given the time constraints, and it would not use too much of the material if it didn’t work out or I just didn’t like what I made so why not?

Then looking at the ties in more detail I noticed that they were all very similar. No one could ever say that Nigel was cutting edge when it came to fashion! Nor me for that matter. And if I’m honest many of those ties would have been bought by me so that rather consistent dark red with the occasional blue was very much the norm. So I tried to select the ones that had the most contrast.

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You can see from this picture of Nigel taken at our nanny’s wedding in 2006,  the year before he died, he’s still sticking to his favourite deep red!

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Then to choose the design. I decided that sewing silk together would be quite difficult.  I’m so used to sewing with cotton which sticks nicely to each other that slippery fabrics are a bit of a nightmare. So I thought the best way forward was a paper-based foundation block.

Going through the patterns I came across one by flying parrot quilting.com called the kite block. It’s a free craftsy pattern.  I liked the fact that it was quite minimal in design, that it would show off the fabrics but not too gaudily. I chose a plainish background fabric. I’d normally go for a patterned one but I wanted it to be quite minimal looking and crisp.

This is what disembowelled ties look like and the amount of material you have left is quite substantial.

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I pieced the blocks in batches and pre cut the individual pieces for speed and accuracy.  For once I was very organised and the 18 pieced blocks came together quite quickly. The silk was a bit tricky but being foundation pieced made a big difference oh that and glue! When a seam was being particularly difficult I used a glue stick to secure it. Not text book I grant you but it worked!!

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With the quilting I wanted it to have simple texture to go with the stark design. I did a fake trupunto effect by putting behind each piece of silk an extra piece of wadding in that skewed L shape then just quilted the outline.

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I couldn’t resist some ghost shapes…  I love how the silk shines in the sun.

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Well there is plenty more material – as I say ties generate a fair bit. And I’ve had the satisfaction of another box  being emptied from the loft even if most of it has found its way to my sewing room!

Linking up with Project Quilting, My Quilt Fascination and Crazy Mom Quilts