#Quilts for Grenfell

IMG_6252

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….

image.jpg

IMG_5555.JPG

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….

IMG_6127

…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.

IMG_6247IMG_6250

 

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.

IMG_6253

 

And the mistake? Here it is.

IMG_6255

 

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!

IMG_6241

This is a FAL finish blogged here.

linking up with Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts

Kelly of My Quilt Infatuation, Amanda Jean of Crazy Mom Quilts and Anja quilts for TGIFF

Advertisements

Perspectives

IMG_6209

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 ……

 

IMG_6208

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.

IMG_6198IMG_6192

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.

IMG_6188IMG_6190

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….

IMG_6205

Linking up with Lorna of Sew Fresh Quilts 

The next generation – a baby quilt

IMG_6127

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.

IMG_5542

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.

IMG_6127

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 ….

IMG_1023IMG_2061

 

… 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….

IMG_0819IMG_0820

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!

IMG_5981.JPG

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….

IMG_6125

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.

IMG_6064

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.

IMG_5900

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.

 

IMG_6074

 

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 ….

image

 

…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.

IMG_6122IMG_6102

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