Review of Quilt Finish Along Q2 and Plans for Q3

Reviewing what I said I hoped to finish in Q2 this year I was surprised to see, despite the last few fallow weeks, that I was quite productive. And what I thought was my solitary creation of June was in fact not strictly true with a couple of finishes in early June.

This is the usual Q2 montage showing successes and failures.

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So item 2 was finished and is a Thread House Retreat bee for Siblings Together. Incidentally this was the time, a couple of months ago, when I had a lawn and not a parched prairie! The UK is going through a very hot and extended dry period.

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Item 3 was another quilt for Siblings Together this time from left over blocks.

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Item 4 was a bag for one of the children that has come over from the Chernobyl region for a hoiday in N Wales. The lovely Jen organises us each year to make bags and table toppers. Look at that lovely green grass…..sob

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Item 5 a baby quilt for a friend’s first grandaughter

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Item 6 is another bee quit this time another Thread House Retreat Bee quilt, in fact the second quilt from this block as I had so many sent from my kind bee mates.

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Now to Q3. Part of the time we are away on holiday but if I can get some free time I should be able to get back on track. So I’m going to be ambitious…..

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1. is a ST quilt by Bee 4.  This is getting a bit overdue  The problem was it needed a fair few extra blocks.

2. This is another ST quilt by Bee 2 this time. I have the blocks though again a few extra may be needed

3. This quilt top needs to be quilted. I think this could be a favourite

4. I’m determined to crack on and get this pattern made of Aneela Hoey called the booklet pouch

5. A bit of an experiment this one. A scrappy Robbing Peter to Pay Paul design but hopefully modernised

6. I need a replacement quilt for the kitchen  I like these first few blocks for their 3d effect

 

 

 

Needles and contemporary quilts.

This was the sum total of my makes for June. Yep pretty unimpressive. Skye looks quite abashed at such a paltry offering. The needlebook is taken from Aneela Hoey’s book albeit adapted.  It’s been a dry June here in the UK not just weather wise but creatively. (Oh and the heat seems to have got to WordPress and there are no paragraphs showing in the preview setting. I’m hoping when published that corrects itself)

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I’ve often wondered why when I worked full time I was very uncreative given that a few years on, with more capacity, it’s something I really enjoy. OK at that time I had three young children, a 50-60 hour working week, a husband who, not even his most generous friends, would call a modern husband but even in the little time I had, I never used it for making something. But having had a month of being in effect back at work doing something rather than my usual advisory role where I , well, advise and then leave the actual work to others, I find that it has sapped not just time but creative energy. And rather scarily I’m so preoccupied I don’t actually want to sew…..
So it’s not about motivation being lost but that desire to create being squeezed out by preoccupation about a knotty work issue. I hugely admire those who despite the pressures of work find time and energy to create. It seems I’m more fickle….
When we did have some time available recently Mum and I went to the National Needle Museum in Redditch.
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It’s a small museum and quite quirky with really just one large room in a converted factory which once cleaned and scoured needles. I suppose the very nature of needles being so small means they don’t take up much space to display.  And sewing as I do (well normally) I only really think of sewing needles but in fact they made all sorts of needles for gramophones, medical use, fish hooks and of course the myriad type of sewing needles. There were some very fancy needle holders on display.
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Now if I’m brutally honest it was an interesting display and watching the video on a continuous loop on needle manufacture was very interesting, but not life changing. The draw for me was the middle floor of the building which is an exhibition space for textiles and on at the moment is a juried selection of contemporary quilts from members of the Quilter’s Guild.
Please correct me if I’m wrong but contemporary quilts appear to be a peculiarly British and possibly European category of quilts. I’ve not come a rissit as a category of quilts in the US shows but I could be wrong. It sits between modern and art quilts and is  a category recognised by the UK Quilters Guild at the Festival of Quilts.
They tend to be quilts, which whilst modern, include a lot of surface embellishment like stencils, fabric paints, embroidery. They are decorative not functional and some are more like art quilts.  The theme for the quilt exhibition was ‘Imprint’ – yes I agree a bit odd but given a lot of these quilts include stencilled words, digital pictures etc perhaps it has more relevance as a topic for this type of quilt. Here is a selection of my favourites.
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And our personal favourites…. Mum’s first
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And my favourite
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This type of quilting quite appeals.  But I think I would have to learn a whole new set of techniques and accumulate even more craft supplies.  I have in fact experimented with using fabric paints and stencils. This is a quilt I made probably  in the first six months of quilting for some free motion quilting practice. It lives in our kitchen and as you can see from the second picture placing it above the food processor was probably not the best idea!
Amazingly that beetroot flavoured purée all came off but the quilt is looking a bit spotted with grease and general kitchen life so it might need to be replaced. It’s not one of my favourites and perhaps getting on with making a replacement will spur me on!
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Radiance Mini Quilt

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It never ceases to surprise me how many million ways there are to take humble half square triangles and then pair them with some plain squares to make a different design. That combined with the use of colour and pattern and the options increase exponentially.

This quilt is an example, nothing clever about its construction but I’ve always liked this pattern by Heather Jones. And I toyed with this design when deciding what pattern for the baby quilt I did recently. In fact now I’ve bought the pattern I wish I had used it……

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Anyway I needed to make a mini to go to Jennifer who collects bags and table toppers for the children who come over to the U.K. for an extended holiday from Chernobyl. (More on this wonderful initiative and the bag I made here.)

I chose a fairly simple selection of fabrics with a blue green theme. The striped one was a pain frankly making sure they all ran the same way.  A few extra had to be made to get the alignment  correct. I also wish I’d gone for an off white as opposed to this bright white. But it’s not a major problem.

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Other than that it was an evening’s make, at least the top. I meant to go for a concentric circular  design for the quilting but forgot so the quilting is a bit boring  and next time I must remember that a double layer of batting really does give it substance and texture. I only went for one and it’s a tad flimsy.

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I enjoy making minis, they are so quick and effective, but it’s a bit like eating a canapé, tasty and in the moment satisfying, but doesn’t quite beat the sense of achievement of completing a full sized quilt or to continue the analogy a full meal. The fact that it will be winging its way to Jennifer makes up for that as opposed to joining a pile of minis that I’m not entirely sure what to do with.

I remember reading on someones blog that they were offering a giveaway and to determine the random winner she picked out a number, 118 as it happens, and the person who had made the 118th comment was the winner.  This lady in her thank you reply said that the number coninceded with the number of quilts in her house. ONE HUNDRED AND EIGTHEEN QUILTS!! I’m presuming here that she is not including place mats, mug rugs etc but proper quilts, ones you hang, display or sleep under. I was reeling. Where do you put 118 quilts for a start.

Now in the interests of full disclosure (you can see that I’ve had a week dealing with legal matters, not mine I add just to reassure my parents!) I have in my possession in this house 8 full size quilts on beds/sofas, 7 on walls, mostly minis or cot size quilts and about 3 minis in this ‘don’t know quite what to do with them’ pile. I’m ignoring the 6 quilts that are awaiting transit to Siblings Together (in the picture below). So 18 in total. Each of us have either asked for or planned to make a second so that would make another 4. And I’ve a couple of biggish empty walls that could take another couple. But still a small fraction of this lady.

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Of course houses vary in size but not usually massively in occupants. So I’m still reeling what you do with them but maybe she is a collector. And I’ve seen in blog land houses where quilts are used as decoration and are draped over chairs, bannisters, quilt ladders etc. And you have to admit a pile of quilts is an inviting sight. Of course she maybe a quilting teacher so a collection of quilts for demonstration purposes or even trunk shows at Quilt Groups is necessary. Even so it’s a lot of quilts.

If you fancy confessing how many quilts you have feel free….

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Linking up with TGIFF

 

 

 

More Russian love

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OK there doesn’t appear to be much love between Russia and the western world at the moment but there is on a different level. Each year groups of children from the Chernobyl region come to the UK for an extended holiday staying with local families. One such group go to North Wales and the lovely and generous Jennifer of Glinda Quilts who lives in Wales brings together a group of quilters from all over to make tote bags for the children and table toppers which they take back as gifts. Needlesksn to say Jennifer fills those bags with goodies and receiving these gifts is one of the highlights of the holiday. The original plan had been to make the table topper this week as well but life’s dramas got in the way ……

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Each year I enjoy taking part. The children are quite young around 9-11 years old and are mostly girls. I made this girly version last year.

IMG_5900A friend’s 10 year old daughter helped me with fabric choices but unfortunately they’ve moved away so I was left to my own devices this year.

I would normally have gone with my usual tote bag but I’ve made so many over the last few months I wanted a change. That tote bag has also got quite a wide top so while useful as a shopper not so ideal for a day bag containing things you don’t want to lose.

I  came across this free bag pattern on the Shecansew blog. For some reason it won’t let me link the actual free pattern but it is on Craftsy called the Mini Downtown Messenger bag. As blogs go Shecansew is quite commercialised but each day has a free pattern and last Monday it was this rather sweet mini messenger bag. The problem was just that, it was mini. Jennifer suggests a bag 14” deep and 12” wide so I had to scale it up. I don’t have access to a fancy photocopier that can scale it up automatically 0so I just scaled up the overall shape and then made a couple of more templates then cut out the relevant sections, so the curved pieces, the front pocket etc  and then added seam allowances. As haphazard as it sounds it worked.

I chose these fabrics.

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I love the raccoon fabric ( I think it’s a raccoon and not a bear but US friends do correct me). I did wobble a bit on this choice thinking perhaps a child from rural Russia might have a fear of a bear like face. But then I thought back to my fellow holiday makers last year on a ranch holiday in Colorado. We were discussing bears and the threat of walking or riding into one. We don’t have bears or anything that can attack you in the UK (other than fellow humans unfortunately). I found it amazing how sanguine the US folk were about the very real threat of the wilder types of the US’s wildlife. On one hand saying how rare it was to come across  a bear and in the next breath swapping stories of bear encounters and the best brand of bear spray!! They are so much braver than me….but I decided, fearful or not, that it was too cute a fabric not to go with it

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It was a very simple make and using my beloved headliner as interfacing gives it body but it is still light and functional. I chose the cursed polyester mix for the lining thinking our alphabet would be an interesting contrast to their cyrillic alphabet.

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If you are thinking our garden is looking very verdant then that might be due to the torrential rain we’ve been having but sadly not all my garden looks like that, see here my very sorry looking vine….. it was chosen to hide that ugly down pipe, a task it is spectacularly failing at! I think I will give it a thorough prune and see what happens.

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Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and TGIFF

This is a Q2 QAL finish and covered here

The Missing Lilac Cat

imageNo this is not the blog being pulled because of non compliance with the new European GDPR rules but the actual lilac cat did go missing (note past tense, it has a happy ending!).

This is not a post about quilts and sewing so feel free to pass on by.  I do really understand that one person’s passion can be incomprehensible to another. I could never get my late husband’s obsession with Norwich City Football Club, he would even cry, for goodness sake,  if they went down a division! For the sake of marital harmony I expressed more sympathy than this suggests but taken altogether it gave him much more pain than pleasure. I’m guessing I’m not the only sports widow and many can relate to this. But as this blog is named after Skye and she frankly features more than any one single thing I’ve ever sewn I thought I’d share.

Skye and her cousin Felix are indoor cats. I have wrestled with this as its not a natural existence but today’s story only goes to prove my reservations were well founded. Being bred for beauty and not brain has it’s pitfalls.

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No one saw Skye escape and I suspect a door wasn’t fully closed and in a busy household with the children off school it could have been anyone of us.  But she’s been more and more keen on escaping recently and on this occasion she saw her chance and went for it. Once we couldn’t find her in the house we were out in the neighbourhood calling her name and then settled down in the garden to await her return. Except she didn’t. Hours went by and no cat and we got ever more concerned.

I put her details up on our local residents Facebook page.  We are part of quite a close knit community and have been here for nearly 30 years so it wasn’t long before I got a call to say she’d been seen 100m houses up  the road but the trail was cold and there no sign of her when we went up there late at night.

With Skye still missing  in the morning action was needed and by 6.45am I was out leafleting. I had used posters when a neighbour and I tried to find out information about a stray cat earlier this year  but we found they weren’t very effective. Typical surburbian life means most people drive. I thought the personal touch of a leaflet would have more impact and more eyes looking out for her.

Sure enough another couple of sightings came through but nothing very recent but it gave me another area to leaflet. And on my walk back I saw a little face peeping out from behind the tyre of a car. She was damp, cold and hungry after going solo for nearly 30 hours.  I’m not sure who was the more relieved!

Stressed cats shed fur as you can see from the picture on my daughter’s lap. She never normally sheds. If this was the same for humans I’d have needed a wig by the time she came home.

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She was quickly spark out with exhaustion on my daughter’s bed. Mindyou most of her normal day she’s like this!

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I was hopeful that her experience of being miserable outside  would give her an aversion to the outdoors  but not a bit of it.  Given half the chance she was outside in a trice less than 24 hours of being home. Obviously I staged this and was ready to scoop her up before she made a run for it.  But she shamelessly edged the door open with her paw, little monkey.

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As I say beauty over brains. In some ways it’s more worrying as we now know if she gets out she won’t just amble home. I can see more leafleting in my future at some point. And for Skye a new collar with a clear tag saying ‘I’m lost’!

 

 

The Guilt Quilt…..

 

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Someone commented recently how quick I am at turning round quilts. But the truth of course is I have these wonderful Siblings Together Bee members (see tab above for more info on this charity) sending me blocks otherwise my finish rate would be soooo much lower. And although the blocks we choose for these quilts are usually selected for impact over complexity nevertheless from start to finish they will take a minimum of an hour to make. So assuming you need say 20-30 blocks for a typical quilt then you can see the time saving. Mind you I spent well over that doing some blocks for another mama yesterday but that quilt is going to be so stunning…..

The comment touched a guilty nerve though as I had some much overdue blocks left over from this quilt made last October that needed to be in a quilt.

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I had an absolute bumper crop of these scrap quarter log cabins. I’d bought Rachel Hauser’s Lake Cabin quilt pattern and with her permission used it for the first quilt. It’s quite block intensive but Bee members from both Bee 2 and the new  Bee 4 people who were waiting for their official start came up trumps.  I received 75 plus blocks which I then sorted  into those that were more gender neutral and those more flowery and used the latter to make the quilt above.  I had quite a few left over for another quilt but not enough so they languished in a drawer…..

But once spurred on it is surprising how quickly I get motivated by something I’m going to enjoy because first and foremost I am a selfish sewist. I only sew what I want to sew. One of the children in desperation sewed the seams of his own school trouser legs, having taken them off I hasten to add, to narrow the legs. He was lucky the machine had dark grey in it!!  And his twin has a droopy school skirt because I’ve yet to take in the waist.  Oh and there’s a vinyl tablecloth in my sewing room that a friend asked to me to hem months and months, ok well over a year ago, and because it will be fiddly and a pain that 45 min job has just languished. You get the drift?

It didn’t take too long to make up another 8 or so blocks and my blue and green scrap drawers are really quite thin. I decided against the same quilt design as before as there was a lot of sashing involved with the original design.  It was a bit fiddly so I decided to do it on point again but insert plain white squares. I wonder whether I prefer this layout as being more graphic and fresh.

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Sewing the top together took way longer than it should have done. I used my Singer Featherweight and whether it’s the old motor or whatever it’s not a quick machine. It’s perfect for piecing blocks but long seams are a bit of a pain. Also I got throughly muddled by the on point setting but lets be honest those block layouts on my lounge floor are hardly precise.  Oh for a full design wall.  So lots of unpicking was involved.

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You will notice I haven’t quilted this one yet. Our target for Siblings Together is 100 quilts which we achieved this week and given how many quilts get finished around now that number will get higher. So the 6 or so quilts stacked on my spare bed that I was going to send I’m hanging onto for next year and will hand them to Nicky who coordinates this amazing effort when I see her. To save space I’ve decided to just keep the tops and quilt them later.

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…and  because I’ve been mama for two bees this month and these gorgeous blocks have been arriving, so there are more tops to come

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Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and TGIFF

 

The Royal Wedding Quilt

 

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Jacq  who commented  on a post I wrote earlier this year about quilting and watching Netflix and TV etc, made me laugh when she said she often associated the quilts she’d made with the programme she’d watched at the time she made it. So last year’s Sewcial Sampler was The Crown and the Swoon 2016 quilt was Breaking Bad. So on that basis this is the Royal Wedding Quilt. I suppose these wonderfully zesty and exciting colours rather suit the latest royal bride who looked stunning and brings some much needed energy and difference. Meghan is a big hit here!

I normally get some time during the week to sew but not last week so I wanted to devote some free time this weekend. I was one child down which always helps in terms of freeing up time. She was away getting thoroughly  lost on her Duke of Edinburgh trek wearing my fitbit so 56,000 steps later I’m on a mega 102k for this week! Once the lounge had been emptied of teenage boys who’d stayed over night I settled down to watch the wedding with a bit of basting on the floor. However I think the royal couple look slightly disapproving of me using spray glue in the lounge…..but I have to say it worked very well.

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I was onto the quilting by the end of the wedding service and during the cello bit, popping out to make a cup of tea, I heard Felix meowing loudly outside. This is a worrying sound when you have indoor cats. Sure enough he had managed to leap from an upstairs window onto next doors flat roof. This is trickier than it sounds as you have to jump up and across.

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I retrieved  him from the roof by accessing it via our neighbours window.  Back home I then covered the window sill with sticky tape specially designed to keep pets off. Clearly either the distress of being trapped on the roof or the sticky stuff didn’t deter him because 45 minutes later I was back round the neighbours hauling him through their window again so I’m going to have to think more. He has more brawn than brain.

Once I’d got back to the wedding they were now in the horse drawn carriage surrounded by a mounted escort which for me is the best bit. I love horses and these were magnificent creatures but I’m a sufficiently experienced observer of these events to know that there is nearly always one naughty  horse. I regularly ride and the slightest thing can spook a horse even down to an innocent plastic bag in a hedge so when it comes to cheering crowds waving banners and flags I’m surprised there aren’t more problems. I know they train them but you can’t recreate the scale and noise of those crowds.  Well one of the front grey horses was decidedly troublesome and it was impressive how the rider just about kept the horse in check as it cantered on the spot and at one point veered into a policeman. The rider must have been pleased to get back!

Back to the quilt, it is made from a whole bunch of blocks made by the Siblings Together Threadhouse Retreat Bee. It’s a great block, little wastage and very quick. I received easily enough for two quilts.

I’d asked for warm colours and crudely divided those with slightly more analogous colours from the really zingy ones .  Here’s the first quilt for comparison.

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Whereas you can see with the second the colours take it up a notch.

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I chose a simple FMQ quilting design highlighting the verticles as opposed to an all over design. Kate @chilternweb had very kindly sent me some Pfaff feet and bobbins as she’d just received a beautiful Bernina. They were in a really sweet pouch with a flex frame which intrigued me. I’m going to explore those more.

397428B1-DEA7-4E67-9D83-28B96CC878A7Amongst them was the 6D Dynamic Spring quilting foot, so I thought  I’d give it a try. Well what a great foot. I much preferred it to my usual FMQ foot which is the open toed. Fine for detailed work but fast all over design seemed to make the stitches easier. OK it doesn’t help get my spacings between my quilting  lines anymore even but that is too much to ask for! Thanks Kate.

I have a sneaky suspicion their first night as a married couple Harry and Meghan weren’t sleeping under a cotton patchwork quilt but how sad for them!

This is a Q2 QAL finish and covered here 

 

Fold up pouch – vive la difference

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There’s another sew along for Aneela Hoey’s book Stitched Sewing Organisers run this time  by Stacey @craftylilmouse and Zena @mycreativelypottylife over on IG

Stacey was my swap partner for the #Saturdaynightcraftalong and since then I’ve hugely enjoyed watching what she makes and her posts both on IG and blog. I was really pleased  she embarked on this and it plays perfectly for those who didn’t get caught up in the previous sew along which ran a cracking pace over the winter.

I dipped in occasionally to that sew along and made these items from the book.

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And aside from the triple pouch which is the second picture and involved a lot of fabric for a multi pouch, they are designs I will do again  and are perfect for gifting. In fact the last item, the see through pouch with the mice,  was for Stacey as an extra.

But this Sew Along is a different. For a start it’s at a more genteel pace of making an item a month rather than every week.  And if you don’t fancy that item then you can simply choose another.

The monthly project for May was the fold up pouch. Now I didn’t make any of these last time but they looked sweet and functional so I decided to have a go.

I’d got some leftover strips of the Amy Sinibaldi Dollhouse fabrics and these were perfect.

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I had lots of much smaller scraps of these beautiful fabrics from the quilt I made last week  and inspired by a chain of tiny flying geese by Sam @samanthamackie31 I thought they were the perfect candidate for making a feature out of the band that holds the flap down.

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In fact I’m not really a fan of these flaps and bands as a way of securing a pouch  so decidedly perversely to make a feature of them. In terms of tips I made the band stick up quite proud of the front of the pouch as you can see in the picture to accommodate the flap.

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I also tapered the flap seams – see below. The problem I had with pouches 1 and 2, despite the bands sticking up slightly, the flap itself was still a bit  crumpled when in the band because it was the same width. The tapering on the big version worked a treat.

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I had the tapering idea after I’d sewn it up normally so that’s why you can see two lines of sewing. The inside ones are slightly tapered.

 

I always enjoy birthing these bags so to speak and seeing the final thing….

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To this….. well after a bit of pushing out and ironing!

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And that brings me onto the other main difference between these two Sew Alongs is this time you can play with the designs. I took full advantage of this with making a larger version and the tassels. They are helpful to pull the flap through the band but the jury is out whether they are a big naff!! There’s also wadding in the bigger one as well.

With the first Sew Along they had prizes and everyone who’d entered their creation had a chance of winning so I can quite understand why they had to be strict on this point of sticking to the original design. But for a free ranger like me, and I suspect a lot of other people, the pattern is just the start. I’m not alone in wanting to make things differently, to tailor it to my needs or I just want to make it more individual. Either way being constrained didn’t work for me. It didn’t stop me making the items a bit different where called on but I just didn’t submit them and you felt slightly disloyal not sticking to the pattern! Anyway no such scruples this time!

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I’m sure having  prizes and giveaways for these sorts of things ups the anti but I have slightly mixed views about these. A topic for another day and whilst I’ve never had a giveaway myself I am sort of venturing into that territory today but it has strings attached, metaphorically at least!

You may have heard of ‘paying it forward’? The principle is that a maker makes and sends a small sewn gift to say up to  3 people but, and here is the condition, once each has received their gift they then have to pay it forward by finding another 3 people to send a gift to within 6 months. These new recipients also need to be prepared to find and then make for 3 others who agree to do the same and so on.

If everybody stuck to this over a 5/6 year period, assuming a turnaround every 4-6 months, then over 60,000 people would have received and made. I suspect life will get in the way but let’s get this ball rolling. So if you’d like to receive something I’ve made over the next few months and on receiving it within 6 months you are willing to find 3 others to make for but they also in turn agree to make for someone else on receiving your gift then do let me know below. I will post something on IG as well and will randomly select 3 names, 1 each from my blog and IG and then the third from either. I won’t pick anyone until this post has been up for a week. I’m happy to ship internationally.

And just to manage expectations I think we can rule out a king sized quilt being sent but something hopefully attractive and functional with a modern vibe.    Indeed Aneela’s book just might be useful inspiration! Oh and if you are deathly allergic to cats best not apply because any new item is subject to a cat inspection whether asked for or not….

405434E9-7C5E-456B-B6FB-8A0B7D5787D3Linking up with Amanda Jean at Crazy Mom Quilts

Simple and Sophisticated?

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Well that was my intention…. I’m not entirely sure that has been achieved. Perhaps quilts  lend themselves to looking more homely than sophisticated? Discuss (it’s exam season!)

What I was aiming for was a modern baby quilt for a friend who has just had another grandchild. Whether the quilt stays  at Grandma’s for visits or is handed to the new parents is up to them.

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Its the grey background I’m not so sure about. It just looks a bit drab to me.  The pinks prints are all Amy Sinibaldi designs mostly from her most recent collection Doll House.

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Now these are lovely and I think these stylish prints perfect for a baby girl. This is the first girl in the family for a couple of generations so pink seemed obvious. I remember  being so thrilled to have a baby girl after two boys, one of which had only born 5 minutes earlier, and to celebrate this she wore pink exclusively for years!! Of course it’s taken until she is 15 years for her to face wearing pink again! And incidentally although she is wearing a NYC top she’s very much in the garden of a middle England house and of course is wearing surgically attached ear phones.

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But back to the grey it just maybe I’m a cream/off white sort of person but I thought I’d give leaving my comfort zone a go….

Grey seems to be hugely popular amongst my friends when they redecorate. A friend has just had to remodel their new to them house. You know, new house beautifully presented by previous owners but as you peel back that superficial outer layer you find all sorts of fundamental problems. They’ve become inured to the typical tradesmen comments of ‘I’ve never seen anything like this before…’. Anyway they’ve gone for a palette of greys and it looks fab; really modern and fresh. But colour aside this quilt was just what I needed. A simple straightforward bit of mindless chained pieced sewing…..

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My mum had recently bought got me Bonnie Hunter’s Essential Triangle Tool. I enjoy Bonnie’s daily blog and she promotes this tool regularly and from the demo she did on YouTube it did seem to be a useful time saving tool.

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And this is a woman who needs to save time! Bonnie is a very talented quilting phenomenon, she is prolific and hugely popular. She writes books, designs quilts and travels across the US running workshops with suitcases of quilts for her trunk shows. I have traveled a lot for work over the years and perfected the art of carry on luggage only but with so many checked in heavy bags it must be hard work.

Bonnie’s quilts are usually scrappy and made up of triangles/square/flying geese etc blocks with a more traditional flavour than mine. She runs a mystery quilt each year where you don’t know what the final design is but the next step of instructions are given on a weekly basis. I’ve never done one but the instructions are staggering, not in their complexity, but quantity. So for example complete 250 flying geese units or whatever. And people follow with almost religious  fervour! But now I’ve used this tool and Bonnie’s techniques I am beginning to understand their amazing productivity. This tool and technique  are very effective and saves a lot of time. I’m sure there are others that do the job just as well but it worked for me.

I think the trick is that you are cutting from strips of fabric. Cutting is not my favourite part of the process and if you are cutting from small individual scraps it takes time. But cutting from strips of fabric which have already been paired makes it sooo quick. And then because they are in pairs they are a doddle to chain piece. You iron them en bloc and then by magic you have, an hour or so later, 25 finished  blocks!  You can also do half square triangles and flying geese. Now I accept quilting isn’t a race to the finish but I do like efficiency rather than tedious processes.

The only criticism is that the ruler doesn’t have  1/2” increments so I actually wanted a finished 4.5” hourglass block but it only makes a 4” or 5” block. Obviously it’s not beyond the wit of man, or woman in this case, to use a piece of washi tape to mark off a half increment.

I also tried Bonnie’s technique of webbing when you come to assemble the entire  quilt. She explains the technique on her blog but essentially it’s where you chain piece everything and you end up with the blocks all connected by hanging threads. I’m sure she’s right that it is quicker but I just need practice.

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This quilt is not going to go down as one of my favourites and I shall be rushing back to my comfort zone of off white.  But I do love the back, another Amy Sinibaldi design, rushed to me in under 24 hours by the ever efficient Saira. That’s the benefit of a quilt – its two sided!

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Linking up with Crazy Mom Quilts and My Quilt Infatuation

This is a Q2 QAL finish and covered here 

Strings for fun – May block for Siblings Together Bee 2

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Voila! The block for Siblings Together Bee 2. Don’t be confused by instructions for another block for this month on this blog. With immaculate timing I’m monthly Mama for two ST bees this month! As far as I’m concerned double the happy mail.

When I’m thinking about which block to use for these Bees  it’s often prompted by what scraps I have. I love scrappy quilts and there’s nothing like a Bee to really multiply the number of different fabrics in a project.

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Probably the most common type of scrap I’ve got are strings, those long pieces left after a block has been cut. Or  corner pieces when you’ve snowballed a corner. Well now they can shine!! Here are the instructions.

I would like you to make 4 times 8.5” unfinished square string blocks that then get sewn together as the block at the top. It does require piecing onto a foundation of paper.**

** That’s a lie! It’s slightly easier if you have a foundation to guide you when sewing but actually if you’ve got a good eye then it’s not necessary. I know how many of you in this Bee are expert quilters albeit not me! Most of the test blocks I did were without a foundation.  If however you want to have a foundation but this is new to you then the trick is to use a much shorter stitch length say 1.5 which makes it easier to rip out the paper  and just follow along with the pictures  When I first did piecing with paper foundation I thought it would damage the needle but it won’t although it may blunt it quicker. Any problems get in touch

You will need

2 x 10” by 10” squares of bright white solid OR 2 x 9” by 9” squares of bright white solid if you are not using foundation or if you’ve paper big enough to accommodate cutting out a 9” square.(A4 isn’t big enough)

4 x 1.25” by 14” strip of very dark fabric, it can be dark navy, black, dark red, dark grey etc, preferably a solid or reads as a solid. You can use different dark fabric in each of the hst as I’ve done

Other strings, any colour including paler/neutral fabrics and  cut to various lengths and width anything between 1.5” and 2.5”

Thin paper, ordinary photocopying paper is fine, for the paper foundation.

1. Cut each white 10” (or 9”) square in half along the diagonal  making 4 right angle triangles

2. Now prep your paper foundation if using paper. If you’ve paper big enough just cut out 4 times 9”  squares.  If you haven’t then you can just about squeeze out a 9” half square triangle albeit with a missing corner from an A4 piece of paper! With your A4 paper on the cutting mat place the diagonal of a quilters square ruler along the edge and cut from the right hand corner. I keep a rotary cutter with an old blade in it for cutting paper.

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3. Flip it over and then mark 9” up the side.  Now with the quilters square ruler so that again the diagonal is on the long length  you can cut up to the 9” mark and making a right angle at that point. If you were wishing you’d paid more attention in your maths class hopefully the picture  should help!

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4. Your foundation paper should now look like this. In effect half a 9” square with a small corner missing. Ideally the corner wouldn’t be missing but it doesn’t matter when we get down to sewing. You will need 4 of these.  Put them aside.

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5. Now sew the dark string to the longest side of your white triangle piece. Scant 1/4”is fine

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6. Now iron back the dark strip with the seam to the dark side as below admiring my scorched marked mat as you go

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7.  If using paper flip over the fabric to the wrong side and put a few spots of fabric glue along the length of the dark string and then attach the paper triangle tucking it under the seam. Remember it’s missing a corner so make allowances for that. If you have a 9” square of paper again attach with a spot of glue.

The reverse should look like this…

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And the front like this

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8. Adjust your stitch length. With the right side up sew a string the length of the dark string using 1/4” seam. You will be sewing through two fabrics and the paper if you’ve used paper

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9. Then keep adding strings as you go until the paper foundation has been covered or if without foundation paper by eye. You can iron each seam as go or finger press.

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10. If using paper now remove the paper

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11. Now iron the block then trim using your quilters square ruler to make an 8.5” by 8.5” square. Again use the diagonal line on the quilters square to ensure that dark strip is corner to corner

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6. When you’ve finished your block should look something like this

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13.  Now sew the 4 blocks together as above remembering to alter the stitch length back to normal. I also suggest you press the seams open when joining the 4 blocks together  to reduce bulk

If you want to make more then that would be wonderful but please leave them  as single blocks