Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Finish Along Quarter 3!

After declaring a partial success on Q2 it's now time to lay out my plans and ambitions for the upcoming 3 months of this year. I enjoy this process, it gives me some focus, and I'm linking up with Katy at The Littlest Thistle to keep myself accountable (and perhaps be in with a chance of winning some awesome prizes at the end of Q3!!).

Okay, let's start with the urgent stuff.

1) Granny Square quilts for Siblings Together with Leeds MQG.

These have been made using some blocks we put together at our last Leeds MQG sewing day. I brought all 48 blocks home and have sashed, basted and quilted both tops . Phew. All that remains is to make the binding and get them bound and labelled! I'll be on with that this week as they both need to get finished up at our sewing day this coming Saturday - the lovely Karen is going to take them to Fat Quarterly Retreat to hand over to Siblings Together so they need to be done! Obviously this is a group project but I chose to shoulder responsibility for them so I think this is a legitimate goal!

2) Teacher gifts.
I have to admit that gift crafting is not my favourite. But still, here we have 3 Noodlehead open wide zip pouches in various stages of unfinished-ness. 

I already have the Hotel Chocolat goodies to go in these so I need to resist the temptation to give up and just give the chocolate. I am not feeling the love for these. I haven't made one for a while and as soon as I got going I remembered why. It is a brilliant and easy tutorial but these are not my friends for some reason. Much unpicking of seams. I always muck up the boxed corners. How?! have no idea. My zippers look rubbish. I made the large size and wish I hadn't OR I wish I'd thought about it a little harder and done them with a contrast (linen?) bottom. Just MEH. Maybe I could pretend they are DD1's handiwork ....

Okay, immediate obligations out of the way (that will probably take me up to my upcoming Summer holiday) and we're onto the exciting stuff. Secret sewing, for the first time ever for me. These have an end of September deadline (though I'm not sure if I'll be able to share them by then, hmmmm). But anyway.

3) Secret quilt

4) Secret sewing project. This may involve EPP. Hold onto your hats people. 

And then for the sake of just in case, because of course I'll have so much time to sew over the Summer holidays and first term of school, a roundup of the WIPs and stragglers from last time.

5) Roundabout mini quilt

I tested this awesome pattern for the lovely Jess at The Elven Garden. Pattern to be released very soon, but shamefully my mini is not yet finished. Pieced, yes. Basted, yes. Quilted .... NO. Always the quilting. I am considering hand quilting it. Is that insane? I need some handwork for my holiday. Any ideas on design, links to tutes etc please??

This pic may help.

I would love to see this finished and on my wall by the end of Q3.

6) Travel duffel 2 (rollover from Q2)

I wish this bag were made and ready to pack for my holidays. It is not. 

7) Vaguely festive churn dash (another rollover)

This is very unlikely indeed. But hey, you've gotta be in it to win it, right? You never know. 

That will do I think! Linking up .... 

Wednesday, 2 July 2014

End of June, start of July

I'm just sneaking in a bit late for Fresh Sewing Day but I do like to try to do my monthly round up and plan ahead even when there isn't much to report! Last month's plans have been mostly ignored with just a couple of very pitiful finishes to report.

Some blocks for a quilt for Aneela

Some baby boy gifts

Umm yep, that's about it, sorry. No progress at all on my Aviatrix Medallion :-(

But I have been busy, with the 48 Granny Square blocks we made at Leeds MQG last month. 

I've been sashing ...

Basting ...

Quilting and trimming ...

That's one done and the other one half basted as I type. We meet again a week on Saturday (last month's meeting was later than usual) and we are hoping to get these bound and labelled and generally finished and ready to send off to Siblings Together before this year's deadline.

So looking at my to do list for July, that's the first big job.

1) Finish Siblings Together granny square quilts!

Then more deadline sewing:

2) Teacher gifts. 
I need to turn this

into 3 Noodlehead open wide zip pouches for the TAs. I have Hotel Chocolat goodies to go in them!

And I must also add a touching personalised label to the Dottie quilt which we are going to give to DD1's wonderful reception teacher.

I don't generally make labels, but I had an idea to get DD1 to write her message which I will then trace onto the fabric and hand embroider to make a label. Is that a ridiculous idea?! I haven't done embroidery for years (decades ...), will it take hours and hours?! Thoughts and/ or better suggestions in the comments please!

And then finally
3) My Siblings Together Bee blocks for July.

I am eager to rattle through this list and clear the decks as I have some SECRET sewing to do this Summer. This is a first for me and I am both excited and terrified in equal measure but looking forward to getting these things done so I can focus and crack on.

Oh and we do go away for the last 2 weeks of July and it *might* be nice to take some hand sewing. I won't even have time to do any prep before I go, but maybe I should brave these ....

I'm going to kill two birds with one post now and link up with both Lily's Quilts and also WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.

Lily's Quilts

Monday, 30 June 2014

Finish Along Q2 round up!

Seriously, how are we half way through the year already? Time is flying, and has run out on my grand plans for finishes in quarter 2.

I looked back at my initial list with some trepidation as I have been very distracted sewing-wise lately. Things aren't as bad as I feared however!

1) Playground Quilt.
All finished and blogged here.

2) Sparkling Cider voile quilt.
Also finished and blogged here.

Both these only needed the binding sewing down so were easy wins really, but much appreciated ones as they are both in daily use and much loved. The "silky quilt" as my daughter calls it is particularly adored.

3) Travel Duffle too. No progress. At all. And I go on holiday in 2 weeks. With too much to do to even consider tackling this. FAIL.

4) Dottie quilt.
All finished and blogged here! 

This was just a pile of fabric when I wrote this list so particularly pleased to have it done. And I've finally decided to gift it to my daughter's lovely reception teacher as she has been so wonderful for her this year. Watch this space for a truly touching hand embroidered quilt label .....

5) Vaguely festive churn dash.
This was a bit of a wild card so unsurprisingly, no progress whatsoever.

So 3/5 for my first ever FAL. Not bad, but as a self confessed completer-finisher I feel I could/ should have done better. Time for a bit of focus for next quarter, the WIPs are piling up here.

Off to link up with Katy at The Littlest Thistle for the finish along party!

Sunday, 22 June 2014

Many hands ...

... make light work of turning a huge pile of scraps

The leftovers of my Moda Potluck bundle from the Siblings Together Quilting Bee 2013

All fo these, plus some extras from mine and Karen's stashes too

and a couple of yards of Kona Snow into 48 granny square quilt blocks.

Yep, 48. With the addition of sashing, that's enough for 2 quilts. Thank you all so much Leeds Modern Quilt Guild!

I have lots more yardage of Kona Snow from Simply Solids for sashing and kindly donated backings on the way from Lisa and Hannah and I'm going to whip these up into 2 quilts for Siblings Together.

Siblings Together

Siblings Together is a UK based charity which promotes positive contact between siblings separated by the care system. They may be separated foster care, residential care or adoption. The charity hosts yearly summer camps to reunite the children and all who attend are given a quilt to take away, filled with precious love and memories. I have heard that the numbers of donated quilts have dropped off slightly this year, so it is super important to keep talking about this and urging everyone to get involved. You can donate a quilt, some blocks, a single block or even just some fabric. More information in the Flickr group or please feel free to leave me a comment if you have any questions or want to offer any help. This is an ongoing concern for me. Our Siblings Together Quilting Bee is starting its second year and Leeds MQG will definitely be putting this back on their agenda for next year.

I am going to *try* to get these two done by the deadline of the Fat Quarterly Retreat in July. After all, as Justine said yesterday, I don't work and I only have 2 kids. Ummm, that's an oxymoron, right?! The baby seems to have taken against naps and sleep in general (still up and playing at 9.20pm here ...) so I may be putting out a call for help in a couple of weeks! But I've felt in a bit of a slump sewing wise lately and this is giving me some great focus. On with the sashing!

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Checking in

Oof, look at that, we're over half way through June. Not quite sure what happened there, maybe the Elsa dress finished me off. Well I am still here, and I have been doing bits of sewing, but June is a super busy month for us with birthdays and parties and family stuff and, ugh, I just seem to have lost my chat somehow. 

Anyways. here's what I've been up to.

I've been doing a little pattern testing for the lovely Jess at The Elven Garden. A more exciting blog post to come on that in the not too distant future but in the meantime here's a sneak peek.

I've also made a little set of pressies for a dear friend who had her second baby a couple of weeks ago. 


These simple bandana bibs are my go-to baby gift these days, assisted by my handy dandy snap press. I decided to add in a little taggy blanket too this time and I'm really pleased with how it turned out. I absolutely love this Fanfare flannel, just perfect for things like this. I have yardage of the pink foxes stashed to make pyjama bottoms for both my girlies when the weather turns cooler again. It seems to be pretty much sold out now but fret not, gorgeous new colours are coming in the next couple of months. 

I read on Instagram this week that the lovely Aneela Hoey has been diagnosed with breast cancer. She is currently awaiting surgery. Aneela is one of my absolute favorite designers. A Sherbet Pips jelly roll was one of the first fabric lines I ever bought. My eldest daughter has a Posy quilt on her bed and my youngest has a F8 bundle of Hello Petal all waiting to be made up into the same. Her designs are just the right side of sweet and girly with adorable details and perfect colours. I don't know her, but as a human, a woman and a mother I am sad that she is going through this at the moment. 

So Chelsea has put out a call for blocks to make a #quiltforaneela.

Simple x and o blocks in a couple of size options using Aneela's own fabrics and any white you happen to have. All the details are on her blog. She's asking for a pretty quick turnaround, with blocks mailed by the end of June. Which means that a) I need to get my last 2 finished and b) if you would like to make some blocks you should get a wriggle on.

It's our Leeds MQG sewing day on Saturday (hurrah!!) and we're going to be giving a little back then too. Remember the quilt I made for Siblings Together as part of the Siblings Together Quilt Bee?

Well that was a sponsored bee and the bundle of Potluck fabrics used for the quilt was very generously provided by Moda. It was a big bundle and even after those giant churn dash blocks I had plenty left over, so I've been sorting and chopping scraps

and we're planning on making some granny square blocks all together on Saturday.

So, I'm going to quickly link up with Lee at Freshly Pieced

and I'm off to cut 266 3" squares of Kona Snow for those little grannies .....

Sunday, 1 June 2014

End of May, start of June

Lily's Quilts

May has been a bit of a funny old month for me and rather slow in the sewing department. I've been doing a Whole 30 to try to clean up my diet and curb my sugar addiction (day 28 today :-)) and so I seem to have spent a significant part of my usual sewing time on meal planning, food prepping and cooking. So in truth, not much to show for this month. Not even worthy of a mosaic, sadly! But anyway.

I did manage to finish up this block from the everlasting WIP that is the Pile O Fabric Skill Builder BOM from 2013. This is an EPPd and hand appliqued block and as such had sat prepped but unsewn for some considerable months. A lovely sewing day with the Leeds MQG gave me a kick to get it all finished and it has now joined the pile of pieced but as yet unquilted blocks ...

I also continued my theme of racing ahead with my Bee blocks. Our lovely Siblings Together quilting bee had its final month last night, but several of us have decided to continue for another year! Un-sponsored this year after an incredibly generous year of sponsorship so we will be working from stash and we've had a little shuffle around with some new members too. Jo volunteered to be first up and asked us to make these sweet scrappy little Rocky Mountain puzzle blocks. So I did, even mastering the inset seam in the tutorial (easy once Jo had pointed out to me that's what it was!). Nice to have June's blocks out of the way before June even starts and an absolute pleasure to be involved in making quilts for this wonderful charity for another year.

Oh yes, and I made an Elsa from Frozen costume. I won't go on again, but you can read all about it here.

That's it for finishes for May, but the WIPs are starting to build up and I am no fan of having things hanging over me. June is always a busy month for us with birthdays and parties but I am hoping my new found energy will enable me to make a good go at this list:

  • First up is some pattern testing for the incredibly lovely and talented Jess. I hope that this colourful stack will do justice to her fabulous design. This is my priority WIP this week.

  • Travel duffle 2. Poor travel duffle is in the same untouched state as last month.

  • And of course, my Aviatrix Medallion. I am looking forward to getting back to this one once I have a bit of headspace to do so.This is where I'm up to so far.

So that's me! Linking up with Lynne's Fresh Sewing Day. Rather excitingly, thanks to the success of my Sew Mama Sew giveaway and all my super new followers I no longer qualify for the Small Blog Meet! But I'm going to pop off and visit a few new little blogs anyway - every month I find someone new and lovely to follow and I hope you do too!

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Do you wanna ...

... make me an Elsa dress, please mummy?

Asked my nearly 5 year old daughter some many weeks (months?) ago. Umm no, thanks, darling daughter.  I do not. I'll buy you one instead.

Except at the time of looking, said Elsa costume was out of stock. Everywhere. Except on eBay where I could pay £££ for one. Of course then I realised that even if once came back into stock in her size, it would still carry quite a hefty price tag. And then I thought - pull yourself together Hannah, YOU CAN SEW. Sew the child a costume, for goodness sake.

Now I really wish I was the kind of sewer who could take 3m of blue satin and whip it up into an Elsa from Frozen costume without a pattern. But I am not. I am a pattern sewer, not a winging it sewer. And I am not a confident dressmaker, and an entirely novice costume maker. So I turned to Craftsy, rejoiced that there are individuals out there who can not only perform this feat but who are willing to write it up into a pattern for numpties like me, and purchased this one

There are several such patterns on Craftsy at the moment and I could have chosen any one of them. I'm not sponsored/ affiliated/ bribed in any way. I went for this one primarily because it had no closures - zips, velcro or the like. I wanted her to be able to get it on and off on her own. And also because it avoided the use of stretch organza for the upper bodice. The thought of that was just too much, frankly.

I then braved the fabric stall at Leeds market and purchased* this little lot:

*Yes, that's right, I bought fabric. I don't think this counts though, right? And otherwise it would have been a patchwork quilting cotton costume. But don't worry, I will confess all when I link up with Fabriholics Anonymous at the end of the month. 

And then I decided that that blue organza for the cape just wasn't quite right, and if I was going to do this I was going to do it right, so I went and purchased a metre of this off eBay too. 

And set to the cutting. Great start. The fabric doesn't press well, doesn't hold a fold, is slippery. Ugh. I did my best, using my rotary cutter, mostly. There weren't many straight lines. I had another trip to the fabric shop as I hadn't bought enough white organza (chiffon, whatever) to accomodate the long sleeves and lining (yep folks, this is a proper lined bodice and everything). 

The pattern is really thorough, aimed at the confident beginner (that's me!) there are detailed explanations and photos of every single step. Jolly good. I won't take you through every sorry detail of my process, but let's just say there was fraying, stretching, slipping, fraying, iron incidents, skipped stitches, gummed up needles, fraying, a million thread changes, gathers, FRAYING. None of this is the pattern's fault of course, she warns that fancy fabrics will lead to headaches but as I said, quilting cotton just wasn't going to wash here. And I sure as anything wasn't making it twice.

So being a dedicated pattern follower, I followed the pattern. The only change I made was the cape. the pattern features a cute integrated cape which is just perfectly Elsa like, but it was rather short and not very full and I decided it just wouldn't do. 

I had seen this tutorial for making a separate Elsa cape so I decided to incorporate that and make a long cape with a train. I also wanted to maximise the fabric I had bought so I made it considerably wider than suggested. This meant I had to pleat it as I basted it to the bodice, but I survived.

My main saving grace was the overcasting stitch setting on my machine. Without that I think there would be no actual dress left by now. And also these awesome Clover forked pins. I had bought them after reading a recommendation by Kerry and stashed them away, forgotten. I remembered them when I was battling with the satin skirt and they worked great for holding the slippery stuff together. Oh and for the first time ever I remembered to use polyester thread for my gathering stitches! Amazing - doesn't snap. 

I fretted slightly over how to hem the skirt, the satin didn't hold a fold particularly well. After a bit of googling I decided to try out the blind hem foot on my machine. I had already overcast the raw edge so just one fold required. It is a long way off perfect, but it worked out well enough. Hurrah!

Anyway, pictures. Needless to say she utterly, totally, completely adores it. And while I won't be making another I do feel like a very proud and accomplished mama indeed.