Monday, 1 September 2014

End of August, start of September

I totally missed August's Fresh Sewing Day as we were still away on holiday, but that's okay because July was just a frantic rush of Siblings Together quilts, teacher gifts and holiday of course.

August has been surprisingly productive, all things considered. And by all things, I mean of course the school holidays, but also the priority secret sewing which cannot be shown.



So that's a finished Roundabout quilt
A started and finished flannel baby quilt.
A getting ahead of myself September STQB block.
And August's STQB block too of course.


And looking ahead with my plan for September.

1) Secret sewing project -  yes, I know, it's boring, but also exciting too!

2) #IGminiswap I have till December for this but I want to get on with it while the ideas are fresh.

And then I should try to tackle some of those outstanding WIPs really so for the sake of hopefulness:

3) Travel duffel 2

we've seen this photo a lot, haven't we?

4) The vaguely festive churn dash
I may take this to work on next week at Leeds MQG. It isn't even hard.



5) Aviatrix medallion
Or I may take this, because I am waiting for new rotary blades and this is all cut out.



But really, truly, I have a deadline to meet, a big girl back at school tomorrow, a baby who has dropped her nap (19 months! she's 19 months old!) and I'm doing another Whole 30 this month too so I'll be cooking plenty. I'd better focus on getting that secret sewing done. So if I'm silent, that's what I'm doing!

Linking up with the lovely Lynne who I finally met at Festival of Quilts last month! Which was a pleasure, of course.

Fresh Sewing Day


Oh and my Roundabout pattern giveaway is still open till Friday September 5th so please click over and take part! 

Sunday, 31 August 2014

Roundabout mini - finished! And a giveaway.

Back at the end of May the lovely Jess of  Elven Garden Quilts put out a call for pattern testers for her Roundabout pattern

Picture from theelvengarden.blogspot.com.au
It's her variation on the Schoenrock Cross block and is a pleasing mixture of foundation paper piecing and regular piecing. Jess has made a cushion and a full quilt, which are both utterly stunning.


Picture from theelvengarden.blogspot.com.au

I've been really pondering lately about where my "niche" is in this quilty world. I don't consider myself to be an natural designer, but I am an avid follower of patterns and I take great pride in my careful and accurate piecing skills. So a little pattern testing felt to be just the thing, and as I absolutely love Jess's versions of the pattern I put myself forward.

I went for the mini size, which is four blocks. I'm not sure I have the stamina for the full sized quilt, even though it would be stunning!!

I tried to push myself a bit with my fabric choices here. I'm not very good at scrappy, I need some kind of thread and order to tie it all together, but I wanted recreate the movement and variety of Jess's work. 

So I started by choosing this palette from Design Seeds:

Dress is hemmed.  Tomorrow, this   #designseeds


And pulling this from my stash:


Get babies to bed, play with this.


This stack got refined down so that the mini wasn't too busy, but I enjoyed the mixture of solids and prints. I worked this way with my Marcelle Medallion and again with my (still in progress) Aviatrix Medallion and I love the way it looks. The solids give the eye a place to rest amongst all the prints. 

All in all I thoroughly enjoyed the process of choosing fabric, figuring out and following through the pattern and giving feedback on how I found it (though Jess might not have enjoyed my pernickity ways quite so much, sorry Jess!!). I have done plenty of foundation paper piecing in the past and am comfortable with the process, and the additional traditionally cut and pieced sections made the blocks come together quickly.



#roundabout blocks all finished for @theelvengarden. That bottom right block reads orange not yellow irl!


I got the top finished and the pattern feedback complete, and even managed to get it basted. And then it sat. And sat, and sat. I just didn't know how to quilt it. My husband said stitch in the ditch, but who's got the patience or inclination for that?! I didn't want to detract from the piecing but I felt it needed just something more. I even considered hand quilting it, as I often do. I love the look of hand quilting, but just didn't know where to start.

Then one evening I grabbed it, sat down and did this:


Been pondering how to quilt this #roundaboutquilt mini for ages. Last night decided to channel my inner @jeliquilts so I cracked out the pale grey thread and got wiggling! Awesome technique Kelly I love it! Pattern is #roundabout by @theelvengarden



That's wonky wavy wiggly lines with my walking foot, shamelessly copied from inspired by Kelly at Jeliquilts. This is her signature quilting style, and I can see why. It was so fast, so easy and it looks great. Thanks Kelly!



I then remembered that I had a few hours in the car to visit the in-laws, so I quickly whipped up and attached my binding all ready to hand sew down during the journey.



And so it is done, and I am delighted.



It is backed in just about the last piece of Nordika. I bought about 3 yards of this panel print when it was released and have used very scrap. It's even the (rather burnt now) cover on my ironing board!




I didn't really expect to get this one finished up this Summer when I put it on my Q3 FAL list but somehow, I have. I do hate a UFO so I am very happy to have it all done and on my wall.

I've really struggled to capture the colours on this one. Photography isn't my strong point, not helped by our dark shadowy house and dismal garden space. Anyway, you get the idea.

That odd block isn't as obvious in real life!
And this was a timely finish really, as I have signed up to my first ever online quilty swap - the #IGminiswap. So there will be another mini joining this one on my wall in December. I'm so glad I did as it seems like almost everyone on my Instagram is taking part and my feed is flooded with excitement! I am in #teamrosanne, I have my eyes on my swap partner and I think I may even already have a plan....


Some stats and I will wind it up. But I have a giveaway to announce, so keep reading please!

Pattern: Roundabout by Jess Frost at the Elven Garden
Fabrics: Tsuru, Waterfront park, Collage, Sunprint, April Showers, Potluck, Botanics, various solids. 
Backing: Whimsicol in Mist from Nordika by Jeni Baker
Binding: Botanics crosshatch
Quilting: Wonky wavy straight lines in Aurfil 50wt #2615
Size: 20" square. Ish. 


***GIVEAWAY TIME***

Jess has very sweetly offered a free copy of her Roundabout pattern to one lucky blog reader. In order to be in with a chance please comment below. If you like, tell me what colour palette you fancy making your Roundabout in and whether you'll be going for the mini/ cushion version or the full size!

My blog followers get an extra chance, just tell me how you follow please. 

And I think we should give another chance to Jess's followers, so for a 3rd entry let me know how you follow The Elven Garden. I follow her on Bloglovin and Facebook!

** Please please when replying ensure I can contact you if you win. If you are a no-reply blogger, or if you don't even know what that means, please include your email address in your comment. If I can't get hold of you you can't win, sorry!**

This is a PDF pattern so of course this giveaway is open to everyone internationally. 

I will keep the giveaway open till about 8pm BST on Friday September 5th.

Good luck! Oh and if you don't win, or just can't wait, the pattern is half price for the next 2 weeks so you can grab a bargain :-)


Friday, 29 August 2014

A little flannel finish

I really am rather fond of flannel. I do particularly like a flannel backed quilt. I find it always worth pre-washing, mind, and I am generally an avid anti-pre-washer. But flannel tends to shrink, and that is not a desirable quality in a quilt back.

Here are some of my flannel backed lovelies:

Backed with Ruby flannel I believe


Pretty pink posy hourglass
You'll have to trust me on this one ....

IMAG1983
Flannel backed baby quilts =  perfection

There is one downside to flannel though. It is really heavy, and bulky. And as I buy much of my fabric from the States, that is bad news. The lovely folk at Pink Castle Fabrics and Fat Quarter Shop will cram as much quilting cotton as humanly possible into a flat rate envelope, generally about 10.5 yards. But alas, only 4 yards max of flannel will fit. That make those shipping charges not so great value for money. That said, I read this week that FQS have changed their shipping policies. This could be good news for us flannel lovers, yes? I'd be interested to know if anyone tries it out, as I am still fabric fasting. YAWN.


Anyway so then last year the lovely Rae released the even lovelier Fanfare Flannels. And I was smitten. But shipping charges, not good. So when hubby announced a business trip to the States, I did the only sensible thing and ordered a gigantic box of Fanfare flannels to be sent direct to his hotel.


#fabricpost hubby just back from a trip to the States, well it would have been rude not to have him receive a little @pinkcastlefabrics parcel for me while he was there, wouldn't it?


It was a great purchase, has seen me through lots of sweet new baby boy gifts:

Baby boy bibs

IMAG2789_1


A scrumptious blankie for my very own baby:



And I still have yardage of the pink foxes to make the intended pyjamas for my girls this Winter ... best crack on with that hadn't I?! Oh and of course I won't be buying any of Rae's new Fanfare flannel in gorgeous new colours. Even though I really really want to. Meh. 

Anyway, a dear friend has had a new baby boy this Summer, and I was a bit at a loss as to what to make for him. I'm a bit over bibs, to be honest, and I had lots of scraps of the flannel which I wanted to use up. So I did some chopping, some basic quilt maths and some pondering and came up with this: 



Just simple colours, simple patchwork. A mixture of flannel and quilting cotton. I normally always quilt white background quilts in white thread, but I felt this needed a bit of something more, so I used an Aurifil pale grey (#2600) but in 40wt for a bit of extra pop. A diagonal crosshatch all marked out with a  Hera marker.





I pieced the back to use up those last Fanfare scraps and because at 42" square this quilt just rules out a WOF backing. I love the way the quilting shows up here.


Added a label, not my favourite task but essential I now feel (and lament the number of quilts gifted without one). Embellished with my new Aurifloss thread and some simple hand stitches. 



And for the binding, voile of course. Scraps again, of AMH from my voile sparkling cider quilt. Because like flannel backings, voile bindings on baby quilts are perfection. A little sliver of silky loveliness. Hand stitched down this time, because that finish is my favourite.


I haven't met this new little man yet. I am the sort of new mama who hides away from visitors and jealously guards my baby to myself so I prefer to offer the same respect to other new parents in those precious few days and weeks. But her partner is back at work now, my big girl is back at school next week and I suspect that mad rush has died down, so in a week or two we will visit. And what a lovely gift we have to give.


Here is the detail:
Pattern: Simple patchwork inspired by Jeni's picnic quilt. Squares are 4" finished.
Fabric: Fanfare flannel (prints and white solid) by Rae Hoeskstra, Waterfront Park by Violet Craft, Botanics by Carolyn Friedlander (the white tone on tone crosshatch), a name forgotten yellow circle dot.
Backing: Sketch in Mist plus Fanfare flannel
Binding: AMH voile
Quilting: Straight line crosshatch in Arufil 40wt #2600
Size: 42" square

Happily linking up with finish it up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts. Because it is Friday, and I did.


I do have other finishes to show you, which actually feature on my Q3 FAL list, I just need to get around to blogging about them! Time feels to be at a real premium here at the moment. Watch this space!



Sunday, 10 August 2014

Sunday ... stashing?

At the end of last year I signed up to Fabriholics Anonymous, pledging to fast from purchasing fabric for at least 6, if not 12 months. To be honest, I've found it pretty easy. I am a tenacious sort, and once I commit to something I generally see it through. Plus I have really so much fabric, and so many WIPS and WNQIPs (works not quite in progress) on my sewing to do list that I have been really quite well occupied. Especially as my sweet family gives me ever smaller amounts of time to sew!! I did purchase some fabric back in May, this pile of synthetic, ummm, delightfulness



to make this for my eldest girl:


I consider this fast unbroken. I couldn't very well piece her a Frozen costume from FQs of quilting cotton, could I? And to make no costume would have been to fail somewhat as a mother. So that has been the sum total of my fabric purchasing for 2014, 8 long months without buying fabric.

This is my stash today:



Looking pretty healthy still, right? And messy too, yes!

But on Saturday I went to Festival of Quilts. Oh, the torture of planning this trip. I couldn't decide whether to just sack off the fabric fast and dive headfirst into all the fabric with my husband's credit card or whether to, you know, show more restraint. Regardless of purchases I had a truly lovely day as I knew I would. I travelled with my good friend Natalie and also met up with numerous internet quilty friends. Some familiar faces and some new ones too. Way too many to name, but all just as lovely in real life as I knew they would be. It was a real pleasure to affirm how involved in this wonderful community I have become over the last 12 months and how many great friends I have made. One day wasn't enough. I wanted to chat, and hang out so much more. And shop more. And look properly at all the quilts on display, our quick whizz round didn't really do them justice. Next year, 2 days, perhaps? 


But I'm posting on Sunday Stashing so I must have bought something, right? Here we are. First, the freebies.


We queued for quite a while for some Warm and Natural batting which turned out to be disappointingly polyester. Some you win eh? And I think I did with this sweet brooch kit from the Love Patchwork and Quilting Stand. Looking forward to making this up with my big girl later this week. 

Next, the notions. My notion buying has gone a bit wild this year in the absence of fabric purchases and yesterday was no exception.


Some Clover hand sewing needles and a thimble from the irresistibly named Hannah's Room. Regular readers will know that hand sewing isn't my favourite (finishing binding excepted, of course) and I hope that having some proper tools for the job will help. Some Aurifil thread and new Aurifloss from the lovely ladies at Pin It and Stitch. Then a super mini cunning Seamfix seam ripper and quite a lot of my new favourite needle as recommended by Lynne. Enough to last me some time I hope ...


Edited to add - spray baste!! How could I forget, I love this stuff! As you can see ...



What's that? Fabric? Did I buy fabric? Did I break my fabric fast? No. Well, yes. But no. I bought this:


Which is backing and background for some *secret sewing* that I have underway this month. Both permitted under the Fabric Fast rules you see and so that's my fast unbroken.

I feel smug, yes, but also a tiny bit dissatisfied. I passed over some real bargains yesterday folks, like Pearl Bracelets for £7 a metre. But I didn't need them, so it was the right choice.

Though I am still agonising over Cotton and Steel basics. 




Justine and Lisa only had one of these bundles left yesterday. I wonder if they sold it .....

I bet they did.

Linking up for the  first time ever. 

Molli Sparkles

Monday, 4 August 2014

Back from hols!

Hello everyone! Goodness it's been a while, I've been on my holidays. Nowhere exotic, just the Costa del Dorset where we were blessed with truly wonderful weather. 

Lots of this:


And fish and chips and ice cream and sun cream and hat wars (what is it with 18 months olds and hats?!). And then it all ended rather badly with an episode of D&V for big girl and husband (in a caravan, joys!) and then this:


Turns out it was my fault, I had driven the husband's huge car to the shops a couple of times and stalled it and apparently that offended it and so lights came on. So it got towed, and the van too, and we got 7 hours in awful traffic in a hire car and a v welcome overnighter at my parents' house. Phew, all fixed now and we are HOME. Not unpacked, but the school hols stretch ahead of us with fun times, free time and Festival of Quilts on Saturday. Who will be there??

Anyway the point of this post is to say that actually yes I did do some sewing before going away on holiday. We literally set off at 4pm on the Friday that school finished so it was super hectic, but I managed to squeeze in my Siblings Together Bee blocks:



And I finished the teacher gifts too:



I'm sorry, this is a rubbish picture. I was shattered, and stressed, and had a bit of a barney with the school about an 'issue' that last week so felt a bit meh about it all really. But it's 3 large Noodlehead open wide zip pouches filled with Hotel Chocolat treats for the PPA cover teacher and the 2 TAs. My sweet girl did some detective work to find out their favourite colours so I was pretty confident they would be well received and they were.

And for DD1's lovely reception teacher there was the Dottie quilt.



I found it so hard to know whether this would be right for her, it is so difficult to judge some one else's aesthetic when you don't actually know them! But I decided to just go for it, she has been a really lovely teacher and my daughter adores her. So I got her to hand write a little label which I boldly/ stupidly hand embroidered.



See how I cleverly made it look like it was actually sewn by a 5 year old? Ha. 

Anyway she was utterly delighted with it which was really, really lovely. Always hard to give homemade gifts but definitely worth it this time.

The teacher gifts were on my Q3 FAL list so that's a finish, tick! 


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 ....