Tuesday, November 26, 2013

A little bit of stitchery....

My Instagram friends will know that I've been stitching up a storm in my embroidery hoop this last week. This was the perfect little project to work on while I was in hospital and at home recovering, as I could pick it up and work on it in very short little bursts when I felt up to it. And before I knew it, I was done. Here she is, Cherry on the Tree Swing :-)

I made this from Aneela Hoey's pattern. This is the first full embroidery project I've done in a few years, so I followed the colours and guide in the pattern, which was well written and easy to do. I had to reduce the pattern to 75% to get it to fit in my 8" hoop, it would work really nicely framed like a print too.

I also used an iron-on embroidery transfer pencil for the first time, which meant tracing over the reversed pattern and ironing the image onto the fabric. Honestly, I didn't much like this process. I ended up having to trace it twice to get the pencil clear enough to see, and wasted a good bit of fabric in my first few attempts with smudges etc. Plus, despite my best efforts, the pink of the pencil is showing through in a few places, although you need to be up close to see it. In future I think I'll return to tracing the image with my water-soluble pen which I am very comfortable using.

I used Aneela's tutorial on her blog to fill in Cherry's dress and hair with backstitch. My first time trying this technique - I'm pretty happy with the results. I wish that her facial expression/hair was a little more like the original but this was one of the problem areas in terms of pattern transfer, and I got it about as good as I could!

I really love the vibrant blue leaves, and the little cherries which were made using French knots. I experiemented with different sizes of knots, this not being a stitch I'd used before, and it worked pretty well in the pattern, giving differing sizes of cherries in different places which is perfect.


This morning, I glued the fabric to the hoop to finish it at the back and hung in on the wall over Rachel's cot - I'm delighted with this! I have some other hoops to do for her wall also - including one custom design which I can't wait to start. In the meantime, I'm hoping she will have fun looking at Cherry swinging happily on her tree.

P.S. Thank you everyone for your good wishes after my last post - I didn't get to reply to all the emails but the surgery went fine, I was a good bit sorer than I expected the first 24 hours as I had a reaction to something they used in the operation, but am very much on the mend now and taking it easy at home recovering.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

WIP Wednesday

I'm playing more catchup today with stuff I've been working on in the last few weeks. If you follow me on Instagram you'll have seen these pics already but I hope you won't mind having a little peek again! I hope you'll excuse that the photos aren't wonderful. November and December are so dark and dreary here, its practically impossible to get good photos when you are at work during daylight hours.

First up - my Made to Measure quilt. This one was on the back burner for a little while until I faced up to doing all those HSTs for the big 8th border. I finally got on with it a few weeks ago. Here's what the layout is looking like - ignore the quilt top full of creases please!


Once I had them laid out, I pieced those flying geese strips pretty quickly actually. I'm really happy with how they look - I used 4 different low volume prints as the background, and it worked exactly as I hoped. 

Now I just need to do the star blocks for the corners (more procrastination here, avoiding those teeny tiny HSTs for the little stars) and then one more border for which I have a Road 15 text print, and I'm actually done with the quilt top. This is another mammoth 80" x 80" quilt, so I'll try the table basting method again on this one and I've decided that I'm going to hand quilt this which has me excited and terrified in equal measure, and means it probably won't be done before next summer.

Speaking of mammoth quilts, Swoon is almost done. I sewed the binding on the front last night and plan to spend the next couple of evenings curled up on the sofa, handfinishing it on the back. Apart from the piecing, handstitching the binding to finish is my absolute favourite part of making a quilt. 

I see a lot of hand stitching in my future in the next couple of weeks. I'm having keyhole surgery for gallstones on Friday so I have lots of time to fill in the next couple of weeks recovering. I've been working on Aneela Hoey's Cherry on the Tree Swing embroidery pattern for the last couple of weeks, picking it up here and there in the evenings, and its not perfect but its coming along nicely. This hoop is for baby Rachel's room, along with a few other things I am making for her.


Beside Cherry on the Tree Swing, I also bought some lovely embroidery patterns from Lilipopo, including this gorgeous  Carol Singers one which I'm planning to start next week.

Image by Lili Popo
So that's my WIP Wednesday. Linking up to Freshly Pieced with lots of very talented ladies, and looking forward to seeing what everyone else has been up to.

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Swooning again....

I decided this weekend it was time to get moving with my Swoon. I didn't want to make a mockery of the 2013 part of the #swoon2013 hashtag, and I knew if I didn't get it quilted in the next week, I would not get to it until well after Christmas.

The biggest issue stalling me in the last couple of months was basting. Swoon is 80" x 80" and I needed to move some furniture in my living room (my sofas) in order to have enough floor space to baste it. But moving furniture is easier said than done with the 2 big kids confined to the house in miserable November weather. So off I went to my friend Google to find out about table basting alternatives, having seen a link to a tutorial for board basting a few months ago.

I read quite a few, and decided to try this method, using clamps. I ran over to the hardware shop yesterday, but the clamps were more expensive than I anticipated and I was too cheap to buy more than four. Really, for this to work, I would need at least 8, probably 10. I think I'll do some searching online for cheaper options for next time, because I really liked this method. No crawling round the floor, and working in defined sections makes it feel quite quick, although realistically I'm not sure it really is any quicker than doing it on the floor. My knees and back definitely liked it better though.

I was pretty happy with the results - it wasn't absolutely perfect on the back, but its a huge quilt, my first time trying it, I only had 4 clamps and its for my own bed so a couple of minor puckers here and there are not going to bother me. I think a bit of practice would sort out those issues very quickly. This is a great option for me. I normally baste on the playroom floor which is not that fair on my kids and their constant in-and-out looking for toys, walking across my quilt sandwich drives me nuts. So I'll be using this method again for definite.

Once it was done, I moved on to quilting it today. I was nervous about this, it's by far the biggest quilt I've ever tackled on my machine.  I had considered sending it to a long arm quilter but decided against it for cost and other reasons in the end. It took a little while to get a flow going - getting used to the weight of it! It's seriously heavy with the batting in there. But, on the advice of my buddy Fiona (BetsyGreyCrafts) who quilted hers just before me, I did it block by block, and about half way through the first (humoungous) block, it just fell into place.

Of course, once I really was moving with it, I had to stop and give the kids baths and do bedtime. But I returned to it once all that was out of the way and in another hour and a half, I realised I had 6 of the 9 blocks quilted. No broken threads. No snarls. No needles snapping. One bobbin change. Pretty much perfect quilting - I couldn't quite believe how easily it had flowed.

So, one more column to do and then it's on to binding. Can't wait.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Scrappy Tiles Baby Quilt

Happy Friday everyone! It's been a while, but I do have a happy quilt finish to share with you today.

My mother-in-law asked me to make a quilt for her to give as a baby present back a few months ago. Last year, when I was pregnant, I spent some time working up a quilt design, but never got to make it. That design was for a big lap size quilt. So when she asked me to make it, I decided it was the perfect time to try out the pattern in a baby size. And here it is, my Scrappy Tiles baby quilt.

This quilt is constructed using a traditional block structure - 12" finished blocks in a 3 x 4 structure. But it's a little bit counter-intuitive when sewing the blocks together, as the white sashing is in the centre of the blocks, and the print tiles on the outsides. In order to match the colours in the tiles, it takes a bit of prep work, planning colour layout and fabric choices. Once that is done, it's super quick to put together.

Lately, I have moved away from primary colours for boys quilts and this is no exception. I really love the colours I used in this - the yellows and oranges balance the greys, greens and blues.  And the overall effect is a little bit soft and muted, which wasn't the original intention, but works really nicely I think. There is a lot of Lotta Jansdotter's Echo line in this quilt, as well as plenty of scraps.

I used the last of my IKEA hippos bolt of fabric for the back. Sadly these aren't available any more - such a pity, they make wonderful quilt backs.

My MIL wanted baby's name on the quilt, so I embroidered it in the bottom right corner as Sam is such a short little name. I think a longer name would probably have had to go on the back.

This quilt was pieced and quilted, as always, with Aurifil 50wt thread. I used pure white here, although I did consider my favourite silvery grey thread too. I originally planned to straight-line quilt this one, but I wasn't loving the effect after the first few lines, so I unpicked and decided to do a random stipple instead. I think it was the right decision. I know straight lines could work really well, but the softness of the stipple against the geometric shapes provides nice contrast. The binding is a grey, dotty poplin.

 The quilt measures 36" x 48" - perfect baby cot size.

I think that I will try and write up a tutorial for this pattern, if people are interested in it. I also want to do the original lap size quilt I planned with it - here is a mock-up of what I originally was working on. I think this would look great with solids and Kona Charcoal as the sashing:

That's a project for another day though, as I have 2 large quilts needing finishing, and the small matter of some keyhole surgery to get over in the next couple of weeks, but hopefully I will be all recovered by Christmas, and I will be happy to put 2013 behind me from a health perspective. In the meantime, I'm happy that Sam received his quilt last week and by all accounts, it was a big hit with mum and dad which is great.

Linking up with Finish It Up Friday over at Crazy Mom Quilts.