Saturday, 10 February 2018

Old Fashioned

A while ago I was glancing through Pinterest (as you do) when I came across this pattern called Scrappy Susannah Seemed like a good one to me, especially when I realised I could do as many blocks as I felt like to create a baby quilt.

While the four I have done to this point have been pretty bright, primary type colours and quite bold, see firstsecondthird and fourth, this number five cot quilt is more sedate, low volume, call it what you will, but to me it seems like old fashioned. Maybe its the fabrics or the combination with the pattern, but I enjoyed finding scraps and seeing it come together quite quickly from the large blocks.

And wouldn't you know it, from the fabrics I brought down I found the border fabric with its green butterflies edged in pink that seemed to fit the feel of the quilt really well. 

Below is a close up of the point where the two blocks connect, with the green and mauve. I'm grateful to one of my clever friends for showing me once how she loves the reverse of some fabrics. The green floral on the bottom corner left of the mauve/green junction is one where I originally had it on its 'front' side and it seemed too loud for the block. Being limited in my choices (being away from home at our holiday place and a twenty minute drive to the fabric shop where I'd probably been too often anyway for this trip!) I flipped it over and it seemed to fit in far better. 

And for the backing, again I searched through my limited basket and found a piece I've had for several years and I'd brought it for its pastel type colouring that I thought might suit a baby quilt in some form. Of course there wasn't sufficient so I needed to add borders, but I was quite happy with the stripe that comes from a Victoria & Albert collection, which also seemed to suit the old fashioned feel. 

The small gold rectangle in the corner is of course the 'extra' bit I needed but it does pick up the first inner border and binding from the front so I'm OK with it. You can also see the square quilting and small loops I did in the non negative spaces (or white and cream). Using a variegated thread means that the squares and the 'mandarin segments' as my supportive other half calls them show up with a lovely changing colour.   

Since a friend of mine recently had a 'great niece' I think this one will come out of the six I'm aiming at for our Mothers of Pre-Schoolers group - and I'll just have to make another!!

Quilt number six is sandwiched and ready to be quilted but as we sadly leave our lovely beach spot today it will have to wait until we get 'home' - though here has felt like home since I've been here since the week before Christmas. 

During that time we also had our youngest son's wedding, to his American fiancee. It was a beautiful day on the beach, rather like this. I hope to show you photos soon, but suffice to say everyone enjoyed it, even eldest son who managed to get some sunburn.  

But for now, we leave all this behind to return to routine and life as we currently know it. Having had an amazing Christmas and a wedding, truly unforgettable. 

Until next time,

Monday, 22 January 2018

If at first

I'm sure you've heard the old proverb: 'If at first you don't succeed, try, try again'. That could be the motto for this, my fourth of six baby quilts.

I began with some bright blue, green and yellow four patch squares like this:

because the colours seemed just right to go with the novelty print I had. The aim was to add a third colours, possibly a turquoise in a similar fashion to quilt number three:

But when I began to lay it out it all just seemed too much - I don't know whether you've ever had that feeling? I trust I'm not the only one! What to do? A trip to the local fabric shop was in order - I really did need a couple of pieces for a contrast in another idea I had....

Then I began to think about making the novelty fabric a snowball block but did I really have the patience to create all those corners and sew another seam so as not to waste the half square triangles that could be created if I snipped them off?

Well, I'm pleased I did because it worked out like this:

I wasn't going to post until it was completely finished, but I wanted to grab that last bit of sunlight on the deck for the photo. And I will complete the binding today. The small strips of fabric that I'd bought for the four patches weren't quite enough for a similar sized quilt to quilt three - my original intention was that the strips would only make up a third of the blocks, along with those original blue and green ones. But I thought it needed the same fabric throughout, so I used up those half square triangles on the sides to make it a much better rectangle than it would have been without them. 

And I had fun free-motion quilting a loop across it all. It makes for a softer finish too. 

And for the backing, I was so pleased to have picked up a new quilt cover that I didn't have a particular use for at the time, but was such a bargain I thought I'd get at least two backings from it once I unpicked it. It's a soft floral that came in ideally for this baby sized one and so I'm sure I'll get three more from it. 

Those creases should wash out and make it lovely and soft. So there you have it, quilt number 4 and two more in the works to share soon. This holiday break is proving to be very productive. 

Quilt Stats:

Size: 49.5" x 42"
Wadding: Cotton Polyester 80/20 blend
Thread: Embroidery variegated on top, Rasant bobbin.

Until next time,

Monday, 15 January 2018

Fabric Postcards

In between attempting to make six baby/cot size quilts that I wrote about here I'm taking an occasional break and making some placemats.

Last year I quilted a wall hanging for a friend who had created the blocks on her embroidery machine using a programme that had some local landmarks in it.

This is the wall hanging as I was quilting it:

My generous friend, as a way of thanking me, made me some of the same blocks but in totally different colours. I thought they'd come out quite well with some framing and some quilting around them. Since I have 8 of these, you may see some more shortly, but here are the first two:
Its almost difficult to recognize these as the top two blocks in the wall hanging, but they are. The binding is clearly not finished on the second one, but I'm happy with how they're coming along. As they will be a gift once they're all made I hope the recipients get to visit some of these places too. 
They finish up at a generous 18" by 15" but I like to have a larger size rather than something that will only just fit beneath a plate. That way even if you only use a couple, they work quite well. 

The challenge is always juggling the borders so that despite the orientation of the blocks horizontally or vertically (dictated by the shape of the embroidered buildings) you end up with the same sized placemat. But I'm sure all that figuring out is good for the brain. 

The fun thing about smaller projects like this is that sitting hand sewing the binding is quite a soothing thing to do at the end of the day and it gives a great sense of achievement - even if it's only one placemat. 

So on to the remaining ones and back to those baby quilts. Definitely keeping me busy!

Until next time,

Friday, 12 January 2018

From little things

'Once upon a time there was a little acorn and he wished that he could be bigger. His Mum told him not to worry because one day he would grow up into a huge Oak tree, because from little things, big things grow'. I hope that's a story, or something similar, that the eventual owner of this quilt will tell to their child as they snuggle beneath it and talk about the acorns on the quilt.

This is quilt number 3 out of six (check here for the background on why I'm doing 6 baby quilts and to see number 1)- yay, I'm half way there already.

In the squares and border there are little acorns, and so hopefully not labouring the point too much, I thought I'd quilt spirals like the rings on the inside of tree trunks that show the maturing process.

For the four patches I quilted a simple orange peel. Somewhere in the process I think my thought of 'Oh, this quilt is just OK' changed to 'Actually its looking pretty good'. It is very satisfying to use up stash fabrics, but sometimes it feels like a 'make do' rather than a deliberate choice. So the lemon is not really the shade I would have chosen if I wasn't trying to use what I had on hand. It works Ok, and perhaps its only other quilters who might think - hmm, that could have been a darker shade. The lemon was on hand though and it was included. 
It turned out though, that anything I tried to use as backing really didn't work. So, another trip to the local fabric shop yielded this cute giraffe backing - they don't show up too well here, but there really are giraffes. 

The first border and binding was another fortunate piece from the scrappy packs the fabric shop puts together. And having completed this third quilt today I took myself (and a small dog) off for a walk. With scenery like this it is very refreshing. 

And then I came back, tossed the quilt over a chair and noticed how the backing really does go well, highlighting that paler turquoise on the front. Doesn't it feel good when that happens? 

So I'm half way there, I have begun a fourth quilt using this same pattern but I don't quite have the right red - and you know how important it is to have the right red isn't it? So I feel another trip to the fabric shop is calling. That, however, is another story....

Quilt Stats:

Size: 43.5" x 49"
Wadding: Cotton/Poly blend 80/20.
Thread: Embroidery on top; Gutterman all purpose for bobbin. 

Until next time,

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Second of six

It is amazing how much you can achieve with dedicated time and a plan! As I'm at our holiday place and have much of the day to sew, I'm getting through quite a bit. This is the second of the six baby quilts I am attempting to make before around mid February - gotta aim high. They're for our MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group, for six women who are all due to have a baby in the period just prior to Christmas and into February. So I'm trying to make one for each of the families.

I mentioned in my previous blog here how my local fabric shop has 'scrap packs', small bags with seven or more pieces of fabric, usually around a fat eighth or so.

These cute scraps were in a couple of bags, and they looked ideal for the purpose of a baby quilt.

Some of the maroon, dark brown and olive green solids were also in the packs and co-ordinated well with just enough fabric to make the frames, so that was a win. The coloured spot I've had in my stash for a while (It's titled: 'Everything but the kitchen sink' by RJR Fabrics and is dated 2012 - as I said, I've had it in my stash for a while! This was just the right fabric to give the blocks a bit of a lift. 

Unfortunately it looks more washed out in the photo above, not true to the colours, but the closer frame above is  more accurate. 

Also in my stash I had this bright orange (that matches the spots in the sashing) that seemed to go well for a backing with a little of the sashing included, so a win all around with that too. 
I did a simple stipple all over, especially around the loops on the lion's mane (that was fun). I'm sure once I've washed it, it will come up beautifully soft and crinkly. 

So I'm pleased with two out of six baby quilts done and the third is almost there. There's something satisfying about finishing these, I guess the size helps, being just over the 40" mark. 

I hope to post about the third one by the end of the week. 
Until next time,

Quilt Stats:

Size: 42" x 46"
Wadding: Cotton/polyester 80/20. 
Thread: Embroidery cotton for the top; Rasant for the bobbin. 

Thursday, 4 January 2018

First for 2018

It feels good to begin the New Year with a finish. While I began this baby quilt in the week or so before Christmas, adding the final borders and the quilting were left until this week.
It began with the centre of the blocks, a cute fabric I've had for a while but was never quite sure how to use it, despite it being in traditional baby colours. 

It has small cherries in the centre and since it was in squares I thought that might dictate best how to frame it. So I dug out the pinks, blues and yellows I had on hand and found some that seemed to work Ok. Since I'm at our holiday place, I don't have my whole stash, just a basket of fabric I brought with me with some baby quilts in mind.

That necessitated a trip into the local fabric shop, which fortunately is a good one. I thought the deeper pink would frame the centre well and was also able to find the final border on special (yay for me). The shop also has scrap packs out which are very generous, they always seem to have around 7 or more different sized pieces. That also worked well as I was able to use some for the backing. I thought the pink floral might be just too much as the whole backing, but framed with some pale lemon I was happy with it.

I quilted it over all with a simple loop. 

I've resolved that this year I will make sure I post completed quilts, as I realise looking back that while I may take photos of completed projects for myself, often as I blog its progress shots that I use. 

My grand plan over our summer (down under) is to try to make 6 baby quilts. Yes, that's right I'm crazy enough to aim for a half dozen in as many weeks. They are for our MOPS (Mothers of Pre-Schoolers) group that has 6 women who are/were due to give birth from Dec 23 over the next few weeks.  

I have a second as a flimsy and a third with some pieces cut out. So maybe I'll make it - if the ocean doesn't call too loudly as it is rather beautiful and only a five minute walk. 

Thursday, 23 November 2017

Generous Scales

Have you heard the story of 'The Rainbow Fish'(c) ? It's a children's book by Marcus Pfister and was originally published in 1992 in German. I didn't know the last 2 facts about it but it seemed only fair to check out who wrote it since I was making a quilt featuring the fish itself.

If you ever want to show children the merits of sharing, this is a great book. It has as its hero or heroine, a beautiful fish which has sparkly scales over its body like this:

The story begins with the fish feeling very proud of its shiny scales (I'm paraphrasing here) but when others admire it, the fish rather jealously guards its scales. The Rainbow Fish, however, begins to realise that its one thing to have admirers, another to have friends. And it begins to give away some of its shiny scales to other fish around it, like this:

If you look closely, the fish in the centre is offering (in its fin) a shiny scale to another fish. 

Where am I going with this fish tale you ask? I have a gorgeous niece who is turning two at the end of this month. Here she is enjoying an ice-cream (almost as big as her!). 

I don't know about you, but in my experience, nearly two year olds sometimes have difficulty in spontaneously sharing with others. So for her birthday, she is receiving from me, a copy of the book and a quilt showing the same story. I was fortunate to spot a panel at our major quilt show back in May this year and so I put it aside to work on at the last minute - no one else does that I'm sure. 

I also wanted to make another quilt with half square triangles - such a versatile pattern I find. But when I looked again at the panel, I realised that the colours I had chosen for the half square triangles seem to complement pretty well. Hurrah, I had my borders beginning to formulate. Of course things don't always go as easily as one might hope, so many calculations, fiddlings and such later, I had the shapes coming together with four extra fish at the corners. 

I have had such fun quilting this - from the stipple in the 'sea', to the swirls on the extra pieces needed to be added to the half square triangles so that the corner fish would fit nicely (sometimes I can see the benefit of a kit all put together and carefully measured by someone else). I even checked into my stash and found a fabric that seemed to have a scaley kind of pattern to it which I thought could work quite well for the backing:

But, as is often the way, I didn't quite have enough, so I used some of the white floral that I'd used on the front as a central piece. I don't think 2 year olds are too fussy about that kind of thing. 

So there you have it, the story of the Rainbow fish made into a quilt for a precious little girl. If you have any littlies in your life I hope you check the story out, it's a beautiful story and book. And of course there are others in the same vein. 
Now, to just put that binding on and sit to hand sew it tonight - lucky its only a small one, not bed sized. I imagine it may get dragged about, shared with dollies and the like, but that's what quilts are for, to be used and enjoyed. 

Quilt Stats:

Size: 40" by 43"
Wadding: 60% cotton; 40% polyester [great for the washing machine].
Thread: Embroidery thread for the top; Superior for the bobbin. 

Until next time,