Wednesday, 27 May 2015

FAL Finish: Bargello Cushion


In June last year I went on a Bargello workshop run by my talented friend Beryl at her teaching studio and a month later I added the resulting project to my Finish-Along list.  It's been on every list since, including my current one, and I'm thrilled to be able to say that it's finished!

This is how it started:
Cushion
Four FQs and half a metre of Kaffe shot cotton (tip: if you're using this, starch it well - it likes to move and stretch!)

After quite a bit of sewing and cutting, it turned into this:

Cushion
Dreadful photo, sorry!  Still, at least you won't have to see it again after this!

Once I got started again (it sat in a bag from July 2014 until last week!), it didn't take me long to get the panel complete, even though I had to unpick three strips (two because I hadn't double-checked my seam allowance when I started and one because I made a daft mistake).
Bargello cushion
The grey pieces towards the top right corner aren't puckered, it's just the way I plonked the panel on my bed!

The strips were joined onto the wadding in a stitch and flip/QAYG style which meant that once the panel was complete, it was only a hop, skip and a jump to a finished cushion:

Bargello cushion


It finishes at 15" x 19" and was stitched with Aurifil 50wt 2600 (dove grey) throughout.

I had originally intended to do a button closure but my button tin only had three suitable buttons and I was determined to finish this without buying anything else so I rummaged in my zip tin and found a suitable candidate.  I'm rather pleased with how the back turned out and how (some of!) the lines match up!

Bargello cushion

The cushion was supposed to be bigger than this (and square!) but, despite them all being bought in the UK, two of the fat quarters (the dots) were imperial, rather than metric, FQs so I didn't have enough fabric.  Then I made a daft mistake with the first strip, discovered far after I was willing to unpick, (it was supposed to be a 'mammy' strip but I used a 'daddy' strip instead, which left me short a 'daddy' strip and no fabric to make another one.  In the end, I trimmed all the 'daddy' strips to 'mammy' size and made a narrower panel) so a smaller cushion it was.  I had just enough grey to cover the zip and just enough of the shot cotton to bind the top and bottom edges à la Sheila. To be honest, I think I prefer it as a smaller cushion as this way as it nestles nicely in the centre of my 'settee of friends'!

Bargello cushion with friends
Cushions made by (clockwise from front left) Sarah, me, Karen and Trudi, Leanne, Yvonne, me

I think I'm going to have to fill the other settee now!


A few weeks ago, I tweeted Aurifil about a problem spool (the thread kept slipping off the spool and getting tangled/knotted and then snapping in my machine as a result of the tangling) more to let them know than to complain and, as well as replacing the offending spool, they sent me this lovely parcel:


From Aurifil


I can't fault their customer service!  I've long wanted a thread colour card (rather than the printed one I have) and I must say that it lives up to all expectations - I quite want to put it up on the wall!


Archie has been holding a 'lie in' - his demands are more biscuits, more patches of sun, more biscuits, more biscuits...and, have you guessed yet?, more biscuits.  I have given in to a certain extent, just don't tell him he'd have been getting those biscuits anyway!!

I'm going to lie here until I get a biscuit...
I'm going to lie here until I get a biscuit and I don't care how long it takes.

I'll be linking up to Adrianne when the time comes!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side


Thanks for popping in, I hope your FAL projects are also going swimmingly!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sharing The Luck


I've been quite lucky in recent months and have won several giveaways and/or link up prizes and I thought I'd share the luck around a bit.  In March, I won this bundle of Dashwood September Blue from Sew Hot and I'd like to share it with one of you.

Prize from Sew Hot!


If you'd like to win a fat eighth bundle of this gorgeous fabric then you have two possible chances:


1.  Leave a comment below telling me what you'd make with the fabric.  (Be warned, I may copy you!)

2.  Leave a second (separate) comment if you live in the UK.


The giveaway is open to everyone, no matter where you live.  If you live in the UK then you may get some chocolate/sweeties in your parcel, if you live outside the UK then you probably won't as I think the postage cost is going to be surprisingly high.  (Sorry!)

The giveaway closes a fortnight today on 4th June at 7pm BST and I will close comments at that point.  The winner will be announced and notified some time after that.

If you have any doubt about whether you are a no-reply blogger then please leave your email address in your comment.  If I cannot easily track you down then I will ask Mr Random Number Generator to choose another winner - you have been warned!


Archie will be keeping as close an eye on your comments as he keeps on my gardening:

I had some company while I was digging the hole!
I'm watching.  Intently.
Good luck!!


Fairy Update


After what feels like ages (but isn't, I think it's just because I'm on a deadline with this quilt!), I've finally got the fairy quilt top finished.  I'm finding it hard to take a decent photo of it because it's so big (about 68" x 108") so this is the best I can manage at the moment.  I think this photo captures the colours fairly accurately, even if you can't quite see all the top!

Fairy quilt top

Yes, it's a rather large for a soon to be four year old but when I made a quilt for her older sister, her mam wanted it to be long enough to go over the top of the pillows so I've done the same with this quilt...and then some!  Here's her older sister's quilt, which also features fairies!

fairy quilt
As you can see, my photo taking hasn't got any better since I took this five years ago!!

As the current fairy quilt is so large, backing fabric was going to be horrifically expensive.  In a fit of  'I'm not paying that!', I decided to piece the back out of what remained from the front, plus three metres of a pale pink on white dot which was intended as backing for a not-yet-started project (it cost £6 a metre a few years ago).  Fortunately, I'd deliberately ordered more than I needed of the two main fairy prints as I wasn't sure how much I'd need and planned to make a pillowcase with any leftovers.  There now aren't any leftovers so she won't be getting a pillowcase.  Probably as well because I'd have to make her sister one and I don't have any of 'her' fabrics left!  Anyway, here's the (enormous) back:

Fairy quilt back
Those two white lines are sunshine, not a horrible mistake/bleach stain!

Yesterday was crawl-around-the-floor-with-masking-tape-and-safety-pins day.  (And if that wasn't enough to make me feel ancient today, I fell down the last three or four stairs last night - it's a miracle I can walk today!)  This is the best photo I can get and was taken before several hundred safety pins were added.  It's always a pleasant surprise how much quicker it is to pin rather than tack; it's always an unpleasant surprise at just how hard it is to manoeuvre a big quilt through the ridiculously small harp space on my sewing machine.  (It's the one thing I'd change about my machine.  Well, that and the position of the reverse 'paddle' - when quilting a big quilt, the bulk sometimes gets caught on it and I find myself going unexpectedly backwards!)

Fairy quilt - waiting for pins

ETA: The quilt is based on Sarah's Stained quilt design but I designed the blocks to fit around the 9" (finished) feature squares.  The blocks were designed before I started cutting but the fabrics were chosen as I cut each block.

This morning, I went to my LQS to get some quilting thread as I was finding it hard to decipher colours online and I wanted a pale pink variegated thread which wasn't 'too pink'.  That trip turned out to be a waste of time, petrol and energy as they no longer sell the thread I went for (King Tut) and only sell 100, 50 and 12 weight thread and I wanted 40, or 30 at a push.  Within ten minutes of being home, I'd ordered two spools of this thread - I hope it arrives soon and looks okay on the quilt!  I think I'm going to quilt lines down the length of the quilt (I can't go across as there's no way I'll wrestle it through the machine!), perhaps similar to Hadley's quilting?  Any thoughts will be gratefully received!  (I don't do FMQ and neither do I have time to hand quilt it so I'm limited to straight/straightish/wavy lines!)



In other news, the parts of my garden which are planted are doing well:

My current favourite corner of the garden
My 'woodland' corner
Work in progress
Lots more planting needed in this bed but I'm happy with it so far.  To be added: delphinium, (tall) aquilegia, verbena, clematis (left hand trellis)

I have a problem area which is holding onto water like it knows something we don't (not the whole area, just patches of it.  Problem is, you don't know what a patch is like until something is planted in it and it rains as it all looks/digs up the same and it wasn't a problem when it was laid to lawn.) and will be sorted this year - it's getting a raised bed put on it!  We're (I say 'we', I won't be doing any digging, I'm leaving that to Phil, the landscaper, and his lads!) digging down about 4" and replacing the 'soil' (clay!) with gravel/rubble before building the bed and filling it with top soil.  I'm currently contemplating designs, which is why that block is in the photo above!  This is the area to be sorted, with my watery holes (hole watch has been going on for far too long!):

Problem area


In amongst fairy piecing and pinning, I've managed to tick off a couple of items from my FAL list and I'm rather pleased with them.  I'm going to do separate blog posts for them as it makes it easier to link up at the end of the quarter (and I'm assuming it makes it easier for Adrianne to check!).  Let's just say that a couple of long-standing WIPs have been finished and I'm rather chuffed with them/myself!  (If you can't bear to wait then you can see them on Flickr!)


Archie has been dreaming of chasing rabbits (he's always preferred that to actually chasing them!), biscuits falling from the sky and a permanently available patch of sun:

I prefer to dream...
Shhhhhh...I'm asleep!

The giveaway I promised in my last post is coming imminently - I just need to write the post and I'll publish it so keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks for popping in!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Final Fairy Blocks


The project I'm concentrating on for the next couple of months is a quilt for my youngest niece; my deadline is her fourth birthday, in July.  In my last post, I showed you the first twelve (of twenty-eight) blocks (which are based on the Stained quilt by Sarah) and today I'm happy to say that I've (machine) pieced the remaining sixteen (15") blocks:

'block 4' blocks

'block 3' blocks

'block 2' blocks

'block 1' blocks

Almost two hours of crawling round sorted the arrangement:

I think I'm done...
Excuse the dire photo, it was night time and, as you can see, well past Archie's bed time!

For ease of piecing, none of the 'in block' sashing strips line up with each other and I decided that I wanted to maintain that when joining them up.  (There will be the same ½" (finished) sashing strips separating the blocks.)  I also decided that I didn't want one side of a sashing strip to need to line up with the edge of another strip (i.e. no 'steps' in the sashing) because I would have to ensure they were aligned across the strips, which would take more time; time I don't have!  All that, combined with trying to make sure no prominent fabric was next to itself, took some arranging but I got there in the end.  I decided that the prints with the white backgrounds were okay next to each other, it was the more 'obvious' prints (such as the dark pink Sketch or the polka dots) which I didn't want touching.  I've since attached all the sashing strips and hope to start joining blocks this weekend.


In between finishing the blocks and crawling round on the floor I had a couple of days off from this project (I needed it, I wore myself out piecing!) and decided that hand sewing binding would be a good way of still sewing but at a more restful pace.  One of the long term residents of my FAL list is a hand quilted panel, which was my learning-how-to-hand-quilt-with-two-thimbles-a-hoop-and-the-rocking-stitch practice piece (which is how I now do all my hand quilting).  I thought I was going to turn it into a cushion but then picked it up, remembered that it is backed with a gorgeously soft fine lawn, and thought it would make a lovely quilt for a teeny tiny baby.  I contacted Jude to see if it could be added to Bee Blessed's baby quilt pile and she said yes. I searched my yellow scrap and stash boxes and found a piece of pale lemon fabric which worked well with the pastel variegated thread I'd used for quilting and cut it into 1⅝" strips to make a narrow binding. It's around 16" square (I forgot to measure it after I'd washed it!) and the design is by Sandie Lush.

Teeny tiny baby quilt
It's a little puffy around the edges (it was fine until it was washed!) but I didn't want to add any more quilting as it's so soft at the moment.  I'm sure baby won't mind a bit of puffiness, at least I hope not!

Teeny tiny baby quilt - hand quilting
Teeny tiny baby quilt - hand quilting
Teeny tiny baby quilt - the back of the hand quilting

It's now on its way to Jude and will hopefully help to keep a teeny tiny baby warm and comforted in hospital.  It's also the first finish from my FAL list so I will be linking up with Adrianne when the time comes!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side


Archie has been enjoying some sunshine while keeping an eye on the street:

Yes, I can hear you...
Yes, I can hear you.  No, I don't want to come inside.

He's had a bath (well, a strip wash) and then enjoyed a post-bath picnic (he's laid on a towel because I didn't want him creating and then lying in a puddle of mud!):
The post-bath picnic almost makes up for the indignity of the bath...
If you think this makes up for the indignity of a bath then you're sadly mistaken.

And he's perfected making himself look as pathetic as possible (on a side note, doesn't he look nice and white after his bath?!):

Bowl, why aren't you like the magic porridge pot?
Bowl, why aren't you like the magic porridge pot?


It's the first of the month so I'm linking up with the wonderful Lynne, why not go and see what everyone else has been up to?

Fresh Sewing Day


P.S.  A couple of months ago I won a Twitter giveaway from Sew Hot and, as I've been enjoying a run of luck lately, I thought it would be nice to share.  How does half of this bundle (i.e. ten (I think!) fat eighths) sound?  I'll have to look at postage to see if I can include people outside the UK but I hope I can.  If that sounds like something you'd be interested in then there'll be a giveaway post at some point in the next few weeks, probably when I've pieced the fairy top!

Prize from Sew Hot!
September Blue by Dashwood Studio

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Away With The Fairies!


My new FAL list contains two new items which makes a pleasant change, don't you think?!

The first one is a Sakura shawl, using this beautiful alpaca/silk mix:

Yarn for Sakura shawl


Lynz and I are knitting in tandem (and holding each other's hands through the tricky bits!) in a very informal knit along which, at the moment, has a lovely slow pace to it!  The yarn was found by Lynz at Maple Tree Yarns and was a bit of a bargain as it's no longer going to be stocked - there are a few skeins left in the shop and when it's gone, it's gone!  My yarn is 'Drake' and is gorgeous but hard to photograph, or that's my excuse!

After a slightly sticky start (we had to email the designer for help with a couple of things, most particularly where to do a make one left and where to do a make one right and Leila Raabe* couldn't have been more helpful - she emailed back within a few hours and spelt things out for us and didn't make us feel at all daft.  This is one of the many reasons I love indie designers - not only are their patterns gorgeous (and well tested!) but their pattern support tends to be marvellous!)

* Warning: if you follow this link be prepared to fall in love several times over!  I have already made a mental list of things I want to make!

So far, Lynz and I have done our set-up rows and the first twelve rows of the pattern (I told you we were taking it steady!) and mine looks like this:

Sakura shawl - a start


It doesn't look much yet but I can already see the pattern forming and it's lovely!  I've also learnt two new stitches (a 3 from 1 (where you knit into the stitch two rows below) and SSP) and it's nice to add to my limited knitting repertoire/skills while getting a head start on Christmas presents!


The second new item on my FAL list is a niece for my youngest niece.  She's been in a 'big girl' (i.e. single!) bed for quite a while now (well over a year) but is still waiting for a quilt to go on it.  Her birthday is in July and I've decided that my present to her will be her quilt.  Given that I have less that four months to cut, piece and quilt it, I've designed a very simple quilt so that I have a fighting chance of making my deadline.  It's based on the Stained Quilt by Sarah; I've made a version of this quilt before (find it here but please excuse the shocking photo!) and enjoyed it so much that I'm making it again.  One day I'll make Sarah's original pattern but for now I'm enjoying designing my own blocks, based around the fabric I have/want to use.

The quilt is based around two panels of Butterfly Dance (by Natalie Lymer/Cinderberry Stitches), includes lots of pink fabrics (my pink scrap box is considerably emptier than it was!) and Kona Daffodil for the sashing.  I need 28 15" blocks for the quilt (it has to be large enough to cover the bed from tip to toe, including pillows!) so I've designed seven blocks and am making four of each block.  As I only have eighteen 'fairy' squares (I know they're really butterflies but I can't help but think of this as 'The Fairy Quilt' so I'm calling them fairies!), one each of block designs one to six won't have a fairy square and block seven has been designed to not need them.

I started piecing the block seven designs first, partly because I cut/prepped the blocks in numerical order so these were at the top of the pile and partly because these blocks have the most pieces so I thought it would be nice to get them done at the start and then have the blocks get faster to make from there on in!

So far I've pieced these twelve blocks:

'block 7' blocks
Block seven A, B, C and D
'block 6' blocks
Block six A, B, C and D
'block 5' blocks
Block five A, B, C and D

and I've also pieced block 4D but I'll show you that when its friends are pieced!

I'm hoping to have all the blocks pieced by the end of the first week in May so that I can faff round with the layout and then start sashing and joining them together by mid-May.  Wish me luck!


Speaking of luck...

I won a giveaway over at Stitched in Colour and received six gorgeous yellow FQs from Marmalade Fabrics:

Prize from Stitched In Colour/Marmalade fabrics giveaway
Thank you Rachel and Tammy!


I've finally got round to sorting out my Kona colour card.  I've been wanting to cut it up for quite a while but didn't have all the colours (I missed the 2013 new colours) and found it difficult to find the weight of card that I wanted at a price I was willing to pay (ditto velcro)!  One of the things I bought with the Fat Quarter Shop voucher I won with the FAL last year (beginning of this year?) was a summer 2013 charm pack.  I made my own little cards for the 28 colours I was missing, as well as for the 2014 insert I got from Simply Solids and, while I was at it, I also made a 2013 supplement for a couple of friends who were also lacking those colours:

Kona summer 2013 colour 'supplements'

And now, after a ridiculous amount of velcro (and some mount board from my local stationers), my colour card looks like this:

I finally got round to sorting my colour card!

I can't imagine that the colours will stay in order but just in case I need to know the 'correct' order, I've printed out a list of them to keep at the back of the file:

A list of Kona colours in order, just in case I ever need it!

It proved invaluable when choosing the sashing in the fairy quilt as I could put all the possibilities on various pink fabrics and choose the best, without wondering whether the colours either side were affecting my perception.


Archie is enjoying the mild spring weather:

Fast asleep
He might not look it but he was sound asleep when I took this photo - if you listen carefully you can hear the whiffle which accompanies this state!

Thanks for popping in, I'm off to do a spot of hand quilting (on my hexy quilt) before I go to bed!

Monday, 6 April 2015

FAL Q1 2015 - Four Finishes!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

I feel I've done quite well this quarter, particularly when you take into account that I've probably spent more time asleep than awake in the last three months.  And that my machine was out of action from just after putting the binding on the Dresden mini (end of January) until about a week ago - that's why most of my finishes only required hand sewing (or no sewing at all, in one case!).  My list is here, in case you fancy seeing what I didn't finish!


My first finish was this mini for Yvonne:

(Finally) Finished!!
Sorry about the dreadful photo but that's the middle of a dreary day for you!

This was machine pieced, hand appliquéd, embroidered and hand quilted.  It measures about 14" square (I think, I can't quite remember now!) and has a couple of extra layers of wadding behind the centre to give a bit more texture.  You can find out more about it in this post.


My next finish was my clock:

Patchwork clock

This is 12" square and the gubbins to make it (canvas block and clock doings (mechanism?!)) were kindly provided by Nicky.  I hand pieced the hexagon and background and then appliquéd the hexagon in place.  It was then stretched over the canvas and is held in place with lots of drawing pins.  You can find out more about it in this post.


I then (finally) worked out what to do with an embellished felt square (embroidery and appliqué was done, by me(!), about three years ago.  Possibly more *hangs head in shame*):

Felt square

In the end, I added a simple back, loops and a cocktail stick and it's now on the wall.  You can read more about it in this post.


My final finish (and the one which I'm linking up in this post) for this quarter is this beautiful machine print by Emily:

Sewing machine print
This print was a present from Susan - thank you!

I've had this print for a while now and couldn't work out what I wanted to do with it - did it want to be a machine cover?  No, it did not.  Did it want to be a cushion?  And be potentially exposed to tea stains?  Absolutely not.  Did it fancy being a machine mat?  What, and be hidden when in use?  Most definitely not.  Then what did it want to be?  'Oh, that's easy,' it replied, 'I want to be on the wall where I can be admired by all and sundry!'


Once that was sorted, my friend and I got busy with her (electric) staple gun (a little scary but very effective!) and a canvas block which had been languishing in the loft and which was, happily, the perfect size.  Many, many staples later (and a coat of PVA glue to seal the raw edges on the back) and the print was finished and ready to go on the wall:

Finally up!
As this final finish didn't, in the end, require any stitching, I'm going to leave it to Adrianne's discretion about whether it can be counted as an official FAL finish.

This is how my 'wall of minis' looks at the moment:

Felt square - on the wall
Minis made by various friends (and a few by me) - ignore the black mark above the clock, that's where the bookcases used to be tied to the wall.  I'm not going to bother filling it in (at the moment), I'm just going to cover it with another little quilt!

I really must get round to putting some more pins in that banner (by Nicky) and moving my other banner (by Sheila) to this wall!


I hope you all had a lovely Easter weekend - the sun came out yesterday and it was glorious!  (There was blue sky and everything!)  Today there's no sky.  Well, there is but you can't see it for the low cloud...


Archie enjoyed the sun yesterday - this was taken at about midday, before the sun decided to show more than just a leg:

What do you mean, the Easter Bunny doesn't deliver to dogs?
What do you mean, 'The Easter Bunny doesn't visit dogs?'  I've been waiting all morning to catch a glimpse of him.

I'm just putting the finishing touches to my quarter two list; it hasn't taken long as most of it is carried over from this quarter.  Which was carried over from the previous quarter, which...

I'll clear my list one day, I hope!


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