Friday, 27 April 2012

What I do when I'm not sewing quilts

I always seem to need to have multiple craft project on the go at any one time. I've been like that since I first started in my teens. I've also never been able to just sit and watch the telly without something else going on. Since the invention of laptops, browsing the internet has been the main thing I do but I've been able to get a few more things finished this week.

When I had the purge before christmas of finishing off old needlepoint and cross-stitches that dated back decades I rediscovered my love of this sort of stitching. I also found a great supplier at a craft show earlier in the year with kits that were a bit different to the norm.

The first one I started was this cross-stitch. I loved the fact that it was a patchwork pattern and such vivid colours.

Then while working on the first one I just had to start this blackwork kit. There are four different kits, each with a different accent colour and I bought them all. The designs work up really quickly as there isn't as much dense stitching as the cross-stitch.

I am determined not to leave these for 20 years before they get framed - I hope I've learnt my lesson on that one!

Thursday, 26 April 2012

Theatre Reviews?

Even though I've been going to the theatre a lot over the alot six months I've never felt the need to do reviews on this blog.

We all enjoy different things and what one person loves another will hate. I don't usually read reviews until after I've seen a play anyway and usually only if the play is a bit hard to fathom and I want to see what other people thought it was about.

Over the years there have been shows I loved that got so slated by the critics that they closed early and others the critic have loved that I didn't get at all.

Thats why it is hard to recommend - what I love you may hate.

But, I will recommend something. Misterman at the National Theatre with Cillian Murphy.

Its a one man show and he is absolutely extraordinary in it. Its 90 mins long, I still am not sure what was really happening, its manic, tragic, the set is mad, it louds and quite and Cillian Murphy gives one of the most amazing and mesmerising performances I've ever seen.

Its not on for long so if you can get into London go for it - but don't blame me if you don't like it!

Sunday, 22 April 2012

The joys of foundation papers

I know some people don't like doing it, but I really enjoy piecing with foundation papers. I still get my head twisted around sometimes with the sew and flip and have the fabric in the wrong place, or the wrong shape or the wrong side facing outwards but the accuracy and precision I can achieve are way beyond anything I can do with normal sewing.

These are two recent pieces that have made their way to their new homes so I can show them.

I made this with my new machine and was part of my getting to know it couple of made sewing days. I didn't have a proper template so I went looking for an outline drawing of the flag. I knew that the white crosses are different widths but can never remember which way round they go. So I found a site for children that has flags for colouring in Perfect for foundation piecing. I cut the drawing into quarters to do the fiddly bits then just measured the red cross and pieced it normally.

The second piece was finished ages ago but I'm ashamed to say it took me a long time to send it off. I held a giveaway at the beginning of the year to celebrate my 2nd blogiversary but I didn't tell the winner what they were getting. I just asked for a colour combination they liked. Well A at was the winner and chose red and aqua and eventually she received this.

It is made up of 9 6 inch blocks taken from RaNae Merrills book which I love. The follow up book Mandala Quilts is equally impressing. I haven't had the guts to tackle a full sized quilt using the technique yet, but I really wanted to play with it so thought it would be great as a mini.

I had to rummage deep in my stash for red fabric but did have enough to get the variety in each blade. I wanted the aqua to act as a background, but still had to piece it a wedge at a time. I like the effect it has though, it almost looks pleated. In total this 18inch mini has 225 pieces!

I did very simply quilting, I didn't think it needed anything else as the top is busy enough.

Overall I was really pleased with it, even though the colours aren't my normal choice. I just need to learn to take decent photos - these two are the best of a bad lot!

Saturday, 21 April 2012

More reasons to spend money!

Why is it that if you feel you are getting a bargain you spend twice as much as you would without?

I'm so easily swayed sometimes - good job my vices are all crafts and chocolate related. God knows what trouble I would be in otherwise.

Anyway, head over to the spring fling for some bargain craft books if you are as gullible as I am!

Friday, 20 April 2012

A finish and some feathers

I finished my scrappy triangles quilt. I've been working on this since last year to use up all my triangles from binding etc.

I am a bit 50/50 about this as I made a mistake with the backing. I quilted each block separately as I wanted to practise my FMQ flowers on it and they came out fine but I used a sheet that I bought that was brushed cotton for the back. This didn't cause problems for the quilting, but it is a bit thicker than normal so wasn't very good when it came to piecing the blocks together.

I would normally use the same fabric for the back sashing as the backing so it blends, but it was far too thick to work with so I went for the one I used on the front. After I started I realised it was too much, but I couldn't be bothered unpicking and starting again. So I finished it but am not really happy with it.

From a distance it doesn't look too bad but up close the stitching is too noticeable and because of the thicker backing fabric the sashing parts are too firm and rough feeling.

But, you live and learn and as this was a scrap quilt thats what they are for in my book. To try and new things and see what does and in this case doesn't work.

Here are some close ups of the flowers.

I've also finally starting quilting Kathleens Quilt. I've had it pieced (in four quarters) for weeks but kept putting it off. I feel more emotionally invested in this quilt than any other I've made so wanted to be sure I knew what design I was doing.

Its mainly feathers with some up and down lines in parts.

I will quilt this in the four pieces, but I am not going to use sashing to join it together. I won't quilt right to the edge for these pieces, but will then sew them together and finish differently. I'll post the details when I get to that part.

Tuesday, 10 April 2012

What is modern quilting?

Our april challenge for the London MQG is to make a 12x12 inch mini that shows what modern quilting means to us.

I had an idea and started working on it but part way through I decided it wasn't turning out how I wanted and got another idea. I've now finished them both but neither is quite right so I am thinking of going back to the original idea.

This is the first one.

For me it says using traditional blocks in a new way and celebrates wonky. I love the nine patch block so used that as my base. The centre is a wonky log cabin and the 4 corner blocks are a larger wonky log cabin cut into quarters. Then the star elements are wonky triangles - another block I've used a lot in quilts. The yellow neutral shows what a large part solids have to play in the modern ideas. Lots of straight line quilting finished it off.

But - it is missing something - the star isn't defined enough and the quarter log cabin blocks distract from it. I'm also not that happy with some of the fabric.

So, onto the second option.

This one shows the rainbow of colours, Nothing is off limits. The white is the negative space and solid. It was made by piecing all the strips together, slicing them at random angles and then sewing it back together again, each strip offset from the other. It represents the freeform nature of modern quilting. I also did some FMQ, a big flower off centre and then random swirls.

But again - its not quite what I imagined. When I saw it in my head, the colour swish was a lot narrower. I wish I had cut my colour bands narrower, no more than 1.25 inches each. Some were closer to 2 inches. This would have left a lot more white space. also, I didn't need to slice the strips so narrow, some could have been wider at one side and had more angle on them.

I'm finding the small scale much harder to work with. I would have been very happy with both of these as full sized quilts.

What does modern quilting mean to you?

Monday, 9 April 2012

Finish along - second quarter targets

I've been busy sewing for the last few days getting to know my new machine and I must say I'm very happy with it, particularly the automatic thread cutter. Its the little things...

The time has come to set out my stall and say what finishes I want to achieve for the next quarter as I join in with Rhondas finish along

Firstly and most importantly, I want to get my paper pieced quilt finished. This was started as part of Becky at Sarcastic Quilters QAL last year. All the piecing is done and the top is in four pieces ready to be quilted. This has become a very important quilt for me, it is going to be a gift to a cousin and has quite a sentimental story so I want to do it justice. I think I know how I want to quilt it but keep wobbling over the idea. It has to be finished by August as that is when it is needed for but I don't want it to be a last minute job. This is one of the four pieces.

These blocks are one of my scrap projects. I've got all the blocks pieced and quilted, they just need to be put together.

And one of my old UFOs. Early last year I had 13 tops waiting to be finished, that is down to 4 so I am going to plump for this one....

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Its not an easter egg

But it will give me pleasure for a lot longer!

This is my new toy.......


It even came with a free quilting kit so I got the extension table, walking foot, FMQ darning foot and something I've not seen before, a quilt in the ditch foot.

I tried to take a picture of it set up on my table, but its a very gloomy day and it didn't come out right.

I've been playing with FMQ and it works lovely. I'm still getting used to having so much more room for my hands on the extension table though.

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Getting my wonk on!

I've been playing with my scraps again as they were getting a bit overrun. I had a number of these blocks made up a while ago so thought I would add to them.

Each block is made up of 16 3inch squares with my scrap triangles sewn to opposite corners. I am using the same colour triangles for each block of 16. I've made a couple of scrap quilts in the butterfly layout so went for something different this time.

I am going to back and quilt each block separately and then use a sashing to join them up. I'm not sure how many more blocks I will make. I have enough scraps for another 4 so that would get the quilt to 40x50 inches.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Guess what I've been doing?

You won't so I will tell you.

I've been teaching some people patchwork. Get me!

A few people at one of the craft groups I've been going to expressed an interested in learning with the possible aim of making a charity quilt. As it will be worked on in the pub we meet in it will be done by hand so I went for a nine patch block. I figured this was a good place to start.

I said I would supply all the fabric etc as I have so much and pulled this lot out from stash and cut it all up into 2.5 inch squares ready for action.

I had three students working on it and we have 2 blocks finished and 2 nearly finished. Not bad going I thought especially as one chappy turned up who had never been before and didn't seem to have much experience of sewing.

What I've said is I will take the supplies to every meeting and if people are in the mood for it they can have a go or leave it until next time. I'm interested to see how long it will take to build up a good supply of patches.

So everything was going well until I was leaving the pub and took a very undignified tumble down the steps, all the rains fault, no alcohol was consumed I promise. I'm expecting my bum and my elbow to show some interesting colour bruising over the next few days.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Hexie progress

I have been slowly working on my hexies on and off for the last year using up my scraps. For the first time I took the completed bundle and laid them out to see how many more I need to do and discovered to my delight, not many at all!

In fact I think I only need 4 more and as I have enough already basted waiting to be stitched together I can see the end in sight!

The four extra are needed for the bottom row and seeing it on the black fabric, I am even more conviced that this is the way to go. I am going to applique them on rather than making hundreds of black hexies as I couldn't face doing that. I know it is cheating, but so what.

I intend to hand applique and quilt at the same time, who know how it will turn out. I am going to use embroidery floss as I have loads hanging around in every colour. I also intend to do an echo border around each flower using different stitches to give it a bit of a different feel.

I next need to decide on the layout of the flowers - I was going to do them in a rainbow order originally, but like the randomness created just now. Any thoughts?

I think I will use a grey solid for the backing so that the different colour quilting and applique stitches will show up there as well.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

A sunny day in London Town

And what is the best thing to do on such a day?

Head over to for another London Modern Quilt Guild meeting. We had another great turn out and it was lovely to welcome Atia, our newest member who blogs at

Pennie from had promised a surprise and although she turned up with fantastic chocolate brownies and lemon cake that wasn't the surprise. It was more exciting than the brownies, she had Aneela Hoey in tow,!

Our first guest at our guild meetings. She was lovely and put up with us all behaving a bit shocked, giggly and fangirlish but we were all so taken aback. Thank you Aneela for taking the time to come and visit with us. we are a proper guild now!

I also did some more shopping and ended up with these two lovely fabrics. I've been trying to explore other colour options rather than my favourite green, but on a sunny spring day the green called to me and I couldn't resist these two from Amy Butler and Tina Givens.