Friday, 3 March 2017

WIP: salt air - delays and detours

After a bit of an annus horibilis, I'm back on the quilting-and-writing-about-it bandwagon.

Salt Air has been traveling the world - Estonia, San Francisco, Paris, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Dubai, Zanzibar - but, unfortunately my work has been getting in the way and it's still not finished *sigh*. On the plus side, I had a wonderful time in some truly fabulous places.

Quilting the centre panel in Estonia
I finally made some decisions on how to quilt this one back in June. After much deliberation I decided to go with a 45 degree offset grid for the main body of the quilt. The grid is the same size as the individual squares that make up the design so, essentially, I've quilted diagonal lines across the individual squares. Crazily, I've decided to hand quilt and, to be honest, quilting all those diagonals is really boring and hard on the fingers so I'm still working on them. At least they're all done in one direction so no danger of slippage while I quilt the more fun bits.

For the borders I got a rather excessive selection of stencils from The Stencil Company and finally settled on a 1.5" shell design for the inner white border (which is actually finished!) and a 1.5" double cable border for the outside one (still working on that one).

All marked up and ready to quilt
I'm still not sure what to do with the middle blue squares border, mainly because I don't think I can face hand quilting diagonals through all of them to match the centre panel. It would look really nice but the corners of each square have about 5 layers of fabric + batting behind them and my poor little fingers don't like that. Toughen up already, fingers! 

Aeroplanes are great for quilting!

Now that I'm back home for a little while and have sorted my life out a bit I'm hoping that I'll finish this up pretty quickly. Ideally, I'd like to get it done less than a year after I started it (counting down to the 16th of May!).

I'm SO happy to be back!
Quilting love,
me x

Tuesday, 31 May 2016

WIP: Salt Air lap quilt - bodacious borders

WIP: Salt Air lap quilt borders

Working on this little lap quilt for myself has helped me get over my fear of pieced borders - a bit at least. I even taught myself a new technique and added a flange to either side of my pieced blue border.

Here are some photos of flange making in progress:

Step 1: cut 3/4" strip
Step 2: fold and press wrong sides together
Step 3: attach to quilt edge with <1/4" seam
Step 4: Attach next border with 1/4" seam

Tada! Finished flange
I'm currently debating whether to add a prairie points border to this, followed by another, wider, white border. Current size is 52" x 45" (132 x 115cm). What do you think? Here are the current borders:

Salt Air borders
Getting better but those
° angles are irritating

me xx

P.S. I'm linking up to MCMQuilts 

Monday, 16 May 2016

WIP: Salt Air lap quilt

Phew. Back in London after a week long trip to my parents' place and my nose is quite firmly back to the grindstone already. 

I had a great trip and, despite rather painful eye surgery, TQQ and I successfully ticked off a lot of my sewing to do list, including:
  • 3 repaired work dresses
  • 2 adjusted blouses
  • Tiny's baby quilt finished
  • Tiny's big girl quilt almost finished (just the the  borders left to quilt, the binding to attach and currently working on the quilt label)...

... and one new quilt top started. Here it is:

Salt air quilt top (work in progress)

I love this fabric line from Moda / Cosmo Cricket but, unfortunately, discovered it rather too late. I stocked up on any bits and pieces I could get my hands on but have been having trouble deciding what exactly to make with my precious stash.

In the end, I decided on a lap quilt for myself. Thanks to the pre-cut jelly roll strips this came together really quickly. 

Step 1:
Sew together strips in sections of 5 each

Step 2
Cut to 2.5" wide strips
Step 3
Plan and assemble quilt top

It's currently only about 100 x 80cm (approx. 38" x 31") so I'm going to add a couple of borders. I have quite a lot of the blue sections left so I'm planning a 2" white border followed by 2" blue squares, and then a final 2" white border. That should increase the finished size to about 130 x 110 cm. I'm currently debating whether to make the white borders a bit wider - maybe 4". What do you think?

Quilting love,
me xx

Friday, 13 May 2016

Finally finished: Tiny's quilt(s)

So, remember how I was working on this quilt for a special little lady who was due to arrive on May 23rd? Well, she decided that she couldn't wait any longer and came 3 weeks early!

I saw her briefly in hospital but am going over for a proper visit this coming Sunday. Her quilt isn't quite finished (if you remember, it got a little out of hand), but I've made her a proper baby quilt instead, which I finally finished last night.

Finally finished: Tiny's baby quilt
Miserable weather - need to get a photo in better light

Started: May 2016
Finished: May 2016
Size: 110 x 110 cm (approx. 42 x 42")
Quilt top: Patty Sloniger Les Amis in coral, white sashing from RayStitch in Islington
Backing: Old duvet cover from my grandmother's house
Patty Sloniger "Les Amis" Star Pods in coral with scrappy top section made from off-cuts of all Les Amis coral fabrics
Batting: Cotton
Quilting: Machine quilted in offset squares (YLI machine quilting thread 40/3 in white), with randomly placed, hand-quilted hearts (YLI glazed cotton hand quilting thread in white)

Label: Sublime stitching "Kurt Halsey / Best Friends" embroidery pattern

The design couldn't really get much simpler - one big piece of fabric with some sashing. It's possibly the fastest quilt I've ever made; I managed to cut, piece, baste, and quilt it in a single afternoon (because what are you going to do while your sister is in labour - sit at home and quilt for your new niece, that's what!)

I hand-stitched the binding on the train on my way to see the little lady in hospital and then decided to spend a little more time making her a pretty quilt label. I'm really pleased with how this turned out (and really hoping her black hair isn't replaced by, say, blonde like her Mummy's, when it falls out)

Sublime stitching quilt label
I embroidered straight onto the finished quilt, which was a massive faff! I really struggled to bury my knots in the quilt sandwich and was really worried that it would all come undone. I've washed it twice now though and everything seems to be fine. The markings have almost all come out as well - a couple more washes and some baby vomit ought to do the trick.

I then decided that it was a bit too boring and decided to hand quilt some random hearts into the squares. There are about 12 of them in total.

Hand quilting: getting more consistent

My hand quilting is getting better - I can comfortably load 6 or 7 stitches and they're becoming more consistent in length. Now if only the back were as pretty as the front is.

Finally, here's a photo of the scrappy binding I made - it's actually the coral star pods fabric from the same fabric line as the quilt top on three sides of the quilt. The fourth edge has an insert of these scrappy offcuts I ended up with from the original quilt. While I really like this style (I trialled it on the Charity Auction baby quilt), I think it'll look better if I make my binding a bit wider. I think I'll try 3" or 3.5" double fold binding next time. What do you think?

Scrappy binding insert <3

Quilting love,

me x

Saturday, 30 April 2016

Finally finished: Forest Friends Charity Baby Quilt

I've finally finished the first of the Forest Friends quilts. This little baby quilt will be donated to my company charity auction in aid of mind, the mental health charity and the British Red Cross.

I'm hoping that with all the recent new babies in the office it will raise lots of money for these two great causes.

Forest Friends @ the Tower
As it turns out, a week's worth of tube journeys is enough to bind a 42" x 42" (107 X 107cm) baby quilt. I couldn't resist a quick photo of the finished product when I hopped off the tube at the Tower today.

I used some of the thread from the sewing box I inherited from my grandmother to handstitch the binding. It's basically invisible, which pleases me greatly. I bought these really great needles in this handy-dandy case, probably about 10 years ago. At the time I wasn't really thinking about stitching on the go in particular but I can really recommend them - so useful!

Supplies for binding on the tube
John James needle "pebble" and vintage MEZ thread

When it came to binding I noticed that I'd screwed up while I was basting and the backing fabric wasn't quite centred, leaving a gap on one of the edges. I can't believe I didn't notice this earlier. At first I thought I could just about get the edge into the binding but in the end I bit the bullet and hand-stitched a extra 2" of backing fabric the the edge. So annoying!

All fixed: backing fabric issues

Here's another photo of the finished product - will probably use this one for the charity auction.

FINISHED! Forest Friends charity baby quilt

I'm currently debating what to do about a quilt label. I could go all out and make an embroidered one (I particularly like the idea of using this gorgeous sublime stitching owl pattern), but I'm not sure if I can be bothered. On the other hand, it might encourage people to bid more if I offer to embroider the baby's name on it. What do you think?

Onwards to more forest friends - next up: finishing up Tiny's quilt.

Lots of sewing love,
me x

Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Forest Friends Take II

I've had a really productive couple of days at The Quilting Queen's house, resulting in

  • 3 pairs of trousers taken up
  • 2 shirts shortened for TQQ (she's a little lady at 5ft tall)
  • 1 office dress fixed (new straps)
  • 1 finished quilt top for Tiny, pin-basted and ready to quilt
  • 2 finished baby quilt tops (~110 x 110cm)
  • 1 handmade silk blouse almost finished (just need to hand stitch the cuffs and add buttons)
  • and various little bits and bobs finished from TQQ's box of ongoing projects
Phew! Quite pleased with our progress. Had hoped to get some of the quilting done on TQQ's gorgeous sewing machine but, let's be honest, that was a bit over-ambitious given all the friends I wanted to see and other things I waned to do.

Here's Tiny's quilt - pin basted and ready for quilting. The binding is ready to sew on as soon as the quilt is finished.

Tiny's quilt - Forest Friends v1.0
Ready for quilting

Here are the baby quilts. One of these will go to the office charity auction in aid of Mind and the British Red Cross and the other is for the next little baby that appears in my circle of friends (there seem to be a lot of those lately and I'm always behind in making gifts). I'm adding a scrappy binding to these, which is almost finished. I need to go through my box of scraps back in London to make up the full length that I need. Interestingly, TQQ and I have very styles when it comes to fabric choice so it's quite hard to find anything that works in her stash.

Forest Friends Take II
Finished quilt tops

I'm not sure which I like better - the scrappy quilt or the crosses. What do you think?

Much love,
me xx

Thursday, 7 April 2016

Finished quilt top: Forest Friends baby quilt

After my grand plans to finish off this quilt back in February, I  ended up on a pretty ... intense ... project at work for six weeks. Forest Friends languished in my living room for the duration. I've currently got a couple of days off and am spending most of them sewing with the Quilting Queen. I had my first go on her gorgeous new all-singing-all-dancing Bernina today. It's a whole new world of shiny computerised high-tech sewing. 

Anyway, we finished the quilt top today, found a suitable old duvet cover of my grandmother's to re-purpose as backing fabric and pin-basted it all up for quilting tomorrow. It's big enough for a single bed so Tiny can still use it when she gets a big girl bed in a couple of years. In the meantime it's good for playing on when it's folded in half. Here is the finished quilt top in all its glory:

Forest Friends finished quilt top
(also check out TQQ's gorgeous log cabin in the background)

I've also started work on the next project, which I'm planning on finishing before I head off to Paris on Tuesday afternoon. Given my plans to see various friends while I'm in town and looking at the list of other sewing project I brought with me this may be slightly over-ambitious...

Forest Friends - Take II

I'll just see how far I get by the time I have to leave on Tuesday. Now to decide how to quilt Forest Friends v1.0. Very excited about using the cool quilting attachment on TQQ's new sewing machine tomorrow!

Much love,
me xx