Thursday, 23 January 2014

Ellie's Quilt

My friend S recently had an adorable little girl named Elizabeth Eleni (Ellie) in October. This is the quilt I made for S's baby shower.

Ellie's Quilt

Ellie's Quilt in progress

Started: 10th September 2013
Finished: 5th October 2013
Size: crib size 102 x 142 cm = 40" x 56"
Quilt top: I roughly followed this pattern:  Bricks in Bloom by Tracey Jacobsen of traceyjay quilts. I used Heather Bailey Fresh Cut fabrics from a couple of fat quarters. Machine pieced on my little Singer.
Backing: pieced from Jungle Babies panel and print by Patty Reid designs, which I picked up from a bargain bin at a quilt shop in Pennsylvania for about $3 back in 2009. It's been sitting around waiting for a baby quilt ever since and there was only *just* enough of it.
Binding: 2.25" double fold binding, hand stitched to front.
Batting: Hobbs 80/20 poly/cotton blend.
Quilting: Horizontal lines in the ditch and at a 45° angle with Guterman 100% cotton thread.

Quilt back: some puckers

This is the very first quilt I've made all by myself without any help from anyone, whatsoever. As you can see in the photo above, I'm not very good at basting all by myself yet. I ended up with some serious folds in the backing fabric; they were simply too big to be called puckers!

Embroidered label

Quilted and trimmed and ready to bind
I had a bit of a near fail getting the quilt done in time for S's baby shower and was doing some desperate last minute applique-ing in the train, only to realise that I'd forgotten some of the bits- namely, the trunks for my stylised trees and the big E for Ellie that was meant to go next to them. This resulted in me dashing to John Lewis, buying some ribbon and actually finishing the quilt right there in the shop. Luckily, JL has a sewing corner in its haberdashery department and the ladies that work there were absolutely lovely and more than happy to lend me some scissors.

The tree trunks did get sewn on in the end or rather at the very last minute (see below) but the E for Ellie didn't make it onto the quilt, unfortunately. Here's the finished product. Unfortunately, I only have photos taken with my crappy blackberry so they're not very good.

Ellie's Quilt: finished
I also made S some fleece backed burp cloths and a swaddling blanket, which I used to figure out how to bind a quilt before ruining the actual quilt. This was super easy and made a great present for the baby shower. I'm sure I'll be making them again for the next new baby. I bought this pack of 6 muslin squares from John Lewis, cut each square into thirds, layered them on top of each other with Heather Bailey's super soft Freshcut paisley dot fleece fabric and self bound them. After doing two I got bored and really needed to get a move on with the actual quilt so I didn't bother backing the remaining 4 squares.
Burp cloths and a fleecy swaddling blanket

The swaddling blanket is made from two layers of Aqua Rose Bud flannel from ladysewandsew, bound with Heather Bailey's Freshcut Crest in red. Making this took less than an hour. I meant to embroider Ellie's name on one of the corners but I forgot. Whoops.

Quilting love,
me x

Monday, 20 January 2014

WIP: Hexagon Quilt

As the whole point of this blog is to document my sewing projects, here is one of my current works in progress.

The Hexagon Quilt

August 13th 2013
19 flowers finished and some sections started.
Started: 3rd June 2013. Here are my first two flowers:

The first two flowers - 3rd June 2013

Finished: Who knows!?! A long, long time from now! It's a great portable project though. As it turns out, the Cambridge to King's Cross train = one finished flower.

Size: Aiming for Queen sized, or whatever size my bed is when I finally finish the monster.

Quilt top: My hexagon templates are courtesy of the wonderful Geta. The flowers are "Painted Mums" from Heather Bailey's Freshcut range, which I adore. I have no idea whether I have enough of it to finish the quilt. Probably not. I should go do some maths. The centres are a green solid which used to be part of an IKEA pillow case, a yellow polka dot which I bought for this quilt back in 2008 and a peachy pink dot from my stash.

Backing: Currently I'm thinking solid white cotton. This may change, obviously.

Binding: I LOVE this self binding method that badskirt introduced me to but I don't know if I have the patience for it. I could also bind it with the Freshcut peachypink dotted paisley. Hmmm... perhaps I should buy some more before it sells out.

Batting: I recently made a quilt with Hobbs Heirloom wool batting which was gorgeous and so easy to quilt. I'm waiting to see how the quilt holds up when it's washed a couple of times as it's the first time I've used wool batting.

Quilting: I have some gorgeous YLI hand quilting thread in yellow, green, and peachy pink. I'm in love. I've also been using YLI quilting thread to sew together my hexagons and it's a dream to work with! I like that it's a little stronger than "normal" hand sewing thread. Also, I was given a box including some lovely browns as a gift and I don't plan on quilting anything in brown anytime soon so they're great for sewing my hexagons together!

YLI 100% cotton hand quilting thread
yellow, spring green, and peach

13th August 2013: 19 flowers
31st December 2013: 28 flowers
20th January 2014: 30 flowers

I love making lists. Here's my list of progress for this quilt:
finished small flowers:15
finished partial large flowers: 4
Finished sections: 3 pink, 3 green + 5 yellow
basted & ironed hexagons in boxes: 131 flowered, 43 white, 0 yellow, 10 green, 9 pink

My original plan was to try to make four small flowers per month, which means that I'm slightly behind but not by much. Weee!  Also, I made loads of basted hexagons in preparation, so that counts, right? I store my basted, ironed hexagons in these handy macaron boxes from Pierre Hermé, which are just the right size.
Basted hexagons in macaron pastry boxes
While this is a great storage solution, carrying my hexagon quilt project around with me currently involves a rather unsightly zip-lock freezer bag. I really want to make one of these absolutely genius travel kits. It's one of the many sewing projects on my "to do before the new job starts" list.

Love, me xx

Monday, 13 January 2014

First post - first quilt

I've decided to start a blog predominantly as a record of my sewing/quilting/embroidery shenanigans. Maybe people will read it. Maybe they won't. It's the 21st century version of what my mother calls her "Quilting Brag Book". Hopefully it will mean that from now on I won't spend hours and hours on a project for someone, give it to them, and then realise that I've completely forgotten to take any decent photographs of it.

So, here's to ALL of the (mostly undocumented) pretty projects I've made so far and to all of those to come. Now all I have to do is learn to take decent photographs.

I've been embroidering and hand sewing since I was a little girl but only recently took up quilting. I am very lucky because my mother is The Quilt Queen (not the actual Quilting Queen of blogosphere fame, it's just my nickname for her when she rescues my latest project) and always seems to be able to fix my latest quilt nightmare. Unfortunately, she lives in another country so this usually results in half of my luggage allowance being taken up by some doomed sewing project or another.

I digress. Here's the very first quilt I made:

Samuel's Sunbonnet Sue & Sam Quilt

Samuel's Sunbonnet Sue and Sam Months of the Year Quilt
Started: January 2009 
Finished: June 2010
Size: no idea but somewhere around 60" long, given that I'm 5'6" tall.
Quilt top: Blocks hand pieced and needle-turn appliqued. Sashing and borders machine pieced by my mother.
Backing: Ralph Lauren Los Cabos
Binding: Ralph Lauren Los Cabos
Batting: no idea, possibly 80/20 poly/cotton blend. Whatever it was that my mother hand on hand at the time.
Quilting: Machine quilted in the ditch along sashing. Blocks hand quilted to enhance design.

Quilt back and label (WIP)

So, I started making this quilt when my friend O told me she was pregnant back in 2008 (!). I've always loved Sunbonnet Sue quilts so this seemed like the perfect excuse to make a months of the year unisex quilt. Unfortunately, little Samuel was born WELL before this quilt was even approaching finished. When I finally got it to them in July 2010, by which time I had already moved to the UK, Samuel was crawling. Erhem. Whoops.

Here are some photos of the individual blocks. Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of all of them, which is, in retrospect, rather sad.

My mother had to help me add a border to this one because it was much smaller than the other blocks. This is the first block that I made for the quilt. In the final version I quilted it to give it more depth and a horizon. Apart from the background fabric this block is made entirely from scraps.

January: Frosty the Snowman

No detail photo, which is a pity because this is one of my favourite blocks. Apart from the snowy sky background, everything in this block is made from scraps.

Again, this block was much smaller than the others so my mother helped me add a border to it. Little Samuel's mummy is Irish so there had to be a St. Patrick's Day block! My favourite thing about this block is the little net ruffle on Sue's bonnet.
March: St. Patrick's Day

April: April showers....
This block was changed quite a bit before the end- I added some rain clouds (stuffed with scrap batting to make them three dimensional and interestingly textured), a puddle, and the words "April showers...." I bought a far eighth of wood print fabric for the tree and bright yellow for Sue's raincoat. This one really reminds me of the yellow Macintosh I had for my American Girl doll when I was little.

April: April showers... bring May flowers

May: ... bring May flowers
This is the first pieced block that I made and I was instantly hooked. Apart from the green background fabric and Sue's polka dot dress everything is made from scraps, mainly men's shirts.
May: April flowers... bring May showers

No detail photos unfortunately. By this time I really wanted this quilt to be finished before little Samuel could walk so the last block, June, shows Sam & Sue swimming in the lake and is quilted with ripples.

Again, no detail photos to be found at the moment. I might go trawl my flickr stream and old computer back up CDs and see if I can find some. Anyway, this block has the quintessential American little red waggon. I actually bought fabrics for this block because I wanted the background to look dry and summery.

Sam and Sue go to the beach! This is the first block that I embellished and my ice cream cone and shovel turned out a little small, didn't they? By the time I realised this though there were such big holes in the fabric from the embroidery floss that I couldn't really rip it out and start again.

August: Sue and Sam at the beach

Picking apples. I originally had a gorgeous block of Sue flying a kite for this one but then I found out that O was having a boy and thought I needed more Sams and fewer Sues for this quilt. The apples are little red buttons and I found some cure squirrel buttons to add some more texture. I hand quilted the sky with swirling lines for wind.

October: Hallowe'en 
Sadly, no close up pictures again. I love the orange on brown print and really wish I'd bought more than a fat quarter!!

November: Guy Fawkes
Samuel's Daddy is British so the quilt needed a Guy Fawkes block. I used metallic thread for the fireworks and the sparklers. I HATE working with metallic embroidery thread because I can't seem to get the thread tension even and it's always tangling and pulling apart, usually at the same time.

December: Christmas
Lots of embroidery on this one. Unfortunately, the red DMC embroidery floss I was using for the wreath's bow bled a bit when I washed the block. Sad embroidery panda.


Homeless Blocks:
This quilt generated a couple of homeless blocks as my plans for it changed. Originally, each Sunbonnet Sue/Sam was meant to be appliqued on white backing but then I discovered pieced backing. Anyway, this block didn't really fit in because I love the "April showers... bring May flowers" thing too much so, if I remember correctly, I just appliqued it to the backing. Or maybe I turned it into a cushion. I honestly don't remember.  
May V1.0

My favourite thing:
My favourite thing about this quilt is probably that about 90% of the fabric is from scraps or from my own stash of fabrics, which was very small at the time. Luckily my mother let me paw through her scrap box. Making a quilt without spending a fortune on new fabrics is SO satisfying!
I also really enjoyed embellishing the blocks with ribbons, buttons, embroidery and bits of ruffle. I love things with interesting textures! Mainly though, I was just pleased as punch to have succeeded in finishing a quilt, albeit with a lot of help from my mother.

Onward and upward!
xx E