Thursday, 23 November 2017

Perpetual WIP: cross stitch travel map

As you may already know, my first foray into textiles was when my mother and grandmother taught me cross stitch at the age of about 7.  This may be why I still enjoy hand quilting more than any other part of the quilting process. I recently bought myself this awesome cross stitch map for my birthday. How cool is this? I have a grand plan to colour code my travels by year as far back as possible. Airport stop overs don't count!

World traveler map: 2014 and 2015 done

The map came with a slightly annoying wooden frame on the top and bottom, which I've removed. My grand plan is to have it properly framed by the framer down the road, making sure that I can take it out to update things whenever I like, which might be a bit tricky.

Here's my travel list:
Pre 2013: Austria, Belgium, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, USA
2013: Morocco (+ Austria, Germany and the Netherlands)
2014: Cyprus, South Africa (+ Italy, France, Germany, the Netherlands and USA)
2015: Ghana, Spain (+ Germany, Greece, Russia, and Switzerland)
2016: Estonia, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE (+ Austria, France, Germany and USA)
2017: Jordan, Northern Ireland, Sri Lanka, Zanzibar (+ Austria, Germany, Italy, Mallorca, Oman, Saudi Arabia, UAE)
2018: In the diary so far: Cyprus, France, Germany, and tentatively Australia

I hadn't realised that most of the places I travel to are countries I've been to before (although there have been some new and exciting ones this year as I'd never been to the Middle East). My new plan is to travel to at least one completely new country every year, which should be entirely do-able. Australia is on the cards next year for a friend's wedding but unfortunately my New Year's Japan plans have just fallen through. Maybe Madagascar...

Started: October 2017
Finished: the day I die
Size: 59 x 45 cm (23" x 17.5")
Stitching: Hand embroidered with DMC embroidery floss (4/6 strands)
Label: none yet

Sewing love,
me x

P.S. Linking up with Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts

Monday, 20 November 2017

A visit to the Aladdin's cave of fabric - Pt 2

Having emerged from the shiny but suspiciously small cavern that is Mood Fabric's furnishing fabrics section clutching my loot I was at a bit of a loss because I couldn't figure out where the entrance to the real Mood Fabrics was. It didn't help that it was absolutely chucking it down and by this point I'd completely ruined my not-very-sensible ballerinas.

Luckily I spotted people carrying some likely-looking Mood bags ducking out what looked weirdly like the entry to some random offices and into a taxi. Lo and behold, on the 2nd floor of this seemingly random building I finally found myself in a shiny, sparkly, interestingly textured treasure trove. Note to self: they make you check your bags in the world's most insecure bag check. Furthermore, expect typical New York levels of grumpy "service". No friendly corner shop sewing chats and advice here. But it's all worth it given the amount of choice. Check out one of the plain silks aisles here:

The plain silks aisle
I spent over an hour in the silk section alone having promised myself one pretty patterned new silk shirt. Unfortunately I found myself completely unable to decide and "had" to take these three home with me. At one point I had a about 15 fabrics that were in the "I cannot live without this" pile. It was traumatic to say the least.

The final selection/ haul of shiny loot

Now if only I could get around to actually making the aforementioned shirts with this beautiful fabric. I think my main issue is that it's so pretty that I'm a bit afraid to cut into it and not do it justice (although, to be fair, I'm still on the hunt for the "right" blouse pattern, which, as it turns out, is really bloody difficult).

I was actually after some mustard yellow suiting to make a winter skirt but despite this ridiculously large "Wool Suiting" section I couldn't find anything that suited me (harhar). I'm sure that the perfect mustard yellow wool is hiding somewhere in there but I really could have used some help to move bolts around. 
The wool suiting aisle:
Turns out those bolts are really heavy

I concluded my explorations with a little wander through the ridiculously shiny and sparkly embellished designer fabrics section, lamenting the fact that I had run out of time and had a train to catch. Next time I'm packing my tiny mummy in my case and taking her with me. This could be dangerous though as she might have a heart attack when she gets in here.

Finally, let me leave you with this statue commemorating the New York Garment District, where clothes are still handsewn for various designer (and not-so-designer) brands.

Sewing love,
me x

Friday, 10 November 2017

A visit to the Aladdin's Cave of fabric

About a year ago I found myself in New York for work and a wedding and took myself off to Mood Fabrics for an afternoon of bliss on a miserably rainy day. I could have spent all day in there but, unfortunately, I had places to go and things to do so I only had about 4 hours to trawl through this treasure trove. My feet hurt by the end of it but I really didn't want to leave!

I was a bit confused at first because, while the entrance to the main sewing Aladdin's cave that is Mood Fabrics isn't immediately obvious, they have a really lovely upholstery and furnishings fabric section that is at street level. 

Mood Fabrics upholstery section

I had a great time in there and picked up 6 m of cream sheer curtain fabric for my (at this point completely hypothetical but now not so much) new flat. Excitingly, I am now the proud owner of said hypothetical flat and the plan for this week is to make some curtains for my bedroom with the below. I'm still struggling with what to do about opaque curtains to go with these but one step at a time, right?

Gorgeous new curtain fabric

I also finally found some beautiful fabric for my dressing table chair. I've had this chair for at least 10 years and have been meaning to re-upholster it from the day I bought it. In completed projects to add to 2017: 1 re-covered dressing table chair - finally! 

Re-covered chair - love this fabric
Now that I've moved into the new flat I'm seriously regretting not buying more of this one - it would have been perfect as curtains in my bedroom and I'm really struggling to find something I like despite several trips to Liberty over the past few months.

Next: In which I finally discover the "real" Mood Fabrics and am in danger of never emerging again

Upholstery love,
me x

Monday, 6 November 2017

Finally Finished: Forest Friends Baby Quilt v2: New Addition

After a hectic 6 months (new house, new job, a lot of work travel, and several pretty serious family emergencies) I've finally settled in with my needle and thread. My sewing things are still tucked away all over the new flat in various boxes but that will change in January when the builders come to build some exciting custom storage cabinets for me (need to save up my pennies first).

I finally unpacked my trusty Singer in October and finished the second iteration of the Forest Friends Baby Quilt, "New Addition".

New Addition Baby Quilt in my new living room

I machine quilted this over the course of several evenings because, guess what, the new job means that I actually have time in the evening to do things that aren't work. This is a complete novelty and, as it turns out, I need to re-learn how to have hobbies. SO exciting! I've got so much stuff done!

Anyway, I digress.

Started: April 2016
Finished: November 2017
Size: 107 x 107 cm (42" x 42")
Quilt Top: Les Amis de la ForĂȘt by Patty Slongier
Backing: Think this might be a Tula Pink fabric but can't remember
Batting:100% cotton
Quilting:Machine quilted in the ditch around and varied geometric designs within each cross. Top thread YLI machine quilting grey. Bottom thread YLI machine quilting teal
Binding: some grey fabric I'd bought to make a blue & grey quilt but given how many project I have on the go it'll be years before that happens
Label: none

I'm quite pleased with the way the teal thread shows off the quilting on the back even though I had to piece it together from leftover fabric. I could have sworn I had enough of the multicoloured/yellow one to back both of the Forest Friends quilts, but apparently not. Although, come to think of it, it's entirely likely that the rest of this fabric is hidden away in one of my unpacked boxes somewhere *sigh*.

New Addition Baby Quilt - back

I used grey thread for the front to match the grey binding and the grey in the various prints. I have a weird obsession with grey - it's just the perfect colour. I machine stitched the binding because I was in a bit of a hurry to deliver this one and while it's not perfect, it'll do (and do better next time!).

New Addition Baby Quilt - front

In other news, I've made some progress on Salt Air Summer by the Sea and various other projects but more on that later. 

Quilting love,
me x

Friday, 3 March 2017

WIP: Summer by the Sea - delays and detours

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

Salt Air Summer by the Sea 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