Monday, 11 February 2019

Finally Finished: Summer by the Sea

It's finally done and has only taken two years and 8 months to complete. I may have gotten slightly distracted by sewing and DIYing for the new flat in the interim.
Summer by the Sea in the January sunshine
This quilt should probably be called "Summers in Aeroplanes" instead as it's been on more trips than your average Gap Year Globe Trotter at this point. Off the top of my head the list includes Barcelona (Spain), Bordeaux (France), Dubai (UAE), Estonia, Germany, Italy, Paris (France), Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), Salzburg (Austria), San Francisco (USA), Zanzibar and, of course, a whole host of places in good old Blighty. Possibly my most cosmopolitan quilt yet.
Summer by the Sea
Hoping that it'll shrink more when I wash it
Summer by the sea
All of the squares in all of the rotations
(oooo! New quilt design idea!)

Started: May 2016
Finished: January 2019
Size: 108 x 126 cm (approx. 43 x 50")
Quilt top: 1 Jelly roll of Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket for Moda
Backing: Sea Garden in seafoam - Salt Air by Cosmo Cricket for Moda (I actually bought backing fabric this time. Shock. Horror)
Binding: StripeSalt Air by Cosmo Cricket for Moda 
Batting: Hobbs Heirloom Wool Batting
Quilting: 100% hand quilted using YLI hand quilting thread in white. Stencils from the Stencil Company 1.5" double cable and 1.5" shell border
Label: Scraps from quilt cutting as above

Summer by the Sea
Nautical quilting: Squares, shells, and a double cable
I've massively improved my hand quilting over the course of this quilt. My technique is probably completely unorthodox and 8 stitches per inch isn't really anything to write home about but I'm really pleased that much my speed and consistency has improved so much. I've tried out at least 5 different thimble / fingertip saving options in the process and finally found two that I really like.

Thimble Option 1: Metal fingertip shield
This fantastic fingertip shield from Colonial. You just stick it to your fingertip with the little sticky disks that come in the packet. Genius, but not great if you're quilting while travelling. I lost at least three of these but kept buying replacements because they are so good. A big thank you to my lovely friend Becca of BeccaSews who took me to the Great British Sewing Bee event at the Excel in London last year. I would never have come across these if I hadn't spotted them at one of the market stalls (Also you should check out Becca's jaw-dropping dress making skills. She bought stuff to make jeans and a jumper at this event and they turned out better than any I've ever bought in a shop! I'll just stick to my sewing-squares-together-and-hoping-they-match-up approach to sewing.)
Metal finger shield
Great at saving my fingertips!
Thimble Option 2: Silicone needle-puller
This silicone needle-puller comes a close second the above, depsite my hatred of all things pink (and especially this particular shade of pink). I found this even more effective for those tough bits where one is trying to quilt through a bazillion layers and seriously contemplating pulling the needle through with one's teeth. I found using these together with the finger shield above the best option.
Silicone needle puller
Stops me using my teeth on the tough bits
(naughty naughty!)

I'm also particularly pleased with this quilt's label, probably due to my love of boats of all kinds. While I've decided that this quilt is definitely on the "finally finished" pile, I'm seriously considering doing just a tiny bit more embroidery on the label because every boat needs a name!
Summer by the Sea
Sounds like a good name for a boat, no?
I have loads of this absolutely gorgeous fabric left and am already scheming for a bigger and more intricate quilt but in the meantime I'm enjoying snuggling up with this in my armchair while I toast my toes in front of the fireplace.
This is my monitor-lizarding-in-the-sunshine armchair,
not my toasting-toes-in-front-of-the-fireplace armchair,
but it'll do

Happy Quilting,
me x

P.S. Linking up to Finished or not Friday (because while today isn't Friday, I did finish this on a Friday), and Main Crush Monday (because I love this fabric so much that I'm already planning the next quilt for it)

Friday, 30 March 2018

Finally Finished! Bedroom curtains part 1: sheers

The Quilting Queen, aka my darling mother, was here a month ago and helped me finally finish the new curtains for my bedroom. It's funny how curtains make such a difference in making things feel cozy and home-y. Come to think of it, that might pertain to most soft furnishings. My mum's quilts certainly made a succession of college accommodation and random flats feel very much like home!

Anyway, mum and I did most of the work on these sheers over the Christmas break and all that *really* still needed to be done was the hemming. I spent ages back in January playing with pleating tape that we sewed into the top and trying to decide how many pleats I wanted. I finally decided on 2 and gave up on those annoying metal fork things and just sewed the pleats down.

Anyway, here's the finished product:

You might recall that I actually bought this fabric back in 2016, well before I was in any position to buy a flat but, as it turns out, it was the perfect choice. I'm so happy with how these turned out! Thanks TQQ!

Curtain sewing love,
me xoxo

P.S. Linking up to Finish it up Friday and Finished or not Friday

Monday, 26 March 2018

Fabric shopping: Curtain fabric

Great news - I've found curtain fabric for my bedroom curtains! After over 9 months of trawling the far corners of the internet and a silly number of central-London fabric shops, I've finally found something that I really like.

Liberty samples - none of these made the cut
Top row: Liberty ianthe velvet (green), Liberty Jeffrey Rose Tree (golden), Linwood Fable (green)
Middle: Libert Capello Shell (dew drops & spade), Liberty Rose May (jade), Libert Riley (Jade), Linwood Sakura Damask (pampas, stone,  dove grey)
Bottom: Lelievre Nami (opaline, vermeil), Lelievre Metali (glacier, cuivre), Linwood Hudson Bay (goose grey)

I spent over a month um-ing and ah-ing because this stuff is from my second favourite fabric shop in the whole world, Liberty (First place goes to Mood Fabric in NYC, in case you were wondering) and, thus, stupidly expensive. BUT, in the end, I just couldn't resist and it's bonus time, which is always a good time to spend silly amount of money on fabric, right?

Liberty fabric samples
At least I avoided the pricetag of the gorgeous velvet on the RHS
The fabric is called Wallace Secret Garden in Green Gauze and it's a gorgeously textured linen. In case you're wondering it also comes in beautiful blue and a lovely grey, which I was very tempted by. I bought the ridiculous amount of 6.5m, which should give me a little spare for some cushions. Can't wait to show you my new curtains!

Wallace Secret Garden by Liberty
Beautifully packaged in tissue paper as always

Significantly less exciting: blackout fabric from John Lewis
On the plus side: about a tenth of the price

Fabric looty love,
me xox

Friday, 23 March 2018

Finally Finished! Summer By the Sea Borders

I finished the final border for Salt Air Summer by the Sea (new and improved name!) back in January! Yay! The double cable border has been really fun to quilt and my hand quilting has become so much more consistent over the course of this quilt. I'm so glad that this one is going to be mine to keep.

Summer by the Sea - finished borders! Yay!

As I have come to realise, however, the blue marking pens that I was using have proceeded to wear off rather badly over time. I suppose it's my own fault for taking so long to finish quilting the damn thing. I finally gave in the other week and spent an hour going through boxes until I found the stencil. I am so looking forward to having a place for all of my things once the builders finish my new cabinets. It will be so good to know exactly where everything is and not have to go hunting in 5 different places anymore (I suspect this might be slightly utopian, but one can hope, right?)

Summer by the Sea - double cable & shell borders

I spent ages agonising over how to quilt these borders and I'm so glad that I still like them after spending so long stitching them up! As you can see in the photo above, there are a couple of places where the threads aren't quite tight enough as it took me a while to figure out how to properly secure them but I'm fixing those as I go through.

Summer by the Sea - double borders (back)

Next up: finishing the diagonal quilting on the body of the quilt (oh yeah, that's still not done. Blegh). But then: Binding (!) and quilt labels(!!)

Really need to get back on this one but have been distracted by other projects, both sewing- and non-sewing related. More on my new curtains soon!

Hand quilting love,
xoxo me

P.S. Linking up to Finish it up Friday and Finished or not Friday (because it's kind of finished, and kind of not)

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