Neive’s Memory Quilt: 2

Before I went any further, I had to at least start thinking about the design of the quilt.  I’m not planning to have every little bit of the design finalised before I start, but I do need to have some idea of where I’m going.  I played about with the knit fabrics a bit, and I think that I’ll applique them onto a cotton background.  This should solve the stability issues and perhaps it will increase the longevity of the quilt.  Neive is two and a half, and I anticipate that this quilt is in for a tough ride!  I want her to be able to drag it about and use it throughout her childhood, and still be left with something decent she will want and be able to use as a teenager and adult.

I have done some experimenting with the fabrics, and created this 5 inch square, which I made into a coaster, as a sort of maquette.

Preliminary scrappy heart.

Preliminary scrappy heart.

Hearts are going to be a prominent feature of the design, and I don’t care if that sounds corny, the secret ingredient is love, got it? 🙂  At first I was going to use low volume patterned fabrics for the background, but I actually think it looks busier than I’d like.  I’ve been scouring the kona solids range, auditioning background colours.  Originally, I was looking for one background colour, but I got seduced by a muted palette and ended up ordering six colours.  (Hurry up, Mr Postman!)

I have also decided to include some song lyrics, from tunes that she and I both like.  As a family, (I’m one of seven sisters) music mattered a lot to us, and I can see this tradition carrying on in Neive.  So, after a few hours of arguing with photoshop, I think I’m ready to start the first nine patch!

Finished! – Oliver’s Super Nine.

Oliver’s quilt was finished just in time for me to wrap it before we went to my sister’s for christmas day breakfast.  It is one of my goals to get projects finished, and finished on time.  My mother, although a talented seamstress, was either always rushing to get projects finished, or never finishing them at all.  I think this is one of the things that put me off sewing for such a long time; finishing a project seemed almost impossible to me!  But, guess what?  Completing a project isn’t that difficult, as long as I remember, all together now, that finished is better than perfect.

Oliver’s quilt certainly isn’t perfect, but I do like the way it has turned out.  There were some surprises during it’s construction, but, hey, it wouldn’t do if everything ran smoothly.  The batting, which I got from the local crafty type shop, shrank more than my expected 5%. It was nice batting to work with though, dense with not very high loft. I would use it again, keeping it’s shrinkage in mind.
To construct the quilt, I used this ‘quilt as you go’ method from Maureen Cracknell.  (That’s a link to her blog, btw, which I love.  Her use of colour is just delicious.  Drop by and have a read.)  I’ve never done any quilt as you go before, and there are some things I would do differently. Rookie mistakes I’m sure. The first mistake I made was that my quilting wasn’t evenly spaced on each block. (This seems such an obvious error now, I can’t believe I didn’t take it into consideration. duh.) This resulted in the blocks looking different and having a different sort of ‘pull’ on them. This method calls for the back to be attached after the quilting is done and the blocks are joined, which I think is an inherently good idea. However, the large amount this particular batting shrunk meant that the backing turned out much ‘baggier’ than I would have liked. Maybe next time, if I’m using this batting, I will try shrinking the top and batting sandwich before attaching the back. That way, I can have the crinkling and a smooth back. Despite these problems, I think Maureen’s method is a good one, and I will use it again. I’m planning to use it to practice free motion quilting, as I can use manoeuvrable blocks, rather than attempting to manhandle a whole quilt top right off the bat. Also, this way, I am not risking wrecking an entire, basted quilt top and all the time invested in it. If I am not happy with a block, well, it’s only one block.
After a couple of washes, it was lovely a soft, and I hope Ceri and Oliver get lots of cuddle time with it!

Oliver’s Super Nine: progress report.

The final selection of fabrics for baby Oliver's quilt.

The final selection of fabrics for baby Oliver’s quilt.

It would seem that the chevron with the green (Riley Blake C2923) in it really got to me because I decided to use it after all.  I had intended that to stick to the orange/aqua palette, but I think green can make an excellent ‘popper’, as it enhances a lot of other colours.  With this in mind, I also added the spotty fabric, (Riley Blake C2952) which I bought a while ago and was itching to use.   The final selection is, from top to bottom:

1.  DC5390 from ‘Lush’ by Patty Young for Michael Miller Fabrics.

2.  ‘Sage’ from the Kona solids range.

3.  PWAT 76 Chevron from Westminster Fabrics.  (the blue chevron that I had to leave behind was from the same range)

4.  C2952 from the ‘Puppy Park’ range from Riley Blake

5.  CX-4834 Tiny Gingham in Aqua from Michael Miller Fabrics

6.  35371-1 from the ‘Glimma’ range by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics

7.  I have no idea! There wasn’t enough selvage to tell and I didn’t pay attention in the shop. 😦

8.  35377 from the ‘Glimma’ range by Lotta Jansdotter for Windham Fabrics

9.  C2923 From ‘Dress up days’ by Doohikey Designs for Riley Blake

I think the aquas are taking a backseat to the oranges and the coloured fabrics, but that’s ok.  I knew I was going to do some sort of nine patch, but some playing about convinced me that white sashing would show off the fabrics nicely:

I was just taking a photo to show you all the fabrics properly when I took this, but it convinced me to go with white sashing.

I was just taking a photo to show you all the fabrics properly when I took this, but it convinced me to go with white sashing.

Here's a finished block.  Five down, three to go.

Here’s a finished block. Five down, three to go.

So, all I have to do now is decide how I’m going to arrange the blocks and what I’m going to to for backing, then it’s quilting time!

Hope you’re all having a great weekend.

Ro.

P.S. WordPress is being very badly behaved today, and won’t do what it’s told at all!

Oliver’s quilt, part one.

Obviously, the first and most logical thing to do when in the process of a sewing room revamp is to …. go and buy some delicious fabric!

orange and aqua stack

This was the final pick, after much umming and erring, from today’s trip to the shop. I had to leave a blue chevron and an amazing red/orange circle fabric behind. 😦 The multicoloured chevron was a last minute pick up at the counter, where they have baskets of fat quarters to make impulse purchases that much easier! These fabrics are destined to be part of a quilt for my brand new nephew, Oliver, who was born yesterday at the same time as I was umming and erring. Of course, now that I’ve got my precious fabrics home, I’ve completely changed my mind about the design of the quilt and I’m going to have to raid my (limited) stash to find some more coordinates. (I feel like a proper quilter!). I’m itching to get started.

Finished!

red scatter squares

Red Scatter Squares is finished! Well, apart from a run through the washing machine and the tumble dryer. There will be some shrinkage, which is fine, but I am slightly worried. I think I should have washed it before I put the binding on. What way round do people normally do it? :-/ I want the soft, crinkly antique look, but I don’t want to sacrifice crisp edges and corners to get it. It’s too late for this one, but next time I think I’ll wash first. Apart from that, I’m pretty pleased with it. It’s not perfect, but I improved a lot and learned a lot through making it. Besides, finished is better than perfect anyway. Here’s the back:

Red scatter squares reverseI didn’t want a plain backing, but I’m not ready to do a pieced back, although I love the way they look. This quilt is about 45 inches square (final measurements when it comes out of the drier!) and is destined to be a gift for my friend Carole’s little girl, who is due any day now. I like the distribution of colour, and I think I will try this again with a braver palette. I’ve been playing around with building palettes lately, it’s great fun and a fine way to waste time, so I’ve got a couple of ideas.

Next week, I have to get my sewing room in order. At the moment, it is more of an office I set my sewing machine up in, but I’m going to change it round to more sewing space first and office second. There was a catalyst for the rearrangement, but I’m keeping it a secret for a little bit longer. What’s your sewing space like?

Update: The quilt came out of the dryer just fine. The binding is nicely crinkled, but it isn’t distorting the quilt any! 🙂

Have a great day!

P.S. Comments are always welcome. 😀

Walking Foot Success!

The walking foot (cheap generic from ebay, about £11.00) was a roaring success, lovely even stitches with a minimum of fuss.  It was very easy to fit as well.  I have also developed a method for keeping the weight of the quilt from dragging on the machine, and corrupting my stitches.  It involves an ironing board and a lot of books.  (Big books, including the Harley Davidson encyclopedia, a Collins thesaurus and the Encyclopedia of Photography.) These are stacked round the sewing machine to form a platform, as I do not yet own a sewing machine table, and are working pretty well,  (Kindles are ace, but there are some things they just can’t do!)  spreading the weight of the quilt.

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The sewing machine itself is on the dining room table, and I’ve got the ironing board set up level with it to my left.  It’s all a bit Heath Robinson, I know, but I have to work with what I’ve got at the moment, and, notwithstanding human error, I’m pretty pleased with the results.  I do need to find a way to get a sewing machine table and a machine with a bigger harp space (even one or two inches can make a massive difference) which are within my budget.

Here’s the commandeered Janome 150 of my mother with the walking foot attached:

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From the front we can see the cause of some of my human error:

The needle is positioned nearer to the right hand side of the foot, as we are looking at it, than the left.  This doesn’t cause any problems in sewing, but it did cause me some confusion as to  why my lines of stitching were inconsistently spaced.  Once I worked it out, the results improved greatly!

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Got Post!

I love online shopping, it’s great. You get all the excitement of buying something, without the hassle of going to the shops, and then you get to be all excited again when it arrives!

Today’s haul consisted of two packages.

The first contained my brand-new copy of Elizabeth Hartman 's Modern Patchwork. I’ve been following Elizabeth’s Blog, Oh, Fransson, for a while now, and I love her quilts, so when I was deciding what book to buy, one of hers seemed a good choice. I’ve only had the briefest flick through at the moment, but I’ll do a more in depth review once I’ve really explored it.

The second parcel, a small, unassuming jiffy bag, contained a walking foot. Quilting attempts without one on the red Scatter Squares quilt convinced me that this little piece of equipment is pretty much essential for even stitching whilst quilting on a domestic sewing machine. Although the limited instructions made me nervous, It attached itself to my mother’s commandeered Janome with a minimum of fuss, and early experimentation looks promising.

Tutti fruiti dinosaurs

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I’m waiting on my walking foot arriving before I start quilting red scatter squares. I tried without, and untidiness ensued, so this morning I pieced together this top, built around Anne Kelle’s Urban Zoologie dinosaurs print (Robert Kaufman). I matched the colours to the dinosaurs as closely as possible, selecting, from the Kona solids range, red, kumquat, peapod, bahama blue and canary yellow. I’m pretty happy with how they matched.
Since I only used a small amount of the focus fabric on the top, I decided to go all out and use it for the back as well. I’m really enjoying the current trend of patterned or pieced backs. They add that little bit extra, just finishing the job nicely.

Red scatter squares

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I’ve finished basting my red scatter squares quilt, (I use Sharon Schamber’s basting method, btw) but the tips of my fingers are still protesting at the treatment I have dished out to them! I really must try and find a suitable thimble. When I did embroidery, I found that a traditional thimble didn’t work for me, but now there are a lot of alternatives available, so I’ll hopefully be able to find something to suit. If not, I’ll just have to grow mighty callouses!