Friday, 29 December 2017

2017 - my sewing year in numbers

This year has been more productive than last year and finished quilts actually make an appearance in my annual round up. Again, small and quick projects feature quite strongly and for some projects, a needle and thread has been replaced by glue and a brush. I've started a new EPP project (Lucy Boston's Patchwork of the Crosses), but progress has been slow and I have only got as far as chosing the fabric for the linking blocks, and have not started going through my Liberty fabrics for the main blocks.

Not too much fabric has been added to my stash this year, and now Standfast & Barrack no longer sell Liberty lawn in their factory shop, I can't see my Liberty stash increasing much in 2018. I did buy a few dressmaking patterns and fabrics this year, so perhaps some garments will appear in next year's montage.

In summary, this is what I have achieved this year:
  • 6 spotty coasters sewn
  • 5 boxes/cases repurposed and covered in Liberty fabric
  • 4 quilts finished
  • 2 garments refashioned
  • 1 mini quilt stitched
  • 1 cushion made and gifted
  • 1 insulated lunch bag designed and created
  • 1 bag customised with Liberty EPP
  • 1 replacement iPad case completed
  • 1 peek-a-boo pouch made
  • 1 new EPP project started

Thursday, 30 November 2017

Replace and Reuse

Just a couple of quick bits of sewing to report for this month. First up is a replacement iPad case for my godson who left his case (along with the iPad) on a train. This was a very quick make as I had only a couple of hours to make it while he was home from University. I adapted the pattern that is available in my tutorials so that the zipped pocket was quicker and used the first non-girly fabric that came to hand.

The other piece of sewing was to find a way of reusing a skirt of mine that somehow has “shrunk” while it has been hanging in the wardrobe. The length was never quite right on me and seeing as the waist was no longer right now too, there was nothing to lose. I chopped off the skirt just below the zip and made a casing for elastic using a length of Liberty lawn. (The skirt is needlecord which would have been too bulky to fold for a casing.)

Seeing as I never wear tops tucked into skirts, this was a quick fix and resulted in a skirt that is very wearable, but very difficult to photograph.

I might use this method again should any more skirts shrink in the wardrobe 😉.

Friday, 27 October 2017

Last of the Liberty (thank heavens for a stash)

October has been another quiet month sewing-wise, with just one item being made, no sewing progress on my Patchwork of the Crosses quilt, and some news that will impact my Liberty stash.

At the start of the month, I met up with Di whom I follow on Instagram. Di was in Liverpool for a few days and was looking for suggestions of where to go and what to see. We arranged to meet for lunch followed by a trip to the craft cotton bargain baskets at Abakhans. I didn’t want to turn up empty-handed, so I made a quick “Peek-a-Boo” pouch using the free pattern from Sew She Can. Unfortunately I forgot to put anything in the pockets when taking the photos, so you’ll have to take my word that there is a vinyl pocket on the inside.

I had warned Di that the craft cotton baskets can be a bit hit and miss at times, but we struck lucky on our visit. I found some Tula Pink and Art Gallery Fabric; Di found some backing to complete a cushion and started planning ahead with the purchase of some Christmas fabric.

Although I’ve not got any further with my Patchwork of the Crosses quilt, I have got as far as deciding on the final fabric for the joining blocks – the centre squares will be in Liberty “Penny”. I've not sewn any of these blocks yet, but Photoshop gave me an indication of how they might look.

Talking of Liberty, I was saddened to learn last month that Standfast and Barracks will no longer be selling Liberty seconds in their factory shop. Apparently printing has been moved to Como in Italy, which probably explains the lack of newer designs and the half-price sale in the Lancaster outlet. I bought a few metres of the Wild Cat design (from the Autumn/Winter 2016 collection) before they stopped selling on Ebay, but it looks as though this will be the last of my bargain Liberty purchases.

Friday, 29 September 2017

Little bits of Liberty for a little quilt

It is now about 5 years since I made my first quilt and in those years I have never made a mini quilt. Well, that has changed now. A call went out for a competition for mini quilt for a forum I belong to and I thought I would give it a go. 

A few choice words were said when I realised my design was more suitable to working in centimetres than inches if it were to meet the size requirements, but freezer paper and an “add a quarter” ruler came to the rescue enabling me to cut metric-sized shapes with a quarter inch seam. Once I had decided on the placement of the fabrics, piecing the quilt was quick, though there was one tricky square that required two partial seams – another planning failure on my part.

I used Liberty lawn for the backing and a piece of microfleece for the wadding as traditional wadding was too thick/stiff for such a small project. When it came to the quilting, I was tempted to reach for the walking foot, but took the advantage of the manageable size of the quilt to try some FMQ. I used Aurifil 50 wt in a dark grey as it blended with most of the fabrics, but contrasted with a few of the darker pieces. Quilting was kept fairly sparse so as not to add any extra stiffness and the design is probably best described as a “meandering square” and was chosen to reflect the shapes of the piecing. A narrow double fold binding, again in Liberty lawn, was applied and hand stitched to the back, making the finished quilt ~8.5 x 10.5”.

I don’t for one minute think it will win the competition (not enough batiks!), but it has used up some Liberty scraps and was a chance to try a bit of free motion quilting.

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Delayed Delivery

I started making these two quilts for Project Linus at the beginning of last year and it has taken me over 18 months from cutting the fabric to getting them delivered. It is a good job quilts don’t have a use by date.

The corner triangles add a splash of colour and a little bit of interest for the quilting. As I use fleece for the backing and no wadding, I don’t have to worry about quilting distances and so a simple one way diagonal was enough to hold the layers together. With the exception of the binding, the fabrics and batting were from my stash.

As a change from the usual washing line photos, here’s an attempt at a styled photo of one of the quilts on the garden bench. In addition to the dinosaurs, there are also bees, birds and stars on some of the squares.

To make further inroads into my stash (which in theory should be getting smaller, though any change in size is not obvious yet), I made some more sheets for Alder Hey from fabrics that had been stashed and unused for several years. My local Project Linus co-ordinator not only takes in quilts, but also sheets, so it was nice to add these to the quilt parcel.

In contrast to the slow progress of these two quilts, this Mr Men and Little Misses quilt was cut, quilted and delivered to my godson in less than a week. This cheap and cheerful quilt is made from two charity shop polycotton duvet covers and I was certainly "Little Miss Make-it-up-as-I-go-along" when it came to working out what size of irregular sashing was needed.

The shape and bold outline of each character was ideal for FMQ and had the bonus of creating "ghost" figures on the back of the quilt.

Now these three quilts are completed, I can think about what to make next. A friend's daughter is 4 months old, so if I start now, she might get a quilt for her first birthday!

Monday, 14 August 2017

Bedspread Bonanza

Festival of Quilts received some publicity on the Chris Evans' BBC Radio 2 breakfast show this year and while many will not have been impressed at it being called a “bedspread bonanza”, I found it quite amusing because I much prefer the patchwork quilts to the art quilts or the 3D items.

This year my trip to see the bedspreads (!) was just a day long and I could only visit at the weekend rather than my usual two day Thursday/Friday trip. I had won a ticket from a My Bear Paw giveaway and found reasonably priced trains which gave me just over 5 hours at the show (and plenty of tickets when I went to collect them!).

As many people say you need more than one day to see everything, I was interested to see just what I could fit into a day and how busy it would be on a Saturday. So, in keeping with my short visit, here is a short report on my trip, hopefully with some ideas for how to make the most of a short visit.

  • Arriving just after 10.30am meant no queues to get in and still time to get to Empress Mills for their early bird discount. Unless you can arrive very early to get a place at the start of the queue, you might as well arrive 20-30 minutes after the doors have opened to give the queue chance to clear.

  • I had made a list of stalls I wanted to visit and their stand number so I could find them quickly. Shopping was quieter than I expected for a Saturday and I managed to get most things on my list (and some things not on my list) in the morning.
Shopping on my list
Shopping not on my list
  • It is difficult to compare how busy the show was with previous years as I went on different days, but my impression was that it was quieter than last year. It was certainly easier to look around the stands, but this might be because the number of exhibitors was slightly down this year compared to last year.

  • I didn’t book any workshops or talks this year, but I found time for a 30 minute talk about Hobbs wadding on the Lady Sew and Sew stand.

  • As in previous years, I brought some lunch with me and this year there was plenty of seating in the concourse area for a sit down, including some nice new padded seats.

  • I prioritised looking at the modern, contemporary and traditional quilts and had plenty of time to see them in the afternoon. I did come across one 3D piece in passing which made me smile, but I walked quickly past the others.
Quilted Chickens!

  • I managed to miss one complete gallery, but I have done the same in previous years even with double the time to look around.

  • Virgin trains offer a 25% discount on trips to/from NEC events, so by splitting my return journey at Stafford, I was able to avoid changing at New Street (not my favourite station) and do the final leg of my journey in First Class comfort for a similar price to my outward journey.

Even though I had to leave an hour before the show closed, I found I was ready to head home by then and had seen/bought what I wanted. If you do want to see everything and have a long shopping list (particularly if looking for fabrics), then a day is probably not enough. However, you can fit a lot into one day, especially if you can plan to leave after the show closes as it is much quieter in the last hour or so. If I go again next year, I won’t be in such a hurry to discount a day trip, unless there are particular workshops I want do. Even then, I think I could fit a one hour workshop into a day trip by getting a slightly later train home.

After coming back slightly disappointed from my last two trips to Festival of Quilts, I wonder if I might have found what works for me - don't try to see it all, just see what interests me.

Friday, 28 July 2017

July's sewing

I'm glad to say there has been some sewing in July - some of it fun, some of it routine, and some of it very much a group effort.

First was a quick and easy cushion cover as a birthday present for a friend. We usually exchange one sensible and one silly present – this was the silly present (just in case you were wondering!).

I used an invisible zip from stash which could have done with being a bit longer in order to get a slightly neater finish at one end. Other than that, it went in very easily using the concealed zipper foot for my machine.

The next project was shortening four pairs of trousers for Mum and again it was a case of the right tools making the job much easier. Two of the trousers were woven fabrics and so it was a straightforward job of turning them up. The other two were knit fabrics and required a stretch stitch. I knew I would get the best result with my coverstitch machine, but it was stored in the depths of the box room and hadn’t seen light of day for several years. I had read that a twin needle could be used for stretch hems and thought that might be quicker than trying to find the coverstitch: it wasn't. I wasted about half an hour trying to get a balanced stitch before admitting defeat and venturing into the box room. Once the coverstitch machine was set up, it took me less than 10 minutes to do both pairs of trousers.

(Twin Needle)

The final sewing was done at this month’s meeting of Leeds MQG. I took the little red sewing machine and spent the day sewing together blocks sent to the Manchester Quilting Bee. The little red machine is not the speediest of machines, but I managed to get the blocks of one quilt stitched together before having to head home. At least the slow stitching meant I had plenty of time to admire the variety of blocks that had been sent in and to appreciate the effort that had gone into some of the blocks in particular.

Next month is Festival of Quilts and thanks to a ticket giveaway from Jo at My Bear Paw, I am now planning just how much (or how little) I can fit into a five hour visit.

Thursday, 29 June 2017

Eeny, Meeny, Miny, Moe

Slow, but steady, progress is being made with the first set of blocks for the Patchwork of the Crosses quilt. After having picked just two fabrics so far, I thought it time to make the third choice – the one that will be used for the squares in the “sashing”.

I chose several fabrics from my Liberty stash, but having photographed them with the two other fabrics, I think I might have to go back for another rummage or change my plans and go for the scrappy approach.

If it takes me this long to come up with just three fabrics, picking fabrics and choosing layouts for the crosses blocks could take some time.