Saturday, April 23, 2011

In Love With Rainbows

After seeing Stitched in Colour's 'bottled rainbow' QAL, it reminded me quite how much I love the full *pow* paintbox effect.  Now I've been dilly dallying around of late, not updating my blog but instead worrying about work and starting to make more things.  So today's post is going to be filled with rainbows!

First up we have this beautiful selection of Anchor perle 8 cotton:

Now there are 50 colours here and I had great fun organising them into a rainbow.  I'm also rather excited to start hand quilting with them on my new rainbow quilt (see further in this post).  I bought so many because they were £21 (incl p&p) from this seller on Ebay that's based in London.

Having all these colours around along with other patinbox style quilts I've seen on the blog-o-sphere (sorry I can't remember who did the wonderful one for her teenage son with the apple logo!), all these made me think that I wanted to try and make my own little version.

My sketch for the quilt...

I was so excited by this project that I went through my stash straight-away to decide which fabrics would go where.  I wanted it to be mostly solid colours with just a few dots or tone on tone prints to complete the paintbox effect.

Here it is a-waiting the sashing and border, which will be done in Kona solids Ash and then I think I'll get to work with the Perle 8 doing a simple design.  Haven't figured out the design yet but there's time.

Can you spot which pattern is which?

Now I'm preparing to head to Vancouver in the morning for a working holiday, so will be forced to leave my quilting at home.  Instead I'm taking some knitting which will be in time a lace shawl using this beautiful Jade Green yarn.

It took ages to wind it from the skein into a ball.  At times like that I think perhaps I should experiment with having a yarn winder...

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Modern Relief Japan

Over at Modern Relief Japan there is a chance to win one of 75 quilts that will have been kindly donated by a variety of wonderful crafty bloggers out there.  To enter all you need to do is put in an auction bid of $10.  That's only £6.37!! You'd be in with a chance of winning something beautiful but more importantly, you'll be helping a wonderful cause.

Here are some statistics that were posted over at Little Island Quilting:

29,000 - the number of people either dead or missing

23 - the years worth of debris that was dumped on just one area affected by the  tsunami 

3 - the number of years it will take to clear up the mess

500,000 - the number of households still without running water 

1,200 - the number of years since the last time an earthquake of this magnitude hit Japan

800 - the average number of kilometers per hour that a tsunami races across an ocean

800 - the average kilometers per hour cruising speed of an aircraft

 10 - the small amount in US dollars it'll cost you to enter the Modern Relief raffle to be in with a chance of winning any number of lovely quilts that have been donated. All monies raised are going to Mercy Corps, one of a number of charities currently directing help to Japan

6.37 - the amount in UK pounds to enter the Modern Relief raffle...

Go on.  Click on the Modern Relief button at the side, next to this post and become one of the entrants.  You'll be doing some good too.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Homemade Mother's Day Treats

In the UK today is Mother's Day, so I thought I'd be a good daughter and come up to visit my Mum.  I had the joys of helping Scott (my step-dad type person) prepare a dinner for the family.  This year me, my mum, her mum, Scott and my step-brother were there for dinner.  My main contribution for dinner was doing the sugar topping on the creme brulee.  I think they've come out rather well, don't you?

Scott made the body of the creme brulee complete with proper vanilla pods.  It was served with raspberries and strawberries.  Yumtastic!  I'll be trying to make it again.

Anyways... I really wanted to show you all pictures of the Tea-cosy I made for my mum using Liberty Art Prints fabric that I found in John Lewis, Oxford Street.  

Isn't it bright? A friend said it made her think of a summer in Greece.  Ideal for the rainy day here.

It was a bit of an adventure for me because I had no pattern, so I designed one!  I'm noticing this to be a bit of a habit of mine.  I love sitting there with an image in my head, figuring out how to make the item and then launching ahead.  

Basted and ready to quilt!
It fitted together beautifully in the end.  I used a simple cross-hatch quilting in a sage coloured Coats cotton thread and the bottom trim is Kona Solids in Sage.  I had that fabric in my stash anyway.  Enough talking, here is the picture:

Taken in my mum's 'garden room'!
When I gave it to Mum yesterday she was thrilled because I'd taken the time to make it for her.  She was impressed that I designed it too.  She was particularly impressed because I only learnt to use a sewing machine at the end of November.  How things are coming along!

I've linked this up to QuiltStory's Fabric Tuesday.  Please click on the button at the side to have a look at their loverly blog that showcases a variety of modern quilt designers!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Spring Quilty Adventure

I'm linking up to Quilt Story for there Fabric Tuesdays.  Be sure to look at some of the other wonderful projects that are out there.  I hope they won't mind that this is a WIP (work in progress).  It's just it's the most on a single project I've ever done in one day and I'm really excited with how it's coming along and would love to have some feedback.


Last weekend I went to visit my dear friend Kirsty (her blog = Fatty Unbound) in Brighton for some quality girlie catch up time, oodles of crafting and lots of pootling.  There was even time for an ice cream on the beach!

Now Kirsty isn't a quilter but when I'd found the shop Quilty Pleasures online. I knew I wanted to visit, as I'd never been to a *just* modern quilting shop before.  Kirsty was happy to pander to my crafting desires as we tend to encourage each other with our various crafts.  Anyways whilst I was there, I fell in love with the Hideaway line by Lauren and Jessi Jung. I bought myself a charm pack and 0.75m of the circles on snow.  Now despite this small purchase of the line (I keep wondering why I didn't go for the layer cake), I decided that I wanted to make myself a lap quilt using these fabrics.  There was no specific date or timeline to work on this project because I have several other things on the go.  But... yesterday was so perfectly spring-like, the colours in the fabric spoke to me and inspiration struck.
A view of the tree that is in front of my kitchen window.  It makes washing up feel less of a chore.

I decided to take this inspiration and see what would happen.  I didn't plan. I didn't design.  I just pulled out some co-ordinating solids (Kona Robin's Egg Blue and Lemon, plus Klona grass green and white) and wanted to see what would happen when I let myself loose with the blocks and fabric.  It's a first for me.  Here are a few progress shots that show the beginning of the day (afternoon):

Testing out fabric combinations and playing.

Blocks beginning to form

From these two photos it is difficult to tell how the project will look once the blocks are formed, sashing put in place and the colours allowed to settle together.  However I did take a few more photos of the blocks laid out in various layout ideas: 

Several blocks laid out on top of the backing fabric
However the above photo was taken before my quilting mission was finished.  I ended the day of 8+ hours of cutting & sewing with 14 blocks made (each = 8"), a design for the rest of the quilt, the backing figured out and it was all coming together happily.  Before I launch into sewing all the pieces together I laid them out on my bed (apologies for the wrinkled duvet!) and I think I'm happy with how it looks:

Now I've just another 6 more blocks to make to go along the top and bottom of the quilt.  These will be like the one that sits on its own with the 4 little squares in it.  Simple design but oh so fun.  The sashing will be bands of the solids and then a border in the Hideaway Egg.  Hurrah!

- I've changed the comments from Disqus back to Blogger, so I can reply to people via email.  This does mean that I've just lost a chunk of comments.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Hand Quilting

I've had a conspicuous absence from my blog recently a I was lost in the spring rush where all academic deadlines occur at the same time. Now I have some space to breathe with just one week's worth of teaching left for this academic year. However before Christmas I will have a full version of my phd so it's going go be a tough slog but one where crafting will provide a much needed haven.

Anyways back to crafting, quilting more specifically. A few weeks ago I posted some pictures of the beginning of my sampler quilt that uses the Quilt as you go method. I've done another block, which I'm quite proud of because it represents the fruits of my first foray into the world of hand quilting.

I used the big stitch quilting style with perle 8 cotton thread in a navy blue. I'm planning on having this as the central panel of my sampler quilt.

I think I've fallen in love with hand quilting... I love the rocking motion and the thimble and the soothing nature of doing it. I'm surprised. I think I'll still be doing machine quilting too though :)

Although I've been blog absent I've been working on several projects that include: a 2 rib scarf in a blue variegated yarn with pink foil accents; the knitted tie (I'm going to write up a pattern for this as I've designed it specially. It'll be simple but for me a test of patience as it isn't the most exciting); some free embroidery; and another little hand quilted mug rug but that's another surprise present so no pics yet.

Now I've discovered the ability to blog from my phone it should be easier to update. Off for a crafty extravaganza in Brighton this weekend. Hurrah!

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Dog in a House and A Sampler Begins

The past week has been filled with Ph.D. writing, lecturing, some crafting and my 26th birthday celebrations.  I'm pleased to announce that there were some spare hours for quilting and crafting in amidst the other duties and joys.

My first finished mug rug I've named 'Dog in a House'.  There were oodles of firsts involved with this project: fussy cutting, free-hand cutting without a ruler, designing a block, free-motion quilting and doing a binding not just on right-angle cornered squares.  I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out in the end:

It was a little present for my Mum to have in her office whilst she works from home.  I started from the dalmatian (a childhood love of 101 Dalmatians) helped and then allowed the block to build up from there. Hurrah a titchy project all finished.  I'm hoping to squeeze in some time to make another little one for my Grandma's 85th birthday this weekend.

In other news, I attended the intermediate quilting and patchwork class at my LQS (The Workshop) just over a week ago, as a birthday present to myself.  It seemed ideal: a Sunday spent quilting with a few others and the loverly teacher. In the class we tackled 3 new (to us) blocks [bow-tie, half-square triangles and a sawtooth star], basic applique, free motion quilting, echo quilting and how to the quilt as you go method where you finish a block and attach them.  Here are my results:

The completed sampler block.

This shows off the quilting. I'm most pleased with the flower top-right, as it was done in one continuous motion and my first of the class!

The first block.  The bow-tie block.  Fun and easier than I thought it would be!

My first attempt at half square triangles.  The points were close but not perfect, though I did realise the peril of having used a directional fabric pattern when it came to putting them together.

My 1st attempt at applique using fusible webbing and then doing outline/echo quilting.  Not bad for a first go, though I think I'd use a tighter zig-zag stitch around the heart itself next time.

My sawtooth star.  I'm quite chuffed with this little fellow.  Since I was the only one in the class, who wanted to do this block (the others did log-cabins), I taught myself.  Not bad beside the missed points on the top and bottom middle triangles.  I want to use triangles more often.  I also like how I quilted around the little birds to highlight them.
This sampler is going to be turned into a full-sampler over a period of time but I think it will be a long time.  I'm going to tackle a different 10" block each time to learn new skills, practice different block layouts and use my tests/ experiments to become an object I love.  Perhaps it will be for my bedroom.

This birthday thanks to my crafting party (more about that soon) turned into a wonderful one.  It helped, as I'd been finding the thought of this one tough because it's the first one I've had after my Dad died last May (15th, 2010). Crafts (quilting and knitting in particular) have offered me solace at times when the world felt too difficult. It has taught me to be kind to myself and others.  I look forward to having the energy to do a UK based charity bee soon (post-May I'm thinking).  

Oh there will be a small giveaway happening soon to celebrate my first 1,000 blog hits...

Monday, February 21, 2011

Craftivism and Crafting for Charity

Craftivism (or activism in the form of making crafts) is something that seems to be increasing in popularity in line with the resurgence in crafts over the past decade.  It's something that I've dabbled with over the years.  Baking and gifting them all to random people that I meet around London.  Baking to raise money for Haiti that was done in conjunction with I Knit London.  As you can see to date they've been baking related but I wanted to dabble in other crafts, particularly quilting since it is my recently discovered passion.  I've read about do. Good Stitches over at Rachel Hauser's blog (Stitched in Colour) where they have a virtual quilting circle that then makes a quilt to donate to a charity of the circle's choice.  I thought this was a wonderful idea but noticed they're mostly American based.  Once my PhD and other academic work settles down a bit, I'd love to help set up or be involved in a UK based version...  Any interest?

Anyways, the reason all of this is at the forefront of my mind tonight is that earlier this evening I attended the Shoreditch Sisters W.I.  meeting where they were stitching vulvas.  These are 7" square patches that will then be turned into a pieced top (perhaps a quilt?) that will raise awareness for the charity FORWARD (Foundation for Women's Health Research and Development).  FORWARD's aim is to protect the sexual rights of African girls and women, particularly against female genital mutilation (FGM). A spokesperson from the charity told us that 24,000 women are subjected to FGM each year in the UK (where it is illegal) and the figures are c.3 million across the world.  This is a subject that needs consideration and for the public profile to be raised, since it often lurks in the realm of the unmentionable. The finished pieced top will be displayed at Coco de Mer a women's luxury sex-shop filled with delights.  There will be a launch event with the Shoreditch Sisters, FORWARD and other charities that tackle FGM present.  The date is yet to be announced...

I'm afraid I don't have any photos of the patch that I made because I already donated it to the Shoreditch Sisters ready for the quilt.  Mine featured a touch of embroidery (stem stitch and chain stitch but neither brilliantly done) but was mainly some applique with fronds of lace. 

However should any of you loverly blog folk want to sew, embroider or knit or other wise craft a 7x7 inch patch featuring a vulva for the Shoreditch Sisters W.I. Embroideries Project, they can be posted to :

5a Gransden Avenue
E8 3QA
United Kingdom

For more information on the project please visit the Shoreditch Sisters blog and FORWARD.

Oh... in the process of writing this blog post, I was pootling around Facebook and have discovered the London-based Craftivist Collective, which clearly needs further investigation.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Day Delights

My academic work and general life has taken me away from my crafting a fair bit in the past week or so but all with great results.  I am in the midst of a knitting project that I won't post WIP photos of as it is a special present for my dear boyfriend, which unfortunately won't be finished today. I have been knitting it thinking of him whilst he's working, so there is love in the air at my house. Here are a few crafty activities that I've been up to in the past week.

I baked heart-shaped scones.  Here's a picture of them before they were in the oven, actually baked a week ago but only put some pics up now.  We were too excited by them to take photos, instead they devoured with jam and cream. Yum. Yum.

This weekend I took some time out to work on my animal quilt some more, which I'm working a bit too slowly on me thinks.  I need to get my act on, as I've at least 6 more blocks to make at a minimum.  I am considering off-setting the bright colours with lots of cream sashing then quilting on it with turquoise thread...

Fabrics are: moda essential dots, moda marbles and Eleanor Grosch blue whales

These are my log cabin blocks. One has ended up slightly wonky and the other I did on of the measurements a bit wrong, so we've two pieces of the darker turquoise the same.  I've decided I'm going to leave them as it is because they are my training wheels.  Perhaps I'll turn this quilt into a bit of a sampler too... Decisions decisions.  Maybe next time it would be simpler to follow a pattern than devise my own.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Work Eating up Craft Time

This past week has been great in terms of my career (first ever lecture given, seminars led, great supervision, PhD chapter progressing etc.) but it's been so busy that I've had no time to sit with fabric and play.  It can be summarised with the following picture:

My dear friend Kirsty (Fatty Unbound) bought me this mug at Sally Bourne Interiors last Friday (part of the Barboot that is organised in my corner of North London).  We fell in love with them, as they are so cute and made by the shop.  They also do mugs saying: 'I'd rather be sewing' and 'I'd rather be knitting'.  I bought her the sewing one, as she has recently fallen in love with making her own clothes and dressses.  The mug cheered me up and gave me a smile whilst I was doing work prep, thinking of friends and other fun stuff. Yay for friends, craft, work and happy times.

Friday, February 4, 2011

My Silly Brain...

I managed to call the line 'Tufted Tweeds' instead of 'Tufted Tweets'.  I'm sorry loverly birds and fabric.  Please do forgive my lapse in attention.  I blame the absence of caffeine in my blood-stream at the time of writing the post.  A girl has to learn!

My 1st Attempt at Free Motion Quilting and I Won Something!

I decided that as the little dog mug rug was going to be a small experimental piece that I would use it to try a variety of new techniques.

Pin basting:

I think it might work better for bigger projects, as it saves having to hand sew with those curved needles for ages.  However perhaps I used too many pins?  I found it rather fiddly and difficult to make everything work properly.  How many pins should be used?  Also the solid fabric was Klona solids, which is a fair bit thicker than quilting weight fabric perhaps it's almost Home Dec?  Anyways, I found it tricksy but I survived it.

Here is a picture of my free motion quilting:

I must confess that I did do several practices first on scraps of old sheeting that I'd cut up.  I hadn't realised that my sewing machine (Pfaff Select 4.0) had a special free-motion setting that could enable all sorts of fun things to be done.  I'm looking forward to practicing this technique more.  My initial attempts resulted in ooddles of bobbling on the back of the fabric with surplus thread galore.  Woops.

The background in the picture is a pale grey fabric (Klona solid again - not sure of its name) that I'm going to use to make the binding for the fabric.  The class that I did with Sarah Harper at The Workshop was so helpful in this as she is quite hands on with ensuring that you know how it all fits together and works properly.  I'm fortunate to live in one of the few parts of London that has a quilting shop :)

I'm going to finish on another note that has left my morning with a sense of glee.  I won my first ever giveaway of 'Tufted Tweeds' [Edit: It's Tufted Tweets silly...] scraps from 'Little Island Quilting'.  Thank you so much for picking me.  I'll post a picture of my loot when it arrives with me.

Hope you're all plan on having a marvelous weekend filled with crafting.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Liberated Quiltmaking...

Last night I promised a picture of my 'mug rug' liberated quilt block.  Well here she is:

She's quite a quirky shape but it just seemed to be what she demanded when I made her the other night.  The dog is a small bit of Michael Miller's Tammis Keefe tribute dogs in red.  The purple and red spots is from Kaffe Fasset.  The red and white flowers is something that I scored at the weekend, as I fell in love with it at a strange little haberdashery shop up north in Macclesfield.  It had so many fabrics on the bolts, is down in a basement and has been there forever.  Plus the lady seemed to add at least an extra 2" onto each half yard of fabric I bought. Hurrah.  The solids are from the 'Hurricane Bundle' bought from BackStitch.

I'm quite pleased with how it's turned out, as it was my first time experimenting with different shapes and blocks. I know it isn't a square/ rectangle so in that sense it isn't really a liberated logcabin block. Or perhaps it is so liberated that it couldn't be constrained in that pattern. Hmm...  I'm between binding it with a rich green marble print by Moda or going for the pale grey solid that is next to the dog.  Any thoughts?

Now I'd better get back to teaching prep and Ph.D. chapter writing.  Off to buy some batting and then do the actual quilting on it later today.  I am loving having more craft projects on the go in-between my academic work.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

I'd like to introduce you to...

Some charming little felted animals that have come into existence over the past few days.  Now my Mum was able to finish hers on Sunday morning, whilst I was being a sleepy head.  I've only just finished mine a few minutes ago before sharing the pictures here with you.  I waited a day or so because I wanted to showcase them together, as they were made in tandem, whilst watching 'The Illusionist'.

Please meet the Felties (patterns were from 'Felties' by Nelly Pailloux)

Sleepy Fox - sewed by me.

Vivid Squirrel - sewed by my Mum.  Look how neat her stitching is!! I'm impressed.
Cute little felted animals aside, last night I made my first 'liberated' quilt block after reading Liberated Quiltmaking II by Gwen Maston. Oh it's an incredible and inspirational book.  I just sat there perusing the pictures, dreaming up designs with fabric and wanting to start planning projects galore. However photos of my first 'liberated' quilt block will have to wait until tomorrow but I will just say that it includes reds, purples, grey and black. Bold colour choices, I know but what better to make a little 'mug rug' to have in my office.

Bed and book time now, as I'm a sleepy thing.  Happy crafting everyone!

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Finished Table Mats and American Fabrics!

I'm pleased to say that I have now finished three of the mats.  The binding has been sewn on using blind stitch by hand (a big achievement for me, as I'd never done the stitch before).  

They were used for the first time at last night's dinner up north at my family's house.  It seemed ideal that the three of them were used then, as my Mum gave me the quilting class as a Christmas present.  Fortunately for me she loved them and has asked me to make her a wall hanging!  Another project in the pipeline for once I've finished my quilt... I'm going to try to do one thing at a time, at least in quilting terms. 

Now I wanted to visit home, as my family had just been on holiday to Florida, where they happened upon a quilting shop [Rainbow's End] (typical that they would find the largest one in the state when it's not their interest!). However Mum being loverly as she is, chose four fabrics for me, which are:

1 fat quarter of this, as I adore pandas!

1/2 yard of the Alexander Henry owls.  Hoot Hoot.

1 fat quarter of this.  Not sure what it is.  Mum said that it reminded her of Audrey Hepburn...

1/2 yard of 'bird on a ball' designed by Etsuko Furuya.  Beautiful!!
I think my Mum chose pretty well considering she wasn't sure what to choose or what it'd be best used for but I now have fabric joy fun times to look forward to.  I feel quite excited about using it though I think I'll have to think quite carefully for the best way to show-case the fabric.  Yay!

Now I'm off to make miniature felted animals with my Mum from the book 'Felties' by Nelly Pailloux.  Mum is battling with a 'vivid squirrel' and I'm going to try making a sleepy fox!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

My Introduction to Binding

I'm afraid that this will not be a post offering a tutorial with tips of how to improve one's binding but rather my experiences at making my own binding from fabric.  Tonight I had the third and final installment of my beginner's class in machine quilting (offered at Sally Bourne Interiors and I'd highly recommend it).  This is where I've been making my table mats (the pink 9-patch squares)

We were encouraged to choose a binding fabric that would co-ordinate with our projects.  It could either be taken from a bolt of fabric, giving a third colour option or be made from scraps. I chose to use a third fabric because then I have the scraps as I'm sure they'll come in useful at some point or other.  Cutting out the binding was fine.  Piecing the strips together went alright.  I did learn that if a join was slightly uneven that if you trim it along the edge it is more sympathetic to the mistake. Hurrah for me.

The ironing is where things started to go wrong.  How you might wonder.  Well I managed to burn myself with the tip of the iron just under my cuticle on my index finger.  Boo.

Burnt finger aside.  Here's a few photos from the process:

The bottom of my table mat with the binding pinned into place, plus the role of binding that I made.
The binding is now attached to the top of one of my table mats, is pinned into place and is waiting for me to hand sew it to the bottom.

Here's how the table mat looks on the top.  
Just another three to go.  I keep thinking won't they look great when they're all finished.  I think a dinner with a few friends must be had to show them off in style!

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Central Block of the Animal Quilt

Today has been one of those murky confuseling days where you're just not quite sure how you're feeling about the world.  I spent most of the day knitting (what will be a tea-cosy) and then switched to working on part of my animal quilt.  I've managed to do the central piece, which is 19" square (including the borders). I've chosen such a large piece of the lion fabric in the middle because I fell in love with it and wanted to show it off.  I'm thinking of doing either free-motion quilting or lines...

Spot my super dinky travel iron in the top right-hand corner!
Now it's time for a bath with a book (House of Sleep by Jonathan Coe) before I head for an early night and Ph.D. research tomorrow.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

My First Attempt at Quilting

As I mentioned in my first post on this blog, I'm taking a 3 week course in machine quilting for beginners at Sally Bourne Interiors.  I've now completed the first two weeks of the course and have pieced together, basted and started to quilt 4 table mats.  The quilting is clearly a beginners try and on each mat I am testing out a different technique:  squares (outlining), a lined approach, stitch in the ditch (still to do) and free-motion quilting (still to do).

Here's my first attempt:

Next week will see the trimming, neatening up and learning how to make our own binding.  I'm quite excited, as I'm hoping to use those skills to apply to my animal quilt, which is still in progress but has had to slow down a little this week due to visitors.

Works in Progress: table mats, animal quilt, knitted tea cosy
To do: knit a tie

How about the rest of you?  What are you working on?

A Liebster Award!

Well I've had this blog less than a week and I logged in the other night and found out that Sarah at Pings and Needles  had given me a Liebster award.  She was so sweet in her comments saying how I could even sew in a straight line although I'm just a beginner.  Thank you so much!

The Liebster award is given by someone and then you gift it on to another three bloggers, who have fewer than 300 followers.  It's a viral way of sharing some bloggy love and enabling people to remember and discover those smaller blogs.  In order to accept the award, the recipient has to then gift it on to three other bloggers. Mine are:

a cuppa and a catch up: I love Nova's cheery blog and the way that she embraces her occasionally wonky stitches (sometimes putting them in intentionally).  Her use of colour, the Dr Seuss pillow for the Queensland Flood Appeal and the reference to tea in the title have meant her blog has won a little spot in my heart.  Go visit, as she's wonderful!  An all round crafty lady :-)

Stitches and Scissors: Darci's blog is a ray of multi-coloured delight.  She seems to share my love of animal printed fabrics, particularly one's with birds on.  I adore the choices she makes, animals and the  fabric she has chosen for her curtains in the sewing room should make the room an envy of all.  Go visit her for a dose of inspiration.

Fatty Unbound: An Awesome fatshion blog run by my dearest friend Kirsty.  I find the way that she brings colours and styles together exciting, empowering and a real way to show that fat and fashion can and do go together.  She also writes some interesting thought pieces concerning the media and her own life.  Plus she is a crafter and determined to begin in the world of quilting, something which I very much encourage!

Monday, January 17, 2011

The First Quilt Blocks...

As yesterday saw the cutting out of the squares for my four large corner quilt blocks, today came the piecing.  I've decided on a simple 9 patch block design, as I feel that it shows off the fabrics in the best way.  I'm using two patterned fabrics (blue whales and then multi-animals - both Eleanor Grosz), so on the top 2 blocks will have the whales running as a frame and the bottom two blocks it will be the other way round. The spots are a Kaffe Fasset range that I felt gave a nice bold effect with the blue and greens showing up quite prominently.

This is the 3-whales colourway.

This is the multi-animals colourway.  Apologies for the shadow, that was me taking the photo in my kitchen.
The remainder of the quilt will involve some applique (I think), a simple border style (log-cabin block inspired) and oodles of cream.  I think this is going to need quite an interesting binding to finish the project off with style.  Fortunately I'm a little way off from that point.  I'm also plotting what sort of quilting style to do but again there's time...

Sunday, January 16, 2011

My Quilt in Progress

For me the process of completing something is as much why I do them as for the end result.  This applies to my Ph.D. (I love writing and research), knitting (I often prefer the act to the end result), baking (how soothing is mixing together a cake?) and I'm hoping this will apply to quilting (I have a feeling that it will). Now today's post I think will be a tad picture heavy, as there are a few things I want to share.

The notebook where I've starting sketching designs for the quilt:

 This notebook has great sentimental value, as it was bought for me by my boyfriend last year for our 1.5 year anniversary.  He fell in love with it at Craft Candy (Sheffield, UK, craft collective). It's so perfect for us because he adores birds and my nickname from him is little bird, whilst he's my Big Bird.  The cover even features the two birds.  However I was unsure what to use it for because it has squared paper, whereas my journals are normally blank for writing and sketching in. Then the other night (yesterday to be precise), I was thinking about how to design my quilt and thought where better than in this book!

So... here are some of my sketches for my quilt design:

I'm aware that you might not be able to see the details but I thought I'd share my process, as best as I can.  It will be a square quilt with a simple plain block in the middle and then 4 9-patch blocks at the corner (or should they be disappearing 9-patch blocks...). The final picture for today shows my cutting board with the fabrics spread out ready to be pieced together.

Nothing too fancy for this Caroline.  I am a beginner after all, so I feel that is quite excusable to go for a simple design.  Also, how cute are those animals??  I found it hard to bring myself to cut them up at all!

A Big Thank You...

... to a woman I've never met but who wrote this series of posts called 'Quilting Without Obligation'.  They say don't be hung about what the folks on quilting blogs are doing, their fabric choices, their designs, the pressure to be original etc.  Remember why you're doing this and what you want out of the quilting. 

Perhaps this seems an odd post to have found so enlightening for someone who hasn't even made a single quilt yet.  However I've been sat with a sketch pad all evening designing my quilt, various swatches and trying to think of the best way for the fabrics to all fit together.  I was looking at patterns online, across the quilting blog-o-sphere and flickr.  So many of them require you to use many fat quarters (8 or more) whereas I want to use just 4 (the Eleanor Grosz animal print ones I have).  I've decided that I'm going to go with my 'gut' design that will showcase the fabrics I love with oodles of cream, some spots for the edging pieces, and a pretty binding and back.  This quilt is for *me*.

I'm nervous but excited.  This is going to be a challenge for me but I figure with a simple design, how can I go too wrong?  

Next I need to work out how to cut the various fabrics to make the sort of design *I* want.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

My First Quilt Preparation

I'm not sure if I'm ready (in terms of skills) to tackle an entire single-bed sized quilt (c.130cm x 170cm) but I figure that I'd like to and I've found some fabric that I'd love to use, so why not give it a go.  Also I went to the John Lewis on Oxford Street today where it was the second to last day of their sale.  Most of last season's Amy Butler fabric were at 50% off, so I bought 3.5m of green/martini Opal Sky colourway of Midwest Modern, which is going to be the backing fabric for my quilt.  I'm focusing on blues/greens/limes with a hint of purple.  The main dominant fabrics on the front are Zoo Menagerie animals.

I'm trying to decide whether the multi-coloured lions will be *too* much.  But then I really like them and they think they could be a good feature fabric.  The spots is from Amy Butler's love collection and is the stone path/ ivory spots from soul colourway.  It was an 82cm remnant in Liberty*.

There will be sashing in cream (free spirit cream solid £7/m in Liberty) so that it isn't too over-powering.  I am making this quilt just for me to snuggle up under in my living room.  A joy of living in a flat that is converted from an Edwardian house is that it's beautiful but a peril is that it's drafty.  This seems to me like the perfect compromise.

* Liberty in London. Wow!  How had I never been before today?!  I say this because I've lived in London for the past 3 years.  The store itself is beautiful but the fabric selection is phenomenal.  All of the beautiful silks, home decor weight, quilting weight.  I was particularly enthralled with the range of Kaffe Fasset fabric (loving his colour combinations) and Free Spirit fabrics.

I'm now going to head back to my sketchbook to figure out the design of this quilt. Wish me luck!

Shoulder Bag

As my new sewing machine (Pfaff Select 4.0) arrived on Thursday morning, I'd been itching to tackle a new project.  I remembered that I'd been given 'Sew!' by Cath Kidston a while ago, which comes complete with pre-cut fabric to make the below shoulder bag.  This seemed like an ideal simple project to become better acquainted with my new machine.  

The bag features button on shoulder straps, a simple button closure, french seams throughout and the use of a t-junction seam to create extra width at the bottom.

My button holes weren't quite as neat as I'd like but I imagine that will come with practice.  I found it confusing because the button hole sequencing was the reverse of how it worked on my old machine.  I did sew on the buttons by machine, which was a first and I'm quite chuffed with that.

Things to make in the pipeline:
  • A pincushion. I'm still without one and it's becoming quite a hindrance, especially as my sewing area is also in my living room.
  • A mug quilt. This will give me a chance to practice some skills on a small object that can be just for me.  I imagine if I tackle it alright I'll make one for my Mum too, as she's very excited about my craft projects.
  • Also I have designs to make a big animal quilt. The fabric is here.  The design is coming together in my head. Next it's the skills!

Friday, January 14, 2011

First Things...


My name is Caroline and I'm 25 living in London.  I'm a full-time PhD student in Sexuality and Gender studies, who spends most of her spare time reading or crafting.  I'm going to use this blog to chart my crafting (knitting, sewing, baking and quilting) projects.  There will be photos galore, mostly taken with my iPhone 4, so I can do a quick snap and not be too stresseld over the lighting.  

How long have I been crafting?

  • Knitting: Started when I was 20 and a friend taught me how to do a basic knit stitch.  Didn't progress from making a huge burgundy scarf monstrosity that I've kept for sentimental reasons.  Competent at: simple cables and lace, knitting in the round (circular and dpn), miniature knitting, socks etc.  I'm yet to try making a garment.
  • Baking: As a child, I baked most Sunday afternoons with my Mum.  There would be a spread of Welsh cakes, pikelets, scones etc.  However during my teens I forgot about baking and lost all of my skills. I discovered this 3 and a bit years ago when I wanted to bake a birthday cake for a friend and it was a disaster.  I'm now competent at a wide variety of cakes and breads. My boyfriend is particularly a fan of my Toffee Chocolate Brownies.
  • Sewing: Again hand and machine sewed when I was young with my Grandma and at school.  I forgot all my skills but decided I wanted to try it again.  I'd now put myself at a competent beginner.  So far, I've made a mini-patchwork stocking, a circle skirt, bag, table mats and a few other odds and ends. 
  • Quilting: This is the latest of my crafting skills e.g. I'm just taking a beginners course in machine quilting at the moment at the wonderful Sally Bourne Interiors workshop.  In the workshop I'm making a set of 4 patchwork table mats.  I've bought the fabric and have started to design my first quilt!  It's going to feature four fat quarters of Eleanor Grosch's Zoo Menagerie fabric that I bought from the charming Backstitch.  

My sewing machines:

Singer 30, treadle in a walnut veneered cabinet.  It's my beauty, though I'm still just beginning to become competent with the treadle part.  I have to watch that I don't go backwards too often.

Pfaff Select 4.0.  This was quite reasonable at £399 for an ex-display model that only arrived yesterday from The Sewing Centre in Battersea, London.  I'm already in love!

I'll post some more pictures once I've some new projects to show you all!