Thursday 31 July 2014

A hat

Many years ago, in another life entirely, I did quite a lot of machine embroidery.  My DD is clearing out her room at the moment and came upon this hat that I made for her when she was eight or nine.  It is quite simple, but was by far my favourite thing I made back then - though maybe that's just because she looked so cute!

This was made by laying tiny scraps of fabric, mostly silks on a Bondaweb base.  Sounds easier than it was, cos every time a kid flew past, my scraps also flew!  Once there were enough in place I ironed them down, a chunk at a time, then free machine spiralled all over the top in pretty variegated threads. There's also a bit of hand stitching - french knots maybe.  Once I had my fabric done, putting the hat together was the straightforward bit; it's just a circle and a bit strip.

I'm a bit vague because it was so long ago - you can tell how long by the grainy texture of the photos: they are from a film camera (remember those?) and have been scanned.

Linking up for the first time with The Inspired Wren and with Anything Goes Monday, this time hosted by The Sassy Quilter

Inspired Us Thursdays: Sew Needle Stitch Hook, a link party of fiber arts. | The Inspired Wren

Wednesday 30 July 2014

Little elephant

Playing around with the bits I posted last time:  this is where I've got too now.

I pulled some much stronger orange-y bits from stash (like the stripe at the top) and I'm a bit happier with the colours now, though am still in a 'let's see how it goes' frame of mind.  

I hadn't originally thought this was going to be a medallion quilt.  Having gone done that road with Annie's quilt I was going to do something else, but it seems to be growing round the little elephant, so maybe it will take that form. Again, let's see how it grows!'

I'm linking up today with Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts and on Friday with Off the Wall Friday and Confessions of a Fabric Addict. Also Cat Patches for the NewFO challenge.   

Sunday 27 July 2014

Unexpected bounty

Visiting my mum today, I received unexpected goodies - a big handful of lovely threads, the same kind of weight as perle, so the idea is I can use them for quilting.  My mum is a talented embroiderer and always has gorgeous threads, so I am really chuffed to have come away with these.

What's more it means I can link up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash.

Saturday 26 July 2014

Starting something new

Now this is not what was next on my list.  Far from it.  But my list is arbitrary and only in my head, so if I stray off course nobody knows or cares.  I started playing with the wax prints I posted a couple of weeks ago.  

This is usually how I start off - making a load of random bits.  Some might end up in the quilt as they are, others won't, or will be chopped into and changed. At the moment I am thinking I'm not quite happy with the colours - the orange-y tones are a bit too peachy.  I was imagining scorched earth, savannah, like the fabric third from the left on the line below, and these seem too polite somehow.  I'm not panicking as this is just the first pass, but back to stash to see what will help.

As usual, I'm linking up to Anything Goes Monday at Stitch by Stitch.

Thursday 24 July 2014

On the naming of quilts

How do you decide what to call your quilts?  If you are a traditional quilter then I'm guessing you have the block names to help you, Bear Paw or Double Wedding Rings or Log Cabin all sound fine as they are.  But what if you're making it all up as you go along?  Some people just seem to have a knack for it finding the perfect name.

The reason I'm pondering this right now is that I realised I have been calling my lastest WIP 'Charley', which is fine while it's in the works, but might seem a bit odd if I wrote it on a label and stuck it on the back of the finished quilt. Unless I go with the hurricane school of naming, then my next quilt could be Diana, then Ethan...It would certainly be easier than having to come up with something clever and appropriate!

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Nearly done, Charley

Added the top third to Charley Harper.  All I'm going to do now is one little border, I think, then he's ready to quilt.  

Unfortunately he will have to wait a bit, since there's something else (unblogged) on the go and that's at least a month off done.  Actually, since I always under-estimate these things it's probably two months off done, or three!

This is the first time ever I've had a backlog, albeit a tiny one.  Usually there's one top I'm piecing, one I'm quilting.  Oh, and I cut strips for scrappies all the time, but they just sit in a bag so they don't count.  Some people, I know, like to have multiple projects on the go but I suspect I'm too easily confused for that, and in any case I'm too slow.

Linking up today with Let's Bee Social and Needle and Thread Thursday, and, for the first time, with Off the Wall Friday.

Sunday 20 July 2014

Silk suggestions

Along with the wax prints I posted last week came these scraps of silk.

Many moons ago when I was a novice embroiderer, doing City and Guilds, I used silk, but not since and now, while I like how these look, I really haven't the faintest idea what to do with them.  Any ideas?

Thursday 17 July 2014

Happy Birthday Singer EJ678871

This year is my lovely sewing machine's 60th birthday.

For a long time I sewed on a Husqvarna Viking machine, bought when I was a machine embroiderer and perfectly adequate unto the day.  Its biggest limitation was that it wasn't really designed to have great swathes of fabric shoved about in it, and although I don't machine quilt, even piecing a biggish top takes up a fair old amount of space.  

So when it died, I looked briefly at lots of shiny, fancy machines - you know the ones, all the bells and whistles and more.  But, to be frank the idea of spending all that money made me feel kind of queasy.  What if I chose the wrong one?  What if it was horrid to use, temperamental, unforgiving? What if next week I saw something I wanted more?  What if I didn't LOVE it? (it's not like you buy a sewing machine every week, so I wanted one I could form a satisfying long term relationship with - and yes, I have given less thought to men I liked on some occasions...)  It was all a bit overwhelming . 

Then I had to admit that  all I really do is sew in straight lines and there's a limit to what I would pay to do that. 

I don't remember what made me think of looking at old machines, probably something I read online, but I ended up with this:

This is a Singer 201, made in 1954, often billed as the finest machine Singer ever made and I have to tell you I love, love, love it.  It is the smoothest, quietest thing I have ever sewn on, it goes and goes - it's all metal parts and no computer, so there's not much to go wrong, and all it needs is regular oiling.  I'm kind of hooked and have even been known to browse ebay and compile fantasy lists of which machine I want next.  There's hundreds of them out there.  

Now, I know lots of people have Pfaffs or Jukis or Brothers or Berninas and love them, and maybe I would have found one that worked for me, if I had persisted.  But I wonder how many of the new machines will still be around and going strong in 60 years time.

Wednesday 16 July 2014

Charley's speeding now

This seems to be growing really quickly at the moment.

I've got to a point where I'm picking colours in relation to what's already there, because I know where all my bits are going. I think it's the repetition of colour and/or shape that gives things their rhythm. I added in the brighter blue stripe fairly recently.  I liked the fabrics I had but it all felt a bit subdued (though that may just be me).  I prefer it with that extra bit of zing.

This is where I've got to now.

Sharing this post today with WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced and Let's Bee Social at Sew Fresh Quilts.  

Monday 14 July 2014

Last of the backlog for now

A scrappy quilt, completed earlier this year.  Cut as one-and-a-half inch strips, roughly speaking.  I'd never tried this sort of thing before, but had seen a few and it seemed a good way of using up the smaller odds and ends.

It certainly is a good option for hiding little bits of the truly unappealing (and I had accumulated some stuff that was really not to my taste along the way).  The piecing was almost entirely random.  Occasionally I put two things side by side and just couldn't bring myself to sew them together, but mostly I just picked up whatever came to hand, working on the principle that over-thinking it probably wouldn't improve things. In the true spirit of making do this has an army surplus blanket inside instead of quilters wadding.  I really like the weight that old blankets give; there's something really comforting about cuddling up under something substantial, but boy it's hard on the hands when you quilt!  
Needle and Thread Thursday Fresh Poppy Design

Sunday 13 July 2014

Sunday stash # 2

Now it's not every week I can go nuts and buy armfuls of fabric at a time, but this time my mum donated this little chap:

And some rather funky African wax prints to go with him.

I've window-shopped wax prints before but never used them (though I have used other African fabrics - see here).  It will be interesting to see how this turns out - when I get round to it.  At the moment it's about project number 6 in my mental 'quilts I'd like to make' queue.

Saturday 12 July 2014

A peaceful, green day

I've been sitting hand quilting today, looking out on this:


Everything is green.  A few weeks ago there were roses, and yellow flags and paeonies but now there's just green. It is very restful.

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Still playing with Charley

It's growing slowly: I have a load of separate chunks made.  Some will make it into the quilt, some will probably be taken to pieces, or chopped up and made into different blocks. 

Joining Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday and Sew Fresh Quilts for Let's Bee Social.

Monday 7 July 2014

Another blast from my quilting past

So this is my Israel quilt.  In 2012 we spent some time visiting E's relatives in Tel Aviv and at a kibbutz in the north of Israel and I bought the fabric that was the basis of this quilt. I wish now I had taken a picture before I started but it was a striped fabric, and the stripes were the very dark green, the mid green and the thin black strips you can see below.  Each strip had large areas of white.  I cut the fabric apart along these strips, and interspersed them with other fabrics (the plain green and brown bits) and then cut away all the white, which was really fiddly.  Then I used bondaweb to attach my own choice from behind, everywhere the white had been. I'm not sure if that's  a clear enough description, but it's the best I can do!  

This was the last quilt I made using traditional quilting thread and looking back I wish it was done with perle, but them's the breaks.

I wanted something that had, for me, the feel of that holiday, hot, dusty, greys and browns, like the land, but also  hot pinks and oranges - the flashes of colour that come from all the flowers. I got close enough for a first try, I think.


Joining Anything Goes Monday, this time at Red Delicious Life and Fabric Tuesday at Quilt Story

Sunday 6 July 2014

Fabric heaven

Some major stash building has been going on here and I am knee deep in glorious colour. I don't usually buy masses in one go but sometimes the call is just too strong and this was one of those times.  What tipped me over the edge?  The Oakshott sale.  (I know I keep going on about these fabrics but try them just once and you'll see what I mean).  I am gloating - there's just no other word for it.  Look:

Some, like the ones above I bought with specific projects in mind...

some because I had thought about gaps in my stash, colours I was missing (like pink)...

and some because I liked them too much to leave them behind (I'm pretty sure I don't need any more green fabric.  I've probably got enough to last me the next twenty years).

All these are half metre cuts, which is my preferred size for stash - enough to make an impact in a quilt but not so much that I can get lazy and stick it in everywhere.  

Now I can't wait to get going with them.

Sharing this today with 
Molli Sparkles

Thursday 3 July 2014

Annie's quilt

Yay!!! I have a finish.  This is Annie's quilt I started in piecing in December, started quilting in March and now it's done.  I can't  believe it's done.  I'm soooo happy.

It's so big (queen-sized) that it's hard to photo.  If I get two tall sons in the same place at the same time, I might get them to hold it up, but for now we tried laying it flat and climbing a ladder..

and then using the fence...

Fabrics are a real mix - the beautiful birds are a Michael Miller fabric called Wing Song, there's a bit of Joel Dewbury (the white birds on blue and red), some Oakshott and some Kaffe Fassett shot plains and all sorts of other bits and pieces. Handquilted with perle cottons and I used wool wadding.

This is my favourite so far.

Joining up with Confessions of a Fabric Addict and with TGIFF at Quokka Quilts .