16 January, 2013

Pin stripe baby quilt

I was very excited this morning to be told that I had been accepted to test a baby quilt pattern. I have a 10 week old son and I haven't sewn anything for him yet. Yes, you heard correctly, I have a 10 week old son and I haven't sewn anything for him yet!!

Anyway, once the initial excitement had died down I then realised that I actually had to find some fabric for this quilt. I am thousands of miles and several postal weeks away from the nearest fabric shop and I am sure the pattern designer wants some feedback before then. Whilst the quilt itself is beautfully simple, it does require 5 fabrics that move from light to dark which isn't actually an easy thing to achieve from a random stash. However, this is me we're talking about and of course I have miles and miles of fabric in my stash, although I usually buy layer cakes rather than yardage.

One of my favourite things that I have made is this big quilt which hangs on my kitchen wall

and would you look at this

9 blues that range from denim to light teal.

The fabric is Rural Jardin by French General for Moda - my all time favourite fabric which is now virtually impossible to get hold of. I had the intention of making quite a number of these union flag quilts (and I do make them from time to time) and to do that I bought yardage. So, the fabric in the end became really simple. I picked out the following 5 fabrics from my much-treasured stash. I also need a plain fabric, and co-incidentally I have half a mile of a beautiful clotted cream cotton (top of the picture) which perfectly matches the cream flowers in the middle blue, and then to bind it I will use the lovely rich red which French General are so fantastic at.

I am very happy with this fabric and I think it will work really well with the quilt design. Right, time to put the kettle on and get cutting before the boys wake up!

Pay it Forward project

I am really pleased to be taking part in the Pay It Forward project which is doing the rounds on Facebook. This is where you promise to make something handmade for the first 5 people who comment. They then put the post on their wall agreeing to make something handmade for the first 5 people who comment etc. And something handmade can be anything - even a cup of tea!
I am participating on my profile and my Jo Loves Calico sewing page so that is 10 items altogether. Everyone is getting the same thing and as the recipients haven't received them yet I don't want to spoil their surprise but here's a little teaser!

It has given me the excuse to try out some things that have been milling about in my head for a while. Other than attaching the binding all of the stitching has been free motion and I feel that by the time I got to the quilting I had really improved in technique and definitely improved in confidence!

I'll upload photos of the finished project when they have been received. 

20 January, 2012

FMQ Challenge - progress for January

The key, it would seem, is practice, practice, practice. So, I watched the video, thought about it for a while, made up a quilt sandwich, and got going.

I elected to use dark blue thread on calico so that I could get a proper 'warts and all' look at how I managed. The whole point of the challenge is to improve, and I felt that I needed a good harsh look at my efforts to see what was going on. And here is my practice piece.

I started in the centre and moved in an anticlockwise direction. Looking at this picture I can see that my leaf shapes are not ideal - they are too elongated - and there are irregular gaps in the fill. However, I know where I went wrong, and they are simple things to fix.

As I was doing the central portion, it became clear that this pattern would lend itself very nicely to becoming a linear design for borders, so I had a stab at that too, at the top and bottom. Although they are not ideal, it was proof enough in my mind that it would work!!

My next project was one of my favourite things that I make - a square LOVE wall hanging. Normally I would use 4 layer cake squares and add a binding to the edge. I would topstitch around the letters then quilt the '+' and around the letters. And that would be it. Very nice result though - I have one hanging on my pantry door. In light of this months challenge I decided to add a narrow border around the egde, then binding, and I would FMQ the leaf design in the border. No further practice, no marking, just lots of concentration and focus. I like a bit of pressure! I also like the result! See for yourself.

A detail from the rear of the bottom left hand corner

The whole of the rear (I hadn't stitched the hanging sleeve down at this stage!)

 Detail from the bottom right hand corner

Detail from the top left hand corner

And the whole wall hanging. The quilting isn't so clear.

So, a definite improvement between the two pieces. For sure, the leaf shapes aren't regular, the stitch length is definitely quite random, but for me those two things are part of the appeal of FMQ. You can definitely see the human involvement! I started stitching, it all flowed, my needle moved where I felt it should. It was wonderful.

I do quite a lot of work with narrow borders, so this style of quilting fill will be something that features quite heavily.

I can hardly wait for February's challenge.

Why join the FMQ Challenge?

A week or so back I took the pledge and joined in with the Free Motion Quilting challenge 2012.

I have issues with quilting. I know how to quilt - I have been sewing for 20 years (cripes!) but I have always limited my quilting to outlining the main features in whatever design I am working on. What I don't know how to do is get started on a blank piece of fabric.

When I look at fabric I can pretty much envisage how I will use it. When I look at a piece of constructed fabric I have NO IDEA of where I would begin to quilt it. I don't know how to choose designs; I don't know what designs there are out there; I don't know what is right or wrong; I don't know how much quilting on a piece I should do. Just baffling! I have seen some fantastic, beautiful work done both on pre-programmed machines and free motion, and I want to be able to do that!! I feel that there is something missing from my work, and it is quilting! 

I got a new sewing machine in 2011 with the intention of doing more FMQ, or in fact just doing SOME FMQ. But I just carried on with my foot firmly planted in the ditch. Boo!

So it was perfectly timed that I should find the FMQ Challenge, hosted by http://www.sewcalgal.blogspot.com/  The challenge consists of 12 monthly tutorials throughout 2012. Each month focuses on a different quilting design with instructions given and then off you go. Practice, practice, practice! I am a member of the Facebook group where I am finding lots of support and sharing of photos and ideas. There is some good work going on out there.

January's challenge is 'leaves'. I have done 1 pratice piece (details to come) and have incorporated it into a project which would otherwise have remained virtually unquilted, apart from the ditches! I have thoroughly enjoyed the start of this quilting year, and am very much looking forward to the next months challenges.


Can you see this?

Okay, so, finally I am doing something that I said I would never do - I am blogging!! Am I? Is this working? Hello?

I have to confess to being REALLY bewildered by all this, so I am probably about to spend the next few days trying to figure it all out.

Wish me luck!! .....and hopefully I'll be back.