Friday, 13 December 2013

The only thing I really dislike about quilting... quilting.

Bear with me - I love picking out fabrics, I love choosing patterns and cutting out and piecing - I even like hand-sewing the back of the binding.  Unfortunately there's another quite important part of quilting, and that's layering up your backing, batting and quilt top and then sewing them together, and it's that part that makes me groan.

Ella's Doll Quilt is FINALLY at the stage where I can begin quilting it, but I'm not at all sure what sort of pattern to use.  I wanted to free-motion quilt it with some cheerful stars and hearts, so I thought I'd have a practice on my kaleidoscope scrappy quilt.

I set up my beautiful machine very carefully, quilting table and all:

What could possibly go wrong?

I had a quick practice on a spare bit of batting and some of the backing fabric I was using.  I decided to do a nice, simple, quatrefoil motif to sit in the middle of the diamond shapes.  I drew it out in white pencil, took a deep breath, and got stuck in.

But unfortunately, free-motion quilting is not my friend.

...oh, my.

So I spent a jolly hour or two cursing and unpicking all those horrible wonky stitches, vowed not to be beaten, and quilted the entire thing with GOOD, SENSIBLE STRAIGHT LINES.


It doesn't have the binding on yet since I wanted to crack on with Ella's quilt, but now you see the dilemma I am in.  I have finished the top, pieced the back, and pin-basted Ella's very carefully, but December is hurtling onwards and it MUST, MUST be finished by Christmas.  Any thoughts?

Pins in, time to get stitching.  Um.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Getting hectic already...

... and it's still 3 weeks to Christmas.  Yipes!

As if I didn't have enough on, this week Trainboy's school was asking parents to help out with making costumes.  I volunteered, of course, with visions of sparkly Angel dresses, Wise Men's robes, maybe even a fluffy donkey?  Too good to pass up, I thought.

Turns out, they've already got costumes for those.  What they needed was black waistcoats for the choir.

Black waistcoats on a slightly rumpled white bed.  Thrilling stuff.

So, six black waistcoats were made yesterday.  Festive, aren't they?  To be fair, I believe the idea is to also make little red ties and sashes, which can be replaced with different colours to suit the themes in years to come.  It's a good idea, really.

And now I am free again to get on with more colourful things like Ella's quilt, my first kaleidoscope quilt, the box in the garage that needs another coat of varnish, and a million other things, not least listing the last of Material Goods' stock on eBay (go on, have a look, you know you want to).

For now though, I will stick with just one colourful thing: these two arrived in the post recently and it's about time I sat down and looked at them. 

Tunnocks, coffee and pretty quilting stuff to read.  Bliss.

The first is 500 Quilt Blocks (signed by the author, no less!) which is basically like Woolworth's pick 'n' mix counter for quilters.  I've been browsing it a little at bedtime and it's just lovely, full of ideas to get your inspiration sparking.  It takes a few minutes to get the hang of how the instructions are written, but once you get the swing of their shorthand, they're very clear and sensible.

The second is "Love Patchwork and Quilting" which still has its initial subscription offer on.  It's got fabulous, modern patterns in and this month came with some pins - perfect, since I have a dreadful habit of hoovering mine and ending up with very few...

As a parting note, did you know there is also a magazine called "Love Quilting and Patchwork" with a very similar cover design?  I know, it's as if the universe WANTS me to get confused and flustered, and goodness knows I don't need any help.

See you next week!

Friday, 29 November 2013

Almost back to normal...

HELLO.  Remember me?  I am a dreadful blogger; one post a month was not what I was aiming for when I started this thing up.

However life does tend to get in the way, and this past fortnight has included various ups and downs.

Among the ups were a trip to Windsor to celebrate with my Aunt after she was presented with a CBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours List, which was terribly posh but a nice chance to catch up with my widely-flung family.  Then Bike Husband and I went to Liverpool to see one of our favourite bands, Thao and the Get Down Stay Down, at a teeny weeny gig that was absolutely brilliant.  Plus, we stayed in a hotel afterwards - bliss.  And then on the Saturday we went to Thought Bubble 2013 in Leeds, and that was brilliant too!  Lots of fascinating comics were purchased and much fun was had.

Less fun was Train Boy getting sick and having to have time off school (he's fine now, don't worry), and my computer breaking.  That last bit is why it's taken me a while to get back up to speed here - although we do have a spare one that I borrowed, it runs like an elderly dog and I couldn't work out how to do my photos on it.  Not that they're quite right even now, since I can't find my photo editing software and they're all a bit dark and out of focus... look...

Scrappy Kaleidoscopes!

Although I am quite pleased with how the quilt looks in real life.  This one will probably go to the shop once it's actually quilted up.  And I'm even more pleased with this one:

Hopefully Ella will like it too...

All it needs now is something nice and light for the borders and backing, which I've ordered online, and I shall be on my way to finishing it in time for Christmas - phew.

Now I need to get back to work.  See you next week - honest!

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Back again!


I wasn't around last week because I was having the most LOVELY time in Norfolk with several very dear old friends, drinking slightly too much wine and paddling in the sea (in November, in the rain - it was fun once my feet went sufficiently numb, honest).

We also had a most handsome gentleman visitor to our cottage, so handsome I had to take his photo:

His name was Aristotle.  Yes, really!

But I am back now and still tidying up after our wonderful closing-down sale, which went brilliantly.  We saw lots of lovely people who said lots of nice things... and bought a lot of fabric!  There's still a fair bit to get rid of, which is in the shop as ever:

This week I'm planning to measure up all the remaining fabric to see what we have left, and next week I'm going to start listing the bolt-ends on eBay.

Shouldn't take long, eh?

...or maybe it will.  :(

I have some nice ladies coming to visit me on Monday who are hoping to take a fair bit of it off my hands, and if anything else is left after that, we'll do a final Clearance Sale in January.  That should take care of it, don't you think?

And then I can get on with these ladies!  They're shaping up rather pleasingly, I think?

"We want more jewellery, damn it!"

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Material Goods...

I haven't mentioned it here yet, but over the past year or so, a friend and I were tentatively trying to set up a business selling fabric, called Material Goods.  Unfortunately it didn't work out, due to a couple of things - other work commitments, transport, all sorts.  I'm still glad we did it, since I learned an awful lot from the experience.

The only problem is all this fabric stock still sitting in my workroom.  Piles and piles of beautiful quilting fabric.  I know, I have the worst problems, don't I?

But we do need to sell as much of it as we can to recoup our costs, so now we're preparing for our big closing down sale, which today has meant packaging up some scrap bags and peg doll kits.

The scrap bags and everything else are also in our online shop, which you can find here, but the Peg Doll kits are only available at our sale - so if you happen to be in West Yorkshire on that day, please do pop along and say hello!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

68 Days to Christmas...

This week I have wrenched myself away from the scrappy strings and squares at last.  I'd made a significant dent in my scrap box and besides, it isn't as if I don't have other things that need getting on with.

One of the most guilt-inducing is this one - a dollies quilt for Ella, the daughter of a very good friend.  I'd promised to make one and suggested it might be ready for Christmas… last Christmas.  I KNOW.

But I am making good progress at last, thanks mostly to my extremely helpful cat Emma.  At least, she thinks so...
"Get on with it, Monkey Butler."

And now at least I have all my blocks finished, if not yet framed, embroidered with faces and buttons, or arranged in order.  The block was originally based on one by Sarah Fielke in her quilt "The 'Burbs" from Material Obsession, but as you can see it's evolved a bit from there...

Here are closeups of a few of the dolls I'm most proud of:

Ms Pink Hair likes knitting, punk rock, and hair dye.

Ms Sari likes thunderstorms, chocolate and cats.

Ms Ballet Dancer likes classical music, foot rubs and smelly cheese.
(ohhh, she was a headache!  But Ella is a fab ballet dancer so I knew I had to put one in)

Ms Kimono likes horror films, spicy curry and bubble baths.

You'll be seeing more of this once I get all the buttons, faces, jewellery and the rest sewn on.  Surely the end is in sight within the next 68 days?  See you next week!

Friday, 11 October 2013

The things I do...

Yes, I have been ironing the brown paper that came in my last Amazon parcel.  It's the sort of thing that makes you really wonder where your marbles went, although I did have a very good reason - it makes great foundation-piecing paper.

I have been obsessing (as readers will know) over scrap quilts lately, and it is a fact that not all scraps are quite 2.5" wide and suitable to be made into squares, so I needed something to use up strips.  I stumbled upon Film In The Fridge's "Kaleidoscope Quilt"and BOOM - the search was over.

I love how the little diamond shaped white frames give structure to the quilt, and the blocks are so easy they rapidly become addictive.  There are some very treasured scraps in there, mixed in with bits of old shirts, and a helpful quantity of "scrap rolls" from any number of online fabric shops.  Looking at them all gives me properly warm feelings, which is what this quilting business is all about, I think.  Of course you do have to tear the paper off afterwards, which could be a bit of a chore... luckily I have a very useful helper for that bit.  I knew he was good for something.

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P.S. That girl's quilt I mentioned last week is in the shop, at last!