Wednesday, 24 February 2021

First small project of 2021

2020 contained a lot of sewing of small projects - pencil cases, drawstring bags and cushions mostly - and 2021 has started the same way.  I wanted to make a bag to wrap a book for a friend's birthday.  This one used scraps from different quilting projects, including the same yellow I used in the sawtooth star quilt I just made, which was for this friend's son, so it's nice to include one of the same fabrics.  Sewing with scraps is so satisfying, I love working out how to fit the fabrics together and having the limitations of the size of the scraps is fun.  I used the WeeBrawBag pattern as a reminder on how to do the bit for the drawstring to go through, but the dimensions are based on the size of the book I wanted it to contain.  I used some scraps of batting and then the lining as the backing.  I made each panel then decided to try out some hand quilting for the first time.  I used a 12wt Aurifil thread for this and I love how it looks. 

I'm going to try some new bag and pouch patterns this year as I tend to stick to the canvas pencil pouch, WeeBrawBag, and the Summer Madras Tote Bag (free pattern).  All of which are great patterns, it's just time to challenge myself a bit with some different patterns. So, if anyone has any recommendations please let me know.

Saturday, 20 February 2021

Sawtooth Star quilt

This quilt has been a long time in the planning.  I knew I wanted to use these fabrics together for a quilt for a good friend's second baby but changed my mind so many times about what pattern to use.  So I decided to go with one of my favourite quilt blocks - either the Bearpaw or the Sawtooth Star.  I had seen an outlined star block (I'm sure there's a better way of describing this but I can't think what that would be right now) on Instagram and thought this would be a great way to use these two fabrics together.

It wasn't meant to be a winter quilt, as the baby it is for was born in the summer, but last year, and this year, it's taking me longer to get big projects going than usual.  I love how the colours look against the slight dusting of snow.  My son was so excited by the snow he didn't even object to holding the quilt for me!  We did get more snow the next week, even enough to do some sledging, which hasn't happened here in years.  it was a nice break in the routine of lockdown!

I used Diary of a Quilter's Sawtooth Star tutorial as a reminder for the construction but of course, remembered to make the centre of each star the same fabric as the sashing. I am afraid I can't even remember what size I made the stars (edit: the stars are 12" blocks) or what width I used for the sashing. Usually I write it all down but I forgot with this one, I just made big stars then used sashing in between to get the quilt the size I wanted.  The grid quilting works well I think as I wanted to keep the quilting design to a minimum so I didn't cover up the lovely softness of the fabrics too much.  I wish I'd taken more photos of the quilt as I'm so happy with how it turned out.  The aim was for it to look calm and I think the combination of the colours and the hollow stars achieved that.

So, on to the fabrics I used.  The blue is a Cirrus Solid, 'rain' I think, from M is for Make.  The Cirrus solids are more expensive than most other solids but I love the texture of them and that they are organic.  The gorgeous rust brown star print is by Ruby Star Society from The Crafty Mastermind.  The yellow binding is fabric I've had since I first started sewing and I used it in the first ever quilt I made, which was for this baby's big brother! So I wanted to incorporate it in this quilt and it matched perfectly.  I meant to get a close-up of the binding and the backing as it all works together so well.  The backing is a gorgeous elephant print organic cotton by Birch Fabrics, you can see it in this Bear Paw baby quilt I made. I wish I'd taken more photos of this but never mind, I know it's being loved and used and that's the most important thing.

Saturday, 2 January 2021

Big Kiss quilt

I started this quilt in May when I saw the sew-along announced by the pattern creator @SelfSewn.  It was a free tutorial and I just loved the bold design of it. Straight away I knew I wanted to use some of my Leah Duncan fabrics which I'd been saving, unsure of what to use them for. I also knew I wanted to make this for my brother and his family, as they live abroad and, at that point, I hadn't seen them in 6 months.  I sewed the quilt top together during the sew-along and had hoped I'd be able to see them during the summer and gift it then but when that became more unlikely I felt a bit too sad to quilt it somehow.  I decided it would be perfect to send though as, what better way to send your love to someone than in something you've created yourself. Especially when you can't give them your love in person.

Self Sewn gave really good instructions on how to use a photo of the fabric laid out in stripes, to create an image of how it would look made up. That's what you can see above.  I tried a few different layouts of fabric this way and it was great to be able to get a real idea of how it would look sewn up.  There are 3 Leah Duncan prints here, the two botanical ones and the blue one, which features flamingoes.  It also contains some pink floral Liberty twill which was leftover from a dress I made myself years ago.  Likewise, the blue cross-hatch is leftover from a skirt I made.  

The backing fabric is mostly an orange IKEA duvet cover that I bought new to make scrubs bags for a family member, and friends, during the summer. With another scrap of Leah Duncan flamingos added in.  I had initially intended this as a picnic blanket quilt, which is why I used the IKEA fabric on the back as it seemed quite hard-wearing.  However, as I didn't send it till the winter it's currently a blanket on the couch!

I just did some simple straight line quilting either side of the seams. I love how this looks and I didn't want to make the quilt too stiff.  

2020 was a hard year for so many and I don't have the adequate words to describe it.  I found sewing really helped me at so many points this year but it was usually smaller more manageable projects that I wanted to make, like cushion covers, pencil cases and little bags. I hope you all found some ways to make 2020 more bearable and here's hoping 2021 brings us all more time with family and friends when it's safe to do so.

Saturday, 2 May 2020

Kingfisher quilt

Away back in May 2018 I saw some gorgeous quilts appearing on Instagram with the hashtags #kingfisherstitchalong #epp and #englishpaperpiecing.  I loved the look of it but, at that time, I had no idea what English Paper Piecing was. The quiltalong was hosted by Tales of Cloth and Stitched in Color and I remember I left a comment on one of their instagram or blog posts asking for advice on learning EPP. They were so helpful and friendly that I decided to jump in.  Well, when I say jump right in, it actually took me two months to sew my first hexie flower - that is a flower sewn out of hexagons.  I would say I was hooked pretty much as soon as I started! I ordered the paper hexie pieces from MisforMake, along with some gorgeous Leah Duncan fabrics. I had an idea of my colour palette - mostly pinks and yellows - and wanted to try and use fabrics I already had, rather than buying all new. I used some precious Leah Duncan fabrics, along with lots of scraps from dressmaking projects, some of my earliest dressmaking items which I loved the fabric of but didn't wear anymore, as well as some fabrics that had belonged to my mum and others bought on holiday. So every fabric in the flowers is special really.

I wanted to use low volume prints for the backgrounds, like in the quilts used in the stitchalong, but I didn't have many fabrics like that.  Once again I ordered most of these from MisforMake and I think also some from Backstitch.

The half triangle shapes at the side and the stripes in the border are an old IKEA bed sheet that I never liked the feel of but I thought it would work well on the front of this quilt.  The pink gingham was fabric I bought on my first ever trip to Shepherds Bush market with one of my best friends and the golden yellow border fabric was the first ever dress I made. I loved the fabric and the memories of making the dress at a class at Sew Over It in Clapham so when I no longer wore the dress I wanted to reuse the fabric.

One of the things that I loved about the look of this quilt was the mix of machine stitching and handsewing.  The hexie flowers each sit on a diamond.  The hexie flowers are all hand-stitched using English Paper Piecing.  There was the choice to attach them to the diamonds by machine or hand-sewing. I went for handsewing.  Then I sewed all the diamonds together and added the borders by machine.  I was thinking of handquilting it for a while but it had been in progress for such a long time that I just wanted to get it finished so I machine-quilted it. The quilting is just simple diagonal lines with Aurifil, I think it was 40wt.

The backing is a Liberty print I bought years ago with the intention of making it into a garment.  Then I realised it's not really something I would wear so it languished in a box for a few years. I thought it would be perfect for this quilt of flowers.  There wasn't quite enough so I cut it up a bit and added in some other scraps of fabric.  

There is something so wonderful about making something that is used every day and this quilt most certainly is.  It lives on our couch and we use it every night when watching TV, and for me, hand sewing on the couch.  It also sees a lot of use as a den and a blanket for teddy bears picnics in the garden.