Monday, 31 December 2012

Last finish of 2012

Just finished a quilt for a two year old relative called Ava.  Ava is Robert's cousin, another baby who caught me by surprise so when she was born I just had time to russle up two flannel cot sheets. 

My Wise Owls quilt is a new style for me; a strippy quilt, strips laid horizontally, using  a very pretty owl fabric ( Urban Zoologie by Robert Kaufman), pretty trees ( Riley Blake) and a fabric depicting rabbits running through the woods.
Applique is hand blanket stitched and the whole quilt is hand quilted using Perle cotton.
Came together really quickly and I hand quilted it quickly too. Didn't do a lot of fancy maths - just used the width of fabric, cut in a variety of depths. The only 'working out' was making the top and bottom stripes the same fabric so there was more order to the look of the quilt and I wanted the length suitable to go on top of a toddler bed.
I'll certainly do this style of quilt again but for a baby quilt I would make it from narrower strips.

And a close-up to show some of the applique:

All the fabrics were in my stash, some have been there for 2 or 3 years so it was good to be able to use them.  I was so pleased at how the colours came together too, especially the green binding. This was a fabric I bought some years ago for a Block Swap which asked for colours outside my normal range.  Used it in a couple of swaps but then it has sat in the drawer waiting for this quilt binding. The green is exactly the shade of the grass in the woods that the rabbits are scampering through! All used up save for two small strips which have gone into my Strips Bag ready for another String Quilt/cushion.
Last night I worked out how many items I have sewn this year and was amazed at my productivity!
16 quilts ( included 6 Preemie Quilts)
6 Needlebooks
9 Cushions
3 Tote bags
2 Patchwork Bathmats
Participated in 2 Group Quilts
1 WIP Children's quilt, almost done
I also knitted a stripey Baby blanket and made a few Crinkle squares for babies.
So, my Wise Owls Quilt is the last of my finishes for this year but I have already started another
I Spy Bubbles quilt for a baby expected in New Zealand in a couple of weeks time.
I hope wherever you are in the world you have an enjoyable New Year's Eve.
See you in 2013!

Saturday, 29 December 2012

New Year Resolutions

As a general rule I don't make New Year Resolutions but a few years ago I decided to make One Rule for my Quilting Life.

To use up scraps as much as I could.

I have to say this has worked really well, particularly as I love making ( and looking at ) Scrap Quilts.
During the past few years I have made loads of quilts, many of them Baby or Children's Quilts in a variety of designs.  Wonky Star quilts, I Spy quilts, Log Cabins, String Quilts and Cushions, Ticker Tape Quilts, Coin Quilts, Freckles Quilts ( inspired by the book Scrap Republic), Crumb Quilts etc etc.  My Flickr photos show them all in their glory.

I also started to piece backings, backgrounds to my Freckles Quilts and extended the piecing to joining pieces of batting.  Batting has always been expensive but now seems to cost more than ever so I have every intention of using up all the odd bits you get left with after measuring out wadding for a quilt. I even sorted it all out a couple of months ago so it is all 'to hand'!

One of my Christmas gifts this year is a book produced by York Museums Trust. 
It's called Through the Needle's Eye: The Patchwork and Quilt Collection at York Castle Museum.  I have so enjoyed reading about all their Patchwork and Quilting collection.
We all know that Patchwork and Quilting started off as a utilitarian way of making warm bedcovers from scraps and recycling fabrics, reusing the 'best parts' of worn out clothing and this collection reflects that so well.
As a child born not long after the end of WWII, when rationing was still in place, I was brought up not to waste anything so of course this has been carried on in my Quilting Life as well as in other aspects of my world. So I was delighted when I came across the following in the York Museums Book:

" Old patchwork quilts were frequently re-used as wadding inside newly made covers.  Even in well-to-do Victorian homes thrift was assiduously practised, and books on household economy gave advice as to the best use for old materials.  In the early 1870s Cassell's Household Guide enthusiastically recommends wadding for counterpanes in patchwork for the upper rooms.
' Take all the old blankets and flannel petticoats to spare, wash them clean, and dry and air them well.  Cut out all the best portions and join together.  You may make them two or three thick. Line with a sheet of cheap unbleached calico, first soaked, or even an old sheet, neatly patched.'
Perhaps aware that this procedure might deter rather than encourage useful economy, the writer adds: " We have also seen old counterpanes and quilts in mere rags tacked together, placed between a patchwork quilt and a sheet........ Of necessity such arrangements are as warm and comfortable as they are thrifty.' "

Well my continuing thrifty New Year Resolution will not take me quite that far, but I shall continue to join pieces of batting together for my quilts and continue to use old pillowcases and sheets as the foundation squares for my String Quilt blocks and feel proud of myself for doing so and keeping an old tradition alive!

And of course, the scraps, however tiny, will continue to be used!  ...................  Only one problem:  mysteriously, however many scraps I use, more and more scraps magically appear!


A few of my 'Scrap Quilts':

Saturday, 22 December 2012

Big reveal and .........finish!

Well, our Patchwork Group celebrated Ruth's birthday on Thursday with a lovely Christmas lunch at a local pub. Delicious!
And we handed over our Group Quilt as her special present so I can now reveal it.

And a Close-up of some of the blocks:

My personal gift was a matching cushion:

And a small poster in a photo frame:

We had a lovely time and Ruth was thrilled with all of her gifts.  Job done!

Now today I have worked hard to finish two little Tote bags I have been making for little gifts for my nextdoor neighbours's grandchildren.  Pleased with them both; I love the colours and I am very pleased with how well their names show up on the bags.  Handing them over secretly tomorrow to be found under the Christmas tree on Christmas morning along with a storybook for each of the girls.

And a photo of the back of the bags:

I used lots of 2.5" squares from my stash.  Whenever I finish a project or come to almost the end of a piece of fabric I cut a variety of squares: 2.5" & 3" being my favourites.  So the bags were just a matter of choosing squares I felt went together, in two different colour groups to make the bags look 'different'.  Happy with the result so I hope Isla and Neve love them too!

So, that's my sewing done until after Christmas!  Tomorrow I am going to give my sewing room a quick sorting out, putting away things tidily so I can start afresh after the holiday break with some new projects and finishing some outstanding ones!


Monday, 17 December 2012

Plodding on

Gradually working my way through my 'To Do' List!
 Finished the strippy cushion to compliment the Group Strip Quilt our group has made for Ruth. I'm really pleased with it and I'll publish a photo on Flickr and here on my blog after I hand it over on Thursday. We are having a celebration lunch/Christmas get-together in a local pub. My first turkey dinner of the season!
Cut out the linings and handles for Isla's and Neve's Christmas gift patchwork totes. Tomorrow I hope to find time to start sewing them. We'll see, as my daughter and little granddaughter are coming over for lunch. Can't wait for them to see our new tree. It really looks beautiful.
Recorded the first of my two Hospital Radio Christmas broadcasts this evening and tomorrow I have to finalise the script for my second programme ready to record on Thursday evening.
Oh, and I even made 4 dozen Mince pies this morning. I shall be making a couple more batches including one that I want to give to the wonderful team at the Cancer Centre where I have been so fantastically looked after this past 15 months. I'm going for some blood tests on Thursday morning so plan to take a big plate of home made Mince pies for their morning coffee.
Goodness, Thursday sounds pretty busy! Perhaps Friday will be more restful.
Hope you are all working through your 'To Do' Lists too. No doubt lots of sewing, perhaps a little cooking too? Leave a Comment to tell me what you are working on and hoping to complete this week.

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Phew! All's well that ends well

I had a worrying weekend after I discovered that the I Spy Bubbles quilt I had posted to little Robert hadn't arrived! All that work, all those weeks of sewing, only to be lost in the system somewhere.
After several phone calls to Robert's Daddy and his visit to the local Post Depot yesterday he found the parcel and had it safely in his hand, ready to take home for Robert to open. What a relief! Whenever I post off one of my quilts I always say a little prayer for it to arrive safely
Didn't work this time though.

I'm busy on the sewing front, trying to finish several projects due by Christmas and also writing two radio scripts for our Christmas/New Year special schedule at Hospital Radio. Finished the first one yesterday and about to write the second one today. Love researching for the programmes and then choosing the music and working out all the timings. Like doing a jigsaw puzzle really.

I must finish hand blanket stitching names on the front of two little patchwork bags I am making as little Christmas gifts for my nextdoor neighbours' little granddaughters. 
Also need to cut out the pieces for a cushion that is intended as a gift for a lovely Patchwork friend whose birthday is next Wednesday. Help! I'm running out of time.

I will post some photos of my finished projects soon! I think that's called Positive Thinking!.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Flickr friends and finishes

Goodness, it's almost a month since my last post.  However, I have been busy, starting various projects and finishing an I Spy Bubbles quilt for Robert.

I have also had lovely little surprise packages from Flickr contacts.

Firstly, some scraps from Cindy in Florida:

And a pretty linen heart (which I shall hang on our Christmas tree) from Dorte in Denmark:

I love looking at everyone's work on Flickr and occasionally send little packets of scraps to people whom I feel conected with.  Both of these little gifts were in a response to packets of scraps I had sent.  Aren't quilters a lovely group of people?
I have really enjoyed making another Freckles Quilt from the book Scrap Republic by Emily Cier.
Each one comes out so well, a little different from the previous one and I have loved making them.  More to come too I think as I have lots of novelty scraps to fussy cut for the "bubbles" and several pieces of fabric in my stash I can piece together for the background as I did with this quilt that I finshed a few days ago:

The background was pieced using four different cream coloured fabrics from my stash.

Two close ups of some of the fussycut I Spy Bubbles

As with the other quilts I have made using this design I have hand quilted around each bubble using Perle cotton, this time a variagated turquoise one. Quick to do and it really makes the bubble stand out.
This one was posted off to little Robert on Thursday so I hope it arrives safely and that he enjoys looking at all the I Spy bubbles and snuggling under it.