Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Preparing for end of year

I decided to go back and find the "My Year is Craft" post from the end of last year, so I could start preparing to do the same for this year.

The last three questions were more about the year ahead so it kind of seems appropriate to follow up on them....

They were:
10. After this year I swear I'll never again...
Over-commit myself for hand made christmas presents... nor leave them till the last minute (hopefully though, I'll never again be moving house two weeks before christmas, and getting carpet down 3 days before christmas).
11. Next year I'm determined to...
Have a stall at a craft market!!  Which means I have to get on with focusing on a few ideas rather than coming up with 5 new ideas per week.
And use up some of my fabric stash.... there are some great fabrics in there which will make wonderful things.
And set up somewhere to take better photos of my work too.
12. But I'll probably do this instead... 
Buy more fabric.... 

So, how did I go?
10. No hand made christmas presents from me this year, but..... I am in a bit of a made dash to finish a baby present for my friends who had a baby last month, who I will be seeing at Christmas and hoping to give it to them then.  I'm hoping I will at least get the quilt top finished so I can wrap it up and give it to them to see, then take it home and finish it.  That way I can 'give' it to them personally even though the final product will be posted.  Just gotta hope that the sashing fabric I've ordered online turns up in time!

11. Didn't have a craft market stall, but I've got a bit of an idea of what I could make now, and my mother-in-law was talking about doing it for some extra cash so maybe we can do it together, feels a bit less daunting that way.
Don't think I've used up any of my fabric stash at all.  Looking over the photos I can't see anything that has been made with existing fabric...
Not sure if my photography work has improved... until that photo of Joe's baby quilt hanging on the cot, but that's only going to work for baby quilts.

12.  Yes, I definitely achieved that!  See here, here and here, plus all the bits I've bought at Spotlight (mostly dress fabrics) that I haven't bothered to blog, AND I'm still waiting on a mail order for the music quilt as mentioned above.

I can't wait till the year is completely over so I can put together a photo of all the craft I've done this year!  Perhaps it hasn't been my busiest craft year, but it's certainly been my most photographed ;)

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Joe's Baby Quilt Finished!

The baby quilt is all finished!
I think also that was the best photo I got of it!  Have to remember that for photographing baby quilts in future.

This quilt involved a lot of experimenting and a lot of learning.  I'd decided to fairly heavily quilt the main panel (heavy compared to other quilts I've done), but I think it was too much for the high loft wadding I had.  I'd just used regular polyester thin wadding from Lincraft because this is what I had on hand.  This shows you better why my quilting was not the best choice for the wadding:

The patchwork is almost lost to the quilting lines.  You can also see that the border is a bit ripply.  This is because I was trying to square up the uneven lengths that were caused by the poor quality fabric, as previously mentioned.

The quilt was a really nice size to work with, but not sure if it's a good size for use.  It's slightly too small for a cot quilt....

but too big for a pram quilt....

The dimensions are 28" x 34" so I might have to play with them and get a feel for what a good size is.  The elephant baby quilt I am making is quite a lot bigger, but I think ultimately it will be too big as a cot quilt (but excellent once the cot is turned into a toddler bed!).

I think if I made a quilt the same size as the centre panel of this green one (without the plain borders) it would be a really good pram size.

I really had fun making this quilt because I felt free to experiment.  There are many faults in it but the person I am making it for really wont be that critical, and as soon as I started using the fabric which was cut crooked I knew it wasn't going to be of the highest standard so I let my standards drop a little.  That sounds a bit bad, but it freed me up to try new things and not be so obsessive about making it perfect.

I can't wait to try and make another one.  I do have about half the jelly roll left, and I have another roll the same in pink to play with as well!  I just have to finish the music quilt before I'm allowed to start any other new projects.

I almost forgot.... the last detail of the quilt is the label of course!  Because this quilt is for Joe I decided to make it a J

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Size Matters

I decided it was time to buy a new ironing board.  Hubby has started wearing pants and shirts to work, rather than jeans and t-shirts so my little sewing room iron just wasn't going to cut it in the long run!  You can iron a pair of pants and a shirt on it but having to do a full weeks worth, every week, was going to become rather tiresome.

So we bought the biggest one they had at Big W.  Here you can see it with my old one:
There are bigger ones on the market, but I didn't need to go over the top ;)

The little one is still going to live in my sewing room.  The big one will live in the laundry and be brought out when it's need (probably once a week).  It will be wonderful for when I've pre-washed a length of fabric!   The new one is 130cm long, so a 112cm wide piece of fabric will fit right across it in one go!  Will also be a lot easier to iron quilt tops.

This is the first full sized ironing board I've owned since moving out on my own (nearly 15 years).  I think very soon I will wonder how I ever lived without it!

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

A New Arrival

My second delivery from Green Fairy Quilts arrived yesterday.  They really need to stop having sales so I stop buying fabric.  Or maybe I just need to sew more!

It being a halloween sale, I felt it necessary to get some scary fabric, so I got the Haunted Mansion (by Sanae) charm pack.  I also got the Awesome (by Sandy Gervais) charm pack (the sale was buy some stuff and get free charm packs).  In order to receive those free charm packs I got the Lollipop (also by Sandy Gervais) jelly roll and A Morris Tapestry (by Barbara Brackman) layer cake (they don't appear to have the layer cakes any more, so the link is for the charm square).

The colours are quite different from the last lot of Moda fabric I got.  I am always drawn to the bright, candy coloured fabric bundles so I specifically tried to avoid them this time, although I was tempted by Dream On.  I decided that I need to have some 'male' fabric around, everything else that I had was much more aimed at girls.  I'd like to get into making baby quilts and there are boy babies as well as girls ;)  Whilst the above fabrics aren't very 'baby', they are not specifically girly.

Will be interesting to see what I come up with now that I have two jelly rolls, two honeybuns, three charm packs and a layer cake!  Now that I have some experience working with a jelly roll, I feel a bit more confident in my creative ability, but I still have to work out what you do with layer cakes and charm squares!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Joe's Baby Quilt

I finished the quilt top for my cousin's not-so-new baby.
I am quite pleased with the result given I was making up the design as I went for some of it.  It is the first quilt I've done where the design relied heavily on patchwork.  All my previous quilts have been lots of applique, or some applique and then just squares joined together.

Some of the blocks are a bit crooked, but I'm putting that down to the poor quality of the fabric.  It was one of the 'Bebe Fabric Rolls' from Spotlight.  I had lowered my expectations of the fabric based on what Margaret had said, but that didn't prepare me for the horror of trying to work with these strips.  They were cut off the grain and my strips were 1/8" shorter at the selvedge edge than the folded edge, which, when you are quilting with 1/4" seams, makes a big difference.  I had to cut my squares for the blocks from the middle of the strips, not the ends (to get the right size), which meant when I came to do the first border, I didn't have long enough pieces and I had to put the check squares in the corners.  Even then I think I had to skimp on a seam allowance here and there.  Actually I think the end result from that looks good anyway, bit it's annoying when you can't do what you want because of the fabric.

I really got into using my machine properly on this one!  I used the 1/4" quilting foot (as per earlier post) and did the embroidery on the bird and flower 'properly' using a backing and different stitches from the machine.  The eye is actually an eyelet stitch, which I hadn't done successfully before so am rather pleased.  The beak took a little time to get right (on practice fabric) as it is actually half of a diamond stitch.  In the end I started sewing the diamond stitch on scrap fabric and counted how many stitches it did, then when it was at the widest point, I stopped, put the quilt top in the machine and finished the pattern, to make a triangle.  I forgot to take a close up shot but I will try to remember to do that when the quilt is finished.

I think I've decided what quilting pattern I want to do in the main part, just have to work out something for the borders.  Am going to back it in the plain green of the border, it's easy and I already have enough on hand.

Oh, and it was supposed to be a cot sized quilt but I messed up the measurements along the way.  It's actually come out a really nice pram size!  Think I will make some more this size.

Whilst it was hard working with the poor quality jelly roll, it has given me a bit of fun working out what I can and can't do with a jelly roll, on fabric which I'm not so attached to, before I start cutting into the nice Moda jelly rolls I've bought.

Edit: just realised the previous post about this quilt didn't publish properly :(  So here it is if you want the beginning of the story!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Green baby quilt

Earlier this year my cousin had a baby and I was going to make her something but time slipped away from me and I never got around to it.  Now that I've had my Abigail, she sent me a present so I figured I'd better get into gear and return the gesture.

A while ago at Spotlight I bought a Bebe Fabric Roll which is 25 strips 2.5" wide.  To my disappointment, when I opened the roll, the strips are cut 1/8" short at the selvedge edge.  Luckily I had planned squares so it just meant I had to cut my squares out of the middle of the strips rather than the ends.

I decided to use the images from the fabric and create applique squares, and then some patchwork blocks to coordinate.  I bought some fabric at the recent craft show to add a little extra colour and variety.

For the plain fabric, I just found a cotton poplin in the right shade.  The poor quality of the other fabric deterred me from getting special quilting fabric.  Also the fact that I couldn't find anything plain in the appropriate colour.  Sometimes I regret living out here, so far away from good quilting shops!

This is the design so far:

I've managed to get enough time to myself to sew the blocks together, but I miscalculated when I cut the border strips so they've all got little tails on them.  Nothing a roller cutter and square ruler can't fix.

I've pressed them since taking the photo.  Next step will be the applique and associated embroidery to complete the images.

I haven't decided what borders/bindings/backings I'm going to use yet but I usually get to that once I've finished the main part of the top.  I'm usually a very organised and planning sort of person but my quilts seem to take shape along the way rather than being totally planned out in the beginning.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


"Proof" that I am now a crafting mother.... Baby monitor has to fit on my sewing table along with all my other tools ;)

The right tool for the job

The other day I decided to look at the manual and actually use the 1/4" quilting foot which was provided with my Brother sewing machine.

If you line up the fabric to the marks and start/stop at the right place, not only do you get a 1/4" seam allowance along the edge, it also starts and stops 1/4" in from the ends of the fabric.  This means that when you are sewing cross joins, the back of the block ends up looking like it does when you hand quilt, and leaves less of a bump when it's pressed.
This also has the effect of producing perfectly matched seams on the front side!!
I don't know why I didn't try this before!  It just goes to show that these things are included with the machine for a reason.  I'm going to use this foot for all my quilts from now on, because it's not like it's hard to change the presser foot before sewing.  My poor industrial machine is having less and less uses.  I need to do more garment construction because he's brilliant at that.


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