Monthly Archives: September, 2014

An Actual Finish!

Well I never, I’ve only gone and finished a project! My Alaska lap quilt is now sewn together, quilted and bound, and ready for use, just in time for the cooler autumn and winter months.

I know, it’s hard to believe, isn’t it? Especially when you consider that I actually started this particular quilt quite early on in my sewing life. It dates back to 2009, when I was living in the US, and I signed up for a Mystery Quilt class, billed as a “Mystery Tour to Alaska”. There were 2 different colour ways on offer, and I choose this palette of icy, watery blues.

I eventually finished putting the quilt top together about 18 months ago, and, until very recently, it had been languishing in my Cupboard of Unfinished Quilt Tops. I know exactly why, too – and for once it’s not just a case of laziness and Quilter’s ADD!

First off, the quilt’s pretty enough, but my tastes have certainly changed over the past 5 years since I started it. Now I liked this quilt, sure, but I didn’t love it. Looking at it now I find the colours to be a bit ‘meh’, and it’s all rather, well, uninspiring and triangular, really.

Secondly, I was totally lacking inspiration about how to quilt the blasted thing. I knew that it needed some carefully-chosen quilting to turn it from somewhat bland into something special, but I didn’t have the first clue about what that quilting should be.

And so in the cupboard it went, and in the cupboard it stayed, until I decided to tackle it as part of my Q3 Finish-Along list.

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Unquilted top – bland, dull and meh…

 It was my lovely friend Ms E, who first suggested that it needed feathers. Now, I’ve never been a massive fan of feather quilting, I’d always thought of it as rather dull and old-fashioned. But I had to agree that the idea of feathers, with their flowing curves, would give the quilt the illusion of movement. And once the idea was in my head, that’s where it stayed. And grew. Until one day I went out and bought some feather stencils. And the rest, as they say, is history…

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Feather-tastic!

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Loving all the curves in those feathers!

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Quilted circles to complement the curves in the feathers

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Close-up of quilted block

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The design in the dark blue triangle is a smaller version of the one in the pale blue triangle

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Feather quilting in the outer border, too…

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Close up of border quilting

The best thing about doing this was it was so liberating! I wasn’t totally in love with the quilt top. It wasn’t intended as a gift, it wasn’t going to break my heart if I totally screwed it up. I didn’t let myself get hung up about ‘perfect’ quilting. I was brave and chose a dark colour thread, which would show up prominently against the mainly pale background fabric. I just went with the flow.

And do you know what? I actually really like this quilt now!

What’s more, it looks like Mr. Boy agrees with me 🙂

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Linking up with Audrey over at Glory Be Quilter for TGIFF – why not pop over and check out some more lovely finishes this week?

A Bear Called Libby

Last weekend RR and I were invited to celebrate the first birthday of a very special little lady. Miss S, who is known to all as Munchkin, is a lovely little thing, and I wanted to give her a very special present. Well, actually, being me, I wanted to make her something very special! Quite apart from being lots of fun to make, I think that handmade gifts are also a lovely way to give a very thoughtful and personal present.

But what to make? Munchkin is already the proud owner of at least 2 quilts, and her mum, Ms Nexttonicx, is a wonderfully talented dressmaker, crocheter and knitter (amongst her many other skills). I knew I wanted to sew something, so that was a good starting point, but what could I sew? That was the question…

Then, a few weeks ago, Ms Mudpiesandpins introduced (via Instagram) the enchanting Saoirse Bear, a precious little lady she had made from Liberty fabric using English Paper Piecing (yes, I am totally in awe!) This got me thinking about the soft toy patterns that I see each month in my Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine. I was pretty sure that I had seen a bear pattern at some point, so I flicked through all my old copies until I found it. It looked super-cute, and, what’s more, the pattern was billed as “simple-to-sew”. Total result!

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And thus, dear reader, Tinky the Bear was born…

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Tinky was my first attempt at the pattern, and I was pretty pleased with the end result, but simple-to-sew she was not. She’s actually quite a little bear, and I really don’t do well with small, fiddly things due to my crappy hands. Suffice to say, all those teeny tiny pieces had me all of a kerfuffle, and she came out looking more like some weird alien hybrid of Tigger and a monkey (hence Tinky) than she did a bear suitable for a first birthday present.

Okay then, the actual pattern was great, and I loved the resulting (slightly odd-looking) bear. The real problem lay in her small-ness. So why not just enlarge the pattern pieces?

So I did. And made it half as big again. Proper bear sized 🙂

Knowing Munchkin’s mummy loves all things Liberty, I picked out a fat quarter of beautiful Liberty lawn from my stash, which I had been saving for something special. The newly enlarged pattern used up all but a few tiny slivers of my fabric, so I crossed my fingers that I wouldn’t mess it up, and set to work.

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All cut out and ready to sew…

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… with a very economical use of one fat quarter 🙂

And thus Libby the Liberty Bear came into existence.

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Libby, sunning herself on our balcony

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Libby and Tinky take in the view

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Chilling out in front of the tv

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Having a nice cup of tea…

I have to confess here that hand embroidery is not my strong point. Bear faces are difficult to embroider! I’m still not entirely convinced that she looks “all there”. In fact, the words “deranged” and “slightly psychotic” may have been bandied around (thanks, RR…)  Nonetheless, I think she looks friendly, so I wrote a little note, tied it around her neck with a ribbon, and wrapped her up for the birthday girl.

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Deranged? Maybe. Friendly? Certainly!

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I so enjoyed making Libby and Tinky, that I’m now on my way to making a third bear, and I’ve been thinking about making more soft toys in the future. I have a sneaking suspicion that this could become a little bit of an obsession if I’m not careful…

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Well, now that Libby has gone to a new home, I wouldn’t want Tinky to get lonely, would I???

Linking up with Lee at Freshly Pieced for WIP Wednesday.

Phew! Blocks galore….

Well, it’s finally September and I made it through another summer. Summer in Switzerland is usually very hot and humid, but this year everything seems to have been somewhat topsy-turvy. Instead of sticky, icky and muggy, it’s been grey, cold and rainy, much more England-like than Switzerland-like. As I don’t cope at all well with the heat, this has been wonderful, but it has to be admitted that my poor sun-worshipping friends have all been rather down in the dumps these past few months.

So what have I been up to over this unexpectedly English summer? Well, loads actually, including a visit from my beautiful niece Miss B, a long weekend in Berlin, a trip home to see Mum and to take in all four days of the Festival of Quilts at the NEC in Birmingham, and a wonderful stay-cation with our friends Mr and Mrs S and their kids, who flew in from New York to spend their summer holidays en Suisse. Phew! Suffice to say, it’s been busy!

But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been sewing. Oh no, indeedy! But what’s a girl to do when only snatched moments of sewing opportunity present themselves?

That’s right – grab each and every one of them! Especially when it’s cold and rainy outside 🙂

This summer I seem to have mainly been making a ton of blocks to try and get up to date with my Blocks of the Month. And I’ve found that when I’m time-limited, individual blocks to make up sampler-style quilts are a great thing to sew. It seems like it’s achievable to make just one block if you haven’t much time, and it’s also intensely gratifying to create something pretty so quickly. Even more so when it’s all done from your stash (get me!)

And here are my Blocks of the Month:

Sugar Block Club 2014 – Using the Taxi range by Alice Kennedy

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Blocks of the Month from Love Patchwork and Quilting Magazine – Using a FQ bundle of Bungalow by Joel Dewberry

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Ok, so I didn’t make ALL of these blocks over the summer, but I did make most of them, and I have to say I’m loving the way they’re coming together.

So now September’s here, and there’s a distinct autumnal nip in the air of a morning. Things are finally quietening down, and hopefully I’ll be able to get back into my usual routine after this past few months of craziness. Which will definitely mean more sewing. Lots of it. And hopefully more time for blogging too…

So watch this space!

Linking up for the first time in ages with WIP Wednesday over at Freshly Pieced.