It’s been an interesting few days, it has to be said.
Back last week, I had a nasty fall, like the decrepit old baggage I am, tearing some muscles my hip. Fortunately, X-rays showed it’s not broken, but apparently it’s likely to take a good month or two to get better. So not only am I not really at all mobile at present, relying on a wheelchair and a pair of crutches to get around, I haven’t been able to get much sewing done recently.
Well, until yesterday, that is. When for the first time in a while I had a real urge to sew.
But what to make? I didn’t fancy just doing some mindless piecing, but I didn’t want anything too complicated. I was looking for a little project to work on that wouldn’t take too long, didn’t require too much thought, and would provide me with instant gratification.
And I found it, thanks to the lovely Ms K, over at Easy Patchwork. A few days ago, she’d posted a picture on Instagram of the cutest little messenger bag she’d made, using a tutorial from mmmcrafts. Now, Mum’s been dropping some not-so-subtle hints recently about how useful such a bag would be for when she’s out walking her dogs, so I’d been on the lookout for a simple pattern to try my hand at.
And now, it seems, I’d found it! Perfect 🙂
But before sewing a bag for Mum, I decided to make a practice one for me. I thought it would be very useful to have a bag I could wear slung across my body over the next couple of months, leaving my hands free for crutches etc, until my hip gets better.
Good idea, non?!
Now, I didn’t follow the pattern exactly as given in the tutorial. For a start, I only had a half metre of the outer fabric I wanted to use (a beautiful Echino butterfly print) – so I had to scale the bag pattern down to fit what I had available. It actually measures 9 1/2″ square, rather than the 12″ square of the original. And, as luck would have it, it’s turned out to be the perfect size for a dog-walking bag. Well, I think so, anyway 😉
As per the pattern, I added a cute back pocket to keep my phone in. Check out that pattern matching!
But I also added a magnetic bag closure for security.
And used some co-ordinating Echino stitched webbing I had leftover from another project for the strap.
All in all, this little project was quite the success. Super easy to make, as well as to adapt. Pretty and practical, too. And quick to put together, thus providing that all-important instant gratification!
I’ll definitely be making one for Mum at some point, but in the meantime I think I’ll just sit back, relax, and enjoy making good use of the fruits of my labours.
For the longest time, Mum has wanted me to make her a quilt. And I was going to. Really I was. Then, just as I was about to cut up the fabric, I happened to ring her, and she just happened to mention she’d redecorated her bedroom, and all my carefully laid plans were scuppered.
But having got that far, the idea stuck. Mum deserved a quilt. I’d made one for Dad (out of desperation, when I had no clue what to get him for his birthday, and using the colours of our rugby team, Bath Rugby). I’d made one for my sister (for her 40th birthday). I’d made one for my niece, the beautiful Miss B. I’d made one for Mad Cousin Jude when she got married, and a baby quilt when she had little Jacob back in September. I’d made quilts for various friends, sundry babies, and several for myself, and yet no quilt for Mum. I felt like a terrible daughter.
And so, over Christmas, I hatched a plan.
I had a trip back to the UK booked for January, to spend a couple of days with Mum. A bed-sized quilt was out of the question in the time available, given my exhaustion following my pre-Christmas sewing frenzy. In any case I wanted to check out the new colour scheme in her bedroom before I made a decision about bed quilts. But, I wondered, could I make a lap quilt for her before my visit? Mum has a beautiful conservatory on the back of her house, and she loves to sit there and read in the morning, but in the winter it can be rather chilly first thing. A lap quilt would be ideal!
And sitting in my sewing room, in a box, all forlorn, were the remnants of the kitty camouflage quilt. This consisted of a stack of 9″ half square triangles, a tangle of unused jelly roll strips and a yard or so of border fabric that I’d decided not to use on the original quilt. All in warm colours that I knew Mum would love.
So what to do with half square triangles? A pinwheel and hourglass quilt, of course! And because the triangles were already pieced and squared up, it went together really quickly.
I pieced the backing from the leftover border fabric and some of the jelly roll strips, and I used more strips for the binding.
I quilted a large circular flower motif in each of the 12 original pinwheel blocks…
… and a smaller, travelling floral and leaf pattern in the centres of the secondary pinwheel and hourglass blocks.
I finished the binding last Monday evening, the night before I went to visit Mum.
And so on Tuesday I arrived at Mum’s, and I gave her the quilt – happily, she loved it! As did her dogs, Barley and Anna (although fortunately their fur blends in reasonably well with the colours on the quilt…) It’s already installed in the conservatory and has already been put to use on chilly mornings.
Quilt dimensions: 50″ x 66 1/2″ (127cm x 169cm)
Fabric for top and backing: Cinnamon Spice by Blackbird Designs for Moda Fabric
Batting: Quilters Dream Select Cotton
Thread – Isacord 0651 polyester
Anyway, I’ve now promised Mum a bed quilt before too long – to match her newly decorated bedroom, and to try and blend in with the fur of My Friend Samantha, her lovely, affectionate cat.
Looks like it won’t be a white quilt then!
Well, my plan for tackling my mountain of projects is coming along nicely. Stage 1 is well underway – I’ve been sorting out my sewing room over the past week, and will finish up just as soon as RR builds the Ikea bookshelves we bought to house my overflow projects, which are currently sitting in piles all over the place. Then I’ll be able to see everything at a glance, and stop having to hide stuff away in drawers and cupboards. Result!
Phase II was to create a list of all my projects, and decide what to work on first. Well, that’s actually done. And it’s makes for scary reading.
…Takes deep, steadying breath…
As of yesterday, the situation was as follows:
- Current projects in progress – 22
- Projects all ready to go, but sadly not yet started – 46
- Quilt tops waiting to be quilted -10
Oh my!!!! I never realised it was that bad. And that’s only quilting-related projects, not dressmaking ones, or bags, or knitting. I haven’t dared to add those in…
It’s all a bit daunting, really. I’d better started, then, hadn’t I?!
And so, without further ado, here are the projects I plan to be working on during my 6 month Fabric Fast, and also (because I can always roll them forward to future quarters) my goals for the Q1 2014 Finish-Along, hosted by the lovely Katy at The Littlest Thistle.
Projects I Started Ages Ago And Never Quite Got Round To Finishing
Red, Black and White Friendship Quilt
When we left the US in 2010, a load of quilting friends made 12 1/2″ blocks for me in a red, black and white colour way. I finally got round to getting border and backing fabric, and I’d love to get this put together and quilted.
Stitcher’s Garden Quilt
Started in 2009, it’s an appliqué quilt of different flowers, I’m so nearly there but then we moved to Switzerland, I put it in a box and promptly forgot about it…
Bunny Hill Stripes Quilt
In baby pink and soft grey. So beautiful. Such an easy pattern. Don’t know why I’ve not finished it yet!
Double Hourglass Quilt II
At the second Patchwork in the Peaks Quilt Retreat, we made double hourglass quilts using jelly rolls. This is my second version. It was going to be a birthday present, but I can’t remember who for. All the blocks are sewn, it just needs putting together and finishing up
Projects that are ready to go
Quilt for Baby Daniel
I bought the kit in the US in December, and just need to get cracking on making the quilt itself. I’m back in the UK in February, and would like to deliver or post it then, so I’d better get cracking 🙂
Kitty Camouflage Leftovers Quilt
After making the Kitty Camouflage Quilt, I was left with a load of 9″ HSTs, plus 2 1/2″ strips of various lengths and some yardage. I want to make something useful with it – probably lap-sized, probably for Mum.
Sundress for our holiday
We’re off on a Caribbean cruise in March, and I want to make another sundress to take along, like the one I made last summer.
Outfit for Ms S and Mr E’s wedding in May
I bought some glorious fabric in New York back in December, and have a great looking pattern, I just need to lose those extra few pounds and get cracking!
Love the look of this bag pattern, and doing it as a sew along will motivate me to get it all finished rather than putting it down when I get to the difficult bits and forget about it…
Quilts tops to quilt
I made the top at a class I took with Marti Michell back in September, and have started quilting it, I just ran out of inspiration and motivation a few months ago.
I finished the top last year, can’t decide how to quilt it, need to drag it out of the cupboard and take another look.
Amy Butler Jacob’s Ladder Quilt
Made using Soul Blossoms charm squares and 2 1/2″ strips, with a bright orange background, I finished it a year or so ago. I love this quilt, it’s so bright and cheerful that I really want to get it all done and put to good use!
And, because I’m an ADD quilter, I need to have some projects I can pick at when I need something different – I doubt any of these will get finished this year, but, hey, you never know!
Grandmother’s Flower Garden Hexies
I’ll be doing a fair bit of travelling this year and this is my ultimate take-along project. This one’s been going on for about 3 1/2 years now…
Blue Squares quilt
I started this back in October, at a class given by my friend Judy, and I like to pick it up every few weeks and make another block or two. It’s going to be one of those long-term kind of projects. I’m hoping it will make a lap-sized quilt.
Scrappy Strips Blocks
I don’t even remember how I got started on this one, it’s been around for 4 years or so and I’m still working on it on and off. It’s basically made up of 6 1/2 ” squares formed of scrap strips of varying width. I know it will be beautiful, and full of so many memories, and I’m on no hurry to finish it. It’ll eventually be king sized, to put on our bed.
Oh, and I’m also planning on getting and then staying up-to-date with my Blocks of the Month – from the Fat Quarter Shop and the Sugar Block Club over at Stitchery Dickory Dock.
So there you have it. Seems quite optimistic, but nothing ventured, nothing gained, as they say.
I’ll be keeping you all up to date with my progress, so come back again soon and see how I’m getting on 🙂
For the past few years I’ve been promising to make a special Christmas quilt for our bed. And the past few Christmasses have rolled round with no special quilt to be seen. Every year I truly believe that this will be the year that I finally do it. And every year it doesn’t happen. I could never find the right fabric or the right pattern, and anyway, life always just seemed to get in the way. Well, until now, that is!
For this year, in the space of just one week (the week before Christmas, to be precise!), I pieced and quilted this beautiful festive quilt, which has, since Christmas Eve, been gracing our bed (shown here, being modelled by Chief Quilt Tester No. 1 – Mr. Boy, before it even made it to the bedroom…)
Impressed? I certainly am!
I’d been planning the quilt for a while. Back in the summer, I’d received ‘In from the Cold’ by Kate Spain as part of my monthly Jelly Roll club, and I immediately knew I wanted to use it to make my Christmas quilt! I loved the fresh colours and the cute prints, and decided that it would work perfectly with a pattern I’d had my eye on for a while – the Square in a Square quilt, from the Missouri Star Quilt Co. So I duly bought a matching charm pack, set aside some Moda Bella White from my stash, and put the lot in a drawer – after all, Christmas was ages away! Every so often I’d open the drawer, think about the quilt, and decide I still had plenty of time.
Fast forward to the weekend of 14th December. We’re back from NY. Cases are unpacked. All purchases have been put away. Washing machine and tumble drier on at full tilt. And thoughts start to turn to Christmas. And to the as-yet unstarted Christmas quilt. Ok, so a quilt for our king-size bed was looking to be a somewhat ambitious proposition, but I was sure a smaller quilt was feasible in the time available. So I decided to set to work.
By the Monday afternoon, when I rolled up to my quilt guild meeting, I had 42 partially completed blocks. The white 1 1/2″ sashing strips had been sewn around the charm squares and I busied myself with squaring up the blocks and cutting the strips required from my jelly roll whilst chatting away and catching up on all the news.
As usual, talk turned to what we were all working on, and when I said I was working on a Christmas quilt, a ripple of barely contained mirth spread through the room. The initial reaction was one of disbelief – nobody believed I could possibly finish the quilt before Christmas. A not entirely unfounded doubt, I have to admit! But being as stubborn as a donkey, I was determined to prove people wrong – and not only that, to make the quilt bed-sized if possible, just to prove to myself that I could do it.
So back home, work continued apace. To make it bed-sized, I would need to use a 7 x 6 block layout, with a 6 1/2″ border. I not only had no border fabric, but I also realised the inherent problem in using a jelly roll and a charm pack to create blocks is that there are 42 squares in a charm pack and 40 strips in a jelly roll. Which meant I was 2 strips short. Not to mention the border fabric I needed too…
A swift visit to the Fat Quarter Shop was very much in order! And 2 days later, after an enforced delay where no sewing was possible due to lack of fabric, a small package was handed over by my friendly UPS delivery man (God bless you, UPS!) – upon which sewing immediately recommenced!
So the weekend before Christmas was spent basting and marking the quilt top, before quilting the whole thing. Fortunately the 2 day sewing hiatus had been usefully spent deciding on a quilting design, which speeded the process up no end! I plumped for an idea from Angela Walters’ excellent book Free Motion Quilting. I stitched a poinsettia-like flower bang in the middle of the quilt top, and then quilted wavy lines radiating out from this, like sunrays. Simple, yet effective.
Close-up of poinsettia motif in centre of quilt
Radiating random wavy lines quilting seen on the back of the quilt
Quilting close-up on quilt top
I finished stitching the binding on Christmas Eve…
And so, without further ado, here is the finished quilt in all her splendour, and adorning our bed in time for Christmas (just!)
So, to summarise:
Quilt dimensions: 83 1/2″ x 92 1/2″ (213cm x 235cm)
Fabric – In from the Cold by Kate Spain, Moda Bella white.
Backing – Jubilee Grey Medallion Check by Bunny Hill for Moda – from my stash
Binding – some random mottled red fabric from my stash
Batting – Quilter’s Dream Cotton Select, bought from my lovely friend Elita at Busy Needle Quilting)
Thread – Aurifil 50 wt in 2280 (also courtesy of Elita)
I have to say I love the quilt, and I relished the challenge of making it in such a short time, but I don’t think I’ll be doing that again in a hurry.
Some nice leisurely mindless piecing is in order now, I feel! Watch this space…