Thursday, 30 January 2014

Embroidery Pouch

This little embroidery sampler made it on to my first quarter FAL list in the hope of making it into something useful, and in the hope that the motivation of a FAL finish would enable me to have another sample to show at my embroidery workshop in a couple of week's time.

So, I gathered my supplies

choosing some denim, a lovely variegated thread, spotty lining and sewing themed fabrics, and a choice of zips (thank you IG friends for helping me settle on the deep pink one).

A few hours of concentration later (a little extra concentration after I sewed a lining piece in pocket upside down!) and I had made a huge pouch to hold a portable embroidery project.

I love how this variegated thread works with the denim, front and back.

The pouch is 13.5" square, so plenty big enough for a 12" hoop, though I think that's just a 10" one in the pic.  One of the lining pockets is divided to hold smaller items like my embroidery scissors and needlebook neatly, while the opposite pocket is left undivided so that it can hold a selection of embroidery floss.

This not so wee pouch is a much prettier option than a ziplock bag for keeping my stitchy bits together.  I think it qualifies as having turned the stitch sampler into something useful and is another tick of the FAL list - win win!

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

Siblings Together Block Drive Quilts - The Big Reveal

Ok folks, here they are at last.  Two finished churn dash quilts for Siblings Together. Hooray!

Wavy line quilted and orange basket weave print binding.

Wavy line quilted with tiny red gingham binding.

In case you don't know the story, I'll quickly recap how these quilts came to be.

Back in May 2013 I noticed a thread on the Siblings Together Flickr group seeking members for a new Bee to spend a year making quilts for the charity.  Reading the discussion thread I noted that many of those commenting loved the idea of contributing to the charity quilts but weren't in a position to be able to commit to blocks every month.  Seemed a shame to me to waste so much enthusiasm and so I added my own little discussion thread and posted on my blog inviting those who would like to make a one off block contribution to a quilt for an older boy to sign up to my Siblings Together Block Drive.

Of course, you folks were amazing and pretty quickly I had offers of more blocks than I needed to make the one quilt I'd planned.  There was nothing else for it but to go for two quilts!!  So, several months of block collecting later I had a pile of 57 funky churn dash blocks from 17 different volunteers to turn into these fun, colourful quilts which I am sure will be loved by their recipients at the summer camps this year.

I cannot thank the amazing ladies who contributed these blocks enough.  They flew in from all corners of the UK, the USA, Finland, the Netherlands and Australia.  It was entirely my pleasure and privilege to co-ordinate these quilts and to allow many of you the opportunity to be part of this year's Siblings Together quilt spree.  I think we did a good job ladies!!

All that remains is for me to package these up and send them on to Siblings Together HQ and to say one final, huge THANK YOU to all of you!

These two quilts also make up the first finishes from my FAL 2014 Qtr 1 list - yay!

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

January Bee Blocks

Although I downed tools for a few weeks at the beginning of January, I did sneak back into the sewing room twice to fulfil my Bee commitments for the month. (Can't keep those Queen Bees waiting for pretties!)

First up was Katy's block in the Modern Stitching Bee.

She asked for a single large block instead of the usual two, so this biggie is 18.5" x 24.5".  Katy's quilt is going to be a variety of icy blue wonky blocks with scrappy pieced centres.  Making this reminded me a lot of the wonky grey quilt I made for my brother and I know Katy will have a great quilt when all her blocks are in.

In hipBees Collette has plans for a funky floating log cabin quilt and sent us each a pack of pre-cut strips in a selection of lovely fabrics from her palette of navy, red, coral, yellow, aqua and grey.  

I really like how these colours work together (they aren't very true in my photo) and am interested to see Collete's finished quilt top come together.  Should be a stunner!

Sunday, 19 January 2014

At last...

... my real life To Do list is back to the normal 101 things instead of a squillion.

... I've had some sewing hours in my wee room and sanity is slowly being restored.

... I'm working on putting together those Siblings Together quilts!  (Not before time, I can hear the Block Drive Peeps murmur.  Sorry folks, but I am on the case now, promise.)

 From the 57 blocks that the generous Siblings Block drive ladies stitched up I laid out 2 quilt tops.  One 5 x 5 blocks

and a larger 5 x 6 one.  There was much switching and swapping of the blocks to try to balance the colours and look of these two quilts.  I could still be sitting there swapping blocks around, but finally made a decision that these were good enough.  I'm hoping that these will work for older boys at this summer's Siblings Together camps.  What do you think?

While I had a lengthy spell behind the sewing machine I went ahead and pieced two quilt backs as well.

The two remaining churn dash blocks were pieced into a red gingham panel and added to some lovely navy, red, green plaid yardage as a backing for the smaller quilt.  It's hard to see in this photo but it is actually very nice (and not pink as it appears here).

The larger quilt backing was pieced from an Ikea print that I call "the wanderers" (no idea what it's really called) and a piece of green/blue tiles print that I've had for yonks and yonks.

I'm so pleased that I'm finally making progress with these two quilts. Bit of a quilting marathon next though!

Friday, 17 January 2014

Luckiest Duck!

Ok, ok I know I'm not supposed to be here in this space but I'm sneaking back again because I have to show you what just arrived at my house.  Look ...

The photo is totally nicked from Di's blog as it's much better than any I would ever be able to take of this awesome Sew It Together bag. (Hope you don't mind, Di.)

I saw it pop up on her blog yesterday but had no idea it was heading my direction!  I so love this bag with its many zippy compartments and wonderful fabrics.  Now I have another creation from Di (others here and here) that folks will ooh and aah over and I will have to admit I didn't make.  On the plus side, I do get to admit to having a super, generous and thoughtful friend!

Thank you my sweet friend - mwah!

Tuesday, 14 January 2014

FAL 2014 - Quarter 1 List

Finish Along 2014

I'm popping in ever so quickly to make sure I get my linky in on time to join this year's Finish-a-long with Katy at The Littlest Thistle.  Been dithering (as I do from time to time) about whether to join or not and then I thought 'why not?'  after all, my Quarter 1 list has almost written itself since I laid out my plans for a 2014 WIP attack on my last post.

So, with apologies if this post is rather repeating the previous one, here are my Quarter 1 goals:

1 & 2 - Siblings Together Churn Dash Quilts
I have a pile of 57 churn dash blocks donated via my Siblings Together Block Drive and these need to become two finished quilts ready to forward on to Siblings Together.

3 - hipBees Black and White Quilt
The hipBees have sent me a bunch of fun blocks.  Again these need to be retrieved from a shelf and made up into a quilt.

4 - Scrumptious Brick Layer Cake Quilt
This one already is a top so I need to make a backing and get on with quilting and binding it to finish.

5 - Embroidery Sampler
This little piece of embroidery stitched recently needs to be made up into something useful - a tote or a pouch or a wallhanging?

6 - Gift stitching
I cannot reveal what these fabrics are to become just yet as they're for a secret gift, but I have pulled two patterns and three fabrics (one is hidden under that top one) and hope to transform them into pretties this quarter.

Not as impressive a list as some I've been reading (!) but I think that will do me for my first ever quarter participating in the FAL.  Here's hoping that joining with everyone else will help keep my stitching focus where it should be!

I hope to be back stitching and blogging properly again next week (miss it soooo much).  Until then, take care.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

2014 - the year of the ...


Yes indeedy folks, I am declaring that 2014 needs to be the year of the WIPs around here.  I'm not big on New Year's Resolutions but looking around my sewing space I realise that I really need to make plans to tackle the gathering piles.

For purposes of this 'plan' I am also going to include Projects in Waiting (PIWs).  These aren't just projects that are random ideas in my head, but ones I've actually already gathered the fabrics for and are sitting awaiting my time and attention.

So, having had a good old root around, here are the WIPs and PIWs taking up space in my sewing room right now:

I think the pile of blocks is actually larger than this now.

1 & 2 - Siblings Together Churn Dash Quilts
Generously donated blocks enough for two quilts have arrived so my first step will be laying both quilts out before getting cracking.  They need to be donated to the charity this summer, but my aim is to finish them by the end of February.

3 - hipBees Quilt no 2
I kicked off year 2 of hipBees in September by asking the Bees for black and white concentric square blocks with a pop of colour.  All of the blocks have been in for some time but I just haven't had a chance to get to them, so again laying out is the next stage of moving this WIP closer to completion.  I would like to see a finished quilt by the end of March.

4 - Scrumptious Brick Layer Cake Quilt
Started with much enthusiasm and haste the Brick Layer Cake Quilt top has been hanging on the back of the door awaiting its backing and basting.  Maybe if Feb and Mar are kind to me if could be finished by the end of March too(?)

5 - Mystery Medallion Quilt
If you followed the beginnings of this quilt, you'll know that I have no set plans and am simply working it up border by border and recording it all for you in case you'd like to join in or come back to it another time.  I now know what I want to do for border 4 but it's going to take more time than I've got in January so it looks like it will be Feb before I pick this one up again.  Would give you a chance to work on a centre and the first three borders to catch up if you wanted to work the rest along with me when the time comes ;-)  Anyway, hopefully Feb will see me picking up progress with this one. I'm not setting a finish date since I have no idea how much more there will be to it yet.

6 - Ruby Churn Dash bed quilt
I started these blocks on my hols last summer and have made a dozen or so more since.  There are still quite a few to make but they are all cut, so fingers crossed when I knock a few of the other WIPs off the list it will be easy to get stuck into these again.  Since the plan is to have this as a summer quilt for our bed, I hope to finish it by the end of May if possible. (Yes, optimistically predicting a nice warm June!)

7 - Crazy Scrappy block quilt
My scrap busting efforts from time to time over the past year or so have produced 16 of these cheery blocks and there is navy fabric on standby for sashing.  Could this be one to tackle over the summer aiming for a late September finish perhaps?

8 - Kaffe Fassett Sparkling Gemstones Quilt
Now this fabric has been patiently stored in a box for about two years (to my shame).  I even knew the pattern I wanted to use for it (from one of the Lintott's Jellyroll books).  From time to time I have toyed with using the fabrics in other projects, and while I can't promise that still won't happen, they were destined for this particular quilt so I think I should just get on with it. Hoping that 2014 will see those fabrics out of that box!

9 - Grey and Aqua quilt
These fabrics and a few more that have since been stashed in a bag under my sewing table feel so calming to me and I have wanted to whip them into a quilt from the moment Di sent the gorgeous curtain as a backing fabric.  Just never got around to it.  So, even though there's no hard and fast plan as yet, it's all there for the playing with in 2014.  I'm thinking maybe a quilt of oversized blocks, but I'm happy to see what grabs my attention as the year progresses and while the other WIPs get ticked off my list.  I'd like to see it finished by November.

Of course, it's going to be very dull if this prescriptive list is all I allow myself to tackle during the year.  After all, one needs room for creative deviation from time to time, so there will be Bee blocks and gifts and (hopefully) more cushions for my lounge too.  I really would like 2014 to be a year when I finish more than I start (for a change) and when I make use of the fabrics and stash I have collected purposefully.

Now that I've laid all of that out, I should warn you that there will be little activity on the sewing/blogging front for the next few weeks (Bee commitments excepted).  I'm taking a wee breather from the blog and the sewing room while I catch up or just keep up with the rest of what's happening here just now.  I am soooooo looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and resuming normal service before the end of the month, so don't forget about me!

I hope you all have fun sewing plans for 2014 and cannot wait to see what creativity and inspiration will abound this new year!

Ta ta for now!

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Bee Blessed - January 2014

Happy New Year, Bee Blessed Bees!  I can hardly believe that it's time to post the first block of the new year for Bee Blessed already!!

Well, if you're itching to get back to normal this month after packing away the Christmas decorations, perhaps you might be able to spare a half hour to make up a block or two for us. We'd be ever so grateful.

This month I have chosen the Greek Cross block.  Sometimes you see this block made without the HST corners and I'm not sure which is the offical "Greek Cross", but the HST corners do converge nicely when the blocks join, so I've decided to stick with them.  Here's the quick, photo-laden how-to:

Greek Cross Block - 12.5" unfinished

Fabrics - please use plain white solid cotton for the background to the block, choose 1 print for the cross motif and 2 prints for the half square triangle corner units.

Fabric A (background - white solid)-
Cut 2: 5" squares
Cut 4: 2.5" x 4.5"

Fabric B (print for the cross) -
Cut 1: 4.5" square
Cut 4: 2.5" x 4.5"

Fabric C (for HSTs) -
Cut 1: 5" square

Fabric D (for HSTs) -
Cut 1: 5" square

Use scant 0.25" seams throughout.

1.  Let's start by making the half square triangle units.  Take the 5" squares and pair them up right sides together as shown (pair one white square with each of the print squares).  Draw a diagonal line across the wrong side of each pair.

2.  Stitch a seam 0.25" on each side of the diagonal pencil line.

3.  Using your rotary cutter cut along the pencil line to separate your HSTs. You will have 4 units.

4.  Press seams towards the darker fabric.

5.  Now trim the HSTs to 4.5" square, taking care to line up the diagonal seam with the diagonal line on your ruler.

6.  Leave aside your 4 HST units for now.

7.  Pair up the 2.5" x 4.5" rectangles of Fabric A (white solid) with the rectangles of Fabric B (print for cross), right sides together and chain stitch all four pairs along the longest side.

8.  Press the seams towards the darker fabric.

9.  Lay out all your 4.5" units in the correct order ready to sew together. Set your matching HSTs at opposite corners.

10. Stitch the units into rows and then take the rows to your ironing board. Press the seams of the top and bottom rows in towards the centre square.  Press the seams of the middle row outwards away from the centre square.  This alternate pressing of seams will help you to nest your seams together nicely in the next step.

11.  Placing rows 1 and 2 right side together, butt the seams and pin in place to hold while you stitch the row together.  Repeat to join rows 2 and 3.

12.  Press the final two seams of the rows open to reduce the bulk in your block.

(Sorry, I forgot a photo of these steps, but you can find a similar instruction on steps 11 and 12 of this tutorial if you would find it helpful.)

13.   Trim to 12.5" square and pop it in the post ;-)

Thank you so much for your continued support of Bee Blessed, we really appreciate your contributions!

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