Sunday, 15 June 2014

Still here...and still sewing!

I've just realised it's quite a while since I did a blog post. I've been really busy the last few weeks. Being back at work full time has been really great. I'm really enjoying it and the kids are enjoying before & after school club. We're all settling in to the new routine well. Mondays and Thursdays are busy, with Erin going to activities in the evenings.

I've also gained another degree. I got the exam result for my second Level 3 module the other day quite unexpectedly (I thought they were due out a bit later than this) and that made me eligible to claim my BSc. My OU studies aren't totally finished as I can take another two modules to get the Honours part of the degree but I'm going to see how it goes - there isn't a lot of time with working full-time, the kids, teaching workshops, going to workshops, etc. but, being under the transitional fee arrangement, it's a lot cheaper to do it now than leave it until later.

With all that I hadn't had much time for sewing but I forced myself to baste the two quilt tops I finished in May's quilting class. I was then able to take the first one to Monday night sewing and get it quilted, the other I took to yesterday's quilting class and started the quilting. I finished the second one last night while Alan watched the football.

The granny square quilt above was quilted with diagonal lines in a green thread. This was made from a very badly cut jelly roll and is definitely far from my best work!

The other quilt is hopefully going to be a Xmas present for someone. I took some time to decide how to quilt it. I didn't want to do straight lines that went through the green triangles. Equally the diagonal lines created by the green triangles didn't work as the angles would have caused the lines to cross into other green triangles (does that make sense?!?). I also didn't really want the hassle of going around all the hexagons and lines with my walking foot as it's quite hard, slow work turning the quilt around lots and the blocks were a bit large for just quilting the edges of the blocks.

So, I decided it was time to get over my fear of the meander. It's one of those free motion quilting 'patterns' that looks so simple until you try to do it. It's basically a squiggly random line. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, the problem is that I don't really think in a random way when I have to fill a quilt top with it. I start going along a side to make sure it's filled or I start going left to right so as to not leave any gaps. I have to really focus on not doing those. I think the end result was pretty good. I could definitely improve as my stitch length is a lot more uneven than I'd like but it has definitely got that random look to it.

Here's a close up of the quilting:

My next job is to make the binding for these two quilts and get them finished.

Thursday, 8 May 2014

FO: Zippered Pouch

I have some big news. Next week I'm going back to work. From Monday I'll be working in an office, full-time for the first time since mid 2006. So I'm now the proud owner of a normal sized handbag. That perhaps sounds a funny thing to mention but when the children were babies I carried around a huge, huge bag full of cloth nappies & wipes and bottles with my purse and keys and not much else (who wants to carry more than that?!?). Since the children potty trained I've been pretty minimal as I'm so used to not needing anything else.

I have a small basic zippered pouch that holds a few pens and similar that I made ages ago. It makes them easier to find in your bag. This time though I wanted something for a few bits of make-up so it needed to be lined. Most of the tutorials online are similar in the technique used with just a few subtle differences. I decided to follow this one by Flossie Teacakes. It has covered zip ends, which I liked the look of.

I picked out a zip first because I had a limited selection in the size needed. Isn't that always the way? The fabric was a Christmas present from Alan back in 2012 I think!

I struggled with the sewing around the outside (the final stage before turning through) as my machine doesn't really like sewing through bulk so it's not as neat as the one in the tutorial but it's good enough.

I lined the bag with the same fabric as the outside, not least because I was an idiot and cut two rectangles for the front and then realised the picture/text would be running the wrong way. I was so concerned with remembering to double check the picture/text before stitching to the zip that I totally forgot to do it when cutting out.

Wednesday, 7 May 2014

A Couple Of Finished Pieces

Well firstly, sorry for such a delay in posting. We had a really busy school holiday. It was Erin's birthday during the holidays and so we had a party for her at Ponderosa Centre. They have various options for parties and Erin chose the one that included a tour, a reptile talk and half an hour in the play barn as well as party food in the party room. We were really impressed with the party. Everyone got to feed the llamas and goats, there was the chance to hold a giant snail, rabbits & guinea pigs and during the reptile talk you could hold a snake and a bearded dragon.

Alan with the bearded dragon...
and a really bad picture of me holding the snake

After the party, everyone is able to stay in the centre for the rest of the day if they wish so it works out very good value for money (especially if you book a morning party as we did). Erin had a pony ride (Orla didn't want to!)

Her "I Love Ponies" fleece was very apt
We also spent a few days in the Lake District visiting family. We managed to go for a few walks too as the weather was lovely.

When we got back I was able to finish sewing the binding on my Star Trek quilt. So it joined the finished cushion on the sofa. I took the pictures outside as I thought it showed the colours a lot better.

I really love the back of it too.

That's not all I've finished though. There's a reason it took me so long to finish sewing the binding. I had to put it on hold because I've been redesigning my friend's website and the person who was updating the original site for her wanted to give it up fairly soon so I had to focus on that for a few days to get it to the point where it could go live. There's still work to be done on it (isn't there always with techie projects!) so I guess it's technically a WIP but one that is finished enough for me to ask you to take a look. If you're in/around Leeds/West Yorkshire (or if you want to travel there for yummy cake and crafty workshops) here's the link to RiversMEET Craft Cafe.

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

WIP: Almost There!

I'm far more of a night owl than an early bird so when Alan had a night out on Friday it was a great opportunity for me to sit and sew. I'd added some applique to one section of the backing fabric for my Star Trek quilt at sewing class on the Monday night and needed to blanket stitch around it. I don't really enjoy this bit as it's one of those tasks that seems to take a long time but you don't really see any progress with the quilt. So Friday evening, I got the kids to bed and sat down and forced myself to get on with it.

I hadn't used the blanket stitch on my quilting machine before so I did a bit of testing on some scrap fabric first. It's ended up slightly wider than I'd have liked but the only way to go narrower was to reduce the stitch length and it seemed to pull the fabric regardless of the tension setting.

I decided that while I had my machine out I might as well piece the back. Another job I dislike. One of the big selling points of jelly rolls for me is that it saves me from having to cut across the full width of fabric. Where I have to cut big bits of fabric I usually get Alan to help hold the ruler with me so it doesn't move while I'm cutting. I didn't really want to put off finishing the back as I'd always prefer to leave a project ready for doing a nice part so I'm keen to pick it up again so I managed without his help.

I also managed to get the quilt basted after climbing up into the alcove at almost 1am to find some wadding. I must remember not to baste quilts at that time of night (morning!) again as I managed to stick wadding to my slipper.

Yesterday I had to wait in for a courier. As the kids were playing really nicely I thought I'd make a start on the quilting. The hardest part was choosing thread, particularly with the really bright and very different colours in the quilt top. I ended up just following my original instinct and chose a variegated Gutermann Sulky. Despite using Gutermann thread for all my piecing and dressmaking, it's not one I really consider for quilting. The Sulky thread was part of a pack I got for Xmas with some fat quarters and 3 reels of thread. I'll definitely consider it in future as it was really nice to work with and I was really pleased with the outcome.

I didn't want to do really heavy quilting and wanted to stick to straight line quilting. I chose a wadding that could be quilted up to 10" apart. My blocks were slightly under this so I was able to quilt next to each line of sashing. Then I quilted around each rectangular picture to frame the image. The cushion was fairly similar.

I then cut out two bits of fabric to make an envelope back for the cushion. I used a decorative stitch for one of the hems to give it a nice finish. I stayed up until 1am making the binding and sewing it onto the front of the quilt. Today I've started hand sewing it to the back.

I'm hoping to get it finished this evening and I might get out at some point to get a cushion pad. And that will be two items ticked off the list of UFO's.

Hopefully some finished object pictures one day this week.