Wednesday, 27 May 2015

FAL Finish: Bargello Cushion

In June last year I went on a Bargello workshop run by my talented friend Beryl at her teaching studio and a month later I added the resulting project to my Finish-Along list.  It's been on every list since, including my current one, and I'm thrilled to be able to say that it's finished!

This is how it started:
Four FQs and half a metre of Kaffe shot cotton (tip: if you're using this, starch it well - it likes to move and stretch!)

After quite a bit of sewing and cutting, I had sets of strips of varying widths (Daddy (wide), Mammy (medium) and Baby (narrow)!):

Dreadful photo, sorry!  Still, at least you won't have to see it again after this!

Once I got started again (it sat in a bag from July 2014 until last week!), it didn't take me long to get the panel complete, even though I had to unpick three strips (two because I hadn't double-checked my seam allowance when I started and one because I made a daft mistake).
Bargello cushion
The grey pieces towards the top right corner aren't puckered, it's just the way I plonked the panel on my bed!

The strips were joined onto the wadding in a stitch and flip/QAYG style which meant that once the panel was complete, it was only a hop, skip and a jump to a finished cushion:

Bargello cushion

It finishes at 15" x 19" and was stitched with Aurifil 50wt 2600 (dove grey) throughout.

I had originally intended to do a button closure but my button tin only had three suitable buttons and I was determined to finish this without buying anything else so I rummaged in my zip tin and found a suitable candidate.  I'm rather pleased with how the back turned out and how (some of!) the lines match up!

Bargello cushion

The cushion was supposed to be bigger than this (and square!) but, despite them all being bought in the UK, two of the fat quarters (the dots) were imperial, rather than metric, FQs so I didn't have enough fabric.  Then I made a daft mistake with the first strip, discovered far after I was willing to unpick, (it was supposed to be a 'mammy' strip but I used a 'daddy' strip instead, which left me short a 'daddy' strip and no fabric to make another one.  In the end, I trimmed all the 'daddy' strips to 'mammy' size and made a narrower panel) so a smaller cushion it was.  I had just enough grey to cover the zip and just enough of the shot cotton to bind the top and bottom edges à la Sheila. To be honest, I think I prefer it as a smaller cushion as this way as it nestles nicely in the centre of my 'settee of friends'!

Bargello cushion with friends
Cushions made by (clockwise from front left) Sarah, me, Karen and Trudi, Leanne, Yvonne, me

I think I'm going to have to fill the other settee now!

A few weeks ago, I tweeted Aurifil about a problem spool (the thread kept slipping off the spool and getting tangled/knotted and then snapping in my machine as a result of the tangling) more to let them know than to complain and, as well as replacing the offending spool, they sent me this lovely parcel:

From Aurifil

I can't fault their customer service!  I've long wanted a thread colour card (rather than the printed one I have) and I must say that it lives up to all expectations - I quite want to put it up on the wall!

Archie has been holding a 'lie in' - his demands are more biscuits, more patches of sun, more biscuits, more biscuits...and, have you guessed yet?, more biscuits.  I have given in to a certain extent, just don't tell him he'd have been getting those biscuits anyway!!

I'm going to lie here until I get a biscuit and I don't care how long it takes.

I'll be linking up to Adrianne when the time comes!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Thanks for popping in, I hope your FAL projects are also going swimmingly!

Thursday, 21 May 2015

Sharing The Luck

I've been quite lucky in recent months and have won several giveaways and/or link up prizes and I thought I'd share the luck around a bit.  In March, I won this bundle of Dashwood September Blue from Sew Hot and I'd like to share it with one of you.

Prize from Sew Hot!

If you'd like to win a fat eighth bundle of this gorgeous fabric then you have two possible chances:

1.  Leave a comment below telling me what you'd make with the fabric.  (Be warned, I may copy you!)

2.  Leave a second (separate) comment if you live in the UK.

The giveaway is open to everyone, no matter where you live.  If you live in the UK then you may get some chocolate/sweeties in your parcel, if you live outside the UK then you probably won't as I think the postage cost is going to be surprisingly high.  (Sorry!)

The giveaway closes a fortnight today on 4th June at 7pm BST and I will close comments at that point.  The winner will be announced and notified some time after that.

If you have any doubt about whether you are a no-reply blogger then please leave your email address in your comment.  If I cannot easily track you down then I will ask Mr Random Number Generator to choose another winner - you have been warned!

Archie will be keeping as close an eye on your comments as he keeps on my gardening:

I'm watching.  Intently.
Good luck!!


Fairy Update

After what feels like ages (but isn't, I think it's just because I'm on a deadline with this quilt!), I've finally got the fairy quilt top finished.  I'm finding it hard to take a decent photo of it because it's so big (about 68" x 108") so this is the best I can manage at the moment.  I think this photo captures the colours fairly accurately, even if you can't quite see all the top!

Fairy quilt top

Yes, it's a rather large for a soon to be four year old but when I made a quilt for her older sister, her mam wanted it to be long enough to go over the top of the pillows so I've done the same with this quilt...and then some!  Here's her older sister's quilt, which also features fairies!

fairy quilt
As you can see, my photo taking hasn't got any better since I took this five years ago!!

As the current fairy quilt is so large, backing fabric was going to be horrifically expensive.  In a fit of  'I'm not paying that!', I decided to piece the back out of what remained from the front, plus three metres of a pale pink on white dot which was intended as backing for a not-yet-started project (it cost £6 a metre a few years ago).  Fortunately, I'd deliberately ordered more than I needed of the two main fairy prints as I wasn't sure how much I'd need and planned to make a pillowcase with any leftovers.  There now aren't any leftovers so she won't be getting a pillowcase.  Probably as well because I'd have to make her sister one and I don't have any of 'her' fabrics left!  Anyway, here's the (enormous) back:

Fairy quilt back
Those two white lines are sunshine, not a horrible mistake/bleach stain!

Yesterday was crawl-around-the-floor-with-masking-tape-and-safety-pins day.  (And if that wasn't enough to make me feel ancient today, I fell down the last three or four stairs last night - it's a miracle I can walk today!)  This is the best photo I can get and was taken before several hundred safety pins were added.  It's always a pleasant surprise how much quicker it is to pin rather than tack; it's always an unpleasant surprise at just how hard it is to manoeuvre a big quilt through the ridiculously small harp space on my sewing machine.  (It's the one thing I'd change about my machine.  Well, that and the position of the reverse 'paddle' - when quilting a big quilt, the bulk sometimes gets caught on it and I find myself going unexpectedly backwards!)

Fairy quilt - waiting for pins

ETA: The quilt is based on Sarah's Stained quilt design but I designed the blocks to fit around the 9" (finished) feature squares.  The blocks were designed before I started cutting but the fabrics were chosen as I cut each block.

This morning, I went to my LQS to get some quilting thread as I was finding it hard to decipher colours online and I wanted a pale pink variegated thread which wasn't 'too pink'.  That trip turned out to be a waste of time, petrol and energy as they no longer sell the thread I went for (King Tut) and only sell 100, 50 and 12 weight thread and I wanted 40, or 30 at a push.  Within ten minutes of being home, I'd ordered two spools of this thread - I hope it arrives soon and looks okay on the quilt!  I think I'm going to quilt lines down the length of the quilt (I can't go across as there's no way I'll wrestle it through the machine!), perhaps similar to Hadley's quilting?  Any thoughts will be gratefully received!  (I don't do FMQ and neither do I have time to hand quilt it so I'm limited to straight/straightish/wavy lines!)

In other news, the parts of my garden which are planted are doing well:

My current favourite corner of the garden
My 'woodland' corner
Work in progress
Lots more planting needed in this bed but I'm happy with it so far.  To be added: delphinium, (tall) aquilegia, verbena, clematis (left hand trellis)

I have a problem area which is holding onto water like it knows something we don't (not the whole area, just patches of it.  Problem is, you don't know what a patch is like until something is planted in it and it rains as it all looks/digs up the same and it wasn't a problem when it was laid to lawn.) and will be sorted this year - it's getting a raised bed put on it!  We're (I say 'we', I won't be doing any digging, I'm leaving that to Phil, the landscaper, and his lads!) digging down about 4" and replacing the 'soil' (clay!) with gravel/rubble before building the bed and filling it with top soil.  I'm currently contemplating designs, which is why that block is in the photo above!  This is the area to be sorted, with my watery holes (hole watch has been going on for far too long!):

Problem area

In amongst fairy piecing and pinning, I've managed to tick off a couple of items from my FAL list and I'm rather pleased with them.  I'm going to do separate blog posts for them as it makes it easier to link up at the end of the quarter (and I'm assuming it makes it easier for Adrianne to check!).  Let's just say that a couple of long-standing WIPs have been finished and I'm rather chuffed with them/myself!  (If you can't bear to wait then you can see them on Flickr!)

Archie has been dreaming of chasing rabbits (he's always preferred that to actually chasing them!), biscuits falling from the sky and a permanently available patch of sun:

Shhhhhh...I'm asleep!

The giveaway I promised in my last post is coming imminently - I just need to write the post and I'll publish it so keep your eyes peeled!

Thanks for popping in!

Friday, 1 May 2015

Final Fairy Blocks

The project I'm concentrating on for the next couple of months is a quilt for my youngest niece; my deadline is her fourth birthday, in July.  In my last post, I showed you the first twelve (of twenty-eight) blocks (which are based on the Stained quilt by Sarah) and today I'm happy to say that I've (machine) pieced the remaining sixteen (15") blocks:

'block 4' blocks

'block 3' blocks

'block 2' blocks

'block 1' blocks

Almost two hours of crawling round sorted the arrangement:

Excuse the dire photo, it was night time and, as you can see, well past Archie's bed time!

For ease of piecing, none of the 'in block' sashing strips line up with each other and I decided that I wanted to maintain that when joining them up.  (There will be the same ½" (finished) sashing strips separating the blocks.)  I also decided that I didn't want one side of a sashing strip to need to line up with the edge of another strip (i.e. no 'steps' in the sashing) because I would have to ensure they were aligned across the strips, which would take more time; time I don't have!  All that, combined with trying to make sure no prominent fabric was next to itself, took some arranging but I got there in the end.  I decided that the prints with the white backgrounds were okay next to each other, it was the more 'obvious' prints (such as the dark pink Sketch or the polka dots) which I didn't want touching.  I've since attached all the sashing strips and hope to start joining blocks this weekend.

In between finishing the blocks and crawling round on the floor I had a couple of days off from this project (I needed it, I wore myself out piecing!) and decided that hand sewing binding would be a good way of still sewing but at a more restful pace.  One of the long term residents of my FAL list is a hand quilted panel, which was my learning-how-to-hand-quilt-with-two-thimbles-a-hoop-and-the-rocking-stitch practice piece (which is how I now do all my hand quilting).  I thought I was going to turn it into a cushion but then picked it up, remembered that it is backed with a gorgeously soft fine lawn, and thought it would make a lovely quilt for a teeny tiny baby.  I contacted Jude to see if it could be added to Bee Blessed's baby quilt pile and she said yes. I searched my yellow scrap and stash boxes and found a piece of pale lemon fabric which worked well with the pastel variegated thread I'd used for quilting and cut it into 1⅝" strips to make a narrow binding. It's around 16" square (I forgot to measure it after I'd washed it!) and the design is by Sandie Lush.

Teeny tiny baby quilt
It's a little puffy around the edges (it was fine until it was washed!) but I didn't want to add any more quilting as it's so soft at the moment.  I'm sure baby won't mind a bit of puffiness, at least I hope not!

Teeny tiny baby quilt - hand quilting
Teeny tiny baby quilt - hand quilting
Teeny tiny baby quilt - the back of the hand quilting

It's now on its way to Jude and will hopefully help to keep a teeny tiny baby warm and comforted in hospital.  It's also the first finish from my FAL list so I will be linking up with Adrianne when the time comes!

2015 FAL at On the Windy Side

Archie has been enjoying some sunshine while keeping an eye on the street:

Yes, I can hear you.  No, I don't want to come inside.

He's had a bath (well, a strip wash) and then enjoyed a post-bath picnic (he's laid on a towel because I didn't want him creating and then lying in a puddle of mud!):
If you think this makes up for the indignity of a bath then you're sadly mistaken.

And he's perfected making himself look as pathetic as possible (on a side note, doesn't he look nice and white after his bath?!):

Bowl, why aren't you like the magic porridge pot?

It's the first of the month so I'm linking up with the wonderful Lynne, why not go and see what everyone else has been up to?

Fresh Sewing Day

P.S.  A couple of months ago I won a Twitter giveaway from Sew Hot and, as I've been enjoying a run of luck lately, I thought it would be nice to share.  How does half of this bundle (i.e. ten (I think!) fat eighths) sound?  I'll have to look at postage to see if I can include people outside the UK but I hope I can.  If that sounds like something you'd be interested in then there'll be a giveaway post at some point in the next few weeks, probably when I've pieced the fairy top!

Prize from Sew Hot!
September Blue by Dashwood Studio

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