Thursday, 30 March 2017

Sewing Machine Mat

In October 2015, I made a trug to keep bits and pieces in (it's really handy if you're taking a project to someone's house/a workshop as you can fit lots in it!) and in the following months, I made a rotary cutter pouch, a needle book, a scissor holder and a Lola pouch from the leftovers (I started with a yard of the black and white print and a metre of the turquoise solid).  That left this little lot:
Remaining scraps

I decided that I'd make a mat for my sewing machine to sit on when it's on the table, as it's a bit awkward to push away from/pull towards me when I'm working.  And it would be a handy place to stick the odd pin or place a reel of thread on and not have it roll off the edge of the table.  As you can see, there's not an awful lot left, particularly not in large pieces, so I decided to add some bright pink solid (to reflect the pink trim on the inside of the trug and the pink quilting and pandas on the pouch) and the remnants of orange sketch I had left from making the Lola pouch.

As I'd recently published my 2016 FAL tutorial for adding accurate narrow strips, I decided to use that technique to make some pink/turquoise strips for insertion, which would bulk out the pieces and make it a bit more interesting to look at/make.
I'm working on my #ridiculouslylongFALlist and making some strip sets to eke out the scraps I have left from making a trug (and other accessories) to make a sewing machine mat. No proper plan, just a size to aim for (10" x 18"), a few scraps, some thread

I then sorted the scraps of black and white and trimmed the largest pieces square, and then tried to work out how I was going to join them together to make a large enough mat.  I knew I wanted it to end up around 11" x 18", so used the grid side of my board to lay everything out and keep an eye on the size:
Getting there...

In the end, I had to add larger pieces of the pink and turquoise solid to one side, with the tiny bits of orange I had to act as joining strips:
Pieced! And not a scrap of the black/white fabric left and no piece of anything else big enough for the binding, so I'll have to cobble something together, just like the rest of the project! (It's going to be a sewing machine mat, in case you're wondering

For some reason, I decided that I'd quilt lots of straight lines in matching thread, with the odd line of contrasting for interest in those larger black areas:
Quilted #Ivemadedoublebedquiltswithfewerendstodarnin Now to see if I have any plain black in my stash for the binding (which will have a flash of orange spliced in) #ridiculouslylongFALlist #makingthemostoftheleftoverleftovers

It looked a lot better once all 142 ends were darned in and I'd trimmed the excess wadding!

#onehundredandfortytwoendslateranditjustneedsbinding #thatstwohundredandeightyfourindividualthreads #nowonderittookawhile #allthisforsomethingmysewingmachineisgoingtositonandhide #makingthemostoftheleftoverleftovers

Then there was just the binding left to do.  I decided that it needed some orange inserted in it to give it some balance and brightness on that side, and had just enough left!

Finished! I made this sewing machine mat from the left over leftovers from when I made some sewing accessories (I've made a trug, scissor pouch, rotary cutter pouch, needle book and large Lola pouch from a yard of the black/white print and a metre of the

All that was left to do then was decide which way up it went for the photo!  It measures 11" x 18" (yeah!) and is the perfect size for under my machine.   And, best of all, I made it all from scraps, including the wadding!

As it's the end of the quarter, it's time to link up to the 2017 Q1 Finish-Along finishes link up.  My Q1 FAL list can be found here and this post is about item 19.
Just Jude Designs

It's lovely that the weather is starting to be nice enough for me to come and visit my favourite wall. And isn't it nice of me to share it with Eddie?
Thanks for popping in!

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Pretty Little Thing Mini Quilt

In May last year, I took part in a blog hop for Oakshott and made a table runner from their gorgeous Lipari range, which was being relaunched.  Before I launched into making the blocks for the runner, I needed to piece a test block to check the templates worked.  Here it is mid assembly:

Test block progress

I couldn't leave it on its own, so let it choose some potential friends:
The block wants some friends, the block wants some friends...

I decided to stick with the fabrics from Monico Solorio-Snow's Sew Yummy collection for Cloud 9 fabrics, so out went that multi dot and in came some tomato pin cushions.  I made an exception for the bead lines second down as that would make an ideal binding.

I pieced these blocks in fits and starts in between other projects as I found that having made sixteen whole blocks and four half blocks, my enthusiasm was somewhat lacking.  To think that when I made the test block I thought I might up the size a bit and make a big quilt!  I think not!

At some point I had three blocks:
And then there were three!

Then I had all the whole and half blocks I needed and laid them out.  This took longer than you'd think as I couldn't remember how they went together and where the half blocks were going, so I took the photo for reference, in case I forgot again!  And also because sometimes you spot changes you want to make when viewing a project on a small screen rather than in real life.  (This is how it looked at the start of the quarter.)
You know you're tired when it takes you a very long and puzzling twenty minutes to work out how to lay out the blocks so they fit together! Might swap the zips block and the scissors block... #handpiecing #prettylittlethingblock

I started joining the orange peel segments to the blocks and, as you can see, I don't tend to pin the whole of a curved seam, I do it section by section:
I'm joining @charmaboutyou for the #Saturdaynightcraftalong and doing a bit of #handpiecing to warm up my hands before starting some #handquilting. This is the mini quilt I'm making from the test for my #prettylittlethingblock and some friends I made for

Then the sections started to come together.  I took this photo as part of a photo hop on instagram when the prompt of the day was favourite technique:
#sewphotohop Favourite technique I love all kinds of hand sewing, particularly hand piecing. I love the way it enables me to easily and accurately sew pieces together which would be tricky on a machine and I love the slower process and the connection it g

By mid January, I had a finished top:
For the past couple of evenings, I've abandoned hand quilting in favour of hand piecing the #prettylittlethingblock test block mini and it's now ready for layering and quilting. I'm slowly plodding my way through my #2017FAL #ridiculouslylongFALlist and h

An hour or so at the sewing machine saw it quilted, and then it was trimmed and had the binding stitched to the front, ready for sewing down while I watched telly.  And then it was finished!  (And less than a year after I started it!!)
Finished! This was a test block for my #prettylittlethingblock #oakshottliparis project and as I didn't know what to do with one round block (7" diameter), I decided to make it some friends and turn it into a mini quilt for my sewing room wall. I used a b

As you can see, I kept the quilting simple and just went straight through each orange peel segment in white 50wt thread.  It's now pinned to my sewing room wall (you can just see the clear push pins in each corner) and I'm really rather pleased with it!

Quilt stats

Block: Pretty Little Thing block (found in 5500 Quilt Block Designs by Maggie Malone (ISBN 4972507749), where it's called 'A Pretty Patchwork')
Fabric: bright pink Oakshott background, Sew Yummy fabrics for the rest of the block pieces, something stripy for the binding
Piecing: hand, using Aurifil 50wt 2600 (dove grey)
Quilting: machine, using white 50wt (either Gutermann cotton or Aurifil, I can't remember)
Wadding: Vilene H640 (fusible fleece)
Size:13" x 18.5"

As it's the end of the first quarter, it's time to link up to the Finish-Along.  My Q1 FAL list can be found here and this post is about item fifteen.
Just Jude Designs

Archie's ideal way to spend a chilly day:
post unexpected dinner snooze
Do not disturb

Thanks for popping in!

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

A Finished Table Runner (AKA My Coffee Table Finally Has A Handmade Runner!)

Me again!

(I know, no posts for months and then loads in one week.  I'm going to try to be better next quarter!  Crowd (off): mutters We've heard that before...)

Way back in October, I started work on a tutorial for the 2016 FAL and chose to demonstrate how to accurately insert narrow (1/4") strips into a piece of fabric and, of course, I needed a project to demonstrate it on. I decided to make a table runner from pale grey Oakshott, with strips of darker grey inserted (and with blocks of turquoise inserted into those).  I didn't manage to get the runner quilted, so at the start of this quarter, it looked like this:
Ta dah! Just in case you're wondering, it's a table runner! It's currently about 18" x 36", but the borders are deliberately oversized so I can square them after quilting. Strips are 1/4" wide and there'll be a tutorial on my blog in January about how to

And here's a closer look at those inserted strips:

A closer look at the strips #ridiculouslylongFALlist #ridiculouslylongFALlistgang #Oakshottfabric #Aurifil

I spent a while puzzling how to quilt it until I took it to show a friend and we puzzled together and eventually decided that echoing the strips down the length of the runner would look quite nice.

I measured the width of the inserted section (11 x 0.25" = 2.75") so I knew how wide each quilted section needed to be, looked at the runner and decided how many sections I wanted (four), and then took four lots of 2.75" away from the length of the central section to give me the distance between each section.  (Still with me?!)  I then marked either edge of each section with a hera marker and got quilting, using the quarter inch mark on my walking foot as a guide for the bits in between the marked lines.

Here it is halfway through:
Halfway, if you ignore the border. #inblackandwhitebecausethecamerakeptinsistingonputtingapinktingeinthemiddleofthephoto

And here's what it looked like after I'd finished the quilting, but before I'd started darning in the ends:
#alltheends #nowIgettotrytheeasythreadneedles@cumbrianlongarmersentme #2017FAL #ridiculouslylongFALlist #ridiculouslylongFALlistgang #Oakshottfabric

As well as quilting the sections, I quilted in the ditch along the outer edges of the inserted section and either side of the narrow border (you can just see it in the photo above).

And here it is finished:
Done. Maybe I'll like it more if I wash and dry it so it crinkles? #2017FAL #ridiculouslylongFALlist #quarterinchstrips

I'll be honest, I didn't like it at first!  I think it was partly because I loved it so much as a flat piece of fabric that seeing the quilting took some getting used to and I felt that the unquilted bits were a bit stark.  I almost threw it in the wash to get it crinkled, but decided I needed to live with it first as you can't uncrinkle a quilt.  At the moment, I like it a lot more and it is currently uncrinkled.  Of course, it will need washing at some point and it will crinkle (it'll probably need blocking to make sure it still lays flat after washing), and that's fine, but at least I gave uncrinkled a chance!

As it's the end of the quarter, I'm linking up to the Finish-Along finishes link.  My Q1 FAL list can be found here and this post is about item 18.
Just Jude Designs

Well we thought it was all right but
We like it, but it would be enhanced by the addition of biscuits
Thanks for popping in!

Monday, 27 March 2017

Blue And White HSTs - Two Cushions

I'm back again with another finish!  (I have seven in total this quarter so expect a flurry of posts from me as I catch up with myself.)

Following on from yesterday's post about the blue and white quilt, today's post is about the two cushions I made to go with the quilt, which were made from the 'bonus' HSTs created when I made the snowball blocks (although I'm not sure 'bonus' and '508 1" HSTs' should be seen in the same sentence).

Back in August 2015, while I watched many episodes of something on DVD (I know not what, I suspect I've blanked it out in order to blank out the reason I was watching them, namely...), I set the seams on, and then pressed open, 508 HST units.  They then needed trimming to a uniform size (1.5" square), which I did over many (many!) evenings while watching telly.  I had a nice little system sorted with a mini cutting board on an old Next catalogue on my knee, a box for the trimmed units on one side of me, and a box for the trimmings on the other.  Believe me, trimming that many squares is as boring as it sounds, but waste not, want not!
Trimming HSTs

I then stacked them neatly away in a box and tried to forget about them:
I can put it off no longer...the next project to tackle from my Q4 #2016FAL #ridiculouslylongFALlist is to turn these 508 hsts (the by product of the 127 snowball blocks in the blue and white quilt) into two cushions to go with the quilt. I'm hoping to ha
Don't know why that photo's so poor, sorry!
but not before I'd had a little play to see what I could make:
Playing with 508 HST units is less fun than you'd think, which is why I combined two designs into one in the centre photo!
I knew I wanted to make two rectangular cushions to go with the quilt, I just didn't know what they were going to look like (I preferred the centre design, even back then).  Or how I'd face piecing all the units!

In December, I realised I could possibly get the quilt finished in time for Mam's birthday and decided that I'd also try to make the two companion cushions I'd been planning so I could give her them all together.  The first thing I did was sort all the units by print and stack them on my sewing table, and then I counted the units in each stack and labelled them.  It might seem excessive, but it meant that I knew how many of each print I had and didn't waste time choosing a print only to find I didn't have enough units to complete a round.  This was my first attempt, once I'd decided what sort of design to do:
How about something like this? I want a rectangular cushion about 15" x 19" so I could make it up to size with plain white 1" (finished) squares, with the squareton point offset to one side of the panel. The problem with this is that two cushions would on

but something wasn't quite right.  I played about a bit more and tried out both a centred and off-set design and asked my friends on instagram for help as it still wasn't right:
The more I look at these, the odder they look... #blueandwhitetriangles #noneofthesewouldusethemallup #ImgoingtobestuckwiththemarentI #youwouldntbelievehowlongitstakenmetomakethisphotomosaic #orhowlongittakestoarrange192hsts

Through discussion, we decided that two things were wrong: the centre triangles needed to point out, not in (i.e. there should be a centre square of white, not blue) and (related to this), the dark centre felt like something was watching you (thanks for pointing it out, Jenny, although I'm not sure you used those words!).  And that off-centre looked better:
That's better! You were right, @jenny_bacon, thanks! At the moment, I'm edging towards this as the design, but not necessarily this arrangement of shades. I'm about to count and log quantities of each print and then do some planning. Or maybe just go to b

With that, I drew a plan of the panel and counted how many units were needed for each round (yes, really!), which was a lot less tiring than doing it by trial and error with the units themselves.  For a start, I could sit on the settee and do it rather than stooping over my bed!

Once that was done, I laid out two cushion panels on my bed (honestly, this playing with HSTs is really boring and my back ached from all the stooping!), did a bit of faffing and then took two awful photos so I knew what went where.  (Awful because it was early afternoon on a December in the UK and it was starting to get dark, and because I was jiggered and struggled to hold the camera high enough to get a whole panel in!)
And the second arrangement - shout if anything needs changing #layingout192oneandahalfinchunfinishedhstunitstakesmoretimeandroomthanyoudthink

I've arranged the hst units for cushions, please shout if you think anything needs changing #shouldprobablyhaveusedapalebackdropbutIneededsomethingwhichcouldbemovedifneedbe
The safety pins are holding on the number tags

I started piecing after a bit of a rest (no time for more!) and joined the units into columns, mainly so I could get them off my bed so I could get on it, but took a moment to enjoy the shrinkage that happens when you start to piece:
I love the shrinkage!

Over the next few days (with Christmas in the mix as well), I pressed the columns and then started to pin them into pairs, ready to sew when I was able:
Ready to sew, but not today #lotsofpins

By early January, the panels were pieced:
They're far (far, far) from perfect, but the hst panels for the two cushions are pieced. I need to add borders (white) all round to bring them up to size, which will also help the seams even out (even a really good steam press isn't stopping them bouncing
The photo is slightly misleading because I used Aurifil 2600 (dove grey) to piece them, not the white (2024) shown in the photo, that's there for scale.  And because the pale grey was still on my machine!
I then layered, pinned and quilted them, and by the start of the quarter, had the two almost-finished-the-quilting panels you can find on my FAL list:
Blue and white hst cushion 2
You can see that the left-hand side of the top panel and the right-hand side of the lower panel aren't quilted as densely at this point.
Blue and white hst cushion 1

I'll be honest and tell you that the quilting started out, well, terribly.  I started with these wavy lines, hated them, unpicked them, did straight lines, hated them, redid the wavy lines, hated them...and then remembered that wavy lines always look dreadful when you start and that they only start to look better as you do more of them, something to do with them looking shonky when sparse, but deliberate and textured when denser. So I ploughed on, and I'm glad I did!!

I had just enough binding fabric from the quilt left to eke out four strips for the cushions, and after a bit of hand stitching, and then altering two pillows into cushion inners (the cheapest and easiest way to get cushion inners the size you want), I had two finished cushions:
One down... #awfulphotobutIdontthinkitsgoingtogetlighttoday #firstfinishofQ1 #2017FAL #hstunitsfinishatoneinchsquare #amazingwhatyoucanmakewithleftovers

And another! #sewallthebinding #thirdfinishofQ1 #2017FAL #thesunhasmadeanappearanceafterall #anotherwipbitesthedust

And here's the back of one of them (they're both the same):

And the back of the blue and white triangle cushions (they're both the same). The zip flap is the same fabric as the quilt back and the binding on the cushions and quilt is the same for consistency.
The zip flap is made from the off cut of backing created when I trimmed the quilt

And here's how all three finishes look together:
My first three finishes of 2017! #2017FAL #1660twoandahalfinchsquareslater #andsurelynighonaamileofthread #used50wt40wtand12wtinthisone #quickgetitwrappedbeforeIspillsomethingonthem #inanidealworldIdwashandtumblethemtomakethemcrinklebutIthinkMamwouldnotic

My Q1 FAL list can be found here and this post is about item three, one of the pair of blue and white HST cushions.  I'm linking the first finished cushion up with this post (the one with the slightly lighter centre) and will link the other up with instagram.

Just Jude Designs

I specifically told you that I didn't want any photos taken when my ear was inside out
I told you: no photos with my ear inside out!
Thanks for popping in!

Sunday, 26 March 2017

The Blue And White Blighter - A Finish!!!

*gropes around for light switch*   *gasps in horror at the dust*  *flicks around a tickle stick*  *shows age*


Today the Q1 finishes link opens for the 2017 Finish-Along and I thought it was high time I started catching up on blogging about my (sort of) recent finishes.

My Q1 FAL list can be found here, and this blog is all about item one, the big blue and white quilt.

I started the quarter in my usual manner: like a greyhound out of the traps.  I then continued in my usual manner: having a lie down about quarter of the way round.  This time, it was more pronounced because I wanted this quilt finished in time for my mam's birthday in early January.

At the start of the quarter, the project looked like this:
Blue and white quilt - nearly there!
I don't know what that ball of perle is doing there, I certainly didn't use it to sew down the binding!

and I just needed to sew down the binding to the back.

Here's how it looked when I finished it:
It's finished! This quilt was planned in August/September 2011, I started cutting all the 2.5" squares in 2012, pieced 128 nine patches (all different combinations of two fabrics, I seem to remember) and 127 snowball blocks (all 6" finished), created 508

I started this project in March 2012, but it had been in the planning since August 2011 when Mam and I visited a local show and started collecting fabrics for it (it's harder than you'd think to find fabrics with only blue and white in them) and planning the size, etc.  It first appeared on my FAL list in Q2 2013, when Leanne was the host.

I washed and ironed all the fabrics (including several metres of white on white) and then cut all the blues into 2.5" squares (and made myself ill in the process, I seem to remember):
I didn't strip piece because I wanted each nine patch to be different. Things would have been easier and faster if I hadn't!

I was going to mix up the prints in each nine patch:
Hmmm...not right at all!

but didn't like it, so sorted all the fabrics by print and arranged them so that each nine patch was a different arrangement of two fabrics (that took a while, let me tell you!):

I then made 128 nine patches:
128 nine patches

Then I started on the snowball blocks.  Again, I thought I'd mix up the prints in each block, but after laying them out, decided I preferred the same print in all four corners:
Choosing snowballs

Things progressed quite slowly, but by April 2013, I was ready to start the mammoth task of laying out 128 nine patches and 127 snowballs and making sure no print was next to itself:

I then labelled each block (slip of paper and a tiny safety pin) and made a map of where they were all going, my piecing sequence and which way each seam would be pressed (I do this for all big projects):
Blue and white map

When I started piecing the blocks together, I discovered that very careful pinning was required to get two nice snowball points meeting two nine patch seams.  This came as quite a blow and slowed me down considerably.  I also discovered that pinning and sewing these seams was really, really tedious.  This slowed me down even further.  At several points along the way, I doubted I'd ever finish it.  In fact, if it had been for me, it would still be in pieces!

Slowly, but surely, I plodded on and in August 2015, I had a finished top which measured 90" x 112":
About time too!
So big that the only way to get it all in the frame is to lay it on Mam's front and hang out of her bedroom window! 
She wasn't impressed when I said she had to stay out there and guard it in case of a strong gust of wind!
I layered and pinned it, after moving every piece of furniture in my front room to accommodate it, and started the process of stuffing it through the machine machine quilting.

I used Aurifil 40wt 2720 on the top and 2710 in the bobbin.  Initially, I thought I would quilt in the ditches between the blocks (horizontally and vertically) and down both diagonals of the nine patches, but when I finished, I realised it wasn't enough, so I added four extra (diagonal) lines per block:
Quilting progress
Well worth the additional hours of quilting!
Then it was the turn of the snowballs and I decided to hand quilt a five-pointed star in the centre of each, using Anchor perle 12wt 128.  Here's the first one:
One down, 126 to go. And I got all the way back to the starting point before I realised I hadn't checked the star was the right way up on the quilt! Fortunately, it's pointing at the top (which could have been the bottom), not a side - phew! Thread is Anc

After several weeks of doing only this (and having a target of fourteen stars a week), I was ready to trim it and add the binding.  I finished about a week before Mam's birthday and am pleased to say she was thrilled with it!  I'll share a photo of it on the bed in my next post, along with a couple of co-ordinating finishes.

Quilt Stats

Design - my own, but it's a traditional combination of blocks
Fabric - assorted blue/blue and white prints, and white on white for the snowballs
Piecing - machine (Aurifil 50wt 2600)
Quilting - machine (Aurifil 40wt 2720 and 2710) and hand (Anchor perle 12wt 128)
Wadding - Warm and White
Size - 90" x 112"
Number of appearances on FAL lists - 10

And here's another photo of the finish (same as the one at the start), just in case you've forgotten what it looks like after all that!
It's finished! This quilt was planned in August/September 2011, I started cutting all the 2.5" squares in 2012, pieced 128 nine patches (all different combinations of two fabrics, I seem to remember) and 127 snowball blocks (all 6" finished), created 508

I'm linking up:
Just Jude Designs

I don't normally get dinner
Finished?  After all this time?!  This calls for tuna!
Thanks for popping in!

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