Thursday, 22 May 2014

Month of May

Originally, I have set aside May to do the long arm quilting on Mr Morris's garden, but I have had a disaster with Mr Morris, so that is now at the bottom of my UFOs, to be forgotten about until I get to the bottom again. More about this in another post.
So, as I now have a whole month with no plans, I decided to make it my month of finishing all (or as many as I can) of my unfinished projects (UFOs), so after tidying up and cleaning the studio (isn't it amazing how much fluff cotton can create?) I dug out the box of unliked, unfinished, need to rip out or redo projects. Rather than deciding which order I was going to do them in, there are MANY to choose from, I decided to tackle them from the bottom.

Linus quilts
I had 4 just waiting to have their labels stitched on, so I started with those and handed them over to our area rep this weekend and boy, did that feel good. Purchased some fleece fabric for 2 more and then loaded them onto HQ. Now, I have never done any sewing before with fleece so didn't know what to expect.  I loaded the first one with the selvedges to the sides and decided to do some wave lines with a ruler.  Tension was fine, although I had to change to a bigger needle, I used King Tut thread in the top with Bottomline in the bobbin.  The stitches just disappeared into the fleece on the back.  In order not to stop and start, I quilted the lines horizontally (the fleece is only 60" wide, so that meant I could not load the quilt width wise). This caused me considerable trouble as the fabric just kept moving with the machine when starting on the sides. The side clamps just got in the way of the ruler base, so I would definitely not do ruler work near the edge of a fleece quilt again. The wave lines looked lovely whilst still loaded onto HQ, but when I took the quilt off, the top seemed loose and puffy in-between the stitch lines. I have obviously pulled the backing too tight, but it looks okay.

So, I was going to learn from previous experience. Next one was loaded, again, with selvedges to the sides, NO rulerwork near the edges, I thought. Pantograph will do, but then the quilt started talking and begging for a linear design.  I have not yet tried my groovy boards, so I thought I will try this, surely the stylus can't get in the way.  I chose to use Baptist fan, but with the 2 clearly defined borders at the top and bottom of the quilt, I wanted to do something different here. First to do the centre panel. All worked fine (could have done with 3 boards though, rather than 2 as I kept having to reposition one before I got to the end of the row) until I got to the last row.  EEK! Not enough space to do a full row! Note: find out how to do this for future quilts!
This caused a bit of hassle. I stood at the front of the machine, rather than at the back so that I could stop at the point where the needle hit the border, run to the back, lifted stylus out of groove to right next to groove, run back to front of machine, continue to stitch till needle next hit border and repeat and repeat and repeat and repeat and ……… exercise done for the day!
I did then use rulers for the border design but did the last 6" freehand, having done the design in the centre section of the border first, it was easy as my eye was already trained in.
Very happy with this one, no pulling or puckering.  My daughter calls the baptist fan design, the "rainbow quilt stitch" so I am calling this my rainbow quilt.

These two are both Linus quilts, I think they are very much suited to teenagers and they will be handed over at the end of May.

Another Linus quilt 

 The heart blocks in this quilt was the result of playing with my new DSM 6 years ago. I did 5 blocks as I figured by the end of 5, I will have had chance to practise enough hills and valleys that I will know how to deal with them. The blocks were then sewn into a quilt top, intended for Linus, but I just never got around to getting the quilting done. Had a lovely time quilting butterflies and dragonflies (with heart shaped wings)  and flowers into the open blocks, then thought I would try out some feathers in the centre.

I drew a stencil onto paper of hearts linked together in a chain, then transferred this onto the strippy batik borders. Decided there and then the next thing I need to buy is a pencil or pen that will show up on any colour batik. I tried white chaco pen, blue water-soluble, purple air erasable, white fabric marker and pink Sewline pencil. In the end I just laid the pattern on top of the quilt, just above the area I was going to stitch and quilted it free hand. It turned out all right, but I know it can look a lot better, if I can follow a line. So, I am now the new owner of several new pounce pads (pink and blue), a yellow chalk pencil, a Fons and Porter marker and some thicker water soluble pens. Hopefully I can mark on any colour with those.

My first quilt
I never finished the first quilt I made. I liked the look of log cabin quilts and thought I could manage it, it was after all just straight stitching, so I borrowed a book from my local library and bought lots of matching cream fabrics, all with pink roses in varying sizes, some with trellises, others with stripes. The straight stitching was fine, having managed to cut the strips with scissors to the exact size they needed to be, and my blocks turned out rather nicely. I thought I was very clever with the way I cut my centre squares "fussy" so that a little pink rose sat exactly in the middle of it. Did all 36 blocks (they were BIG blocks) and then came the laying out to decide which order to stitch them together. Problem….no contrast between the blocks, they were ALL cream, no light our dark. But I plodded on, thought it would look okay once I have stitched a border on around them, I could always go for pink to liven it up a bit. Those were the days when Debbie Mumm fabrics were all the range, and only shop I knew of where I could get cotton fabric, was Hobbycraft. The only pinks they had were baby pink, bright pinks or salmony pink, no pretty rosebud pinks! So, I stuck with the creams. Finished the top and started looking for wadding. My husband wanted a warm quilt, so I bought the thickest polyester (and I mean THICK!) that I could find. I could not find fabric wide enough for the backing and did not want a seam down the middle of it, so in a flash of inspiration, I bought a flat double bed sheet, you guess it, in cream! Dare I admit this? It was polyester/cotton because I thought it would crease too much if it was cotton. Having had several attempts at pinning and then tacking the layers together, then finding out that I was expecting another baby, I gave up. I put the wadding away for later and sewed the top to the sheet and it became a duvet cover, with buttons to fasten at the lower end. We used it for quite a while before I got fed up with how boring it looked and it found it's way into a charity shop. Never took a photo of it, no point really, it just looked like an ordinary duvet cover.

Lady of the lake

Lady of the lake
 So, my first proper quilt (never finished this) came next out of the box of UFOs. Decision time, am I going to finish it now or get rid of it?  It has been in this box for 13 years. The design is called "Lady of the lake" and I found the pattern in a magazine that was lying on the coffee table at a friends house. She had not finished the magazine, but promised to pass it on to me when she was done with it. We then heard that Diana Spencer had been killed in a car crash and the whole nation went into morning. A few days later, the announcement came that she was to be buried on the family estate on an island in the middle of the lake. I happen to be paging through the magazine at the time and the name just jumped out at me. I had to make this quilt.

I made templates out of cardboard from cereal boxes and marked my triangle shapes on the reverse of the fabric, then cut them all out by hand. I could only sew when the baby was napping, so I just stitched one block at a time, had never heard of speed piecing, so it was SLOW. Eventually had the top finished, I already had this lovely thick piece of all polyester wadding (grin), so it was pinned together, this time with an all cotton sheet, which I had bought in a sale just for this purpose. Hand-tied the centres of the large triangle blocks, but it seemed a bit too loose, so decided that I will hand quilt around the large squares formed by the large triangles.

My first attempt at quilting

But it was summer and this quilt was so HOT, so it got put away until winter, by which time baby didn't nap anymore. Quilting in the evenings while hubby watches television in dimmed light didn't work either, so once baby was old enough to go to playgroup, I started getting fed up with bits of wadding coming undone at the edges. Had some matching check fabric, which I cut on the bias (why?) into strips of binding. This I stitched on single layer(!), like in dress making, by hand as the quilt would not co-operate with my sewing machine. Stitched 2 opposite sides (was NOT going to attempt mitred corners), then did a bit of quilting, but stitches would not match previous quilted stitches in size, so got put away. When I fell pregnant again, had to make space for new baby, could not find the fabric that I had cut into strips for remainder of binding, remembered that I used it for a belt to keep my son's Joseph tunic from tripping him up in last nativity play, but still could not find it anywhere. Off to Hobbycraft to get some more to find that they have sold out a long time ago. Okay, not to be deterred, I kept looking and eventually found some very similar looking fabric in John Lewis. Now determined that this quilt will get finished, I completed the last 2 sides of the binding. Started on remaining quilting, but baby decided to come early. I found a very nice box for it and it has been in that box until now.

Back of Lady of the Lake

Asked my quilting buddies what to do with it… consensus, to frog it, throw poly wadding away, get rid of binding and do some magic on it. So, frogging now done, wadding gone to wadding heaven, few stains to deal with, then I am going to make this quilt bigger with extra borders, maybe even some extra piecing and quilt it beautiful ! I can never now throw this quilt away, it has been on a very long journey with me, when it is done, it will be our picnic rug.

No name yet quilt

I have 25 of these blocks, all identical. The idea was to sew them together on point and I have all the setting triangles cut out too. The blocks were made before  HQ  and I quilted them as I went along. They looked all right, I had just bought a walking foot and was pleased with them and if we had not moved house just then, I probably would have finished it. The colours were chosen to fit in with our guest room and this did not match the new guest room, so into my very useful box.
When I took them out of said box, I just thought that I can do so much better now, so I spent 2 very pleasant evenings frogging them too. I will add the sashing strips and setting triangles next and then it will be ready to do some serious playing. Decisions, decisions… will I do ruler work or use stencils, quilt them all the same or do different quilting designs in different blocks. Will I do something easy or try something new?

This is where I am up to. Had to stop as Loch Lomond show is on and then Malvern. Hoping to get a bit more done after the 2 shows though. Think I might declare May the MONTH OF UFOs

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