Thursday, 16 November 2017

An Otter baby quilt

This little quilt was so much fun to make, I really feel like I'm getting my sewjo back.
It's using Lewis and Irene Down by the River fabrics. This fabric line is so pretty, but I felt it needed a little lift so I teamed it with yellow (Bella solids Buttercup 9900.51)
I had bought the fabrics with the intention of following this shannon fabrics pattern. However after using that pattern for the Safari Scribbles Quilt I thought I would try something different.
Lewis and Irene do produce patterns to go with their fabric ranges, but I felt that the suggestions for this range were too fussy and didn't show the fabrics to their best. In the end I decided to follow this pattern, with the slight adaptation of omitting the half square triangles. Because of this change I was able to strip piece the four patches, and the quilt top went together like a dream. Cutting and piecing was all accomplished in one rainy weekend.  The other deviation from the pattern was to add a narrow border. This was added to separate the quilt top from the binding as I was using the same fabric in both. So it has a 2" strip of teal from my stash which I hope picks up the blue of the kingfishers and finishes off the quilt.
Although Aberystwyth now has two newly opened fabric shops, they both are in the fledgling stages and there isn't a great range of stock yet. I couldn't find a suitable cotton to use as backing, so am using fleece.
It is the first time I have used minkee. I was suprised how different it is to fleece. Although it's lovely and soft, it's very thin, and has a right and wrong side.  It will need a wadding as well to give the quilt weight and make it snuggly. This does cancel out one of the benefits of fleece in my opinion.
We took the quilt out for photography on a sunny, but very cold and windy late Autumn day. Unfortunately it fell in a muddy puddle early on, so is slightly grubbier than I'd like in the photos.  The upside is that I have seen how well it stands up to washing!
Here are the photos...

Friday, 29 September 2017

Safari Scribbles quilt

Finally, I have time to do some sewing again. I had a busy first six months of the year, studying for an extra qualification at work. But the coursework is completed, the exams have been sat, and now I can get back to the enjoyable things in life while I wait for the results.

To rest and recuperate I had a week of annual leave in July. We spent the first half of the week helping my brother out with some DIY, he's helped me a lot lately, so I felt good returning the favour. Back home again and the plan was to go walking the rest of the week. However, this is the weather we woke up to.

Nothing else for it - I decided to stay in and sew. With two looming deadlines- a new baby neice or nephew due at the end of August, and a special birthday for my Mum in September, I needed to get on with the gift-making.

The baby quilt was the first to be tackled. I am doing my best to use up stash fabric, and had some lovely soft flannel  waiting for a project. This pattern by Shannon Fabrics has been on my wish list for a while, but it has been surprisingly difficult to find exactly three prints that go together to make it. Frustratingly, fabrics seem to fall naturally into pairs or groups of four, but not threes. The three patterned fabrics are from the Michael Miller Nature Babies range and the orange spots which I've used for sashing are F3665 from Scenic Route by Riley Blake.  Although both are quilting flannel, and are similar enough to allow them to be sewn together easily, the Michael Miller fabric feels thicker and firmer, while the Riley Blake fabric still has a little bit of stretch even after pre-washing.

Full of enthusiasm I started cutting late at night despite being tired...This was the first mistake. The pattern is designed for minkee cuddle fabric, and has half inch seams. I was using flannel with quarter inch seams. All my pieces were too big. I decided to drink some tea and ponder whether to cut half an inch off each side or find some other bodge to make it all fit. 

Michael Miller Nature Babies
The solution I chose in the end was to cut the orange sashing in half lengthways and trim a quarter of an inch off each long piece.  I now have a whole lot of orange strip scraps, but I am happy with how this quilt has turned out, and think the proportion of the blocks might even look better with a bit less orange. I left the sashing between blocks the original width.
The next mistake might be obvious to those people with a better sense of size and scale than me.  This photo shows the quilt blocks laid out across the foot of my king sized bed. It was only now,  after I had added the sashing between blocks and laid out the two halves of the quilt that I spotted the problem.

It's a cuddle jungle out there
This lovely soft snuggly flannel quilt was intended for a new born baby.  It measures approximately five foot by three foot, which is way, way bigger than a cot.  
I do really like the layout of this pattern, and I did consider just carrying on and finishing the quilt as it was.  However, I think that the fabrics are just too babyish for a quilt that size.  By the time the baby is big enough to have a quilt this big, he or she will be too old to like it.  
I decided to treat this second mistake as a bonus, and make two half sized quilts from the blocks.  The easiest way to do this would have been just to split the quilt down the middle as it is in the photo above.  However, this has all the directional prints facing the same way, which would be sideways across the quilts. This jarred with me, so I unpicked all the sashing between blocks, and shuffled them around until I got a new layout which I liked, with the directional prints all facing different ways. 

For backing I just used a big piece of the blue animal print.  I decided for the quilting to practice some more free motion.  Since I am still very much a learner, I chose to do an irregular loop de loop pattern.  I feel that the it looks a bit (a lot) like childish scribbles, which tie in with the baby-themed fabrics.  I used variegated orange Silk finish cotton by Mettler, simply because it was on offer at a local shop.  I won't use this thread again.  I loved the colour, but I had quite a few problems with the tread snapping.  This might be due to my poor free-motion technique though.  

The wadding was a 100% cotton from the sewing shop in Machynlleth.  It is quite heavy and released a huuuuge amount of fluff as I was quilting it.  I had to clean the bobbin race out about four or five times as it got so clogged with fluff!  I didn't take any photos of my quilting before I washed it, and it has gone very, very crinkly after a short 40C wash.  The crinkling is all attributable to the wadding since I had prewashed the flannel fabrics before use. Some people don't like this look, but I'm happy that any sewing wobbles get hidden in all those crinkles.

We're off to gift this to my new baby Neice tomorrow, so I hope she (and her parents) like it!

Friday, 17 March 2017

Final finishes of 2016

These two makes both got finished between Christmas and New year. The blanket was started around easter, but with other projects taking priority it has been neglected for a while. It's just simple granny clusters and has been my in-between project, for when I felt like making something, but didn't have the concentration for anything complicated. I don't have a recipient in mind yet.

The tractor  t shirt was started and finished all in one day on New Year's Eve . My nephew whose birthday is 2nd January is going through a  keen tractor phase. We saw some cute Tshirts which I nearly bought, but they were £25 each! I couldn't bear to waste so much money on something so simple. I decided to buy a T shirt and add some appliqué.
Unfortunately it wasn't quite so simple. The really tricky part was finding a plain T shirt to start with.  It took a lot more hunting than I expected. The buttons were a lucky find, and the  applique luckily all went quite smoothly.  I am pleased with the outcome and I hope that he is too.

Friday, 4 November 2016

The doily dress

The time has finally come when I can reveal the purpose of all the doily making.  Let me present.... wedding dress!

As soon as I saw Jillian's  beautiful creation on Pinterest I thought that it would be wonderful if I could recreate something similar for myself.  She says that she made her dress in two weeks - that girl must crochet like lightning!  As documented here, I have been slowly making doilies for over a year (just in case).  This work was also interspersed with other crochet and quilting projects.  Around six months ago my partner and I decided to finally take the plunge and get married, so the project stepped up pace. 

I was very nervous about how the dress would turn out, after all, your wedding dress is guaranteed to get a lot of scrutiny! I am so happy and relieved that it turned out like I hoped. Here are some more pictures from the big day!

The nitty gritty

For those who like to know the hows and the whys, here are all the details of how I made the dress.

First I made a base dress. This is made using Vogue 8897 in blue polyester satin.
Next I used the same pattern pieces to make a net copy of the dress. The net is to give the doilies support, so that the weight didn't drag them out of shape.

All the doilies were made individually following patterns found free on the internet. I've counted them all, and there are 116 doilies on the dress; these vary from the biggest at over three foot, to teeny tiny ones an inch across. I wanted to only use each pattern twice, but there weren't enough very small patterns, so there are about a dozen of the tiny gap-filling flowers.

Using many, many safety pins, I arranged the doilies on the dress and then sewed them by hand to the net layer. It was essential to use a dressmakers dummy for this, as I needed the doilies to take the shape of the dress.

The net and the satin layers are only joined at the back, where I sewed the two together down each side of the zip. I didn't want an obvious line to show the zip, so I used hook and eye fasteners to close the doilies over the top.

I can remove the doily layer and have a very wearable blue satin dress. I am undecided what to do with the doilies now. They are all cotton, and sewn on with cotton thread, so one possibility is dying these to a less bridey colour.  After all this work its a shame to only wear it once!

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

Flower fairies quilt

When I made the spring on the building plot quilt for my nephew, I had to also make something for his little sister. Since the jelly roll had been so quick and easy for his quilt, I decided to go down the pre-cut route again and chose a charm pack from the Flower Fairies range by Fabric Freedom. I kept the layout very simple, so this little quilt was very speedy.

To add a bit more interest I decided to try out some of the fancy stitches on my sewing machine. They do help to liven the quilt up, but they were very slow, and used huge amounts of thread. I think this quilt would look even better with a bit of free motion quilting, but that is a skill I need a lot more practice at.

Once again I backed this quilt with snuggly soft fleece, it's quicker, softer and more washable than batting and backing, so good news all around! 

Monday, 12 September 2016

Autumn reflections doily

Doily name. Autumn reflections doily
Thread arderns crochet cotton size 22 (found in great aunt's workbox)
Hook 1.25mm
Finished doily diameter
Finished doily weight
Comments. This is the second version of this doily. It is much, much faster to do the same doily the second time. This one took about 4hours in total, and I only had to unravel one round because of a mistake.  The first version had at least 4 hours work unravelled in it because I struggle with the written patterns. I think I will have a go at hand drawing charted patterns for any others that I like.
I have quite a few little balls of this size 22 thread, but I'm not sure that I like it. Because it is much finer, it does have a more lacy look, but the thread itself is quite stiff and the finished doily feels scratchy.
The photo shows the doily in Aunt Lydia's cotton.

Sunday, 3 July 2016

Doily project gathering pace

The doily project has been gathering steam, helped significantly by the discovery of a website choc a bloc full of charted patterns.  That, and the combination of rainy weather and long train journeys.  All the patterns  I am about to show you (and many more) are available here as charted patterns.

My brain works so much better with charted patterns, I find it so much easier to see where I am going. The only difficulty I had was printing them off in high enough quality that I could count the stitches. I need printed copies, so that I can take them on the train, but also I like to colour the rounds with a highlighter (like this) and tick them off as I go.  The text is all in Russian, so I have no idea what they're called, and the only way I've worked out to link to the individual patterns is to copy them to pinterest first.

All the doilies on this page were made using Aunt Lydia's classic 10 crochet cotton, and a 2mm hook.

This doily was very easy, it is a nice repetitive pattern, and because it is so open, it was very quick to make. It measures 40cm or 15 3/4" across. The first photo shows it after blocking, and the second photo shows it pre-blocking, with another doily from this web page.

The smaller doily is actually just the first seven rounds of a larger pattern.  It measures 14cm across.

This doily is took me from Aberystwyth to Shrewsbury on the train (about 2 hours).  It measures 71/2" or 19.5cm diameter.  Although I like the doily and it was easy to make, you have to cut and rejoin the thread twice, which I didn't like.

These four doilies took the next three hours of my train journey.  Again, they are the centres of larger patterns from the same webpage.

Seven doilies is probably enough for one blog post, but there have been, and will be more from that website.  The football has been on in our house a lot recently.  At least the football is a lot more positive than politics at the moment.