Friday 30 January 2015

Memory Quilts - Getting on with it

Doing my very best to stay focussed on the Memory Quilts here, even though so many other lovelies are calling my name from the various books, boxes and shelves of my sewing room.  La la la la - I'm not listening!  But oh how I wish I could.  Just for a small project or two.  I'm in the mood to do something I can start and finish in a weekend.  Must not give in, must remain focussed!

So, the result of such amazing self-denial is that the red pixel heart memory quilt top is now all pieced

and so is the aqua one.  I'm happy that both seem to have worked well and that the heart made from my Brother-in-law's shirt fabrics is well enough defined in each case.  These tops measure 60.5" which is a little smaller than Judith's original pattern (I used a slightly smaller square as my pixel base size).

I've hung the tops up for now as I ponder potential sources of backings - to piece or not to piece?  Will depend greatly on available suitable fabrics and available time and as you well know, pieced backing are not my favourite thing to do.  We'll see ....

With the pixels underway, I did break up the monotony of sewing so many squares together (there's a lot of them in two quilts!) by starting on the wonky stars that will be the feature of the memory quilt for our nephew.  I do love making wonky stars.  Nice tutorial here if you've never tried them before.

Once the aqua heart top was completed, I whipped up the remaining wonky stars (9 in total) and then spent an evening on my knees laying out the third memory quilt.  I do like these randomly placed stars and coloured pixels (stardust perhaps?) among the more muted shirt fabric background.

Layout finalised, I gathered everything up in labelled sections to make the piecing easier (I hope) and to avoid muddling up squares.  After spending so long trying to make sure no two same fabrics were touching, I do not want to get these shuffled up now!

So, looks like my weekend sewing is sorted.  What will you be up to?

Friday 23 January 2015

Memory Quilts - Shirts Behaving Badly

This week I made a start on piecing one of the pixellated heart memory quilts. Just at the moment my time is very limited so I'm snatching contained periods of time when I can to make progress little by little.  (Those of you who were on IG on Tues night during my 40 min block making slot will understand how I'm going about this.)  I've decided that since I only have these short bursts of time to tackle the quilts, making them up in blocks of 5 x 5 pixels will be a good way to eat this particular elephant.  

It was all going nicely, a wee block before making dinner, another the next evening before Holby City and some handsewing and then I discovered one of the shirts was not playing nicely.

In this photo you are looking at two 4.5" cut squares.  The one on the left is as cut, the one on the right is after pressing.  Of course, I only discovered this after one of these was stitched into my block!  Bummer - it pulled and skewed the block row horribly and there was just nothing for it but to switch it out with another fabric before moving on.  And, of course, all of these shirt squares will have to be replaced as I come to them in my little block stacks.  Better to have discovered it now though than later when lots of them are already stitched in to the quilt top.

The reason I mention this particularly is just as a wee word of warning to those of you who might consider making a shirt quilt at some time.  To be honest, it's very unusual for this to happen with shirts.  After all, by the time you are making a shirt quilt, the shirt has been washed, ironed and worn many times.  Any shrinkage with washing or ironing is likely already to have happened long before you come to cut it up into pieces.  This one has been an oddity in my experience and worth just keeping a wee eye out for.  If the iron doesn't glide smoothly it could be a sign that something's wrong!

So, after a brief interruption to perform a little block surgery and cut new shirt squares to replace all those I have already factored in to this red quilt and the other aqua version, I'm back on track and quite pleased with my quilt top strip that I've managed to piece in spite of time limitations this week.  It's progress and it looks like it's progress (ie not just a pile of cutting) which psychologically makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere.  I think I should plan more 5x5 pixel blocks for next week's sewing interludes too!

Friday 16 January 2015

Memory Quilts - Making a Start

Remember the 700+ squares that I needed to cut for my plans for three memory quilts?  Yep, this is them.  That was a bit of a cutting marathon, but once I was in the groove I just kept cutting and counting (and choosing new iplayer programmes to catch up on).

So as you can see above and below I used the pile of aqua charms and the pile of red charms as background fabrics for each of the girls' quilts.  The hearts are compiled from their dad's shirt squares and I think they are contrasting enough to work well.

These quilts are made to Judith's Pixellated Heart Quilt pattern which I used very successfully before.  I'm hoping to piece these over the next few weeks and see a little more progress before too long.  Meanwhile a small pile of shirt fabrics and bright print squares awaits layout when I feel my back is up to crawling around the living room floor again!

Sunday 11 January 2015

Memory Quilts - planning

Last time I showed you the shirt piles I was deconstructing for memory quilts that are my absolute "must finish" projects of the first six months of this year (or sooner if I can manage it).  After de-sleeving, removing seams, cuffs, collars and button bands of 15/16 shirts this basket is the pile of fabric I have to work from.

Suddenly, unexpectedly and tragically in October my husband's brother died at the age of 42.  As you can imagine the immediate family are still reeling from this event which seems almost unbelievable most days.  Most sadly of all, my brother-in-law leaves behind three young children whom he loved very much and for whom these memory quilts are being made.

This project is quite an emotional one.  I have been staring at the bags of my brother-in-law's shirts for several weeks now feeling the weight and sadness of the fact that these are even available for such quilts when it just doesn't seem right that he is not here to wear them himself.  I have been worried about starting to cut into them, not really knowing what to make that will do justice to them for his two daughters and son.  But I have stared long enough and figured that I am never going to know how much fabric there is in these shirts until I start making cuts, and I am going to try to think less sadly of these quilts as I make them focusing on the gifts of comfort they will hopefully be for the children.

Making a start on cutting 4.5" squares from shirts.

So, will the shirts stretch to three decent sized quilts?  Honestly, I don't think that I will get three complete quilts from these shirts without supplementing them with fabric from my stash and that's the assumption I made when I tried to settle on designs for the quilts.  Needing to share the fabric around to cover three quilts, I've also decided that the best way is not to work with complicated cutting and piecing and to simply base the quilts on one square cut.  That way, I can cut all of the squares, see how many there are and check that there will be enough for the quilts I'd like to make.

Assuming I can achieve enough 4.5" squares for all 3 quilts, I'd like to make two pixel heart quilts for our nieces similar to this one I made in Judith's class.

The heart shape would be pieced from the shirt fabrics (mostly blues, whites, navy mixes) and I would make the background pixels a bright colour from my stash, perhaps a different colour for each of the girls.

For our nephew, I was thinking that I would use more of the shirt fabrics as a mixed background with brightly coloured wonky stars randomly spaced across it.  It would be similar to this baby quilt idea

but more random and with a more mixed background rather than it looking like defined blocks.

I probably haven't explained all of this very well, but I hope maybe it makes some sort of sense.  To be honest, my head kinda hurts from thinking it over and over and trying to be sure it'll be ok.  I think maybe it's just time to stop thinking and just get on with it.  So, I'm off to cut more than 700 4.5" charm squares from shirts and stash - wish me happy counting!!

Wednesday 7 January 2015

2015 Stitching

Last year's FAL was a great motivator and really helped me to focus on finishes rather than new starts, or at least on finishing the new starts so they didn't become new UFOs.  So, for 2015 (and all sorts of practical reasons) I want to continue focusing on completing a select number of projects before moving on to new things.

So, while I'm not going to play along with the FAL this year,  here's my focus list for now -

1.  Special project - more to be revealed in due course.
I've chosen some of my favourite Bonnie & Camille prints and am working up a design that Little Miss Shabby did a while back for Sew Mama Sew (I think).  I think I need to shuffle it a bit more before I finally sew it all together.

2.  Memory Quilts x 3
I'll explain more in another post but these shirts need to become 3 memory quilts and a fourth memory item (not yet decided).  If I finish nothing else this year, these are the ones I must complete.

3. Quilt Now BOM Quilt
Not sure how many more months the Quilt Now magazine BOM will run but I would like to keep up with it as best I can.  I have been enjoying Reene's series and look forward to see how this quilt will finish up.  I need to get December's blocks caught up for a start!

I think that's enough to focus on for now.  There are some other lovelies I'd really like to find time to play with this year (Moda's Modern Building Blocks and Thimbleblossoms Norway Quilt for a start), but I need to keep them out of sight for now or I will become distracted.

Focus, focus, focus.

Whether you are trying to be disciplined like me or are gaily sewing whatever comes your way this year, I hope your plans will bring you many hours of stitchy fun!

Friday 2 January 2015

Bee Blessed January 2015

Time for a new year's block of the month for Bee Blessed (already?)

I have been wanting to have a go at a maple leaf block for ages and I was chuffed when I saw it was this month's choice by Judith for Bee Blessed.   Using Just Jude's Maple Leaf block tutorial I stitched this up in around an hour, fabric dithering included (and I wasn't particularly rushing).  Judith's tutorial is perfect with lovely clear photos and instructions, so there's no excuse to shy away from this block.

If you do fancy having a go, we would ask that you use a solid white fabric for the background and a bright print for the leaf and stem.  Don't feel you have to stick with autumnal shades, bright and beautiful is what we're after!  I hope you will want to make us one or two to add to our donated quilts for 2015!

Thursday 1 January 2015

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