Monday 14 August 2017

Dear Jane: F-6, H-6 and H-7

So, my Dear Jane is probably the slowest project on the planet but I do have three more little blocks to show you.

This is F-6.  I'm being a bit cheeky to call this one complete because I haven't quite finished it.  The original block has four melons (or orange peels, if you like) appliquéd to the centre red square.  Mine did too, but it looked so awful that I unpicked the appliqué and am still mulling over whether to re-stitch them.  Ultimately, I do want to, but the pieces are so very tiny (the red square is 1.5" just to give you an idea of scale) that I'm not sure I will ever get them neat enough.

So, for now, I've added the block sans melons and have made a wee note to come back to it at some stage and decide how to finish it.  Perhaps there's scope for me to do something different in the difficult spots, thereby stamping my own mark on Jane's design?

I loved piecing the H-6 block.  At first I wasn't looking forward to those quarter circles but they weren't that bad at all.  Have I mentioned before how much I adore red and white?

H-7 is a bordered Ohio Star and came together without any fuss.  Even though these 1930s fabrics aren't my normal style, I am enjoying them immensely and dipping into my stash for different colours and designs for each block is a lot of fun.

It's growing!  Slowly, but still growing ...

Tuesday 8 August 2017

FAL 2017: Meet the Host #9

Ready to learn a bit more about another of your Finish-a-long Hosts?  This month we will have two Host introductions.  First up is Lucy who you may have come across on all sorts of quilty media. She's everywhere, and today she's here!

Hello! I am Lucy, Charm About You blogger and one of the Finish-A-Long hosts, here to share a little more about myself.

I come from a creative family, everyone is an artist or crafty type - whether it's by profession or a hobby. My creativity and love of art was encouraged as I was growing up but it wasn't until I was at university when I made my first quilt. It was really, really bad. I used the type of wadding meant for furniture, it was nearly impossible to quilt and it put me off for a long time. Fast forward and after breaking my elbow in a roller derby accident, with two small children to look after at home, I needed a safer hobby and I returned to quilting.

Eager to learn, I got some great advice and support from the two women in my family that quilt, I read lots of blogs, tutorials and quilt books and then went for it. I made simple quilts and a sampler quilt, building up my skills trying out new patterns and techniques. The addiction gripped me and the more quilts I made the more I discovered which elements I was good at, enjoyed and wanted to do more of!

I live in Manchester, UK with my husband and our three kids. They are wonderfully supportive of me and put up with the piles of fabric and works in progress that have filled the house. During the evening I love to do hand sewing, whether that be English Paper Piecing, hand piecing or quilting. It's my time to relax and I find it really hard to sit without sewing now!

I was lucky enough to get a job at Patchfinders, a local quilt shop, where I also began teach quilting classes (and still do!). It was brilliant to be able to 'talk fabric' with so many people - I learnt a lot about style, colour, print etc. from being in the shop and witnessing the whole process of how people chose fabrics for their quilts. The same sort of inspiration and delightful insight into creativity comes from the people in my classes and is one of the many reasons I enjoy teaching.

Then this year I also started doing demonstrations on the Sewing Quarter shopping channel. It involves travelling to work and train journeys equal sewing time! One of my recent finishes was the Everything In It's Place Bag, which I wanted to make to hold all the sewing 'stuff' I can't live without. It feels so good having my supplies with me and there's such a buzz that comes with using handmade. 

The tangible products we create, the snuggly comfort of quilts and the fact that they are enjoyed and used is a big part of the joy of making. I am also drawn to all the possibilities of patchwork and quilting, the various techniques you can use, the choice of fabric - prints / solids / colours and all the patterns. Machine sewing is my choice for quick sews, the precision of foundation paper piecing and meditative chain piecing. More recently I have had to hone my skills at machine binding because I just don't have the time to hand sew binding on the quilts I make for work. Hand sewing would generally be my preference for patchwork and quilting, though I really love being able to switch between the two and do machine sewing when I have that need for speed.

Having insatiably explored various patchwork and quilting methods I share tutorials and tips on my blog, from cross hatch quilting to cleaning your cutting mat;  free patterns and fun things to make.

Visit my Etsy shop for patterns like the popular Stitchy Pie needle case and my most recent A Piece of Me pouch. Later this year I will be adding quilt patterns too, all being well!

I have a 'to sew' list, along with a notebook of design ideas - making them into patterns is my intention and my goal for the next few months is to make time to do that. I would love for you to come and visit me at Charm About You or jump over to Instagram and follow me there, I share all my finishes and everything I'm working on.

So how is everyone getting on with their Finish-A-Long list? Any finishes checked off yet? If not, don't fret - there's still about 7 weeks before the link opens... just remember that time flies when you don't stick to one project!

Hope you all have a great week! 


Sunday 6 August 2017

Around the World - start of the trip

It's been a while since I told you about my plans for the Around the World quilt on my Singer 99k.  Since then, I have actually managed to start stitching on it and am slowly adding rounds of squares and my progress has gotten me this far -

Ignore the pink and yellow post-its which are marking my row numbers
and spoiling the effect of the Around the World colour ways for now.
It's quite the learning curve working with the hand-cranked Singer and figuring out how to grow this pattern sensibly, even if I am doing it without using handy strip piecing techniques.  The Singer is lovely but I didn't realise how hard it can be to hold fabric single handed while using your other hand to crank the handle.  Small pieces are grand, but as that block has grown bigger, it's heavier and harder to support with just my left hand.  Also, no matter how hard I try, my foot is still looking for a pedal to press EVERY time I start sewing. It takes my brain a few seconds to stop anticipating a power surge ;-) 


I should have listened to my own plans to only select and cut fabric for a row or two at a time.  I got a bit carried away one evening and it took a LOT longer than I had imagined to press and cut fabric for all these rows.  I think I just got excited about choosing the next colour and then the next, and the next.  Those B&C fabrics are just so inviting!  Not happening again though - max two rows at a time.

So far all those many squares have only reached about 36" square.  Feels quite small for all that piecing, but that's the result of using 2.5" squares instead of bigger ones.  (The rationale for which is on my first post here.)  Anyway, no hurry on this and no definite idea of finish size either, so I'm not committed to anything I don't want to do.  The cut fabrics for rounds 12 to 19 have yet to be added so I think I have plenty to be getting on with for now.

Hope to do a little more Around the World travel again soon!

Wednesday 2 August 2017

Secret Sewing

Let me be honest. There are a whole list of things I really miss about not having so much time to sew these days.  One of those things is the ability to respond to and contribute to shared projects. From my days in Bees and of course, my contributions to Bee Blessed and Siblings Together, sewing for others has been a large part of my journey and I often wish I still had the freedom to do that.

A few weekends ago, at just a moment when I had two child free hours to myself and no list of other things needing tackled, I was able to say a snap 'yes' to a request and pulled these pretties to work with.  Oh I do love a fabric pull!

I spent a very happy, unpressured hour of cutting, pinning and stitching, enjoying the red, pink and yellow colour palette immensely.

And behold, I have secret sewing in all its loveliness to slip in a mailing bag!

Happy, satisfied sewing!!

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