Monday 28 December 2020

Kindred Spirits QAL - Weeks 14, 15 &16


For the Christmas weeks, Judith has assigned the flying geese borders on her Kindred Spirits QAL.  It gives us time to make them amid family Christmas commitments and children off school and allows a little extra time for anyone who needs it to catch up on a block or two, or three!

These are the largest flying geese I think I've ever stitched at 3" x 5.5" unfinished, but it was actually really nice to work with bigger ones for a change.  Judith's video tuition was superb as always, showing us more than one technique for creating accurate geese.  I used both methods because sometimes I didn't have enough of a particular fabric to cut for the no-waste method but it was a good way to compare each.  I liked the speed of the no-waste method, but somebody else will always have to do the maths for me if ever use it again ;-)

As you can see, I've been able to attach the top border of flying geese already and the bottom one is waiting patiently for another few weeks while the final blocks get made.  I can hardly believe there's just one month of this fabulous QAL left.  I'm psyching myself up to stay on track and try to have a finish in the allotted timeframe.  Now, that will be an achievement!!

I hope you are all managing a little fun stitching in these days between Christmas and New Year.

Sunday 20 December 2020

TATS Christmas Swap


My lovely Threads Across The Sea (TATS) friends and I have been secretly sewing for each other again.  We decided that we would each make a table runner or centrepiece for one secretly assigned partner as a Christmas gift.  Setting yourself up in a little stitch swap with your sewing besties is absolutely the way to go if you want to ensure that you get a great Christmas present!!

We set little inspiration mosaics for each other on IG and specified any preferences or limitations on colours and size and then let our partners go for it.

I was sewing for Di who chose to fill her inspiration mosaic with lots of curvy drunkard's path designs and Swedish folk art shapes and florals.  She also had a preference for a runner measuring 12" x 58" max.  It took me a while to fix on a design I could make almost fit those dimensions - it is surprisingly hard to keep a table runner to 12" wide, which is why this one is approx 13.5" instead.  I hope Di can forgive the extra borders to preserve the flower points in the central unit.

The centre is a quartet of 'pac-man' flowers with cheeky little yellow birds in their centres.

Coming out from that central flower quartet is a drunkard's path tulip, one on the right and one on the left.  Do you like the low volume background prints I chose to give it all a subtle base for those bold Tilda florals? 

Then, from the tulip centres three little hearts in decreasing scale flow out to fill the rest of the runner.  

The binding print, also used in the centre flower drunkard's path units is from a Makower line called Tea Party.  I thought it worked really nicely with the Tildas that I have.

I did a little outline quilting by hand in mid-grey aurifil but it wasn't really enough to hold everything so I used a cotton quilting thread by Gutermann to quilt a chevron design into the background. I've never hand quilted a background I like that before but I think it works well here and the less than perfectly straight lines perhaps add to the folksy feel of the runner.

This runner would be perfectly at home on my table (though is the full length of my table) and I must admit that I do like it enough to keep it, but I did post it to Di with fingers crossed that I met her brief and her expectations.  There's always a worry that something isn't quite right with swaps I find.

And, what did I receive?

Only this amazing table runner courtesy of all the magic and skills that Trudi (IG @trudi_wood) knows how to perform! 

I'm not sure there are enough superlatives to describe this stunning piece.  The colours, the echoing Carpenter's Star design, just could not be more perfect for my dining table.  I only wish I could get a better photo to do it justice.  Of course, Trudi's amazing talent for long-arm quilting (well, any kind of quilting actually) is very much to my benefit in this swap.  Sorry, Di and Judith!  

The four of us had our Christmas Zoom call during the week to open our secret Santa swaps together.  It was such lovely time to share the inspirations and ideas and process of the four beautiful table toppers that we made for each other.  2020 hasn't had much going for it in my experience, but this little community and connection with my TATS sewing besties has been one of the lifelines I found this year.  I do hope that 2021 is better all round but also that we are able to continue to share our friendship and stitching together by whatever means Covid restrictions will allow.

Friday 18 December 2020

Scalloped Trivet


I have long wanted to make the Scalloped Trivet from Sedef Imer's Zakka Home book.  So, a few weeks ago I gathered some Tilda scraps and went for it. 

It was a great wee pattern with a photocopiable template and didn't take much time at all to whip up.

The big stitch hand-quilting took me a bit longer to get around to but I think it finishes it nicely and now it is keeping my perfumes and lotions from spoiling the dresser top in the bedroom.  

I do like a quick, satisfying make!

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Tooth Fairy Pillow


My little Miss lost her first tooth last weekend.  We spotted the wobblers (both lower bottom ones) during the week and were surprised that this was happening so soon.  So, when the most wobbly one wobbled its way out we had to think quickly about how the tooth fairy might collect this lost treasure, especially since CT does not sleep on a pillow herself!

Of course it was a good excuse to pick some cute fabric and get stitching a special tooth fairy pillow.  CT chose the Heather Ross bee print herself.  It was fun to let her choose her own!

If you fancy having a go yourself, all I did was:

1. Cut 2 5.5" squares of fabric for the front and back of your pillow.

2. Cut a tooth shape from white felt.  Ensure that it is no larger than 3" square.

3. Stitch the tooth shaped felt to the front pillow fabric.  You can see I offset mine because of the Bee position on the fabric, but you could centre it if you wish.  I top-stitched approx ⅛" from the edge of the felt, securing the right side, across the bottom and up the left side, leaving the top of the tooth unstitched as the opening to receive the Tooth Fairy's offerings.

4. Blanket stitch in cotton perle all the way around the tooth felt.

5. Pin two lengths of ribbon to the top edge of the back pillow fabric and tack in place.

6. Now, lay the front and back pillow fabrics right sides together.  Stitch all the way around the pillow leaving a small opening at the bottom edge to allow for turning through.

7. Trim off excess fabric at the corners, turn though and stuff the little pillow, closing the gap with an invisible ladder stitch.

8. At this point I added the pompom trim by hand (only because I could get it to work at step 6 while sewing the little pillow by machine.

CT was very excited as I cut and stitched the simple little pillow, and thankfully it was ready on time for the Tooth Fairy's visit!

Monday 14 December 2020

Mini Christmas Stockings


It hardly feels like Christmas if I haven't had a Christmas stocking to sew.  They are one of my very favourite things to make at Christmas!  I didn't think I would have the opportunity this year as we all have stockings and really don't need more.  However, when @trudi_wood (IG) put out a call last month for quilters to help her make 170 stockings to include in her Church's Christmas food parcel deliveries to families in need I was thrilled to pull the festive fabric and whip up these five little stockings.  

I got to scratch an itch and all for a good cause.  Trudi's IG feed is full of lots of stocking deliveries from our fabulous stitching community.  I really hope she makes the 170 she needs and that families will feel a little bit more blessing at this Christmas season.

Saturday 12 December 2020

Wedding Embroidery


In October I was busy stitching this little embroidery hoop to commemorate a special young lady's wedding day.  I used silver essex linen, white dmc embroidery floss and a 4" hoop.  Although the wedding was to be on 3rd November, Covid impacts meant it was necessary to change the date to 2nd.  That poor bride and groom had so many changes through the course of the months of planning their big day.  In spite of it all though, they are now happy newlyweds.  The bride decided to keep the date as it should have been on the hoop as part of the story she has to tell of her wedding that wasn't, but was.

Thursday 10 December 2020

Kindred Spirits QAL - Week 13

 This is week 13 and our block in the Kindred Spirits QAL is the Light of Life Lantern.  

I spent way too long finding the right amount of the right fabrics for this block, but it was worth it, I think.  I love the curvaceous outline of this block.  I think this block design looks a little exotic, don't you?

There aren't too many blocks left now, but there are a gazillion flying geese to come next week!!

Wednesday 9 December 2020

Kindred Spirits QAL - Week 12


I didn't quite make it to the Crossed Paths blocks on time but I did play catch up this week.

I was so eager to get the top half of this Kindred Spirits QAL quilt together that I forgot to take a photo of the Crossed Paths blocks on their own, but you get the idea.  The colours aren't great in this night-time pic.

And, here's the top half of the Kindred Spirits quilt all stitched up.  Hasn't Judith designed a beauty?

I'm really rather chuffed with it so far!

Sunday 29 November 2020

Kindred Spirits QAL - Weeks 10 & 11


As you know, I love a little bit of EPP, so with the latest block for the Kindred Spirits QAL I have been in my element!  Slightly different from the regular hexagon which I love so much, Judith's Unity Tile block makes use of elongated hexagons, squares and pentagons. 

I love how it turned out!

As the quilt progresses, I'm trying to keep an eye on colour balance across the various blocks.  Harder than it sounds, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed that when I assemble it all I won't have over concentrated any one colour in any particular area.

Judith asked if I'd like to come up with another way to make use of the QAL templates to share as inspiration for the other Kindred Spirits.  Hard to resist an EPP challenge and a request from my lovely friend.  

After swishing templates around my dining table in and out of various configurations, I decided I liked this layout and that it would make a fabulous quilt label for the finish of my Kindred Spirits quilt.  

I used 8 of the Unity Tile template A plus a 2" square for the centre (not in the original templates).  The centre square is the perfect place to record your quilt details. You'll notice how optimistic I have been that next year will be the year this quilt gets completely finished!  Once I had stitched it all together with my little whip stitches, I gave it a good press to tuck in the corner folds of the shapes and lightly sprayed with starch before pressing again.  The starching will keep it nice and crisp and flat until the time comes to actually appliqué it to the back of my quilt.

Quilt label and tree decoration (front view)

As you can see, I couldn't resist also having a little play at making a Christmas decoration from the EPP templates.  I used 8 of the Unity Tile template A plus 2 of template B to create a front and a back piece for the decoration.  The centre square (template B) was crying out for a Christmas fussy cut so I used some Lori Holt snowmen to oblige.  Once the front and back were stitched, I layered them with a piece of wadding in-between cut just slightly smaller than the overall shape and stitched them wrong sides together with an invisible appliqué stitch, including a little ribbon hanging tag at the top.  I finished mine with some perle blanket stitching on the edge and a little running stitch to outline the centres, but you could get very creative with other festive additions if you wanted.

Quilt label and tree decoration (reverse view)

What I loved about both of these mini makes is that they are a great way to use up scrappy leftovers, and in the case of the quilt label to incorporate an element of the quilt design into your label too.  I always think that's a nice thing to do if you can.  

We've officially crossed the halfway line with the Kindred Spirits QAL - woohoo!  There are lots more lovely blocks to come - and a gazillion flying geese :-o

Friday 13 November 2020

Kindred Spirits QAL - Week 9


More HSTs for this week's Kindred Spirits QAL!  A different formation results in completely different blocks - aren't HSTs so versatile?  There are two Kinship Mosaic blocks making up this week's addition to the quilt.

The colours are much softer in reality, November light isn't great at my house. 

Joined to last week's solidarity star block they make up another good chunk of the quilt.  It's nice to see it come together in sections like this. Makes me feel like progress is being made.

Really looking forward to next week's block - it's all about EPP!

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Kindred Spirits QAL - Weeks 7 & 8


Kindred Spirits QAL is all about Foundation Paper Piecing last week and this.  It's a biggie at 18.5", but isn't it striking?  

FPP allows for amazing precision with points which makes it the perfect technique for complex stars.  There are many beautiful Solidarity Stars showing up in the QAL Facebook Group - so many gorgeous blocks and lots of interpretations resulting from varied colour placement. This is the part of sewing along together that I enjoy - seeing everyone's quilts come together and look so different and still all so fabulous!

Sunday 25 October 2020

Kindred Spirits - Week 6


So, my final catch up block was the mighty Dresden.  It's huge! But it's beautiful, don't you think?

This photo doesn't do my fabric colours justice.  Much prettier IRL.

Then the Dresden was joined with a little sashing strip to the Week 5 Garden Baskets block and another little section of the quilt top comes together!

Encouraged by my catching up and by the small sections that are building, I wanted to see the 'story so far', so I laid my Kindred Spirits QAL blocks out on the kitchen tiles.  Coming along nicely, I'd say.

Kindred Spirits QAL - Week 5


Still catching up on the Kindred Spirits QAL blocks that I was MIA for, it was time to watch Judith's video instruction for Y Seams in the Garden Baskets block.  She makes it all look so very easy! And well, all in all, I think it went pretty smoothly.  Only one reach for the stitch ripper.  I'd say that's not bad!

I've never chosen to make basket blocks myself before. Perhaps they're a tad too traditional for me. But, in a skill building sampler Judith knew exactly what she was doing when she chose this block to encourage practice of Y seams.  I might lose a point or two on the bottom 'feet' of my basket, but I'm not too worried, just thrilled the Y seams came together.

Kindred Spirits QAL - Week 4

With all of our moving out/moving back in and fixing the house back to semi normality I have managed to fall three sets of blocks behind on the Kindred Spirits QAL.  So, mindful of the imminent release of the fourth set I've haven't stitched, I set to work yesterday to try and catch up.

My first set to catch up were the Friendship Stars.  Two little HST blocks joined together.

And then joined to the first week's Friendship reel block to complete a small section of the top right hand corner of the quilt.  I like this build as you go method.  It helps to feel like you're making progress.

As always, Judith provided fab video instruction for cutting, piecing and trimming HSTs to make these blocks.  Such a pleasure to be taught so very thoroughly!

Wednesday 7 October 2020

Emelie aime la pluie embroidery


We've finally embarked on the fixing and redecorating of our house. Well, we've done all the preparation and now the painters are in, with carpet fitters due at the end of the week (I very much hope).  While I'm in the lull between prep and putting back together, I'm putting my feet up with a little 15cm embroidery.  After all, I'm going to have lots of lovely freshly painted walls to hang things on, aren't I?

This little printed fabric kit is 'Emelie aime la pluie' (Emelie loves the rain) by Un Chat Dans L'aiguille.  It's sooooo cute and as with anything else I've ever stitched by Christel, such a pleasure to do.  Enjoying it immensely.  What are my chances of finishing it before Monday?  Sometimes I think 'totally possible', other times 'not a chance'.  It won't matter really though because it will be worth waiting for!

Thursday 1 October 2020

Kindred Spirits QAL - Week 3


Curvaceous sunflowers are this week's block in the Kindred Spirits QAL class.  I spent way too long choosing fabric this week, mainly because I was in denial that my lilac scraps wouldn't stretch to the size required for the petals!  Once I finally conceded that blue and lilac petals were not to be, I settled on yellow and orange - not a bad second best, I think.

This week I remembered that my seam allowance on the Janome is already scant when using my quarter inch foot and everything turned out to size as it should.  I even went back and adjusted the seam allowances on the too large Grandmother's Cross block from last week, switching out the centre colours for a little better contrast.

Good week's work amid all the box packing and house clearing, I'd say (major redecoration/repairs starting on Monday so we're having to clear everything away).

I'm really enjoying the Kindred Spirits QAL and the FB page for members.  It's a lovely way to watch how other people do it, their colour choices and of course, share our faux pas and tips too.  The QAL is still available to sign up to and you would be made very welcome in the FB group or at the instagram hashtag #kindredspiritsqal if you'd like to join us.  We can promise much cheering on as you catch up on weeks 1, 2 and 3!

Thursday 24 September 2020

Kindred Spirits QAL - Week 2


Week 2 of the Kindred Spirits QAL has been all about regular straight piecing.  Maintaining my scrappy approach, I haven't made identical Grandmother's Cross blocks, and that meant I got to play with lots of beautiful colours!

You can maybe just about tell from the photograph that my first block (the purple/orange one) is a good quarter of an inch too big.  I have been using my Janome machine this week as my Pfaff is in for a service and I forgot that my quarter inch foot on the Janome is already a scant quarter.  Consequently, all of my seams are a little too scant resulting in a larger block than is required.  The second block is grand (even if I might catch a few of those points when it gets stitched in to the quilt top).  

I think that I will re-make the first block in a few weeks when I have more time.  I might also switch out the two centre squares in it while I'm there as they aren't providing enough contrast with the orange ones.  Maybe a little aqua print would work better?

Another lovely week of Kindred Spirits QAL.  Next week is all about curves to grow a sunflower!!

There's still plenty of time for you to join the Kindred Spirits QAL class if you'd like to have a go.  Just visit the Just Jude Website for all you need to know.

Wednesday 16 September 2020

Kindred Spirits QAL - Week 1

When I first saw the design for this quilt I decided that the pretty little block in the top right, just beneath the Flying geese was going to be my nemesis here.  Everything else looks fairly familiar and possible under Judith's tutelage, but that one was going to make me squirm.  And, what do you know, it's Block 1 of the QAL 😖 !!!

So, I calmly chose my background and three fabrics to incorporate in the block and then sat down to listen to Judith's video tutorial.  I find it so calming to hear Judith's clear, measured instruction and my trepidation (because machine appliqué isn't really my forte) dissolves as I watch her methodical process.

After testing my stitch lengths and widths just as Judith demonstrated, I was off VERY SLOWLY.  I used that little slider speed control on my Janome to restrict how fast I could go just so I didn't accidentally get happy feet and rush into disaster.  There was much tongue sticking out in concentration for this little Friendship Reel block, I assure you!

You can see that my curves became less wobbly as I progressed around that centre shape (the very top curve of the photo has some distinct hiccups occurring).

As my curves smoothed out, my confidence grew and even though I kept my speed at granny's driving pace I managed to get around all those twists and turns in a relatively neat fashion.

So much so that I'm not even embarrassed to show you this close up - yay! Sarah -1, nemesis - 0!  What a great start to the QAL.  I am so looking forward to next Monday for the next blocks!!

For all of the details on this fabulous QAL, please go to Just Jude Designs. Registration is easy and it's not too late.
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