Thursday, 31 January 2013

Summer Quilts


Well the weather has been rubbish recently which has meant lots of days off so I set myself a challenge to make a complicated quilt (well for me it is).  Checked out U Tube for a suitable pattern and found this one  It's another Missouri Quilt Company video - I love this company, their demos are really good and easy to follow.  They call this quilt the Serendipity Quilt and it has the advantage that you end up with 2 different quilt tops.  I was going to try and explain how this works but its easier for you to watch their demo.

I bought some lovely rose printed fabric fat quarters at the Harrogate Flower show and I couldn't decide what to do with it so there it sat for 9 long months, I found a matching ditsy print fat quarters to match so out came the rotary cutter.

Because I only had a certain amount of fabric it limited to what size quilt I could make (there is a lesson in this - impulse buying of fabric) but I wanted to have a go at a quilt block that would make me think.  I made up all the blocks I could and it made a small narrow quilt - my intention was to have small  square quilt to snuggle under when hibernating waiting for Spring to arrive!  I couldn't arrange the blocks into a square as I didn't have enough blocks.

But all was not lost, I remembered that I was going to make a quilt to fit my garden bench, I started a hexy quilt (when I first got my Singer Featherweight) last year with Laura Ashley vintage hexys that my sister gave me, got totally carried away bought more fabric and ended up with a huge quilt!  Which is still waiting to be hand quilted (got side tracked).  So measured my narrow quilt top and hey presto, just the right size for the garden bench - relief!  So a garden bench seat quilt it will be.

The second set of blocks that is a by product from this quilt pattern were pieced together to make my required snuggle quilt, if you look closely, you can see that they are pinwheels with another smaller pinwheel in the middle - how clever is that (the pattern that is not me!)

I have loved doing these quilts, the fabric makes me think of the summer to come (hopefully) and brightened up my winter blues.

All I have to do now is the hand quilting and put the bindings on - I will let you have a look when they are finished.


Monday, 28 January 2013

Things I have learned about Quilting


I am recapping over what I have learnt (sometimes the hard way) about quilting.

Firstly, quilts are not cheap - fabric is expensive often the fronts are cheaper than the backs, all your fabric scraps can be used for the front but the back needs to be a whole piece of fabric that you like, the quilt top takes a long time to make and scrimping on cheap backing fabric would spoil it, I have found double sheets are useful, especially if they are on sale, they are the right size and normally good quality cotton.

Its probably more cost effective to just buy fabric when you have a quilt planned that way you have all the colours but if you are like me, I am a kid in a sweet shop when pretty fabric are on sale.  I can find fabric anywhere!  Went to the Harrogate Flower show last year to buy gloves and gardening equip but came back with 6 fat quarters of pretty rose (see the garden connection) fabric.  It has sat in my projects basket for 9 months- couldn't bring myself to cut into it!

Quilting is addictive, once you start you are on the slipperly slope to a lifetime hobby.

Hand quilting is an ideal thing to do on in cold winters, there is nothing better than having a cozy quilt draped over you.  New quilting thread is bouncy and easily knots, I have started using vintage cotton thread, it doesn't bounce as much.  I buy my vintage thread off Ebay, my latest purchase worked out at 18p per reel, OK some of the reels might be part used but I have had some reel (sorry) bargains.  But beware, once you start buying vintage thread, you have to remember to stop when you have enough, it can be addictive!

Don't use cheap polyester thread, I was kindly given a lovely sewing box complete with loads of new thread in all sorts of colours, I did some blocks using  this thread but when I went to set the seam with the iron, the thread melted and seam fell apart.  It obviously wasn't cotton, it must have been polyester and poor quality so beware, test first.  All the books say  you should use 100% cotton but it is getting harder to find and a lot of the new thread is polyester, even the good quality ones.  Coats cotton from Boyes is 100% but its £1.35 for a small reel so vintage is cheaper and its fun when you get a bargain

This is some of my vintage thread in my lovely Sylko drawers.  Another auction find, the
 drawers have doubled in prices since I bagged this gem.

I use a vintage Singer Featherweight sewing machine made in 1957 so you don't have to have the latest computerised machine with zillions of stitches on it, mine does straight stitch and that is it.

To match my vintage Singer machine, I have some lovely old Singer scissors (they are on the top of the Sylko box above) which I like to use, I sharpened them and they work well but the other day, for some reason, they became extremely stiff to use, goodness knows why, they don't have an adjustable screw holding the blades together but the blades were tight together.  I was going to put a tiny bit of oil on the hinge bit but thought that was a bad idea, oil and fabric don't mix.  Then I had a brain wave, remembered that  a joiner once used a pencil to make a door catch work better, he said that the graphite lubricated so out came my pencil, scribbled where the two blades crossed near the holding nut and hey presto, working scissors again.

Basting/tacking the quilt, I found this handy little tool, it puts tiny tags through the material instead of having to baste.  It seems to work OK and saves loads of time.  If I do baste, I use my large cutting mat under the quilt so that the needle glides underneath and doesn't damage my dining room table or stick into the carpet if I am doing it on the floor.

When cutting out, keep all your scraps of material, it is surprising what they can be used for.

YouTube have super demos on - if you want to learn quilting - have a look.

A quarter inch foot is essential, invest in one, I have tried doing accurate seams using the markings on the machines throat plate and using a seam guide screwed to the machine but it is loads easier with a foot, I bought one for my 1957 Singer Featherweight, its got a guide on it, it works a treat is is much quicker to use.  A walking foot is useful too, I use mine for putting the binding on but haven't as yet used it to do the top stitch quilting as I love to do this by hand.

Quilts make super presents for those special people in your life.

Lastly, don't forget to make a label for your quilts with your name one and date - it makes them more special.



Friday, 18 January 2013

First Quilt Commission


Well, I have my first quilt commission, well actually 2.  My best pal has asked me to make 2 small quilts to cover a couple of chairs, thanks Steph!  She raided her mum Anita's  fabric stash and picked out some lovely fabric which duly arrived by post (Thanks Anita, bet the postman had fun shoving that lot through the letter box!  I was amazed when I found it on the mat).

Here is the stash

Decided to do pin wheels but when I had completed them and laid them out, it needed something lighter as the colours were too dark so off to my local fabric shop and got some gorgeous sprig fabric.  The quilt tops were quick and easy to sew up.  Then onto the hand quilting, the wadding is quite bulky, next time I think that I will go for a thinner one but it's made lovely thick quilts.   Buzz at this stage is banned from the settee! So filthy looks from him and mutterings from the corner where his bed is!  For some reason he has taken to digging the carpet and his beds before his lies down, this is a new thing, I am sure he does it for attention!  I digress, back to the quilts.

Here they are ready to be packed off "down South", hope she likes them!



Wednesday, 16 January 2013

Odds and Ends


Well the weather has put paid to any work - can't garden when the ground is snowy or frozen.  Minus 8 this morning when I out early with the dog at sunrise, gosh it was cold.

This blog is about odds and ends

Had another go at crazy patchwork using some lovely fabric bought from the great quilting shop in Wallingford, they were selling bags of scraps so I got one, it was full of lovely autumn colour fabrics so made a heart filled with lavender from my garden.  Instead of embroidering the seams by hand, I cheated, got my discarded (since buying my Singer Featherweight) Toyota sewing machine out and used that as it has decorative stitches.

I have been having a clear out of my craft cupboard.  Thought that I would put some of the vintage lace that I have on Ebay.  As I like to craft while watching the telly I have made some pretty card display cards to hold it topped off with vintage buttons from the button box, I am pleased with the effect not sure if I really want to part with them now, they looks so pretty in my sewing basket.

Had a tidy up of my quilting fabrics, originally I had put all my solid coloured fabrics in a display case but I was finding that when I needed a particular colour it was very hard to find the right one without hauling all the fabrics off the shelves so I came up with this solution, plus the cupboard was getting very full.

 The trays are desk trays which I had picked up cheaply a while ago, they work really well, I just take the trays out into the natural light and match the colours.

I also changed the way I folded my main stash of fabrics so that they are easier to get to as well.

The victorian display cupboard is one of my auction bargains - I bought it from a local auction by leaving an bid on it, I was really lucky as I hadn't actually seen it, just a photo and description which was very vague and didn't have any measurements so it could have been huge.   It was a relief when I collected it, it was in good condition, freshly painted and not too big, ideal for displaying my pretty fabrics.  Did I tell you that I love auctions especially when I get a bargain.