Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Blue for a boy, and pink....

Yes, I am really challenging those gender stereotypes with recent projects and gifts!

First up, the Manchester City Quilt for DH. Most of the blocks are pieced and I now have to stitch them together, which may take some time as there are many many points to get right, and any mistakes show up well and truly on this fabric.

However, my accuracy on this quilt has improved tremendously, thanks to following the techniques for cutting and piecing recommended in Harriet Hargrave's Quilter's Academy - a skill-building course in quiltmaking, Volume 1. 

My blocks are nice and flat, they are, nearly all, the right size, and my points are getting pretty good, helped by accurate 1/4" seams all round.

Essentially this comes down to straightening your fabric so that it's on grain, starching it, cutting precisely, and ensuring you are sewing with an accurate 1/4". If using a 1/4" foot with a guide, because these feet aren't always exactly 1/4", Harriet suggests using Presencia 60/3 wt thread, which is finer than Aurifil 50 wt, which I also love to use for piecing, but just as strong. The fineness of the thread ensures a flatter seam. I sourced this in the U.K. on-line at The Cotton Patch.

Pressing is vital - set the seam first, then press to one side using a light misting of starch. From the bit of research I've done, quilters seem to be starchers or non-starchers, with Mary Ellen's Best Press a favourite with many. However, I found a home-made recipe using cornflour  on Diane Gaudynski's blog she has a link on the right side bar. This works a treat is is much cheaper!

I have been so impressed with my results that one of my challenges for 2014 is to begin to work through the projects in Harriet Hargrave's series of books. This fits perfectly with my philosophy of slow quilting, whether by hand or machine, working on the skills and craft of quilting, while enjoying the process and the learning. There is far too much emphasis out there on doing things fast and furious. 

Also on a blue theme, a sashiko pin cushion made in a taster workshop last Saturday morning...sitting hand quilting these beautiful patterns was a delight. 

 Pink for the girls - a Nook cover for SIL for Christmas,

 Pink yarn (Isagar Tvinni from Denmark) to make this Beginner's Lace Shawl from this free pattern on London knitting shop Loop's  blog,

And on a plainer note, a wool scarf  for DH, knitted by yours truly from British Sheep Wool,

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone, and enjoy the art of slow stitchery.

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Christmas crafts and sewing

I spent a lovely few days on some Christmas crafts and sewing and decorating. 

A wreath for the front door made from the garden from conifer, hydrangea and sedum,

Some decorations on the kitchen dresser,

 My big Christmas bunting in the hall, with some holly berry lights,

And old wooden Santa who greets Christmas visitors,

 A cross stitch Father Christmas, originally stitched by me for my Mum, who passed in 2009, has pride of place on the mantle-piece,

And these beautiful tree decorations made by a woman from my Embroidery Guild who is just brilliant at tatting. Thank you, Serena!

I hope you are enjoying some slow Christmas stitching  : - )

Friday, 6 December 2013

Handmade ceramic button givaway


Not to be missed! Catherine over at PotterJotter blog has a fabulous giveaway of her beautiful hand crafted ceramic buttons. A real treat for crafters and knitters or for those of us who make patchwork bags. 

And while your'e there check out her other work. She makes gorgeous ceramic bowls inspired by well known patchwork blocks and patterns. These would make great Christmas gifts for fellow crafters or quilters. Or treat yourself. Definitely on my own wish list!

Good luck!

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Some 2013 finishes...and a new challenge

I have finally finished the Foxglove Fancy Quilt which was started in a stack and whack class a few months ago. I quilted it in straight lines using a YLI 40 wt variegated thread which performed well, mirroring the hexagon shapes in the solid corners. A lesson learned is not to quilt the borders in straight lines unless you know the quilt is good and square, and while I wasn't too far off in this respect, the floral fabric hides any slight skewed lines well!

 And my new challenge for 2014 is to try my hand at lace knitting.I am not an experience knitter, but have done scarves and bags and even a pair of socks once, but have always liked the idea of knitting lace shawls. I have started a practice piece seen here, 

and have asked Santa for this gorgeous book by Elizabeth Lovick to help me in my new endeavours. The shawls on the cover may look daunting, but reviews assure me she covers all the basics for begiiner lace knitters.

Meanwhile, work has begun in earnest on the Manchester City Football quilt for DH. More of that in a later post.

And I paper pieced a Christmas Card for my local Embroiderers' Guild. We each had to make a 'secret santa' card in a technique of our own choosing.

So, all in all, a very productive week! 

Linking up with Brit Sewing Thursday. Happy stitching!