Blog Archive

Quilting - taking the plunge


As it says in my profile I am teaching myself quilting and it's been quite a slow learning experience, as other things keep getting in the way!  Anyway, over the last few months I have had a go at piecing together some simple blocks, practiced machine quilting on some simple placemats, and then decided all of a sudden this was all well and good but I really needed to go for it, and attempt a bed quilt!

I thought I would start with my son's bed, as it is only slightly bigger than a single (or 'twin' for our American friends).  DS has a custom made bed, a bit longer than normal, as he is very tall!

DS is very much into Japanese culture so we decided on using this as a loose theme.  The wallpaper in his room is a Laura Ashley stripe, in shades of blue, cream and taupe, and the other walls are seaspray blue, so I took a swatch of the paper to the fabric shops to see what I could find.  I purchased four fabrics and also had three pieces in my sewing room that I could use (yay!  stashbusting!!)

Here is a terrible photo of the wallpaper by shadowy electric light...

As I am a newbie at this, and because I absolutely love (with a passion) machine embroidery, I am making all embroidered blocks in the 'quilt as you go' method.  All the blocks have a finished size of 7" (plus seam allowances).  Twelve of them will be heavily embroidered using this design package by Anita Goodesign.

I love the almost 'Willow Pattern' effect of using different shades of blue.  Here is the first one I made:

EDIT:  Did anyone notice I inserted the above photo upside down?!  The hummingbirds are the wrong way up!  

The more I looked at the block the more the wrinkle in the middle bothered me, so I decided to do it again but this time float a square of cutaway stabiliser behind the 'plate', which I will trim afterwards.  I also changed a couple of the colours to match the other fabrics a bit better, resulting in the block below, which I think I prefer.  It's definitely flatter and the colours harmonise better.  (It has been photographed by artificial light though, and not daylight, so looks different from the rest of the blocks on here!  Ah well, never mind; you can get the idea. :)

Each of the twelve will be different , and all twelve of these will be on the same cream background, to show the colours to the best effect.

The other blocks are embroidered in a Sashiko effect, using patterns from Designs by Juju  I am using a range of different patterns on the fabrics:

These are so fun to make and I am thoroughly enjoying the process.  It does require an embroidery sewing machine, with hoop attachments, but from there they are created entirely in the hoop, entirely by machine! How clever is that?!

The wadding (batting) is incorporated into the block as each is stitched.  The white fabric you can see in these photos is embroidery stabiliser - 'no show mesh' from Lord's Sewing.  The wadding I am using is 'Stitch it 80/20' from Empress Mills.

The quilt fabric is then placed on top of the wadding and the whole 'sandwich' quilted with the embroidery pattern:

These are proving to be a little bit addictive to make and I keep thinking I can make 'just one more' before I have to go and do other things.  Like make dinner.  Clean the house. Walk the dog...

These are some I have made so far:

I have worked out I am going to probably need sixty, but I shall make a few spares so I have a bit of flexibility arranging them.  As you can tell, this is all slightly haphazard, but I am really enjoying it, so that's the main thing.

Then they all have to be joined, using the outer stitched square as a guide and then the backing applied.  I will then 'stitch in the ditch' between the blocks to hold the whole quilt together, and lastly apply the binding.  I've not quite worked out how to do that yet, but I'll cross that bridge when I get to it!

I really am a beginner at this, but having such a great time!  I shall update you how it's going, and in the meantime, if anyone has any hints or tips, I would love to hear them!

Donna x 

The Turn of the Year

Hello friends!  Here we are again at the end of one year and the beginning of another, always a very poignant evening, I think.  Wherever you are and whatever you are doing, I wish you the very best.  How was your Christmas? Ours was absolutely wonderful!  My daughter was home for a week and it was so lovely to have both my 'children' here.  DD quickly got to work in the kitchen, making her signature Gingerbread People!

We took our Christmas trip to Betty's, the Ilkley branch this time, and spent a while admiring their beautiful window display.

We enjoyed a delicious lunch in their tea rooms and took some treats home for Christmas.

Christmas day itself began, as it always does, with everyone piling into our room to open Christmas stockings.  Then we went downstairs to a log fire already blazing (thanks, husband!) and a fireside breakfast.  Then it was presents! So many lovely things exchanged, we were quite giddy! Lunch prep followed that, then lunch itself, a board game, and a little gin and tonic ;)

Christmas night we watched 'Call the Midwife' and I cast on a new project with one of my presents from my son, Addi circular needles.  I am making the Snow Hat from the Rowan book 'Winter Warmers' (an old book but I excitedly found a copy in a charity shop).  I am using some of the Rowan 'Lima' from my stash (why, oh why did Rowan discontinue this fabulous yarn???!)

The fabulous days of 'Betwixtmass' ran day into precious day and we pottered, ate, played games, watched films, and took walks.  

All too soon DD had to go back to London and boy, do we miss her!

Today we met my old school friend who was in this neck of the woods visiting relatives, and we took a bracing walk along the beach at Southport with our husbands and dogs!  It was fabulous walking and talking and blowing away the cobwebs.  

DH and I stopped for a pub lunch on the way home and this evening, after dinner, we played Quirkle - a great game, easy to learn, a challenge to master!  Daisy sat on my lap, taking it all in.

In less than an hour it will be 2019.  A new year of blank pages, ready to be filled with new experiences, laughter, chatter, creative projects, friendship and love.  

2018 was certainly an eventful year in this household, with retirement, a wedding, a new job and home for my daughter, and a new professional level for my son at work.  I have been blessed with so many new readers of my blog, and I thank each and every one of you for taking the time to visit, read, and comment.  You make my heart sing.  

I hope the year brings good things to you and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for sharing my creative journey with me.  It wouldn't be the same without you.

With much love, thanks, and good wishes to you all.

Donna x x 

Christmas Projects

Hello my friends!

Well, with Christmas less than a week away, I wanted to show you some of the projects I have been working on!  The greatest thing about retirement is more time to spend with DH, DD and DS and my lovely friends, and also time to PLAY at sewing, instead of just making things because I need them, such as clothes (the alternative would be rather chilly, and probably somewhat illegal...)

I showed you a few things last time, but I have now finished a set of six dinner napkins, using designs by Anita Gooddesign, which I buy from Lord's Sewing Centre.  These are all from the set 'Sunbonnet Sue's Christmas':

I am really enjoying exploring machine applique, as it is just so much fun!  Little pieces of quilting cotton combined with rayon embroidery thread make for such intricate results.

I was a little sad when I had finished the napkins, so I looked around for something else to applique and decorated a bath sheet for DD to use this Christmas (she's coming home!!  Yay!!!)

It's DD and I to a 'T' (just kidding!)  These owl designs are by Designs by Juju

Next I wanted to make a gift for my friend's dog.  Our doggies exchange little Christmas gifts, and Daisy thought Bella would like a towel with her name on, so here it is!

Again, the applique alphabet shown above is from Designs by Juju.

I've virtually finished DD's socks for Christmas, and I decided last weekend to start a pair for DH. Well, I know they won't be finished in time, but I shall wrap up the entire project for Christmas morning and then finish them over the holidays.

Since taking this photo I have reached the heel flap on sock number one.  I have to wait until DH goes out before I can work on them, and then quickly hide them when he arrives back home!

I have really enjoyed showing you my projects and I would love to hear what you have been making for Christmas.  Please do leave a comment - I will answer every one!

Donna x