Although I have not managed to achieve a lot of sewing the last few weeks, I have still managed to purchase a lot of fabric!
Here's a run down of my goodies from the last few months:
This delightful pile of charm squares was sent to me by Rachael of The Floral Suitcase as part of the Low Volume Charm Swap she very kindly hosted. It was SUCH a good idea, and I received a lot of fabric I would never have chosen for myself but am so glad to have.
Linking up with Molli Sparkles for Sunday Stash Alyce at Blossom Heart Quilts for Sunday Stash! Quick Monday edit there....
It has been a very long time since I last posted anything on my Blog. As it is all about my adventures in learning to quilt (the notes have to follow the sew, see?), my lack of sewing over the last couple of months has hampered the writing process somewhat.
However, you know I love a ridiculous deadline and what better excuse to sew to deadline in a frenzy than Christmas. Thoughts of "If I didn't manage to finish this, I wouldn't have ANYTHING ELSE to give them and it is Christmas Eve....." and "Is that burning I smell?", as I neglected my kitchen based contributions for the big day. Only joking, I managed to have just enough time, and no more, to do everything I said I was going to do and Christmas was a great day. I hope you and yours had a wonderful time.
So, on to the pictures of fabric and quilting!
You may remember back in September my grandparents celebrated a special anniversary and I made them a quilt.
And then I had to take a little break from sewing, and then work got hectic, and all of a sudden it was the middle of October. I started on matching cushions for my grandparents' Christmas present.
So, obviously, this was all I achieved until the 22nd of December! Starting something early lets you kid yourself that you're organised. Not to worry though, I had a lovely day putting the rest of them together.
Okay, maybe two days...
I am so glad to have finished them though and my grandparents really liked them. In her gift to me, my Granny managed to lay down a gauntlet:
When I found out about the Bloggers' Quilt Festival, I knew immediately what category I was going to enter and the quilt I was going to submit.
In September 2013, my grandparents celebrated 65 years of marriage. I thought that was worthy of an extremely special gift and set about making my first BIG quilt.
Well, second actually but I didn't finish the first because the deadline for this one was looming, so I had to crack on.
My Granny collects blue and white china, and ginger jars in particular. Their bedroom is blue and so I felt it only appropriate to create a blue and white quilt. Finding some willow-pattern-esque fabric sealed the deal!
I made it using the Scrappy Trip tutorial, and used only blue and white fabrics.
The Ginger Jar Quilt - The Front
The back (including a lines of scrappy leftovers from the blocks)
I made this quilt to an extremely tight deadline and had intensive evenings of sewing for three weeks in order to complete it on time. That gave me plenty of time to think about my Grandparents and how wonderful it is they are able to celebrate this milestone. There isn't even a card for 65 years!
After I finished the Ginger Jar Quilt, I decided my machine and I needed a break from one another. I also wanted time in my days to pursue other things, like this wedding do I'm supposed to be organising. Finishing my first large quilt to a deadline meant I spent every evening and weekend for three and half weeks at the machine. This is not recommended.
Today, I really wanted to do some sewing again - hoorah!
Look familiar? Matching cushion covers for Christmas gifts, oh yeah!
Today was the party for my grandparents' 65th wedding anniversary and I finally gifted the Ginger Jar quilt. It was finished on Thursday ahead of schedule (thanks to a decision to attempt machine stitched binding for the first time).
Luckily my grandparents have a lovely garden in which to take photographs. I think this will be my new photo shoot location of choice!
I quilted straight lines across the patterned area of the quilt and stippled the outside. I had intended to quilt straight lines in both directions, but I completely ran out of time. Who would have thought the straight lines would take so long? The stippling took no time at all. It was so fun, I think this will be the way all my quilts are done from now on.
For the back, I used the one inch leftover strip from each of the blocks and a couple of large pieces of blue fabric. I have no idea how the backing square ended up so off centre, but at the point at which I knew about it (and now) I didn't care a jot. I was so elated the whole thing was together!
I am so happy to have made my first big, proper, put-it-on-the-bed, curl-up-on-the-sofa quilt!
Bring on the next one! Well, after a well earned rest for a few days. My machine and I need a breather from one another.....
EDIT: Linking up with Fresh Sewing Day with my September achievement and the Small Blog Meet at Lily's Quilts!
Yesterday I stopped procrastinating and basted the Ginger Jar quilt. I was concerned about doing it because it was the part of the process I decided had the most potential for something to go wrong. How do you like that optimism?
However, I cleared the front room, mopped the floor and jolly well got on with it. Guess what? Not a total nightmare!
I managed to get the backing layer pretty smooth, even on uneven floor boards. This was about 40 minutes work!
I spray basted the quilt with 505 spray because a) I was not brave enough to try pins and b) I thought it would be really quick.
I really liked spray basting when I made the smaller quilts but I'm not so sure now. I have said before it felt like cheating, but was indulgently quick for those of us who like instant gratification. However, I think I will invest in some curvy safety pins and have a go at properly basting next time (not to a deadline). There was an almighty cloud of fumes hovering around the living room when I was finished and it still took a while to get everything stuck down smoothly. I also think I would be more confident about pinning now I have had a go at crawling around 80" of quilt and not been completely intimidated.
That said, the finish was super smooth and quilting it has been a dream! I'm not even a quarter of the way through it, but it is super quick and so nice not to have to worry about puckers and rumpfles.
The other significant moment yesterday was the debut of the walking foot.
When I first tried FMQ it took me an hour to attach to foot. Yesterday it took me less than a minute to get this guy up and running. I LOVE having a clue!
I have completed the Scrappy Trip blocks on the Ginger Jar Quilt! I have sewn half of them together and am planning on getting the other half done ASAP!
I'm not enjoying having them sitting on the floor, but it took a LONG time to work out the positions of the blocks. I wanted to make sure no fabric was joined to the same fabric in another block, creating a long chain of the same fabric (including two squares of the same fabric) and spoiling the scrappiness of it.
I got there, but it was a complicated undertaking - so the blocks are not moving until they are sewn into position!
I have taken the decision based on the amount of fabric I had that the Scrappy Trip element of the quilt should be 4x4 12" blocks. I decided there probably wasn't enough fabric to make 6x6 and I don't necessarily want to make it too big for me to handle at this stage. I'm planning on adding a navy border around these blocks (which will also be good for me in the squaring up stage) to make it slightly bigger.
I do however have lots of blue strips left...there might need to be a matching cushion!
This weekend I have been making progress on my quilt for my grandparents wedding anniversary. They have been married for 65 years which is just incredible - there's not a even card for that and I know because I have tried to buy one for weeks now!
My Granny really likes ginger jars and has a lot of blue and white china in her house. Their bedroom is also blue so it seemed appropriate to make a blue and white quilt. I was delighted to find a fat quarter of white material with birds similar to those in the Willow Pattern in a shop in the Scottish Borders town of Hawick. What a find!
Collecting the fabrics for the quilt has been really fun.
I decided to make a Scrappy Trip quilt because I have been admiring others' efforts for a while and the excellent tutorial seemed like something even a beginner like me could handle. I also thought it would be really quick, but it hasn't been so far! It is starting to take shape though...
Linking up with Lynne at Lily's Quilts for the Small Blog Meet:
The day before the Stitch Gathering, I finished the top of the BIG Quilt. It isn't a complete finish but I got as far as I could before I had to move on to my quilt for my Grandparent's anniversary (sneak peek below).
I like to finish things before moving on to the next thing so I decided the top was a suitable milestone at which to stop and move on to the quilt with a deadline.
I'm a little concerned my ironing style is a bit severe and I have been stretching the fabric. Perhaps a little tugging doesn't matter over a smaller quilt, and I have thus far managed not to notice my extreme pressing, but I have managed to get a few puckered areas like this:
The only explanation I can come up with is the ironing - any suggestions? Also, can I sort it out in the quilting?
And as promised, here is a glimpse of this week's occupation....
Linking up with Kelly on Needle and Thread Thursday!
On Sunday I attended the Stitch Gathering retreat in Edinburgh. It surpassed all my expectations and was an excellent day of sewing fun. It was wonderful to sit and sew with so many great people and accomplished stitchers.
It started with me driving ALL BY MYSELF to the venue. I arrived ridiculously early as it had taken me 25 minutes to park the car the day before (did I mention I'm new at the driving?) and I wasn't taking any chances with being late.
So, I was first in. I met some lovely people over coffee before being presented with the first of LOTS of gifts. It was pretty much Christmas if you like sewing.
The first surprise from the Stitch Gathering team (headed up by the ever so kind and supportive Jo Avery) was this goodie bag.
Over the course of the day, between goodie bags, lucky dips and a swap I ended up with 17 new fat quarters of lovely fabric, as well as a pooch of Liberty scraps. How generous is that?
So on to the name tag swap. I was astounded with my partner's thoughtfulness. Brenda, who until the day was a stranger, had been assigned my nametag. Not knowing the first thing about me, she had looked up my name in Gaelic, which apparently means white wave. I did not know this and am so touched by what she made me.
And it turned out she loved cross stitch, so I was on a winner too!
My first class was crazy patchwork with Sheila. Behold the fruits of my labour!
Turns out hand sewing might not be for me, but I love how it looks so fully intend on cheating and making more of these stash busting beauties on a machine. This technique finds value in the tiniest of little scraps and turns them into the vital bridge from one corner to another. Again, it was lovely to spend a couple of hours sewing in the company of fellow enthusiasts.
I happened to be sitting right next to the display wall where all the embellished tickets were hung. These are going to be sewn together into a quilt which will be raffled off next year.
There was some serious talent on display.
And some not so serious....
I'm allowed to say that - it's mine! I was petrified of cutting my ticket and wanted to play it safe. I think I went a little too safe, but I did use fabrics from my very first sewing class which is how I had heard about the Stitch Gathering in the first place so it was appropriate and had a story to tell (if only to me).
There was a show and tell after lunch. This is my favourite piece and the inspiration for the next project.
My second class was with Fiona and involved learning how to make a jelly roll quilt. I really should have thought about the design of it before the class because it seemed to take me a while to get going but once I did I was on a (jelly) roll...
I adore the fabric I chose and think it is going to be a really striking quilt. I've pretty much decided to keep it for myself. I have not kept anything I have made on my quilting journey but I don't know if I can part with something so "me". Here's what I managed to accomplish during the class:
Unfortunately, I have another project to be getting on with (to a ludicrous deadline - there's a pattern forming here) so this is going to have to go on the back burner. I just hope I don't forget all Fiona's expert advice!
The day ended at the Avery Homestore in Edinburgh for a private viewing of the Quilt Show hosted during the Edinburgh Festival. Here's some of my favourites:
There were lots of other beautiful quilts on display, but I did too much chatting and not enough photographing! They all had a note on them discouraging you from touching them, which was fair enough but extremely difficult. They were so tactile and inviting.
The day was over in a flash and I can't wait until next year. I'll definitely be signing up again. I was so apprehensive about it but I really need not have been. It left me feeling confident in my abilities and proud of how far I've come while still relishing and recognising the challenges of the classes I had chosen.
I'll leave this post on a high note of some of the lovely fat quarters I acquired throughout the day.
My fat quarter swap bounty - it's blue and white! For more on why that's important, stay tuned for my next post in which I will be showing off some actual sewing.
These bundles were actually tied up with string - definitely a few of my favourite things.