Friday, 21 October 2016

Housekeeping 2 and a finished top

Hi all,
Hope you have had a good week.  I have been continuing to clear out boxes and trying to consolidate my quilting stuff which has migrated into every corner of our not-very-large house.  As we will shortly be having to store even more belongings from our almost grown up children I am trying to be creative in finding space.  Along the way I have made some discoveries...

Having triumphantly bordered and packed up my string quilt last week and sent it for longarm quilting, I found another stack of completed string blocks tucked away. If I didn't love string quilts so much, I might have been quite cross!

So now I have enough for a fourth string quilt, though I have had to find a substitute for the narrow black sashing as I ran out of the original fabric. Still, that's no bad thing for a scrap quilt, is it?

Though the blocks are together now, I haven't chosen the second sashing and borders, so this quilt will have to wait a little longer to qualify as a finished top even.

However I do have a finished top to share: Madras Star and Lattice.

I pulled out every box from under every bed and behind every sofa, and am ashamed to admit that I have at least 20 finished tops with backing allocated just waiting to be quilted. I really do have to prioritise quilting, starting next week, but I still have piecing on various projects to do, which I love so much more.

As a compromise, I made myself put borders (inner one 1 3/4" plain calico, outer one 2 1/2", strip pieced from Madras cotton leftovers) on this almost finished top which must be at least 10 years old.

I also pieced the backing from the large pieces I had set aside for that purpose: who knew I was so organised way back then?!

So this is my finish for Finish it up Friday and a link to Crazy Mom Quilts, as it is a definite lurch towards a finished quilt - I've moved to the next level anyway.

Aren't windy days great for photographing quilts?

Hope to get this one layered and quilted next week.  Good luck with your own UFOs/WIPs this weekend.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016


OK, so after last post's two small finishes, I have been encouraged to tackle some of my WIPs - seriously. No distractions. It really is time. No excuses.

I have got back in the groove with some chain piecing: I love the 365 Challenge but I have missed the rhythm of pushing fabric pieces through the sewing machine and generally being able to disengage the brain for a while. The chain piecing is purposeful and in order to finish genuine WIPs. I promise I haven't started any new projects, and I will show more in coming weeks.

My efforts yesterday, however, focussed on getting a top ready for longarm quilting. I made another string quilt a while ago.  My carrier bag of scrappy scraps was overflowing, I used my favourite technique which involves stitching the scraps and strings on to very lightweight vilene squares - this gives stability and you don't need to rip out the paper, hooray.

The top had got as far as blocks joined with double sashing, but then I needed a backing.  I have made two string quilts like this in the past (says something about the scraps I generate), and I favour a snuggly brushed cotton for a country style quilt.  So while on holiday in Cornwall I went to Cowslip Workshops and bought the backing.

Yes, I know that was back in August...  Yesterday I decided the time had come.  I wanted to border the quilt blocks, so I worked out the maximum size the finished quilt could be with the backing I had bought, and worked out my borders based on the amount of fabric I had (chosen from stash) for the borders.

Then I cut and stitched the borders, joined the two backing pieces, pressed everything and delivered all to my friend Chris at The Quilt Room this afternoon.  Job done.  You won't see it for a while but I will do proper photos when it is quilted and bound.  I can just about justify the longarming on the basis that, apart from the vilene foundation and the backing and wadding, the quilt is entirely from stash or scrap bag. It will be one of those quilts it is easy to be comfortable with. Not precious, just cosy.

While in the mood for a turn out, and looking for some calico (muslin) for another project, I tipped out all my boxes and was appalled not only by the amount of fabric I seem to have squirrelled away, but by the number of WIPs, including some I had completely forgotten.  

Many of these are at the finished top stage and I had even parcelled away backing and binding: it is just the quilting which is holding me back.  I don't know whether I can even bring myself to count up and admit just how many are waiting for attention. All that work counts for nothing unless it is actually finished and becomes a quilt someone can use.

But that's for another post.... Thank you for reading and sharing my quilting life. Hope you make progress with some of your WIPs.

Friday, 7 October 2016

Two small Friday finishes

Well, it's something, I suppose! Despite all my best intentions expressed in the last post, still too much to do on the home front and sewing has had to be set aside for a few more weeks. Now finally I have a little more time and I have decided to take a short break from the 365 Challenge to clear one or two of my WIPs.

Maybe it is having to empty my mum-in-law's flat to prepare it for sale that is making me twitchy about the amount of fabric and unfinished projects tucked away in odd corners, but this week I went through some of my boxes and dug out some half finished items. Needless to say they only took a short time to complete - so why hadn't I tackled them before? Probably the siren call of new fabric and patterns....

Anyway, here is a blast from the past, and two tiny finishes for Finish it up Friday - it's been a long time since I have been able to type those words....

First is a small table runner made from coral coloured fabrics in a sort of Bargello layout. It measures 15" x 25" and the rectangles are 1 1/2" x 2 1/2" finished. Most of the fabrics are from a range by French General for Moda quite some time ago.

The story behind this small patchwork piece is that about 6 years ago I was asked by a friend to make her a quilt for her bedroom, to co-ordinate with a rug and an upholstered chair in a soft coral pink. I don't usually take on 'commissions' as I always seem to be short on time and it is not always easy to judge whether what you are making is quite what your friend had in mind.  

However, for various reasons, I agreed, on the basis that my friend would buy the fabric, and pay to have the quilt long arm quilted. I knew her bed was a large double and she wanted the quilt to drape to the floor so there was no way I felt up to quilting what would turn out to be a king size quilt.

I was also anxious that we might not be able to find fabric to match the colour scheme of the bedroom and explained that we quilters are at the mercy of the fabric manufacturers and that the quilting industry is as much at the mercy of fashion when it comes to current colours as the clothing industry.

Anyway as it turned out there was this range in precisely the colours required, my friend chose Trip around the World which was nice and straightforward for piecing, and the top went together like a dream. Apart from her shock at having to buy 9 metres of backing fabric (I said it turned out kingsize, didn't I?) it was generally a happy experience for us both, and my friend Susie Green made a fantastic job of the quilting.

Apologies for the slight colour cast on these photos of the finished quilt - back in 2010 the camera decided to use flash and I guess I let it. The true colours are as for the table runner below.

I had very little fabric left over but just enough to make two pillow shams, and then I thought that was that. Until I opened a box which had not been unpacked for some time, and found just enough fabric scraps to make, back and bind the table runner. I shall be delivering this rather belated surprise next week!

My second finish goes back even further, to a time when I was asked to contribute to a series of basic quiltmaking books. I had made a baby quilt in soft blue and pink Shoo Fly and Nine patch blocks, and found amongst my fabrics that I still had six blocks  which I had at some time in the past sashed into a very small top.

So this week I layered and quilted (hardly a very onerous task!) and bound with a bias strip, so as to have the plaid on the cross - horribly stretchy but just about OK and worth doing for the look of it.

This is a tiny quilt, measuring just 13 1/2" x 19 1/2" (the blocks finish at 4 1/2" square), so I think it is destined for a local premature baby unit. Still, it is nice to have finished it, rather than it being yet another UFO.

So I can, with a clear conscience, link to Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday, though I admire Amanda Jean's finished WIP far more than my feeble efforts. Must do better next week!
Hope you all have a happy and productive weekend!