Monday, 29 August 2016

A Hearty Finish

I'm pretty proud of this one! I finished it in time and even managed to frame it myself (although I'm pretty sure my technique needs improving!).

So as mentioned in previous posts, I have been working on a cross-stitch of the anatomy of a heart for my friend who has just completed her nursing degree (it's her second degree and she has worked her socks off for it!).

Luckily she finished a couple of weeks ago, meaning I could dedicate some of my summer holiday to working on it.

I love the labeling (almost didn't do it but so glad I did), and I wrote her name in glittery red thread - one day I will learn to stop doing any form of cross-stitch in glittery stuff! I've gotten better at it, but it is not as smooth as normal thread.

My framing technique needs improving - cardboard, industrial tape and some staples were involved (eek) but it worked quite nicely. Just kicking myself that I forgot to iron it first!

It went down really well, and Becca is really chuffed with it! I think I definitely managed an original gift.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

FNSI...more like weekend sew in!

A little late to post, but I have been side-tracked by the school term about to start and slight panic over my lack of lessons! (all but the younger years are set to go now, so feeling calmer!).

My choice fell on my Disney cross-stitch (especially after I received a Dad-joke from Dad, spurring me to try and get more done!)

This was it as I started - really hard to work out where I was after about a year of not doing it! But I worked it out in the end (after sellotaping my pattern before the holes got any worse!)

After a weekend of work, this is where I'm at now:

It always feels like a lot more than it looks! Added in more purple, dark brown (Belle, Beast and Cogsworth were started) and now on a pale green. Green is my nemesis but it must be done. The aida is 18 count and every single square in the pattern will be filled, so it will be slow progress. At the moment it's a game of 'spot the...'. Let me know if you spot anything familiar!

It will be crochet next FNSI. Maybe!

Friday, 19 August 2016

FNSI Preparation...decisions decisions

I'm excited to take part in FNSI for the first time in months - but now I have to decide what to do! I have broken my own rule and have several projects going at once, although they are all in different crafts so I think that's okay!

The projects are:
- A giant Beauty and the Beast cross-stitch (been doing this for probably 2 years)
- A crochet doll with dress up clothes for my friend's daughter (this has been going for about a year, but wedding cross stitch took over)
- A baby quilt; not started but needs doing within the next 8 weeks!

I think it may be cross-stitch/crochet/a mix of both as husband (!) has his friend staying for the weekend and quilting does take over the whole lounge. Also I have no idea what pattern I want to do - friend already has one baby quilt disappearing nine patch style and I'd love to do something else. Any suggestions welcome!

Happy sewing everyone!

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Festival of Quilts (a shorter post than I had intended)

So this Saturday I went to the Festival of Quilts at the NEC along with my big sister (the person responsible for my quilting habit!). Now I did have a lot of photos of my favourite quilts from the Festival, but my memory card decided now was the time to wipe them (so upset!!!!!).

A selection of my favourites were: 2 purely hand-quilted giant quilts that had been sewn by an 87 year old lady (she must have so much patience!); a Queen's 90th birthday quilt that had been sewn collaboratively by the Beginner's Quilt Support Group (in which the material had a lot of air miles); a Noah's Ark interactive quilt, featuring flamingos and Nelly the Elephant; one called the Dung Beetle, which featured two Giraffes wearing fine hats; one called Any Dream (as in Joseph and the Technicolour Dreamcoat) with another wonderful example of handquilting; a mosaic type quilt that when looked at the right way (especially through a camera lens) showed the image of Nelson Mandela. There were so many more that I could list for ages, but I won't.

The inevitable result was awe, fascination, resignation (that I won't manage such creative things), and a bit of brain ache working out how some of the quilts had been made - as well as some pride that I was able to visualise this a lot better than 2 years ago.

As always, I did make some purchases - although I was a lot more careful, and only picked things I needed. Ish.

I have been looking for black/white/grey jelly rolls to make a quilt for the parents-in-law. I found the material we had liked at the FoQ, but it was quite pricey - and we found this material which was much nicer and should fit the bill. I'm hoping to do a log cabin type quilt, with the purple material used as a centre for each block as well as the binding.

The blue material and the silvery thread are going to be used to hand-quilt some cushions (for myself unusually). This was big sister's idea, and my more impulsive purchase. Both items are hand dyed, and the thread is soooo soft. I bought the rainbow thread as it was quite fun, and I'm sure I will put it to use at some point! I did also notice that a lot of quilts had colour fade type threads (not just one solid colour).

The book is my bargain. It has been on my wishlist since my last FoQ two years ago, so I decided to grab it. As it was a display copy, and was a bit thumbed through, I got it with a discount - felt like pointing out to the lovely cashier that a couple of curled up corners will be the least of my issues with the book once I actually start hand-quilting, as she seemed so worried I was taking it!

Overall I'm really pleased with my purchases; I am also really inspired to try out hand quilting, as I have now seen how elaborate you can be without a sewing machine! Just still really gutted I have lost all of my photos!

Tuesday, 9 August 2016

Quilted Cushions - a beautiful nightmare

I wrote a list of projects that I had outstanding, and whilst rifling through one of my sewing baskets, I found a half started cushion. I had bought the charm pack whilst at the Festival of Quilts (It was Moda Daydream, or something similar).

I started out making a cushion with a zig-zag effect pattern - goodness knows why, as I had hated working with that sort of pattern with my Hallowe'en material. I think I had come across a technique which helped align the triangles, and I wanted to try it out. So this is what I found in my drawer a month ago:

I'm really glad I had finished sewing the front, as I have no clue where the pattern was from! The annoying thing was that it had ended up rectangle rather than square; design guru Darren suggested I cut some material to make it square. I can tell you that drove me absolutely nuts. It worked, but did not end up anywhere as neat or as even as I would have liked; I had bought some backing and realised there wouldn't be enough for the size I had decided (my backing maths is shocking at the moment) and I wouldn't have time to go back for more.

I also had a lot of spare material, so decided on cushion number 2, from my Pillow Pop book that big sister gave me a couple of years ago. This was just lots of squares. The pattern called for aqua squares, with some red squares for a contrasting cross. As I was using the charm pack, I had to get a little more inventive.

Following the pattern, I also added a border. This was more even this time, but my iron started leaving yellow stains on the white material. It was at this point some foot stamping occurred! It just kept feeling like I was doing well, and then struggling and going about 5 steps back.

 I had also ended up with thicker wadding than I would normally have, so that took a bit more maneuvering through the walking foot. And I think it didn't make it any easier when sewing on the backing, which resulted in my edging being really uneven on the zig-zag cushion. By that point, I was so annoyed and it didn't look horrific (design guru didn't notice until I pointed it out). Love the backing material though.

I machine-quilted around the pattern (between that and the edging fabric). I then decided to try hand quilting. One because it was something else in my sewing box I had yet to try; two because we were heading to Wales to see family and I just couldn't really bring my sewing machine! I actually enjoyed it, although I feel like my left hand needed a quilting glove! Kept stabbing myself, once or twice to the point of bleeding.

I got into the rocking motion, snapped a sewing needle, found my quilting needles, got into the rocking motion again. Cursed the wadding thickness. Stabbed myself. Ended up with a quilted cushion, and overall I was pretty happy with it, and the stitch even-ness. Oh and did I mentioned I did the quilting with metallic thread? I really like to make my life easy!!!

I learnt a few things:
1. Stick to the wadding I know
2. Use quilting needles from the start
3. Don't hand quilt with the pillow back already on!

My friend (who's birthday gift they were) really loved them however, so all the effort (and bleeding was worth it). I think.


And Continuing the Rainbow Theme...

One of my best friends is expecting a baby, which means only one thing - time for a baby quilt! This one was easy to pick fabric for - I h...