Friday, 12 July 2013

Summer's Little Hen


What a strange name for a quilt! It's a direct translation from one of the Welsh names for a butterfly - 'Iar Fach yr Haf' (another name being 'Pili Pala') and as I think it's a cute name for a quilt it's what Cadi's quilt shall be named from now on. Yes I actually got around to writing a proper 'finished!' post for this one.

Last time I wrote properly about Summer's Little Hen I'd gotten as far as starting the quilting but didn't like the way that it was going and decided that me and Mr Seam Ripper were going to spend some time together. It didn't take long, only around twenty minutes as I hadn't gone too far with the straight line quilting. I decided that it was time to bite the bullet and try my hand at some free motion quilting. Now I hadn't done any FMQ before. None.

I had originally planned to practice some FMQing on a quilt for myself made out of thrifted shirts but I didn't have the time, Cadi's been around for around a month now and if I wasn't careful she'd be getting this quilt on her first birthday!

I started on the large square of Madrona Road and tried outlining the flowers.

It went quite well and (for the most part) I managed to keep my stitch length pretty even. I then outlined the central yellow flower and then did a squiggly spiral radiating from that point.

Looking at the pictures now I'm not really happy with this and am very close to getting Mr Seam Ripper out again but this quilt has got it's binding on so I'm going to stop myself.

Then the fun started. I decided to try a loopy design, keeping the quilting quite 'loose' as I didn't want the quilt to get too stiff.

I decided to only quilt the negative space in an attempt to let the butterflies, 'petal squares' and Cadi's Name stand out a little.

It went quite well and I was enjoying myself but I was having trouble moving the quilt around - it felt as if the throat space on my machine was waaaay to small.

But before I knew it half the quilt was done! But then I hit a problem. Quite a big problem...

I ran out of thread so had to leave it there until I could get some more.

Whilst waiting for the opportunity to get some more thread something that had been niggling me really began to bug me. In a big way. Whilst hand sewing I've always had a problem with keeping my stitch length even. You'd think that they'd get steadily longer but no with me the stitches get smaller and smaller and smaller. It looks like this problem has spread to my free motion quilting. If you look at the picture above you can see that as I quilted from left to right my quilting gets denser and denser and denser. I really did want to keep the quilting quite loose but was there were less stitches on the 'loose' side than on the 'dense' side I decided to unpick the loose side. I did it in batches and, in all, I reckon it took me just over three hours! That's a long time. And there was a lot of swearing involved. But overall I'm glad that I did it, I'm a lot happier with the finished article now.

As soon as I'd managed to get some more thread (and I made sure that I got plenty - you can never have enough thread can you?) I set about finishing the quilting. It took me a few hours split into around four sessions over two days. And I took another picture in the middle of the night!

The following night was the last day in June and I had set this quilt as my June finish for A Lovely Year of Finishes' and even though it was already quite late I decided that I should (just about) be able to get the binding on before the linky party deadline. I kept the binding very simple, using the same cream fabric as the quilt top with a scrap of Madrona Road on the corner opposite the large square. And even though Marged (who always sleeps through) decided that it would be fun to join Mam on the sofa for an hour or two I managed to get it finished, take a quick photo on the patio in the beautiful dawn light and write the quickest of posts to add to the linky (with around two hours to spare).

Now in that post I promised a proper 'finished!' post and now, twelve days later. here it is.

I learn't quite a lot whilst making this quilt.

1. Before you fuse fabrics together with an iron, check, check again and check once more that your placing them in the right place! I'm still not happy with the placement of Cadi's name in relation to the large flower and the flower looks upside down. I will not be making this mistake again! (Famous last words)

2. Stand back and judge your quilting as often as possible. The more often you judge, the less stitches you have to unpick!

3. Consider how your binding is going to look on the back of the quilt as well as the front. I love the vintage sheet I used to back this one but it's blue on white and the binding is cream and it really just looks wrong. (If I were to choose the binding again I think I'd have gone for the same fabric that I used for Cadi's Name - but kept the scrap of Madrona road)

4. Buy thread in bulk - you can never have too much thread and running out is just a plain old pain in the arse.

I also learned lots of other little things but most importantly I enjoyed making this little quilt. So much so I took it down to the village park for a little photo shoot!

Peeking out the window

Hanging out in a tree

And another tree

You can't really make out the river in the background in this picture so..

I went back down last night and took another one - don't I live in a beautiful part of the world?

Lounging around

And having a bit of fun with another one of my finished quilts (still unblogged!)

A nod to Mr Murray

And lastly my favourite! On the was home from my mum's last night I passed something that I pass every time I go there and hadn't thought of it as a quilt prop before. Light bulb moment! I put the car in reverse and came up with this.

Isn't it cute? And just so British?

Now I've just got to tackle the rest of this list. I don't see much getting done during the next few days as we've got a wedding to attend tomorrow and a very special little girl is turning five on Monday! (how did that happen?)

I've come back as I've just realised that I forgot to show a picture of the back and I forgot to include the quilt stats!

So the full back -

I love this vintage sheet I just wish that I had more that a few meagre scraps left!
 And a close up of it's full crinkly glory -

Quilt Stats:

Name: Summer's Little Hen
Pieced by: Me
Quilted by: Me on my twelve year old domestic Brother
For: Little baby Cadi Mai
Design: Mine!
Fabric: Madrona Road by Violet Craft for Micheal Miller, Cocoon by Valori Wells for         Westminster/Freespirit and an unknown yellow polka dot from the scrap bin at my lqs
Thread: Coats 100% Cotton in 1212, an old spool of Dorma thread in a pale blue and Coats Moon 100% polyester in white in the bobbin.
Size: 36" x 37" (unwashed)

Linking up to:

This week with MR at Quilt Matters
With Karen at Quilty Creations
As Summer's Little Hen is backed with a vintage sheet (you really should head over there - it's a party for making something useful out of poor neglected fabric/objects - and there's a giveaway!)


Amanda at Crazy Mom Quilts for Finish it up Friday

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Finish-A-Long Q3 Goal Setting

I was a little late joining this here thing called blogland so missed out on the chance of joining Q2 of the Finish Along over with Leanne at she can quilt. I've also been so busy this past week that I missed the July linky for ALYoF. Knowing that I need deadlines to get things done I think it best that make a list here of all my UFOs that I hope to get finished in the next few months. I also have a few new projects that I would like to start and finish during this time. I know that they won't qualify for the FAL as they aren't UFOs but I'd like to keep all my goals in one place!

she can quilt

So here goes- (I've highlighted my FAL goals in Red)

1. Anwen's quilt. After I finished Marged's quilt Anwen said that she wanted her own quilt and here it is. It's been basted for around two months and Anwen keeps on asking when her blanket's going to be finished. I think that the main reason that it's stayed in this sorry state for so long is because I'm scared of starting fmqing it and don't know what design to use!

2. Get Shirty. Quilt top and back are ready. I even bought the batting ready but I cut into it for this project. Need to get this done asap. The plan is to practice my fmq before tackling Anwen's quilt.

3. House quilt. Haven't touched this in ages. No reason why not just need to get my bum in gear.

4. Nephew's quilt. This baby is due at the end of the month and I still haven't started. I bought the fabric ages ago and need to start cutting as I know I haven't got enough and need to work out how much more to get.

5. A quilt for another baby due at the end of July. Nobody knows what colour (pink or blue) this baby's going to be so I haven't even bought the fabric yet.

6, 7, 8 & 9 Osian's, Elisa's, Rhys' and Megan's quilts. I think getting even one of these done during Q3 is a long shot but who knows?

10. Mum's quilt. Before the end of the year? Although her birthday is in October.

11, 12 & 13 Zig Zag quilt, impromptu along and distribution. These have all moved way down the list. Main reason for this is that they don't have recipients, they're just designs that I'd like to try.

1. Charms cut for Zig Zag quilt        2. Fabric for impromptu           3. Inspiration for distribution
Oh, so only 13 quilts on the list. Completely manageable!

On top of this there are a few other projects I'd like to get under my belt.

1. A few zipper pouches. Anwen really liked the way I'd appliquéd the butterflies onto Cadi's Quilt and as her birthday is coming up and I have some of the Cocoon fabric leftover I thought I'd make her a zipper pouch. Her friend had her birthday a few weeks back and is still waiting for a pressie and another friend has her birthday two weeks after Anwen. I thought that it would also be nice for Cadi's two sisters to have something to match their sister's quilt. So that's five pouches in total!

2. A new bag for me. For Christmas 2011 Endaf got me a new handbag. To say the truth I wasn't fussed, I think that the colour of the leatherette put me off, but after a few uses I was sold. It was the perfect sized bag! Roll on eighteen months and the bag is finished, kaput, really seen better days. I miss it so much so I'm going to try and make myself a new one using the old bag as a template (with a few tweaks). I have the fabric ready so just need to get in gear.

Fabric choice - a little bit of Bella and a heavier weight solid from Ikea
3. After moving things around a little at home the little table that used to hold our printer is now next to my corner on the sofa. It was a thrifty find when we first moved in together and the top has seen better days so I thought a little something quilty might do the trick for tarting it up. I might even drag something out of my ancient UFO pile for this one. It will also give me a good opportunity to practice making bias binding and sewing it onto a circular mini quilt.

4. Shorts for Anwen. I now have the pattern and the fabric. This is one make I hope to get finished before the end of the week.

Hoping to turn a thrifty old skirt into a pair of shorts with the aid of a free (to me) pattern 
5. Shorts for Marged. I seem to have been neglecting Marged recently so depending on how Anwen's shorts go I might try making a pair for Marged out of some fabric from my stash.

Right that's it. I think that eighteen projects (but only four qualify for the FAL) is more than enough for three months! I'll be impressed if I even get three ticked off. I can but try.

Linking up to Lee at Freshly Pieced as it's Wednesday and I have more than one Work in Progress!

WIP Wednesday at Freshly Pieced

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

A (sort of) quilty finish

Did I mention that I've been busy? After promising to write a proper post about Cadi's quilt, the next day I disappear for almost a week! I do have an excuse reason - Hubbie took some time off work and we've been moving things around a bit here. It means that I've lost my sewing room but Marged has gained a bedroom and we've got our bedroom back! (Don't worry - my sewing machine has found a new home - I hope to share some pictures before the end of the week).

Another excuse reason for things being quiet around here is carnival week. Every year the village as a week of events which culminates in the carnival.

I know that a carnival means different things to different people but here in the wild west of Wales it means children dressing up as their favourite character/someone from the news/sporting personality etc in the hope of winning best dressed or best home made. Anwen has competed every year but I must admit that for her first, second and fourth carnivals I didn't make much of an effort and she wore shop bought costumes (although she'd always won something!) For her third carnival I made a last minute clown outfit

The eagle eyed amongst you might be able to 'spot' the lining fabric.
I never made those curtains to match Marged's quilt!
This year I wanted to make a real effort. Remember this picture?

Anwen meeting her heroine
Ever since Anwen met her all time favourite TV star (Dona Dereidi is a character from S4C's Cyw programmes aimed at children - all in Welsh) I've had a little idea in my head. See those quilted dungarees? I'm sure that I could make something similar to that. I had a good month and a half until the carnival so I was sure that I'd be able to manage it......

So last Thursday I realised that I only had one whole day to get this done and I hadn't even bought the fabric :-o As Anwen's school trip was on Friday there was no way that I'd be able to get to a fabric shop in time so I asked my mum to get a meter of gold fabric for me. She didn't think that a meter would be enough but I reassured her that it would be more than plenty. After the trip I quickly called with my mum on the way to a meal with friends to collect the fabric and realised that a meter of 44" wide fabric would have been plenty but maybe a meter of 25" wide fabric(?) would be a stretch! Oh well, I'd have to do the best I could as there was nothing I could do about it now.

I arrived home from a lovely meal with my friends at around 11.30pm and immediately started making my quilt sandwich. As it wasn't a very big piece of fabric it didn't take long and I was quilting in no time.

I hadn't thought of asking my mum to get me some gold thread but I think that the pink adds a little 'something'
I've never worked with this kind of fabric before and I must admit it was hard going. I started with my walking foot, changed to a normal foot and then changed back to my walking foot. Whatever I did I couldn't stop this from happening

But I carried on regardless as time wasn't on my side. As soon as I'd finished quilting I used a pair of Anwen's shorts to try and draft a pattern for the dungarees. I didn't have any of the gold fabric to spare so I made a draft version out of an old duvet cover and then went to bed (well it was 2.30am by then!)

As soon as Anwen was up in the morning I tried the duvet for size and then got going on cutting the  pieces out. I zig zagged all of the raw edges and then just did a single hem as I thought that it would be too bulky otherwise.

The shorts part came out quite well - they were quite big but Anwen's a growing girl and I hope that she'll want to wear these after the carnival (for dressing up obviously - not shopping!) I didn't have much of my quilt sandwich left so I cut off two long strips for the straps and made the front of the dungarees out of what was left. I used a piece of hot pink satin left over from my wedding to make the 'D' and just crossed my fingers that the gold fabric didn't do something awful (like melt) when I used the iron to heat and bond it.

I drew the D freehand in an atempt to save time - I shouldn't have.
Next was buttons. Why hadn't I thought of buttons? Dona's dungarees have big bright pink buttons and I didn't have any in my tin! I went rummaging through Anwen's old clothes in the attic and found a coat with just the right buttons.

They were just a little too big for the buttonhole making foot on my machine though so I had to wing it.

And that was it - the dungarees were ready. All I needed now were the cap and jacket! 

There was no way that I was going to be able to make the jacket as it was now after midday and the carnival started at two! I had a root around in the cupboard and found Anwen's old rain coat. It wasn't very clean but it still fitted her and after I removed the hood it did look quite similar to Dona's jacket. Luckily I'd had the foresight to cut some thin strips off the gold fabric before quilting it so I sewed these on by hand.

I used very long stitches as I didn't want the raincoat to have too many holes in it when I removed the stripes.

ugh, those cuffs are filthy, I can't believe that I'm actually posting a picture of them.
I was fast running out of time so I only managed to sew one strip onto each arm whilst there should have been two.

Whilst I was finishing off the jacket Dadi had been given the task of adding some gold to Dona's cap.

See the staining on the right? That's from when Anwen had previously tried to turn this into Dona's cap by writing a big D on it with felt pens!
I hadn't left him much to work with but he didn't do too badly fair play.

So that was it. Dona was ready. It was 1.10pm and I was still in my jammies!

We did arrive a little late at the carnival and missed the procession through the village so I parked in the car park next to the park and as soon as she got out of the car Anwen was met by a barrage of calls from her friends.

"Dona! It's Dona Dereidi! Is it you Anwen? Wow cool!"

Anwen ran to her friends to show off and I ran after her. (That's my excuse for forgetting to pay for parking and getting a £25 fine - I mean come on - on carnival day? #**%%##)

Anwen spent quite a bit of time showing her new outfit to her friends and I only managed to get one picture of her with anyone else's kids in it.

She doesn't look very happy but that's because I'd stopped her from running after one of her friends so I could take this pic!
Then it was time for the judging. Anwen was in the under fives category and didn't win a thing! She lost out to a shop bought bumble bee, a pirate and a (very good, homemade) bubble girl. I'm not usually a bad looser but all the other kids thought that Anwen was the bee's knees and their mums asked me where I'd bought the dungarees! I'm consoling myself with the fact that the judges were old farts that wouldn't recognise a kids tv character if they bit them on the nose!

The most important thing though was that Anwen loved it and was SO proud. 

Today is Anwen's turn to take something that she loves into school and she wanted to take her Dona outfit so I'm happy.

Marged? Well I put lots of effort into her outfit. She wore a white t-shirt and a white skirt, held a small tennis racquet and when we were in front of the judges and they asked who she was dressed as I quickly asked some bystanders the name of one of the players in the ladies final at Wimbledon - I'm surprised she didn't we first place ;o) (I didn't even get a picture of her - that child is sooo neglected)

Linking up to Karen at Quilty Creations as surely those buttons count as Something Old Something New? You really should check it out, it's all about turning something that you might not feel the love for any more into something useful (or just upcycling something as I've done here!)

Fresh Poppy Design

Lucky duck

I've been a little busy and this here blog has been a little neglected. I have tried my best to keep up with my blog reading but I think that I might be following a few too many! 

One of the great things about blog reading are the great giveaways available. Who can't resist the opportunity of winning some sewing related goodies? Not me that's for sure. 

So in the nearly three months that I've been reading blogs (and trying to write one) I've actually scored three wins! The first was on the first British blog that I found - the oh so famous ginger monkey if I remember correctly I actually found her through the MicroMod Sew Along and low and behold, I didn't just go ahead and win! She was giving away a FQ bundle of MicroMod and I just love this line of fabrics. As I was going away in May I asked her to hold off sending the winnings to be and then things got delayed etc and when I received the fabric I clean forgot to take a picture and share it with you.

Isn't it beautiful?
What I'd completely forgotten about was the pattern that was included in the giveaway.

Who's Caitlin?
Until it landed on my door mat last week! I think that the idea is that your supposed to make the Ship Shape tote out of the Micro Mod bundle but I don't need a bag quite this big at the moment and I have other plans for the bundle.

My next win goes to show linking up to linky parties really does pay off (and replying to the comments that you might get as a result). I linked up to Sunday Stash over with Fiona at Finding Fifth, someone left a comment asking about my Liberty find and a new friendship was born. Mara over at Sectretly Stiching noticed that I'd used some Cocoon in Cadi's Quilt and mentioned that she had some up for grabs on her blog. Well, I didn't only go and nab this one as well!

Something's missing...
The parcel arrived safely on Friday (you can stop worrying now Mara!) As well as three different lovely fabrics Mara included some Greek music and a lovely handmade card. I haven't had the chance to listen to the CD yet (I put it in the car ready as soon as I took these photos this morning) but I love the fabric! I really need to fatten up my stash and add some variety so these have helped out tremendously. And isn't the Cocoon that started it all great?

Look, if I waited until I'd ironed things before I took pictures this blog would be a pretty barren place, okay?
I'm not sure what I'm going to do with it yet, but fussy cutting and appliqué is tempting...

My next winnings were....No Mara I haven't forgotten anything. That was all that was in the package. Nope I didn't see any chocolate. Honest. Are you accusing me of gobbling all the chocolate before even taking a picture? Me? NEVER! (OK, so there were two bars of Greek chocolate in the package too, but I was hungry and it was just sitting there in the kitchen looking all tasty, I couldn't resist. I did keep the wrappers to snap but my helpful sister in law tidied the kitchen whilst I wasn't looking and they disappeared. They were lovely and I really enjoyed the one with almonds!)

And then yesterday I got some more happy mail! Carla of small + Friendly fame emailed me to let me know that I'd won their Shorts on the line giveaway! I then got an email from Dana at MADE with the KID shorts pattern attached. I've been meaning to make some shorts for Anwen for a few weeks now and the Shorts on the Line blog hop has given me so many ideas. I had the material all ready but just needed a pattern so it didn't take me long to print it out.

So many possibilities! 
The weather has been unseasonally hot these last few days (I mean over 20 degrees in July? Unheard of in Wales)  and Anwen's paltry three pairs of shorts seem to live in the washing machine so I need to get a move on with this. All I need now is for Anwen to come home from school so that I can measure her and work out what size I need to make.

So that's it! My winnings. If it carries on like this I'll only need to buy batting for my quilts ;o)

I took a few pics and they were all blurry - this was the best of the lot?