Friday, 22 March 2013

Hooked on quilting

I'm not sure where the last three weeks have gone!  I have been doing lots of brilliant family things and lots of working so have not had as much time as I would have liked for sewing (and by sewing, I mean starting things obviously, even though I have still to finish the baby quilt - my friend might not speak to me for ignoring her this long).  I have however started designing a pattern for the cushion for my FMIL.

I decided in the end I didn't have enough light grey and the only thing for it was to go shopping for fabric....

This week it was my future Sister in Law's birthday.  My FMIL told me at Christmas she had also taken up crochet towards the end of last year so I thought we should get her something along those lines.

Having made a couple of knitting needle rolls with my new found enthusiasm for sewing last year (alas, of which there are no pictures - I could have sworn I took some!) I decided to make her a smaller version for crochet hooks.  I have taken LOTS of pictures of this one (which irritatingly, wasn't the best in terms of binding but the extremely messy corners are just going to have to add to its charm).

I also bought some hooks and a book to go with it.  I just hope she's still crocheting!

Saturday, 9 March 2013


I have covered a lot of the things I have been doing in the last year or so in my last two posts, so I wanted to start getting into what I am up to now.

I am excellent at starting things, or more particularly, buying all the things I need to start something.  I am not so good at dedicating regular time to sewing, or to finishing one thing before I start (or shop for) the next.  As a result, I am involved in quite a few projects which I thought I would share.

That's not a quilt?

No, it's not.  My introduction to quilting involved promising myself I would make time to do so, and I tested this with learning to knit and crochet.  My Granny is a wonderful knitter and was quite enthusiastic about helping me.  I remember sitting in her living room when I was little watching her knit and watch telly at the same time.  She's so fast and doesn't even need to look at her work!  Now, that is where 75 years of practice will get you but I'm still  amazed.

When her first Great Grandchild was born (my cousin had a baby in 2009) she made him a blanket.  She also made him hundreds of other little bits and bobs, but the blanket was the thing she specifically told me about because she had crocheted it, which she doesn't normally do.  In fact, her friend had taught her how to do so especially for the blanket.  I really like the idea of the two of them sitting crocheting together and hope my friends and I do things like that when we're 80 odd.  By the time the second Great Grandchild came along, Granny was finding knitting less easy on the hands, but she still made lots of lovely things.  She wanted to make sure he had a blanket too and made 48 squares.  These have been ready for months, but she couldn't muster the enthusiasm to sew them together (she and my Aunt agree knitting is fun, but sewing it together is boring).  Being relatively new to the game, I volunteered to sew them all together for her.

I have had them in my house for about four weeks and made a few attempts to work out the best way to attach the squares, but have not been as dedicated to the task as I should have been.  I have now decided to crochet around each of the squares and attach them in the same way I did my Granny Square blanket.

Baby Quilt 2

The top was made in January,

the quilting was done and the binding was added in February...

.....and now I just need to hand sew the back of the binding in March.  This is for my pal who had her first baby a fortnight ago - if I could only finish this sewing, I could go see them!


My Future Mother In Law decorated her living room just before Christmas.  New curtains, new furniture - the works.  The colours are dark red and grey and I wanted to make her cushion covers to match.  They found some lovely fabric for the curtains and I surreptitiously acquired some for the centre of a cushion cover.

I thought it looked a bit grubby so I washed it, which I think was probably a mistake.  It made the edged fray, and as the top of the flower is near to the edge anyway, I have reduced even further the margins of error.  I will have a go anyway, but this is the only piece I have so I have to practice first.  Any suggestions of patterns/blocks with a central square?  I have some other red and a light and dark grey fabrics to go with it.


I also bought a lot of fabric after a particularly long day at work last week to cheer myself up.  I have bundles of yellow and green to match some aquatic themed fabric for the next baby quilt (the parents are marine biologists and the sex is unknown to me), and some peacock fabric for a runner for my dressing table.  I am going to make myself a present!

I think that sounds like enough to be going on with.  In fact, the sales lady in the shop remarked how busy I was going to be when cutting the metres of fabric I was buying to improve a bad day!

Sunday, 3 March 2013

A very good place to start

Having described how I became interested  in my last post, this piece is focused on how I have gone about learning to quilt.

Where to start?

Having attended the class I mentioned in my last post, I became addicted to watching YouTube videos on quilting.  This is where I had picked up tips on crochet technique.  I don't think I realised before how amazing You Tube is for tutorials.  My main experience of YouTube had been as a bit of a conversation killer and I wasn't really interested in it.

However, watching tutorials has changed my mind.  I quickly found the Missouri Star Quilt Company and their hundreds of excellent tutorials on how to quilt.  These have been invaluable to me and have meant I could fit learning to quilt around my schedule. There are hundreds of great tutorials on technique and interesting blocks, but I have chosen to share this one because it was this block I chose for my first quilt.

Having been taught how to cut strips for the log cabin block at my class, I decided this would be a good block to start with.  I had also seen some lovely quilts on Etsy using this block using solid colours (which I really like) so decided I could replicate the look.

The first quilt was for a baby boy, due February 2013, so I purchased a pile of blue material and got working on the top.  It was so exciting to see it coming together, which it did very quickly!

The actual quilting bit was a little slower, as I had to a) learn how to do it b) practice.  Basting the quilt was the trickiest bit but I got there.  I have since discovered basting spray which just made the whole experience so much easier and produced better results.  I'm not sure why, but I get the feeling it is cheating a little bit, and I really should persevere with safety pins.

I had decided I wanted to quilt on my sewing machine, rather than hand stitch it, to achieve a more professional look.  However, having spent so long on my top I was a little scared to take the plunge and start sewing all over the top of it.  In the end I sewed "in the ditch" around all the blocks.  I have since started to get a bit more confident and am working on learning how to be more adventurous.  More on that in another post.

I also spent a great deal of time learning to bind the quilt.  I chose one of the darker colours from the quilt for this so it would show up against the lighter blue border I added to make it a little bigger.

And here it is!

I had made a quilt and was very proud of myself for the achievement.  I also instantly thought - What next?