Goals for 2014

Lets see if writing a list and declaring it publicly will spur me on to finish some projects this year:

  1. Spare room quilt: So far just a rough colour scheme, not fabric or pattern choices made
  2. EC’s quilt: This is a WIP languishing in the back of my quilt cupboard ever since I had a disagreement with it about applique methods. It needs to be forgiven, resurrected, repaired and completed
  3. TC’s quilt: I’ve had the pattern for this one sorted in my head for a year now. Time to buy some fabrics and get started with it.
  4. Table cloth: This should be a simple embellishment project once I finalise the colour scheme for the dining room
  5. Table runner: Shouldn’t take too long once I’ve decided on fabrics. Right now I’m thinking grey and yellow is the way to go – well see
  6. Place mats: I have a design in my head but it needs to be the same fabrics as the table runner and table cloth so it’s on hold for now.
  7. Sewing room tea cosy: A knitting project that’s long over due. This is the year for it
  8. Office tea cosy: Once I’ve figured out how to knit tea cosies there’ll be no stopping me.
  9. Amy Butler Weekender Bag: I need a smart, small travel bag that doesn’t make me look like a student. This is going to be it. I’ve bought the pattern and I’m slowly sourcing all the notions and supplies. Right now it’s fabric choice that’s holding me back.

Wow. That list got long very quickly. I think I better stop there before it becomes utterly unachievable in a year. Looking at this list I’m excited about taking on a lot of new challenges this year. Quilting for me is all about learning new skills. There are lots waiting for me here.

Writing this list has also made it really clear that choosing fabrics is a real sticking point for me. I always struggle with it and it’s holding up a lot of projects I should have started ages ago. I have made two quilts where I ended up dissatisfied with the fabric choices (both of them are relegated (one unfinished) in disgust to the back of the sewing cupboard). Now I’m always scared about choosing colours in case it doesn’t work and I end up wasting time and money on something I don’t like.

How do you choose which fabrics to use?

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Project Christmas begins

In 2013 I had quite a last minute Christmas. Planning was minimal and it showed. A lot of presents were slightly rushed towards the end. This year I hope to do better and I’m starting planning some home made presents already. January has been a month for choosing projects and beginning to stock up on supplies.

It’s exciting to be planning things out in advance but I think I need to be careful not to start too many things at once. Blogging about the presents may be tricky but I’ll do my best to keep a log here without giving the surprises away too much.

Tea Mat

Here’s my Friday Finish for this week. From start to finish in five days – not bad ­čÖé

On Monday morning I stopped off at the local supermarket on my way to work to buy some sandwich supplies for the week. Now, those of you who read my blog will know that I have a thing for teapots. When I’m working at home I can always be found with a teapot, small milk jug, cup and saucer next to me. While buying lunch on monday I spotted a very cheap (but actually quite smart) simple white tea set. I couldn’t resist and now I have the ability to have a pot of tea next to me while working at the office too – yay! :). Of course, having a new tea set means I obviously need a mat to stop drips getting on my papers, and a tea cosy. This week I got to work on the mat.

It’s quite large. The dresden plate box is 12″ in diameter.
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This means the mat is big enough for pot, jug and saucer to be kept safely away from work. I’m hoping it will also mean that I can easily slide all tea paraphernalia across the desk if it gets in the way. I’ll test that particular function out on Monday when I’m next in the office.

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For this project I decided I would practice some hand quilting. I’ve never actually done it before. I wanted nice thick thread so it would show but the only thing I had was embroidery thread so I just used a double strand. It might not be orthodox but it did work. I started by doing a running stitch 1/4″ inside the edge of the dresden plate applique. Then I did blanket stitch in yellow around the edge of the white centre. I also use the same technique to sew the back of the binding on. It took a while and would be very thread intensive for a large quilt but it does look nice. When this was done the dresden plate was looking a little poufy so a decided to have a go at feather stitch along some of the seams to hold it down. I added knot stitches for decoration at random intervals along the feather stitching. I think they look a little too small but they work and I don’t want anything that would stick out too much so I’m leaving them as they are.

At this point the apple in the centre was looking a little lonely without any hand quilting so I ran the feather stitch round that too. This project sort of evolved in to something much more detailed than I had expected. I don’t think I’ve ever fully planned out a project in advance but seeing how things turn out and then deciding what to do next is half the fun for me.

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I’m looking forward to trying out my new tea mat next week but I think I’d cry if I spilt tea on it. I guess I’ll just have to be careful.

Office Wallhanging

In the same quilt show as my Time for Tea quilt was entered, I also had another quilt to show. I named it Birds of a Feather at the time but I’ve never been really happy with that name. I’m not sure what to call it so for now it’s just known as the quilt that hangs in my office at work.

IMG_0906Here’s the quilt hanging in the show. You can see it is a bit wobbly around the edges and doesn’t quite hang right.

Here’s a shot of it in it’s regular position, on the noticeboard in my office at work. Much more fun than using the noticeboard for work things :). A couple of colleagues have commented on it. I think most are quite surprised to find out that have a quilter in their midst.

imageThis time I deliberately hung it with slight waves to disguise the wobbles. I think it looks happier here than it did at the show.

Below is a close up of the details. You can see my wibbly attempt at free motion quilting. My straight line diamonds in the purple border were better. I was very pleased with the embellishment on the binding. Instead of hand sewing the binding down I did this back-and-forth effect. It’s makes the edge very stiff (which probably contributes to the wobbliness a little) but I do like the look of it.

imageIn this photo you can also see how desperate I got for scraps of the white fabric by the end. I was using tiny little pieces just to get something for a seam allowance. But it works so I’m happy.

It’s a long way from a perfect quilt. The batting is bad – scratchy and lumpy. I won’t be using it again. This is the only quilt I used it in. The leftovers have been used for extra layers of batting in small projects that needed reinforcing. The scrapping piecing was annoying but didn’t look terrible in the finished quilt. Ultimately it was a practice quilt for some new skills and I’m satisfied with how it turned out.┬áThe skills I was trying to practice in this quilt were:

  • Accurate piecing – I was happy with this. The squares are square and the corners match up pretty well
  • Free motion quilting – it was a first attempt but it’s still bad enough that I don’t want to give you much of a close up to look at. I find free motion really hard and I’m still trying to get better. One of the ladies at my local quilting group once told me that you can’t try and be accurate with free motion, you just have to go with it. That might be why it’s not working for me. I like accuracy.
  • Machine binding – I like this effect. I haven’t used it since because I haven’t made another wall hanging but I would certainly consider using it (as long as I have lots of thread. It took a huge amount more than normal binding).