I Spy a finished Jigsaw Quilt

I’m so excited to share my latest finish with you today. This quilt is for my godson as his christening present in a few weeks time. I’m delighted I got it finished in time.

Thank you for your comments and suggestions on the layout. I trialled (what seemed like) every combination of block placement possible. In the end I felt that the quilt needed something smooth and flowing to balance the riot of colours, images and corners. A rainbow effect seemed to tie everything together and give the overall Jigsaw coherence. I’m really pleased with how it turned out.img_0802.jpg

 

It’s a really busy quilt, but I like that the busyness of the patterns mean that it can cope with so many bright colours. The images were gathered over a series of months from scraps and fat quarters that caught my eye. I also asked his mum for some of his old baby clothes so I could include them as well. That’s where the larger motifs and the two pockets came from. I’m hoping that the I Spy element of the quilt will keep it fun as he grows up and starts learning to talk.

The finished size is 39″ x 44″. I quilted in the ditch around each square and then free motion quilted around each Jigsaw protrusion. That was hard going but I got better as I went along. For the larger blocks I just picked out a couple of shapes/lines in each to quilt over to stabilise it.


It’s been washed (very gently in the bath) and it didn’t fall apart, so when I’ve worked up the courage I’m going to try it in the washing machine. I want to be able to confidently tell his mum that it can withstand normal household usage. Fingers crossed.

The quilt itself is nice and snuggly. I was very cosy with it on my lap whilst I buried my quilting ends. However, for an 8-month-old I figured a play mat would be just as useful as a blanket. So I came up with an idea to make it suitable for both indoor and outdoor play. Here it is in its outdoor mode.

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Don’t notice much difference?

We’ll look closer at the corners. On the underside of the quilt I placed a button hole in each corner.


Then I got a piece of vinyl table cloth and cut it a little bit larger than the quilt. Using the leftovers I made a button hole square and attached it to the underside of each corner of the vinyl.


And voila!! Now the quilt can be used outside without worrying about it getting wet or muddy. Simply attach the two layers together with the buttons in each corner.

2017 Finish 1 – New tea cosy

For Christmas 2016 my sister got me a beautiful Emma Bridgewater teapot and 4 cups. I’ve blogged about my ‘slight’ tea obsession before (here, here, and here).

I felt that a new teapot obviously deserved a new tea cosy to help keep it warm. My old tea cosy was looking a little tired (though I still love the fabrics in that one). In some places the piecing was beginning to come apart and it had some tea coloured stains inside from spillage over the years.

IMG_0637Does it sound like I’m working to hard to justify my need to make a new tea cosy? Probably.

I put it down to the fact that my husband has now introduced a strict ‘one in one out’ policy on teapots. The total number of teapots in my possession cannot exceed 5. It’s a tough rule!

I’m really pleased with the new tea cosy. I picked the colours to match the pattern on my new tea set (more or less). All the fabrics came out of my stash and it was fun to play with tiny squares (1.25″)

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A quilt for my uncle

My Grandmother died early in 2015. Her eldest son (my uncle) asked me to use some of her favourite clothes to make a quilt. He gave me a huge pile of clothing but picked out a bright red skirt and a purple paisley skirt as most important to include. He also requested that I include the image of a ship. Recently, he and Granny had enjoyed going on cruises and he wanted their shared hobby to be reflected in the quilt.

The design for this quilt was a long time coming. However, in the end I picked a few more items of clothing that co-ordinated with the two ‘must include’ items. I then ordered some nautical themed fabric to help with the overall coherence of the quilt. I experimented with some scene-based layouts but I’ve never done an ‘art’ quilt and it just didn’t feel right to me. I eventually decided to use equilateral triangles all over. I felt this had a nice link to signal flags used on ships (so enhancing the nautical theme) but also gave each of the fabrics a chance to be recognisable in their own right and so do the job of being a memory quilt

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Granny’s red skirt was given pride of place with a single triangle to make it really stand out. I also added a flange to the border using the red fabric so it encircled the whole quilt. It felt like the best way to include it without throwing off the nautical colour scheme.

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Archer decided that he had to be in all the pictures of this quilt. There is just no arguing with him when he’s that cute.

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I embroidered a ship in one of the triangles made from one of Granny’s old bed sheets. The quilting was simple wavy lines to evoke the sea in an otherwise very angular pattern.

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This quilt was a really strange journey for me. In the beginning stages it was all about remembering Granny and doing something to work through my own feelings. However, the more I stitched the more it became my uncle’s quilt. My thoughts shifted to him, his relationship with Granny, my relationship with him, and how this quilt could help stitch our family closer together. Finally I made the quilt label. Instead of naming the quilt, I just embroidered a message that summed up everything the quilt had come to be.

Cushions galore (2015 Finishes 9, 10, 11 and 12 )

Note: This a very delayed post that I began drafting back in 2015. I don’t know what it took me so long to press publish.

In preparation for Christmas visitors last year I bought a couple of huge 3ft cushions for guests to lounge on in front of the fire. I only got round to making a cover for one of them. I re-purposed an old single duvet cover so it was a nice and easy finish. I started to make a matching cover for the second cushion but it didn’t get finished. I’m not sure why I only did one at the time but it doesn’t really matter now. One of my dearest friends loved the cushion and always chose it over available chairs when she came to visit.

Fast forward a few months and my cushion for guests got claimed by a new owner. A very cute little beagle puppy who joined our family and turned our lives upside down. Yvonne lost her cushion and Archer gained the biggest bed a tiny puppy could dream of.

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He loves this cushion. It’s his favourite place to curl up and snore away the evenings. When I do occasionally have to strip the cushion to wash the cover he gets ansty. This week I decided enough was enough. I finished the second matching cover so that there is always one available for Archer’s cushion (finish #9). Then I made a third cover for the ‘as-yet-uncovered’ second cushion so that Yvonne can have her spot back too without having to share her seat with the dog (finish #10).

While I was on a bit of a dogbed making roll I used up loads of my fabric waste that has been accumulating to make a couple of smaller beds for Archer (finishes 11 and 12). These go in the kitchen for him to sleep on at night, or near wherever I happen to be working when he wants to stay close but be comfy. He gets through these quite quickly by chewing the corners but they are easy to fix or recycle in to newer versions with an extra outer layer.

So that takes 2015’s tally up to 12 finishes.

 

Chevron Quilt: An imperfect finish is better than none (2015 finish #8)

Note: Another partially drafted, but long delayed post, because I hadn’t taken the pictures. Now added in

This quilt was a salutary lesson in pragmatism.

When we moved into our new house we inherited a terracotta carpet in one of the bedrooms. It’s not my style but I did the best I could with it and decorated the room with a pale turquoise to give it a modern twist. I was hunting for fabric for a quilt to pull the room together for about a year. Then I found a Sweet Serenade layer cake at a quilting show. The fabrics were beautiful and I wanted to keep the pieces quite large to let the pattern show. It struck me as great opportunity to try a new technique for me: Triangle piecing. Which in my mind lent itself to a chevron quilt.

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I read a tutorial online (sorry, can’t remember where now) that suggested a novel approach to creating triangles:

1) Lay two layer cake squares right sides together

2) Stitch 1/4″ from the edges on all four sides totally sealing the two squares together round the edge

3) Slice the squares diagonally to create 4 squares each made of 2 triangles.

This method is ridiculously quick and easy to do accurately. I loved it. However, there is a catch – a big one. By cutting on the diagonal all four sides of your pieced squares are on the bias and so very prone to stretching as you sew.

I was really careful handling and piecing my triangles into the chevrons. If I use this technique again (which I might because it was so quick and easy) I would go nuts with the spray starch to help stabilise things a bit more.

My original plan had been to add a wide border from the backing fabric with some smaller chevrons for corner squares. I pieced the corner squares, cut the border and attached it to the Chevron section. It stretched – A lot. My border was cut accurately but after attaching it to the bias edges of the triangles it was at least 6 inches too short on the long ends. I took it off and tried to ease the fabric back into a flat straight shape. Then I did something new for me… I let the fabric win.

My chevron section was nice, neat and entirely pretty by itself. The only problem was that it wasn’t the size I originally intended. If I tried the border again it would be a battle and it would potentially permanently distort the quilt. So I let it be. I basted my quilt sandwich and did straight lines to echo the chevrons in various colours and weights of thread.

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Then I thought I’d try something else that was new for me – Machine stitching the binding on. The result is ugly (so no close up photos) but I’m leaving it be. This is a finish. It is not perfect; I would change many things if I did it again. However, it is physical evidence of learning and it is functional. No one said all quilts have to be the best we can do. Sometimes they just have to be evidence that we tried.

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Notice the terracotta carpet? Bleugh! However, the room is infinitely nicer now that the walls aren’t orange and cream. It’s one of my favourite rooms in the house now. Amazing what some paint and some fabric can do

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Childhood

At the Uttoxeter quilt show a couple of years ago I picked up a Flower Fairies alphabet panel. I’ve always loved the artwork of the flower fairies books and the panel just really appealed to me.

As I think so many of us do, I carefully placed the fabric safely in my stash and there it sat. Waiting…

Eventually I was in the mood to be selfish and do something just for me, just because I could enjoy it and it would make me happy.

I took out my flower fairies panel, cut it up, and added wonky red borders from fabric in my stash to each letter. I then put it back in the cupboard to wait again…

This time it only took me a few weeks to work out what I wanted the border to look like. I ordered some golden yellow fabric, added a simple border and then made up my quilt sandwich and quilted with an all over dogwood design.

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I got the idea for this quilting pattern from Elizabeth Hartman’s Oh Frannson blog. I’ve used it a couple of times now and I really love how simple it is to do but how effective it looks. Much nicer than meandering all over a quilt.

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Finally, I made a quilt label that reflected the mood I was in and what I needed this quilt to do for me. I made the quilt during a stressful time at work. It now hangs in my office to remind me that I can let go and just have fun every now and then. Quilt therapy at its finest!IMG_0635

Coin purse experiments

Continuing my impromptu theme of handbag items I thought I’d have a go at making a small zipped coin purse so I don’t have loose change jangling around my newly organised handbag. I’ve had some success working with zips but I would by no means called it a mastered skill. The two attempts I’m blogging about here are unfortunate examples of ‘not-quite-good-enough’ syndrome, something I suspect lots of us suffer from.

Attempt One:
Noodlehead have a popular and detailed tutorial for making zipped pouches. I feel bad including a link to the tutorial for a post that is about my mistakes so I feel I need to emphasise that the problem was because I ignored the directions. I have every confidence that the tutorial would create a great pouch if followed correctly.

I attempted to downsize that pattern for my coin purse. Where I went wrong was in trying to include the zip in the seam allowance at one end to save space and keep the pouch small. As you can see from the photo below it just doesn’t sit tidy at that corner. The rest of it is fine though and it does work as a purse. It’s functional but not well constructed so doesn’t count as a finish for my 2015 tally.

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Attempt Two:
I thought I’d try a different strategy. I a little bit of web searching I came across a funky pyramid shaped purse tutorial. There are a couple of versions knocking around blogland but I based mine on these two tutorials.
1. Sew me something good
2. Jill Shepherd

I sort of guessed at a 6″ square as a size and then a 4″ zip as recommended. It was quick fun and easy to put together.

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It looks ok. It a bit floppy so I think that interfacing, or a quilted exterior fabric would help. More fundamentally, the size is just not right and the zip is too small relative to the rest of the pouch. I have no idea what I’m going to use this for but it’s not going to be my coin purse. I will claim it as finish #7 for 2015 though.

I guess more practicing is required here. Fun though

I think that for now this concludes my small foray into handbag accessories. But if you have any ideas for other items I should try and make just leave a comment and I’ll have a go

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