Welcome to tales of my stitching life, home, family and friends.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

FMQ my Maple Leaf Quilt

How do the experts make it look so easy?  I have to say that I’m not really enjoying this free motion quilting business at all.  Probably because I don’t often do it, I always forget exactly how to start.  My Bernina machine has one of those BSR feet (stitch regulator) but I still have problems.  And I’ve done some unpicking too, so it hasn’t been an easy afternoon sitting at the sewing machine.

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I’m not much good a FMQing

Today I’m been trying to quilt vein lines in each of my maple leaf blocks, which just happens to be my UFO number 3.  They are going OK, but are not perfect, by any means.  I’ve a few more leaves to work on, and I’ll hopefully finish them off tomorrow.

I know, to get really good at a skill, we must practice, practice and practice some more.  Perhaps, on reflection, I’m better just quilting with my walking foot.  Or maybe I should go somewhere for lessons to see where I’m going wrong?

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

M is for Mouse

At last – another block finally finished from my Christmas ABC blocks.  Although I’ve been concentrating such a lot on my UFO collection, and winning the battle with one or two of them, I’m pleased to say, I still like to do a little work on my stitchery blocks when I can.

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I’ve just completed “M is for Mouse”, a cute little Christmas mouse peeping around from the Letter M.  This is another delightful design from Michelle Ridgeway’s Alphabet Noel booklet.  When completed, all my Christmas ABC blocks will finally get made into a Christmas quilt – but that’s a long way off yet.  Meanwhile, I'm enjoying my "slow stitching".

Monday, June 27, 2016

Another UFO Round-up

The sewing machine has been humming, and another UFO is completed – what a great feeling.  So that means I have to find another addition to put on my UFO List of Six. The current list as it stands is now:

No 1:  Caravan Quilt
No 2:  Stitchery Tote Bag.  (This replaces the now completed Amanda Jean Apron)
No 3:  Maple Leaf Quilt
No 4:  Candle Wick Quilt
No 5:  Black/grey Horse Quilt
No 6:  Duvet Cover

As it’s Monday, it is now time for another roll of the dice.  And the lucky winner is my Maple Leaf quilt.  That’s good, not a great deal to do to finish this project. 

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Wonder if I’ll be lucky enough to have a finish three weeks in a row?  I’ll be trying my very best,  working around a couple of meetings and a social lunch out at the end of the week.

But before I actually get to sit at the sewing machine, I’ve promised to patch up Robin’s favourite pair of jeans.  And I must prepare some “leader and ender” sewing to feed into the machine as well – it’s just like getting something for nothing.

Sunday, June 26, 2016

And another Apron

I’m on a bit of an apron roll this week.  Completing my Amanda Jean apron (UFO number 2) by Friday, and the prospect of a weekend at home, got me thinking.  Perhaps I could whip up another apron which was waiting in the wings, and hadn’t even made it to my UFO list?  So I did.

Like most of my projects, this one has a long history.  I made and swapped a whole lot of Signature blocks when I attended the annual Southern Cross Quilters Retreat in Auckland way back in 2004.  (SCQ were an internet quilt group, although most of the traffic seems to have changed to Facebook these days.)  We also had to provide a square of black and white fabric with each signature block we swapped.  My black and whites went into a quilt I made for my daughter’s 25th wedding anniversary.

I had already starting stitching a few of these blocks together, then put it away – seems to be the story of my life.  But they were reasonably big blocks at 6 1/2 square, so it didn’t take too long to assemble.  Although I had originally planned to line the apron, in the end I stitched green ric-rac over all the seam lines, which should hold it all together through repeated laundry cycles.  The neck band and ties were made from a New Zealand floral print.

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My new apron

The signature blocks were a mixture of applique, embroidery, stamping, photo transfers, and free hand drawing, in all sorts of colours and styles.  There were a couple of maps showing where the swappers lived, two versions of Mt Egmont from Kiwi swappers, hearts, butterflies and the expired dog from Dead Dog Gully.  Such an interesting, eclectic mix which made me smile each time I looked at them.

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Embroidered rooster and Beach Babe

With the apron done, I still had a dozen blocks left over.  Then inspiration struck.  Stephanie had recently blogged about making some new kitchen tea towels.  I stitched 6 blocks together, adding a little of the NZ fabric as narrow borders, and backed it with some lovely soft cotton waffle cloth I had stashed away and didn’t know what to do with.  And the result is this.

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Two tea towels with soft cotton backing

To be honest, I don’t really need more tea towels.  They are the sort of thing I tend to buy on our travels and there were so many in my cupboard that I gifted a lot to my daughter a while ago.  But it gave me the chance to finally use up all those signature blocks, and also the untold yards of green ric-rac, so that’s a good thing, I feel.

Friday, June 24, 2016

My Amanda Jean Apron

It’s taken me a while, but there’s nothing unusual in that.  But once I saw Amanda Jean’s Scrap Happy Apron, I knew I had to make one too.  Luckily I had already made a whole lot of little twosies as scrap “leader and ender” sewing some time ago.  These were waiting in the wings to turn into another project when I finally got around to it.  So I raided my box to start putting the apron together, and made lots more from my coloured strips .

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It started out like this

The two patches doubled into four patches, then I made longer rows.  Other projects intruded on my time and the whole lot got packed up in a bag and put away.

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Progressed to this

Then way back in February I decided I really had to deal with all those bags of half finished projects.  Not ALL of them – that would be too much to cope with, just 6 at a time.  So I selected and listed six, and  each week with a roll of the dice, that was the one I will work on during that week.  And so it continued each week, another roll of the dice, another UFO, and another week to work on it.  My Amanda Jean apron was on my list as number 2, and after some serious sewing time at my machine this week,  I’m thrilled to say that I’ve completed it this week.

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My Amanda Jean apron

Those 2 1/2 inch squares resulted in an awful lot of seams so I decided to line the apron.  And I had just the thing, a pretty length of hand dyed cotton purchased from a market in Rarotonga during a long ago holiday there.  The soft cotton had splodges of purple, green and blue, and I stitched through both layers in a large grid to help secure some of the seams.

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Hand dyed fabric on the back

So with this completed project I’ve now crossed number 2 off my “List of Six” and will have to find a replacement.  Mmmm, wonder what it will be?

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Sew Wots Tuesday

Another Sew Wots Tuesday rolled around and we gathered at Mary’s lovely rural home.  I gathered my things together, I would be working on my Christmas ABC stitchery project once again.  And mustn’t forget my items  for show and tell.  The ladies would be interested to see my lovely new “hospital appointment bag” from Jean, and my just completed Little Letters quilt.

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For show and tell

We all watched as Mary helped Helen stuff the skinny little anorexic arms and legs for Helen’s Christmas angel.  The arms were no bigger than pipe cleaners!

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Mary and Helen working together

Pam was kept quiet all morning, head down over some unpicking.  She had brought along her finished mystery quilt top, which will be going to her son.  It’s nice and masculine in shades of green.

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Pam’s mystery quilt top

Amongst all the chatter, everyone was busy working on their projects.  Rae was knitting a couple of beanies for Pam’s son, nice and warm for the chilly morning workouts with race horses.  Both Carol and I were busy on our stitcheries, and Heather B was embroidering over printed flowers on a cushion cover.  It’s pretty now and will be looking even lovelier when the stitching is completed.

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Heather B with her pansy cushion cover

There was a quick tutorial when Mary showed us how to make easy pillowcases with just a few seams.  These make a lovely “extra” gift when making a quilt for a child.  We took note of the measurements as Mary showed us how to fold it together – hope I remember that important bit. 

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Mary (why are her eyes closed?) and Helen with the pillowcase

We stopped for morning tea, and Mary wheeled her tea  trolley laden with goodies – it was just like being out in a tea shop.  No wonder one of the husband’s called our group the Eat Alots!  As we were packing up to leave I spotted Carols pretty bag, which has a story to tell.  Carol had stitched up the pretty little bear stitcheries, then didn’t know what to do with them.  She was all set to donate them to the charity quilt box but Helen was having none of that.  Quick as a wink she whisked them away, took them home and made them into the pretty blue tote bag, which was duly presented back to Carol.  That’s Sew Wot friendship for you.

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Blocks stitched by Carol, bag made by Helen, and gifted back to Carol

And speaking of gifts, many special thanks to Helen who brought me along some pumpkin soup to take home and enjoy and show she is thinking of me.  Thanks so much Helen, I appreciate your kind thought.  So that’s another Sew Wot stitching morning done and dusted – good fun and company as usual.  Thanks ladies.

Monday, June 20, 2016

UFO Round-up

Oh, the excitement of finally having a finish on my UFO List of Six!  It’s been a long time coming, so please indulge me in a little boast while I show it off once again, my colourful Little Letters quilt.  My grand-daughters have assured me that there are no baby plans on the horizon, so I’ll be keeping the quilt in my possession for a while longer.

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Little Letters quilt

Perhaps you were wondering about the state of the other UFOs on my list?   I feel it is now time for a round up to show how I’m getting along with them all.  And of course I need to slide another project in to the now vacated number 4 slot.

1:  Caravan quilt.  The top comprising of stitchery blocks and alternate nine patch blocks is assembled,  and the first border added.  There is a whole pile of two patch blocks stitched for the final  border and waiting to be applied.

2:  Amanda Jean Apron.  Not too much more to go on this one, although I will need to line it as there are so many seams and I don’t want it all coming apart in the wash.  It will need to be cut to shape, then the straps added, and the apron hemmed.

3:  Maple Leaf quilt.  This too is almost at the completion stage.  Partially quilted, and just needs some  free motion quilting in the leaves to finish it off, then bound.

4:  Candle Wick quilt.  Please welcome the newest addition to my UFO list.  Quite a bit of work needed on this one, which is currently a pile of candle wick blocks finished more years ago than I care to remember.  These blocks bring back lots of memories, so it will be great to catch up with this project again after all this time.

5:  Black and grey horse quilt.  This wasn’t technically a UFO at all, just a bunch of fabrics, embroidered horse blocks, and the idea to make a quilt for my horse loving grand-daughter Emma.  I’m really pleased how it is all coming together – a million 9 patch blocks stitched, sashing put together, and the quilt top is now about half assembled.

6:  Duvet cover.  Another new project on the list, just because I could.  The cream and green Mega Churn Dash top is pieced, waiting for me to make it into an envelope style duvet cover.  I’ll be making it up as I go along, but it shouldn’t be too hard to work out, I hope.

So that’s the list as it now stands. Although I’ve only had one finish, I’m really pleased at how the others are coming along too.  It’s really just a matter of what number gets picked every week, and a couple of projects don’t need too much sewing time to get them over the finish line.  What with hospital visits, trips away in the caravan, and other commitments, I’m pleased with my progress so far, and can’t wait for Monday and rolling the dice each week.  

And which project wins the roll of the dice this week?  One I’ve been hoping to get for ages, number 2, my Amanda Jean apron. 
 
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Scrappy Amanda Jean apron, in need of a good press